This is part one of two rewrites I am currently undergoing for my Officer Saotome series. I first wrote Chapter 1: Meet Officer Ranma in script form instead of prose because it was my first fic and I wanted to use a format that I thought I could do better with. After the third chapter, I realized that script is truly no match for prose style writing. I realized that I could convey the mood, setting, emotions, and other various nitpicking descriptions much better in novella writing than clinical script.

Also, another big reason I wanted to rewrite the first two chapters was because I wanted to portray Ranma's character better (as well as fix some stupid mistakes I made, and there are a LOT of them ^^;;), and add in some stuff because now that I look back, the original first chapter is pretty damn corny. For those of you who have already read this fic before and you're reading this right now, you will notice a lot of newly added scenes. Not only that, I want to add things NOW that will come into play later so that they will make better sense (although I shall write it so that they're not really required knowledge, just as supplements) in my yet unwritten/unpublished chapters.

Now, enough ranting. On with the show!

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This fic is a crossover continuation fic for both the Ranma and Tenchi Universe. Tenchi and the gang won't be introduced for a long while, but that will all be explained as you read. Hopefully you readers know some basic knowledge about both Ranma and Tenchi:) I would rate this as an "R" fanfic, because of some of the harsh language used.

Here are a few things you must know while reading this:

-The Ranma aspect of the story takes place after Manga 38 and the Tenchi aspect takes place after the TV show/OVA.

-At the end of manga 38 Ranma was at the end of his sophomore year in Furinken High School and the year is set in 1992.

-For now in this universe Ranma's curse is accepted just about everywhere with a quick explanation from Ranma. Don't ask why, it just makes the story easier to understand.

-Some of the street names of LA that I describe are fictional, and some are real. The entire city is too big and complex for me to possibly recognize or remember every major street even though I may live nearby. This also applies to the locations of some places.

-Police jargon, cop talk, miscellaneous references, and other oddball things that you may find in the story and don't understand will be explained at the END, in my Author Notes section.

-And finally, (for now) Ranma as you read him in this intro will seem very out of character. But this will all be explained with some flashbacks and explanations! This is a long, somewhat complex story! You need to finish it through, hehe.

-SgtRanma

Please visit my website at .com! New fics will always appear there first!

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Chapter 1: Meet Officer Ranma

March 23rd, 2001. 10:50 AM.

Apt No. 426, Southcoast Plaza Apartments - Los Angeles, California.

"Urgh..."

A little oversleeping wouldn't hurt too much. After all, sometimes even the most well conditioned people had their limits. Oh, what the hell. It wouldn't kill to have a bit more time to laze around, would it?

In a room where an open wind was blowing in the draft and the fan was still running, a sleeping young man shifted around in his futon, his hair matted up messily and his bed sheets thrown all over his sleeping area. There were several magazines scattered around, ranging from gun magazines, local newspapers, martial arts digests, and various others. Otherwise, the room was very tidy and organized, with very spartan but cozy accommodations.

The apartment wasn't too bad for a shack that was near the Pacific Coast, way over where you could smell the sea breeze at night and the smell of hot dogs, pizza, and sun tanning lotion during the day. It was a decent size; about 900 square feet of usable space, more than enough for a single bachelor. The rent was a bitch though, at $1590 a month for a lease, it would seem lousy to anyone who doesn't know some of the hardships that surround So Cal, with the overflowing population of Asian and Latin immigrants squeezing into the sunny state, and the growing plague of gangbangers, skin heads, Crips, Bloods, Asian Prides, and all the other ballers that fought for a piece of the territorial pie. But it didn't matter anyhow; $1490 was an average deal for a nice place to live in LA, especially in the better areas.

A ray of sun peeked through the window, which was unusual because it was nearing the middle of the day, but then the window was facing in a direction that delayed the sun's trajectory. A warm, springtime fuzz came over the young man in the futon, his entire face was shined with bright sunlight.

Moaning a bit, he finally woke up, rubbing his eyes, cracking his spine and his fingers, and running his left hand through his hair in muscle memory. He stood up and cringed, shaking and rubbing his head in wincing pain. He walked over to his bathroom, which was only a few feet away, accidentally knocking over a fairly large square bottle with a round and tapered neck. Fortunately it was empty; whoever drank out of it sucked it dry. But over in the bathroom, he was quite certain something was trying to probe its way out of his skull. He shrugged to take his mind off the familiar pain; he was used to it by now.

The bottle had a black label on it. It read in big bold letters, Jack Daniels. Ah... that good ol' American remedy for ALL your problems, the potent kick in the ass, knockout power of Jack took care of all that. And in return for his services, Jack Daniels paid you back with a hangover that hit like a ton of bricks. The empty Bud Lights that littered the floor added a nice cacophony of pinging cans as his feet brushed past them on the cream carpeted floor.

"Hmmm...that was a pretty good night's sleep, until I woke up," Ranma Saotome mumbled. He caught a whiff of his own stench as he shook his head, he'd really gotten trashed last night.

Trying to ignore the pain in his head and his stomach churning with the unpleasant sensation of nausea and the sharp pain of stabbing indigestion, Ranma walked out the bathroom and went to a closet, taking out a couple of huge solid iron weights, attached to a heavy duty steel belt. He wrapped it around his torso, making sure the weights were firmly planted securely behind his back. He casually stretched himself the best he could, the weight on his back wasn't bothering him much. To anyone else, it would've been sheer torture, for if you read closely to the label you would've noticed that each weight was a whopping 200lbs, both totaling up to 400. Staying in shape was a priority for this man, he wasn't living in some Hollywood fairytale or comic book where the main man stays in shape for long periods of time without doing jack shit. A hangover wasn't a valid excuse to skip out, either.

This was all only basic physical training to Ranma, he did it to maintain usable strength and to keep his muscle tone strong and defined. He dropped to the floor, gracefully supporting his body with his arms, his back straightened and parallel to the floor. He centered his left arm first to support himself and he put his right arm on his back, and he slowly executed a good one armed pushup, carrying the heavy weights with him on his back. Ranma eventually sped up, doing repetitions of 75 per arm, alternating back and forth at least 5 times with each arm. When his arms finally felt strained, he put down both his arms and placed them far apart to work out his chest, starting regular pushups, he pumped out 150 solid and rapid repetitions, causing his chest to burn in a satisfying sensation.

He moved back into the bathroom, stopping at the door and grabbing a steel bar that was installed for pull-ups. He worked out his biceps in the same pattern as his pushups, alternating and using both arms.

Satisfied that his impromptu morning workout was complete, Ranma finally got into the bathroom, wondering which he should do first. For now he didn't have to worry about working out the rest of the important muscles on his body, he'd have time to work them out later in the gym of his workplace. His attendance to a gym varied at times, usually reflecting his around the clock on-call schedule. But he tried his best to make it four times a week.

Debating for a moment whether he should get some aspirin for his hangover or brush his teeth and shower first, he was too lazy and tired at the moment to go with the former. He'd go with another solution instead for his headache, one that he could accomplish on the fly. Grabbing a beer from the fridge, he popped the can and chugged away as he clumsily stripped his clothes, he turned on the shower and jumped in, draping the shower curtains in. He didn't bother to wait for the water to warm up; the icy cold sensation would clear his head up and bring him to full consciousness. As soon as those water droplets had hit his body, his entire form and shape shifted and morphed, transforming a muscular 5' 10" pigtailed man into a 6' pigtailed beauty. His frame turned thinner and the muscles shrank but still stayed defined and fit, the ruffled hair turned softer, and he gained those unmistakable feminine curves that blessed his cursed female body. The same dark handsome tan he had from years of living in a sunny state also transferred over, giving off a sexy golden tan on that bodacious body.

Living with a curse for nearly a decade, Ranma was more than used to it by now. He, no rather SHE, came to grips after a couple of years that her curse of having a female body wasn't that much of an objection anymore, but in fact it was a convenient tool to implement at times. God knew how many lives it saved and how many plans it helped carry out during her years in her line of work, it all offset most of the disadvantages being female brought on.

The water eventually turned warm, instantly morphing Ranma back into his original state as the gradient temperature of the water reached an extremely specific point. As he got out of the tub he finished off the beer that he left on the sink, letting out a gratifying belch. Unusual as it was, a beer or a shot worked well in combating alcohol sickness. Grinning as he threw away the can, feeling better, he thoroughly cleansed and dried himself off, moving next to brushing his teeth and combing his hair.

He went to his clothing drawers and pulled out some socks, a light blue short sleeve dress shirt, a leather belt and a pair of tan khakis. Putting those on, he pulled out a dark navy blue flannel and a small leather pouch from a high shelf. It was a Smith and Wesson model 649 small frame .38 Special revolver, complete with a soft carrying holster to safely and snugly put in his back pocket. It wasn't as powerful as he'd liked due to department regulation, but it was good to have a back up weapon in case the unthinkable happened.

Ranma went to his futon and lifted his pillow, under it was a matte black Beretta 92FS 9mm pistol locked in place by an odd looking black strongside holster. It was a peculiar looking holster that had a rotating hood in place of a tradition button strap and a lever that was located near the trigger guard. The engraving on the side of it read Safariland Raptor.

The Beretta was a fine piece for any military or law enforcement operative, sporting an accurate 5" barrel, a flawlessly reliable cycling action, standard LAPD issue customized glow in the dark Tritium night sights, and a round capacity of 15 in the mag and one up the pipe. It was combat loaded as such with a full clip and chambered round, utilizing hi preferred ammo of choice, Winchester Ranger 147 grain hollowpoint rounds, dubbed "Black Rhinos" by cops who used them for its serious and effective stopping power. The pistol wasn't by any means fancy and made do with simplicity and ergonomics in mind. The only reason Ranma hadn't replaced it was because it had been free, and he disliked using his own money for anything unless absolutely necessary. It had a matte black finish that had been considerably smoothed down from years of holster draws and trips to the shooting range, Beretta used the term Bruniton to describe their self proclaimed unique finish. The ambidextrous slide mounted lever switch worked as the gun's safety and as a decocker, to safely let down a cocked hammer without risking an accidental discharge. The ambi-levers also doubled as a grip for easily pulling back the slide a quarter of the way to visually and physically check for a loaded round in the chamber.

Also underneath the pillow was a tan leather magazine pouch that was made from horsehide with a rough exterior and an adjustable belt loop, designed to be carried inside of the pants and out of open view. There was also a shiny golden piece of metal, incorporated in a small leather carrying rig and a belt clip.

Upon closer inspection, it was a police badge. Ranma picked it up and looked at it with a submissive look on his face. It was a shield badge, shaped almost like a very big egg that had been flattened, but with intricate inscribing and artwork, mixing blends of gold and silver. The top of it read Detective, underneath was a picture of a building with a square base and a tall center tower. Underneath that was the proud symbol Ranma acknowledged every day as he went to work, Los Angeles Police it read. The proud and mighty LAPD, the finest police force in the world. For nearly 4 years Ranma had worn this badge with excitement, pride, as well as the sorrow that came along with it. Nowadays, he didn't care as much about fulfilling a passion for or fueling his need for adventure. For now it was just a symbol of power and respect to flounder out at criminals who disobeyed the law.

Ranma latched on his sidearm, magazine holster, and his badge on his belt, making sure they were fit properly. He headed out for the entrance and grabbed his keys off the dining table. Usually he made himself a large breakfast to eat at home but since he overslept he decided to buy some junk food on the way to work. He usually kept a strict and healthy diet but allowed himself with an occasional splurge to satisfy his taste buds. Strapping on some casual sneakers, he stepped out and locked the door shut.

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The Ford Crown Victoria is considered by the average young man as a boring, geriatric, old man's car. It would seem very unusual to see a guy in his twenties driving around in an old fashioned (yet new) full size sedan in the middle of Southern California, arguably the heart of the import car scene for youngsters. Ranma on the other hand, didn't care. Besides, it wasn't just any old Crown Vic, it was an unmarked detective's issue cruiser, complete with undercover internal lights and sirens stuck behind the wide rectangular grill and a police radio and computer attached to the dash. Several more red and blue lights were installed in the interior, with a strobe setup attached to the rearview mirror and a flashing incandescent lamped system on the back of the rear windshield. And best of all it was free private transportation, complete with free gas. A free car was better than a cool one. Little savings like this allowed him to save up most of his generous $6000 a month paycheck, despite his ridiculously high rent. Overtime definitely had its perks.

His destination was Parker Center, located in between the 77th Street and Central divisions. It was a bit of a commute to get there, a long 30-minute drive if traffic wasn't too clogged up. Then again, his position in the department voided him from getting punished for tardiness. His schedule, his rules. Ranma snorted as he rolled down the window to spit out the mint that had been rolling around in his mouth to cover up the smell of the Pho he had just eaten to treat his hangover.

He took advantage of that fact for once, today. He had to head up north to pick up a new suit he had tailored for a huge discount in the Valley, his old suit was a little tacky and came loose at the ravels easily because it was so cheap, something that wouldn't reflect too well of himself for his frequent trips to the courthouse or to a subpoena from the top brass. It was a Korean tailor who Ranma had helped a few months ago, his daughter had been mugged and beaten savagely in broad daylight by a lowly thug with a thick criminal record. Ranma had been across the street at a hot dog stand and chased after him and made sure the hoodlum was never able to walk again, thanks to a snap to the spine inflicting paralysis. Ranma didn't feel any regret in punishing the cur; the tailor's daughter had been beaten so badly that she had required reconstructive surgery on the lower parts of her face as well as treatment and rehabilitation for a broken arm. The furious and heartbroken tailor and father thanked Ranma from the bottom of his heart, and offered his services for free, stating it was the least he could do. Ranma didn't have the heart to accept anything for free, and came to a compromise by paying only the invoice cost of the suit. So now he had a $3,000 Valentino suit hanging in the back of his car, paid with only $600 from his own pocket.

It would be at least another 20 minutes before he'd get to his destination at the moment; he was going through the Van Nuys Divisional district. Radio traffic was calm and normal just like every other morning, just the usual mishaps (drugs, fighting, minor chases, all that plain boring stuff), nothing serious.

Today's fate had different plans.

"All units, all units, officers need assistance, shooting in progress at Hornady and Bradburn, inside a school playground. One officer down, barricaded suspect with sniper rifle, Code 3," the radio chirped.

"This is 9-Adam-23, we're already there, over. Requesting Metro SWAT unit support immediately!" someone else said on the radio.

A scowl formed on Ranma's face, it wasn't everyday you had some nut shooting at kids and cops. He picked up the radio handset, "This is unit 5-King-90-16, enroute to the sniper call, over."

"Acknowledged, SIS detective arriving on scene, out."

Ranma reached over to the center console and flipped a couple of switches, triggering his code 3 emergency lights and the siren. He mashed the pedal to the floor and raced towards his new destination. It would only be a short detour from his schedule.

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The blue Ford rounded a corner at high speed, squealing its tires to a stop in front of an elementary school. There were several black and white squad cars parked on the street blocking away people and traffic, several officers were surrounding a corridor that was the entrance to some stairs for the blacktop. All the responding officers had wasted no time or effort, there was already yellow police tape neatly surrounding the perimeter. Two officers were down on their stomachs with their pistols drawn, protecting the area the best they could without revealing themselves. The entire school perimeter was surrounded by tall fencing, which actually helped isolate people from the shooting. Thunderclaps of gunfire echoed several times in the air.

Ranma got out of his car and casually walked over to the corridor passing the fence. Several yards away there were a couple of frantic parents, crying their eyes out to the police officers. Ranma passed by one detective in a brown suit, talking to his radio.

"Well, look who's here," the detective spoke with heavy disdain.

Ranma blew past him, ignoring his comment. It was Detective Sergeant Roy Wilcox, an old homicide cat down over in the Van Nuys Division. He had met him last year in a joint homicide case that required them to work together. Although they weren't enemies, Wilcox wasn't too fond of Ranma because of his wild behavior. Not to mention he was jealous by the fact that some young 26 year old punk was a much better cop than he'd ever be.

A young African-American patrol officer in a black police jacket had his gun drawn, surveying the area from a safe distance. His face was sweaty and his hands were jittery, showing how nervous he was. It wasn't like he was new to the danger of his chosen occupation, but how often does ANY cop get to deal with a well barricaded sniper that targets children and police?

Ranma walked up to him to ask a question.

"Whaddaya got here?" Ranma asked, walking to get to him.

"Sniper, sir," he replied.

"A sniper? What's he doing?" Ranma asked casually.

Detective Wilcox came up from behind him to get a look at the playground blacktop, seeing the asphalt riddled with bullets. "He's shooting kids, one officer down," Wilcox growled. "This is the regular daily meat grinder, Saotome. This ain't hide and seek death patrol shit!"

The young patrol cop continued. "The guy's a nightmare sir, he's still inside. We can't get to him!" he said despairingly.

Ranma faced Wilcox. "You got a SWAT team coming in?"

The old detective shook his head. "No ETA, they're stuck over at Devonshire handling another barricade suspect. They're rushing a unit over here as we speak. Sheriff SEBs are also rushing a unit our way too."

Wilcox faced Ranma with a frown on his face. "What the fuck are you doing here anyway, Saotome?"

Ranma walked closer to the steps to see if he could spot the sniper, surely enough he did. There was a shoddy apartment complex across from the playground. One of the windows had a metal sheet plastered for armor. A wild eyed man with a red cap popped up shooting his rifle erratically.

"I was in the area, decided to drop by," Ranma replied, stepping back.

"We don't need SIS here, we'll wait till SWAT comes by," Wilcox sneered.

"Well, good luck with that then," Ranma merely said, not bothered by the obviously blatant insult.

A uniformed sergeant ran down the stairs, carrying an injured child in his arms. He was shouting for help and some paramedics, the kid had a bullet wound in the ankle, blood dripped out in a messy flood because it was too big to cauterize. The sergeant passed off the kid to some parent who had run towards him in a mad rage, desperate to see her son, who was now pale from blood loss.

He walked over to Ranma, a look of sorrow and pain on his face. "That kid's only nine years old man, Jesus."

Ranma also looked at the kid, who was bawling his eyes out from the pain. "Nine?" he asked. He looked back up the stairs, his face seemed to show that he was pondering something. He slowly walked towards it. "Hey, how good a shot is this guy?"

The sergeant answered with a blank face. "What?"

"I mean how accurate is he? Does he shoot at random targets, at cops? Specific kids?"

The sergeant shook his head. "I don't know, random I guess. A bit sloppy."

"Not much of a sniper is he? Did you get the make of the weapon?"

"Uh, yeah. It's an automatic, and loud."

