What has come before:
Perhaps you ought to go back and read the previous chapters?
Option 2 involves developing your long-term memory skills.
Oh, fine. Jeez, if you're going to want it all spoon-fed to you.
Our focus changes with every chapter to portray events from different character viewpoints. You'll find the perception on each matter varies greatly depending on whose point of view we're using at the time. Actual movement forward in the storyline has consisted only of an embarrassing event between Ranma and Akane (par for the course), Ranma's guardian angel, Shiwazaru, taking a leave of absence (mental health holiday), all hell more or less breaking loose at the same time, instead of in trickles like it normally does, an adorable pink angel dog that is doing a fine job of preventing cats from approaching ailurophobic martial artists, Prince Herb searching Nerima for a properly powerful bride to take home to show daddy, one truth spell (shoved down Ranma's throat), one love brooch (attached to Akane's school jumper), several other items of dubious magical quality floating about the town thanks to Discord (Goddess of Mischief), and finally, Rouge challenging Kasumi for the rights to one crazy chiropractor.
Also, don't forget those fine disclaimers, which generally state that this is not my intellectual property, and that I'm not profiting in any way from this excursion into insanity. Quite the opposite, I imagine.
More third person narrative today, hope that doesn't disappoint you, fair reader.
[Clinic, Present Time]
"I'm ready for you!" Rouge cried defiantly, already in a fighting stance.
"I do believe we've done enough damage to the good doctor's clinic," Kasumi demurred.
Recovering some of her processor time, Akane began to splutter an objection, but she was knocked flat by what appeared to be a giant toad, an earwig, and a walrus.
The First Family of Sexy Ninja Tea removed their walrus, toad, and earwig costumes, but to tell the truth, it didn't improve their appearances, nor did it lessen their resemblance to mutant animals.
"Mistress Rouge-" the toad croaked out urgently, genuflecting in a grotesque manner, her daughters following suit behind her, one with a creak, and one with a gurgle.
They were cut off with a gasp from the blasted doorway, where Konatsu had dropped his end of a recovering Ryouga, resulting in a loud 'thunk' as the unconscious body dragged Ukyou to the ground with a protesting squeak.
"Stepmother! Stepsisters!" Konatsu stuttered out, covering his mouth in a demurely feminine display of shock.
"Konatsu!" All three hideous monsters yelped in a distinctly less feminine manner.
"Why, you're alright! Thank goodness!" Konatsu gushed with amazing sincerity (amazing, considering he was, at that moment, lathering the three of them with gasoline and fumbling with a pack of matches).
"Yes, we escaped that giant rockslide that destroyed our tea house," Konatsu's stepmother croaked.
"How... how resourceful of you, Stepmother!" Konatsu enthused, his false sincerity slipping a bit. Kasumi gently lifted the matches from Konatsu's trembling hands before he set the city block ablaze.
Switching tacks instantly, Konatsu went straight to fawning obsequiously.
"Stepmother! Stepsisters! Why, your clothes are soiled!" The three gas-soaked witches only glared in response.
"Let me help you clean off!" Konatsu cried, producing a fire hose out of absolutely nowhere.
"This is not exactly how I envisioned your welcome home," Kasumi said to the doctor over the roar of water.
The doctor had somehow bandaged his face to both hands with duct tape, and deigned not to reply.
The three grotesque women collided with Ukyou and Ryouga on their way out the door, effectively shielding Ryouga's magically pork transformation from Akane.
At the end of the block, Nabiki turned around at the sound. People were now spilling out into the street via a veritable tidal wave of water, but it was dissipating in the efficient Nerima storm drain system quickly, and posed no threat to her. She turned the corner smartly and nearly ran headlong into Ranma and his mother.
"Oh good," she said before either could greet her, "just the man I need to speak to."
"Actually, Nabiki, I wasn't really eager to talk to you."
"I'm sure, what with your rather pathetic attempt to con my sister into a dinner date." Nabiki's tone became scathing. "Surely you can do better than that."
"Oh! Why don't we help, Nabiki!" Nodoka enthused.
