Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½™ or Warhammer Fantasy Battle™ in any way, shape or form. Fan-art based on this series –and suggestion on how to represent Ranma and the Fikskulls in games of Warhammer- would be greatly appreciated.
Author's Notes: okay, just to point out, having Forna reveal that Greenskins are polygamous and having some of the old fiancée brigade were two separate ideas. Anyway, the feedback I got made me decide it'd be best not to bring in any of the "old gang".
Reviewer Phil; thank you for the compliment… that was a compliment, wasn't it? I'd appreciate if you could clarify it a little.
In sad news, this will be the second-last chapter of this story. My current decline in inspiration and, it must be said, interest in this story have forced me to conclude that it is best to finish it off now while there's still a chance I can do a half-way decent job of it. Don't worry though; I intend to write the ending so that I can always come back to this little universe of mine if I ever rediscover my inspiration. In addition, anyone who wants to write their own story set in this universe is welcome to do so, so long as you credit me with coming up with the original idea in the first place.
Chapter 31: Return to Nerima, Part 3
Both sides remained frozen for what felt like hours in shock, though in reality it was maybe closer to half a minute. Happosai, never one to turn down any opportunity, quickly seized advantage of this state of affairs to wriggle out of Forna's chokehold (emphasis on choke) and lunge for the door, even forgoing the opportunity to grab the she-Orc's breasts. Seeing him moving out of the corner his eye instantly snapped Ranma back to his senses.
"Oh no ya don't!"
Seizing the nearest available object, Urbari's axe, Ranma hurled the rune-inscribed weapon (as well as its owner, who'd failed to let go in time) at the elderly lech. Unfortunately, Ranma missed- perhaps because he'd failed to take the weight and drag of Urbari's body into account. The blade embedded itself deeply into the wood of the floor, while the cackling midget quickly darted from the dojo and over the wall into Nerima.
Ranma reacted as calmly as could be expected. Which means, in other words, that he started spewing curses even Forna was impressed with. Paying no attention to anyone else, he darted from the room in pursuit of the ancient pervert, his two loyal followers right on his heels. Well, after Forna helped Urbari wrench his axe free anyway. Behind them, they left a very confused trio of Tendos and a disbelieving Genma Saotome.
"D-did you just see…?" Soun asked hesitantly, turning towards Genma. He blinked when he realised that his old friend wasn't standing beside him, but leaping frantically over the walls in hot pursuit. He instinctively followed in Genma's footsteps, whilst his two daughters looked on in amazement- they'd seen the other martial artists perform such leaps before, but it was doubtful that even Kasumi had believed her father to still be able to perform such feats. They both paused for a minute, both silently debating whether or not to follow, and then finally decided to go with the flow. Besides, maybe that really was Ranma- and if it was, then that meant that things were about to go back to normal. Right?
"Come back here ya old fart!" Ranma hollered, so focused on chasing Happosai that he failed to notice the little following he'd picked up. Forna and Urbari, despite having no prior experience with roof-hopping and the fact the Dwarf's short legs meant that the she-Orc had to carry him, were doing a pretty good job of keeping up behind him. Behind them was Genma Saotome, with Soun Tendo doing his best to catch up. Kasumi and Nabiki had, thanks to Kasumi, managed to commandeer a scooter and were bringing up the rear on the ground. Somehow though, the convoy had grown to include Ryoga and Kodachi, both of whom were barely wearing any clothing, Shampoo, Ukyo and even Mousse and Akane. It might have been a mystery how they'd found him… other than the fact Ranma hadn't stopped spitting curses at the top of his Waaagh-trained lungs and Happosai had begun tossing his trademark Happo-Fire Burst bombs about in an attempt to 'persuade' Ranma to back off. Unfortunately for the ancient lecher, Ranma had once made the mistake of escorting a drunken Squee to his Deff Kart. Suffice to say that drunken Fire Kobolds and stockpiled explosives do not mix. Happosai's little firecrackers weren't going to scare Ranma off, especially not now.
