Ranma's Ascension - Chapter 2
By Mike Breslau

Disclaimer: Better folks than I own most of the characters that appear in this writing. The original characters (you'll know them when you meet them) in this work are mine, all mine! (But you can borrow them if you'll treat them kindly.)

A note about the 'omake'. It's not a parody of Sailor Moon, it's a parody of Sailor Moon Fanfiction! (Caution: humor ahead) You'll see more of it in the next chapters.


At lunchtime Ranma and Akane were seated under their favorite tree, peacefully eating their bentos. Kuno came storming onto the field. "Where is that vile cur, Saotome? I hear he has been mocking me, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan high."

Akane whispered, "I wish you had arranged for us not to hear him--I'm so tired of listening to his pompous ranting." Ranma grinned at her and nodded his agreement.

A puzzled student pointed out Ranma's location to Tatewaki. Kuno looked right at Ranma but didn't see him. "Do not mock me, young man," he growled.

The student quaked in fear, but could not deny the evidence of his senses. "Saotome is sitting beneath that tree. Ask anyone if you don't believe me."

The True Blunder of Furinkan High asked two other students and received the same reply. He stalked over to the indicated tree, inadvertently stepping on and through Akane's leg. Akane remained quiet so as to not upset the upperclassman.

Kuno drew his boken and waved it like a blind man feeling with his cane. The wooden sword passed harmlessly through Ranma, who smirked, and Akane, who didn't. "There's nobody here," he muttered. "Even if the vile sorcerer is invisible I would have felt him." Students watching this strange scene murmured in astonishment. Even allowing for the strangeness that followed Ranma around, this was remarkable.

Tatewaki spotted Nabiki in the crowd of onlookers and approached her. "Nabiki Tendo, can you explain what is going on? It seems that everyone thinks that vile Ranma is sitting beneath yon tree, yet I see him not."

Nabiki opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Kuno, but I can't tell you."

Tatewaki produced a thick sheaf of currency. "Name your price, Nabiki. I must know what is going on."

Nabiki eyed the money hungrily, then reluctantly replied, "It's not that I don't want to tell you, Kuno, but I literally cannot speak of this." She began to sweat.

Kuno slumped in defeat, and angrily returned to the school building.

"I almost feel sorry for him," said Akane.

"I have an idea that should improve matters," answered Ranma, "But it will have to wait until tonight."


Miss Hinako was resting in the teacher's lounge after the school day ended. The day's events had been unusually stressful for her. Although her transformation to adult form rarely lasted more than half an hour, her body was still about nineteen years old--and five hours had passed since her ki overdose that morning. She felt a brief electrical tingle, and the room suddenly became totally silent. The quality of the lighting shifted, as if a thin cloud had covered the sun.

Ranko floated into the lounge dressed in her goddess garb.

The teacher said, "Ranma, you know students aren't allowed in here."

"My name is Ranko, Miss Hinako, and I'm the Goddess of Transformations. I'm making time so that I can talk to you in private, Sensei."

Hinako would have dismissed that claim as preposterous, but she noticed two things: no one else in the room was moving, and Ranko was hovering two inches above the floor. "What's going on?" she asked, "What's wrong with them?"

"There's nothing wrong with them," replied the goddess, "You and I are outside of time so we can talk without interruption."

"Oh... I see, I think." Hinako was feeling surprisingly calm.

"First I'd like to apologize for teasing you this morning--that was behavior unbecoming to a deity. I have to act the way Ranma normally acts or else the students will become suspicious."

"Ah! I see. Apology accepted. What did you want to talk about?"

"Miss Hinako, you are in my domain because of your shape-changing ability. That means I'm somewhat like a parent to you--I can advise you, guide you, or bless you as needed. Don't worry, I won't do anything to you without your consent." Ranko paused to let that sink in. "Do you like the way you are now? Would you prefer to be an adult all the time, or a child all the time, or would you like to have voluntary control over your age?"

The teacher looked wistful. "I'd like to be an adult all the time, this constant changing is so inconvenient. But, I have a disease that will kill me if I stay grown-up for too long."

Ranko made a dismissive gesture. "I can cure that, so don't let it influence your answer."

Hinako brightened. "In that case, I would prefer to be a healthy young adult all the time."

Ranko smiled. A pink ball of light appeared in her hand and then seemed to flow over the teacher. "Done. You'll be twenty-three years old from now on."

Hinako examined herself. "Will I still be able to drain the ki from delinquents?"

"Yes, you can, but at a slightly slower rate. That will give you more control."

"Why are you doing this? I've never given you a reason to be nice to me."

