I don't own anything X-men-ish, or Ranma. I own my laptop, and my imagination.
Thanks to J. St.C. Patrick for aggreeing to be my official pre-reader. The man is a saint.
Emma sat cross-legged on the floor across from Ranma who was doing likewise. Shampoo kneeled behind Ranma, her hands on the redhead's head. Ranma was asleep. "There isn't a lot you can do to help here, but it will give you some perspective into how the mind truly functions."
After Shampoo had explained what she knew of the Neko-ken to Emma (Ranma had been unusually silent on the subject) they had decided the only option was to treat it like a cancer- cut it out. Like major surgery, there were some small risks, but once Emma had an idea of what it was she had deemed it too important to give up on. Having a teacher who went to pieces the moment one student used her power was too big a weakness to ignore.
"Now, close your eyes, and send your astral self in after me," Emma instructed. She left her body behind, becoming an insubstantial ghost. Shampoo did the same, though the difference in power was obvious. Emma's astral form was glowing with power, while the Amazon's form was patchy and dim.
'Observe,' Emma stated. She reached out, and pushed one incorporeal arm into Ranma's head. She kept pushing, until she was in up to the shoulder. 'Notice how the rest of my 'arm' hasn't come out the other side? It's actually inside her mind, as is the rest of me.' With that, she disappeared. Shampoo followed her example.
They reappeared inside what appeared to be a dojo, to Shampoo's confusion. 'This is the Tendo dojo? How did we get here?'
Emma smirked. 'This is her mind. The typical mind is organized like a house, with different rooms associated with different parts of the personality. The first place you enter is usually the aspect of a mind that the person most personifies- or believes themselves to personify.'
'Ahh. This dojo must be martial arts,' Shampoo noted. 'So where do we find the Neko-ken?'
'I'm not sure,' Emma admitted. 'Let's look around. It has to be here some place.'
The duo left the dojo, and entered the house. Shampoo noticed that its layout was almost identical to the genuine article. 'Let's start at the kitchen,' she suggested.
The kitchen was a major surprise. At least, the kitchen was normal- well, one of them was. There were two, side by side. The first was dark, covered with spiders. Cruel looking implements of torture adorned the walls, and blood stained the floor. The second was a cheerful, happy place. Food was cooking on the stove top, and there was a happy humming from around the corner. Curiously, Shampoo investigated the noise, and was confronted with Ranma-chan. Her chest was noticeably smaller, and she wore a traditional kimono. 'Emma? What's happening?'
'Don't worry, that isn't your wife,' Emma reassured her. 'It's a representation of a part of her- probably Ranma's feminine side. The dark room though, that I'm not entirely sure of. I can feel a lot of malice radiating from it.'
Shampoo's face darkened. 'I know why that would be- it's not the Neko-ken. Let's keep searching.' Emma took note of the look on her face and didn't inquire further.
The living room was empty, apart from a shogi board and a bottle of sake, so they moved up to the second floor. Ranma and Genma's room was inhabited by Ranma-kun doing press-ups. 'This would be where the masculine part of Ranma dwells, I assume.'
Shampoo noted something worrying. 'Emma... why is he so pale?' Pale was an understatement. Ranma-kun was white, utterly devoid of colour. It looked eerily like he might look as a manga character.
'Her male self image is beginning to fade,' Emma explained. 'It won't die- what will happen is it will become less of a factor as the feminine side grows stronger.' The rich woman noticed how scared Shampoo looked. 'Don't worry; it won't make a lot of difference. Most of this paleness is from two years of turning into a girl- it shows how Ranma is afraid of losing it. Also, we came in to the 'martial arts' part of her mind, and that's what she most strongly believes herself to be. This is much less important to her.'
Shampoo nodded, partially mollified. They headed out of the room, and walked down the hall. The next door had a little pig on it, with kanji spelling 'Akane'. Shampoo chewed her bottom lip. 'I don't want to see what's there.' She turned around. 'Emma, you check.'
Understandingly, the White Queen opened the door and looked in, before pulling her head out and blushing. 'You don't need to be insecure, trust me,' she said dryly. Tentatively, Shampoo took a peek. Then she stayed there, drooling. Emma pulled her out. 'We're not here to find juicy gossip about her, Shampoo. Ranma trusted us to do this, and I refuse to betray that trust. Let's find the Neko-ken.'
