Part 11: Ranma Dies Horribly

Shutaro Watanabe, the manager of the Nerima McDonald's, was a man who aspired to experience the finer things in life. He was the guy who always stayed abreast of the latest fashions, had the hottest cars, ate at the finest restaurants, and only dated the hottest girls. He went to the most fashionable parties and had possibly the world's most superficial set of friends.

He accomplished all of this with a clever campaign to conceal the fact that he was a McDonald's manager from the world, as well as massive credit card debt. Shutaro was on the fast-track to bankruptcy, and he knew it. And when he got there, he was terrified that his hot new girlfriend would dump him, his true mediocrity would be revealed to the world, and, worst of all, that he might lose his standing invitation to all of Tokyo's most posh clubs!

He knew the only way that he would avoid this horrid fate was if he got that promotion to district manager. The guys over at corporate were being pretty secretive about the whole process, but he was good at keeping his ear to the ground, and he knew in his heart that if he just got through the next three days without screwing anything up, he was going to get it. And then all his problems would be solved!

He surveyed his domain apprehensively, alert for any signs of trouble. The number one cause of property damage in this part of Tokyo, he knew, was psychotic martial arts masters. He'd always figured that if he was careful, and alert about keeping the peace in his restaurant, then he wouldn't need that absurdly expensive 'martial arts-related property damage' insurance all the local agents were enthusiastically hawking.

Because of his long expertise at keeping a lookout for potential disasters, his eye was drawn to a depressed-looking young woman in the back of the McDonald's, dressed, slightly alarmingly, in a ninja suit. Her face was concealed by her long blonde hair, and she poked at her Big Mac and fries disspiritedly.

He sidled over to her table, trying to conceal the alarm on his face. "Um, hi," he greeted her, tentatively.

She didn't look up. She radiated unhappiness. Her face was still mostly hidden by the fall of her hair, but he couldn't help but notice that, from what little he could make out, she was quite pretty.

He coughed. "Hey there!" he tried again, attempting to substitute a pleasantly false cheer for his nervousness.

She sighed, pushing her long hair back from her face and looking up at him. "What do you want?" she asked, testily.

Shutaro looked into her eyes and felt his heart stop. His fists clenched involuntarily, and he braced himself against a nearby table to keep from falling. This was... He watched her, trying to convince himself that he wasn't dreaming. This was the reason that he lived! This was the...the most beautiful, most perfect, most sublimely gorgeous woman that he had never seen, no, that ANYONE had ever seen! That ever COULD be seen! Helen of Troy was less than nothing beside this woman's angelic visage! Tears began running down his face as he tried to regain his composure. I, I MUST make her mine!

A minute later, when he hadn't responded, she shrugged and went back to staring at her, by now, cold and nasty pile of french fries.

He steeled himself, and tried to sound as suave as possible. " is your...!"

She sighed again. She wore a resigned expression. "My name's Konatsu," she said, looking him directly in the eye. "I am not interested in men."

"ListenIwaswonderingifmaybeyou'...a..." he trailed off, as her words sunk in. He felt his world shatter around him, and he fell to his knees in despair. "!" he wailed, groveling before her. "It's a lie! Of all the terrible injustices in this world, you, you of all women, cannot be a lesbian!"

She ate a fry, staring at him icily. Now that her face was fully visible, two other men came wandering up to her, in sort of a daze, staring at her with stars in their eyes. A third guy in his mid-fifties walked in with a woman who was obviously his wife, caught side of her, and slowly began to drift her way as well. His wife had her hands on her hips in disgust.

"Hey, how you doin'?" one of the newcomers asked her, grinning stupidly.

"Hey there, babe," a second guy, this one an unshaven, burly guy in a leather jacket, said, a cocky smile on his face.

A fourth guy, this one dressed in a kendoist's traditional uniform, appeared beside her.

She shied away from the attention. "Look, I don't mean to be rude, but-"

"And to think," the fourth guy interrupted her imperiously, looking at her the way a cat looks at a mouse in a mousetrap, "that only a moment ago I, Tatewaki Kuno, the handsome, dashing, and unrivalled kendo champion of Furinkan High, had walked through this world, ignorant of this astonishing beauty now before mine eyes!" He produced a bouquet of roses from nowhere, picking the slender blonde ninja up from her seat ceremoniously and looking deeply into her eyes. "O, the sun itself doth quail before your shining golden loveliness!" he declared, clasping her hands tenderly. "And if the softly glowing dawn did-"

"I like girls," she said.

