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At this point, Soun was seriously wishing his friend had managed to stay, instead of his currently ill-tempered wife.
Nodoka was beyond pissed to say the least. The wedding was crashed, her home was destroyed, and she had just learned that her son's cure was destroyed by several parties, including her husband—who claimed he was merely trying to protect it.
He had managed to avoid the women for most of the day, as she had gone to talk with the offending parties to discover not only how they had learned of the marriage, but how they had learned of where she had lived. During that time, Genma had...left...for a training trip; apparently during the time the two parents had been at the hospital to take care of their children.
Ranma had only received second-degree burns to his back, as well as a slight concussion.
Akane received a few scratches and such, as she had been farthest from the blast range yet still within it.
Kasumi received a major concussion as well as several broken bones and three ribs. Surgery hadn't been necessary, but the girl was now in a coma.
Nabiki was still unconscious, but the doctors were relatively certain she would wake up within a week. It was her now completely grey eyes that worried them. Even the irises were gone.
The very moment things had settled down at the hospital, Nodoka had left to get her answers.
Soun was certain that Genma had abandoned him before the ambulances had arrived.
So, he was left alone...sitting before Nodoka across from the dinner table, looking at the tea before him.
And with the evidence she had placed before him, Soun Tendo knew things were going to get a lot worse. Nodoka had already explained his options, as well as her own intentions despite whichever choice he met.
The Kunos, the Kuonjis, and the Amazons were all on her mind, and the phrase "blood feud" had been used quite loosely. Nodoka had been extremely upset with all groups concerned; fiancées—either real or self-declared—were going to be held before her judgment in time. Their actions had cost her the Saotome family home, and nearly the lives of the Saotomes themselves.
And while the woman saw nothing wrong with those women taking positions as her son's mistresses, she had even revoked that supposed honor after all of this.
Of course, since she had already decided on the actions she would be taking with them, she had but one thing left to do: what actions would she take against the betrayer in the Tendo clan who had "informed" the offending parties.
The woman now awaited Soun's decision on Nabiki Tendo for her role in all that had transpired.
Nodoka had not been without at least some compassion. She had allowed the Tendo family another option besides having the middle daughter commit seppuku for all she had done: banishment from the Tendo clan. She was to receive no pity, no help, and absolutely no acknowledgement after banishment.
Soun sighed as he forced himself to decide. The sad part was: he wouldn't even be able to show how sorry he was when he did it.
Ranma sighed as Nabiki walked with him, arm and arm. It wasn't that he hated the former Ice Queen. He had long ago forgiven her for anything she might do to him. After all, he saw how hard she worked to support the dojo. It was why he never fought too hard against the photos.
And in a way, he could see a reason for her to sabotage the wedding. If he and Akane had gotten married, he would have spent Kami-sama knows how long protecting the girl.
In a way, Akane was her own worst enemy. Her temper almost always ruined her.
Trust...that was an issue all its own. The girl sometimes just refused to see anything beyond her own world.
Not that Ranma was perfect; far from it. Sure, he was perhaps the best martial artist of his generation, but what did he have to show for it?
He was officially cast out from his clan until he left Nabiki to face her own banishment.
Not that he could. It was against his nature to let any soul suffer.
Well, there were the Kunos, but they seemed to delight in suffering, and refused to ever do the right thing.
No. He couldn't leave her like this.
She was no longer the girl he remembered. The girl who had literally controlled many lives could now barely support herself.
"Yen for your thoughts, Saotome? And don't lie, you know I can tell."
He faced the girl, not really certain where things were headed. Some days, she seemed to get better, and others, her aura would have made Ryoga look deliriously happy. "Just thinking of a few things."
Sure, only a few things.
Like the failed wedding and the fallout.
Okay, he could admit that perhaps Nabiki had the right idea to sabotage the wedding. The couple were nowhere near ready for that step.
And she had no idea the other fiancées and wannabe love interests would take things so far.
Nor did she have any idea that her father would leverage Ranma's own cure against him, or that the others would grow out of control when Happosai drank it.
It was impossible to believe that she would have ever considered the diminutive pervert would pull out a bomb that size, let alone that the others would attack with their own; either chi blasts or explosives of their own.