Shampoo nodded regretfully, and took one last look at the bed where Ranma-kun, Ranma-chan, Shampoo, Ukyo and Akane were making the beast with two...five backs, and then followed Emma down the hall.
Nabiki's room contained a Ranma-chan wearing glasses, pouring over books. Soun Tendo's room held a Ranma-chan crying in a corner. 'Those must be Ranma's intelligence and despair,' Emma noted.
The last room... 'I think we've found it,' said Shampoo with nervousness. The door was bloodstained, covered in claw marks, and chained shut. From behind they heard an earthshaking feline roar, followed by screams.
Emma swallowed nervously. 'We won't cure this without going in there.' Her hand shaking almost imperceptibly, she reached out and opened the door.
The room was dark, its features indistinct. The only part of note was the large hole in the floor. Inside the hole... Emma retched, and the Amazon paled. A little chibi Ranma-kun was in one corner, curled into the foetal position and covered in scratches. In front of him was a cat. Well, if cats were five metres long and had teeth that could bite through cars. Every aspect was exaggerated for fear, and it was working on all of them. It clawed chibi-Ranma again and again, his wounds healing after every swipe only to be reopened by the next one. Each time it clawed him, he screamed.
'Wh... what is that on his head?' Emma asked, trying to distract herself from the gruesome display.
'His head?' Shampoo blinked. 'That's... me!'
Emma took a closer look. Sitting on chibi-Ranma's head was a small white cat with lavender highlights. With each attack by the bigger cat, it would try and fend it off. Each time that failed, it would lick chibi-Ranma's wounds comfortingly. 'Emma, that's my old curse! It's trying to protect him!'
Emma frowned, trying to connect the dots. 'Interesting... It must be because of how much Ranma cares for you, and how much she feels safe with you. In her mind, she equates you with safety and kindness. The reason it's your old curse here, instead of you as you are now, is because of how terrifying she finds cats. She doesn't want anyone else to be hurt by them, and so her subconscious thinks of your cursed form as the one thing that can defend her from them.'
Shampoo smiled sadly. 'He always used my curse to activate the Neko-ken when he needed to win at all costs. I was the only cat he'd let do it- I heard once that he stood in a room filled with cats and covered in fish sausage, and didn't go Neko until a tiger came in- and even then he waited until it licked him. I always hoped he trusted me, and that was the one piece of evidence I clung to. Even when it looked hopeless, like he hated me, I clung to that memory. It... it's nice to be right.'
Emma gave her a hug. 'Look behind Ranma.'
Shampoo peered at the wall behind the small boy. 'Is that a door? Why isn't he escaping through it?'
'Because I suspect through that door is the human you, along with Ukyo and anyone else Ranma cares for. She is trying to use herself to keep you safe.'
The Chinese girl's eyes flattened. 'I can't let that happen.' She tensed, and was on the verge of jumping in to the pit when Emma grabbed her.
'That is one of the worst things you could do. This is symbolic- nothing here is literally true. What you see is your perception of Ranma's inner psyche. There is no-one behind that door. Ranma isn't actually being mauled constantly. If you take Ranma and stuff her-him through that door, she will probably go into a coma next time she sees a cat.'
'Well, we came here to get rid of the neko-ken, right? Let's kill that cat!'
Downstairs, Ukyo sat at a table with a trio of blonds. "Pickup two."
Carol took a look at her cards. "Pickup four. Why did you join up with Emma, Ukyo?"
The chef chuckled at Longshot picking up cards. "Well, Ranma, Shampoo and I had to leave Japan. When we got here, she offered us jobs. What about you three?"
Alison threw down a card. "She offered me training in the popstar biz. Didn't hurt that she stopped me from making a big mistake."
Ukyo looked at her cards, and picked up another. Carol threw down two fives. "Take that! She said she'd give me some help with a problem I was having as Miss Marvel."
"What problem? Secret identity?" Longshot laid down another five.
"Cyborgs. Damn things keep popping up back home. I keep taking them out, but they come back stronger and stronger each time."
Alison laid down another five, and Ukyo groaned. "Twenty cards! That's mean." She started picking up cards. "What about you, Longshot?"