Kuno was taken aback. His mouth worked furiously for a few moments before further words would come out. "But it cannot be! Such pure beauty truly-"

"It's true," she added, before he could wax poetic again.

Kuno glomped her, along with the other three guys that had accidentally caught sight of her unearthly beauty. Shutaro began to do the same, when suddenly, his fear overcame his infatuation, and in a terrible moment of clarity, he knew what was about to happen.

Konatsu screamed like a banshee. "GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!" she roared, sending her would-be suitors flying across the McDonald's. She drew her sword, furious.

Kuno pulled himself out of the ruins of the drink machine. An ice-cold jet of Dr. Pepper drenched him, immediately transforming him into a nine-foot-tall alien monster. He laughed, waving his (now ridiculously tiny) bokken before him. "EN TARO TASSADAR!" he boomed, his eyes glowing. "Very well then! If you should prevail against the mighty Blue Thunder, I shall permit you to DATE WITH ME!"

The married guy brushed the smashed glass from the front window off of himself and began to charge at her, his eyes alight with love. "BUT SUGAR TITS, I LOOOOOVE YOUUUUUU!"

Shutaro began to weep softly as the annihilation of his McDonald's began.

Ryu the Pink-Haired Valley Girl had a long-standing phobia to hot water. Possibly because she had the attention span of a ferret on speed, she wasn't completely aware of why, exactly, she was so afraid of hot water, but she was very careful to only bathe and wash her hands in ice-cold water.

She had awoken late that morning, long after her boy toy of the week, Shutaro, had gone off to work. She was a bit hung over and grouchy from their till-the-break-of-dawn excursion to some of Tokyo's swankest clubs the previous night, and stumbled into Shutaro's bathroom, yawning.

She was so absorbed in looking at her reflection in the mirror that she, completely by accident, she hit the hot water knob instead of the cold.

A smart person, upon making an error like this, would immediately suspect the temperature of the water to be wrong from any number of little things, not least the steam pouring off of the nearly boiling water streaming from the showerhead.

Ryu the Valley Girl was not, needless to say, such a smart person.

Like, oh my GAWD, she thought, winking at her own reflection and giggling vacantly as she stepped into the shower, like my hair is like so totally like messed UP right now, and like I totallll-HOLY FUCK THAT'S HOT!

Ryu stood in the scalding jet of water, his eyes glazed over.

He reflected, slowly, deliberately, on what exactly he'd been doing for the past week or so, then, just as slowly, reached over and turned off the burning stream of water. He thoughtfully crushed the knob with one twist of his hand.

He fell to his knees, breathing heavily. His fists clenched and unclenched spasmically. His eyes were wide with a fury like the world had never seen.

"Shutaro Watanabe," he whispered, gathering his ki in his hands, "because of you...I HAVE SEEN HELL!" He stood up, in a blind rage, ready to charge after that worthless posturing fool Shutaro and crush him into a thousand piecess, when the water pressure broke through the knob that he'd shattered and bathed his body in freezing cold water.

Ryu the Gangsta scowled, stepping out of the shower. It was cold in this mutha! "Dammmn," he growled, towling himself off daintily. He shivered. "It's cold as a MUTHA FUCKA in here!" He slicked his (still bright pink) hair back, grinning, then exited the bathroom, stealing some of that worthless posturing fool Shutaro's very stylish clothes, looting the house safe, then setting the whole mutha fuckin place on fire. He figured it was bout time to hit up the pawn shop for a gat or three, then blast that mutha fucka Shutaro right in his mutha fuckin face.

After a fleeting moment of horror and confusion, Nabiki had realized what had happened to her. She'd stood up in the cramped computer lab (well, cramped when you're ten feet tall and muscled like an ox...literally), and looked down at her massive body, tears running down her face.

There is a God! she thought, clenching her enormous fists, her heart aglow with happiness. How many nights did I sit at that computer screen, wishing that I was Shamalicious...and now, suddenly, my wish has become reality! Oh, happy day!

She'd enjoyed the hell out of bellowing like a maniac and charging down the hall like the beast she was, waving around her giant two-handed mace, the Oathkeeper.

Now she was standing in the rain, and there was a not-quite-human-looking woman standing there staring at her with a look of total rage in her eyes.