Finally, Ranma managed to catch a bomb and toss it right back at Happosai as the old pervert was preparing another one. Distracted by catching a rather solid object moving at a rather impressive speed square in the face, Happosai was promptly engulfed by twin explosions, which blew him out of the air and right towards a suitably vacant lot. Ranma dove after him, intent on seizing whatever advantages he could get, while Forna slipped on the roof behind him and promptly caused a pile-up as the other roof-hoppers tripped over her. By the time they finally untangled themselves and made it back down to earth, Nabiki and Kasumi had already taken prime seats to watch as Ranma and Happosai faced off once again.
"C'mon ya old lech! Why d'ya always hafta be so damn stubborn? Jes' gimme that stupid rod an' I'll get outta ya hair! …What's left of it anyway." Ranma brought his leg around in a powerful sweeping kick, which Happosai effortlessly leapt over.
"How can I give you whatever it is you want when I don't know what it is you want?" Happosai retorted, using a Finger Block to nullify a right-cross aimed directly at his head.
"Don't play dumb with me!"
"Who's playing? You woke me up and then started laying into me without even hinting as to what you're after!" Happosai shot back. For a second, the only sound to be heard was the faint whistle of a sudden breeze. Then Ranma broke the silence.
"I didn't tell ya?"
"Well, do the words 'Rod of Siege Breakin' ring any bells?"
"Hmm… little ornamental mace-thing about so long? Looks like it couldn't mash butter?"
Ranma paused for a second, recalling the description his shamans had given him, and then nodded. Happosai snorted angrily.
"You mean you wrecked my room and chased me over half of town over that? Wait here and I'll get the useless thing- I would dumped it years ago, but it was the only momento I had of a lost love of mine."
Ranma decided not to bother with either of the obvious retorts that came to mind- if the old freak was actually willing to cut Ranma some slack and give him the artefact so that he could go home already, why should he risk pissing him off? Besides, the sooner he was back with the Fikskulls, the better. Unfortunately for Ranma, as he watched Happosai bound away into the horizon, he'd forgotten about one little thing. Namely, the audience he'd picked up. He was promptly reminded when Genma suddenly surged forward, catching his off-guard child in an embrace so fierce that Ranma's joints audibly popped and cracked.
"Ranma! You're back! Where on earth have you been- I've been so worried about you! Oof!"
Genma grunted in pain as Ranma's elbow was promptly applied to his lower torso, after which the younger martial artist squirmed free with the ease of long practise, pausing beyond arm's length and throwing a disdainful look back at his father.
"Yeah right, like I'll fall for that."
Genma looked more hurt and vulnerable at those words, spoken in that tone, than anyone had ever seen him look before. Even Ranma couldn't help but feel a twinge of guilt, though he quickly choked it down by remembering all of the trouble Genma had caused him. He quickly forgot all about it as his former… neighbours, for lack of a better word, began crowding him, clustering about him whilst all the while trying to touch him, their speech running together into a meaningless babble until the overwhelmed Ranma leapt to his freedom, greatly startling the Nerima natives in the process. Perching upon the relative safety of a nearby rooftop, Forna and Urbari scrambling to stand before him on the ground below, Ranma simply stared down at the people he had once known, silent as the grave. They, in turn, stared back up at him, puzzlement and confusion readily visible upon their faces. It was Soun Tendo who finally broke the eerie silence.
"Is that really you, Ranma?"
"It was last time I checked." Ranma replied, at which Soun's face lit up in a massive grin.
"So you've come back at last? Wonderful! We didn't need that stupid ring after all!"
"…What ring?" Ranma asked, deciding not to admit he had no intention of making this stay anything other than both temporary and as short as possible. He blinked as all of the Nerimites present face-faulted, startling Forna and Urbari in the process. Mousse was the first to scramble back to his feet.
"Uh… you know… that wish-granting thing?" Mousse cautiously ventured.
"Oh, that thing. I'd forgotten all about it." Ranma replied nonchalantly, sending the Nerimites slamming back down onto the ground. Inside though, Ranma was far from being as calm as he looked. His position as Warboss had given him the necessary "encouragement" to develop his ability to mentally analyse situations, and right now his mind was working overtime. So they had the ring that had sent him to the Fikskulls… and given what Soun had just said… that meant… oh shit…
"Forna? Urbari?" Ranma said, in a slow, careful tone of voice. "I want ya'z ta do something fer me."
