Shampoo peeked into the room, and silently observed the tiny form of her great grandmother who seemed to be frantically searching for something.
"What she doing?" the purple-tressed Amazon whispered to her companion.
Mousse adjusted the thick glasses over his eyes as he tried his best to see. "No idea," he conceded after a while.
Suddenly, Cologne went still, and with trembling fingers, pulled an ornate box out from deep within her closet.
Shampoo's eyes went wide. "Aiyah! That great grandmother's treasure chest."
"You mean the one where she keeps the magic items and treasures of our tribe?" Mousse asked with interest. 'Hmmm… Once I get my hands on that, then Saotome will be toast and Shampoo will be all mine! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!'
The girl he loved was able to easily ignore his 'Evil-Gloating-Silent-Laughter-and-Leer' routine from years of practise. "No, this one special. Not even Shampoo allowed to look."
With mounting excitement, the young Amazons watched their Elder disable the numerous locking devices and booby traps and open the lid. Cologne's eyes were shining as she lifted something out of the box and held it to her chest like it was the most precious thing in the world.
It was a testament to how intent she was on the object in her hands that the Amazon Matriarch never noticed the presence of the two intruders in her private domain.
Shampoo and Mousse slumped, feeling oddly disappointed.
"Shampoo can't see!" she complained. "How about Mousse?"
She had to give herself a slap on the head for that one.
They watched as the wizened ancient being, misshapen by time, stroked whatever it was in her arms lovingly. "My…precious…" she cooed in a gravelly voice. Then she looked up, determination radiating from every pore. "Now, I must go find Son-in-law!"
Shampoo's eyes lit up. "Airen!" she breathed reverently. She looked at the old woman with hope – Cologne was up to something, and if it included Ranma, then it could only mean one thing.
"What is that old witch planning to do?" Mousse snarled quietly through clenched teeth. He had to stop Cologne at all costs. Shampoo was his!
By Ms Spooky
Disclaimers: Don't own any of 'em!
Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Wow, I didn't expect such a response…
Notes at the end of the chapter.
At the Tendo dojo…
Everyone stared, rooted to the spot, at the two women in front of them.
After a few more minutes, they all tilted their heads one way, then another, but finally had to admit that they couldn't really tell what was happening between Nodoka and Pluto from their angle. It was simply impossible to see around the visible side of Pluto's cheek anyway, what with it still being bruised and swollen to four times its usual size from the sheer force of Akane's slaps and all.
However, using such telltale clues as the bobbing movement of the green and red heads, and the little groans and whimpers interspersed between whispers coming from the two, it was only logical to assume that the ladies were kissing passionately.
Ranma covered his eyes with his hands. He felt like crying – no way was anyone going to catch him at it if he did. Oh, why couldn't he have fallen into the 'Spring of Drowned Ashura' instead? That way, he would have had enough hands to cover his ears too. "This is NOT happening! This is NOT happening!" he repeated his new mantra with renewed desperation. Maybe if he kept telling himself that, it would make it true.
"Aye carumba! Auntie Saotome and Sailor Pluto…!" Nabiki was so stunned she forgot to record this Kodak moment for posterity…
…and the tabloids… and women's magazines….
The middle Tendo would be kicking herself for years to come over this mental lapse and all the money that could have been hers for the scoop.
"Oh my!" Kasumi quickly cast her mind back to all those times, when the children had been at school and the housework had been done, that she had shared an innocent hot bath with Nodoka - which might not have been so innocent after all. She wrung her hands in worry. "…oh…dear…."
'Ho-ly crap, first Ranma, now his mother!' was Akane's numb thought. 'Has that bitch no shame?' The more she stared at the scene of debauchery starring Pluto and poor Auntie Saotome, the more the youngest Tendo felt vindicated in her earlier conviction. A vein started to throb at her temple as she watched the pervert molest Ranma's mother who was obviously struggling to get away.
Her vision slowly turned red…
Pluto was ecstatic.
Finally, the family reunion she had been dreaming about for almost half a century!
She tightened her grip on her wayward spouse, afraid that the other would disappear the moment she let go. "Darling!" the green haired woman squealed happily, nuzzling her good cheek into Nodoka's. "What an unexpected surprise! I never thought to see you again!"
Nodoka was turning blue from the strength of the embrace. "...he…he… (wheeze)…el…p...(choke)…" she whimpered.
"So, what have you been up to with Ranma all these years away from me?" Pluto asked in a low sultry voice.
"I'm sorry, what did you say, honey?" Pluto asked in concern. She reduced the pressure slightly on the headlock so that the redhead could answer.
"Y…y-you…(pant)(gasp)…missss…ta-ken (wheeze)… meee for… (groan)… someone-" Whatever Nodoka wanted to say was cut off at the same as her air supply.
Pluto leaned in closer. "What was that, dear?" she asked into the redhead's ear.
Nodoka's mouth opened and closed like a dying fish.
Pluto frowned when the other woman refused to answer her reasonable questions. After fifty years of separation, she had really expected better of her 'husband' than for him…her… to deny their relationship just like that. "Dear," she let a little steel creep into her voice, "I asked you a question…"
Tears of fright appeared in Nodoka's eyes. She didn't have to be a psychic to know that the nice woman interrogating her so politely and sweetly was in a really, really bad mood.
'Is it that time of the month?' Nodoka panicked, heart going a pitter-patter at the thought.
An odd thought coming from another woman. Then again, she was trapped in a vicious headlock.
'And why isn't anyone helping me...?' Nodoka wailed silently in anguish.
Well, basically because it didn't occur to any of the watching Tendos, and Ranma was in denial.
And of the two people in the room who might have been counted on to interrupt just because, Akane was still in the middle of powering up her angry ki, and Genma was… currently unavailable after his close encounter of the Plutonian kind.
The other senshi would have helped, if not for the fact that from their vantage point, it also looked like a passionate reunion between two lovers.
And who were they to come between Pluto and her loved one?
After watching the brutal showdown between the Mama-Senshi of Time and The Psycho Fiancée, they had learned the lesson well.
But that didn't stop the commentary.
"What the HELL!" Uranus exclaimed with feeling. "All this time, and she's gay!" She whirled on her companions. "Did any of you know this?" she demanded.
Neptune shrugged matter-of-factly. Being no stranger to lesbian affairs, she was one of those least affected by this latest revelation. But even she had to admit she didn't see this one coming.
Uranus didn't bother asking her adopted daughter. Saturn was speechless, and Uranus suspected her eyes were probably as huge as dinner plates. But the blonde couldn't be sure, since Neptune still had her hands over them to block out the disturbing sight in the living room.
What the two Outers would never know, was that the damage had already been done.
Little Hotaru's thoughts raced. 'Gosh, all the Outer Senshi are lesbian… except me… so far…! Oh my God! Does that mean I'm…'
Next was Mercury. Uranus twitched when the senshi in blue acted like she hadn't even heard her question, seeming fully absorbed by whatever she had called up on her computer.
Brow knitted, the tomboy senshi decided to ignore the brainy one, and turned to her other companions.
There were no more senshi on the wall.
"What the-!" Uranus blink-blinked. "Where did they all go?"
Several groans answered her from below.
Uranus sweatdropped as she looked down to see the missing senshi sprawled where they had facefaulted off the Tendo compound wall into the Tendo backyard, their legs twitching weakly in the air.
Poor Nodoka. Definitely no help from this quarter.
By now, Akane was surrounded by a red nimbus of power, her eyes white with rage. Her hair started to flash a fiery gold every now and then, flowing upwards with the force of her aura.
Angry ki crackled in her hand as a mallet began to form…
The effects would have been even more impressive if her aura had also levitated the dust and rubble off the floor. Unfortunately, Kasumi had just dusted and cleaned the room earlier, and Akane was standing on the wrong side of the living room to make use of the debris from the section destroyed during Pluto's wrathful vengeance on Genma.