"Nabiki Tendo?" Tsubasa repeated, shocked.

Gosunkugi paled even more, if that was possible. "Na...Nabiki Tendo...?" He looked down at his hands in horror. "Dear God, what have I done?"

She gave a loud laugh, towering over them all happily. "It's me, alright!" she said, grinning. Her voice sounded like stone breaking. "Take a good look!"

"Nabiki..." Ranma said slowly, staring at her with wide eyes. She wore a beatific smile. "Oh, Nabiki, I love you so much!"

Now that was...unexpected. Nabiki looked down at the beautiful blonde woman in puzzlement, then turned back towards Herb, who was fuming silently. The air around her entire body was shimmering with ki energy so fierce it nearly glowed.

Ranma turned to Herb, scowling. "Leave my Nabiki alone, Herb, or you'll get more of what you got last time!"

Tears began to fall from Herb's eyes, and she gathered more and more energy in her hands. "GOD DAMN YOU TO HELL, NABIKI TENDO!" she raged, her eyes beginning to glow with power.

Nabiki ordinarily would have been terrified by this situation, but she found, oddly, that some of Shamalicious's battle-savvy had diffused into her mind, and she watched Herb charge up a massive ki blast, bemused. So in the game, she considered thoughtfully, I can use an earth shock spell to interrupt abilities that need to be charged up. I wonder if that'll work here? How the hell do I cast an earth shock in real life, anyway?

Herb tensed her body, readying the deathblow.

Oh, right. She'd been casting earth shocks all her life! Like THIS! She gestured towards Herb, and Herb gasped as the incandescent green energy of the shock ripped through her, dissipating her gathered ki in an instant.

Nabiki watched Herb stagger slightly, in obvious pain from the earth shock and seemingly unable to gather her battle aura. If I remember correctly, Nabiki reflected, roaring (mostly for show) and charging directly at the (comparatively) diminutive Herb, I have, what, two seconds before she can try that again?

Herb looked up at the charging monster, completely lost without her ki abilities. Fear blossomed in her eyes as she realized that she had absolutely no counters ready really needed to get the hell out of the way before-

One, Nabiki thought, grinning with bloodlust.

The Oathkeeper landed a savage blow to Herb's left shoulder as she tried to jump away. Herb gasped, the immense force of the blow twirling her around like a top. She began to scream as the monster before her raised its enormous mace again-


And then she found her ki. Herb floated up into the air, the air around her crackling with charged ki, cleanly dodging Nabiki's vicious attack. Nabiki looked straight at Herb, confused, as she swooped down in a long arc around Nabiki's side. Nabiki tried to twist away, feeling immense pain explode through her ribcage.

Herb smiled unpleasantly, floating up into the air again as Nabiki roared and rushed forward. She drifted almost casually across Nabiki's unguarded flank, the air warping and shimmering around her. Nabiki gasped, and knelt in the muddy ground, a trickle of blood running from her mouth, then suddenly dropped flat on the ground as Ranma vaulted over her, howling for blood.

Mint and Lime were both standing off to Ranma's side, and, finally sensing that their prince was danger, managed to shake themselves out of their insanely-hot-blonde-induced stupor. Well, Mint did, anyway. Lime sort of stumbled in their general direction, his eyes firmly fixed on Ranma's now quite clingy and wet shirt. He was openly drooling.

"Master Herb!" Mint shouted, moving almost too fast to be seen, drawing his broadsword with a practiced grace. He blindsided Ranma in mid-air. Ranma twisted, her fist raised, ready to strike, and barely avoided the blade's razor-sharp edge. It nicked her soaked blonde hair. Mint grimaced, nearing panic as he tried not to respond to the astonishingly beautiful woman before him.

Ranma hit him. Mint flinched away from the strike, and, moving on instinct, swung his sword in a vicious arc at her head as they tumbled through the rain. Ranma's face took on a vague look of shock when Mint's sword buried itself deeply into her left temple.

They landed in the mud, and didn't move.

Mint stared at her beautiful face, his hands suddenly shaking. He blinked, and jerked his sword away. Its edge was dark with blood and bone. He could hear himself breathing. He was breathing very loudly, he realized, disoriented, his feet sliding in the muddy ground as he tried to back away from Ranma's twitching body. He realized, in an odd, somehow disconnected moment, that he was sobbing.

Nabiki stared. "Ranma..."