"I'm doing it because I can. Goddesses are supposed to be good people; demons are supposed to be the bad guys. You were getting no benefit from your age changing, so there's no reason for you to keep it."

"Thank you, Ranko. I really appreciate this."

Ranko beamed at her. "You're welcome. Now that you're not a shape-changer anymore, you're no longer in my domain. You will remember this meeting, but it will seem like a dream. You can tell people that you've been cured, but you can't tell them about my divinity. Okay?"

Hinako nodded. Ranko floated out of the lounge and the room returned to normal.

"What an extraordinary daydream," thought Miss Hinako.


Nodoka was puttering in her kitchen and Genma was watching TV in the living room when the doorbell rang. She went to the front door and found Ranma, in civilian clothes, and Akane, in her school uniform, standing outside. "Come in dears, You don't have to ring, you're always welcome here."

They went into the living room. Ranma announced, "Mom and Pop, I have good news, bad news, and incredible news." His parents could tell that he was both amused and excited.

"What is the good news, Son?" asked Nodoka eagerly.

"Akane and I will be married within a month." Akane beamed with happiness. Genma produced two fans and began a victory dance. Ranma glared at his father. "The wedding will be at a time and place of our own choosing. If anybody tries to rush us, force us, or influence us in any way, they won't be allowed to attend." Genma sobered up quickly.

"I'm so glad you've made up your minds, dears. Congratulations." Nodoka hugged both youngsters.

"What's the bad news?" asked Genma, showing some concern.

"I'm sorry, but the houses will not be joined," answered Ranma, "You'll have to write me out of the Saotome clan."

Genma was outraged. "What?"

Nodoka was shocked. "Why?"

Ranma grinned at them and shifted to his divine form. He stopped holding in his powerful aura. "That's the incredible news. I am now the God of Martial Arts--and a god can't belong to a mortal clan. My full name is only Ranma now."

Nodoka looked at her child and declared, "My son is so manly! You look divine, Ranma."

Genma was stunned. He knew that Ranma was a powerful martial artist, but he'd never expected this. "How is that possible, Son?"

"It seems that Kamisama took pity on me because of all the painful troubles I'd been put through." Ranma paused to glare angrily at his father. "So he sent a goddess to grant me a wish. I asked for the power to solve all my problems, now and in the future. Kamisama called us into his office for a conference, He explained that I'd have to be a god in order to have enough power to fix all my troubles. I accepted, and here I am." He grinned broadly.

Nodoka was filled with admiration. "That's unbelievable, Ranma. I'm so proud of you."

Ranma held up his hand. "That's not all, folks." He shifted to his goddess form. "I'm also Ranko, the Goddess of Transformations. As a god, I have dominion over all martial artists. As a goddess, my domain includes the Jusenkyo pools and curses, and all shape-shifters." He looked at his father. "I've got you covered twice, old man."

Genma's eyes glazed over as he attempted to process all this information. "Does that mean you can cure my curse?" he asked hopefully.

The goddess stared at her father. "Pop, the Jusenkyo curses are intended to educate, not to punish. My 'curse' taught me to respect women, to see them as equal to and in some ways better than men. You, on the other hand, have refused to learn anything from your panda form. I will alter your curse so that its lessons are obvious enough to get through even your thick skull."

Genma looked worried. "What are you going to do?"

"First, your cursed form will be able to talk. Second, you won't change with hot or cold water anymore--the transformation will be under your voluntary control."

"That doesn't sound so bad," mused Genma.

"You now have a new trigger, Pop, and it's entirely voluntary. If you do anything greedy, lazy, or illegal--if you practice any of the seven deadly sins--you go furry for up to 24 hours. On the other hand, if you do anything responsible, respectable, or honorable then you will return to your human form."

Genma looked ashen. "Son, don't you have any respect for your father?"

"How much respect have you earned, old man?" Ranko glared, then continued in a thoughtful tone, "Of course, I'll have to redecorate your panda form a little to make sure you get the message." She waved her hand, and Genma was in his furry form.

Genma's cursed form was still panda-shaped, but it was definitely more colorful. He still had black ears and black eye-spots, but the rest of his fur was white with bright day-glow decorations. There was a tie-dye pattern on his torso, a paisley design on his right arm, polka-dots on his left arm, undulating stripes on his right leg, and a kaleidoscope pattern on his left leg.

"That's hard on the eyes, Ranko," Nodoka admonished, squinting.

"Turn around, Pop, and give us a full view." On the panda's back appeared the kanji for 'kick me' in black fur, and in smaller type the words 'I deserve it.'

"That's harsh, Ranko. Even Genma doesn't deserve 'kick me,'" Akane observed.

"All he has to do is act decently and he'll stay human for the rest of his life," replied Ranko.