"What's that, boss?" Forna asked, looking up towards Ranma as she and Urbari unconsciously unsheathed their axes.
"Distract 'em!" Ranma shouted whilst simultaneously fleeing over the rooftops in the direction of the Cat Café, much to the shock of everyone down below. The Nerimites instinctively surged after him, but equally instinctively Forna and Urbari bull-rushed them, starting one of the most savage and indiscriminate brawls in Nerima's recent history. Ranma was oblivious to this however; all that mattered to him right now was getting that ring from Cologne (who else would they have trusted with it?). In the Cat Café, Cologne suddenly looked up, a solemn, strangely sad expression upon her face.
"Yo! Old ghoul! C'mon, I know yer here!" Ranma called. He dropped easily to the pavement in front of the Cat Café, arms folded across his chest and defiance written across his body. The restaurant's doors swung open softly, and Cologne gently and silently pogoed out to stand before him. Ranma was surprised; though Cologne wasn't exactly Miss Rural China, she had never looked so old and decrepit before. She stared at him, in a way Ranma couldn't recall her ever doing before; it was as though her eyes were piercing his very soul. Finally, she nodded once.
"So you have found a home of your own. A pity- you would have been a great addition to our tribe. You have come for the Ring of Chaos, yes?"
"Yeah…?" Ranma asked hesitantly.
"There is little point in my resisting. There is no place for you here anymore, much as it will break Shampoo's heart to hear that. I will give you the Ring… but may I ask one final request?"
"What?" Ranma's curiosity was piqued, even drowning out the portion of his brain whispering to watch out for betrayal. Cologne smiled sadly.
"May we have one final spar… for old times sake? I'd like to see just how far my former pupil has come."
A part of Ranma couldn't help but wonder what she meant by that "former pupil" bit, but for some strange reason he couldn't really find it in his heart to deny the old woman. After all, she had taught him many of the special techniques that now served him so well in his position as Warboss.
"Alright old- Cologne. One last battle."
Cologne nodded gratefully. The two stood there, both still as statues, for several seconds. Then, a breeze kicked up and whistled past them. At that familiar signal, both combatants exploded into action, becoming what an outside viewer would only be able to describe as a "blurred vortex", trading blows at inhuman speeds before settling back at opposite sides of the "arena". Ranma's expression was blank and completely neutral; that had been just a way to test the waters. Now would come the serious fighting- now would come the special attacks. He waited for Cologne to make the first move- he knew that the Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken and Hiryu Shoten Ha moves would be useless here, but fortunately he had a few new tricks of his own design up his sleeve. He wished he'd actually had more of a chance to practise them though…
"Splitting Cat Hairs!" Cologne shouted suddenly, invoking a move she had used during her and Ranma's first battle. It seemed strangely appropriate to use it during their last one. Ranma found himself surrounded by about twenty perfectly identical Colognes, who began spiralling around him, growing faster and faster. Ranma smirked- he'd beaten this technique the first time, and he wouldn't have to rely on trickery to beat it this time. Drawing upon his aura, he unleashed the first of his as-yet untested techniques.
"Green Bomb!" he shouted, thrusting his arms out to either side whilst he violently expelled his aura. A powerful, if short-ranged, explosion erupted forth, forcing Cologne to leap backwards to safety- and the resulting distraction caused her false images to dissipate. She just managed to see the expression on Ranma's face, a mixture of astonishment, relief and triumph, before the second phase of the technique came into action. A great cloud of what could only be described as green ashes gently and rapidly dropped from the air, swirling about Ranma until he and a good-sized area around him were completely obscured. Cologne smirked.
"Nice try, but a smokescreen isn't going to work on me."