Both teens turned alarmed looks on the older woman, but neither was able to get in a protest before she gushed onwards.
"Do you still have all that reading material I gave you on women?"
"Yes, mom," Ranma replied grudgingly.
Nabiki expertly turned her mirthful outburst into a few somewhat convincing coughs behind one hand.
Ranma handed over his backpack, and Nodoka upended the contents on the pavement and began sorting through the pile of pages. After a brief moment of stunned disbelief, Nabiki had another bout of pretend coughing at the enormous stack of pornographic magazines that Ranma was hurriedly trying to re-stow in his bag.
"See, here," Nodoka said with a professional air, a sample magazine opened to a full page spread of a …. spreaded Swedish bombshell. "I like my men forceful," Nodoka read aloud without a trace of embarrassment. "'Friday night, dinner,' is usually enough for me. In fact, I'll probably just skip dinner and just-"
"Thanks, mom," Ranma said emphatically, snatching the magazine, and stuffing it back into his practically bursting schoolbag.
Unable to hold in a guffaw, Nabiki made a quick escape. Howls of laughter drifted to the two Saotomes on the wind in the wake of her departure. Ranma winced. It was just the kind of laughter that was bound to cost him money later.
It also turned out to be a fortuitous time for escaping, because Nodoka's follow-up advice was not about dinner at all, and had no effective euphemism for replacement.
Now, the protagonist in our fanciful tale has been, shall we say, isolated from regular human folk for the majority of his years on Earth. He's grown into a very odd teenager, away from any form of society, civilization, or law. He has his deficiencies in the regular, run-of-the-mill experiences, and he reacts more like beast than man in most situations. Hey, that's what makes our story funny, so don't knock it.
But there are a few things that any man, no matter his upbringing, feels the same about. Eons pass, societies change, fashion trends go in and out of style, but no normal human man, in the history of our good Earth, has managed to keep a straight face while his mother talks about his sex life. The very word mortification was invented for just such a situation. It is the common denominator that unites the cultures across the globe, spanning back through the centuries. Mortification, I tell you.
Red-faced, Ranma also beat a hasty retreat, but there was a suit of mechanical armament at the end of the road which had blue flame decals and housed one angry girl who really desired his death.
Ranma casually back-flipped over the first swipe, frowning to himself. To liven up his day to day training, he generally picked a mode of fighting in the morning before breakfast and tried to stick to it. Today was a "Redirect Attacks" day, and that wasn't very convenient against large mechanical suits of armor. If she had arrived yesterday, he could have done more, since it was "Joint Lock/Disable" day. Or maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow was shaping up to be another "Upside-down Aerial Attacks Only" day.
He happened to be upside-down and in the air, arcing gracefully over another slash, when he saw Pantyhose Tarou out of the corner of his eye, and he broke into a huge grin.
"Oi!" he roared as loud as he could, touching down and taking off again in one smooth motion. "Pantyhose Pervert! You didn't try very hard to kill me earlier – what's wrong? Did you hook up with Longjohn Tom in an hosiery store or something?"
Ranma merrily redirected Pantyhose's fist into the side of the blue-flamed mecha and the fight was on.
Leaving the scene of one conflagration, only to be met with another, Akane heaved a sigh, giving her watch a significant glare. At this rate, she'd be late for her date with Ranma. If he made it. His ploy to pit the two monstrosities against one another seemed to have backfired, as they were now attempting to work together to squash the brightly-colored bouncing figure between the two of them. Dangling by the back of his shirt, which was gripped firmly by Beast-Form Tarou, he angled himself slightly to allow a swipe of the giant force saber to land on Tarou's fist. There was a tearing sound, and he dropped to the ground and rolled gracefully out of danger as Tarou sent a retaliatory backfist at the giant suit of armor. As the two grappled, tearing up the concrete in the street, Ranma ducked into what remained of Tofu's clinic and snatched a kettle from just inside the blasted door. He flung it over both participants, and the suddenly human Tarou was promptly knocked out by a vast overhand swing of the mecha arm.