None of her family members and Ranma paid her any heed. An angry, glowing Akane was a fairly common phenomenon in Nerima after all.
Uranus and Neptune looked at Mercury.
It couldn't be Mars because she was still getting over her head injury from falling off the wall.
"Are you sure that girl's not a youma or an agent of evil?" the blonde asked, and probably not for the first time.
A vein throbbed at Mercury's brow. "How many times do I have to tell you – YEESSSSS!"
"Geez, no need to shout!" Uranus said reasonably. "What's gone and twisted your panties into a bunch?"
Several pairs of eyes stabbed her with feminine fury.
"What?" Uranus asked. "Was it something I said?"
At the Nekohanten…
Cologne was still holding onto her precious treasure, lost in thought, when a white streak swooped in and grabbed it from her arms.
The old woman whipped around in shock. When she identified her assailant, alarm overtook her features. "Wha-! Damn you, Mousse!" she screamed at the fleeing duck.
She started to give chase, and ran into Shampoo who was about to do the same. They both went down in a heap.
Already flying away, Mousse-duck looked back at Cologne with a smirk on his bill – an incredible feat considering that he was a duck, and that he was holding some powerful relic in his mouth. He gave the ancient woman a little jaunty salute with a wing, confident of his getaway.
After all, he knew the layout of the Nekohanten like the back of his hand, and could find his way around blindfolded.
He turned around to resume his escape, preparing to put on a little extra burst of speed.
That was when he realised several things.
One, in his haste, he had forgotten to factor in that his starting point was from Cologne's bedroom, a sacred place he had rarely entered, much less plotted quick getaways from.
And two, and he would kick himself for this one afterward, was something so basic that it should have been instinct:
'EYES FRONT AT ALL TIMES!'
Mousse had time to think all this, and even try to decelerate, but it was too late.
"….qu-qua..c….cckkk…." he groaned as he slid onto the floor. Cologne's treasure fell out of his bill and landed in front of him, falling open.
Dazed, Mousse shook his head quickly, and prepared to pick it up again, when he finally noticed what it was he had been carrying all this time.
'My word, this isn't a magical artefact! It's a book!'
A large, really heavy book at that.
There were also strange pictures and writings on the opened pages.
He stared, he squinted, then he adjusted his glasses firmly onto his face to examine it again before he was finally able to make sense of what he was seeing. Mousse blanched in horror, his entire being focused on what was in front of him, so that he didn't hear the thudding footsteps of the female Amazons closing in on him.
'And not just any book, it's an a-' "SQUAAAAAWKKKK!" Mousse protested in outrage as a tiny, wrinkled hand grabbed him by the neck.
"That will be enough, Mr Part Time," Cologne said grimly as she quickly shut the book before Shampoo could see, and tucked it away out of sight.
"Great grandmother, what book is it?" Shampoo asked, trying not to stare at the rectangular shaped hunchback the Amazon matriarch had suddenly sprouted under her clothes.
Cologne slumped at being found out. But Shampoo was family, and one day the secrets within that book would be hers. She had been meaning to tell the girl one day, sooner or later, after she had time to prepare her for the… shocking contents of the tome.
But now that Shampoo had found out, she supposed this was as good a time as any, although the old woman would have much preferred to hold it off till her deathbed.
Cologne glared with hate at the annoying male. It was all his fault!
Mousse quaked with fear at the evil malevolence radiating from the old ghoul.
At the Tendo dojo…
Genma slowly opened his eyes and stared up at a once familiar ceiling.
There were cracks and crevices that weren't there before. Lots of them. Some sections were even charred.
Genma blinked as loose rubble and dust rained down, and the movement made him aware of a familiar feeling.
He tried to massage his temples, but it had no effect on the splitting headache he was currently sporting.
God, this had to be the worst hangover of his life. Not only was his head hurting, but the rest of his body had apparently decided to join the party as well. What happened? Did he get into a brawl on top of drinking himself blind?
When he tried to sit up, he knew instantly that it had been a bad idea."Ow…. Ohhh.. ohhhh…..oww…..argg…. owww…..urghh…" he groaned, gritting his teeth in severe pain, each movement triggering off sharp spikes of agony in every part of his body.
Finally more or less upright, he carefully inspected himself with bleary eyes, wondering whether he had fallen asleep on broken pieces of sake bottles or something, when he was struck dumb in disbelief.
Had it really been so long since someone had last washed his white gi? It was so… black
It also hung in fragile strips off his body, and looked ready to fall apart at the slightest excuse.
And huh. No wonder he hurt. His body was also black and blue all over.
Genma slowly looked around for someone to help him, and saw his wife in the room. He was about to call out to her, when he was forced to do a double take.
Then a triple take.
At first, he wasn't sure what to make of the scene. It was all the more confusing because he was seeing what had to be hundreds of tiny images of the same thing due to the myriad of cracks on his glasses. He took his lenses off and squinted.
His wife was in the arms of another person.
Who happened to be a woman.
Who happened to have long green hair.
And was dressed like someone straight out of a pervert's fantasy.
….Boy, she looked awfully familiar…
Genma was sure it was someone he really should remember.
It took some time, but finally it came back to him.
Hey, she was… that psychotic woman who had just tried to kill him for no reason!
A dramatic mental pause.
And she was holding Nodoka in her arms and kissing her like they were lovers or something!
Genma recoiled in horror, shrieking like a little girl.
Trembling, he turned to his only source of comfort, someone who had stood with him through thick and skin, during their years of torture under the Master, He-Who-Must-No-Be-Named.
Genma found the Boy-Who-Lived-Through-The-Torture-With-Him looking back, tears threatening to spill out of his eyes. Soun's moustache quivered.
What happened next came naturally. They latched onto each other, seeking comfort. "I'm scared, Saotome!" the long haired man cried into the stockier man's chest.
That was the last straw, and the last of the gi still left on the bald martial artist's chest disintegrated into dust, leaving his upper body bare.
"So am I, Tendo!" Genma trembled, hugging the other man tighter, the adrenalin rush from his fright enabling him to forget he was still supposed to be hurting.
Ranma regretted opening his eyes to check whether that strange woman was still there. He hurriedly squeezed them shut even tighter. Oh god, his Pops and Mr Tendo too…?
"Geez…! Dad, Uncle Saotome – get a room!"
Akane had finally finished powering up. Surrounded by a red glow, her hair sticking up and looking golden in the light of her battle aura, she brandished her mallet to finish off Pluto once and for all when she happened to glance over at the two fathers.
"Y-you… YOU PEEERRRRRVVVVVEEEEEERRRRTTTTS!"
Afterwards, Ranma and the Tendo girls would need years of therapy to get over the psychological and emotional trauma they had experienced this day.
Pluto ignored the commotion around her as she concentrated on the woman in her arms. "Well, dear?" she asked again, sweetly. When no answer was forthcoming, she added, "Just so you know – there's no use denying the truth, because I have ways to make you talk."
"And I'm sure you realise that I will be very unhappy if you make me waste my time and energy doing something like that when I could be reuniting with my long lost son instead." The amount of malicious intent the senshi could convey by a whisper was truly incredible, indeed.
"….." Nodoka said again, but that might have been due to the oxygen deprivation she was currently experiencing.
"You know, the son you stole from me when he was just a baby."
"The one whose growing years I missed out on because of you!" Pluto was feeling a little aggrieved.
"He didn't even recognise me when he saw me!" Pluto continued to rant. "How could you not tell him the truth, you bastard?" She looked at the suffocating woman in her arms. "Oh, forgot about that… you bitch!" she corrected herself.
"So, do we understand each other?" Pluto said sternly. "You are going to confess the truth without my resorting to something… drastic, aren't you?"
Nodoka's eyes fluttered as her eyes started to roll towards the back of her head. Luckily, the Senshi of Time took that as a 'yes' and set her free.