"I'm doomed," Genma wailed. He almost started crying like Soun. "Son, can't you turn me back the way I was?"

Ranko looked thoughtful. "Well, I'm also the God of Martial Arts. Would you rather have neko-ken training until you learned the unbeatable technique?"

Genma panicked. "No, no, that's quite all right. I'd rather stay the way I am."

Ranko smiled benevolently. "I thought you'd see reason. I do have your best interests at heart, old man." She waved her hand and Genma was human again.

It has been noted that Nodoka has her own slightly skewed perspective on things. She gushed, "My daughter is so manly! In a completely feminine way, of course." After a moment she sobered up. "You know I have no other children, Ranko. Does this mean the end of the Saotome clan?"

"Just how important is that to you, Mom?"asked Ranko.

"It's quite important, though not as important as your ascension, Dear."

"Well, be of good cheer, Mother. In just over eight months you will give birth to a fine healthy boy," Ranko replied.

Nodoka looked shocked, then elated. Everyone else chorused, "Oh my!"

Ranko continued, "Try to raise him better than you raised me." Ranko glared at her father. "No trips to China, no nekoken, and remember that school and socialization are important too."

Genma sullenly nodded his conscent.


(flashback)

Skuld lead Ranma into a large room filled with floating paper-thin display screens. Like most of the public areas in Asgard, it automatically expanded itself to comfortably hold all the occupants inside. A few deities went about their duties in the distance, but otherwise the room was quiet.

Ranma examined the room, grateful for his enhanced godly senses. If he were still mortal, he would have gotten a headache trying to decide if this space was rectangular or elliptical in shape. In fact, the room was both and neither--it was more than three-dimensional and less than four-dimensional. Kamisama liked fractal geometries.

"This is our 'reference library,'" Skuld explained. "We have a few formalities to take care of before we start your training."

Ranma looked around and admired the view. "Nice place, it's peaceful in here. What kinda formalities?"

"Every god has a teleport medium, an alternate energy source, an on-duty uniform, and address here in Asgard, and several other things that we are here to look up. Follow me." She approached a screen whose translucent state showed that it was not in use. "Query personnel file of Ranma, God of Martial Arts," she commanded. The screen turned opaque green and filled with text in a language that Ranma had never seen before.

"Hey, I can understand this stuff," Ranma exclaimed in surprise.

"All deities know every language fluently. You really have no excuse for sloppy grammar anymore, Ranma." Skuld studied the screen. "Hmm, that's unusual..."

"Is there a problem?" asked Ranma, being careful to speak correctly.

"You have two of almost everything. They're treating your female aspect and male aspect as if they were separate deities, except you have only one address." Skuld giggled. "I guess you're going to be cohabiting with yourself."

"That's not funny," muttered Ranma. "What is a teleport medium?"

"That's a slightly obsolete concept. We used to travel from place to place using our medium, but now we can teleport directly from place to place using less energy. Your guy side is assigned to use water, like me, and your girl side uses shiny surfaces, like my sister Belldandy."

"My guy side has trouble avoiding water--is that why it was chosen for my medium?"

"Probably," answered Skuld with a shrug.

Ranma read over her shoulder. "My girl form gets energy from eating ice cream and my boy form has to eat chocolate? I think I can live with that," he said, grinning. "Why do I need an energy source?"

"Here in Asgard you don't really need one, because mana is abundant here. On Midgard you may run out of power if you expend too much too rapidly, and that's when you need to recharge. We can gain energy from our individual sources, or from contact with moon rocks, if they're available."

"Moon rocks?" asked Ranma incredulously.

Skuld answered, "It's a long story." She changed the subject. "While you're here in Asgard you're expected to wear your on-duty uniform. For the next two weeks you'll wear this," she waved her hand. Ranma found himself clad in a red tunic over black tights, both made of a silky, yet spandex-like, material. It was quite comfortable and allowed full freedom of movement.

"I look like a comic-book superhero," Ranma complained.

"You are a superhero, Ranma. You'll be able to redesign your garb to suit yourself in a couple of weeks, and every decade thereafter. You won't ever be stuck in clothes that you don't like."

She scanned the rest of the file quickly, and then motioned Ranma to follow her. "We have to pick up something, and then I can lead you to your home in Asgard."

Skuld lead Ranma to a surrealistic garden where the plants seemed to be made of colored glass and the flower petals were jewels. A fragrant fountain of orange liquid made pleasant tinkling sounds in the background.

They were greeted by a statuesque blond wearing a toga-like garment. She greeted them with, "Hello, Skuld, nice to see you again. Is this the newbie? He's cute."