Herb rushed to Ranma's prone body, all thoughts of her opponent forgotten. Ranma gave a short, sharp gasp as Herb's face blurred into view, through the sheet of rain.

Prince...Herb? Ranma thought, confused.

She blinked once, to clear the rain from her eyes, then again. Then again. Her hand rested lightly on the blade of Mint's gracefully curved broadsword, where the brown mud washed over the red of her blood. She was in terrible pain, she knew, but it was somehow abstract, as if the pain was affecting someone else.

Her eyes began to lose focus as she looked up. The sky looked dark...why was it so dark?

Herb knelt, staring, her face expressionless. "Ranma?"

About a minute passed, the only sounds the patter of the falling rain and Mint's shrill, wracking sobs. Students slowly began to gather around the small group, their eyes fixed on Ranma's unmoving form. Lime had his giant hand comfortingly on Mint's small shoulder, but he backed away, uncertain, as Herb slowly rose to her feet.

"Master Herb," Lime said, haltingly, "he was only protecting you, he-"

Herb silenced him with a look. "Protecting me," she repeated, softly. A hideous growl came from her throat. "HE KILLED HER!"

Mint didn't even look up from his intense weeping as Herb loosed a monstrous ki blast at him, sending him and two students unfortunate enough to be behind him smashing through the cement wall of the high school. Mint had an extremely tough constitution, a combination of a lifetime of hard training and his wolf blood. The two young men behind him were not so lucky. The smaller of the two had begun to scream, his leg shattered by the force of the impact. The other had hit the wall head-first, and was dead before he hit the ground.

Hiroshi was the first to notice the dead guy. "Holy shit," he said, pointing, and suddenly the other students were shoving and shouting, fleeing the schoolyard as fast as they could run.

Herb paid the two students no mind, striding calmly up to Mint's prone body. There was a strange flatness in her eyes as her ki gathered around her slender hands.

"F...fuck you!" the student with the shattered leg wailed, vainly attempting to crawl away from the enraged prince. "FUCK YOU!"

Herb's mouth twisted distatefully, and she took her eyes off Mint for a moment to loose a rippling blast of energy at the student, tearing him nearly in half. She stood above Mint, shaking her head.

Nabiki tore herself away from the horror of Ranma's dead body, realizing suddenly that Herb had just murdered two students. She saw her standing above the boy who had killed Ranma, her hand upraised for the killing blow...

"Master Herb!" Lime was shouting, beginning to run towards them. "Mint was trying to protect you!"

Herb turned her head slightly to respond, and was taken completely by surprise as Nabiki fired a bolt of lightning that hit her square in the chest. She'd fought other ki-using martial artists before, and had seen many ki attacks that looked like lightning, so she instinctively tried to disperse the attack with her own ki. It occurred to her, slightly too late, that this was actual lightning, and she collapsed, screaming, the electricity coursing through her body.

Nabiki stepped forward, her ornate chain mail armor clanking as she moved, the lightning beginning to gather in her massive hand again. The students had all fled, leaving the three of them alone with the corpses of two schoolboys and one heartbreakingly beautiful girl.

Herb staggered to her feet, and felt her ki suddenly dispersed by a violent shock of crackling green energy. She stumbled backwards, nearly falling as she stepped through the ruins of the school's outer wall. She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts.

That wasn't a ki attack, either, she realized, her mind spinning desperately. She stood, expressionless, and watched with a kind of detached horror as the blue-white tendrils crackled and danced around the monster's enormous hand.

My ki is gone, she thought, strangely calm. I am the dragon's blood, but my ki is gone...

She was ready for the second bolt, and tried to dodge it, but was completely unsuccessful, since actual lightning, it turned out, moved really, really fast. She slowly dragged herself back to her feet, gasping, and Lime stepped in front of her, his face twisted into a scowl.

Nabiki stopped, watching the two of them. "My next lightning bolt will be much more powerful," she rumbled, ponderously, the rain pounding on her chain mail armor. Her voice was deep and resonant. "It will hit you, then jump to your boss. You might live." She paused, looking at the raggedly breathing Herb, then spoke with conviction: "But she won't."

Lime tensed for the attack, but Herb's voice sounded first. "I surrender," she said, loudly, clearly.

Lime half-turned, shocked. "Master Herb...?"