The first thing the Saotome matriarch did was to cough and gulp in huge lungfuls of precious air. The second thing she did was to scrabble away from the other woman as quickly as possible. She didn't get far, what with still recovering from being choked and all.
The rest of the household quickly realised further developments were afoot, and after rolling the unconscious fathers' bodies away to make room, settled down to watch.
Ranma held both fists over his mouth in desperate anticipation, while he gazed at Nodoka with large shimmering blue eyes.
'Please, Mom. You're my only hope,' he prayed. As long as she sent Pluto packing, then, as God was his witness, he will never complain about the routine chaos in his life again.
Nodoka coughed once more, this time more sedately, and massaged her sore throat before looking up into Pluto's steely gaze.
Ranma's heart began thumping hard.
Everyone leaned close to listen.
Nodoka stared. "Um…um…" her voice warbled tremulously.
Ranma's heart thumped faster and faster. 'Please! Please! Please!'
Everyone leaned even closer.
"I'm so-sor-sorr…." Nodoka choked. "I'm sorry…"
Ranma's heart triple timed it. 'Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!'
Everyone leaned even more closer.
Nodoka's face broke. "I'm sorry but…I can't do this!" she cried before she burst out into peals of laughter. There were tears in her eyes as she pointed at Pluto, flapping her arms about.
Everyone fell over.
Pluto was incensed, her face going red, as she puffed up in anger. "I'M DEADLY SERIOUS, YOU KNOW!" she yelled, hands clenched into white knuckled fists.
Nodoka tried to rein in her mirth. "But you look like a chipmunk!" she giggled behind her hand. "OK, maybe half of one!" she conceded.
Which was true, although this was hardly the time for such observations.
Pluto's cheek had only healed partially, so now it was about twice its original size. With her huffing and puffing, it had the effect of making her look like a certain cute animal nursing an acorn in its mouth, only with evil red eyes.
Pluto whipped out a mirror from somewhere on her person to look.
She froze. Then turned to level an evil glare at the tomboy bitch responsible for her condition.
"You psychotic maniac! Look what you did to my face!" Pluto roared.
The tomboy bitch glared back, returning double the malevolence with one eye.
"Oh yeah, look what you did to mine, you perverted hypocrite!" Akane gritted back. Without the advantage of senshi healing ability, and unable to heal herself with ki the way other super powered martial artists could, half of her face was even more puffed out than Pluto's, swelling an eye shut.
The people watching shook their heads. Those two really put their whole heart and soul into whatever they did, that's for sure. Although bitch slapping didn't have to be done quite so hard.
Pluto and Akane didn't care what other people thought as they faced off against each other, eyes twitching violently.
Once more, lightning crackled between the two.
By this time, the concussed senshi had recovered from their… fall. They looked at the tallest brunette among them questioningly.
"Are you looking at me? Are you looking at me?" Jupiter dared the others to say anything as she stood before them, electricity crackling up and down her arm.
She didn't believe them when they shook their heads frantically. It seemed so insincere somehow.
She glowered. Honestly, you'd think they'd have gotten the point by now!
"Waaah! Jupiter's so mean!" Moon burst into tears.
Kasumi gave a small gasp at the pitiful sight of the two enemies and excused herself. In her haste, she forgot to close the shoji door.
Nodoka eyed the open doorway speculatively. She gave the two violent women a slanted glance, and ever so slowly, started to inch back out of the room.
At the Nekohanten…
The moment Cologne released her stranglehold on Mousse, she was ready to lob a pill into his wide open mouth as he sucked in a huge breath.
"SQ-URRRKKK!" Mousse choked and spluttered.
Cologne turned to her descendant. "Shampoo, go and lock up Mr Part Time. Then we'll go see Son-in-law."
Shampoo picked up the indignantly squawking bird by the neck. "What great grandmother give Mousse?"
Colonge gazed at the suffering duck with hooded eyes. "Just a strong sleeping pill that will keep him out of our hair for a while…"
At the Tendo dojo…
Nodoka's slow escape was thwarted when Kasumi came hurrying back so fast, it was almost as if she had teleported.
The redhead snapped her fingers in irritation as Kasumi closed the door, thus cutting off her easy getaway route.The eldest Tendo walked over to the two injured women in the room.
"Excuse me, Miss Sailor Pluto, Akane?" Kasumi said with her customary sweetness.
As soon as the aforementioned two turned their attention on the smiling eldest Tendo daughter, they felt their anger dissipate as if by magic.
"Yes, Kasumi?" Akane asked.
"What can I do for you?" Pluto was just as polite.
Kasumi held out some cold compresses. "Here, please use this. Your cheeks must really hurt!"
"Ah, thank you," Pluto said, taking one and holding it against her swelling.
Akane did the same. "Thanks, sis."
"You're welcome," Kasumi beamed.
Having effectively broken up the Potential Mother-in-law vs. Potential Daughter-in-law Fight, Round Four, before it had even gotten off the ground, Kasumi sat back down with a smile on her face.
Deflated, Akane sat back down also, next to Ranma, who was still waiting on tenterhooks for the other shoe to drop.
Pluto realised that she had bigger fish to fry than that annoying little girl, and focused her attention back on her runaway spouse again.
Nodoka cursed inwardly at her return back into the spotlight. She looked up, and sweated at the sight of a glowering black-fuku clad soldier of love.
"Ssssse-s…." Nodoka swallowed hard. "S-set-chan!"
Ranma's heart went back into overdrive. 'Please, no! Please, no! Please, no!'
Pluto smiled back. "Yes, it is I, your loving wife!" she said with false sweetness.
Ranma's heart skipped a beat. This was the point when his mother denied that mad woman's claims. 'Come on, come on, Mom! Don't let me down!'
"Ha ha, um, yeah," Nodoka said, holding a hand to the back of her head. "Fancy meeting you here!"
Ranma had to thump his heart to get it to start up again. He closed his eyes as if in pain, and opened them again, before turning to his mother with a pitiful expression on his face.When he spoke, his voice was a strangled squeak. "…um, m-mom…?"
Nodoka looked at her son, and her heart twisted at the sight of Ranma's big blue eyes and the tears she could see swimming in their depths. "Oh Ranma, I guess I never told you about your father…" she sighed.
Pluto snorted rudely. "You got that right."
The Tendo sisters held their breath as they watched the proceedings. (The fathers were still unconscious with huge lumps on their heads.)
"Ranma," Nodoka continued, the look on her face was ominous. "I…am your father…"
There was a pregnant pause.
Ranma's scream of anguish could be heard for miles around.
At Ukyo's Okonomiyaki Restaurant…
Ukyo looked up. She would recognise that scream anywhere.
'Ran-chan! Don't worry, your cute fiancée is coming!'
She hurried to finish gearing up. She had to make sure she was fully prepared for her upcoming showdown with yet another woman after her man.
At the Tendo dojo…
The pigtailed martial artist dropped slowly onto his hands and knees, panting heavily.
"And I… am your mother!" Pluto finished, holding the cold compress over her sore cheek.
Then, Ranma screamed again.
At the Nekohanten…
Shampoo gasped, still holding onto a struggling duck. "Airen!"
Cologne looked up. "I sense… a great disturbance in his ki…" she said enigmatically.
At the Tendo dojo…
The Sailor Senshi crept closer to the scene of action.
This was getting really interesting. So much juicy gossip on their most mysterious and secretive member!
Now, if they could only arrange it so that Setsuna would explain a few things that had them puzzled.
'Setsuna's gay?' Uranus just couldn't believe her gaydar had malfunctioned that badly.
'How did two women have a baby boy together? Didn't one of them have to have the Y-chromosome to pull this off?' Sure that redhead just said she was the father, but she sure looked like a woman to Mercury. So where did the Y-chromosome come from when there were only four X-chromosomes between the two of them?