She plunged into the ash-cloud, trusting that the ki senses she had honed over three centuries of experience would easily compensate for her physical blindness. Unfortunately for her, it turned out she would have been better relying on her physical senses; each and every single particle of "ash" was in fact a fragment of Ranma's own aura- which meant that, to her ki senses, Ranma was absolutely everywhere simultaneously. Luckily for her, her sense of hearing was still as sharp as ever, which meant that Ranma's attempt to sneak up behind her and launch a strike at her instant-unconsciousness pressure point simply resulted in her using a simple throw to seize his wrist and fling him from the aura-cloud. Ranma flipped around in mid-air and dug a claw-like hand into the ground to arrest his flight, his aura-cloud dissipating around the smiling Cologne.
"I see you've picked up a few new tricks Ranma."
"Ya ain't seen nothing yet! Tusker Charge!"
Digging his fingers deeper into the ground, Ranma suddenly exploded forward in a powerful and unbelievably quick charge. Cologne just barely managed to make out that Ranma's aura was moulded into some sort of shape before she struck out at him with her staff, though to her shock the blow that should have rattled even Ranma's brains simply glanced off him, as though it had struck armour. And then Ranma ploughed into her, and Cologne barely managed to avoid receiving the full brunt of the attack. As she leapt to safety, something lashed out at her, just barely missing her. As she touched down upon a nearby rooftop, and Ranma smashed into the Cat Café like a runaway tank, she noticed two things.
Firstly, the minimized impact she had received had been powerful enough that bruises were already forming upon her torso, though her own defences had prevented any cracked or broken ribs. Secondly, her left sleeve had been sheared neatly away, and it was perhaps this that shocked her the most. Her robes, the traditional garb of a Joketsuzoku Matriarch, had been woven from special spider silk, and reinforced as they were with Cologne's own ki they may as well have been woven from titanium. She looked stupidly at the shredded sleeve, as though it was just a trick of her eyes, so distracted she didn't even notice Ranma was standing behind her until he tapped her on the shoulder. Showing no shock –after all, he'd managed the exact same stunt during their first meeting– she turned to meet his gaze.
"So, are we gonna stand here or are we gonna finish it?"
"Not much point I'm afraid. Besides, you'll want to get out of here before your former fiancées and rivals track you down. Here- the ring, as I promised."
She flicked it out of a ki pocket, and Ranma caught it out of the air. He stared, first at it, then at her, for several long seconds before finally giving Cologne a formal bow (shocking her to the core) and leaping away, in the direction of the portal. Roughly half-way there, he met up with Forna and Urbari, both of them looking very battered and both giving him death glares.
"Dat woz a dirty trick Ranma." Forna growled. He simply shrugged his shoulders and gave her a sheepish grin in return. It was Urbari who spoke next.
"That disgusting… thing… showed up while we were fighting. We've got the rod- so can we go home now? Please?"
"Yeah- afore those pests catch us; we gave 'em a few bruises ta remember us by, but I don't think we slowed 'em down dat much."
"Gladly- I got what I was after, so let'z get outta here."
Finally reaching the back alley where they had first entered Nerima, the trio joined hands and began reciting the incantation Ranma's shamans had given them. Their hearts raced; this was a delicate operation, and none of them wanted to think about what might happen if the Nerima Wrecking Crew suddenly came charging onto the scene and disrupted it. And as the saying goes, speak of the devil… just as the trio finished the incantation and the portal shimmered into existence, the Nerimites came charging onto the scene. Ranma quickly turned and dove into the portal, Forna and Urbari right on his heels. Refusing to let their fiancé escape again, Ukyo and Shampoo dove into the dwindling portal as well, so intent on following him that they didn't even try to thwart each other. The portal slammed shut… and then snapped open again, spat out the two girls (coincidently leaving them entangled in a very… 'intimate' looking position) and vanished again.
Ranma was gone for good.
The quality of this chapter shows why I'm finishing this story off. Still, an update's an update, and even if this is the second-to-last chapter for this story, it doesn't mean I'm giving up the writing schtick altogether. In fact, Gideon020 and I intend to begin cowriting some new Ranma ½ fanfiction once this story is finished. Hopefully you'll enjoy them as much as you've enjoyed this.