Character Assassination

"Hmm," Cologne mused, "This is quite unusual. Though I cannot say I am intimately acquainted with our young business rival, it does seem the work of outside influence." The Amazon matriarch grumbled to herself, before continuing, "It's almost a similar issue with my great granddaughter."

"I thought you were always encouraging her to practice her Japanese," Ranma commented, still not completely positive that Shampoo isn't behind Ukyo's quite uncharacteristic change.

"And as long as you've known us, how well had that worked?" Cologne snapped, unusually tense for the typically collected old woman.

"Hey! Don't take your frustrations out on me, old hag! I got problems of my own!" Ranma retorted, becoming defensive. He immediately relaxed, allowing Cologne to respond.

After pulling the head of her staff away from where it impacted the pigtailed boy's skull, she apologized, "Forgive my current temperament, there has been quite a few rather unique disturbances since this morning about. The sudden fire that sprouted in the kitchen, the Jehovah witness that was in earlier and continued to implore passionately about our conversion, my near-death experience, and those accursed John Denver songs that continue to play from various interfaces from the radio to the passing ice-cream truck!" With a growl, Cologne continued, "And each instant seems to be more and more insistent upon gaining my attention!"

Excuse me, elder," Konatsu interjected, "You said it continued to get worse and worse?"

"My, how attentive to the conversation you are," Cologne remarked.

Konatsu remained non-plussed at the sarcastic barb, "Do you know what it is that brought Shampoo's desire for change?"

"Well," Cologne mused, "It is no secret that you Japanese are rather subtly bigoted..."

"HEY!"

"I understand elder, please forgive our ignorant countrymen, and continue," Konatsu urged, covering Ranma's mouth with his hand.

"Shampoo usually ignored the more boisterous insults made against her," Cologne explained, substituting the phrase 'punished brutally and efficiently without remorse' with 'ignored', "But as of late, they had been more frequent, and I presume they were starting to hit home."

"I presume they invoked Ranma's name?"

Cologne nodded, as Ranma blinked, "Uh, so I'm at fault for this? Can't I go one day without getting all the blame?"

"No, you cannot," the matriarch dry quipped, "Eventually, in an uncharacteristic and emotional fit unbecoming even the most impassioned Amazon warrior, she decided that her life was not going anywhere, and locked herself in her room with her i-mac and those 'Rosetta Software' CDs Mousse studied before he arrived here."

The kunoichi genius nodded, building his suspicions, "I wonder..." Konatsu began to mumble to himself, "Ukyo, Shampoo... Ranma-sama, has there been anyone else that you would consider to have been acting peculiar?"

"Uh, I guess Ryoga... he's been shy around girls, but even he's too proud to be cowed like he was. OH! Kasumi too, she's acting really out of character for her. Oh yeah, I never would have thought Yuka to be a lesbo, much less bold enough to admit it, nor brave enough to admit any perversion to Akane."

"Hmm, that is quite peculiar," Cologne added, "All of these people beginning to deviate from their usual personality tendencies. Son-in-law, perhaps it would be prudent to err on the side of caution, and be on guard for any unusual artifacts or influences. For all we know, this may be an unorthodox attack upon you."

"Hmm, martial arts psychiatry? Eh, why not," Ranma commented, shrugging his shoulders. "Anyways, better get back before the kookiness spreads. Who knows who's next on the list"


Nabiki closed her door, still chuckling. She would never admit it out loud, but she dearly loved Ranma, that is, she loved the profound amount of entertainment he brought with him. If she videotaped this whole ordeal, she could probably sell it as some sort of reality sitcom...

The middle Tendou daughter mused over such a notion; to popular genres fused into one; she would make a killing! With a sigh, she mentally stored the idea away for another time, ready to sit down to do her homework. With both the fathers being elsewhere, Kasumi out shopping, and Akane at Yuka's house talking with the deranged girl's parents, the middle Tendou sister decided this would be the best time to productively use the peace and quiet. As she picked up her pencil and opened her notebook to read her notes, she idly wondered what Ranma was currently getting himself into, and how she could profit from it.

She turned on the radio sitting on her desk to help set the background noise that made it peculiarly enough easier to concentrate, and turned the page for her notes, causing her hand to idly brush against something, and cause it to fall off her desk. "What's this?" Nabiki mused to herself, finding a necklace on the floor. "Hmm, guess I pulled this out for Kasumi when she was offering to clean up jewelry," Nabiki mused, setting the necklace she had inherited from her mother back on the desk. She was grateful for the final gift her mother gave her, but she had decided it wasn't her style.

She twisted her nose up at the song that was playing on the radio, deciding that it definitely was not her style. "Ugh, what is this?"

"Have you gazed out on the ocean seen the breaching of a whale?
Have you watched the dolphins frolic in the foam?
Have you heard the song the humpback hears five hundred miles away
Telling tales of ancient history of passages and home."