'Setsuna's married?' Sailor Moon was shocked. 'I thought I was the only senshi to marry!'
'Did Setsuna marry a cross-dresser or a transvestite?' Neptune gazed speculatively at the kimono clad redhead, specifically at her chest area. 'Are those real?'
'Setsuna-Mama's a mother?'
'Why did her family run from her? What dark secret is Setsuna hiding?' Mars looked suspiciously at her green-haired colleague.
'Can I date her gorgeous son?' Jupiter and Venus were seriously considering cementing a political alliance with Pluto through marriage with her hunk of a son.
"Hmmmmm…. Ranma….." the love struck girls drooled, hearts in their eyes.
Ranma shuddered, and curled up into a foetal position. "I mustn't run away! I mustn't run away! I mustn't run away!"
"Poor Ranma! How shocking!" Kasumi said, trying to comfort the distraught martial artist by patting him soothingly on the back.
Akane looked at Pluto with loathing. 'How dare that perverted pedophile ignore me to mess with the minds of Auntie Nodoka and my fiancé!' she growled silently. Once again, a hammer shimmered into existence in her hand…
At the Nekohanten…
Mousse struggled wildly as Shampoo carried him over to the cage, when, with one last frantic wriggle, he managed to pull free from her grip. While the girl was getting over her surprise, Mousse duck-dived out the window and flung himself into the air.
Shampoo gaped at his daring escape. "Very odd. Why Mousse not sleepy yet?" she wondered, clearly puzzled. She knew that her great grandmother's pills were very potent, its effects usually being felt within seconds or minutes after ingestion. Yet Mousse wasn't acting sleepy at all!
Cologne, waiting downstairs for her great granddaughter, wondered at the commotion upstairs. Mousse should be dead to the world by now. She pulled out a small pill bottle to check the dosage.
Her eyes bugged out.
Oops. This wasn't the one with the sleeping pills. That bottle was in the pocket of her other robe hanging on a hook behind the door. This one, however….
Cologne shrugged. The pill had an interesting effect, but it caused no lasting harm to the recipient as long as he was safely locked away until it wore off.
It would still keep Mousse out of commission anyway, and she could count this as unusual punishment for his crime against her at the same time.
Killing two birds with one stone - Cologne could live with that.
Meanwhile, Mousse was already en route to Ranma. If what he suspected was right, then much as it galled him to admit it, he needed the pigtailed martial artist's help.
Cologne had gone stark raving mad.
Or senile. (Finally.)
Or she was an impostor.
They needed to find out which, and stop her before it was too late! The duck shuddered again as what he saw in that book flashed across his mind's eye.
That was when his vision suddenly went psychedelic.
Mousse-Duck shook his head and peered ahead myopically.
Colours of the rainbow swirled in his eyes, making him feel airsick.
He pushed his glasses over his eyes with a wing.
"SQUUAAAAKKKK-quack-quack!" (Translation: 'WHOOOOA! Pretty colours!')
Feeling high as a kite, Mousse's flight started to veer crazily.
At the Tendo dojo…
In the aftermath of their shocking twin revelations, Setsuna glared at Nodoka, her eyes taking on a demonic glow.
"Look what you did to our poor son! For causing him untold mental anguish, in the nam-"
Nodoka decided that this was a good time to interrupt. "Oh wow, you know, I just realised I haven't seen you in a while! Where did all that time go?" the Saotome matriarch gushed with false happiness, while slowly inching further away from the Senshi of Time.
Setsuna's eyes narrowed dangerously. So that's the way her no-good 'wife' wanted it, eh? 'Well, two can play at that game!'
"So! How have you been? Well, I hope!" Nodoka kept nodding and smiling, as she surreptitiously tried to hide the fact that she was preparing to flee, but not doing a very good job of it.
"Oh, I've been fine," the green-haired woman said, a fake smile on her face and the beginning of yet another tick over her right eye. "No biggie, just saving the world from destruction and invasion from aliens and monsters – you know, things like that." The tick was getting more violent.
"Oh, really? That sounds exciting," Nodoka said politely, as she ever so slowly started her attempt to get up from her kneeling position and onto her feet.
"And during all that time, I kept wondering and worrying… what's keeping my beloved husband and baby son from coming home? Were they all right? How was my little boy doing without his real mother?"
"Uh huh," Nodoka motioned for her to continue encouragingly. The redhead had managed to work one foot to rest on the floor flatly, while the other one was still trapped underneath her.
Pluto appeared not to notice Nodoka's movement as she drifted off into the past. "I mean, you never call, you never write, and you never visit. Of course I was worried!" the Guardian of Time ranted.
The Senshi was making good progress. By now, they had all made it to the back porch which adjoined the living room.
Nodoka was still crouched, but now had both feet securely on the ground. She decided that some reassurance at this point wouldn't be amiss. "But as you can see, we're both all right," she said calmly as she slowly got up.
"Yes, I can see that… NOW…" Pluto said as she placed the compress carefully on the floor. Her cheek was almost back to normal now, thanks to her senshi powers and Kasumi's thoughtfulness.
Nodoka breathed out a quiet sigh of relief, relaxing slightly.
Then Setsuna's head snapped up, her eyes flashing. "No thanks to you, YOU STUPID MORON OF A HUSBAND!"
"EEEEEEPPPPP!" Nodoka shrieked as she hitched up her kimono and dashed out of the house, with Pluto hot on her heels, trying to bean the red-haired woman on the head with her key staff.
Soun came to with a throbbing head and stiff body from sleeping on the floor.
'What a bender that was!' the Tendo patriarch thought, as he stared up at a familiar ceiling.
Next to him, Genma stirred. "What was the number of the bus that hit me?" the Saotome patriarch complained, massaging his temples.
Both men had obviously forgotten that they had taken a trip to La-La-Land, courtesy of one giant, super angry-ki charged mallet, supplied by a certain tomboy of their acquaintance.
That was when someone suddenly shrieked nearby.
Both men winced as their headache just got worse. Blearily, they looked up to check what was going on, and so, was just in time to witness the next scene.
The Saotome men, the Tendos, and the other senshi just watched the chase incredulously. Their heads bobbed up and down, and right to left and back again as the women ran around the yard, one screaming for mercy, while the other was screaming for blood.
Soun turned to his friend. "Are you seeing what I think I'm seeing, Saotome?"
Genma had to squint, having misplaced his glasses somewhere. "If you're seeing a green-haired woman in a schoolgirl fuku holding a giant staff with a heart on its end, chasing my wife around the yard… then yes, Tendo."
They watched in companionable silence for a while.
Then Soun spoke again. "What in the world did we drink last night?"
"I've got no idea," Genma replied. "But whatever it was, I think I need it again."
"You and me both, Saotome," Soun grunted in agreement.
Ranma ignored the fathers, feeling a major disconnect from it all. He numbly watched his perverted stalker…er… mother… chasing his traditional housewife mother…er…father around without feeling a need to protect the latter.
This wasn't happening. It was obviously a hallucination brought on by eating one of Akane's culinary creations. He made a mental note to find out what it was exactly, because as God was his witness, he will never eat it again!
"Oh..oh, oh, oh my!" Kasumi winced as Pluto swung wide, just missing Nodoka's head by mere inches, but hitting the crumbling wall with pinpoint accuracy.
Nabiki's mental cash register just kept adding up the costs of the repair bill. The backyard, the wall, the living room… Ranma was so going to be paying for this for the rest of his life!
Akane gently rubbed the head of her mallet lovingly, as she wondered when that pervert Pluto would stand still long enough for her to deliver righteous punishment.
No one commented when eight more sailor suited soldiers of love made themselves comfortable on the porch. As long as these new senshi did not block their view of the action, no one really cared anymore.
The senshi sat down with a sigh, glad that they weren't on the wall and in the line of fire as they watched more pieces of said wall come tumbling down.