He smiled innocently. "Emma's helping me find out about my past. She tried looking inside my head, but that didn't work. Now she's got private investigators working on it."
Carol put down an ace. "Change to clubs. Last card."
Longshot put down a ten. Alison glared at him, and Ukyo smirked. "Hah! Pickup four!"
The ex-vigilante smirked. "One-eyed jack cancels that! I win!"
While Ukyo and Alison pouted, Longshot looked around. "I wonder what everyone else is doing?"
Emma and Shampoo stood on the outside of the door, panting. Their clothes were torn, and they were covered in scratches. Behind the door one could hear the roars of a pissed off cat.
'We need a new plan.'
Ivan and Ivanovitch strained with all their might. Beads of sweat dripped off their identical green heads. Their muscles bulged out on their arms. They strained and strained, until... SLAM! Their right hand hit the table. They sighed in unison.
"Damn it! How does he do that?"
"Yeah! We're twice the man he is, not to mention taller."
Across the table, Bishop smirked. "That's what happens when you don't work out." He flexed his bulky arm, causing Tessa to drool a little. She hastily wiped her mouth before anyone noticed.
Shampoo and Emma lay on the floor outside the chained door, bleeding from dozens of scratches. Emma glared at the Chinese girl, and then at the bag she was holding.
Shampoo was too exhausted to argue. Who would have thought that the Neko-ken went insane around fish sausage?
Jeeves stirred an oversized pot. It bubbled enticingly, and he sniffed it to make sure it was up to his normal standard. It was, and he double checked the other pots. With all the people in the house, he now had to cook for twelve normal people- and Ranma.
Ranma alone almost doubled the amount he'd have to cook.
So as a result he had had to start dinner at one in the afternoon. As he added a liberal dash of paprika, he frowned slightly. What was taking Miss Frost so long?
Emma and Shampoo lay collapsed on the floor, in the mansion. Ranma was still sleeping in front of them. They were drenched in sweat. "I give up," Emma said resolutely.
She smirked tiredly. "We'll just cheat."
'Ukyo,' Emma's voice sounded in the chef's head. 'Come to your room. Shampoo and I need you to help make a decision.'
Ukyo quickly excused herself from another game of Last Card (which she was losing, badly) and jogged up the stairs. The room that she shared with Ranma and Shampoo had a pair of tired telepaths and an unconscious redhead.
Emma wasted no time in getting to business. "Shampoo and I went into Ranma's psyche to try and destroy the Neko-ken, but it was too engrained into her mind. I doubt that it could ever be totally destroyed."
Ukyo looked puzzled. "Just what IS the Neko-ken anyway? I know it makes Ranchan afraid of cats, and makes him act like one, but just what is it?"
"I wish I knew. It seems to have become one of the stronger parts of her mind, but as to the details... I wish I knew more, like where it came from."
The chef was unusually serious. "I know a little about it, but he was always quiet about it. It happened when he was somewhere between six and ten."
Shampoo frowned. "Grandmother never told me just what it was. What little she let slip was bad. She mentioned that if it isn't done exactly right, the pupil either dies or goes mad. Sometimes that happens even if everything goes perfectly."
Ukyo cast her mind back to when she'd met her fiancé again at Furinkan High School. "I think it did something to his memories. She barely remembered me when I finally tracked him down." Other incidents came to mind. "She didn't even remember that I was a girl, and I'm sure I told him. He forgot his own mother. There was that secret sauce... He forgot most of his life before the Neko-ken."
"Get your pronouns straight. It's confusing for everyone if you keep alternating between 'he' and 'she'," Emma noted absently. "But that information fits in neatly with what I observed."
From the floor came a weak moan. Ranma sat up and rubbed her head. "Ohhhh. My head hasn't hurt that bad since the time I tried Sake."
There was a distinct 'thud' as Ranma hit the ground again, with Shampoo on top of her. "Arien! You're okay!"
"O'course I'm okay! I'm the best!" There was a short pause. "Why wouldn't I be okay? What happened?"
A pair of tender amethyst eyes gazed at the pigtailed girl. "We tried to get rid of the Neko-ken, but..." Shampoo's hug changed from bone crushing to gentle and caring. "It was the most evil thing I've ever seen."
Ukyo joined in the hug, which hid Ranma from view. Emma cleared her throat. "We do have things to do, dears."