Ranma's eyes opened in interest. "Does he have any hostages up there or what?"

The officer shrugged, "Pfft...not that we know of."

"Yeah?" Ranma took off his flannel and tossed it away, he pulled out his Beretta, pulling the slide slightly to check the open top chamber if it was loaded. One round was firmly stuck in the extractor as he saw a flash of golden brass, with 15 more in the magazine.

Detective Wilcox scowled, he knew what stunt Ranma was trying to pull. "Saotome, where the heck you going? Get the hell back here, get your ass back down here!"

Ranma ignored him and continued marching up the stairs, his pistol down in a low ready stance.

"Saotome!" Wilcox yelled again. As much as he disliked the pigtailed detective, he didn't want a dead cop in a body bag.

As he reached the top of the stairs a female patrol officer, who was guarding the staircase in a lying position, tried to grab his pant leg to stop him.

"Get down, you're in the line of fire! Get down!" she pleaded.

Ranma continued walking towards some monkey bars; he could see to his left that there were several children hiding under the benches in fear. About 40 yards in front of him was another police officer, injured with a round to the shoulder and slowly bleeding on the asphalt.

Detective Wilcox was still yelling at the top of his lungs in frustration. "Are you fucking crazy!? Get back here Saotome! Get outta here, he's gonna shoot ya!"

He halted right underneath the monkey bars, facing straight ahead up at the barricaded window. Ranma decided to see if he could talk to him.

"Hello? Mr. Sniper, sir!" he yelled out across the blacktop.

"Get away!" the man yelled. He popped his head out and clumsily aimed his rifle hastily.

It was an old, abused Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, chambered in 5.56mm NATO rounds. The deranged man shot five rounds towards the general direction of where Ranma was, who was about 60 yards away. The rounds bounced off the floor and sparked off on the monkey bars, all of them close to Ranma, but none of them hitting him. Ranma's face remained a neutral mask, he didn't even flinch as the bullets whizzed past him.

The pigtailed boy took a couple steps forward, raising his pistol aimed towards the barricaded window, now 55 yards away. He held a firm and steady grip with both of his hands, his eyes narrowed slightly and his thumb cocked the hammer to engage the pistol into single action mode.

"I'm still here, asshole!" Ranma yelled out so that the man could hear him. His eyes stayed open, there was a fire burning in them. "Or do you only do kids?"

The man in the barricaded window turned red hot, his face a mask of rage. "Shut up!" he screamed. Popping his head back up again, he started shooting rampantly again.

This time however, Ranma squeezed the trigger of his pistol mercilessly, emptying 16 rounds of hellfire the best he could in a grouping towards the window. Ranma's steady aiming hit the man several times, who screamed in pain as he dropped to the floor with several rounds hitting fatal spots in his upper torso. More than half the bullets Ranma's pistol fired hit the metal armor on the window and the inside of the apartment. After all, the Beretta 92 is only a pistol, and shooting a person at 55 yards was an amazing hit.

Ranma didn't take his eyes off his (now downed) target, he mechanically thumbed the magazine release expending the used clip and reached down with his left hand to get a fresh 15 round clip, clicking it in place with the slide. He casually raised his left hand above his shoulder and tucked his thumb in to show four fingers, signaling 10-4 to any officer who could see.

Several officers yelled out, running towards the apartment. "It's clear, it's clear! Move out!" they exclaimed.

Wilcox ran towards Ranma, who was decocking his pistol and placing it back in his holster. He reached down on the ground to get his used clip.

"You're one psycho son of a bitch," Wilcox said, his old-fashioned 4" Smith and Wesson .44 Special revolver in his hand in a combat ready stance. "But you're damn good," he nodded.

Ranma started walking back to his car, unfazed by the fact that he had just shot some stranger to death. He nodded in acknowledgement to Wilcox, picking up his flannel at the bottom of the stairs. He looked down at his wristwatch, he had to hurry up and get to Parker Center. Despite all the procedures he was supposed to follow surrounding an officer involved homicide, he didn't want to stick around for the mass media hysteria that would soon follow in the wake of the current tragedy. His boss would pull some strings to take care of the heavy bureaucracy.

"I'll be sending your boss a request for a report," Wilcox's voice was faintly heard as he walked down the stairs.

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The familiar smell of city smog was replaced by the smell of carne asada and refrijidos frijoles from a Mexican fast food vendor's truck as the Crown Vic entered a large parking structure.

"KFWB, news 980! You give us 22 minutes, and we'll give you the world!"

Tap, tap, tap. Ranma's finger drummed a beat along the steering wheel. Looking around, he cursed to himself, it was one in the afternoon and everyone had already come back from their lunch break. He would have to waste his time looking everywhere for a spot.

"...and with a westbound SigAlert the 91 freeway westbound is crowded with heavy traffic stretching across from Artesia. That's traffic on the 'ones', next update in 10 minutes! Now, for the local news." The radio played a short sound byte and the voice changed to another radio anchor. "In a violent flurry just half an hour ago, an elementary school in Van Nuys was held under siege by a deranged gunman firing several gunshots at police officers and school kids."

"For Christ's sake, those bastards got the story up already," Ranma muttered. "Wilcox better not have given my name."

"...names of the victims have not been released, however it is confirmed that at least one LAPD officer and several children were seriously injured. The only information that the police have told us so far was that a detective who responded to the scene had single handedly neutralized the sniper to quickly end the bloodshed. The detective's name nor his reason for being there has not been released and we've been told will not be released in the future and will be kept confidential. This is Edward-"

Ranma found his parking spot and shut off the motor, turning the radio off automatically. He stepped out and headed towards an elevator.

Parker center was a huge, rectangular building down in the Central Divisional Area in downtown LA, taking up nearly an entire city block, but towering only about 8 stories high. It was the operational HQ for all Metro officers, commissioners, the Chief, and was also the branch for the Investigative Service's Detectives Bureau. Many detectives from all 18 Divisional Precincts of the four bureaus in the city competed all the time to get an opening spot at Headquarters, home of some of the finest detectives in the world in the finest police force in the world.

Ranma walked through the entrance, several uniformed officers were guarding the surrounding area to keep out any trespassers. Ranma had a blue and white ID card clipped to his flannel, it was mandatory to have police ID cards at all times when inside Parker Center. Ranma very much disliked the building, every time he came for work there was always another crack on the wall or another electrical line that had to be fixed. The squeaky old building hadn't been changed since it's creation in 1955, and most of the damage came from the last few years as a result of the Northridge quake. The decor was dreary at best, with most offices and rooms tacked in fake laminated wood and dinged up grey filing cabinets. Parker Center was overcrowded and would soon become unacceptably insufficient for the department's needs, but the officers who worked there made do with what they were given. The commute down in traffic choked gridlock wasn't much help either. He headed straight for the elevator, his destination the 5th floor.

Several officers who were hanging around the lobby greeted him, some of the senior detectives especially. Others tried to ignore him, they were very intimidated by his infamous high profile. Some even frowned at him, giving him a dirty look. They certainly didn't approve of the bureau he worked for. He had to walk through the entire Metropolitan Division inside of Parker Center to get where he was going to.

Once he got into the fifth floor, Ranma walked westward towards a sterile clean corridor. There was a steel door along with a keypad door lock. There were big bold letters on the door Special Investigative Section - RESTRICTED ACCESS.

He dialed in a seven digit code on the pad; the door knob emitted a solid *thunk* sound, signaling the electronic dead lock was disabled for a couple of seconds.

Despite the unusual security, inside it looked like any other bureau in the building. There were several offices, some with walled off cubicles for necessary confidentiality, each with desks and there were rows of file cabinets. There were several wheeled tack boards in various parts of the room, all of which were attached with surveillance photos, beat paths, and multiple outlines of different cases for the different working teams. In the corner was a steel fenced door, with a large red sign that said SIS Armory Locker.

Ranma entered a door that said SIS Commander painted in white. There was a large office, and a huge wooden desk in front of a sharp looking old man with a nifty suit. He sort of looked like Robert DeNiro, except with darker hair.

"Well, well, you're a little late, come on in, Sarge."

Ranma apologized, "Sorry, Captain Davis. I hit a little bump on the way over."

The old man, a Caucasian in his late fifties, gestured Ranma over to a seat in front of him, next to another man, who was in his early forties.

"Hey, McClane," Ranma greeted his good friend with a smile. John McClane was a cop who had come over a couple of years ago from New York, receiving a specially privileged lateral transfer over to the LAPD for some special work he had done for the city in the past. He was Ranma's loyal partner and one of his best friends for the past year.

The Lieutenant Detective smirked. "A little bump there, Ranma? I heard you took out some guy taking pot shots at a school playground. We listened to it on the broadcast."

"It was nothing. I was just stopping by in the area," Ranma shrugged. "KFWB seems to have already gotten the scoop." He pointed back with his thumb at a radio that was sitting in the back.

Davis butted in, "Yeah, yeah, whatever. You're here now so it doesn't matter. As long as you're one step ahead of the media, I'll have less to worry about." He swiveled his chair to reach a mini-fridge that was next to his desk and pulled out two bottles. "What'll it be, Saotome? Miller or Coors?"

Ranma nodded his head to the Coors. "I'll take the silver bullet."

The senior officer gently tossed the beer to Ranma who caught it between his thumb and index finger and already had the cap twisted off by the time his hand gripped it.

"Would you like one too, McClane?" He smiled at John. "Oh, I forgot. You're a pussy who decided to cut back on the liquor."

John smiled and shook his head and casually gave a sarcastic middle finger to his supervisor. John was once an expert in the art of constant intoxication, but then again he learned also that it was quite an obstacle to maintaining a good relation with his family.

"What's today's agenda, Captain?" Ranma asked, taking back a drink of the brew. In the confines of the personal sections of the hardworking detectives, Ranma nor any other detective had to worry about getting caught for drinking on the job. Anyone who would dare snitch would pay dearly later.

Davis' visage softened for a moment and he took a short sip of his beer, rolling it around in his mouth for taste. "Well, the one child who had the critical GSW in the ankle didn't make it. Just got announced on the radio." Ranma's eyes averted Davis', his lips tightening and his brow furrowing. "But at least the kid got some vengeance." Davis coughed and straightened out his tie. "Anyway, let's get back to business. Sorry about that case with those two black guys over on the east end. Who would have thought that the last liquor store they tried to rob was already being robbed when they came in? They popped each other nice and clean," he whistled. "I have something a little different, for a change. We got a tip from a snitch down on Skid Row. He told us some info in return for some money. Says his friend, a suspected serial rapist and repeated 211 offender, is going on the prowl tonight." Davis said, looking over some sheets on a clipboard.

"Is the tip legitimate or bullshit?" McClane asked.

Captain Gray Davis nodded. "Yeah, it's positive. I'm working up a case file right now. I'll give it to you guys later tonight when you go."

"No surveillance, no tracking? We just go?" Ranma said surprised. Working in this particular sector required an extensive amount of back to back surveillance and research on different cases at the same time in order to insure that they were targeting hardened and hardcore violation criminals.

"I told you it was something different. It won't be too bad," Davis scoffed. "The guy you're facing is Hispanic, most likely unarmed, and if he is it'll probably be some pistols. I think it's highly unlikely that he'll be strapped. Besides if we spot him and he does his thing, you know what to do."

"Whatever. I guess we'll carry a medium load for this job," McClane replied. He got up to walk out.

Ranma stood up too to join him. "Hey Captain, where is the stakeout point by the way?"

"I was about to get to that," Davis said. "It's down in the Wilshire Division, they have some converted undercover cars you can use, so take Vince and Al with you for back up. Hopefully our snitch gives us an accurate enough description as where exactly we can track him from. It's up to you two to see if he pulls off a job."

"All right," McClane gestured. "Come on Ranma, lets go."

"It's gonna be a long night," Ranma sighed.

***

March 23rd, 2001.

Wilshire Blvd - Downtown LA, California. 3:30 AM.

"Damn this is fucking boring. When is this guy coming in? Davis said he'd be here by 11:00. And we have to stay here all night till he does come."

Eighteen-year law enforcement veteran John McClane sighed and drank some hot coffee from a thermos. It was a damn cold night and their loaned undercover 1990 Mercedes S Class was equipped with seat heaters that didn't even work, nor could they turn on the motor to turn on the heating vents unless they wanted to give away their cover. And to top it off, he forgot to bring something warm to wear, all he had was his cheap five dollar Hanes T-Shirt and a plaid short sleeved button up shirt on top of it. He awkwardly held his coffee in his left hand while he tried to adjust the long holo-scoped Ak-74 rifle he had. It was one of the newer mass produced rifles from master gun maker and engineer Mikhail Kalashnikov, but this particular rifle was a much higher quality piece as it had been given a makeover by a gunsmith for better fit, finish, and accuracy. The butt of the stock was on the floor and the barrel was sticking all the way up to John's chest. Despite claiming to take a "medium" load, it appeared he prepared himself with a heavy hitter.

"Have a little patience, he'll be here John." Ranma flicked his pigtail a couple of times. Despite living in the US for over 7 years, he still had a light Asian accent. He cradled the short M-4 Carbine that he had on his lap; the gun had no magazine though and was unloaded.

McClane raised a side of his eyebrows to glance at Ranma. "Yeah, yeah. I don't have as much patience as you do, Ranma. I've been working SIS for four years and I've been around you long enough to savor the action," he chuckled. "One of these days I'm gonna just take a year long vacation and spend some time with my family, instead of being with you in this motherfucking tin can."

"Four years in a unit that does almost 90 percent surveillance work, and you don't have the patience for it?" Ranma sighed and tried stretching his back from the unsupportive seats. "I've seen enough action to last a fucking lifetime," Ranma sighed. He looked over to John. "Probably more than even you could handle."

"Yeah, right," McClane replied sarcastically. "With your curse, you can do more assignments in the department than anyone else. I'd guess it's a great gift somehow, even though I don't want it..." he trailed off.

The pigtailed boy shook his head. "I got used to it, but everyone keeps wanting me to do Vice jobs, and pose as a hooker or something. I'm cool with doing the vice bureaus a favor once in a while if it's a big hit, but not full time. And then there are those dipshits who try to hit on me when they know I'm male," Ranma said, frustrated. "In fact, you're a fag for saying that."

The senior detective huffed out in mock irritation. "Thanks, but you can fuck yourself."

Ranma gave him a cocky smirk. "Hmph."

BEEP. CHIRP. "Unit 3-William-56, please respond."

3-William-56 was the unit-classification Saotome and McClane accepted for their ratty old Mercedes, it was really a cover for their real unit designation in case some patrol unit came to question them. This assignment was a rush ordered and expedited fiasco, without any prior notification to the officers in the vicinity and a hastily constructed alias was needed to keep things from blowing up. Ranma grabbed the receiver piece and pressed the transmit button. "Sergeant Saotome and Lieutenant McClane here."

"Suspect has been spotted walking towards your location, be advised. He should be in your sights soon," the radio chirped.

"Thanks, Vince. Code 100."

"Roger."

From across the street, a lone Hispanic male popped out of the dark corner, casually walking his way across the sidewalk. Even with the dimly lit streets, one could tell his arms were covered in tattoos.

Ranma nudged McClane. "Is that him?" he pointed out.

"Yeah." John opened up the folder and read down some files. "That guy was just released from San Quentin Penitentiary two weeks ago. His name is Roberto Dominguez, charged with murdering 5 different people working as clerks in various late night businesses. Supposedly he raped all the girls he came across in his crime spree too." John fingered one particular section of the document he was reading. "However, most of his charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence of his actions. He's pretty decent at covering his tracks. Served only 2 years and got paroled for his manslaughter charge."

Ranma loaded a hundred round drum clip into the magazine well of his M4. He pulled back the T-bar charging handle, locking a round in the chamber. "Man, what is our justice system coming to? Vicious bastard, ain't he?"

McClane let out a huff. "No shit. And check this shit out, back in '93 77th Street homicide came upon this guy's leftovers at a small liquor store down in the hood. Him and a youngster he'd recruited robbed the place, and Dominguez was suspected as the shooter, but the crime got pinned on the kid who tagged along instead. He shot her in the head twice, and according to the report he had sex with the dead body, using a condom. No fluids found, the condom was long discarded by the time both were caught. Again, all pinned on the kid. Don't ask how."

"Atta' boy," Ranma said, nodding at the rap sheet. "I guess one of the station captains finally decided to kick the case up to us?" Learning this nut job was a necrophilia loving rapist made Ranma much more eager to take care of this guy.

"We managed to get one of his old 'buddies' to snitch for us so we could track his next hit. Despite what Davis said though, it says here he seems to be armed pretty well. A couple of automatic pistols if I read correctly. Seems like this shit eating bastard enjoys this."

During their small pep talk the two detectives failed to pay attention to what was happening in the convenient store across the street. A piercing shriek found it's way to the undercover car, getting the attention of both John and Ranma. There they saw their suspect, beating a hapless young female clerk to the ground.

"Gimme every thing you got in the fuckin' register now!" yelled Roberto.

The female clerk nodded in tears and in pain and opened up the register for Roberto to access. Since the register had been emptied out only a few hours ago, there wasn't much cash.

Roberto punched the girl again. "This is all the fucking money you have?! There's gotta be more!"

"That's all there is! I swear! Please don't kill me, please!!" she pleaded.

"For some reason, I just don't think you're telling me the truth, bitch," Roberto evilly snarled. He pulled the girl out of the counter area and pinned her down right in the middle of the store. Roberto unzipped his pants and attempted to rape her savagely.

"We got a visual confirmation on felony rape. Here we go!" Ranma started up the car, not even the least bit disturbed of what was happening in front of him.

These SIS assignments absolutely required that the detectives witness the crime actually taking place in order to take the suspects out. It was the only thing that kept Ranma from losing his cool and murdering the people he tracked down with his bare hands.

The old Mercedes squealed out to the street and out of the curb, heading straight for the corner store. Roberto who was busy doing his dirty work, looked up to see two bright headlights aimed straight forward him. He cruelly twisted the head of the crying girl beneath him, breaking her neck. He then struggled the best he could away from the counter while putting his pants back on.

With a loud crunch the Mercedes bounced up on the curb, shaking its occupants.

Ranma flung his door open, aiming his assault rifle. "LAPD!! On the ground now asshole!!" Of course, in reality he knew his order wouldn't be followed, it served to only provoke an attack. This was exactly what he wanted.

Roberto pulled out two chop-off assault rifles (more like pistols) that he somehow hid in the crotch of his pants. He didn't bother to aim and just pointed in the general direction of Ranma. "Suck my dick, honchos!" he yelled in a thick Mexican accent.