Finally, Nodoka and Pluto came to an impasse. They circled each other slowly around the koi pond, the dishevelled and panting redhead staring at her wife with the wild look of a trapped prey. At the same time, Pluto was tracking the other woman's movement carefully, key stuff clenched in white knuckled hands.
Moon was still confused. "Pluto's husband's a woman?"
"Pluto's gay?" Uranus repeated in a daze.
Obviously, those burning questions were still very much on their minds.
Neptune, who had been carefully studying Nodoka's bouncing bosom to ascertain her gender, was sufficiently distracted by this to glare at her lover. She slapped Uranus upside the head. "Is that all you can think about? Get your mind out of the gutter!"
"Do you think Pluto would let us date her cute son?" Venus and Jupiter wanted to know.
And that question as well.
Akane's sixth sense was tingling.
While most martial artists had a heightened awareness of threats to their person, Akane's was sensitive to any unhealthy interest in her pigtailed fiancé, be it male or female.
Make it any interest at all.
And it had been honed to perfection over time.
Akane's head whipped immediately to the two senshi in orange and green. Her eyes narrowed dangerously, glowing with possessive fury.
"Those perverts again!" she gritted under her breath. A curtain of red descended on her vision once more, and her mallet pulsated in her hand…
Soun turned to Genma again. "Are you still seeing what I'm seeing?"
"If you're seeing a green-haired woman in a schoolgirl fuku holding a giant staff with a heart on its end, chasing my wife around the koi pond, and that there are eight more school girls sitting on the porch… then yes, Tendo."
"Oh, good. I thought I was losing my mind there for a moment." There was a contemplative silence before Soun stirred again. "So this is really happening then, old friend?"
"I'm afraid so, Tendo."
By this time, Nodoka was clearly losing steam. For the love of god, why wasn't anyone helping her… AGAIN? She looked around desperately when she caught sight of Ranma sitting shell-shocked in the living room.
Why didn't she think of this sooner?
She feinted to the left, then right, then left again. When Pluto fell for it, Nodoka dashed to the right, and in a final burst of speed, ran into the living room and dove behind Ranma. She hugged onto her son with all her might, peeked over his shoulder and shouted, "Stand down, Set-chan! Or you'll hurt Ranma!"
Sailor Pluto almost tripped as she skidded to a stop, leaving a long smoking trail of scorch marks behind her.
Nabiki felt her internal cash register going 'ding!' again as she glared at the ruined floor.
In the sudden silence that followed, Soun's next question was heard by all.
"Saotome, are you sure Nodoka's a woman?"
The stocky martial artist was indignant. "Of course she is! We had a child together, didn't we?"
"Oh thank goodness!" Soun was relieved. As long as the Schools were joined, he didn't care what kinky stuff the Saotomes had been up to.
The heat was off Nodoka as Setsuna glared at the two idiots for daring to think her Ranma was that fat man's son.
Then she did a double take.
"What, you're still alive!" she shouted incredulously at the still charred and tattered Genma Saotome. She had missed his revival earlier since she had been too busy 'reuniting' with her husband/wife.
This sent chills up and down everyone's spines. It even successfully distracted Akane from her latest targets.
Jupiter and Venus would never know how close they came to flying Akane Air via Mallet for the second time that day.
One day, they would not be so lucky…. But it was not today.
Setsuna was confounded by Genma's survival. She didn't like feeling this way.
Genma didn't like the murderous look in Pluto's red eyes. He shivered and backed into Soun.
Mercury had two theories that she would share with Pluto later, after they had all calmed down.
One: Genma Saotome's chaotic aura had somehow managed to divert the worst of the attack away from him like a shield, much as it had kept him invisible on the Timegate until Pluto found a focus (ie. the tracking device on Ranma.) His ki and general conditioning as a martial artist protected him from the rest.
Two: He was simply too stupid to know that he should have been dead.
It came as no surprise to Mercury that Setsuna liked the second one better.
Fortunately for Genma, he wasn't Pluto's top priority right now, although he was still high on her shit list. In that respect, one could call him a lucky loser.
"You slept with another man?" the Senshi of Time roared at Nodoka. Pluto was outrage personified as she glared at her 'husband'. If looks could kill….!
The other senshi exchanged looks. They were fairly sure that they had heard Setsuna refer to Nodoka Saotome as her 'husband'. Now, losing your husband to another woman was bad enough, but to another man? And to one like Genma Saotome?
"No! No! I was faithful to you!" Nodoka squeaked as she hastened to reassure her.
Soun was worried again. "Saotome, are you sure Ranma is your son?"
Genma, having partially recovered from his fright when Pluto did not attack him again, slapped his friend on the back heartily. "Of course he's mine! Nodoka said so!"
That was hardly reassuring under the circumstances.
"No-CHAN!" Pluto screamed. She pointed at Genma. "Explain THAT to me!"
Nodoka eeped again. "I never slept with him! Honest, honey! Swear to God and everything!"
Everyone was getting a headache. Oh, what a tangled web we weave…!
Soun was filled with mounting dread. "SAOTOME! How can Ranma be yours if you've never slept with your wife?" Only the presence of that scary senshi stopped him from launching a demon head.
"But we have slept together!" Genma insisted.
Ranma covered his ears. "Too much information! Too much information!" he chanted his new mantra. Why couldn't he have a nice hallucination, like Kuno did? That guy lived in a world of noble samurais and bushido, and killing and blood drenched battlefields.
But he, Ranma, got stuck with one revolving around sex and girls!
It wasn't fair!
"NO! We only slept together, we never had SEX!" Nodoka yelped to the twitching green-haired woman as her hands made warding signs.
Ranma started banging his head on the floor. This must be real since he was in pain, and he still wasn't waking up from this nightmare. He banged his head some more.
"There's a difference?" Genma wanted to know.
"SAOTOME!" Soun couldn't help himself as he launched his trademark demon head.
The gathered senshi were just about to leap up to annihilate the youma disguised as a man when Mercury stopped them… again. "Guys, he's HUMAN!" She was really getting exasperated with her trigger happy comrades.
They sat back down, grumbling.
The Tendo girls' eyes were as big as dinner plates.
"Oh my!" Kasumi gasped. "He doesn't know the joy of sex?" She had read the book, and couldn't understand how a married man didn't know the first thing about sex.
"He's a virgin?" Nabiki was incredulous.
"Too much information! Too much information!" Akane had joined Ranma in his litany.
The others had to give them a ten out of ten for synchronised head banging.
"So how do you explain Ranma?" Soun asked, panting with angry dread.
"The stork brought him, of course." Genma was getting confused by all this hostility from his friend, and the incredulous stares he was getting from everyone else in the room.
A tumbleweed rolled forlornly across the room.
Even Pluto was struck dumb by this latest revelation. 'Wow. And I thought I've heard everything...'
Then Soun gently punched his fist into his other hand as enlightenment dawned, his rage suddenly extinguished as if it had never been. "Oh, that explains it then," he said.
"Wh-what d'ya mean, Mr Tendo?" Ranma spoke up for the first time, a little afraid of the answer.
"Ranma-kun! When I first knew him, your father was training in a secret style called Tong Zi Gong (1)." Soun took a sip of the tea thoughtfully. "I think it translates into the 'Virgin Boy Kungfu', or something like that."
"The… what?" Ranma's voice was flat.
"Ah, the legendary Fist of the Virgin!" an old voice crackled knowingly.
All eyes turned towards what was left of the crumbling outer wall of the Tendo compound. There stood Cologne, perched on her cane, and her voluptuous great granddaughter beside her. Shampoo had her hands on her hips, peeved that her grand entrance was ruined because someone had already destroyed the wall before she could.
What happened next was sadly predictable.
"AHHH! A TINY SHRIVELLED UP YOUMA ON A STICK!" The trigger happy senshi leapt up to defend Love and Justice, powering up their attacks.