The trio separated. "So, what's the verdict, doc?" Ranma asked with an obviously false show of cheer.
Emma didn't rise to the bait. "I sincerely doubt that the Neko-ken can be removed without damaging you. It's too entrenched. Even if it is possible, it will take years."
Ranma looked sad, while Ukyo noticed something. "You said that there was a decision to be made. What's happening?"
The White Queen nodded approvingly. "While an outright cure is beyond out powers, there is an alternative. It will allow you to see Sharon use her power without any terror. It... well, suffice it to say that there is no way that this method can be applied to any other cat."
Ranma perked up. "Well, whataya waiting for? Let's do it!"
Emma looked hesitant. "There is a slight problem with doing so. I will have to go deep within your mind, and change things."
Blink. "What kinds of things?"
"Nothing important- I'm not going to change your memories or personality. As for what I'm going to change... I can't tell you."
"Why not?" Ranma looked indignant. It only made her look cuter, and Ukyo had to restrain herself from having a quick grope. Now was not the time. But later...
"Because it wouldn't work. It depends heavily on you not knowing," Emma said regretfully.
Ranma looked frustrated. "But we aren't the same- heck, we don't even know each other that well."
Blond hair shimmered seductively as Emma nodded. "That is why I asked Ukyo to come here. In the medical profession, if a person isn't able to make a decision for themselves (or isn't capable of communicating their decisions) they get a family member or partner to make it for them. I can't tell you- but I can tell them."
The redhead sighed. "Fine."
Carol shuffled a pack of cards, trying to ignore her lavender haired companion. Finally, the fidgeting got too much for her. "Would you stop that!?!"
Sharon had the grace to blush. "Sorry. I just can't wait for Ms Emma and Ranma to finish whatever they're doing."
"What's up with you anyway? Ever since you and Ranma went off together, you've been jumpier than a criminal on his first heist."
Sharon looked out the window. "A few years ago, my best friend moved away. Before she could give me her new phone number, I started mutating. My parents had no idea what was happening, so they packed me off for the government to study." He voice took on a growling tone, and Carol was surprised to see claws emerge from the lavender-haired girl's fingers. "I only got free a couple of weeks ago, thanks to Ranma. Not only that, but she found my friend. She lives in this town! She's going to re-introduce us."
Carol slowly floated into the air. "Are you sure she'll want to know you? You are a mutant. The world doesn't like us very much." She floated upside-down. "Since that big fight between the X-men and the giant robot, the world went nuts trying to hunt us all down. They were on the verge of declaring us to not be real people. If it hadn't been for the X-men stopping some guy from tearing down a dam on national television, during the debate on what response to take to mutants, we would probably be hunted down by the government."
"I know," Sharon said quietly. "But Rahne's my friend. She'd never betray me, no matter what."
"What I want to do," Emma started, "Is tamper with her perceptions. Her fear of cats permeates her brain, yet there is one cat that she isn't so afraid of- Shampoo's curse. Her mind envisioned the curse as protecting her from cats."
"Are you planning on making him think that Sharon's the cat that protects him?" asked Shampoo.
"No, that wouldn't work. Instead, I will play on her mind's natural desire to believe what it wants to believe. It doesn't want to believe that a purple cat is evil- so it doesn't want to believe that a purple cat is a cat." The White Queen's voice had taken on a lecturing tone. "By strengthening that natural desire, Ranma will not perceive Sharon- or more specifically, Catseye- to be a cat. The mind will then make the necessary adjustments on its own."
Ukyo smiled at that, but Shampoo frowned. "And when someone points out that Catseye is a cat, the whole work comes undone."
Emma smirked. "The mind is a lot like a computer. All you will need to do is reset it, and it will return to how it was. If someone explains it to Ranma, knock her out. When she wakes up, she'll have forgotten that Sharon turns into a cat, instead of something less terrifying."
The two Asian mutants looked at each other, and came to a conclusion. "Okay. Do it."
In the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, a commotion was taking place. Even for a place filled with adolescent mutants with raging hormones and not quite controlled powers, it was unusually noisy. Kitty ran down the corridor and snagged the first person she saw- Bobby. "What's happening?"
Bobby waved his arms around. "One of Magneto's goons is here- the metal one!"