Herb turned to Mint's still weeping form, her face twisting with fury. "It seems I can't kill you, then," she hissed. "Mint. For destroying the love of my life, you are banished from the Musk lands, forever, on pain of death."

Mint looked up, only vaguely aware of what was going on. "What...what, ba...banished?" he repeated, uncomprehending. "Where...should I go, Master Herb?"

"Lime!" Herb growled, ignoring him. "We're leaving."

Nabiki watched the two of them disappear into the rain, her heart in her throat. She stole a glance at the clock on the school's wall. There should still be time. Should. If this worked the way it did in the game. Which was a pretty big 'if,' now that she stopped and thought about it.

She turned and lumbered towards Ranma's lifeless body, her mind automatically running through the complex mental ritual the spell required. Ranma's hair looked strange, the bright gold running together with the brown and red of the blood-stained earth. It's like half-mixed paint...

Tsubasa tiptoed out into the rain, alone. Gosunkugi had long since fled. "They're dead," he whispered, quietly. "They're really dead..."

Nabiki shrugged. "Looks that way, yep." Her hands began to glow a radiant green.

Tsubasa didn't know what to say to that, so he crept over to Ranma's corpse, examining it with morbid fascination. He'd never seen a dead body before. "Man, this is weird," he muttered under his breath, staring. "Look at her face..." Is this what happens when someone dies...? There was a subtle, but perceptible change in her features. He'd read somewhere that a person's muscles all relaxed when they died. But it almost looked like her bone structure was...shifting...

He gingerly touched a lock of her blonde hair, and realized that it had changed to a red too bright to just be from the muck in which she lay... He looked down at Ranma's skin. It was pale, unnaturally pale, and now that he looked at it was sort of a green, actually really bright green, holy shit what was the bright light suffusing them...!

Tsubasa jumped away, yelping and reciting a prayer involuntarily.

Ranma yawned and stood up, apparently in quite good health.

"EEEEEEEEEEK!" Tsubasa wailed, crawling back through the mud. " did you..."

"Ancestral Spirit," Nabiki said authoritatively. "Just a resurrection spell! Only works if they've been dead 10 minutes or less." She grinned toothily at Ranma. "Good thing you didn't release, huh, Ranma?"

"Uh...release?" Ranma blinked, confused. "What's goin' on?" She stumbled over to Nabiki, stars in her eyes. "Nabiki, my love," she mumbled, a happy smile on her face. "Come here!"

Nabiki cast a slightly disturbed look at the disoriented girl, but didn't allow it to disrupt her second Ancestral Spirit spell. Shortly, the two dismembered students were standing around, in full health, yawning and wondering aloud what had caused all the destruction.

Mint stared forlornly at her, then seemed to realize all at once that the woman he'd killed was miraculously alive again. "'re alive!" he said, then gave a joyous cheer as he launched himself at the still quite confused Ranma. He glomped onto her, weeping happily. "You're alive! You're alive! Oh, I'm so happy! You're so beautiful, and you're alive! I was so scared that I'd killed you!"

"You did kill her," Nabiki boomed at him informatively. "But I can rez, so it's no big deal. Still, don't do it again, please."

"'Rez'?" Mint repeated, confused.

Ranma was less annoyed than usual about being glomped, partially because she had just recently returned from the dead, partially because Mint couldn't have been older than 12 years old, and partially because she was completely focused on her intense love for Nabiki to the point of not even noticing him. Still, after a moment, she pried him off and set him bodily on the ground.

Mint looked up at her, puzzled. "Why aren't you as pretty as before?" he inquired, innocently.

"Dying horribly will do that to you," Ranma said testily, brushing a lock of sodden, mud-caked red hair out of her eyes. Her eyes were wide as she tugged on her hair, crossing her eyes to get a good look at it.

"Not a fan of the redheads?" Nabiki asked, amused. "Dying dispels all curses and harmful magic effects, of course. That's why he's back to normal!"

Ranma thought about that. She was still a little dazed. " normal?" she repeated, groggily. "Um...why am I still a girl, then?" She paused, frowning. "Also, I'm still intensely in love with you, which is really kind of horrible since you're a giant cow monster or something." She paused. "Why are you a giant cow monster, anyway?"

"Oh, this is just my World of Warcraft character!" Nabiki told her cheerfully. Her face grew thoughtful. "It's odd that you're still in love with me. And female. Dying is supposed to dispel all curses and harmful magic effects!"

Ranma stared at her, baffled.