"STOPPPPP!" Mercury shrieked in alarm.
The other senshi turned to look at her. Uranus' shoulders sagged. "Please don't tell me she's human too," she pleaded.
Mercury just looked at her.
"Aw, man!" Uranus grumbled as she sat back down with ill grace. The rest of the Juuban contingent (except Pluto) followed suit after a few seconds of uncertainty.
What happened after that was totally unpredictable.
From their experience, the Nerimans were expecting Cologne to react in one of several ways.
Worst case scenario, she would pick a fight with the senshi to prove the superiority of three thousand years of Amazon history.
Best case scenario, she would bop all the senshi on their heads for their less than flattering remark about her person.
What Cologne actually did was to forget all her years of mental discipline and patience as a powerful and wise martial artist and tribal Matriarch of a proud people.
The Nerimans gaped as the three hundred year old woman went sparkly eyed at the sight of the senshi and dash up to them with her precious book in hand and holding out a pen.
"Can I have your autographs?" she asked, hopping up and down on her cane with excitement.
Afterwards, Cologne would kick herself for forgetting that this was supposed to be a secret operation. She was supposed to get Son-in-law's cooperation in getting the autographs without anyone else finding out, but at the sight of her favourite TV heroes in person, well, all sensible thought flew out the window.
And that was how one of the world's best kept secrets was exposed.
It was official. Cologne was the oldest fangirl on Earth.
Tokyo registered a mini-earthquake from the force of the massive facefault at that revelation.
The senshi rubbed their heads painfully as they got back up. This day was certainly one for shockers!
"Mars, is a youma asking us for autographs?" Sailor Moon asked, dazed.
Mars tried to focus through her concussion (how many times was it so far?) on the shrivelled up… troll perched on a stick in front of them, large eyes shining with hope and happiness. "Er… I guess so."
Venus didn't care whether it was human or youma. It was a fan. "OK!" she agreed, beaming broadly. This was good practice for when her civilian identity became a famous movie star.
The rest of her colleagues groaned in pain as they kissed the ground once more.
Meanwhile, Cologne's mortified great granddaughter stood back up, about to slink away in shame, when it suddenly occurred to her that there were several women in scandalous clothing lounging around in the dojo.
Nine of them.
And her Airen was the only young man there.
"Aiyah! Airen too, too manly! So many other girls here!" she exclaimed unhappily, bringing attention onto herself.
Uranus whistled in appreciation at the sight of the well-endowed Chinese girl, for which she got another whack on the head, courtesy of Neptune.
The fuku-clad Pluto quirked a brow when she recognised another one of her son's many conquests standing there. Goodness, was that supposed to be a dress? Pluto glared disapprovingly at Shampoo's short and slitted Chinese dress, which was so tight her bosom threatened to explode out of them.
The irony of the situation was lost on the Time Guardian.
Shampoo whipped out her bonboris, mystifying the non-Nerimans who couldn't see how the girl's revealing Chinese dress could hide anything. "Ranma Shampoo's Airen. Outsider girls no take!" Shampoo struck a menacing poise, then slammed one of the bonbori into the wall to show she meant business.
What was left of the wall crumbled away into dust.
"My wall!" Soun wailed and wept, heartbroken with grief.
Of course, Shampoo's happiness was complete when her other rival for the hand of Ranma showed up, glowing with the jealous fury of a woman scorned… or a woman whose fiancé had gotten himself yet another fiancée because of his bastard of a father.
"What's going on here?" Ukyo Kunoji finally asked as she looked around in bewilderment, her battle aura winking out.
Somewhere in Japanese airspace…
Mousse careened wildly in the sky, doing loops and turns.
"QUAAACKKKKKKK!" (Translation: 'Wheeeeeeeeeeee!')
Mousse continued his joy flight, until he spotted something green in the distance. Or was it purple? Now it was orange! He couldn't be sure, but it sure looked interesting.
He flew towards it erratically, whooping as he went.
It turned out to be a forest.
Mousse was pretty sure about that because he had just slammed head first into the trunk of a tree.He slid painfully down towards the ground, collecting splinters along the way.
"….q-qua…..aaacckkkkkk…….." (Translation: '…o-oow…wwwieee…..')
It was just too bad that he missed the sign a few yards further back.
The one that said: 'Duck Hunting Season – Open!'
At the Tendo dojo…
There was a short pause in the proceedings as the Tendo and Saotome families realised that eight extra senshi had just gatecrashed their party without so much as a by-your-leave, and no one had challenged them because of certain… distractions…
This led the senshi to do their official introduction, speeches, sentai poses and all.
Cologne laughed and clapped, her precious autograph book on her lap. Bliss at getting all nine autographs, which as a dedicated fangirl, she knew was incredibly hard to do, kept any sense of embarrassment at bay for the moment.
In fact, being outed gave her a feeling of liberation she never had before.
The Nerimans sweatdropped, while Shampoo tried to sink through the floor. Her earlier belligerence had died a quick death with her great grandmother's continuing behaviour.
That huge book was already almost filled up with signatures of famous people and photos of Cologne posing with the celebrities over the century. Even Shampoo had to admit that the one with her great grandmother wearing an ET costume to meet Steven Spielberg was pretty cute.
"I didn't know Cologne was such a fangirl," Kasumi commented idly.
"Me neither," Ranma agreed.
Akane humphed in disgust.
Meanwhile, Ukyo was clearing up a few things with Nabiki, her wallet a lot lighter than when she started. Shampoo crept a little closer to eavesdrop, not that she was trying to put more distance between herself and her great grandmother or anything.
"So this Sailor Pluto person is somehow Ran-chan's real mother – not a fiancée, while Auntie Nodoka is actually his father?" Ukyo repeated, just to be sure.
The mercenary Tendo nodded.
Shampoo's eyes were round. 'Aiyah…!'
"Oh," Ukyo said in a small voice. Something about this situation was worrying her, but for the moment she couldn't think what that could be.
She looked at Ranma with longing in her eyes. As long as nothing threatened her relationship with him, Ukyo decided she didn't care.
Nabiki was the one that got everyone back on track after concluding her business with Ukyo. "Daddy, you were going to tell us about this 'Fist of the Virgin'?" she prompted.
"Oh yes!" Soun started. "The style requires that trainees must be virgins when they start, and that they have to stay celibate to master the first level, and remain celibate for the rest of their lives if they want to attain ultimate mastery." Soun nodded his head as he remembered Genma's explanation to him about the style, long ago. "Consequences of not staying pure was…"
Those who knew Genma raised their eyebrows in polite disbelief. The word 'pure' and 'Genma' just didn't fit together somehow.
Pluto just thought Genma should be purified. Then she wondered how she could work it so that Sailor Moon would use the Ginzuishou and dust the stupid dead man…
Nabiki needed more information. "Daddy, that doesn't explain very much you know."
Soun looked at his daughter with the calm visage of a wise mentor. "Ah, you see, to ensure that the trainees remained virgins, the master took care to keep his students… ignorant about the birds and the bees." Privately Soun thought it was because the master of the style himself didn't know much about the subject either.
Genma was indignant. "Hey, I know what birds and bees are!"
"Oh my, really?" Kasumi was really worried for her Uncle Genma.
"Birds are warm-blooded animals with wings, and bees are those yellow and black insects with stings!" Genma said with a triumphant grin. Even after all these years, he could still quote his Virgin Style Master word for word.
Pluto whirled on Nodoka. "You married… THAT?"
The kimono-clad woman whimpered, and held Ranma up higher as she cowered behind him.
Nabiki rubbed her temples. "Daddy, that just explains why Mr Saotome seems to know nothing about sex, but it doesn't explain why he turned out the way he did if he's supposed to be learning a 'pure' style!"