Skuld made introductions. "Erika, this is Ranma, the new God of Martial Arts. Ranma, Erika is our resident florist and caretaker of things botanical." Addressing the other goddess, she added, "I believe you have something for him."

"Yes, I have something most unusual for him." Erika left them for a moment and returned holding something small in her hand. "Here's your egg, Ranma. It's special for you."

Ranma took the proffered egg and examined it. The "egg" was the size of a jellybean, translucent blue with white streaks. It pulsed softly with light from something inside. "It's nice, but what's it for?" he asked in confusion.

"Just swallow it, Ranma, but don't chew," replied Erika.

"Swallow it?" asked Ranma, still confused. Both goddesses nodded and smiled. "Okay, here goes." The egg was soft and went down easily. "How much weirder can this day get?" he thought. Ranma felt a sense of warmth in his abdomen, a strangely comforting feeling.

"Let me show you to your new home," said Skuld.

In a few minutes, they were hovering in the air near the trunk of the largest tree imaginable. Its trunk was miles in diameter and impossibly high, its rough-textured bark interrupted here and there by illuminated rectangles. Glancing upwards, one could see that the leaves of the tree were responsible for the green color of the sky.

"That's a tree?" asked Ranma in shock, "It's enormous! And those lights, they're windows and doors..."

"Welcome to the World Tree," answered Skuld, who was enjoying watching his reaction. "It's an important bit of unreal estate here in Asgard. Deities live in apartments in the trunk," she raised an arm to point upwards, "and they work in the branch offices up there."

Ranma floated there trying to decide if he should laugh or groan, and tried to see whether Skuld was teasing him.

Skuld took his hand and flew to one of the illuminated rectangles. It turned out to be a large door with a nameplate that read: 'Ranma / Ranko'. She opened the door and went inside, revealing a bare room 16 meters by 10 meters in size. The walls and floor revealed the rich woodgrain of the living tree, while the ceiling softly glowed white. "This is your new home, Ranma. You are expected to customize to suit yourself--make it larger or smaller, add rooms and furniture, whatever you want."

"Can I put in a dojo?" he asked eagerly.

"Of course."

Ranma felt something unusual - as if an itch between his shoulder blades was being scratched from the inside. "What the..." Abruptly, the sensation ended and a petite winged figure, about eight inches high flew around his head and hovered in front of him. "Hello - what's this?" he asked in surprise.

Skuld was delighted. "That's your angel, Ranma. Every deity has an angel, an extension of his heart made manifest. She hatched from the egg that you swallowed. You have to give her a name, and then she'll be your friend forever."

Ranma examined his new friend. "I think I'll call her Chaos; after all, I've been surrounded by chaos all my life."

Chaos beamed at her host. Although she said nothing Ranma could feel what she was thinking and feeling--and right now Chaos wanted to give him a hug. Ranma found it to be very rewarding--it was the first time anyone had offered him unconditional love and acceptance.

And so, for the first time ever, Ranma was really glad that he had ascended.


It was the calm before the storm of the dinner-hour rush in the Nekohanten. Cologne sat at a table doing some paperwork when Ranko entered.

Cologne began with her usual, "Welcome..." but didn't get any further. She noticed the fancy new garments, the body language, the aura of tremendous power, the new facial markings, and the fact that Ranko's feet didn't quite reach the floor. She came to the obvious conclusion. Cologne hopped down and prepared to prostrate herself.

Speaking in the native dialect of the Joketsuzoku, Ranko said, "Please don't do that, Elder Ku Lon. It serves no purpose, and it embarrasses me."

Cologne adapted quickly to the new situation. "If I may ask, Ranma, how long have you been a goddess?"

"That all depends, Elder. On your clock less than a day has passed, but I've had nearly three centuries of education since last night. Yes, dear, I'm older than you are now. Also, Ranma is the name of my male aspect, Ranko is the name of my female form."

Cologne boggled. It didn't faze her that Ranko was older than she was now, she could even accept son-in-law had become a deity, but Ranko had affectionately called her 'dear.'

"I see, I think," Cologne muttered.

"Elder, do you mind if I talk to you later? I have business with Mousse and Shampoo."

"I have patience, Ranko--but I do want to talk to you." Raising her voice, Cologne summoned Shampoo and Mousse.

The two young Amazons came into the dining room and stopped in shock.

Shampoo wailed, "Aiya, airen has turned into a..." She stopped in confusion. Just what had her airen turned into?

Ranko put her hand behind her head and said, "Hello, I'm Ranko, the Goddess of Transformations. I'm also Ranma, the God of Martial Arts, when I'm male. Sorry about this, but not very."

Mousse was dubious. "What nonsense is this, Saotome? And when did you learn to speak our language?"