Before the blast, things had been simple to see. He was closest to Nabiki, Akane was closest to Kasumi, and thus, for once...he trusted Akane.
It looked like both had failed.
Kasumi was in a coma, had been for the last few months.
Nabiki hadn't been able to see since that day.
When things had settled down a bit, Soun Tendo was furious. Instead of laying the blame where it should have gone: Mousse, Ryoga, Ranma's own father, and Happosai himself, the man had decided to punish the most likely person to have leaked the information who he wasn't likely to lose to.
It wasn't like he'd punish Ranma. If he did, then his precious schools would never be joined.
He wouldn't punish Akane. He never punished her, even when she deserved it.
No, he punished Nabiki.
That had actually surprised Ranma. Soun had always been extremely overprotective of his daughters...well, as long as he didn't have to do anything. After all, the man never stood up for them unless extremely necessary. It was always them sending Ranma to save Akane, Ranma to face Happosai, Ranma to face the person they screwed over...
But to toss out Nabiki...
Ranma didn't have a choice but to follow once she got out of the hospital. The girl had been destroyed when she awoke to find out everything she had lost, as well as what had happened.
He truly believed she would have killed herself if she could have. When he saw her at the same time she was informed of all things, her aura went darker than anything Ryoga could have done.
Ranma could understand, though. After all, the girl had been supporting her family since their mother died...since Soun Tendo may as well have died for all the good he did.
To have them abandon her like that...
But that was nothing compared to his own reaction when his mother informed him that he would be cast out as well until such time as he left Nabiki to her fate...
He shook his head, trying to dispel such thoughts.
This wasn't a question about honor. In the months since, he at least was able to acknowledge that family honor of the Saotome name was gone. What his father hadn't destroyed, his mother seemed to want him to with her manly ideas.
Three months later, and Ranma was still trying to sort out his life. There were times that he laid in bed, trying to sleep, but also trying to discover what exactly it was that he wanted.
Shaking the thoughts away once again, Ranma noticed they had arrived at Nabiki's school. "Ready for another day, Nabiki?"
She sighed, alerting Ranma to the fact that she was still in a depressed mood. "Sure, Ranma-kun."
Ranma shook his head. He really needed to find some way to snap her out of this depression. "Are you sure you don't want to come?"
He knew her answer. She said it every time he offered to take her to see Kasumi.
The girl already thought herself worthless, and could see no reason with 'inflicting' more of her presence on Kasumi.
She wasn't the one who blew things up, but she blamed herself more than her family ever could.
Nabiki shook her head. "I...I can't, but thank you for asking."
He nodded, not that she saw, but most likely expected, as her teacher escorted her to class.
Sighing once again, Ranma took off to head to Nerima, where his "big sister" was sleeping.
Maybe, she'd wake up and talk some sense into Nabiki.
He was seriously beginning to doubt if he could.
"I'm glad you could make it," said Mei, as she went about her duties inside Kasumi's room.
Ranma nodded. Currently, she was female, and wearing a nun's outfit, in case her former family arrived. She had gotten better at hiding herself like this. The less she did to promote herself the less chance one of her old rivals or fiancées would have to find and decide to try and force themselves back into her life.
Not that she'd knew what to do with them. They were persona-non-grata currently to her. She seriously doubted much had been done to them. Mei herself had informed Ranma that the Saotomes were still at the Dojo, Mousse was still about, Akane was still being friendly to Ryoga, and Happosai was still around.
She had to laugh at that. The actually attackers were free, but Nabiki was still hated.
Such were the ways of the warped honors of Nerima, she guessed.
"I'm glad I could as well," said Ranma, messing with Kasumi's hair a bit. Luckily, they hadn't needed to cut it when she was brought in. Ranma knew how much the woman loved her hair.
He also knew that it might be the straw to break Kasumi's nice persona if her hair was gone.
Mei nodded. "They say she could wake up at any time. Her body's healed from the explosion, but..."
It was frustrating for them both. By all accounts, Kasumi should be up and about.
But for some reason, the woman would not come out of her coma.
Ranma had even tried infusing his chi into her, hoping she just needed a kick-start.
All that resulted in was her feeling drained and Cologne racing to the hospital to track her.