Cologne cleared her throat delicately. "I believe I can answer that one," she said, becoming serious for once that day. She wasn't entirely sure what was happening, being too caught up in fandom fanaticism, but she had picked up enough to know that her Son-in-law's father had once learnt the Fist of the Virgin, and when it came to martial arts, she was the master. "From what I understand, there are several critical junctures during the training. If anything happened to… disturb and disrupt the trainee's spiritual harmony during this time…" the Amazon geriatric trailed off ominously.
Soun was still in his wise mentor mode. "It would corrupt the spirit of the trainee," he finished solemnly. "Only after they have mastered a certain level, can the trainee be safely exposed to such things, like starting a family, for example."
Cologne nodded. "This corruption can manifest in different ways, but it would usually fall in one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins categories – Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Avarice, Pride, Lust and Gluttony….." Her voice tapered off again as she realised something. "Oh." Her eyes widened. "Oh dear."
Everyone turned to look at Genma, as if a puzzle had at last been solved.
"What?" he wanted to know.
Nabiki was the first one to comment. "You know, that kind of explains everything." Then she added, "Except instead of Lust, he got Stupidity."
Although this was obviously a family moment, Mercury had to interject. She couldn't stand it when people had their facts wrong. "Sorry to interrupt, but Stupidity is not a Deadly Sin."
The Tendos, the Amazons, Ukyo, Nodoka and Ranma all gave her a look.
"In the case of Uncle Saotome, it is," Kasumi said gravely.
"Yep, his idiocy's pretty 'deadly' all right," Ukyo agreed.
"I'm still in the room, you know," Genma complained. "Don't talk about me like I'm not here!"
Ranma was shaking his head in disbelief. "You mean to tell me Pops turned out the way he did because something happened during his training?" A thought struck him, making him surge to his feet. "What happened to corrupt his training?"
"Not a 'what', Ranma. Try a 'who'," Soun answered him.
"Then WHO was it?" the young man roared, his ki flaring up in a bonfire as he held his fist to the sky. "For making my life hell, I'll make that person PAY!"
Mars glared at the questioning glances of her fellow senshi. "I have nothing to do with that, so don't even ask!" she said, pointing to Pluto's fiery son.
Cologne had an arrested expression on her face as she worked out the answer to Ranma's question. "It could only have been Happosai," she said thoughtfully.
Soun looked around fearfully, then sighed with relief when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named failed to make an appearance. "Yes, it was… the Master."
So Genma turning out the way he did was all Happosai's fault!
"Aiyah!" Shampoo breathed, turning to look at Ukyo in shock. Ukyo mirrored her feeling. For that moment in time, the rival fiancées were as one.
The part-time panda waved his arms, trying to get other people's attention. "Hello? Hello? Anyone listening?"
The bonfire of ki erupted into a conflagration. "HAAAPPPPOOOOSSAAAAIIIIIII! It's all your fault!"
For no reason at all whatsoever, Ryoga Hibiki felt a sudden, urgent need to hire the services of a lawyer to protect his intellectual property.
He looked around as if one would pop up conveniently.
Surely there was one here in Hell?
Ryoga wiped the sweat off his brow, and fanned himself with one of his bandannas, as he trudged gamely on through the middle of the Gobi Desert.
For making him see Hell, Ranma Saotome would pay!
At the Tendo dojo…
Mercury was surprised when none of her colleagues jumped up to kill the glowing human.
They were too busy being confused, as they didn't know anything aside from the fact that Setsuna seemed to be married to another woman, and they had a son called Ranma who also had a loser for a father because of some guy called Happosai.
Happosai, the Grandmaster of Anything Goes, paused just as he was about to leap into the Tendo compound from the roof of a neighbouring house. That… hate-filled scream caused chills to run up and down his spine as his life flashed past his eyes.
Which was strange, since he wasn't in danger of dying anytime soon as far as he knew.
For once, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, he turned around and decided to extend his hunting trip.
After all, there were still lots of Silky Darlings to liberate in other wards!
Behind him, unseen by mere mortal eyes, a figure in a dark robe holding a scythe in a skeletal hand snapped its other hand in irritation.
How long was that old male shrimp going to cheat Death?
Maybe He should go after the female one instead…
Cologne shivered for some inexplicable reason, and tried to make herself seem small until the feeling passed.
Kasumi noticed. "Elder, are you all right?" she asked, radiating concern.
"I sense something," she whispered ominously. "A presence I've not felt since…" she trailed off, as unpleasant memories of certain numerous close calls came to mind.
That first time, when she barely escaped with her life during a Musk raid.
The numerous times after that on other battlefields.
That time she landed in a shark's mouth, instead of on its back, when she was practicing the Shark Fist.
Or the time she almost died of a heart attack when she accidentally saw old Happosai in the nude. The less said about the incident, the better…
And how about this afternoon when she almost choked to death on a popcorn…
The list went on.
Nabiki held up a finger. "OK, let me see if I got this straight. One, Mr Saotome was once a good, decent student of some kind of a Virgin Fist Kungfu, then he met Happosai who totally messed him up, so now he's the greedy, gluttonous, stupid man he is today."
Soun nodded in agreement.
"Hey!" Genma protested in outrage.
"And somewhere along the way, he got married to Auntie Saotome who told him Ranma was delivered by a stork," Nabiki continued.
Nodoka held up a hand in protest. "No, I didn't do anything of the sort! Genma came up with it all on his own," she said primly.
Everyone gave her a look.
"But you didn't correct him, did you?" Pluto snapped.
Nodoka hung her head.
Nabiki closed her eyes, counted to ten, then opened them again. "OK, Mr Saotome believed Ranma was delivered by a stork…"
Genma folded his arms. "Well, he was!" he said obstinately.
"Which means Ranma isn't your biological son at all!" Nabiki cut straight through to the heart of the matter.
"Yes, he is!" Genma insisted stubbornly.
"No, he isn't!" Pluto said adamantly.
"Yes, he is!"
"No, he isn't!"
"Yes, he is!"
"No, he isn't!" Pluto stalked over to her son and patted him on the rump several times. "Otherwise, how would I know about his birthmark right there?"
"YOU PERVERT!" Akane went ballistic. "STOP TOUCHING MY FIANCÉ LIKE THAT!" She stomped over and batted the offending hand away.
Pluto was not to be stopped. She hugged a flustered Ranma to her bosom defiantly, and gave the hot tempered girl a triumphant smirk.
Ranma flapped his arms in panic.
Akane's eye tried to drill holes into the Plutonian. "You just proved my point…"
Venus and Jupiter waited with pounding hearts for the great unveiling. 'Come on, Pluto! Do it! Do it! Pull his pants down and show us that birthmark!' they tried to send telepathically to the green haired senshi.
"Aiyah!" Shampoo was beginning to wonder whether Pluto was really her Airen's real mother, or just pretending to be one to take advantage of the naïve youth.
Ukyo was still sitting on the fence, so to speak. To be on Pluto's side or Genma's side… that was the question. Her battle spatula bent slightly as her grip tightened at the sight of her Ran-chan in someone else's arms. Despite paying Nabiki for the information, she still had some doubts. The feeling of unease grew stronger.
Ranma finally struggled free of Pluto's hug, ruffled. "Okay, time out!" he shouted, making a 'T' with his hands. "Mom!"
He got a reply in stereo. "Yes?" Nodoka and Pluto said at the same time. Pluto glared at the redheaded woman, who had the grace to back down sheepishly.
Ranma turned to Nodoka to clarify who he was addressing. "Mom, you're telling me that she's really my Mom?" he asked, indicating Pluto with a wave.
"And you're really my father."
Ranma shook himself out of his stupor. Really, with his own gender-changing curse, he was kind of surprised that he was surprised.
"So who's he?" he asked, pointing to Genma.
"Hmmm…. Good question," Nodoka said, frowning in thought. "Um… nobody, I guess."
There was a collective facefault by all of the Neriman contingent.