"Colossus?" Kitty said in surprise. "I haven't seen him since that party we had after we beat Apocalypse. What does he want?"
"Dunno. But the Professor wanted Scot, Logan, Beast, Jean and Storm in his office. Tin-man is just sitting in the living room, waiting."
"Well, what are you waiting for?!? Let's go!" Kitty ran off, unimpeded by such mundane things as walls.
She arrived in the hall, where an impassive Colossus stood silently, leaning against a wall. Around him were some of the New Mutants, looking at him like a tiger in a zoo. That wouldn't do.
"Hey, Pitor! What are you doing here?"
The man gave a start. "Kitty? What are you doing here?"
She grinned. "I live here! But, like, what are you doing here?"
He sighed contentedly. "A few nights ago, Magneto was summoned to a meeting. I don't know what happened there, but when he came back he released his hold over me. My sister is safe now. I came here to see if your home might open to a simple farmer who wants to make up for his crimes."
Kitty blinked, and then squealed. "You're gonna be an X-man!"
I opened my eyes, closing them again sharply as a headache stronger than Ryoga kicked in. "Damn. I haven't woken up to a headache like that since Ucchan lost her spatula."
I opened my eyes again, to see Ucchan, Emma and Shampoo leaning over me. "What happened?"
Emma smiled kindly. "The operation was a success."
What the... operation? "Operation?" Oh god. Did I have a sex change? Into what? From what?
"The Neko-ken one, honey," Ucchan said, hugging me. "Emma says it worked."
Neko-ken? "She cured me of the Neko-ken?"
I was rewarded with two blank looks. "Don't you remember? We were talking about having to do something because of Sharon."
I racked my brains. And came up with nothing. "Does she have a pet cat?"
"Her mutation," Ucchan said. She was beginning to look afraid. "You had a problem with her mutation, remember?"
"Hey!" I spluttered indigently. "I ain't no jerk who hates mutants! I'm a mutant! You three are mutants! Why would I have a problem with mutants?!?"
Ucchan looked like she was about to go to pieces. "Not mutants, Sharon's mutation!"
I scratched the back of my head. "Why would I have a problem with a girl turning into a possum?
Downstairs, Sharon had an unexplainable urge to sink her claws into a redhead.
Ranma visibly shivered, but Shampoo had more pressing things on her mind. 'Emma- what happened? Did something go wrong?'
'No, don't worry,' she sent back, both to the Amazon and the okonomayiki chef. 'It's part of the mind protecting itself from harm. You'd be surprised at how much the mind likes to fool itself rather than admit that there is something wrong. Sometimes, when a person has a stroke, they might try and say 'The coffee is too hot,' and end up saying 'Banana fruit loop monkey,' without noticing the difference.'
'So everything worked?'
"I can't be sure until we test it,' Emma said. 'Let's suggest Ranma see what our Hellions can do.'
I wandered down the stairs, and found the new people lounging around. "Hey everybody! Time for me to see what you can do." I stuck one hand dramatically in the air. "To the basement!"
Sage stood with Emma and Shampoo in the observation room, overlooking the training room. The holographic projectors were working flawlessly, making the room look like an oversized dojo. Sage switched on the speaker. "This is our training room, the Holodeck. It is capable of emulating any environment possible, and is virtually indestructible. Don't worry about damaging it."
Alison raised her hand. "Why is it called the Holodeck?"
Sage rolled her eyes so hard it was almost audible. "The inventor, Forge, likes Star Trek too much."
I stood in the Holodeck, my students around me. "In here, we should probably get used to calling each other by our codenames. We'll get uniforms eventually, as soon as me an' Emma can agree on what they are."
Ucchan nodded. "So I'm Mercury."
Carol grinned. "I'm Ms Marvel."
Alison piped up, "I'm Dazzler!"
Sharon looked depressed. "I guess I'm Catseye."
"I, uh, guess I'm Longshot?"
Bishop scowled. "I'm Bishop." He looked menacing enough that none of us wanted to argue with him.
The Ivan's looked at each other. "We'll just be Ivan until we can agree on a name."
I clapped my hands together. "And I'm Temptress," I scowled at Ukyo. "First things first. You guys are gonna take it in turns to attack me. That'll give me an idea of where you are, skill wise." I smirked. "Don't worry- I can guarantee that none of you can really hurt me, never mind kill me. Go all out." My grin turned predatory. "Who wants to be first?"