The mecha itself began to spark and smoke as the water appeared to invade its circuitry. A light-haired girl wearing no-nonsense glasses crawled out of the wreck, and hopped down to the street level, already talking to herself about reformulating the exoskeleton as she hurried away.
Ranma turned a cocky grin on his fiancee, posing as if expecting applause. She was spared from having to bring his ego down with scathing words, because his shirt took that moment to give up the ghost and disintegrate into rags around him. She merely had to give him a cocked eyebrow and he changed his self-assured smile to more of a sheepish grin.
"Oh! What a delightful coincidence!" Nodoka bubbled happily from directly behind Akane, who nearly jumped out of her skin in surprise. Auntie sure did sneak up on a person fast! "I had just finished making this for you, my son." She pushed a bright red bundle into his arms and then patted his shoulder. "And here's some money, for later!" She had nowhere to put the wad of yen, as his arms were full and his shirt was gone. Down to only one option, she casually jammed the money into the top of her son's pants. Akane was trying hard not to be seen laughing, so she missed the Saotome matron's blase and NC-17 rated words of encouragement and hasty departure.
When she was finally able to look him in the face again, he was red to the roots of his hair, but then again, so was she (albeit she was reddened from stifling laughter). He was turning the shirt bundle over, trying to figure out the several layers of cloth. Akane helped turn it right side up.
"That's cool, Ranma," she said encouragingly, "your mom's made a sort of inner layer that will probably keep you a little better secured when you change forms. Pretty ingenious!"
"I don't really need more girl clothes from my mom," he grumbled as he pulled it over his head.
"No, see?" Akane tugged the shirt the rest of the way down and stepped back appraisingly. "It looks good on your guy side, too. But I bet you'll look less ridiculous if you accidentally change into a girl." Akane used the word 'ridiculous' instead of 'trampy,' since Ranma seemed to not understand the latter. "As for the money," she teased, "you'll have to wait until we get home to get that."
"Don't remind me," he said wearily.
"What did she give you all that money for, anyway?" Akane asked as she turned towards home and he fell into awkward step behind, occasionally adjusting his yen-laden pants. He started stammering unintelligibly, so Akane figured she would have to let him sort out his explanation. She slowed her pace.
"So... uh..." There was a long pause, but Akane continued to wait patiently. "Um." Even longer pause.
"Yes?" Akane prompted gently.
"It's uh... it's Friday..." Clearly during this latest pause, he lost direction. "It's Friday on Friday." He managed.
"Yes." Akane agreed gravely, desperately trying to hold in a giggle. "Friday would be today."
"Yes!" He agreed enthusiastically, pleased she was following his trail of thought. "And I was going to ask... you know. If you wanted to, maybe, I don't know... eat. Something." He tacked on that last both helpfully and hopefully.
"Yes." Akane agreed even slower this time. "I do eat on Fridays."
"Good!" He agreed heartily, clearly relieved that they had already agreed on so many key issues for the evening. "So... then... we'll eat!"
"Yes." Akane agreed a third time. "Yes, we will at that."
There was a long, very pregnant pause as both of them continued down the street.
"Well, that was easier than I thought it would be," Ranma finally blurted, mostly to himself.
"For clarity's sake," Akane said quickly, "did you just ask me if I was hungry? Or did you just ask me to… go out to dinner with you?"
She calmly took in his flabbergasted gestures and spluttering noises to mean the latter.
"But we're already going somewhere to eat, remember? To help Akari out?"
Ranma winced, but his mouth had already gone ahead with the ever-so-damning truth.
"Akari didn't really –" he interrupted himself with a relieved breath as a phone rang.
Akane, surprised, looked for the source of the ringing, and was doubly surprised when Ranma yanked a trendy-looking cell phone out of a pocket. She hadn't even known those pants had pockets. How odd.
"Hey, baby!" He said with his whole body reading his relief. "No, I'm not doing anything. I'm extraordinarily happy you called. Right at that moment. Yup." He spun to face the opposite direction while talking, his voice affectionate. "Not a problem, baby." He paused, and there was a faint noise of high-pitched talking on the other end during his silence. "Yeah, you know I can't say no. I'll be there before you can even miss me." Akane worked valiantly to pick her jaw up from the pavement, but he floored her entirely with his parting comments. "Yeah, I know. Love you too. Bye."