John was the first to duck down and crouch in his seat. "Shit!"

The serial rapist pulled the trigger of one assault pistol madly, the gun was set on automatic and emptied in just a few seconds. Ranma was taking cover as well, jumping back into his seat and ducking. Fortunately Roberto's careless aiming led to all the rounds piercing through the windshield or windows and exiting out the roof. The glass windows of the store itself were in shards littering the sidewalk.

The perp on the other end was running frantically out in the streets, having enough luck to pull over a large black Dodge Ram pickup truck on the lone empty road.

Ranma popped his head over the dash. He subconsciously patted himself, wondering if he'd been hit and was springing leaks. "Is it clear?" He looked over to his partner, who was muttering and cursing angrily as he was ducking. "Dammit, John! I thought you said he had pistols, not fuckin' chop off rifles!"

John brushed his head off for broken glass. "I didn't know..." he said sheepishly.

Ranma sat upright in his seat and floored the car in reverse, smoking his way back out to the street and onto pursuing their suspect. Fortunately for Ranma, Roberto's getaway vehicle was big and easy to spot and slow to follow.

In the passenger seat of the truck, Roberto nudges his weapon against the driver he was taking hostage. "Drive faster, you goddamn Gringo!"

This stakeout definitely had not turned out the way they had wanted to. Now there was the added factor of a pursuit. Ranma picked up the mike piece for the radio. "This is 3-William-56! Suspect is heading towards Wilshire in a black Dodge Ram, California license plate 4-Frank-Mary-John-674! He's armed with assault rifles, and may possibly have a hostage, pursue with extreme caution!"

The S-Class tailed the Dodge closely with ease, with the behemoth in front swaying wildly as its high center of gravity made it swerve from left to right. From behind, an old and large late model GMC Suburban with internal code 3 lights and sirens drifted out of a corner, giving a furious chase with Ranma and McClane.

John looked behind his seat. "There's Al and Vince, I don't see any black and whites helping us."

The thundering crack of gunshots erupted from ahead; Roberto was leaning out the passenger window shooting semi-auto fire at Ranma's car. The constant swerving impaired his aim, causing every shot to hit the hood or the ground. "I ain't goin' back you fuckin' pigs!" He pushed himself back into the truck, poking the driver once more with the muzzle of his gun. "Keep going you fucking cracker or else I'll kill you!"

In the midst of all the mayhem, the police broadcast crackled in Ranma's car. "This is dispatch, we have a reported 211 in progress at Wilshire and Normandie. All available units in the vicinity please respond."

McClane picked up the hand piece for the radio, and clicked a particular button on the receiver. "Dispatch, cancel that 211 this is a wild fire. Repeat, this is a wild fire, over."

"Are you sure about that!?" Ranma yelled over the combined noise of the wind buffeting through the busted windshield and the rickety roaring motor.

"Don't worry!" John had his thumb off the transmit button on the mike. "We can take care of this!"

The female dispatch voice responded. "Private request acknowledged." There was a series of beeps emitted by the radio. "All units concerning 211 call at Wilshire and Normandie, stand down."

Ranma meanwhile stayed right behind the truck, he aimed his M4 at the rear window of the truck to take out Roberto. The automatic rifle fire didn't even go near the target, both cars were going left and right too wildly for an accurate shot. He managed to riddle the back of the pickup bed and pierce holes into the gas tank. Ranma's spent cases were flying out the passenger side window, right across John's face.

"Damn! The truck is swerving too much!" Ranma exclaimed. He threw his rifle into the back seat because he had used up the entire 100 round clip in a few short seconds. Ranma jerked his torso to the left in the nick of time as a 5.56mm bullet cracked through the windshield and barely missed his head. The headrest of the driver's seat exploded, the leather covering it flapping and the yellow foam inside exposed, mangled. He turned back for a split second, his eyes wide and mouth agape.

"You almost got a free haircut there!" John lifted his left leg and kicked the cracked windshield as hard as he could, sending it flying out into the road. Their forward visibility was greatly improved, although now they had to deal with the high speed of the wind in their eyes.

He aimed his rifle on the truck's tires and took a few pot shots, blowing them out. McClane was a much better shooter than Ranma was, but unfortunately popping the tires did no good.

Ranma awkwardly reached his Beretta 92FS on his right hip with his left hand, his right hand still on the steering wheel. An idea popped to his head. "We gotta take this guy out fast," he mumbled. He looked over to John. "Hey, hold the fuck on all right? You ain't gonna like what I'm about to do!"

Ranma broke a fuse panel open with his right knee, and then yanked them all out with his right hand.

John was hastily clicking his seat belt on. "Why'd you do that?"

"To turn off the ABS!" He slammed his foot on the accelerator and surged the car forward to get in front of the slow pickup truck. "HANG ON!!"

With his service Beretta firmly rooted in his left hand and a glance at the instrument panel which was now blinking with various red warning lights, Ranma violently turned the steering wheel around to the left while simultaneously slamming on the brakes and the throttle.

Everything he planned worked out like clockwork, thanks to the rear-wheel-drive set up of the drive train and the disabled ABS. The front wheels locked first as predicted causing the rear wheels to lose traction and break loose on the asphalt. The car swerved 360 degrees at 60 mph, Ranma stuck out his left arm and shot through the windshield of the Dodge rapidly while he had a clear line of fire.

Roberto, in flabbergasted surprise, accidentally pulled the trigger against the head of the hostage he was controlling next to him when he saw the Mercedes dancing wildly in front of him. A moment after a bullet found its way to his forehead, although the impact of the windshield and his thick skull didn't provide enough force for the bullet to blow open the back of his head.

John was whooping excitedly next to Ranma, shooting his rifle rapidly at whatever he could. "Hoo, yeah!"

The Benz completed its revolution, slamming into the left side of the big pickup truck with a crunch. The brunt of Ranma's car shifted the direction of both cars, heading them straight towards a curb.

"Oh, shit!" John dropped his rifle on his lap and braced his arms on the roof of the Mercedes. Ranma had both of his hands locked tightly against the steering wheels, slamming on the brakes.

Both vehicles careened out of control, the Mercedes hit the curb first, the car was instantly lowered as the front suspension was taken out by the curb and the tires were blown out on impact, Ranma tried to steer out of the way but ended up flipping the car instead, and skidding to a stop on the street.

The Dodge Ram on the other hand was manned by a dead driver with a stiff foot pressed against the accelerator pedal. The truck flipped on the curb instantly, it did so at a higher speed than the Benz, causing it to pummel a concrete wall across the street.

Ranma and John were stuck in their now demolished Mercedes Benz S-Class which looked like a crushed tin can.

McClane shook his head, he was still planted in his seat upside down thanks to the seatbelt, and without a scratch on him. "Ugh...what the fuck happened?" Everything about this seemed so familiar to him... It must've happened to him before, McClane thought.

Ranma was unfortunately scrunched against the roof of the car, his seatbelt was sliced off by a warped metal door frame which had almost sliced off the top of his head. Otherwise, he was unhurt. "Errgh...got a Triple-A card?"

-----------

The two police officers in the old GMC Suburban watched blankly as the Mercedes a couple hundred yards in front of them flipped over and slid across the street.

"Whoa," one of them simply said.

The other officer nodded, and looked to his companion. "Hey, fifty bucks says one of them broke a bone," the other said.

The first officer turned to face him and gave him a blank expression, then smirked. "You're on."

-----------

Ranma struggled slightly to get his foot against the door, he kicked it off hard and crawled out. John was still able to open his door using the door handle, and climbed out with no problem. The pigtailed boy smashed his arm through the rear driver's side window, ripping off the door. He reached in to get his M4 and a fresh 100 round drum which was inside a tattered duffel bag, covered in broken shards of glass and mutilated leather seat material.

"Come on John, we gotta check it out!"

The two detectives ran towards the mangled pickup truck, aiming their rifles towards the passenger side of the cab. Ranma sweeped the mangled truck in a clover pattern to make sure there wouldn't be any surprise threats. Unfortunately the two didn't know that the passengers in the truck were already dead, if not from Ranma's pistol then the strong impact of the concrete.

John McClane cautiously strafed to Ranma's side, where he squared his weapon and raised it at the inanimate occupant of the passenger side. He was the first to initiate some lead-flesh contact. "FIRE!"

The muzzle rising and rapid recoil of Ranma's automatic Colt M4 was held steady by his strong grip, the rounds didn't seem to stop as he emptied all hundred rounds of 5.56mm ammo against whatever life was still left in there. John's rifle didn't have the same magazine capacity, but he still shot it semi-auto as fast he could. By the time they stopped there was a pile of spent brass at their feet, a large stream of blood was running down the sidewalk and curb of the street. The concrete wall was riddled with bullet holes and what remained of the truck was now scrap metal.

Both lowered their weapons and sighed.

"Whew...couldn't have gone worse, yeah?" Ranma said to his partner.

"Riiight...," John replied apprehensively. His mind was thoroughly mixed with relief and frustration at a hastily formed assignment that had been a step shy of becoming a disaster. "Let's have someone else take care of this shit."

As if on cue, the other members of the operation arrived, their big undercover Suburban screeching to a halt. A middle aged man in his thirties and another man in his late twenties or early thirties hopped out of the cars, their own rifles slung to the side.

"Jesus, you guys had some fun, didn't ya?" the older one asked. He turned to the other guy he was with. "You owe me fifty bucks bitch, they didn't break anything."

John waved him off. "Shut up, Vince. You guys were too late." McClane jabbed the butt of his rifle painfully into Vince's gut, knocking the air out of him. "That's for letting Al drive."

"Hmph," Al replied with a smirk, reaching into his pocket to pay off Vince. He received a kick to his crotch from McClane when he didn't pay attention.

"That's for being stupid enough to accept a bet like that, especially having the odds against us," McClane concluded.

Another car appeared on the street, a black and white patrol car with a single sergeant in the driver's seat. It had its lights and sirens blaring, screeching to a stop next to the crime scene.

The young patrol sergeant gawked at the gory scene in front of him, not to mention the mass spread of bullet holes everywhere. "What the hell happened here?!"

Ranma cracked his neck, and walked over to the sergeant who was probably one of those rare naïve rookies who somehow got promoted to higher ranks. "The suspect executed the hostage he was holding and we exterminated him. That's all there is too it." He started walking towards the big GMC Suburban with John, Al, and Vince, not at all bothered by what had happened, what he had just done, and the horrific ramifications of what had resulted.

Several other police cruisers arrived at the scene, swarming all over the place. The four SIS detectives casually drove back to their headquarters, Parker Center, to report in the events of the night.

***

One Week Later...

March 29th, 2001.

The Last Stop - West LA, California. 9:02 PM.

Cop hangouts in LA are few and far in between. They were all over the city, plagued with young cowboys and itchy trigger fingers. The average LAPD patrol officer consisted of a couple of basic traits that are immediately recognized: anal, sarcastic, overworked, cocky assholes. True, they were considered as some of the best officers in the world, with the most prestigious police academy in the U.S. (one that spans for 28 weeks and 1100+hours for the most comprehensive training program in law enforcement, exceeding even the FBI) and the best departmental organization from East to West. Hollywood bigshots and stars hired LAPD officers at extravagant rates of a thousand bucks/day salaries. Movie producers referred to LAPD officers and trainers for any technical support they might need for their mindless, multi-million dollar action movies.

But these officers were of the normal breed, the average LA cop. They had few places to hang out, because the rest of the world hated their fucking guts. There were more than plenty of scumbags who would gladly pull off a hit on a cop if they could spot them vulnerable. In reality there is a very fine line between some of the officers and the criminals they try to catch. Some of the desk badges were even lazy donut eaters wasting their time away to collect their pensions.

"Run that fucking drink over here, you bastard," some random patron yelled out to one of the bartenders.

This bar on the other hand, wasn't a usual cop hangout. It was one of those casual, "tough guy" hangouts, where guys brought in their girlfriends to look cool or to brag to friends about their street brawls or alcohol binges. It was the precise reason the four LAPD officers in the corner of the bar were sitting here right this moment, because they weren't part of the norm. Sure, they could've gone to a typical cop hangout like Hill's Code 7, but these four probably wouldn't have been too welcome due to their reputations. They were officers of a completely different sort, ones who were hard edged and unaccustomed to the customs that LAPD officers were accustomed to. They kept their profiles low, they didn't advertise their shield.

"Come on Ranma, easy on that drink," McClane told him.

Ranma shrugged and lifted his eyebrows, giving a glance to his friend/partner and then poured down another shot of his sake. Fortunately this bar had enough oriental customers coming in and out for the bartender to have Asian wines stocked up. Next to the sake bottle was some Korean plum wine, which was quite a surprise find in a place like this. Nothing hard, just an easy to drink wine that he could enjoy for the entire night.

Two other officers watched, amused at how much alcohol the pigtailed martial artist could handle. To anyone else they, he would have looked like an alcoholic, or perhaps he really was an alcoholic.

To the right was Detective (II) Al Waters, a light brown haired guy with a slick gelled hairstyle and cold, dark brown eyes, and an evil smirk that would scare even death row prisoners. He was 31 years old, joining the LAPD as soon as he was 21 after a short military stint. Al was a brilliant cop as well as detective, working for HQ as a Robbery-Homicide detective, with cop instincts that got every case he handled resolved, usually with under the table deals. He was an ex-Army Ranger who'd stayed on for a few years as reservist and had been deployed to several high-risk conflicts, so he had battle experience before he even earned his badge. His merciless behavior made him a top candidate for the SIS. He and Ranma shared a particular hobby together, one that involved automobiles, particularly muscle cars.

On the left was Detective (III) Vince Thompson, a 39-year-old veteran with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes. He was a tall and intimidating man, towering at 6' 3", but his face sported a smug and confident look that made criminals nervous whenever he interrogated them. His most prominent feature however was his deep, Southern accent, for he lived in Mississippi until he was in college. Vince was one of those guys who stayed young in spirit forever, he was physically almost 40 years old but his enthusiasm for police work was greater than even the perkiest of fresh out rookies. He joined the department when he was 24, getting choice posts and promotions due to his gift as a brilliant tactician. Vince was the brains of this group, able to track the moves of any criminal he comes upon, seeing as he worked for the Rampart and Pacific Divisions as a Robbery-Homicide detective. Added to the fact he had no problem killing hardened criminals who deserved to eat a bullet, he was a standout officer perfect for SIS duty. Although he wasn't the best overall pistoleer of the group, rumor had it that he was the fastest shooter in the entire department. Of course no one could prove it, everyone who'd seen him hadn't lived to tell what the hell happened. His trademark weapon was an old school blued Smith and Wesson Model 19 .357 Magnum with a customized 4" barrel and a couple thousand dollars worth of other tricked out parts, carried with the hammer cocked in an open cross draw holster, much to the dismay of his superior officers.

Taking the seat near the wall was Lieutenant (II) Detective John McClane, a hard-edged Irish cop who came over from the East Coast. Eighteen years of working in the law enforcement field offered him quite a number of interesting experiences. He started out as an officer over in the New York City Police Department, working his way to Lieutenant Detective status after twelve years. However, the spark of his career didn't happen until the winter of six years ago, when he came to Los Angeles to see his wife in the Nakatomi Plaza building over at Century City. But that was another story completely, but not the end of it. The next year there was the Dulles Airport incident, which was also a huge commodity by itself. And if things couldn't possibly get any more complicated, the year after McClane had to handle an explosives nut over in NYC after transferring back. It was a trilogy of "Die Hard" situations that seemed to pester men like McClane. ^_-

Seeing as how his wife worked in Southern California and New York life was too intense to keep up with when you had a family on the other side of the country, he transferred over to the Los Angeles Police Department as a favor by Mayor Richard Riordan, for handling the Nakatomi terrorist incident. It wasn't much of a surprise his combat expertise and uncanny detective work led him to the SIS. Sure, there was still a lot of action. But this time, he started the havoc, not the other way around.

Vince burped loudly in the middle of the table, taking a swig of his beer,

already half drunk. He gestured over to his oriental friend across from him.

The pig tailed boy was the odd one of the group, in a place where Asians were plentiful all over SoCal and hung out in stereotypical isolated cliques, he was one of a kind. It wasn't just the fact that he was sitting in a table with three other white guys (that sort of stuff wasn't THAT unusual, it was quite common still), or the fact that his muscles were so defined that you could see them through the white t-shirt he was wearing.

His roots were of someone who was totally unmatched to law enforcement, normally people who had his abilities just didn't take jobs as police officers, especially when they were foreigners.

25-year-old Ranma Saotome, Sergeant Detective (I), veteran police officer, even at his young age, hot shot investigator, and master martial artist carefully read the letter that was in front of him. It was a very simple letter, written in an unorthodox fashion without much of a business tone. But it was stamped with an aluminum seal at the corner, marked from a foreign government.

"So Saotome, you gonna take that job offer?" Vince asked. His unending alcohol consumption made him more than a bit woozy.

"You said you always wanted to go back to Japan, right? This is your chance! And I bet that job pays pretty well too!" Al exclaimed.

"Yeah, go for it. We'll miss you here though!" Vince butted in.

Ranma gave a slight frown, but McClane took care of it. "Come on guys, let him decide," he said, looking over to Ranma. "If you do take it, we'll miss you though."

The young officer sighed, "I don't know guys." He lifted the letter closer to him to read it.

The others promptly peered around his shoulder, to get a glimpse of what it said.

----------------------

Dear Sergeant Saotome,

Hello, I'm Commissioner Takayama from the National Security Agency of Japan and I'm here to recruit you for our agency. We have heard about a Japanese police officer working for the Special Investigative Squad of the Los Angeles Police Department. We have received info that you are a very skilled officer indeed with the abilities of advanced martial arts and fighting techniques and the ability to speak Japanese and English perfectly. I have a proposition for you. We have a spot open in the Public Safety Commission's Maximum Enforcement Division. I personally control this division and I ensure you that you will not regret working here. We are the Japanese equivalent of the LAPD SIS, except we believe you will find much more freedom here. Despite Japanese regulations on firearms you will get your choice on arms and equipment as well as transportation. Anyway here are the major details.

1. You get your choice of location in Japan, you will have a month to travel around at our expense to choose a suitable place to live.

2. Your position in the NSA will be the rank of Captain.

3. Your salary will start off at an estimated 5,000,000 yen a year plus full medical coverage and retirement benefit.

4. All living expenses will be paid by the government except for food and other luxury amenities.

5. You have your choice for weaponry as long as it is reasonable, as well as transportation.

6. You get a total of 7 weeks of paid vacation a year along with 2 weeks of paid sick leave. This is nonnegotiable unless it is a dire emergency.