Kasumi just stayed there. Not even a change in her brain waves or heart rate were detected.
It was also the reason Ranma had begun to come in disguise. He knew Cologne would hover nearby if she could. The Amazons had not given up on him.
Hell, it was due to the weirdness in Juuban, besides the low rental prices, that they moved there. After all, where better to hide himself than in a district where magical girls were common.
Shaking her head again to dispel thoughts of that nature—something she was beginning to realize she was doing all too often—she bent over to kiss Kasumi on the forehead. "Wake up soon, Princess. The subjects of your court wish to see thy beauty and radiance once more."
Mei smiled at that. Ranma had always said that line before he/she left. They said it was to give Kasumi pleasant dreams, and encourage her to wake up.
As they left the room, Mei escorted Ranma down the hall.
Ranma looked around with his senses and his passive chi sight, making sure no one was paying attention to them, or were any old acquaintances lurking about. "So, did you find him?"
Mei shook her head. "Still nothing. You'd think he'd disappeared."
Ranma nodded. Finding Tofu was proving exceedingly difficult. But then again, they still hadn't found much that even linked him to Nerima, and the guy had had a clinic there for a good portion of a decade.
They had even less luck trying to find the man's mother in the hopes that she could get a message to him.
"He's still alive, I know it. He's probably still looking for a cure to his little allergy to Kasumi."
Mei nodded as they left the hospital. "I'm glad you could come and visit."
Ranma bowed. "I'm always glad to see her...just be better if she'd say thanks."
Mei nodded, as the nun walked towards the train station, keeping from even revealing a bit of her martial arts talent in Nerima.
Mei shook her head before heading inside to prepare for the arrival of the Tendos and Saotomes. After all, wet floor signs don't set themselves.
Ranma put the nun outfit into his backpack as he left the train station. Good costumes were hard to come by...even harder for him to make.
But he had observed Kasumi's repair and mending of clothes, and despite all of the bitching his father did, the fat oaf still brought his ruined clothes to Ranma to fix on their training trip.
"Man, I wish things were simple again." Ranma began his walk around. Usually at this time of day, several businesses around the district would have something for him to do; either for some extra money or something Ranma would eventually turn into a training exercise.
Working and teaching in dojos were big no-nos. Sure, he'd stop by some, learn a bit, and help them with any problems they were having with a new technique, or even help refine an old one to be better.
It was sad in a way. He had spent his whole life trying to be the best, and now he couldn't even act in public to prove it, or even start to earn much of a living off it.
Well, he could in tournaments, but like Nabiki told him, those would only bear fruit for so long, and they would eventually attract those from Nerima.
Of course, chaos won't leave him alone forever.
And a sudden surge of what he could only describe as...dark...energy caught his attention, sending him racing towards it.
He stopped before turning onto the street the power was coming from; Nabiki's reliance on him changing his usual jump-in attitude to one of caution.
Peeking around the corner, he saw several girls in...school outfits?
Yep, they were wearing school uniforms of some sort.
They were also fighting the source of the dark energy.
Well, fighting was a strong term. It was more like they were trying to hit the damn person and he was dancing around their attacks like nothing.
Ranma quietly snorted. Judging by how accurate they were, he'd be dancing around as well.
That wasn't saying that they were weak. From what he could tell; not only were they shooting out magic, but very powerful magic on top of it. Though they seemed to take a long time to power up their attacks, doing weird poses, and...
Did that small one with pink hair just try and hit the enemy with a pink heart?
Ranma sighed. Why was it all the magic girls he encountered were posing idiots that made Kuno almost seem normal?
It wasn't that Ranma hated magic girls. Far from it, as magic seemed to end up being a part of his life ever since he received his Jusenkyo curse.
No, it was the fact that his ideal version of a magic girl were types like Lina Inverse.
He shrugged. Maybe it was a redhead thing?
So, he studied them. In all likelihood, at least three of them would have been screwed over by Genma Saotome; which meant he was most likely looking at possible new fiancées.
The one with the short blond hair and the weird sword struck Ranma as the most likely candidate. Her aura just screamed gender issues.
The second candidate was the girl with the wicked looking pole arm. She appeared fragile but strong. If true, Pops probably stole her family's car or something to make them poor.