He hadn't even closed his flip-phone when he was sent rocketing into the air by a foot. Akane actually looked down at her foot in surprise, but both of hers were still on the pavement. Dazedly, she followed the smoking sneaker back to a tall blonde foreigner wearing dusty jeans. He appeared to have a few twigs and leaves in his hair. Around this city, that usually meant he'd been crawling in the bushes along the sidewalk, the typical eavesdropping method in this area.
"Why do you have to make my job so damned difficult!" He was screaming after the airborne figure shrinking into the distance.
"Quit stealing my act!" A righteous voice rang out, and with an enormous klang! the foreigner was sent right after Ranma into the sky. Akane blink-blinked again as she realized that this second act of vengeance was not perpetrated by her, either. She turned to see Ukyou, breathing heavily at the end of a perfect swing, next to her, also with not a few twigs and leaves spilling out of her magnificent dark chocolate tresses.
"Honestly, you know?" Ukyou said, re-holstering the giant spatula. "People should just butt on out of business that don't got nothing to do with 'em! I got a fiancé to punt, and a good reason, to boot! I don't need some yahoos getting in on this on top of everyone else around here." She gave Akane a once-over. "Unless you were about to do the honors, sugar?"
"No," Akane replied slowly, just regaining her wits for the second time in as many hours. "I was going to ask him who that was on the phone. And for that matter, where he got a cell phone?" She turned a quizzical look on the chef.
"Oh, I've done had it with this hogwash," Ukyou snapped, advancing on Akane. "Gimme that stupid brooch already."
"What are you talking about?" Akane said as she twisted away from the grasping hands. She fell back defensively as Ukyou pulled out several smaller throwing weapons. Hooking her arm through her bag straps like a shield, Akane took another step back.
Ukyou's eyes narrowed as she did a few lightning-fast calculations in her head. Deciding on the best course of action, she jumped, throwing her first projectile at Akane's less-defended right side. Predictably, Akane began to move left, where the next spatula/shuriken was already zipping at her – still slightly to her right side where the bag/shield would be of little use. Again, predictably, Akane twirled away from the throw, and the third spatula/shuriken (spatuken?) sent very quickly after the second managed to slice through the back ties on her school uniform. The gold brooch clattered to the ground, and Akane was forced to reach behind herself to grab the loosening ties and to check if her outfit would hold together.
Landing gracefully atop the chain-link fence that bordered the canal, Ukyou sent the last two spatuken in her hand buzzing at Akane, just as a distraction to prevent the other girl from charging her position on the fence. She wondered how Ranma possibly stayed up on the precarious fence-edge – the height was almost dizzying to the canal below, and her footing on the edge was only possible because a sign that rested atop the fence provided some standing area.
Too bad the sign read: "Beware of Broken Fence: Do Not Stand"
Ukyou dropped into the canal with a shriek, fence and all.
Akane peeked over the edge of her bag, where the last two spatukens were embedded and looked around. Had someone been attacking her? No one was around, so she relaxed her guard.
Nodoka bustled up happily, seemingly with several twigs in her usually immaculate hair.
"Ranma did it?" She said girlishly, complete with tiny giggle and gleeful handclapping. "This is wonderful! We must go get you ready!" She stooped to pick up a glinting brooch from the sidewalk. "What a wonderful brooch! It will go perfectly with the dress I have in mind!" Excitedly, she commandeered Akane's arm and steered her toward the Tendo household.
[Flashback + Character Expansion Section]
"My baby, my precious darling!"
He laughed, pulling up a chair and plopping down.
"Mom, isn't that overdoing it a little?"
"I don't mean to embarrass you, son," she said, but she was smiling as she said it, so her claim couldn't be taken seriously. He privately harbored doubts that she didn't just live to embarrass him, actually.
"I think you do," he said, "I should visit more often, you'll get sick of me pretty fast."