Hopefully this is enough information for you concerning this job opportunity. If you are interested, please call 011-XX-XXX-XXXX-XXXX prefix XXXX. We look forward to having you join us to rid Japan of crime.

Sincerely,

Commander Akira Takayama

Japanese National Security Agency

-----------------------

Ranma frowned at how the letter was written so unprofessionally, it didn't even seem remotely close to a business proposal for a job transfer. This wasn't like martial arts or fighting, but Ranma believed that whatever he did, he should do it right.

His buddies however couldn't have cared less.

"Hey, not bad!" John said, lifting his eyebrows in amazement.

"Yeah, I wouldn't mind a job that has a lot of perks like that!" Vince said.

Hesitating, Ranma quickly thought up of a reason not to go. "Yeah, but I don't know," he trailed off. "You guys are like my brothers, I don't really have anyone back in Japan," he lied. He swirled around the sake he had in front of him with his finger, his mood required him to drink something more refined and sophisticated than draft beer.

His partner across him narrowed his eyes, sipping his beer slowly. "You know, in the whole year that I've known you, you've never really talked much about your life in Japan," he questioned.

Al joined him immediately with curiosity in his eyes. "He's right you know. You never talked about your life other than your training trip with your dad and how you got your curse." He sucked in some water through a straw that he had along with his alcohol and sprayed it across Ranma's face, goofing off as a child would.

The light spray of cold water was enough to trigger his curse, his height in the seat did not change, only the body became thinner and more defined. Voila! It was an instant morph to female. Fortunately, no one else in the bar noticed.

"Very funny asshole," the female Ranma chided. She wiped off her face with her hand, rubbing her temples as well in irritation as well as anxiety. It might have been funny considering how her face didn't smear with makeup, even though of course she would never use it, but one would expect an appearance that looked that good must be a result of a little tampering. Her face was beautiful enough to not require any form of cosmetics, perhaps it might've been Ranma's fine genetics or a trait of the curse. Either reason for her good looks was a mystery by itself.

She took her hand off her face, an empty look in her eyes, as if she was gazing at something. "I never did tell you guys anything did I?" she said. A heavy sigh flowed out of her lips, a trip down memory lane was coming up. "Except for all that fiancée shit?"

John was always skeptical about the small part of Ranma's life he (or she) did reveal, having three fiancées at once was something out of a bad TV show plot. "That always did sound like a load of shit to me. Even if you are a lady killer you ain't that big of a hot shot."

Al's drunken humor talk flew straight out of his ass. "You're still one fine lady when you're cursed!" he laughed. "ERRK!!"

Ranma made a vice out of her left hand on Al's crotch, crunching his balls into a painful cramp. She took out her wallet that had a few worn out photos with her free hand. "Take a look at this if you faggots don't believe me!"

The picture showed Ukyo, Akane, Shampoo, and Ranma standing side by side, smiling together, for once they didn't seem to be fighting, but in fun loving peace. In the background was a huge banner that read in Japanese Graduating Class of '94.

"Wow! They're really pretty!" Vince said, amused. "I guess you weren't full of shit. What were their names?"

Before Ranma could even reply Al let out a whiny groan, his face was completely blue and he seemed to be biting the inside of his cheek to get his mind away from the pain in his nuts. "Ranma...I'm sorry...please let go..." he groaned, the pain more evident with each word.

She let go with a grin, smacking him in the back of the head. "That'll teach you, fucker...Anyways, the blue haired girl's name is Shampoo, the one with the huge spatula is Ukyo Kuonji, and the one with short hair is Akane Tendo." Her eyes darkened and a sigh escaped at the last name.

"Man, you've had pictures like these and you never showed us? What's up with that man? I remember you told me just a little bit about this. You said you had all these girls trying to anything to get you, right?" John asked.

Ranma hesitated for a moment, wondering if she should tell them or not. But every one of these guys risked life and limb for her, they were her most trusted companions. They deserved to know a little about her. "Yeah, they were all my fiancées, like I said before. Everyone except for Akane always chased me, since she always hit my head with a mallet. Ukyo was my best friend, probably not anymore by now, since I haven't seen or even talked to her for four years. I had a pet name for her even, and called her Ucchan." Again she sighed at another painful realization. "Shampoo is a Chinese Amazon, who was actually required to marry me because of her stupid Amazon laws. It required that any male who defeats an Amazon female is required to marry the girl." Ranma left out the part about Kodachi Kuno chasing after him too, but since she wasn't a fiancée and had actually backed off a little from him since the last time they met...

"So, what happened?" Al interrupted.

Ranma rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated chuckle. "You wouldn't believe some of the stupid shit they pulled over the years. Some of em' poisoned me, some of them tricked me into doing things I didn't want to do, the list goes on. Imagine your life being controlled by a hurricane. That's a light way of describing what I had to go through for two years," she sighed. "The thing with Akane, she was different from the rest, but she still had her quirks."

"What about her?" John said.

"She was really the only person I truly loved in a romantic sense," he tried to say without dwelling on events from the past. "I even told her than in my sophomore year of high school. She used to hit me all the time because I made fun of her. Because of her I always tried to make a plan to get away from the other fiancées."

The others nodded their heads in understanding.

"For the remaining two years of high school I worked my ass off so that I could go to an American college and get away from Japan," she said somberly. "I surprised a lot of people. By the time I was graduating I was getting straight A's with honors and I was accepted to UCLA thanks to some contacts from my teachers. It was a real achievement for me, I used to be a failure when it came to academics," She scratched her head for a second. "But I guess what drove me on was love."

"Wow," the others said. They were goof offs during their high school careers, not caring what college they were to attend. To think a guy actually tried hard to get good grades was something that didn't quite get through to them. ^_-

John tapped his fingers on the table, looking like he was trying to concentrate on something. "Wait a sec. Even if you did do all that and get accepted to a UC, how'd you pay for everything? It must have been expensive."

Ranma took a sip of some plum wine and acknowledged John with a gesture of her hand. "Oh, that. I actually applied for a green card way in advance before I even knew what college I would get accepted to. I didn't care where, as long as they had an ROTC program. I did ROTC for the Army and they paid my tuition, I relied on scholarships and grants for the rest. It was easy for me and it wasn't a big deal. When I didn't join the Army afterwards, that caused a few problems though..." she trailed off.

*ROTC is the Reserve Officer Training Corp.

After absorbing Ranma's words through his hazed mind, McClane blinked. "ROTC? How'd you get into that? You should've been a Japanese citizen at the time..." he asked.

"Uh..." Ranma gulped. "I had some help falsifying some documents." Thanks to Nabiki, he thought.

John shrugged, and just shook his head.

"What happened to Akane, anyhow?" Al asked.

"I promised Akane that I would return to her and marry her. She was thrilled." She frowned at the next thought. "However, because I was so involved in school I didn't even visit her or anyone else back home till graduation. I only got occasional letters and phone calls. I was so involved in school that I graduated in only three years!" she exclaimed, lifting three fingers.

"Hmm... but what happened when you graduated," John asked.

"My mom and dad were the only ones who came to visit. You Americans have a very different school semester season, it sort of messed up my schedule. When I went back to Nerima I was in for a shock." A dangerous look crept into her eyes. "I found out Akane had cheated on me, she had fallen in love with another person. They hadn't slept together, but when I found out who and why I got pissed."

"Who was it?" they chirped in unison.

The bitterness was heavily apparent in her voice. "It was a somewhat good friend of mine. His name was Ryoga Hibiki. A person who couldn't find his way out of a fuckin' closet if his life depended on it. Worst sense of direction in the world. When I saw him though he'd bought a handheld GPS receiver and his days of getting lost were over."

"How did it happen?" John said, intrigued.

The pigtailed girl lowered her eyes for a moment. "Akane was lonely by herself in Tokyo University. She still loves me now I think, but as a friend. She was attacked one night her freshman year but was overpowered by a bunch of thugs." She could still feel the angst of regret in her heart for not being there when the person she had loved most needed her. "Her martial arts skill had gone lax at the time and she wasn't good enough to defend herself. That's when Ryoga found her fortunately and helped her out. Over the next few years I guess they grew close..."

John tried to lighten the mood with a chuckle. "Let me guess, you were horrified and heartbroken so you fled to the US and enrolled in the Los Angeles Police Academy?"

Ranma-chan gave him an irritated scowl. "I didn't RUN away. I was about to tell Akane about Ryoga's curse, that he was the little black pig that she had kept as a pet. However luckily for Ryoga he had found Jusenkyo by accident and cured himself."

The others pretended to act as if what she had just said made logical sense. Which of course it didn't, to normal people.

She rambled on anyhow. "You know, he wasn't that bad a guy, he brought back some of the stuff that was the cure for my curse and offered it to me, but my mind was in turmoil and I completely went overboard. But..." she hesitated for a moment. "I knew in my heart that beating him up wouldn't change anything, so I let him be. He's not completely at fault." Ranma looked up to see the others shifting uncomfortably, and decided to change the topic. "You remember how I told you guys about my ambitions to be a teacher?"

Vince was the only one to nod his head. "It sounds familiar."

"When I married Akane," he paused. "That is, IF I had married Akane," he resumed, "I was supposed to take her family dojo and be a teacher there. However, that didn't happen so it left me wondering about my future. I loved helping people and making them feel better in college by defending them with my martial arts. I was also really interested in police work because they have the opportunity to help the defenseless."

McClane laughed at the last part, while chugging his beer at the same time. "Glad you feel that way, man."

She replied with a nod. "So did my mom. My dad Genma was a jerk and he blamed me for losing Akane and the dojo. He was such a greedy bastard, but he was surprisingly supportive after I made my intentions clear. He used to have a curse too, you know. Turned into a panda, but was cured thanks to Ryoga. Ryoga brought back cures for everyone who had a curse, but I'm the only one who didn't use it."

Vince tried to pretend he didn't hear that last part about the panda, although the story of Jusenkyo was recited to him numerous times by Ranma. "That's strange of you."

"I guess it sort of is strange. I've changed a lot in 9 years. I didn't used to fucking cuss all the time or even think of the prospect of killing anyone. I used to be so hard headed that I never apologized for anything and I always insulted people before thinking twice. When I was 16 I never would have imagined being a cop right now. Can you guys imagine me being a nice guy who doesn't like to hurt people?"

John gave another laugh. "Hey fool, now you're just talkin' like a pansy. And you're STILL hardheaded," he joked. "It's not like you enjoy killing for yourself. You do it for the sake of the safety of the citizens of LA. By the way, why didn't you take the cure?"

Ranma paused at that question for a moment. She racked her brain hard for an answer. "After nearly ten years I got used to it, and it's a great advantage. Anyway, my mom was happy for me and supported me fully. I don't know how, but for some reason she knew how reputable LA cops were and said that my job would bring great honor to the family, despite what my old man said. Heh. Getting into Elysian Park* was a joke. Can't believe how easy it was in there."

*Elysian Park is the location of the Los Angeles Police Academy, near Dodger Stadium.

Both Al and Vince grumbled at that, going to the Academy was like going to boot camp.

"I remember you telling me a little about this," Al said. "You were given SWAT training right? I remember that's how you became so good at everything."

"Yeah. Actually the SWAT training was really just an added course on CQB and advanced shooting training that was a special privilege given to me later on after I graduated," she smiled. "I even got special permission to train at Camp Pendleton with Navy SEALs. That was a helluva a lot of fun! And I was lucky! The South Korean 707th Special Forces Battalion was there to cross train with the SEALs. Those guys are fuckin' animals, great martial artists and great fighters too!"

"Who are they?" the asked again in unison.

"The 707 are the Korean equivalent of Delta Force, the US Army's top counter-terrorism unit. The 707th is the most elite SF team in Korea, and definitely one of the best in the world. Although they weren't training with SEALs instead of Deltas, I got a chance to meet them. But the coolest thing about them was their hand to hand fighting style, Tuk-gong Moo-sul."

John lifted one of his eyebrows. "Oh, that funky shit you use when you fight hand to hand with guys and kill them?"

"Yeah. Literally translated it means 'The Specialty Art', I think. It's a little hard to explain," Ranma said, scrunching his face. "It's more effective than my family's art, the Saotome Ryuu of Musabetsu Kakutou."

"What's that mean?" Vince asked, puzzled.

"Oh yeah," she said smacking her own head in realization. "Translated it means the indiscriminate art of grappling, Vince. I like to call it Anything Goes."

"Oh," he replied.

A waitress gave Al a small bottle of Smirnoff that he had ordered while Ranma was talking. He whisked it into his mouth and purged it down in satisfaction. "So, what'd you learn?" he asked in a slurred voice.

"Actually, it took a lot of trouble to get an opportunity to learn it. Those Koreans were extremely stubborn about showing me anything. They said it was top secret and illegal for me to learn, or something along those lines." She gave a small laugh to herself. "I never would have admitted that they were more effective until their weakest guy messed me up good and hard in less than 30 seconds. No special moves, no fancy tricks or weapons, just pure skill. After a couple of more rounds I was at least able to hold a fight without getting pummeled, but I knew they could still beat me. But it didn't discourage me at all, I mean," she paused and tried to find the right thing to say. "The only thing that's standing between me and them is their technique of fighting. All I had to do was learn it, and I could kick their asses. They laughed at me in a playful way and decided to teach me their art since I was a nice guy at heart and a cop with potential. They entire unit always has a Tuk-gong grandmaster following them around whenever they do training overseas. He was a skinny old crone, but his precision and skill was top notch, it wasn't that he was a freakin' martial arts maniac, he had years to hone himself to be good."

"Ehehe, that's coo'," Al said, the alcohol running strong in his bloodstream. He didn't pay any attention to the rambling Ranma, who sometimes had a tendency to gloat on and on when it came to martial arts.

"Easy with that drink Al," Ranma cautioned his friend. Actually, he was in no position to talk, considering how much drinking he did at home.

Al just waved her off with a drunken gaze. "Keep going."

Ranma just shrugged and decided to leave him alone. "So anyway, in essence I learned three new arts. Tae-Kwon Do and Hapkido were required to be learned first, but they were easy because it was so similar to Kenpo. However, Tuk-gong training was HELL. They beat the shit out of me, taught me more cheap tricks than I'd like to admit, and most importantly they taught me the purpose of it. I spent a lot of time visiting them whenever they came back to cross-train in the US."

"What is it?" they asked anxiously.

"It horrified me that it wasn't a martial art at all. All martial arts are meant to defend. This one was actually designed purely to kill or disable. Mostly the former," she said, a small frown on her face.

"No wonder you don't want anyone left alive," McClane joked.

"You know, you're almost right," she said with a serious face. "It's a deadly fighting style, it took me my entire vacation of my first year in patrol to grasp it. I became so good at it that their master couldn't even beat me in a fight after a while. But the battalion didn't care, they seemed to sense I was an OK guy, I guess. They wished me well and hoped I could help out many people. Personally, I still don't quite understand why they decided to train me."

John nodded, his eyebrows lifted. "That's alright in my book, and cool too." He glanced at his wrist watched and his eyes widened. "Jeez, we've been talkin' and drinkin' for a while. It's almost midnight."

"Yeah," Al and Vince replied in stereo.

Ranma-chan glanced at her watch too. "Is it really that late?" She shrugged. "Oh well."

She looked over to the bartender, who was very close by. "Hey bartender, do you think you can hand me a bowl of hot water?" She didn't feel like dumping a cup of water and drenching herself, a splash to the face would do.

The bartender was cranky and was irritated because of several varying factors throughout the night, although the details were not important. "I don't got any so fuck off, lil' bitch," he snarled, menacingly.

Ranma didn't frown or make a face, her eyebrows simply lifted as she pulled out her Beretta 92FS pistol from her holster, clicking a small switch that activated the laser sight in the internal guide rod. A bright red dot illuminated between the bartender's eyes, rendering him into stone. Ranma made sure the pistol was tucked low enough so that no one else could see.

"I suggest you find some hot water before you find out that lead doesn't taste very good, asshole. You don't look too good. Maybe you need a little-" Ranma clicked back the hammer for emphasis, "-iron, in your diet."

The bartender nodded his head vigorously and complied immediately. "Ye..yes maam..."

As a cruel punishment Ranma continued to focus the laser on the bartender's head as he scrambled for some hot water. He finally managed to get a bowl of warm water and placed it in front of Ranma-chan. "Here you go, maam," he weakly squirmed.

Ranma holstered her gun and shooed him. "Now fuck off." She splashed some water on her face and morphed back into a male. The patrons of the bar didn't notice the change because Ranma's crew was in a corner, plus most of them were too plastered to worry about it anyway.

"Let's go guys," Ranma signaled to the door.

Just as they got up, a small dispute erupted, between a girl getting abused by another male.

The four police officers sighed. "Does this just happen to us wherever we go?" Ranma asked. He sighed at what was coming. "I'll take care of this..."

"Oy, Ranma," McClane called to him. "Don't forget, we got a special city council hearing to attend for that damn Roberto case. Wear a nice suit and tie, alright?"

Ranma turned his head. "No problem, boss," he replied, smirking as he cracked his knuckles.

Alcohol does some funny things to people.

***

March 30th, 2001.

LA Civic Center – Los Angeles, California. 1:30 PM.

"Please state your name, rank, serial number, and post."

"Ranma Saotome, Sergeant Detective level two, badge number 18991, Metro Division Special Investigations Section."

A balding Asian man with glasses sitting on top of a wooden panel with other city council members cleared his throat and stroked his goatee. He looked at Ranma and looked down at a folder of documents. "I see that you have quite an impressive background, Detective Saotome. I remember reading about you in the newspapers and hearing about you in the news last year and the year before about your escapades. I can tell that the city owes a lot to your good deeds."

"Thank you, Councilman Lee. I do what I can to protect and serve this city."

Another council member on the other end of the panel puffed a loud breath of exasperation, sneering at Ranma. He fixed his glare at him, his eyes never faltering away from Ranma's.

Which Ranma simply ignored, despite the visually hostile looks the councilman was giving towards him. He gave the man a quick glance, and looked back at Councilman Lee.

"Alright, Detective Saotome. We've already reviewed this case thoroughly, looked at all the photos, the suspects, victims, and read through the accounts that you, Detectives McClane, Waters, and Thompson, as well as several other patrol officers who arrived at the scene. I must say, some of this DOES look incriminating. I'd like to hear from you, in person, about how you justify this officer involved shooting."