Nabiki shrugged. "Must be a bug, I guess!" Nothing in Shamalicious's vast encyclopedia of magical knowledge could have prepared her for buggy game mechanics! Stupid Blizz, she thought balefully.

Ranma clenched her fist. "Or maybe this isn't your stupid game, Nabiki!"

"Hey," Nabiki replied defensively, "cut me some slack here. I brought you back from the dead, didn't I?"

"Uh...yeah." Ranma chuckled nervously. "Thanks for that. By the way, you, uh, er, I was wondering, I mean, if you're not doin' anything, would you feel like, y'know, maybe, this weekend we could-"

"Absolutely not," Nabiki interrupted her. She pointed an accusing finger at the now only-moderately-beautiful girl. "Ranma! You're engaged to my sister! You should be ashamed of yourself." She briefly admired her reflection in one of the nearby classroom windows. "Although I am quite the studmonster!" She flexed, then turned back to Ranma, scowling. "But, let's face it...I mean, you're just not that hot anymore."

Ranma looked at her own reflection, horror rising to the surface as she saw her old, only-moderately-beautiful redheaded face staring back at her. She clenched her fist in a fit of sudden, terrible rage.! How can this be happening? What giant cow monster could ever love me now? Life isn't even worth living like this, I hate the whole world...I... She paused. Wait...what am I thinking?

Suddenly, Mint's intense depression returned. "Master Herb...Master Herb banished me," he whispered, sitting down in the mud. "And the girl wasn't even that hot after all."

Ranma growled. "Hey..."

Several of the braver students had returned to the schoolyard, and began to crowd around them, now that the carnage and death appeared to have been put on hold. Hiroshi and Daisuke were cheerfully pounding Ranma on the back, laughing at her (and staring at her chest).

"You were out cold there, buddy!" Daisuke told her, grinning.

"Yeah," Hiroshi said, jostling her ribs (and subtly copping a feel) teasingly, "we were worried you might be dead or something!"

Ranma smirked, punching Hiroshi in the face for copping a feel. "Feh. Me? Dead? You guys don't know me very well."

Hiroshi rubbed his head, then stared at her for a long moment. "What happened to your hair?" he asked, frowning.

Daisuke gave Ranma the up-and-down-and-up-and-down. "'re back to regular old only-moderately-hot Ranma!" he said, dismayed, his finger pointed accusingly at her (really very attractive, by ordinary standards) face.

"Go die in a fire, Daisuke," Ranma said, a plastic smile on her face. Her left eye twitched.

Tarou and Happosai gallivanted down the sidewalk together, Tarou fantasizing about his sweet, sweet revenge on the evil Ranma Saotome and the joy he would feel when he was awarded his new name, and Happosai just fantasizing (unknowingly) about Ranma Saotome.

"I'm hungry," Happosai whined.

Tarou scowled. "Is it food you want, old man? Or do you want this vision of loveliness-"

"I'm HUNGRY!" Happosai whined.

Tarou sighed. "Look-"


"I didn't catch that," Tarou said testily, his intense hatred of the evil old letcher boiling to the surface, "wait, are you hungry? Say it again, a little louder this time."

Happosai smirked at him. "What, you can't afford to buy a deluxe sushi dinner for a poor old man? Perhaps you don't need a new name so badly after all, my boy..." He trailed off, whistling innocently.

"Deluxe sushi dinner," Tarou repeated, snorting back laughter. "Do I look like I can afford a deluxe sushi dinner to you, old man? If I could afford that, maybe I'd buy myself a real belt first that wasn't made out of pantyhose, do you think?"

Happosai stared at him resentfully. And then, to their left, the cheerful golden arches of the Nerima McDonald's loomed through the neatly groomed trees along the road.

Happosai jumped on top of his enraged companion's head. "Alright then, buy me a cheeseburger, you ungrateful wretch!"

Tarou clenched and unclenched his fists spasmically. "" He took a few deep breaths, unwilling to put his grand scheme in jeopardy over a lousy cheeseburger. "Alright. Fine. I'll buy you a cheeseburger. But after that, we're going straight to Ranma's high school, alright?"

"Fine, fine!" Happosai agreed happily, whistling and bounding swiftly into the generic little restaurant.

Five minutes later, he was still standing in line, getting angrier by the second. Happosai jumping up and down on his head impatiently may have had something to do with that.