"Nonsense," she said dismissively, waving a hand. "Your visits are the highlight of my week. I regret not taking more time to travel to Nerima to see you and your father and-"
"No way, mom," he interrupted firmly. "It's just crazy and unsafe everywhere in there. You're probably safest right here where you are." He seemed to realize this came out poorly and hastened to amend himself. "Not that you're unwanted! We love having you-"
She laughed merrily. "I'm sure you would, but your father can sometimes be harder to pin down."
"I can keep him under thumb," he replied confidently, grinning at her.
"That is why I gave you the family katana, after all. Are you finding it useful?"
"Yeah, it tends to keep him in line. And don't worry, when I'm not carrying it myself, it's in a safe place where he can't get his hands on it."
"I love that crazy man, but yes, don't ever make the mistake of trusting him," she winked.
"Sometimes I wonder what you see in that nitwit, mom."
"Oh, the man I married is in there somewhere. Perhaps one day we will find him again," she did not seem too perturbed by it, so when she changed the subject, he went along willingly. "But I'm sure that old fool is taking care of himself. Tell me of everyone else, your little friends, how are they faring?"
"Everyone is well," he said, minding his language carefully. "As the weather warms up, it always seems like the number of pitched battles per day increases right along with it. One of my fights last week took us through a cherry blossom park, that was pretty nice."
"Youth these days!" his mother delighted. "So exuberant! I feel like my teenage years were horribly dull by comparison."
"Dull might be nicer," he muttered, half to himself.
"Oh, darling, I know your girl troubles are still plaguing you. But most young men your age wouldn't call having so many beautiful girls chasing you 'trouble'."
"The chasing isn't so much the problem as the fighting. Not to mention the number of beatings I take, as prospective groom."
"The reason they love you is because you can bear the brunt of their enthusiasm, of course!"
"That does make more sense than anything I can come up with."
"So, tell me, how is Akane? Still mired in adorable denial about her love for you as usual?"
"Still smacking me around practically on sight as usual, so I suppose we'll call that a yes."
"I like her, darling, she is so feisty and noble."
"Two words that I assure you she does not like applied to her."
"And from a wonderful family!"
"If you don't count Nabiki."
"She will make such a wonderful wife. Your patience with her will be someday rewarded, you will see. And the others will happily accept their roles as your mistresses. Fear not."
"Oh, I'm not worried, mother. I just hope World War Three doesn't erupt amongst them before then."
"They will settle down. Give it time. Oh, but I hate to pressure you, if you prefer one of the others over Akane, she can be a mistress instead!"
"No, Mom, Akane is definitely the one. She's got fire and beauty, and her family's clearly the best. The others are all way too flighty to make me a proper wife. They're probably only after me for my body, anyway. I suppose I ought to speed up the process with Akane, get her to the priest, as it were, so those girls can get in that increasingly popular bed of mine."
"That's my handsome and brilliant darling!" his mother gushed, her eyes closed (no doubt envisioning her hordes of grandchildren and how she was going to spoil them rotten). "Just like your father at that age!"
Her eyes were still closed, so she did not see him pull a face. He schooled his features back to normal before she reached out and pinched his cheek, all the while sending a prayer up to the gods that watched over him, not to let him turn out anything remotely like his good-for-nothing sire.
"Please, darling, enjoy your youth! Don't rush, take your time! There's so many girls chasing you, why not try them all out in bed first!" She winked at him and returned to her crochet.
"No rush, eh, mom? Then why are you knitting baby booties?" He raised a semi-accusatory eyebrow in her direction.
Looking appropriately abashed, she set her knitting aside. "Well, one always wants to be prepared. And you never know, perhaps my daughter might...?"