Shampoo elbowed him. "Put glasses on, Mousse. Airen floating in the air."

Ranko answered, "Not nonsense, but serious business. As Goddess of Transformations I have dominion over Jusenkyo pools, their curses, and their victims. That means I have to take care of you and look out for your interests. Of course, my male aspect governs all martial artists, so I have you both covered twice."

Shampoo asked, "What does dominion mean?"

"It's somewhat like being a parent. I can advise you, command you, bless you, or curse you as needed. Don't worry, I'm sure you're going to like what I have planned."

There was an expectant silence. Cologne moved closer so she could get a better view.

Ranko resumed. "You are both going to have two alternate forms, not just one. Your changes will not be triggered by water, but will be under your voluntary control. Your non-human forms will be able to talk. Xian Pu, step forward."

Shampoo complied. A large mirror appeared in front of her. Ranko smiled and said, "Visualize your cat form." A moment later a pink and purple cat, still dry, was looking in the mirror.

"Aiya," said the cat, "Why do I have a crescent moon shape on my forehead?" The cat looked startled. "I can talk!"

Ranko looked amused. "I thought that a talking cat might need that symbol if she ever goes for a walk in Azabu Juuban." Ranko leaned forward, showing no sign of fear, and touched the cute little kitty. "And here's your new shape."

Neither cute nor little, an albino tiger with purple stripes looked at her reflection in the mirror. The tiger had a moon marking too. With great excitement she said, "Oh Meow! Shampoo really likes this form. Thank you so much, Ranko."

"Now concentrate on your human form, Xian Pu."

A moment later a fully clothed Shampoo stood erect. She bowed. "You have done me a great favor, Ranko. I am in your debt."

"How come her clothing disappeared when she went cat and returned when she became human?" asked Mousse.

"Were you looking for a free show, Mousse?" asked Ranko slyly. "I will grant you the same boon. Mu Tse, step forward."

Mousse stepped forward as Shampoo stepped back.

"Remember what it's like to be a duck," suggested Ranko.

In a moment a duck appeared where Mousse had been. There was a moon crescent on the bird too, but being white-on-white it was hard to see. "Quack," said the duck.

"Who are you calling a quack?" Ranko asked archly.

The duck replied, "Sorry, it's a reflex."

Ranko bent over and touched the duck. "Here's your alternate shape."

A hawk with white feathers trimmed in black appeared. It stared into the mirror and then preened. "I look very handsome like this," it said.

"Hawks are known for their keen eyesight, fierceness, and determination. I thought it would suit you, Mu Tse," said Ranko.

"Thank you for not turning me into a moose, I know you have a sense of humor, Ranko."

"Oh I do, but I don't have fun at other people's expense. Besides, I don't think you're full of bull. Now recall what it feels like to be a man."

Mousse stood erect, fully clothed and fully human.

Ranko continued. "Mu Tse, you have been unfairly handicapped by your poor vision. It's not genetic, your mother was poisoned while carrying you. She recovered, but your developing eyes were damaged. For the next month your eyesight will improve a little each day until it's somewhat sharper than 20/20. Your glasses will adapt to the change, until you don't need them anymore. That will give you time to adjust to being able to see."

"You are very generous, Ranko. I have done nothing to deserve this blessing." Mousse had a lump in his throat.

"On the contrary, when it matters most you have shown great courage. Have more faith in yourself, Mou Tse." Ranko then addressed both amazons. "Each of you will have to spend at least 24 hours out of each month in an animal form. You may choose the shape and the hours to suit yourself, and of course you may spend more time as an animal if you want to."

"Why is that?" Shampoo asked.

"The Jusenkyo 'curses' are a training tool. I don't want you to cut class. When you have learned your lessons, I will remove the quota."

"What is the value of being a duck?" asked Mousse. "I don't see how knowing how to fly makes me a better person."

"Why a duck?" Ranko asked in a fake Italian accent, then grinned at a secret joke. "Sorry, I can't tell you that, but I'll give you a hint. Think of the areas in which you are deficient, those things that are needed but you find hard to learn. There you will find your answers."

The two young Amazons looked crestfallen.

Ranko continued,"Mu Tse, I have another gift to offer you, but it will be up to you to accept or decline it. Think carefully before you answer. If you agree, then any children you father will be stronger, healthier, and better fighters than any other amazons of their generation."

Mousse was overwhelmed. If word of this blessing got out then every unwed amazon maiden (and quite a few married ones too) would be chasing him. Hiroshi or Daisuke would be thrilled at such a prospect, but Mousse wanted only one girl. Besides, Ranma had many beautiful women vying for his attention, and look at the trouble it caused him. He wanted no part of that! He bowed low. "I am honored by your offer, but I cannot accept it all. May I ask if you can grant me only a part of it, perhaps only 'healthier'?"