Ms Marvel stepped forward. "I'll give it a try."
It was like Christmas had come early- all these people, with cool new techniques (well, powers), and I was about to fight them all! "You guys get back- this might be a little messy." Ucchan positively ran away, and the others followed her example. I huffed. "Damn it Ucchan, it was just that one time! And no one got hurt!" I thought back for a second. "Well, no one important." I thought back some more. "Ok, almost no one important." Ms Marvel looked a little nervous now. "Ya ready?"
She nodded. I stuck my hands into my pockets and smirked. "Ready when you are."
There was a brief pause, before she flew at me, fists outstretched. I leaned to one side, and she flew straight past me. I yawned.
She looked irritated, and came back for another flyby. This time she had her arms spread out to the sides. I grinned. This girl was learning. I could dodge her when she was a fast, small moving projectile, but with her arms out like that it was another story. This time, as she came close to me, I let myself lean backwards in a way that would have made a professional limbo dancer proud- after all, how many people could lean backwards to the point that their head was half a foot from the ground?
She flew right over me. "No way!" I smirked again. She was getting irritated!
She came at me again, and I frowned slightly. She was doing the same thing again, even though it hadn't worked before. She was even lower this time though. As she came past, I limboed underneath her again, and she overshot me.
I stood up again, before some sixth sense told me to move. I jumped to the side, seconds before the ground exploded and wood went flying everywhere. When the dust cleared, I grinned. Ms Marvel had seen that when I ducked under her charges, I took a moment to stand up again. She had used that to fly up, and then down and where I was standing. She was clever. "Nice try, but not good enough!"
She was getting ticked. Ms Marvel, giving up on flight, came at me swinging. I weaved between her blows, chatting throughout. "Oh, nice try- that almost hit me- come on- wow, you're slow, ain't ya?" Her face was getting redder and redder. Finally, one of her blows connected to my stomach. I went flying back, landing on my feet. "Huh- I thought you were supposed to be strong. I've fought tougher pigs!"
She glared, but underneath the anger there was a calculating expression. She flew at me again, and quicker than before, grabbed me by the waist. I blinked, and she flew- upwards. Her grip tightening, she spoke into my ear. "You might be able to dodge me, even throw off my punch, but I'd like to see you get through this!" she smashed through the holographic dojo, and kept going up. When she reached the ceiling of the place, she turned around, and hurtled towards the floor. I blinked in shock.
She had moved me so that when she hit the ground, I'd be between her and the ground. With the speed she could fly, and the assistance of gravity, she would smash me against the ground. I almost began to regret telling her to go all out.
As we were moments away from hitting the floor, I used an upper level Aikido escape twist to break her grip on me. Before she could react, I jumped away from her.
She hurtled into the floor. There was a moment where her head was buried in the ground, her body sticking straight into the air. Then she collapsed. I sighed, and pulled her out of the floor. She was unconscious.
"Well, she put up a good fight," I said cheerfully. "Who's next?"
They all went white.
Longshot was next. He came at me, punching wildly. I ducked under his first punch, when something strange happened. I knew I'd dodged perfectly, but he hit me!
Ok, it was about as strong as I was that time Happosai used the Ultimate Weakness Morxibustion on me, but still- he managed to hit me!
I jumped backwards, and he came at me again.
He came at me, swinging a clumsy punch at my head. I ducked, and slipped.
Yes. Me. Slipped.
I lay on the floor, stunned. How could I slip? Me? Ranma Saotome, the best martial artist of the generation?
I jumped up, and aimed a kick at his torso. It should have connected.
Instead, he dodged.
Well, fell would be more accurate. The force behind the punch I dodged made him overbalance and fall, just in time to miss my kick. I glared at him. "How the hell can you be so lucky!?!"
He blushed. "It's my gift. Good things like that happen to me."
I groaned. "I thought you were kidding." A thought occurred to me. "Ya know, luck is important in a fight. I can't count the number of times I've had sheer luck turn the tide of a fight." My grin turned feral. "But no matter how useful luck is, it's skill that wins a battle." Forgoing all complex moves, I stuck my hand out too quickly for him to react to, and grabbed him by the collar. "See?" I threw him into the air.