For a third candidate, he was torn between the blond with the weird globes in her hair and the small pink haired girl who had tried to use a giant pink heart as an attack.
Hmm, might be sisters judging by their auras. This means if I am engaged to that family, the blond'll hate me and the kid will try and claim me for her own.
"DAMN IT, DUMPLING HEAD! HIT THEM, NOT ME!"
And now we have a fourth contender...
After all, if there was an overly-violent girl...he might just be engaged to her.
Finally, they seemed to finally gain an advantage after one with long aquamarine hair covered the ground in water, with a brown haired girl using what looked like a lightening attack, to electrocute the apparent bad guy.
And...the blond girl with the weird hair used a giant heart to finish it off? Yep, definitely related.
Seeing two furry little mouse chasers walk up to the girls, Ranma backed away. Well, pretending to be one of them wouldn't work; not if they were friends with c-c-c-cats. So, he needed to find another way to face that damn thing.
After all, that thing was too powerful to be the run-of-the-mill demon/oni/whatever. It had to have masters.
And odds are, something had either been done or would occur to send them after Ranma.
Sometimes, it just didn't pay to be him.
"Damn," said Sailor Jupiter, "that's the sixth one in the last few months." She struggled to get her breathing under control. Those things were just too powerful for their own good.
Artemis looked around. "Yeah...um...we really need to work on your aim," he said, noticing how damaged the area was.
Luna—for once—agreed. "These new enemies seem to be searching for something."
"Not that they'd find it in this rubble," muttered Artemis, earning him a swat from an angry female moon cat.
Sailor Mars huffed. "Yeah, Pluto was right. Galaxia was the last major enemy, my ass."
Sailor Venus looked towards Sailor Mercury. "Do the Time Gates need new batteries?"
"No, they don't run on batteries," came the reply of said artifact's guardian from behind Sailor Moon.
"EEK!" screamed the future queen of Earth as she jumped into the arms of Sailor Uranus, before squealing again as said Senshi pinched her rear.
"DON'T DO THAT!"
No one was really certain which Senshi she was referring to.
However, they all knew that her yell wasn't likely to stop them from repeating what had caused it.
"Okay, spill it," said Sailor Jupiter. "What's going on here, and so help me, if you jerk us around..."
Sailor Pluto sighed. "An event that could not be predicted has brought them. I have no idea what they search for; the Gates cannot get a lock onto wherever they are from.
"All we know is that each of their supposed foot soldiers are very powerful. As things stand now, if they were to get serious and send someone higher up in their ranks, none of you would survive."
The girls all gulped.
"So," said Sailor Saturn with a small bit of fear in her voice. "What do we do?"
Pluto stayed quiet. Truthfully, she didn't know.
And that scared the Time Guardian all the more.
Ranma walked the rest of the way to Nabiki's school in thought.
Part of his mind was remembering and analyzing those attacks the weird girls had been using. They were magic; yes, but they could be done with ki as well. So, at the very least, he might pick up some ideas for new techniques.
Part of his mind was remembering the actions of that dark energy source. It was pure evil...the eyes told him that. They thing seemed...happy...at the missed attacks as buildings and pavement received new holes.
No, he didn't feel bad for that thing dying. The wedding incident had put that sort of attitude to rest.
Sure, he still felt somewhat guilty about Saffron, but at least he wasn't letting it kill him.
No, that thing existed only to destroy and cause chaos.
Ranma immediately stopped and looked around. Kami-sama, they'll be trying to kill me next!
Sadly, it fit into his life. Usually the girls in arrangements to him would always try and kill him first.
And with all the shit that would soon be following him, all it would take is Kuno and Ryoga coming across those magic girls first before they'd try and get Ranma.
After all, not one damn fiancée was of the "ask questions first" persuasion.
Shivering, he promised to talk to Nabiki about this. If nothing else, the girl would enjoy the laugh at the pigtailed boy's expense.
But what worried him was the creature. Whatever it was, it was strong.
Ranma sighed, realizing his training was going to have to be kicked up a notch or twelve. If those things were running around, and those magic girls were all that was standing against it...
"Man, and I was enjoying the quiet."