"Yes, sir. The suspect, Roberto Dominguez, a known, although undocumented, serial rapist and armed burglar, entered the aforementioned convenience store in Wilshire and forcefully robbed, assaulted, raped, then murdered a single female clerk who happened to be working there on a late night shift. We were tracking him, when we saw him commit the crime, we chased after him. He responded in hostility with altered assault rifles, we gave chase, and we deemed that deadly force was needed to take them down." Ranma cleared his throat. "The death of the hostage he held in his getaway vehicle is an unfortunate tragedy, however it was beyond our control."

Lee nodded. "I see, looks like there was nothing can be done. That's a shame."

"This is ridiculous!" the councilman at the end of the panel yelped. His glare to Ranma had slowly turned into a raging expression of anger. "You and I both know this unit PURPOSEFULLY waited as this Dominguez character was robbing that store in front of them!!" He stood up from his seat and angrily pointed his finger at Lee. "Lee, you know damn well what they did, and you're still asking them questions they can weasel out of!"

Lee took his microphone and glared at the councilman. "You will not go out of order like that again, Councilmen Rodgers. Please, sit down!" he scowled.

Rodgers threw his hands in the air and shook his head in disbelief. "Unbelievable! All of you!" He directed his attention to Ranma again. "You've been on IA's hot list for YEARS Saotome! I know you've been through some tough situations, but the things you do are unacceptable, do you hear me!?" He leaned forward from his counter. "What kind of a cop watches a woman get raped?" he slithered. "There were nearly a hundred casings of 5.56mm ammo scattered around the crime scene! If it hadn't been for a nosy by-the-book sergeant at the scene, I'm sure you thugs would've had others clean up the mess for you! How the heck do you justify that?!"

Ranma didn't falter. "We are the Los Angeles Police Department's secret weapon against hardened criminals and repeat felony offenders. We operate under official departmental police policy, in the Metropolitan Division of Parker Center. The Special Investigative Section specializes in dealing with the worst of the worst, the kind of slime that good, decent folk do not even want to know about," he crisply said. "If SIS hadn't been there, Councilman Rodgers, that rape and murder would have happened anyway. And then tomorrow...no. Not even tomorrow. Let's say next week, when people assume they're safe again and they think he's not around, he'll go out on another rape. And another. And then another. Perhaps your own daughters and wives. We do this, so that we can put these bad guys away for good, so that they'll NEVER do it again."

Rodgers looked flustered, but still held on to what he believed was right. "But--"

"But what? Hmm? There is a reason this unit has been around since the 1960's, ladies and gentleman. Los Angeles... is not the City of Angels. No, it's far from it. Councilman Rodgers, someone of your stature and position could not possibly know what we go up against, and what we must face. Until you've been out there, and tangled with some of the scum, you JUST-DON'T-KNOW."

Lee hid a smirk from under his hand, he'd been quite understanding of what these men did for this city, whether they were morally correct or not, they did make things better. Not to mention he had a lunch appointment to make.

"Why you!" Rodgers yelled out.

"Restrain yourself, Councilman," Lee warned.

"Don't give me this nonsense that I, we, or anyone else could've done something different," Ranma firmly stated. "You don't know the people we deal with. You don't WANT to know who we deal with. Los Angeles is barely a hospitable place to live as it is, with a unit like ours to keep it inline. Without SIS, we'd turn into a complete rotting cesspool of crime, murder, and rape. If not that, the media sensation and panic factor among the citizens would ruin this city all together."

"I think we've heard enough today, detectives. You are excused. Council adjourned," Lee announced.

Ranma smirked. "Thank you, sir." He turned around to give his friends a wink.

The councilmen left from their seats and went out the back door, with a flustered and angry Rodgers getting up last to depart.

The rest of the men walked out of the room together, ignoring some of the glares they were receiving from several other city employees who were present.

When Ranma and his crew got outside, they were greeted by the sight of tall skyscrapers and endless gray business buildings. The familiar smell of dense LA smog, blowing lightly on their faces was something that took some getting used to, no thanks to the quick paced acceleration of the cars littered on the overcrowded streets.

"That didn't go by too bad, did it?" Vince said smugly. He loosened up his bright red silk necktie and unbuttoned the top of his blue collar shirt.

"Could've been worse," McClane replied. "That Rodgers sure could've screwed us over."

"Yeah, a lot worse," Ranma mumbled while holding a Bic lighter in his mouth. "And we still have the shooting review with the board of commissioners to worry about. Their verdict is taking longer than expected." He was digging through both his pockets for something, and found what he was looking for. It was a small cigarette pack, with Marlboro printed on the label in big bold black letters. The pack looked quite old, as if it had been carried for a long time and used infrequently.

Ranma pulled out the last cigarette in the pack and stuck it in his mouth, lighting it up and taking a hit.

"I thought you quit," John asked, his voice quiet.

"I did. I haven't smoked one in four weeks, honest," Ranma said, pausing to take another hit. "This is my last pack of Reds, and I'm finished."

"Yeah. Your folks in Japan probably wouldn't like that," McClane replied, nodding his head slowly. "I know how hard it is. Took a while for me."

"Yeah." He started to frown, puffing a fat drag through the side of his mouth. His lips smacked and his tongue swished around in his mouth to get rid of the stale taste of the old stogie. He sighed in disgust. "I have the mentality to go on a training trip in the wild for years at a time and be able to train in martial arts till my body goes numb, but I have trouble quitting a fuckin' smoke."

"Hey, now..." Al tried to comfort him.

Ranma brushed him off, finishing off the last of his cig and tapping away the ashes. "Don't worry about me. I can hack it. Capisce?"

***

March 31st, 2001.

SIS HQ, Parker Center – Los Angeles, California. 11:00 AM.

Ranma casually walked past the heavily armed police guards standing nearby the elevator and went straight towards the SIS Bureau entrance. Strange, seeing sentries placed on this floor, he thought to himself. Was there some VIP visiting Parker Center?

Several people smiled and greeted him, all of them fellow detectives who were SIS operatives. The pigtailed boy walked through the office of his captain, along with several documents in his hand.

"Ohayou, Captain Davis," Ranma chirped.

Davis lifted his head from a thick folder of documents to give Ranma a frustrated grimace. "I really don't want to hear any wise-ass Japanese remarks from you kid, besides, it's a little too late for good morning."

"Fine, then. Good morning. I'm glad to see you too, sir," Ranma replied grinning.

"Hey, good work on eliminating that bastard last week. I got confirmation today from the DA that we aren't going to get any more trouble from his death or the hostage. The deputy chief and the shooting board called back too. You guys are off the hook, the shooting was BARELY under policy. And by barely, I'm saying you four fucked up. However..." Davis trailed off, fixing a cold glare on Ranma.

Ranma was forming a big sweatdrop at the back of his head. Davis' emphasis on barely didn't even mean that, it meant that he had to go pull some favors and convince some people that his officers weren't trigger happy street sweepers.

"You and John's goon squad pulled a stupid stunt at the bar, the other day. You didn't have to maim those guys you know," Davis said.

"Well," Ranma hesitated, thinking. "I don't know. He probably would've recovered and he'd probable continue attacking other innocent people. Would it help if I told you that we ran a check on one of them and he turned out to be a wanted sex offender evading his parole hearing?"

"Fuck it." Davis shrugged. "Whatever. Enough of this chit chat. What did you come and see me for?"

Ranma pulled out a letter from his jacket and handed it to Davis. It was the same letter he'd received from the Japanese NSA. "I was thinking about taking this job, Captain."

Davis took the letter with a slightly crestfallen look on his face. "I see," he replied. "I remember this letter." He gave a witty smile. "I guess they want you badly, huh?"

"Yeah, it's quite a change for me."

"You really gonna take it?" Davis said. His voice was quiet. "We'll sure miss you, ya know. You've done more for this city as an individual than an entire precinct."

Ranma felt a bit hesitant. "I know, I know. This job is a great opportunity for me. It's chance for me to go back to Japan, something even I can't avoid forever. I miss life there..."

The older captain looked Ranma straight in the eyes, pondering to himself. He couldn't believe this. The cocky asshole who he'd regretted recruiting and didn't even want to bother with at first was now the same person he couldn't bare to see leave. "Well, Saotome. If it means that much to you, I guess you have my permission to go."

A smile crept on to Ranma's face. "Really? Like I needed your permission?" he smirked.

"Yeah, yeah," Davis said, waving him off. "You are going to come back and at least visit us once in a while, won't you?"

Ranma replied as if it was the silliest question anyone ever asked him. "Of course."

Davis' shook off the remaining feelings of melancholy within him and tried to feel happy for Ranma. "You still have a sense of duty even though you won't be with us. You're simply amazing." His face hardened and he gave Ranma a serious look. "Hey kiddo, if it ever doesn't work out there remember that you still have a place with us detectives, ok? You don't even have to reapply, I'll get you back into the meat grinder with a phone call."

The pigtailed police officer was genuinely surprised to hear this. "Thanks Cap'n." He pulled out another set of papers from his jacket pocket and handed them to his boss. "Hopefully you can push my resignation request so that it will be processed quicker?"

"Ha!" Davis snatched the documents out of Ranma's hands. "You forget who you're talking to here? I'm the captain of the dirtiest police unit in the US!"

Ranma chuckled. "Don't say that, Captain."

"Oh yeah, you're going to be a Captain in your new job, aren't ya?"

"Yeah, a 25 year old captain, isn't it great?" Ranma grinned.

"Hmph," Davis huffed. "All I have to say to that is I don't understand you fucking Japanese." Davis gestured for Ranma to sit down. "This is gonna take a little while, but I'll get you cleared right now, so take a seat."

The captain made several phone calls, signing various different documents and making note of several important pieces of info for Ranma. The two chatted along in between the phone calls, and within an hour everything was set.

Davis rested the phone on the receiver. "That's it. You're free to go."

"That quick?" Ranma said, astonished. The average resignation took 2-3 weeks. He accomplished it in 3-4 phone calls.

"Yeah, just pulling a few strings. You know you got a couple of favors you have to pay back yourself, right Saotome?"

"......" It was something he had conveniently shoved to the back of his mind, storing it away and forgetting about it. Ranma had been expecting this though, something he inevitably remembered in his preparation to leave his current life. "Yeah, I'm guessing someone decided to remind you too?"

"Yeah, Hanna heard it through the grapevine almost immediately. Give him a visit, same place as always."

Davis saw Ranma hesitate for a moment and look down on something on the desk, before he looked up and reluctantly nodded his head.

"You leaving tomorrow?"

"Yep. I packed up everything in my apartment and the movers are taking them out right now as we speak. My plane leaves at 1:30 AM."

"So then you're really leaving tonight!"

"I guess so," Ranma said. His expression was somber. "I guess we'll see each other in the future then." He stuck out his hand, speaking in a proud voice. "It was an honor working with you sir."

Davis gave Ranma a firm, strong handshake. "Thank you, Sergeant. It was a pleasure," Davis said, concealing the sadness in his voice. His face turned into mock sternness. "Now get the fuck outta here and go say goodbye to your buddies."

Ranma exited with a grin and a two fingered salute.

-------------

Cocked, locked, and loaded. It was just the way these guys liked it with their guns of blazin', and also the fact that all their weapons and ammo were free for any use.

McClane finished up assembling a small subcompact submachine gun, the kind that you could easily hide under a thin set of clothes and still carry around. Of course to the average civilian, even possessing one of these weapons either at home or on the body would make it an instant felony.

"Hey, it's Saotome," Vince pointed at the locker door.

Curious as to why his friends and unit were hanging out in the armory, Ranma walked in to greet them. "What the hell are you guys doing?"

"Hey, Ranma," McClane said. He pulled off a rifle from a rack and placed it inside a huge bag.

Ranma chuckled at the ridiculous display of mass firepower. "What the hell are you guys doing?" he said with a smile.

Vince perked his head up from field stripping a pistol he had in his hand. "Since we're the only group at the moment without an assignment, we got ourselves a short vacation. We're going to take all these boom sticks to Elysian Park and go buck wild."

"Does Mr. Man Among Men want to join us?" Al joked from the far corner of the locker.

"Ha, ha, ha," Ranma mocked sarcastically. His face turned slightly crestfallen. "Actually, I'm here for something else fellas. Sorry, but I can't go. I gotta visit Robbery homicide downstairs and take care of some unfinished business. Then I'm leaving for Japan tonight."

The three older detectives fell completely silent for a couple of moments, speechless at the impact of Ranma's words.

Finding the courage to say something more, Ranma broke the ice of the moment. "I know it's a little quick, but that's how it turned out to be."

"Wow, those feds are pretty quick in setting you up," McClane said, trying to ease up the tension. It didn't help much.

Ranma lifted his head at the comment. "They're not really feds, you know. The division I'm going to work for is a law enforcement section with the ability to police. They already had some movers at my apartment right after I was done packing. They did it quick as hell too. I guess they want me pretty badly, I even received First Class tickets."

Al walked over and got closer to the conversation. He eyed the Beretta saddle on Ranma's belt. "I guess you're here to turn in your sidearm then.

"Yep," Ranma replied. He unlatched the pistol from the odd looking holster and unclipped his badge and spare ammo clips. They were placed in a small plastic bin on a rack. "I'm probably going to be issued new sidearms when I get to Japan. I'll probably get another Beretta since I get to keep my old holster."

"That's the only gun you take home with you," McClane said, looking at the bin. "It's like you're in love with it."

"Not really," Ranma replied. "I sold off my Smitty J-frame and a lot of my duty gear the other day."

Vince looked sad and morose. He didn't think Ranma would actually take the job. "I can't believe this. The guy we loved to hate is now the guy we can't let go. Friend or enemy, you always was a bastard," he chuckled.

"Can we visit you, maybe, at least?" John asked hopefully.

"Well," Ranma idly said. He thought about it for a moment, thinking of what they'd do if they ever came to Japan. "I guess you can. You don't even have to ask," he finished, smiling.

"Do you have a phone number we can reach you at?" Vince asked.

"Yeah," Ranma said. He pulled out a piece of paper that already had a number written on it. "It's funny, you know. The NSA even lets me choose my own phone number. This number here will direct you to someone who can contact me."

"Thanks," John said, pocketing the note.

Al wasn't satisfied with the way they were all parting. "Wait! We gotta have a going away party for you at least!"

Ranma's face fell. "Sorry, I don't think I'll have the time to do that."

"Now that's fucked up, Ranma. We're your buddies here, we can't even have a last drink together?" Al looked visibly upset.

"It's because of that I didn't want to have some tearful, emo, going away party," Ranma said with weak smile. "You know you guys are my brothers in arms."

He looked at the disappointed faces of his friends and fellow teammates. "But when you guys ever visit me in Japan, we'll go buck wild. Okay?"

This was good enough for them. "Hell yeah!" they all replied enthusiastically in unison.

"Bye guys, it was an honor working with all of you," Ranma said. He turned to walk out the locker.

"Wait, Sergeant Saotome."

Ranma turned around to see a stern looking Lt. McClane. "What is it, John?" he asked, confused.

McClane grabbed Ranma's badge from the bin and walked towards him. "As the official leader of this group, although we all know who the real leader is," he said, giving Ranma a wink, "you will keep this badge as an honorary gift." John grabbed Ranma's right hand and placed the badge in his palm. "You've earned the right to have it with you for what you've done for us. God knows, you of all people deserve it."

Without a word, Ranma clasped the badge in his hand, both surprised and moved. He looked up to see McClane smiling at him. "Thank you Lieutenant McClane." He straightened his back and gave his friend and partner a salute.

Vince came up to Ranma and gave him a hearty slap on the back. "Get outta here before we get all mushy, ya bastard!"

Al gave Ranma a firm handshake as a final farewell. "Later, Saotome. I pray you good luck for the future."

McClane gave him one last pat on the back. "Yippy ki yay, motherfucker.* Good luck with your new life," he said with a smile.

*Shameless plug.

Ranma smiled, that was John's trademark farewell. He stepped back and gave a bow. "Thank you, all of you." He swiveled around and walked out the locker, leaving behind three men to reminisce about memories past.

John looked on at the locker door even after Ranma left. "Fuck..." he quietly mumbled. "You're one of a kind, Saotome."

-------------

As he walked down these white halls, he kept wondering how different life would've been if he had stayed on course with his original plans to be a detective for the main bureau. Not that he had failed; he had accomplished working as an investigator out of Parker Center.

But this was Robbery-Homicide, Metro's Robbery-Homicide. The crème de la crème of the department. Sure, he'd worked in the same building, only one floor above. But being only a staircase or an elevator ride away, what a world of difference there was in the respect they were shown, the way the public viewed them, and the general mission to protect and serve. SIS wasn't regarded as one of the department's team players, or as a collective part of the law enforcement effort. They were surgical tools, rogue warriors who operated on single and specialized agendas only, and occasionally called upon by other branches to do surveillance work on trickier high profile criminals.

Several of the detectives who walked past looked surprised to see him as they headed towards the elevators, they didn't exchange any words and offered a nod to greet him.

The metal framed door slid open with an electric whir with a touch of a pad on the wall. Ranma read the jet black "Major Cases Unit" label that was imprinted on the wire reinforced glass window as it slid out of view, pausing for a moment before he stepped in. The room was similar to the setup SIS had, except with better furnishings and much whiter, cleaner walls. The desks were strewn with documents, whiteboards chock full of scribbled dry erase markers with mindless circles everywhere, and the stale gust of re-circulated air from the musty central air conditioner pushed the scent of cheap Taster's Choice brew that had been opened from a pack with an expired sell-by-date.

The left corner of the large room housed a private office with an open white framed glass door, with a connecting large stationary glass window showcasing who was inside. Ranma looked in as he walked towards the corner office, ignoring several looks by the few detectives who were present and working at their desks. The occupant of the corner office looked busy as he read some documents that were in an open manila folder, but Ranma knew full well that son of a bitch knew he was coming towards him.

It was as he walked in and closed the door behind him that the detective looked up as if on cue to see Ranma coming up to his desk and sitting down. "Sergeant Saotome, I didn't know whether to expect you here or not."

"Shut the fuck up, Hanna. I'm not here for chit chat."

Lead Robbery-Homicide detective Lieutenant Vincent Hanna gently laid his hands on top of each other on his desk. His thick square reading glasses made his eyes look bigger than they were. "You know, in my 29 years in this department," he smacked his lips as he smoothly removed his glasses with his left hand and tossed them on the table, "I've never had a young, barking, slant-eyed chink Asian motherfucker like you talk to me like that. Ever."

"As soon as I leave this building, I'm out of the LAPD." Ranma's face looked cool and calculated.