I watched him fly upwards, and frowned. "Why is he so light?"
Over the intercom I heard Emma's voice. "His bones are hollow. And easily broken."
I blushed. "I should catch him, huh?"
"That would be a good idea," Her voice dripped with sarcasm. She reminded eerily me of Nabiki. I leapt up, and caught him in my arms, landing easily. I was about to put him down, when I caught a look at his eyes.
The eyes are important. You can tell the measure of a man from the look in his eyes. You can see past hurts, present insecurities, fears, hopes, the works. In his eyes I saw a lot. Pain, lots and lots of pain, coupled with determination. An unwillingness to back down, and that combination of empathy and courage which said as plain as day, he would sacrifice himself in a heartbeat for another. Even if he had no idea who he was or where he'd come from, I had a clue. He was a good person, and he'd seen a lot of bad things.
It reminded me of myself.
I put him down, and to one side I could see Ucchan grinding her teeth for some reason. I thought about it for a sec, and realized why- I hadn't fought her yet. She was a true martial artist, and was looking forward to our match as much as I was.
"Hey, Ucchan," I said cheerfully. "Your turn."
Ukyo growled. How dare that fiancée of hers do that! Holding him so close, staring into his eyes...
Someone deserved a spanking.
Ukyo turned into her metal form, and formed a combat spatula out of her mass.
"Don't go easy on me, Ucchan," The red head warned, "Even with your powers." Ranma was visibly bouncing with joy, and Shampoo could guess why. When Ukyo had first arrived in Nerima, she had almost beaten Ranma. Time had only helped her improve, and now she was free to use the mutant power she had been keeping secret. A martial artist who specialized in weapons, with the ability to form and repair weapons, ones which were impossible to be disarmed of... Ranma looked like Christmas had come early.
Ukyo grew a layer of metal spikes, and charged.
Up in the observation booth, Shampoo was cheering madly for her husban...wife. The fight between Ranma/Temptress and Ukyo/Mercury had become borderline pornographic. Twenty minutes into the fight, Mercury had managed to rip off Temptress's shirt, leaving a racy bra which Temptress had put on that morning at Shampoo/Psylocke's insistence. Temptress had managed to fire a well-placed chi blast, destroying all of Mercury's clothes. The fight had become a standstill for a minute, until Temptress had realized the practical application of the soul of ice. She had started freezing Mercury's spatulas, causing them to shatter upon a well placed strike.
Mercury had been lost for a moment, before she hit upon a practical solution. By forming multiple, simple appendages, the loss of any individual one was negligible. The mass of limbs were able to make too many strikes to block, and were beginning to wrap around the red head.
Temptress groaned and strained as she tried to escape the mass of limbs that had managed to get a good hold of her. Mercury responded by shifting her hold to Temptress's arms and legs, and pulling them in different directions.
On the Holodeck, Bishop, Longshot and the Ivan's had passed out with bleeding noses. Ms Marvel, Catseye and Dazzler looked on in envy. Upstairs, Shampoo had pressed 'Record' at what was, to all appearances, a live action tentacle rape.
I won, of course. The next few fights were boring. Dazzler just shot laser beams from her hands, which were child's play to dodge. Bishop tried his hand at boxing, not even using any powers. The Ivan's made things blow up around me, which I stopped by grabbing a piece of debris and throwing it at the left head, knocking him unconscious. The right head, Ivanovitch, was too busy trying to stay standing up to dodge an uppercut.
Last up was Catseye. She looked really, really nervous. I smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry. I ain't gonna hurt you. Well, not much."
"Ummm... What about your cat problem?"
I looked around in pani... alertness. "Cat! Where?"
Catseye opened her mouth again, and then went cross eyed. After staying that way for a minute (and confusing the heck out of us all) she shook her head. "Never mind."
I stuck my hands in my torn up pants. "Well, let's do this."
Swallowing nervously, she tensed her muscles. I watched with mild interest as she gained half a foot in height, and grew purple fur all over her body. Her feet and hands changed shape slightly, and her mouth bulged out into a muzzle. From her tail bone a tail sprouted. All up, she looked like a purple possum-girl.
She leapt at me, and I twisted out of the way, letting her land on the ground. She spun around and leapt again, this time actually managing to hit me. 'Huh, she's pretty fluid,' I noticed. She tried to slash me with the 6 inch claws which extended out of her fingers, but I grabbed her hands and threw her.