Why the hell were there so many people in this worthless little McDonald's, anyway? He hated Nerima, and everyone in it. When he took over the world, he was going to nuke the whole damn city. Bunch of degenerate weirdos. God, and was there anything worse than a public place on a rainy day? And who the hell was the person in the ninja getup with bright blond hair? Like a ninja would be a blonde! Nonsense. Feh. Idiots.

"Would you stop that?" Tarou hissed, trying to bap Happosai but succeeding only in punching himself in the face. "Stop it, you old fool!"

"I'm hungry, I'm hungry!" Happosai whined. He turned to watch several desperate-looking jerks hit on a blonde woman in a ninja suit.

They had almost reached the front of the line when a brawl erupted around the blonde ninja. Gritting his teeth and shoving some doddering old fool out of his way, Tarou stepped to the counter.

"HELLO," he shouted, trying to be heard over the cries of rage and agony coming from the vicinity of the ninja girl, who appeared to be locked in mortal combat with a nine-foot-tall alien wielding a wooden sword. "I'D LIKE TO ORDER A CHEESEBURGER, PLEASE." There was a small explosion nearby. "TO GO," he clarified, but the worthless cashier fled like a coward before completing the transaction!

"I think we should leave," Tarou suggested lightly, watching a flabby middle-aged man sail across the McDonald's, through the front of the restaurant, and out onto the sidewalk, and then realized with dismay that Happosai had already joined the brawl, apparently trying his damnedest to get a free grope out of this.

Tarou watched the blonde ninja suspiciously. Where had he seen her before...? It was hard to get a good look at her. He tried to analyze her face as the alien warrior hurled her through a (different) window, sending her reeling out into the parking lot.

His curiosity piqued, he ducked through the escalating brawl, which now seemed to have no less than two dozen participants trying to kill each other, and jogged into the parking lot.

His heart skipped a beat when he saw her (somewhat battered) face, taking a mental snapshot of her standing there, astonishingly lovely, standing in the rain, in a terrible fury, a sword in her hand...

"You...!" he whispered, staring.

A slender woman in a slightly-too-large suit, accompanied by a large man in a slightly-too-small suit, staggered into view. Her suit was scorched and completely soaked through, and she was wobbling and limping badly. She looked enraged, but as she caught sight of the blonde ninja, a light dawned in her eyes.

"R...Ranma!" the strange woman gasped, a strangled gurgle of joy escaping her exhausted lips. "RANMA!" She began to hobble more quickly towards the ninja, her arms outstretched. "MY PRINCESS! OH, I'M SO HAPPY YOU'RE ALIVE, I-"

The nine-foot-tall alien warrior landed between them, creating a small crater in the asphalt. Its eyes burned, fixed on the burly guy in the small suit. "And who are you, to be so friendly with my fair goddess of war?" it boomed, its alien voice bright with righteous fury.

The guy seemed taken aback. "Uh, me? I, uh..."

He didn't quite look human, either, Tarou noticed, with some trepidation. Tarou also realized that he was standing precisely in the center of a little circle formed by the ninja, the alien, and the two crazy people in business suits. He began to inch away, nervously.

Fifteen ne'er-do-wells from the McDonald's stumbled out into the parking lot, having realized that the object of their affection was in danger of escaping them. "There she is!" one particularly desperate-looking loser rasped, drooling on himself. He was wearing a tag that said "Manager" on it.

A sleazy-looking guy in aviator sunglasses wearing a very snazzy suit stepped out of a very expensive looking Mercedes. His hair was bright pink, and he had an uzi in each hand. "SHUTARO WATANABE!" he bellowed, aiming both uzis at the McDonald's Manager. "I'MA BLAST YOU, MUTHA FUCKA!"

The monster charged. "I WILL SMITE THEE!"

"Kill the monster!" the Manager roared, and the small army of idiots dashed into the fray, screaming incoherently about blood and beautiful blonde ninjas.

The strange woman howled with rage, loosing a tremendous ki blast at the alien warrior. "YOU'LL NOT STAND BETWEEN ME AND MY RANMA!"

Happosai cheered, tossing one of his trademarked Happo-fire-burst grenades into the fray, and Tarou cursed as he was, quite unwillingly, dragged into the stupidest of stupid brawls in recent Nerima history.

Author's note: Well, at this rate, I should have this story finished by the end of the century, easy! As always, C&C appreciated.