He looked at the aging relic in front of him, a truly horrendous example of a man who had seen it all. The thrice divorced detective in front of him wore a bright, almost luminous red necktie to an equally shining black shirt, covered by a pinstriped dark gray suit that was devoid of any wrinkles, lint, or visual blemishes in general. The collars of his shirt were perfectly starched, and his messily styled dark and thin hair took away some of the dreariness of the big black bags that sagged under his weary fish eyes.

"I came to pay back my debts," Ranma simply declared. "I'm not going to hide from them."

"Yeah, I never took you for a rat motherfucker. You've always been the soldier. That proud warrior," Vincent slithered, his lips still smacking. He leaned back in his chair, eyebrows raised and his eyes narrowed. "I'd hate to give a beef to your captain for covering up what you fucked up."

"Don't remind me," Ranma answered with clenched teeth. He took a slow breath in to calm himself, and he leaned forward to put his elbows on the table and propped his chin under his fists. "Tell me what you need to get done."

Lt. Hanna grabbed his reading glasses and nearly chucked them back on, immediately immersing himself back in to the documents that were scattered on his table. He didn't notice Ranma getting even more visibly agitated with him, as the younger detective couldn't stand being dicked around with.

"I'm guessing you still aren't willing to give up your homies in La Eme, are you?"

Ranma shook his head, as if he were motioning to Hanna that he had no chance. "They helped me find out all the fuckers involved in the deal that got Ichino killed. They're still helping out a couple of detectives in and around. I'm not gonna rat them out."

"Stubborn motherfucker. Just give me those fucking beaners and I wouldn't even have to have you lift a finger. Mexican Mafia is just another shit bag in the wind, son. I guess I'll have to give you the hard way out." Hanna reached into a desk drawer that was full of files and he pulled out a picture from one of them, with a sheet attached to it. He wordlessly handed it over to Ranma.

"Who's this guy?" Ranma asked. The picture showed a middle aged Caucasian with a ponytail. Guy looked pretty enough to be a model. He flipped to the attached sheet.

"He's a professional thief named Chris Shiherlis, got away over six years ago after a shootout that resulted in one dead detective. One of my own. Had a chance to get him then and blew it. He's been clean since and resurfaced in LA. We haven't been able to tail him with anything substantial."

"I remember this case," Ranma said frowning. It was a really big matter, something he had remembered watching on the news and later studied in the academy. The version he heard though from both the media and through the academy was that all suspects involved had been killed. "There was someone who got away?" He looked at Lt. Hanna with thinned, accusing eyes, he couldn't believe someone of Hanna's caliber would let someone slip away.

"I fucking did what I could you fucking brat," Hanna spat, anger rising from past wounds. It was a case that had festered and haunted him for years, and finally a favor from SIS would work in his favor to resolve it. "Just get rid of this fucking cockroach, and we're even."

Ranma looked away in disgust but not in surprise. A grave mistake he had made earlier in his career was covered up as a favor to later cash in on this. Ranma had known for a while that he would end up pulling a hit to pay for his sin. "How do you want it done?"

"Simple and straight, no bullshit involved. Get something messy, come back here to dump the gun to your buddies, and fly the fuck out of the country. You won't get caught. No one will pursue a thing. I'll take care of that myself."

"Will he be at this address?" Ranma said, getting up to his resigned fate. He knew the older detective in front of him was a self-righteous bastard through and through, this assignment at least gave no moral qualms as to whether the suspect deserved to die or not. Cop killers gave him an extra absence of mercy.

"No guarantees he'll be home, he might be out. You might have to camp out. I don't give a fuck really, not my problem. I just know you're gonna get it done, or someone else is going to pay what you owe."

"I'll take care of it." He got up and picked up the photo from Hanna's desk, and turned to walk out.

"For what it's worth," Hanna blurted suddenly, causing Ranma to spin in surprise, "You've been a good cop. Better than most. I just pray to God your soul is salvaged from where you've dragged it."

Ranma barely finished listening to what the senior officer had to say, shuffling out the door and closing door behind him as quick as possible.

***

March 31st, 2001.

Pacific Palisades Luxury Condos. Hermosa Beach, California. 8:59 PM.

Cursing at the digital clock on the Crown Vic's dashboard for the umpteenth time, Ranma threw another empty beer can into the back of the seat. Bad habits died hard, he had bought a 12-pack of Bud Light to keep him some company. The locale was far better than he could've wished for himself, with an empty, dark and desolate parking lot that had a clear view of his target's cream colored Cadillac Eldorado. Hermosa Beach was a regular hotspot for the young, a laid back beach town that had a connecting boardwalk promenade with the neighboring beach towns. It was just a sheer stroke of luck that this particular block was unusually empty and free of almost any traffic.

It was easy surveillance for the pigtailed detective, his only problem being the constraint of time. He had just seen his target through the windows of the condos, getting dressed and probably ready to head out soon. Ranma noticed how carefree his behavior was for a known bank robber and wanted cop killer, but since the guy had stayed clean since and the heat from his escapades had subsided years ago he probably didn't find anything to worry about. He certainly didn't mind little paranoid details like leaving his blinds open or even scoping out his surroundings to track any tails.

Ranma shook his head, dead cops and their ghosts were never forgotten.

Resting on his lap was a synthetic black stocked shotgun, a Remington 1187 semi-automatic with a gas cycled action. The magazine tube was extra long and it extended an inch or two beyond the eighteen inch barrel.

After what seemed like an eternity his target came out. Chris Shiherlis was an average looking man, not overly tall, not really a big build, and a normal blonde haircut. His features were sharp and he looked like a pretty boy, but he didn't fit any stereotypical archetype for a professional criminal.

The quiet, unassuming ones are the most dangerous, Ranma thought. Not because they looked like they could, but you wouldn't expect that they CAN. He was already up and about and blending with the shadows of the buildings near his victim's car. Professional he may be, it was no match for Ranma's sublime stealth.

Shiherlis walked over to his parked Cadillac and stepped inside, fumbling with his keys into the ignition. He barely managed to crank the starter when he saw a thin shadow across his dash which reflected the moonlight. His heart instinctively paused as he panned to the left, his shoulders tensing up.

His brown eyes passively locked onto a set of dull gray blue ones, which were also aligned down a cold steel barrel that was aimed at his face. Ranma gave Chris a moment to let the situation sink into his head, and get a good accusatory look into his soul. Ranma wanted him to know without a shadow of a doubt, his time for retribution had come.

Most people flinched and screamed or shivered pathetically when confronted with the last moment of their lives. Chris Shiherlis wasn't most people. He had done things, evil things, that he had forced through so many times that he had been able to sleep at night without gut wrenching regret despite his sins.

With this 12-gauge muzzle pointed right at him, he dared not blink or look away. He wordlessly accepted his fate as the last thing he saw was a blinding spark.

***

April 1st, 2001.

JAL Airlines, Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. 3:01 AM.

Mechanical marvels were always fascinating to Ranma, ever since he was introduced to the world of auto clubs and motor sports thanks to some friends he made in college.

This huge jet he was flying in was no exception. It was awe-inspiring to see a huge hunk of metal like this could fly so high and so far, while at the same time being as comfortable and hospitable as the finest limousines you could hire. Ranma snuggled comfortably in his nice khaki pants and handsome polo shirt and vest. He was pleased to find out that his seat reclined all the way back, although it was disappointing to know that the comfy and cushy leather seats absorbed the spine compressing thrust of the jet during takeoff.

A young and attractively cute stewardess pulled up next to Ranma with a cart full of various beverages and snacks.

"Would you like anything to drink, sir?" she politely asked.

A nice slug of sake would sure be nice to fall asleep to, Ranma thought. "I'll have some Onikoroshi, please."

"Certainly." The stewardess pulled out a bottle from a cooling compartment and handed it to Ranma along with a traditional square wooden sake cup. "May I get you anything else?"

"That'll be all, thank you." He slowly sipped the chilled sake, savoring the fine wine as it slithered down his throat, wishing he had some fine sashimi to accompany such a fine drink. Onikoroshi was an expensive drink, something he indulged in quite rarely because of its price. The alcohol took its effect almost immediately, easing off Ranma's mind into a more tranquil state.

He progressively drank some more, his visage softening and his mood relaxing. His mind seemed to crawl back to old memories, some which he preferred to forget. That didn't stop his brain from picking on some of those sore spots, however. Ranma slowly cycled into a flashback as his eyes closed, his mind falling asleep.

------------------

***

Flashback

June 28th, 1997.

Living Room, Tendo Home – Nerima, Japan.

The room was dead silent to those who were present. The wind could be heard quietly whistling against the wooden sliding doors. The light splish-splash of the fish in the koi pond reverberated ever so quietly among the three people who were standing in the room, facing each other.

Ranma barely had the strength to eek out the words past his tongue. "This can't be happening. Please tell me you're playing a cruel joke Akane," he whispered out.

Across from him was his fiancée of almost six years. The girl he had fallen in love with and pledged his life to. Right now his vision of heaven was turning into a tunnel of despair that led straight to hell.

"I'm not playing a joke on you, Ranma," she quietly replied, her eyes unable to meet his. Akane looked down on the floor, feeling guilt and remorse over the whole situation.

To her right was Ryoga, who looked just as grim as she did. "This isn't something that formed out of the blue, Ranma. You couldn't possibly understand right now," Ryoga said.

Ranma clenched his teeth and closed his eyelids, breathing in and out a couple of times, to deal with this catastrophic wave of emotions. One part wanted to just scream and lash out, the other part wanted to know why the hell this had happened.

Unfortunately, more of the former broke loose within him. "Damn it, Akane! How could you do this to me?!" he yelled. "Why?!"

Akane couldn't take it anymore either. The tears started streaming down her face. "I'm sorry, Ranma!" she said, guilt welling up in her. "I..I..." she stuttered.

"Why!? Why'd you betray me?!" Ranma yelled again, a cracked cacophony of despair in his voice. He almost had tears in his eyes himself. "I...I... I told you I loved you! I wanted to marry you! Why the hell did you bother telling me you love me?"

Not able to stand by doing nothing any longer, Ryoga stepped up to Ranma with one of his arms around Akane. He had a menacing look on his face, shadowed by composed and controlled patience. "She was lonely, Ranma. That's why she fell in love with me," he said. The tension was strong in his voice. "It was your fault you weren't there." His eyes narrowed at Ranma. "You were too busy in that gaijin college!"

Ranma stepped right into Ryoga's shadow, only a couple of centimeters away from his face. His eyes were only seeing red. "You bastard!" He poked Ryoga in the chest. "How could I help it?! I didn't have time to visit! That's why I worked my ass off to graduate in three years! Do you think that was easy? I suffered my first year, trying to get everything done as soon as possible! Does that mean nothing to you!?" he spat, although carefully leaving out the part where he used various methods of cheating to pass classes thanks to some clever friends. "What did I do to deserve this? Tell me?"

"I'm sure ditching your fiance to study abroad doesn't count, ne?" Ryoga scoffed.

He was quickly responded with a punch to his face but dodged it easily as Ryoga saw Ranma's furious aura flare out of control. In Ranma's current angry state, he was too unfocused to get a cheap shot at a veteran fighter like Ryoga.

Ryoga retaliated by shoving Ranma back, but he didn't attack him. Instead he pointed his finger at him and shouted. "It didn't happen overnight, Ranma! God damn it!" Ryoga yelled in frustration. "Stop acting like a girl and face it like a man! Akane is in love with me! With ME!!"

"No!! It can't be true!" Ranma said, frantically. He looked into Akane's eyes, his eyes bloodshot and his complexion yelling desperation. "You can't be serious, Akane!"

This time, Akane finally looked into his eyes. Ranma saw the deep sadness and melancholy there. "It's true," she quietly replied. "I still love you, Ranma. But only as a close friend, now." She looked over to Ryoga, and back at Ranma. "Like he said, this didn't happen overnight." Her face went through several pain stricken expressions. "Ryoga helped me out at some bad times, times where I wished you were next to me. Times where I wished you weren't overseas. He's been real supportive of me. I grew to love him. I love him very much right now. We're going to get married, though not anytime soon."

Ranma was grief stricken and his jaw hung open. He looked down at the ground. "No..."

"I'm sorry too, I didn't think things would end up this way," Ryoga said, as he was feeling genuinely remorseful at the complexity of the situation. His relationship with Akane didn't seem so regretful with Ranma out of the picture, three thousand miles away. But it had gone too far, over a year of trust and mutual companionship from Akane had sealed something far stronger than a short fling.

A look of deranged madness crossed Ranma's features. He took one look at Ryoga and turned his head towards the koi pond. With a nasty look on his face, he grabbed Ryoga before he could react and chucked his body into the pond as hard as he could. "I got you now, P chan," Ranma mumbled to himself.

"What was the point of that?" Akane asked, accusingly. Now she was mad.

"Wha-?" Ranma's jaw dropped in confusion as he saw Ryoga emerge from the pond, still completely human. His eyes were wide and bewildered.

Ryoga walked up to Ranma and spit some water into Ranma's face, transforming him. "If you're going to act like a girl, you might as well be one, RANKO!" A smile settled onto his face, showing that he'd won.

Unable to comprehend what had happened, a female Ranma continued to stand in place, looking on in shock. "What the hell happened?" she asked to anyone who was listening.

However, Ryoga and Akane didn't hear his question. Now it was their turn to gawk, however this time it was directed at Ranma's curse. What used to be a cute, peppy looking 5' 4" girl was now a gorgeous, 6 foot tall woman.

Akane's brain shifted out of neutral and into drive. "Ranma, why didn't you become smaller as a girl? You-you actually grew taller!" She looked at the aquatranssexual up and down."

Ranma frowned at that comment. It was true, she did look a dramatically different from what she used to look like three years ago. She had much more prominent curves in the right places, a more seductive and sexy body, and beauty that would shame even Ms. Hinako. Her current female body was only a little bit taller than her male form, albeit of course with a smaller and feminine frame.

She wiped her face of the excess water, her eyes still trembling with anger. "Over the past couple of years I realized that my cursed form was still growing, although my male form had matured completely long ago," Ranma said. This seemed to give Akane and Ryoga a bit more understanding.

"Apparently my other side had naturally grown into a much more adult body. I actually called Cologne once to ask about it and she surprised me when she told me that what my cursed form was doing was only natural, however it will remain young and adult for the rest of my life."

In that moment the two bumbling fathers of the home, Soun and Genma, entered tumbling into the room. They were both red with anger and shock. It seemed Nabiki had just informed them of the love triangle. Ranma's ears passed off the ensuing chaos as a numb drone. His mind couldn't quite grasp the mess that he'd gotten into this time.

End Flashback

***

-----------------

That wasn't too pleasant, he thought idly. It had been years since the breakup happened, and he got on with his life. But every now and then the very thought of Akane sucking Ryoga's dick really hurt his head.

"Damn that Ryoga," Ranma mumbled to himself, his eyes drooping from fatigue. He turned his eyes towards an LCD screen that was attached to his seat, a special novelty that First-Class fliers were able to use. The onboard flight info on the screen showed that there was still approximately three and a half hours left in the flight.

"I wonder what people will think when they see how different I've become," he idly thought, before his mind drifted to sleep.

----------------

***

Flashback

July 20th, 1997.

Saotome Home – Nerima, Japan.

"Thanks anyway, I appreciate the offer, but I'd really like to be a sensei instead," Ranma spoke to the hand piece. He hung up the phone on the receiver and breathed a large sigh.

After an entire week of pining over Akane and venting off an endless supply of frustration, Ranma started looking for jobs around the Nerima area as a dojo sensei. But he was out of luck. No one seemed to need an extra hand, either that or they couldn't afford one.

He scratched the back of his head, thinking about the details of the past week. He found out that Ryoga had taken a trip to Jusenkyo and brought back bottles of Nannichaun for himself and the other cursed Nerima citizens. Shampoo, Mousse, and even pops, were now all 100% human. This was actually quite a shock to him, he'd never really figured that re-cursing himself with the spring of drowned man would actually work. It certainly didn't work for Pantyhose Taro, who had cursed himself multiple times to become the freak that he was.

What made things awkward was that Ryoga had even offered a bottle of the stuff to Ranma, even after what happened. Ranma had refused immediately, not wanting anything more to do with him. To say that he was peeved would have been a gross understatement, he was kicked out of the house forcefully after he had gone berserk again and spit in Akane and Ryoga's faces. His female form was considerably weaker and smaller in body mass to his male form, allowing Ryoga to restrain him with his own incredible strength and tossed him He'd gotten used to the curse anyway, and the thought of becoming fully male wasn't even on his mind at that moment. He was much too hurt and blinded to see that Ryoga had actually been genuinely sincere enough to make amends despite what had occurred, but for now Ranma had to get away.

There was also another thing that sort of frustrated him, although it bothered him to think this way. He hadn't gotten any since he'd left Nerima over three years ago. Since then he had stayed true to Akane and stayed abstinent the whole time, which was an incredibly remarkable feat. And it wasn't like he could just run over to his friend Ucchan or even Shampoo either for a quick lay, he respected them more than that.

"Oh, man," Ranma sighed. He looked down at a phone number that was written on a small business card in his hand. It wasn't a local number, but a long distance one. VERY long distance. He pondered for a second whether this would be the right choice to make.

After switching glances from the card in his hand and the telephone, he made up his mind. Nerima had nothing left for him anymore. "Alright. Beggars can't be choosers, I might as well take a chance at the unknown."

Ranma picked up the phone to make an international call to Los Angeles.

-----------

Genma was lying on his side, watching some sort of wacky cooking show on the big screen TV he'd acquired from a pawn shop. He had some various snacks in front of him and several cans of beer, all empty.

Despite how lazy he was and how useless he used to be, Genma had found a fitting job that made plenty of money to support himself and his wife. What made the job bearable was that it suited the things he was best at. He'd actually set himself a reputation for being a top notch repo-man for banks and small time creditors, getting paid to steal back items from people's homes and cars from right under their noses. Genma found out that he was especially good at boosting cars, but what he did wasn't illegal, it was repossession of assets in which the owners were unable to pay for. Suffice to say, Genma liked it, and so did his employers.

Currently, he eyed his son walking into the living room to where Nodoka was sitting on the couch, reading a novel.

"Boy, you make your father shameful. You can't find a job as a sensei let alone keep a fiancée. Aren't you ashamed of him, Nodoka?" Genma mocked,

"Shut up old man," Ranma replied. He kicked his pops in the ribs as he passed him by, knocking the air out of him. It wasn't anything overly rough, just a quick jab made out of annoyance. Ranma was incredibly surprised to learn his father was now an honest working man now, and better yet making a respectable amount of money to take care of his mother and live a relatively comfortable life that she dearly deserved. It comforted him greatly that he now had a father he could be proud of and he could respect.