She crashed into the wall of the dojo and didn't get up again.
A few minutes later (after Sage had brought a bucket of cold water, which I'd thrown on the unconscious people, and a shirt so that Ucchan and the guys would listen to me instead of stare at my chest) I stood facing all my new students (and Ucchan).
I cleared my throat. "Well, that was disappointing. You all suck."
They all exploded at that. "Hey, I nearly beat you!" "You're too fast!" "I was taking it easy on you!"
"SHUT UP!!!" I yelled. They shut up, and stared fearfully at me. I blushed a little at their stares. "Some of you did ok, I guess. Ucchan, you were awesome. Carol, you did the best out of everyone. Sharon, you did ok."
"Hey!" Ucchan protested. "Our fight lasted half an hour! How was she better than me?"
Carol smirked, and stuck her tongue out at my cute fiancée. I rolled my eyes. "You've been watching me fight for over a year, and you're a trained martial artist. Carol had no idea how I fought, no real training, and still came close to beating me. If she had held my right arm here," I pointed to the spot, "Instead of here, she might even have won."
Emma's voice boomed out over the intercom. "Ranma, your students have school tomorrow."
I blinked. School. I'd forgotten about that. I regretfully cancelled my plans for an everyone-vs-Ranma fight. "Well, I guess we'll continue training tomorrow. Everyone- dinner time. Bishop, could you stay behind?"
The rest of them hobbled out of the Holodeck, Ucchan lingering until I waved her away. Finally, it was just me and the man-sized mountain. Bishop looked confused and worried. "Is this about how I did in the fight?"
I nodded. "Yeah. You didn't even use any powers. How come?"
He looked down. "I absorb energy- like from Dazzler's blasts. You didn't fire any, so I couldn't use my power. If you had, I would have been stronger, faster."
I rubbed my chin for a moment. He absorbed energy, but that was all he could do. Without energy he was as useless as a flat battery. I thought back to my half remembered science lessons. "Energy... Can you absorb fire?"
"What about this?" I held my hand up in front of him. It took on a brief blue glow, before it condensed into a ball. "Moko Takabishia!"
It slammed into his chest, burning away the front of his shirt, and doing no other damage. He grinned, and he held his hand. It glowed blue for a moment. "Yup."
I blinked. Twice. "You could be as strong as Carol, with that power. Starting tomorrow, we're gonna work on that."
He left the room doing the manly equivalent of a happy skip, and I followed, whistling cheerfully. A good fight, and then dinner. This was a good life.
Hey, another chapter! I can't believe it took so long- apart from the last 1500 words, this thing has been sitting on my hard drive since Christmas.
About Pitor (Aka Colossus):
Colossus, in the original Uncanny X-men, was a Russian farmer. When the original X-men (Marvel Girl/Jean, Iceman, Angel, Beast, Havoc and Polaris) were taken prisoner by the mutant island Krakoa, Storm, Banshee, Sunfire, Wolverine, Colossus, Thunderbird and Nightcrawler were enlisted to rescue them. Colossus fought as an X-man for decades, briefly joining the acolytes. In X-men: Evolution, Colossus, along with Sabertooth, Gambit, Pyro and Mastermind were Magneto's acolytes. In one episode, it was revealed that Colossus wasn't working for Magneto because he was evil or insane, but because his family was being held hostage by the bucket head. Colossus fought alongside the X-men against Apocalypse, and was seen at the victory party afterwards. In the visions of the future Xavier has at the end of the series, Colossus was shown in the X-men. Notably, Gambit wasn't.
About Scott (Aka Cyclops)
Cyclops is an ass. He was through the movies, he was through the original TV series, and he was in the comics. Even Cyclops-lovers will admit that he acts like he has a stick shoved somewhere very uncomfortable. At best he has the occasional shining moment, but for the most part he's the one everyone loves to hate.
Or at least, he was.
X-men: Evolution Cyclops is his best portrayal to date. He's responsible without being a dick. He's every bit as human as his team, subject to worries and woes like the rest of them. More than that, he's a good leader- one who inspires as well as thinks. The creators of X-men: Evolution did a lot of things very right, and that was one of the best.