Ranko looked quite proud of him. "You are smarter than people give you credit for, Mu Tse. I shall grant you the healthier children guarantee. Give me your right hand."

To Mousse's surprise, Ranko leaned forward and kissed the back of his hand. He felt a jolt, somewhat like an electric shock, but it was not unpleasant.

"Xian Pu, I make a similar offer to you. If you accept then your children will be better fighters than any other amazons of their generation. Would you like that?"

Shampoo didn't hesitate. "I would be honored to have that blessing, Ranko." She bowed low and held out her right hand. Ranko smiled and kissed it. Shampoo's little jolt was a pleasant experience.

"Okay, I have finished my business with you two, now I must talk to Ku Lon." Ranko shifted into her Ranma form and walked over to the Elder.

Cologne could hardly contain her amusement or appreciation. "Ranma, you are as devious as a Joketsuzoku Elder. That was well done."

Ranma gave a slight bow and replied. "Thank you, I have learned from a master."

Cologne blushed at the implied compliment. "When Shampoo realizes that if she marries Mousse her children will be doubly blessed..." She chuckled. "You are still a better candidate husband than he is though."

"If Shampoo marries me she may die childless, Elder."

Cologne was shocked. "How could that be? Are you sterile?"

"Not quite. Deities are encouraged to have only one child. It would be unwise to waste my only opportunity with a mortal mate."

"Why is that?"

"We are immortal, Elder, and some of us are many thousands of years old. If we had children as often as humans do, how many gods would there be today?"

"I hadn't considered that. There would be trillions and trillions of you--you wouldn't have enough room to sit down because of overcrowding."

"Yes, crowding would be a problem, but there is a more serious difficulty. Every deity has a unique domain, and all the useful ones are already taken. If there were trillions of us, we would be reduced to such trivial domains as the God of Rusty Blue Volkswagens With One Flat Tire or the Goddess of Pipe-Smoking Nuns Who Knit Baby Clothes Out of Hemp."

Cologne cackled loudly and slapped her knee. "Well, we certainly wouldn't want that to happen." She sobered up. "I guess we'll have to stop pursuing you as a potential husband. Pity. When you killed that insufferable Saffron I realized that you were beyond the reach of our laws--perhaps beyond all human laws. It did make you even more desirable, so we kept on chasing you and hoping for the best."

"It was never meant to be, Elder" Ranma said gently.

"I realize that now. Yet, in the end, you treated us with more kindness than we deserved. How can you be so generous, Ranma?"

"Do you know Quan Yin?"

"The Goddess of Compassion and Mercy? I've heard of her, but of course I've never met her."

Ranma smiled. "She's a friend of mine, a charming person. Actually, I've always been a kind person. I rarely hurt an opponent any more than I had to, and sometimes I was unwisely generous to others. That sounds funny coming from a martial artist, but it's true."

"I suppose that pure heart is what qualified you to be promoted to deity," mused Cologne.

"In a way, yes," said Ranma, "It qualified me to receive a wish, and the wish led to my ascension."

"Ranma, you have made my old age very entertaining. Will we ever see you again?"

"Yes, certainly. I'll be hanging around Nerima for a while to tie up some loose ends. Of course, I might be persuaded to give martial arts lessons to some amazons if they're both male and female. Next month I'll be getting married, and you're all invited."

"The Tendo girl, I assume."

"Yes, Elder, I am marrying Akane. She was always the only one for me. Good night, Ku Lon."

"Good night, Ranma."


It was after dinner at the Tendo's. Ranma and Akane were in her room talking.

"Akane, have you given any thought about what kind of marriage you'd like to have."

"I was considering a western-style marriage. Is there a problem?"

"That's a western-style ceremony. A marriage begins when the ceremony ends."

"Oh," said Akane, "I thought all marriages were essentially the same. Are there different kinds?"

"Yes indeed. Different cultures have different forms of marriage, sometimes more than one kind within a group. Deities have another kind of marriage, one generally not suitable for mortals."

Akane was puzzled. "Explain, please. I don't know what you're thinking of."

"There are some human cultures who practice three forms of marriage: 'handfasting' which usually lasts for a year and a day, a sort of trial marriage, 'marriage' which lasts until 'death do us part', and 'sealing' in which the couple vows to remain together forever, in reincarnation after reincarnation. Then there are groups who practice polygamy or polyandry--forms of group marriage. Even common ordinary marriage varies across cultures. In America some practice 'serial monogamy'--marrying many different partners, one at a time."