"Don't mind him son," Nodoka said, her nose still planted in the paperback she was reading. She set it down on her lap and faced her only son. "What's on your mind?"

Ranma fiddled with his fingers behind his back, and eyes sort of wandered, hesitating at what he wanted to say. "Mom, I want to be a police officer," he said, trying to sound as serious as possible.

This took the elder Saotome matriarch by surprise; this was totally out of the ordinary. "A police officer?" she replied. "Tokyo Police?"

How was he going to explain himself out of this one, Ranma wondered? He scratched his head and breathed a sigh.

"No, no. Let me explain." Ranma pulled up a stool that was in the corner of the room and sat down facing his mother.

Genma turned his head away from the TV, he too was also surprised at Ranma, and faced mother and son to hear the conversation.

"When I was going to college over in UCLA I studied Physical Education as a major, but I was also quite interested with Criminal Law. It was interesting to learn, and I actually liked it," Ranma said. His face scrunched slightly at what he was about to say next, but it was for a good purpose. "Remember how I got Nabiki to forge some documents so that I could pretend to be a US citizen to qualify for the ROTC scholarship? I did it so that you guys didn't have to pay for my education, since it gave a lot of benefits."

"That was thoughtful of you," Nodoka said, smiling.

Ranma continued. "Right after I graduated, I deferred from going into full military service and turned to just a reserve officer, although they'll never be able to track my records down to draft me, thanks to Nabiki." He pulled out an envelope from his pocket. "Funny thing is, the Los Angeles Police department sent me a recruiting letter asking if I was interested in becoming a cop. I don't know why they sent me a letter, but I guess it was because I was registered as an Army reservist, or something. I don't know the real reason for sure." Nor did he care.

"Of course, I didn't reply back until today," Ranma went on. Next week I'm heading to Elysian Park, Los Angeles to start training in their Academy."*

This didn't go by too well with Genma. "Shame on you, boy!" he scowled. "Turning back on martial arts?! How is it an idiot like you can get accepted that easily into a police academy?"

He flinched back as Ranma glared daggers at him for the remark. "For your information, I worked my butt off and I was very well educated in college. I did a lot of things in my spare time to become a better person." Ranma started shouting. "And I didn't turn my back on martial arts! I was the president of the martial arts club in college, even though I wasn't experienced as an administrator! I practiced everyday! I can beat you now without even trying! I might be able to take on Happosai, maybe!" He left out the part where he'd also spent lots of his spare time with friends, having fun and partying, and oddly enough, getting into the world of motorsports. Cars and bikes were really addicting to work on, he'd learned.

"You're good, I'll give you that one. And you do train as hard as you've always have," Genma commented, his stature turning more serious. "But you're still young. And you're still a bit arrogant. You know better than that Ranma. You really think just PRACTICING alone makes you better? From what I've seen you've barely done any serious street fighting. And that dulls anyone's edge."

His father's small but rare bit of advice sunk into his head, a part of himself knew that his father was right.

Nodoka tapped the hilt of her katana on the top of Genma's head, making him nervous. "You should be proud of your son, Genma." She placed the katana behind her once Genma started sulking. She turned to face her son again. "We're both very proud of you Ranma. Being a police officer is a very noble job. It's comes at a bit of a surprise, yes. But you're an adult now. And part of being a man is learning how things are by yourself."

For a second there Ranma wondered how his mother knew of something like that. He only had a vague idea himself. "Arigato-gozaimasu, Okaasan."

"You must still swear that you will still carry on the family art and practice to perfect it so that you may carry it on, Ranma," his mother said.

Ranma scoffed at that. "Of course." Fighting was still his life. There was no way he'd go soft with that.

She tsked to herself and got up to make some tea for the three of them to drink. "I really am proud of you, son. It's a shame about Akane, such a nice girl. I'm sorry about what happened, but it really isn't your fault. As honor bound as I may be, I understand what happened. Love is a very fickle thing. It's unfair for you, but it's also unfair for Akane-chan to marry someone she doesn't love either."

Nodoka knew that lashing out at the Tendo family was going to cause unnecessary turmoil that would later turn to regret. She sighed inwardly, some people, her own son included, still saw her as the somewhat stone cold honor bound woman that Genma had first described of her. But that was ridiculous. What was she going to do, use her sword to eradicate the whole Tendo family?

The 21 year old was slightly crestfallen. "Yeah..."

Genma's lips thinned at the emotional scene. "Stop pampering the kid."

The lazy father was greeted by two angry faces in front of him, with glares to match. "Shut up!/Quiet!" mother and son simultaneously yelled.

"I'm going to be leaving in a couple of days, mom. I don't want to cause another havoc by leaving Japan again. Can you tell everyone else about where I'm going for me? I don't want to deal with a bunch of complications."

For now all he had to worry about was producing the proper documents to get back into the US to be properly registered and inducted into his upcoming career. Luckily a few counterfeit ID's that he'd kept for use in college would come in handy.

Nodoka nodded. "Of course, son."

"Thanks, mum."

End Flashback

***

-----------------

Fate had taken quite an interesting twist on his life. It was fate that had decided to take Akane away from him, and have him venture into a career and lifestyle that he never would have anticipated. And it was now fate that was taking him back to Japan to make amends with his ghosts and start over.

But that was just a mildly comforting excuse. Ranma knew better than to blame his path on an unwritten fate. He reminded himself that he also had plenty of ghosts he was leaving behind in America as well, too many in fact. He'd been subjected to enough bullshit in his life, consciously he knew that returning to Japan would be a welcome change to his life, his subconscious knew that if he didn't he'd eventually blow a fuse.

Right now he would sleep, there were only a few hours left in the flight anyway. His mind drifted to an earlier memory, one that had thoroughly changed the very core of his being. It was inevitable, he had accepted, long before the incident had even occurred. A lifetime of work was bound to bring it on.

-----------------

***

Flashback

March 22nd, 1998.

Oakland and Highland Ave. Hollywood Division, Los Angeles. 3:15 PM.

"You know, one of these days I swear I'm gonna try for a lunch break that's longer than five minutes."

"No problem, pup. I'm not stopping you. If you can find a way to shut the radio up, be my guest."

A marked black and white LAPD Ford Crown Victoria coasted to a stop behind the crosswalk. This particular cruiser was a newly cycled car for the department, marked as unit 642 on the roof in bold black lettering, a lucky and random privilege given to the officers who were assigned to it. The paint was still shiny and crisp under the bright sunlight, despite the smoggy filter that consumed everything in the Los Angeles atmosphere. Sure, the street was fairly empty and traffic had been unusually light for this time of day and place in Hollywood, and the red traffic didn't really mean much to the two officers occupying the police cruiser. They could've coasted right along, and no one would dare say a thing to such an action.

However, Ranma decided as he sat in the driver's seat of the Crown Vic, there wasn't really a need to rush things, especially when getting into a rush was something you did all day long. Getting a few minutes of peace at a red light every intersection or so was a welcome rest, one that he wouldn't take for granted.

He glanced over at his partner, who was sipping soda from a fast-food cup. Really friendly guy, Ranma had learned in the beginning of their partnership, even if he was extremely thorough and uptight with rules and regulations. He was a S2 rank patrol officer, very typical in his appearance for a cop, short buzzed and neatly kempt hair for practicality, a bulky upper body that hinted at his strength, and a uniform that looked as if it had been pressed clean and arranged neatly at all times. He wasn't an educated man, but he knew the street beat and was a capable officer to handle the civilian masses.

"I bet some of my classmates from the Academy* are living it off easy with their requested posts," Ranma said. He chuckled. "I guess it's my fault for choosing the busiest division in the city?"

*Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park.

Sergeant Dick Stensland nodded his head. "Yeah, you did. We gotta meet our quota of suckers to reel in too, you know?"

Both officers laughed to that. In the background were chirps and crackles of the police-band radio, from incoming and outgoing transmissions in the West Bureau.

"Dispatch, this is 6-Mary-34. I have a silver Cadillac sedan, late model, speeding recklessly southbound on La Brea, passing Sunset. My bike is stuck in gridlock and I can't maneuver around."

"10-4, unit 6-Mary-34. Maintain vis..."

Stensland ignored the dialogue from the radio, it was probably just another punk going on a joyride, even if it was a Cadillac. The motorcycle cops were more suited to handling the duty of a traffic maid.

"Nice to know the traffic rush hour is back in swing. We're pretty close by, we can help out," Ranma said, much to the dismay of his partner. Stensland was rolling his eyes.

"You make the call, kid."

Ranma picked up the receiver phone piece and clicked on the transmit button. "This is 6-Adam-42, we'll tail that Cadillac. Code 2."

A series of chirps accompanied his message. "Acknowledged, unit 6-Adam-42. Code 1."

With a nod from his partner, Ranma took a right at the next street and his foot mashed the gas pedal. This was a routine call, so the sirens and lights were left off. Ranma took a half eaten burrito that had been sitting on his lap and ate it with his free right hand, using his left to steer the car. His partner had already finished his food since he didn't have to bother with driving and keeping his hands occupied with the controls. At most all he had to do was answer the radio.

"I've got an excuse at least to stay occupied with a simple task instead of driving around in a craze to respond to some incident," Ranma mumbled with the stuffed tortilla in his mouth.

The radio blared with a sharp bleep. "West Traffic, this is Valley Bureau, that late model Cadillac was involved in a 211 at a jewelry store, we were sidetracked and now they're in your area, be advised!"

Stensland sighed and picked up the radio, as Ranma nearly choked on his food and continued to scarf it down. "Acknowledged, code 3."

"I didn't expect that to happen," Ranma said. He drank and finished a bottle of water that he had opened earlier. He turned on the sirens and lights.

The radio chirped again. "West Traffic, this is 15-Lincoln-52 entering Hollywood division, intercepting to assist. There is an unknown number of gang members in that Cadillac, they are definitely armed and extremely dangerous. I'm heading southbound on Formosa."

Ranma took a left and then took a sharp right, drifting across the lanes. "15-Lincoln-52, this is 6-Adam-42, I'm heading northbound on La Brea."

"I'm now going eastbound on Melrose, meet you at the intersection."

Surely enough, Ranma saw what appeared to be a growing commotion way in front of him, he saw a car driving recklessly on the sidewalk, barely missing pedestrians.

"There he is," Ranma said. He pointed out with his finger. "The guy is trying to get through the gridlock on the wrong side of the road!"

"It looks like these pricks are on the run, let's step on it!" Stensland said.

"Unit 6-Adam-14 coming in to assist, we're heading southbound on Mansfield, approaching Waring Avenue!" the radio blipped again.

The car being pursued popped back into the paved street and raced down south on La Brea, about 200 yards away from Ranma's car. From here Ranma could see exactly what car he was chasing, a dingy grey 80's Cadillac Deville, with multispoke wire hubcaps that flew off and rolled on their own as the tires landed on the asphalt from jumping off of the sidewalk curb.

The driver of the Caddy saw the flashing red and blue lights in front of him, and made a dangerous left swerve to go east on Melrose, miraculously missing hitting any of the other cars in the intersection.

Unfortunately, this led to the Cadillac being tailed by another police car responding from North Hollywood, unit 15-Lincoln-52.

Incoming traffic from all sides of the intersection halted as drivers saw that there was something serious going on, which gave the officers in pursuit a chance to maneuver around and chase the Cadillac.

Stensland pressed a button under the dash, and a mechanical click unlocked the shotgun rack next to his shoulder. "There's our North Hollywood guy," he said.

Ranma steered the car right to tail the other officer onto Melrose Avenue, and a few seconds later the third police car popped into view, causing the Cadillac to take another right turn into an empty street, popping a tire in the process. It seemed the turn was taken too fast, and the friction on the tires coupled with the resistance from the suspension caused a blowout. The grey car fishtailed out of control and slammed on its side on a light pole, and stayed in place.

All three police cars strategically blocked off the road into a cul-de-sac, with Ranma's car in the middle, placed perpendicular to the street.

The single sergeant from North Hollywood got out of his car first and ran towards the Cadillac, his gun drawn.

Ranma was moving his arm to shift the car's column transmission into park, and right as he looked out the window to his right, his breath stopped.

It happened in a blink of an eye. Sergeant Jack Vincennes never saw it coming. "Get your hands up, LAPD!" he had yelled, and just as his lips finished moving, the dark, limo-tinted windows of the Cadillac blew out in shards and all he saw were two bright flashes of fire aimed at him.

One second, Vincennes was standing in front of the doors with his pistol in his hands, the next second there was a squirt of red that seemed to unexpectedly explode out the back of his head and his body flopped to the floor lifelessly in an awkward angle. Dead before he even hit the ground, Vincennes dropped like a brick.

Panic struck Ranma, and Stensland was first to react. "Jesus Christ!"

The two didn't even get a chance to reach for the radio to call for help. 5 hooded and armed gangsters got out of the car, all of them wielding cheap and illegal, street bought, 9mm submachine guns. Two men raised their weapons, aimed at Ranma's car, one with his Tec-9 and another with an Ingram MAC-10, and sprayed a burst of fire through the windshield.

"Get down!" Stensland yelled, as he and Ranma struggled to get out the driver's side door.

The two weren't faster than the bullets; however, as several rounds struck both of them as they pierced through the glass. Ranma yelped out loud in pain as three shots hit him in the center of his chest, pounding his rib cage thoroughly as the Kevlar vest he wore elastically stretched at the violent impact.

Ranma tumbled out of the car and landed on his shoulder, amidst broken glass from the door windows. He immediately regained his composure, and leaned against the front fender of his car, the safest area since there was the engine block for cover.

"You got the shotgun Stens!?" Ranma yelled out for his partner amidst the chaos. He could hear panicked swearing coming from around the corner, the third patrol car that had responded was currently under fire and Ranma had no idea if they were hit too. His mind was in too much of a flurry to notice that his partner wasn't answering him.

He yelled for him again, in confusion. "Where the hell are you Stens!?" he yelled, and he crawled backwards on his hands and knees, facing the car. He took one look at the driver's seat of his car, and his jaw fell.

All other noises seemed to mute as he stared forward, he could feel his heart thumping in his chest and reverberating all the way in his skull. His partner was lying on his left shoulder, motionless. There was a trail of blood on his right arm, tracing back to the side of his ribs.

It was then, Ranma understood just what in the hell had happened. His partner was shot in a small, unprotected area of his torso, where the front and back of his protective vest velcro-ed together.

Wordlessly, with his jaw still hanging open in shock, Ranma scrambled to yank his partner out of the car, grabbing a fistful of his shirt and nearly dragging it off of his head. Stensland wasn't a small guy, his bulk was difficult to move around.

"Fucking cops!" the voice of one of the gangsters bellowed, as he kept shooting at Ranma's temporary barricade.

"Hang on, Stens, hold on buddy," Ranma pleaded to his partner, who was still motionless but was at least grunting out loudly, signaling that he was alive. Ranma flipped him so that his back would lean against him, and this way he got a closer look at Stensland's wound.

The moist blotch of blood that was tinting his already dark blue uniform was rapidly spreading across his side. Ranma could already tell that the bullets must have hit a vital organ to knock him out incapacitated and possibly fatally, and either way he would be bleeding to death real soon. He did his best by placing pressure on the multiple high velocity puncture wounds on his side, but it did little to delay the bleeding.

Ranma looked over his shoulder to see that the other two officers were currently mercilessly under fire, they were clumsily ducking and shooting in the heat of the moment, their pistols were no match against the combined firepower of five automatic weapons. Ranma gasped as he saw the two officers go down, their upper torsos were hit by a melee spray of fire by one of the gangsters, hitting them both in the collars and nicking one in the neck.

He was all alone now.

With a shaky hand, drenched in his partner's blood, Ranma reached for his radio mike on his shoulder, and clicked the transmit button. "Officers down, officers down! This is 6-Adam-42, on the eastern section of Mansfield and Clinton!" His voice was raggedy and strained. "I need backup RIGHT NOW! Backup goddamnit! SOMEBODY HELP ME!" he screamed, his lips quivering and eyes bloodshot with nervous tears.

Right after he had finished sending his cry for help, Ranma could've sworn he heard at least three different sirens pop up and echo throughout the streets, and even the shrieking wail of a fire truck. His mind was jolted back to the reality of the moment as the gunfire continued to erupt, this time it would be focused all on him.

The Motorola radio that was attached to his Sam Browne* chirped, "All units, all units, we have an officer down on Clinton and Mansfield Ave, tactical command has been alerted. 10-David is en-route." The dispatcher's voice was disturbingly calm and sterile, devoid of emotion under the circumstances.

"Die, you fucking pigs!"

Another burst of 9mm ammo pounded against Ranma's bullet riddled patrol car. The door panels of all the recently issued patrol cars were lined with armor, however with the amount of shooting that was happening the door wasn't going to last much longer. Ranma could feel the door popping on his back and pushing him as the bullets impacted against the armor plates.

He picked at his radio again. "Damn it dispatch, where the fuck is my backup!?"

"Officers are on the way, ETA less than two minutes."

Ranma cursed the shitty Los Angeles rush hour gridlock. "I won't be here in another two minutes!" he screamed, bitter rage building in his eyes. This was bullshit! He could hear sirens within earshot, and still it would take precious time that he didn't have for help to come. "Tell them to get here fas-"

Six bullets weakly penetrated through the shredded door, and hit him in the back before he could finish his sentence. The surprise shock felt electrifying up the nerves of his spine, and caused him to yelp out in a painful shriek of agony, which the gangsters took as a death rattle.

Several whoops and shouts of cheering could be heard behind Ranma's back. "I think we got 'em!" Being the criminal idiots that they were, their victory cry included emptying their weapons into the air.

This opening was not missed by Ranma. He set his partner's body on the ground, his trained reflex and instincts to survive finally kicked in and he crouched behind the hood of the car with his pistol extended hand in hand. His eyes were blank, focusing only on the combat pyramid of the three white dots that were fixed on the top of his pistol. His stance was picture perfect, a result from hours of training a competition-style shooting stance, just for this certain circumstance.

He shot out five rounds quick and crisp with the trigger, aiming at his enemy with surgical precision and lightning quick acquisition. It looked almost like dominoes falling down in sequence from right to left, a round in the central area of their faces. The whole cycle was so quick the last guy to be put down was barely able to get his gun pointed in the general direction of Ranma again, only to have the connection between his brain and spine be severed from a piercing bullet.