Nodoka continued to ponder the problem, a finger on her cheek. "Hmmmm… Maybe… a stepfather? Nah, that's not right either. Technically, I'm your father, even though I've been your mother for most of your life."
"Anyone understand that?" Shampoo asked helplessly.
"Sadly, yes," Nabiki replied.
Ranma opened, then closed his mouth, as he finally got Nabiki's point. "Wait, doesn't that mean I'm not really a Saoto-"
Genma leapt up before the teenager could finish his sentence. "Now look here, No-chan!" he cried. "How dare you tell such outrageous lies! Ranma is my boy! I raised him by myself for ten years on the road, and trained him to be the best of his generation, and you thank me by telling this preposterous story that another woman is his mother!"
Everyone exchanged looks and shook their heads. It sounded so wrong, yet it still made sense somehow.
Soun nodded vigorously in agreement. "Yes, yes. We can't just take your word on such a fantastic story." It was starting to dawn on him that the family engagement was in danger.
The source of Ukyo's worry finally crystallized. If she sided with the men, and it turned out that Ranma wasn't a Saotome, she might inadvertently tick off her newly identified future mother-in-law. On the other hand, if she could help ensure that Ranma stayed a Saotome, then her engagement would still be secure.
Oh, what to do?
Nabiki and Kasumi also realised the implication of this new revelation if it was true, and they looked at their youngest sister, knowing that her engagement to Ranma was in jeopardy.
It hadn't occurred to the girl as of yet, since Akane was still stewing in righteous anger. Ranma was a pervert. Nodoka was turning up to be a bigger pervert. Pluto was the worst pervert of them all, aside from Happosai and Kuno. And come to think of it, the other scandalously dressed senshi were just as bad.
Therefore, Akane's conclusion was simple. "You're all PERVERTS!" she huffed, crossing her arms in anger. "OK, except Uncle Genma," she allowed ungraciously, remembering that he was still a virgin and didn't know what sex was, "he's just stupid!"
"Hey!" Genma protested again.
The Amazons were the only one smiling.
Shampoo was smiling because her marriage claim was valid on Ranma's person, regardless of his parentage.
Cologne was smiling, albeit, a little uneasily, because she had just realised that there were great big, gaping holes in her understanding of the situation because of her fangirl induced euphoria earlier. No doubt some sort of explanation had already taken place, but she had missed it. Not that she was going to ask now, and betray her ignorance of something everyone else seemed to already know, so she just smiled as if she knew more than she let on.
Although she did have a working clue – that TV episode she saw earlier that day.
But wasn't that just a show?
Ranma had about all he could take. "Excuse me!" he called out. "Mom!"
"Yes?" came the response from two people once again.
Pluto glared at Nodoka who looked away innocently.
Ranma rubbed his temples tiredly. "Look, can one of you please explain WHAT'S GOING ON?"
His demon head was pretty impressive, considering it was his first try.
Mercury, once again, waited to stop her fellow senshi from mistaking yet another human for a youma. And waited, and waited…
There was a studious silence from the Juuban camp. The rest of the Inners were checking their nails (even though they wore gloves), while the Outers just sipped their tea.
"What?" the others wanted to know. The boy Ranma was sacrosanct. It would be suicide to attack him with a trigger happy mother like Pluto around. Not to mention that even twitchier fiancée of his. They all knew that without being told, so how come Ami, the smart one, was acting so surprised?
"Um, nothing," she said quickly, then busied herself with her Mercury computer.
Nodoka and Pluto staggered back from their angry son in shock.
"Um, so what do you want to know?" Nodoka asked meekly.
Ranma glared. Nodoka gulped, as that look had never been directed at her before, only at his father… er… the other fake one. She gulped again, as she realised that she was his father now.
"O-OKAY!" Nodoka squeaked. Then she cleared her throat to get it working properly again. "Maybe I should start from the beginning."
"Yes, please do!" More than one voice agreed.
"No!" Pluto interrupted, snorting with disgust. "I'LL do the explaining, thank you very much! Knowing you, you'd distort everything from the truth to fit your warped view of the universe!"
Over Fifty years ago…
Setsuna was treating herself to dinner at a restaurant when she spied something moving from the corner of her eye. With great foreboding, she turned to look at what it was….
"'Fifty years ago'!" Cologne quoted in disbelief, unable to stop herself in time. "Are you people seriously telling me that the senshi are real?"
"She's only just realised that now?" a few people exclaimed.
"B-bu..but what about your TV show?" Cologne stuttered.
The senshi stared.
"What… TV show?" Mars asked uneasily.
Cologne described the show as best she could.
Again, the Amazon Elder was the subject of incredulous stares.
"That's a news program!"
Cologne simmered down, blushing profusely. "Sorry," she said sheepishly. "Please carry on, Miss Pluto." Meanwhile, the elder was trying to process this new development and what it could mean for the tribe.
Shampoo facepalmed. After three hundred years, was her great grandmother going senile at last?
Setsuna shook her head in pity, and started again.
Over Fifty years ago…
Setsuna was treating herself to dinner at a restaurant when she spied something moving from the corner of her eye. With great foreboding, she turned to look at what it was….
And screamed, leaping up onto the table in fright.
She was still jibbering in fear, eyes tightly shut, when she heard a thudding sound, then a man was asking her if she was all right. Trembling, she opened one eye, then the other, and peeped at the floor where that… thing was.
It was completely crushed, shattered into pieces. There was no way it was suddenly going to jump up and attack her like it had when she had tried to kill it many times before.
As Setsuna looked back towards the man, she noted the shoe still held in his right hand. It was, no doubt, the weapon used to dispatch that evil, evil giant cockroach to hell where it belonged.
Could… could this be?
Has her knight in shining armour finally come?
Setsuna knew the answer the moment their eyes met for the first time.
The man was tall, drop dead handsome, hair as black as midnight, and with the bluest eyes she had ever seen. Knees weak, Setsuna smiled and he smiled back.
"Hi, my name's Norman," he said. "What's a gorgeous girl like you doing standing on a table like this?"
Setsuna was in love.
-----End of Flashback-----
(1) There really is such a technique! I saw it on a Chinese DVD documentary set about China. It's a Shaolin Martial Arts Style. And you can buy the DVD of the technique online as well. Just Google 'Shaolin Virgin Boy Exercise', and 'Tong Zi Gong' and see what comes up!
However, for the purpose of this story, I'm going to make up details and change the English name slightly. That means my version of the style is not based on any facts, whatsoever. If it did, then it's a coincidence.
As I felt that it was getting too long, I decided to end Chapter 2 here, which means that Nodoka and Pluto's explanation gets bumped into the next chapter, which should be the last one in this fic. (It was supposed to be a onefic originally, you know!)
So, my apologies to the people who were waiting to find out what happened over fifty years ago. It's coming soon (as soon as I edit it to my satisfaction). It needs to be coherent, as this isn't the sanest fic in the world.
Onto other matters…
It didn't occur to me that some people might not know the 1960's TV series called Get Smart, a hysterical spoof on spies. The main character is Maxwell Smart, AKA Agent 86, a bumbling spy who somehow manages to win the day despite himself, and who was nice enough to do a little cameo in Chapter 1 for me.
I used to watch the show on reruns. It's worth catching. JMHO.
Quite a few of the people wanted to know what I was on when I was writing this fic. Well, OK, you guys found me out! LOL. But it's perfectly legal and easily accessible – that's right, it's coffee. Loads of it!
But due to my parents' incessant nagging, I switched to instant for a week, and look what happened! I lost my spark, and spent my nights trying not to fall asleep in front of the computer, and that was just when I was reading other people's fics!
That's my story on why Chapter 2 took so long to come out, and I'm sticking to it.
Oh, that, and the fact that although I had originally written the entire fic earlier, I decided a rewrite was required after I reread what I had wrote. Anyway, one thing led to another… so it took longer than I thought! Sorry!