"And divine marriage is different from all of those?" asked Akane.

"Yes. Human marriage is centered on having and raising children--that's its most important purpose. Divine marriage is based on the love and happiness of the couple. Child rearing doesn't factor into it because deities spend so little of their lives parenting. Our marriages last as long as both partners love each other, and there is no promise of exclusivity. Akane, would you be willing to spend a hundred million years loving no one but me?"

Akane's eyes went wide. After a moment, she answered, "Gosh, that's a big commitment. As much as I love you, Ranma, I'd hesitate to go that far."

"That's why gods practice a form of 'open marriage.' There are a few cases of lifetime commitment, but they're rare."

Akane paused. "All this is kind of overwhelming. You're not the person I fell in love with, you're so much more now. I'm not complaining, but you've grown up and improved so much overnight that I need to adjust to the changes. I'm a mortal who wants to marry a god, and that's daunting. Has that ever happened before? How did it work out?"

"You're not backing out, are you?" Ranma was concerned.

"I'm not changing my mind, Ranma, but I'm beginning to appreciate the challenges I'll face. This isn't an ordinary wedding, it's unprecedented. I feel apprehensive. I wonder if I'm up to it..."

"I think you're up to it, tomboy, or I wouldn't have proposed. To answer your question, no--nothing quite like this has happened before. However, not long ago a goddess fell in love with a man she believed was a mortal and she wanted to marry him. It turned out that he was immortal. They're happily married and living in Asgard now."

"How could she not know that he was immortal?"

"Keiichi was a good person with a history of bad luck. Belldandy was sent to grant him a wish. He said, 'I wish that a goddess like you would be with me for all time.' The wording of that wish granted him immortality." Ranma smiled. "In a sense, the same thing happened to me--my wish made me a god and granted me immortality."

Akane looked thoughtful. "I'll have to remember that in case I'm ever offered a wish."

Ranma feigned looking hurt. "Why would you need a wish when you have me?"

They laughed. After a moment, Akane shyly asked, "If deities rarely have children, do they also rarely have sex?"

"No need to worry, 'Kane, gods make love about as often as humans do. I've been saving myself for you so I'm still a virgin, but I expect to make up for my celibacy soon enough."

Akane blushed. "With all those girls throwing themselves at you, and all the beautiful goddesses in heaven, you've never done it?"

Ranma nodded. "Don't forget all those handsome gods. Ranko is a girl, and I know she will feel that attraction someday."

Akane continued, "Ranma, what kind of marriage do you think we'll have?"

"Well, I certainly don't expect you to stay at home and be a housewife. It's not your style, and I don't need one anyway. I expect you'll want a career of some sort."

"Are you trying to get out of eating my cooking?" Akane asked archly.

"No, no, I can eat your cooking now." Ranma silently thought, 'Of course now I can eat molten lava and drink hydrofluoric acid.' He continued, "Akane, your cooking will improve when you get your anger under control."

Her eyebrows went up. "Really? Why is that?"

"Belldandy is renowned as the best cook in heaven. If anyone asks for her recipe she says, 'If you have enough love in your heart, then anything you make will be wonderful.' It works for other things as well, like crafts or child rearing. Akane, when you cook with rage in your heart it affects the food you prepare."

"Oh." It made sense. "But I've been angry ever since Mother died. It's going to be hard to get rid of it."

Ranma looked her in the eye. "You don't 'get rid' of anger--you stop doing it!"

"Huh?"

"Emotions like love and anger are not something you have, they're something you do. They're verbs, not nouns. You can't put an emotion in a box on a shelf, you can't sweep it under the rug or hide it away somewhere--but if you stop doing it, it will be gone."

"Oh," said Akane. "You make it sound so simple."

"Akane, there's nothing wrong with you that a stable and loving relationship can't fix."

Her eyes grew moist. "Hold me, Ranma."


Skuld dropped in to visit Ranma in his room at the Tendo's while the others were asleep. She said, "Ranma, I'm a little concerned about the way you're interacting with mortals."

Ranma raised an eyebrow. "Why is that?"

"You've told too many people about your divine status. You know Kamisama doesn't want people to know we exist. There are good reasons for that."

"You introduced yourself to me as a goddess while I was still a mortal. Evidently there's some leeway in the keep-it-secret rule."

Skuld sighed. "It's not a hard and fast rule, as you know. We grant a limited number of wishes, and the grantees are aware that they mustn't spread the word."

"I have to tell Nodoka, don't I? She's my mother. I have to tell Akane, she's going to be my wife."

"Well, since you are an ascended mortal we have to make allowances for your friends and family."