She reached up to turn it to another station, just as the sun poked through the clouds, shining it's brilliant light through her window. Nabiki flinched, as the light reflected off of the jewelry she had on her desk, jolting back, and knocking her reading lamp from her desk.

"SHIT!" the middle Tendou sister swore, as the still on light's bulb burst against the wall, catching fire. It spread upwards along the wall, before beginning to spread to the sides as it found interesting paths to scorch. Thinking quickly, Nabiki quickly ripped the bed spread from her bed, and quickly used it to smother the fire against the wall.

"We are standing all together face to face and arm in arm
We are standing on the treshold of a dream
No more hunger, no more killing no more wasting like a way
It is simply an idea and I know its time has come"

"Damnitdamnitdamnit.." Nabiki mumbled, as she frantically patted out the flame before the spread could also combust. Finally, she took a deep breath, stepping back from the wall, "That was a close one, I dunno wha-..."

She stared at the scorch marks on the wall, blinking in slight shock. She turned to her desk, spying the necklace from her mother, still glimmering in the sun's light, then back to the burn mark.

Nabiki wasn't one to believe in omens like her superstitious father did, but she had to admit that with a near death experience such as nearly being trapped in a burning domicile, this was a bit awkward.

Shaking her head, trying to dismiss it as a coincidence, Nabiki didn't notice until she backed into her book case, causing a couple of books to tumble to the ground. With a growl at her own clumsiness, she bent down to pick them up, and tilted her head in curiosity and surprise to find what the book on top had opened up to...

'And the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not


"Ranma-sama, do you really think that this is some psychological tactic being used against you? I mean, it is rather peculiar..." Konatsu voiced, just as both of them landed upon the grounds of the Tendou household.

"Well, it's not exactly the weirdest thing that's happened, I mean I've dealt with some pretty peculiar guys... don't you think 'Mr. Sexy Kunoichi'?"

Konatsu blushed, conceding the point.

"Ranma?" Both martial artists turned to the front gate, finding Akane entering, "So, did you find out anything important from Elder Cologne?"

"Na, just that we need to be on our toes for any other weirdness," Ranma replied, as the three made it to the front door, "It could be some weird martial art attack being used on us, so all we have to do is just be prepared for-"

"RANMA! AKANE!"

"YEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH!!!" All three of them exclaimed, as the door opened, revealing an ecstatic Nabiki.

Akane blinked, before taking in the changes to her sister. Nabiki... Nabiki was... smiling? A real, actual smile, not one of her devious or calculating smirks or sardonic grins, but a content, joyous smile. "What's up, Nabiki? Did you figure something out?"

"Yeah, and what's wrong with your face?" Ranma enquired, not used to seeing such an expression on the middle sister before.

"Ranma!" Akane chastised, more concerned for whatever retribution Nabiki may dish out onto him for even such a minor quip.

To their surprise, Nabiki chuckled, "'But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple, do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don't take yourself to seriously... take God seriously.' Micah, six eight."

Akane, Ranma, and Konatsu looked at each other, before turning back to the young woman before them, "What?"

Nabiki just sighed, clutching the book she was holding to her bosom even tighter to herself, as she looked up to the sky, "For the longest time, I had my eyes closed, Akane, Ranma, but now I've come to learn something valuable..." Nabiki looked back at the trio with a soft smile that just didn't seem to fit on her face, like it belonged on someone else entirely, "He loves me."

"Uh, you got a boyfriend now or something? Poor guy..." Ranma mused, earning a nod from Konatsu.

Akane's eyes narrowed, before noticing the necklace Nabiki was wearing, "Uh, Nabiki, since when did you start wearing your cross?"

"Since I found him, Akane," Nabiki answered, quickly thrusting the book she was holding out into plain view. "I didn't realize how damned my soul was, until I read this."

"What? Did you just read that or something?" Ranma asked, looking at the leather bound Bible.

"But we were only gone a couple of hours!" Akane retorted.

"I'm sorry of the way I treated you guys," Nabiki stated, lowering her head in meekness, "All I cared for was profit, and never cared about the repercussions, "What profit is it to a man if he gains the world, but loses his soul?' Matthew, sixteen twenty six."

"Creepy," Konatsu mouthed.

"Oh man..." Ranma realized, "Not you too!" He started stepping back away, as if the girl should have been under quarantine.

"The good book has changed my life, Ranma," Nabiki proclaimed, before taking a firm and determined step to her sister and her sister's fiancé, "And we can talk about it together, so it may change yours too!"

"MOVE, KONATSU, MOVE!" Ranma shouted, as he scooped up Akane, and leapt to the surrounding walls. The male kunoichi didn't have to be told twice, as he quickly followed.

"WAIT! YOU MUST BE TAUGHT OF OUR WRATHFUL AND TERRIBLE LORD AND OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!" Nabiki shouted, running after them in a futile attempt of pursuit.