"Do not even suggest it," he said, trying not to sound mad at his own mom, but his stomach churned at the very thought. He got to have peaceful talks with his mother so little as it was, the last thing he needed was to start a disagreement here, of all places. Especially about her old-fashioned notions on babies and such. Well, they went hand in hand with the old-fashioned notions about mistresses, which he was actually in favor of - if the girls would just stop fighting over him and just get into bed with him, he was sure his much-praised manliness would generally solve all their petty female problems. Girls. What else was there to do but be patient with those nitwits. Or perhaps he should take his mother's advice and just drag Akane to his room and bed her down the next time she started acting up. Or one of the other girls? He shook his head ruefully. Too many choices, too little man to go around. No doubt if they knew about this suggestion, the girls would come to physical blows to be the first to receive his gift. The gentler sex was also the lesser sex, as his father always said, and their minds were easily overwhelmed when faced with a perfect specimen of man such as himself.
"What about that pretty purple-haired girl? Surely that one is ready to carry some babies!" His mother's hands crept back to the half-finished booties at the very thought.
"She'd be easy for me to get into bed, Mom, but she's just an air-headed tramp, not even worth the title of mistress. Any children she bears probably wouldn't be worth the time or effort. She's a dirty foreigner, besides. Can't speak proper Japanese to save her life."
"Dear me," his mother said, crestfallen. "Well, foreigners are good for experience, if nothing else. And no one will notice if she goes missing."
"I think that's enough," said a firm voice from outside the room, as if tightly controlling anger. Mother and son threw identical rage-filled looked at the door before schooling faces back into haughty superiority.
"I will see you again soon, my son," she said disdainfully while extending one hand to him. As usual, her manner suggested it was her own idea to end the conversation for the day. He took her hand and diffidently kiss the back.
"Until then, mother," he intoned, "You have all my love."
As usual, she did not acknowledge this, merely lifted her chin and turned her attention out the high window. He took his leave of her, gathered his things at the door, and marched into the sunlight outside.
He was still brooding over his visit when a body came crashing down out of the sky. While not unusual for the district where he lived, his mother's residence was many miles away in another district of Tokyo, and he seldom saw much of the traditional Nerima-styled chaos while on his weekly visits to her.
He checked a groan as one of Akane's most persistent suitors wrenched himself out of a hole in the concrete. He never considered ranking the annoyances and obstacles in his life's pursuit of the hand of one Akane Tendo (probably because if he did, Akane herself would be at the top of that list), but this idiot was certainly one of the most aggravating. And hard-headed, he added to himself as his enemy dusted concrete chunks out of his hair.
"Hey, Kuno," he greeted. "What brings you to this side of town?"
"It is none of your concern, Ranma Saotome," he replied shortly. "I may ask you the same."
"No big secret, I was hanging with Akane as usual - huhn, actually, it wasn't her that punted me over here." He looked quite surprised as he checked his outfit for holes. "It was this friend of mine, Eros - hey, where you going?"
"Home. Good day, Saotome." Kuno resolutely turned his back and began the long trek back to the Kuno compound.
Confused, Ranma straightened his new shirt and looked around. Kuno usually took any mention of Akane's name to go straight into attack mode. Attack fruitlessly, but attack nonetheless. But he wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth - he was only a few more blocks away from his destination, and that probably wasn't going to be his last run-in before he got to his urgent meeting. He spared the departing upperclassman a glance before looking up at the building he had been exiting.
"Kuno Psychiatric Ward and Center for the Criminally Insane," he read curiously. Well, Kuno's name was on it, even though it was way over here on the other side of town. Guess he visits to keep giving them money or something?
See? I warned you about normal guys in the middle of that story, if you were looking closely. If I'm not being clear enough, opinions expressed in this story by characters that I hate are entirely opposite of mine, and I'm only voicing them so we all feel good when stupid folk get the crap beat out of them later, hooray! Don't ever think that stuff about ladies, folks out there, if you don't want to be a crazy Kuno. Bad stuff will happen to him in my story, and I'm going to enjoy it immensely.
I hope you like Ukyo's accent, also. I have a soft spot in my heart for Japanese media that translates the southern accent there directly onto a southern accent here, it strikes me as adorable.
So here's a chapter, no progress as usual. I may finally get to my favorite fannon-breaking concepts in the next chapter, hope everyone is mentally prepared for that.
You know the drill. Don't review my story when you could be writing your own.