"How can I tell people whose curses I've rewritten without divulging my divinity? I don't want to catch them by surprise, and I often give them a say in the changes I'm making. Remember, I've put a nondisclosure spell on everyone that I've told."

"I wonder if you aren't making too many changes too soon." Skuld adopted a lecturing tone. "Even if they can't tell anyone, you've told many people that gods are real. This will affect their beliefs and their actions. The entire purpose of the secrecy rule is to prevent just that. Mortals have free will, and that's compromised if they know about us."

Ranma conceded. "You've made your point. I'll be more careful in the future. But, I don't want to erase my friend's memories, that's distasteful."

"Yes, it is," conceded Skuld. "You can always try the 'this was only a dream' routine."

"Thank you, Skuld-sensei. I'm glad you're watching out for me."

"You knew it wouldn't be easy when you accepted Kamisama's offer." Skuld smiled warmly. "All in all, you're doing rather well so far. Keep up the good work."


(Not quite an Omake)

It almost looked humanoid. It had a metallic torso the size of an SUV, two legs that looked like they had been assembled from garbage cans, and two arms made of articulated wastebaskets. It had a diesel engine on its back and sensors of various types scattered on its metallic 'skin'. Whatever it was, it shambled through the back alleys of Azabu Juuban raiding the dumpsters it encountered and pouring their contents into its hollow body. The sound of trash being compacted could be heard from time to time. The two men watching it were assumed to be curiosity seekers.

The sailor-suited warriors of love and justice watched this thing from a nearby rooftop and debated what to do about it.

"It sure looks like a youma, but it doesn't behave like one," opined Sailor Jupiter.

Sailor Moon looked at her computer-nerd companion. "What do you read, Mercury?"

"There's no trace of negaverse energy, and it doesn't seem to be harming anyone. Perhaps we should just keep an eye on it to be sure..."

"I'm inclined to battle it," said Mars. "It looks weird. The nail that sticks up..."

Venus chimed in, "I don't like the looks of it either. It's stealing trash, not energy, but it doesn't belong here."

"Okay, let's do it," said the ever-decisive Sailor Moon. The senshi lept down from the roof and confronted the thing.

Moon struck a heroic pose. "For stealing garbage that properly belongs to the DPW, we must punish you in the name of the Moon in order to keep this city safe from monsters !"

The 'youma' ignored her studiously - perhaps it did not have an oratory detector - and merely kept on looking for the next dumpster. A Venus Love-Me Chain didn't seem to have any effect, but a lightning bolt immobilized the creature. An odor of overheated oil ensued.

"Ouch," exclaimed Venus, dropping her end of the chain. "Jupiter, warn me next time. The chain conducts electricity, you know."

Jupiter's reply was interrupted by the arrival of the two men who had been watching the device.

"What do you think you're doing?" exclaimed the one holding a clipboard and a stopwatch.

"That prototype Trash-O-Matic cost a small fortune to develop, and now you've ruined it," yelled the man carrying a camcorder.

Sailor Moon noticed the Mitsubishi nameplate on the 'youma' and came to an executive decision. "Run away! Run away!" she commanded, blushing deeply.

The senshi lept away in haste, giving the two men a fine view of their shapely legs in the process.

Where was Sailor Pluto while this was going on? She was making out hot and heavy with Father Time and really didn't want to be interrupted. Thirty thousand years of celibacy can make one a lot less choosy about romantic partners.

***


Author's feeble explanations:

On Ranko being a real girl - In the cannon, Ranma's problem with his curse is not that he turns into a girl, but that he doesn't like turning into a girl because of his father's malodorous upbringing. By the end of the cannon Ranma has learned that not everything Genma says is to be taken at face value - and often the truth is the exact opposite!

The brains of males and females are subtly different - and it's not a matter of better or worse. Just have a mixed-gender conversation and you'll see it in action; it's partially a matter of upbringing (nurture) and partly a matter of genetics (nature). Ranma chose to become a "real girl" when female for two reasons:
1) Comfort. A man's mind in a woman's brain is a poor fit. If I want to walk a mile in your shoes, they'd better fit right!
2) Education. He will be better equipped to understand and communicate with women than any man I know!

About timestop, such as was used on Miss Hinako: It looks so simple in the movies - everyone else stands perfectly still while you keep moving. But consider - if time is really stopped, or just slowed down a million-fold, then everything else becomes essentially immobile around you. The air molecules are frozen in place - you can't breathe or move. The photons are frozen too - you won't be able to see anything. Highly impractical, if you ask me. A properly done timestop spell has to temporarily shunt aside air molecules near you while being careful not to create sonic booms, create something else for you to breath, and devise a substitute for the sense of sight. It's a complicated spell...

Mike