A downed officer several yards away saw the whole scene take place while he was barely conscious, struggling to stay alive. "Holy shit...how'd he do that?" his voice rasped.

Ranma stood up, his eyes were now a bit watery and he still had his pistol aimed at a group of dead bodies. He strengthened his grip on his pistol because it felt slippery with the blood of his partner drenched on his hands. Slowly and carefully he walked around and approached the downed gunmen, his feet stepping in several new trails of blood that were seeping from their perforated skulls.

"Y-y-you're under a-arrest!" Ranma yelled, although he was speaking to a corpse.

No reply came to him, and Ranma calmly holstered his pistol and stepped backwards until he was up against his battered car. He slid down and sat on the hood, the sound of sirens slowly flooding his ears as other units arrived at the scene.

-----------------

"Relax, you're going to survive nearly being shot to death only to die from a heart-attack if you don't calm down."

That was easier said than done, Ranma thought to himself. The paramedic checked him over one last time with a stethoscope and a small flashlight before he patted him on the shoulder.

"That'll do it. Other than a couple of bruises on your back and chest, you're perfectly fine. Your adrenaline is probably still pumping so your pain sensors are all blocked out, you might find out if you have bruised or broken ribs later when things are normal," the medic advised him.

Ranma just sat on the curb, looking out in front of him. They were already bagging up Sergeant Vincennes' corpse, along with Ranma's partner. The other two officers had survived apparently, although with serious injuries. But the initial outlook was good, and the paramedics on site had deemed that they shouldn't be life threatening. They were both quickly rushed to Cedar Sinai Medical, not the closest but the finest hospital in the region.

There must have been at least 20 officers surrounding the area right now, with several dozen more to come soon. All news trucks and reporters were aggressively pushed away from the scene, and with the grief of two officers deceased hanging on the minds of every officer in sight, they meant business.

The medic cleaned off the last of the blood that was stained on Ranma's hands, the blood of his late partner.

"It's amazing what you did here, buddy," the paramedic said. "It's a miracle you survived." He pointed to a shredded armor vest that Ranma had taken off minutes ago. "That thing saved your life."

Ranma tried hard to ignore his words, right now he was feeling more miserable than he had ever felt in his life. "I was all wrong for this job, I'm not cut out for it." His lips started quivering and his eyes went runny. "I-I-I killed those guys back there."

A sympathetic hand pat his shoulder. "They got what was coming to them," the medic said, nodding his head slowly.

Ranma buried his face in his hands to cover the miserable look on his face. "But I'm a killer now! Jesus Christ, look what I've done!"

The paramedic looked stern, and he smacked his hand against Ranma's face lightly. "Hey, listen to me." He grabbed Ranma's chin with his hand to get his complete attention, and looked him straight in the eye. "You're a hero, not a cold-blooded killer like these fucking assholes. Two officers kept their lives because of you. What you did was hand out justice."

"And what about my partner, huh?" Ranma wiped away the medic's hand away. He had been the driver; it was he who had parked the car in a way that made his partner vulnerable.

"You can't blame yourself for that, you didn't kill him. He was a police officer too, he knew what he was getting himself into. That's what being a cop is all about. It means laying down your life to protect and serve. You did your job, he did his."

"......"

"Don't worry," the medic responded in a softer voice "This happens to all cops and their first homicide. When you get back to the station you're going to be assigned a police psychologist to help you out with the trauma, and be given a standard two week leave of paid absence. But just remember, no matter what happens... none of this is your fault. You did something truly brave and noble today."

His words proved comforting and Ranma felt a little relaxed. "Thank you, sir."

"Good then!" he exclaimed with a smile. "You're all patched up now, and I'm gonna go help some others now."

The paramedic packed up his kit and walked away, looking back and giving him one last nod. Ranma weakly acknowledge him with a nod of his own. Another man was walking his way, wearing a heavy uniform with tactical gear. The pouches on his chest were packed with flash grenades and several other tools. There was a sling on his shoulder attached to a short, carbine rifle of the AR variety. He simply stood in front of Ranma, and gave him an uncomfortable thousand-yard stare.

"Who are you?" Ranma asked.

"I'm Lieutenant Stevens." He stuck out his hand to shake Ranma's. "I'm from the Metropolitan Division." The senior officer extended a hand to shake and help Ranma off the curb.

"Nice to meet you," Ranma said, standing up and grabbing hold. He noticed an eagle patch with a large insignia on Stevens' sleeve. "You're from SWAT?"*

*SWAT stands for 'Special Weapons And Tactics', in case you don't know.

"Yep. I'm the commanding officer. Had to come over and check you out son, you're quite the buzz right now."

"What do you want from me, sir?" Ranma wasn't too eager to speak with anymore people.

"I was looking over the short statement you gave, and I find it impossible to believe. Did you really shoot five guys in the head, in that short time, all by yourself?"

This didn't sound good, in Ranma's current boggled and panic ridden state of mind the only thing cycling through his head was the remorse of pulling the trigger and now the fear of a possible unfavorable shooting board judgement. "Yeah, I did. Is there something wrong, sir?" he replied, fear creeping into his voice.

Stevens shook his head in awe. "Amazing. And from the looks of things, I can't say that you're lying either. Are you a crack shot?"

Ranma nodded, curious as to see where this was going. He didn't want to hear anymore of guns and shooting at the moment, and this guy was poking right at the flesh of the wound. "Yes, sir. I graduated at the top of my class in the academy."

"That still doesn't explain how you can be so skilled. Tell you what. Come to Parker Center tomorrow at 2 in the afternoon, so we can talk some more. I'll have the lobby know that you have an appointment, so just report to the Special Ops and Tactics Bureau."

"What? I'm not even sure they'll let me back to work for the next few weeks, can I even do that?"

Stevens smirked. "It's mandatory." He walked away, but turned around for a moment. "By the way, this doesn't mean you're being recruited for SWAT. You remember that."

Arrogant, assumptive, asshole, Ranma thought disgustedly. I've got enough to remember today already, goddamn it. He looked around in the war zone in front of him. It was too much for him, still. He grit his teeth and closed his eyes, and opened them again.

In front of him he saw a revelation, a sight that struck him out of his misery, even if it was only for a moment. There was a flock of schoolchildren being escorted away by several paramedics and police officers, including a teacher who was on a stretcher. It looked like she was hit in the leg from a stray bullet, obviously from the direction of the gangsters because they had been stranded on a street that was behind Ranma at the time of the shooting.

This entire time, he had been thinking of signing a resignation form as soon as he got home, so that he could quit this job. Now, with what he saw in front him, it didn't seem so bad. He had saved a class of children and a teacher who had just happened to be walking down the street for a class project.

He looked over at the side of a police car that was parked nearby. The white letters that were painted on the black panel seemed to demand his attention, drawing his eyes towards it.

"To protect, and serve", he read. "Just like a martial artist." Maybe this wasn't so bad after all. Perhaps this was a sign, that his duty as a martial artist wasn't being forsaken, but instead being used in a different way.

A young cop who was done helping out a detective with chalking up the bodies ran up to Ranma, excited beyond words. "Dude! You just wasted five people just like that!" He snapped his finger for effect. "That's totally KILLER! You're a hell of a good fucking shot!"

Ranma's brain fell back to reality. "Oh my god," his voice shook. "I'm a killer..." The burrito he had wolfed down earlier wasn't feeling so good down in his stomach. He turned around and vomited on the sidewalk.

"Whoa, I didn't mean to say you were a killer," the young officer said nervously. "Man, that stinks."

Ranma spit a few times, and stepped away. His face looked almost translucent from a pale loss of color. "I gotta get outta here."

-----------------

Two Years Later...

Detectives Bureau – Rampart Division, Los Angeles. 1:22 AM.

A drenched Ranma-chan walked into the room, soaking wet from head to toe. It had been quite an unpleasant evening, the pouring rain being the least of his/her problems, and there would be hell to pay tomorrow.

Ranma sat down at one of the many desks inside the large detectives' room, her own actually. She was the only one in the room; all the other detectives were out responding to cases of their own. Her left hand was still stained with blood from a bust that had gone wrong less than an hour ago. She and her partner were assisting a couple of vice detectives in taking down a small group of pimps that were exploiting teenagers in a prostitution ring. The suspects were reluctant to give in, VERY reluctant, in fact. The end result was a bloody melee of bullets.

For now she was authorized to go home for the night and take the paperwork with her. Ranma cursed to herself over the hassle, by next week she'd be going under the department's shooting board for review for the umpteenth time now. She jotted down some important info on a notepad to take home with her, before she'd forget it later.

The phone on her desk rang, and she picked it up. "This is Sergeant Saotome, Rampart robbery-homicide." She struggled to keep the earphone in place while she continued to write things down.

"Hello, detective. How are you?"

She blew out a breath in frustration. "Listen, buddy. I'm really busy right now, so if you've got something important say it."

A chuckle could be heard on the other line. "Just the kind of spunk I expected. I'm Captain Davis, from Metro."

Aw, crap. She chose the wrong person to be rude to. "Heh, heh, sorry about that sir. I was filing a report on four dead suspects, I was a little busy."

"Yeah, I heard that over the tactical broadcast. Are they suspects you killed?"

"One of them, yes," she said nervously.

"You are a very interesting officer, Saotome. I've read the case file on you. Three years on the job and you've made nearly 150 busts. A high number of legitimate kills, marksmanship status given by SWAT, advanced martial arts, and you were made Sergeant after only 3 fuckin' years? I'm impressed. Not to mention your Jusenkyo curse, too."

Eyes narrowed, she was curious now and apprehensive. "What do you want?"

"I head a unit in the Investigations Bureau called the Special Investigative Section. We are a group dedicated to bringing down hardened criminals that regular cops can't handle. We're composed of only a few officers, but they're all one in a million. Sergeant, I'm giving you the opportunity, to do more than you ever could as a homicide detective. As an SIS detective, you can save the lives of more people than you ever can as a regular cop. With it comes the prestige of being part of the best. Although they won't admit it, we are above SWAT in operational priority. Bottom line, we kill bad guys so they won't be back for more."

"I know what you guys are," she replied, narrowing her eyes suspiciously. "You're pretty infamous for being a death squad, killing criminals on purpose instead of arresting them."

"If that's what you want to call it, yes." Unnerved by Ranma's response, Davis continued, "The best part of it is that there's not as much paperwork."

"Give me one reason why I should join," she said, unimpressed.

"Let me ask you something. There are a lot of fuckers out there who rob banks, steal, or kill on the street, and they're smart enough to not get caught so they can do it all over again. Or how about those nuts who prowl at night to rape women? Kill kids for joy? Murder for fun? What is that, hmm? I know, just by looking at your file that you are a MAN of justice, helping the innocent and laying your life down for them. To protect and serve. That's what we do. We protect the innocent by doing the dirty jobs that the public demands but are too cowardly to admit it."

Ranma sighed. She already knew he wasn't going to take this job, but she felt the least he could do was meet this captain face to face and acknowledge him properly. "Alright, I'll give it a thought. How about we talk about this, face to face? Tomorrow maybe?"

"Sure."

"Where at?"

"Elysian Park. Near the target shooting range, 4 PM."

"I'll see you then." Ranma hung up the phone.

A female voice shouted from outside the door. "Stop lagging and come downstairs, Ranma! We don't have all fucking day!"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm comin'!" Ranma replied. She looked at her blood stained red hand, and concentrated on it for a few seconds. She made a fist and a dark blue ball of light seemed to glow around it, a manifestation of her ki. She reopened her hand again and brushed off the now dried and crusted blood, which came off easily and flaked on the floor. As the ambient glow dissipated slowly it made it look as if her hand was purified and cleansed magically.

She took a few seconds to gather up a pile of forms and her notepad and placed it in a manila folder, and walked out.

End Flashback

-----------------

***

April 2nd, 2001.

Narita International Airport – Tokyo, Japan. 6:30 AM.

Ranma walked outside of the terminal and took a deep breath, only to end up coughing. At least the smog that polluted Tokyo (the same way it polluted LA) was better than the stale, re-circulated air of an airplane. He strolled along with a single suitcase in his possession and looked around. There were a couple of American SUV's, old, early 90's Chevy Suburbans with red and blue police lights attached to the top, parked alongside the loading dock of the street. He idly wondered if they were there for him.

"Damn, this place is crowded," Ranma yawned. He stretched his arms and twirled them a couple of times to get his blood flowing into his tired body.

An older Japanese man in an expensive, dark grey suit walked towards Ranma to greet him. He bowed to him first, and then reached out his hand for a shake. "Ohayou, Saotome-san."

Ranma bowed back, and shook the man's hand. "Ohayou."

"We've been expecting you, please come with me in the RV*," he said in Japanese.

*I believe the Japanese refer SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) as RVs, recreational vehicle.

"Thanks," Ranma replied. He looked over the old man, he seemed friendly enough. His hair was slightly gray and he was only a few centimeters shorter than himself, but for a guy his age he looked surprisingly strong and well built, Ranma noticed. He looked to be in his mid fifties or so.

"I'm Commander Takayama. I'm very pleased to meet you."

"Thank you, Takayama-san. Please, call me Ranma."

"It's great to finally meet you, Ranma," he said, smiling. "We're heading to our main building in downtown Tokyo. We just have to take care of a little paperwork, get you registered and outfitted for duty. Did you enjoy the flight here Ranma?"

"Yes, I did," Ranma said, appreciating the great service.

"We're really excited to have you with us," Takayama said. "It is very rare for us to find Japanese agents of your caliber. Our division is referred to as MaxFor, for Maximum Enforcement. But we prefer that you refer to yourself as an NSA officer."

"Of course, no problem," he replied. "I just got one question though. Why are we riding in these big American trucks in Japan? I'd assume you guys would get something smaller."

Takayama nodded. "To give you an idea on Japanese government and politics, a lot of the powerful branches we have are looked over by the American government. I'm sure I don't have to explain to you some basic history as to why they might have this authority, right?"

Ranma shook his head. "Nope, please continue."

"Anyway, the building we're heading to was newly built just last year. Our old headquarters was given to the JDA, the Japanese Defense Agency, which is actually only a few minutes away. The JDA is primarily involved in domestic matters and mostly with military administration and are left alone as an independent agency, but since the NSA deals with intelligence, everything we deal with is overlooked by the CIA."

"You're kidding?" Ranma said, greatly surprised.

"I'm not. You have to understand, this country was rebuilt with America as a powerful benefactor. They infused their own protocols into our government as watchdogs. They actually have a couple of floors that are solely occupied by CIA operatives, and naturally the floors right above them belongs to our own intelligence bureau. They used to work out of the US Embassy, but they needed more space and took a couple of floors above our own, actually. They're setting themselves up bigger here because North Korea is close by, and the potential for acquiring even more valuable intel against them is quite worthwhile. Japan has had some serious abductions made by NK operatives in the past, so at any given time all of our seas and beaches are given close surveillance by our very own spy satellites launched by NASA under the cover of weather satellites. Naturally, South Korea has an even bigger CIA presence; they have an entire floor occupied by them at the US Embassy in Seoul. Of course, they'll never admit this. They're all listed as either Army researchers or workers of the Embassy. No such thing as a 'CIA agent' for their job descriptions, even on paper. With this, they designated armored American RVs as the official transportation of the NSA."

"Wow," Ranma replied, awestruck. Did he get into a job that was way over his head?

"You don't have to worry about any of this. You won't be doing anything related to them, you'll only have to report to me. You didn't sign up for any spook work. At best you will be supplying reports to them using anonymous call-signs and receiving various bits of info from them when specifically requested."

That was comfortable to know, Ranma thought. But only slightly.

-----------------

"Retina scan and latent scan complete, data input finished," the computer's synthetic voice chirped.

Ranma looked at the screen in front of him to verify all of the info was correct. The contraption was one huge ugly looking piece, reminiscent of a giant Xerox machine that you would find in a cubicle enriched office. Nevertheless, its high tech scanners and state of the art laser markers detected and referenced over 3,000 unique identifying points on both his hands and eyes. Takayama assured him this was a safeguard measure for when Ranma was ever to access the JNSA's highly guarded and secret archives in case he was authorized to research something. This, along with the fact that in the case that an imposter would try to pass himself off as Ranma, this painstakingly meticulous ID method would rule out any mistake. Clever forgery was now entering a new era of high-tech wizardry and allowed identity fraud of an unprecedented level to those who had the resources and know-how to utilize it. A composite "living" mask like the kind people saw in spy-thrillers like Mission Impossible were no longer science fiction, the real thing was even better than its imaginary counterpart.

{System Online}

Subject - Ranma Saotome

Date of Birth - XX/XX/1976

Height - 5ft 11in.

Weight - 195lbs

Hair - Black

Eyes - Blue

Gender - Aquatransexual* Refer to Specialty File

Operational Status - Captain

Occupation - Japanese National Security Agency/Public Safety Commission/MAXIMUM ENFORCEMENT UNIT

ID Num - XXX_XXX_XXXXXX

{Identification Created and Confirmed}

"That looks about right," Ranma said. He patted his damp hair with a towel. He went to the bathroom and changed into a girl to get a second scan of his ID points and changed back as soon as it was done.

"Great, now to make your ID card," Takayama said.

A large machine next to the screen spit out an ID card for Ranma, which was laminated with a special, holographic material that had JNSA written in reflective silver letters. The card showed his picture, ID number, and some other info, and also had an interesting looking paper-thin silicon chip imbedded on the back of it, next to a black magnetic stripe.

"Sugoi! That's pretty neat."

"For many doors you'll be able to unlock them by just stepping near them, the sensors will read the chip that is in that card. For accessing some of the file cabinets, lockers, and the MaxFor HQ, that magnetic strip should work," Takayama said.

"What places do I have access to?"

"Just about everything from the 46th floor and below, although a lot of the floors are for non-essential records and public affairs offices, such as liaisons for local police, nationwide departments, and et cetera. Anything above the 46th floor is the Directorates of Intelligence and Operations. Very few people, me included, are allowed there."

"Fair enough."

"You're also going to want this." Takayama handed Ranma a small golden object.

Ranma took it, it was his badge. The design was nothing like the big oval badge the LAPD used; it was a lot smaller and had a beveled round profile around the chiseled shield, all on top of a rectangular box. In fact, it looked remarkable similar to the NYPD detective's badge that McClane kept as a souvenir, except there was an eagle engraved in the middle, with an intricately carved multicolor crest on top of it. The bottom rectangle part had his rank and "JNSA" carved into it. Definitely unique and good looking, Ranma thought to himself.

"Captain Saotome...I like the sound of that," he said.

"Better get used to it, my boy," Takayama said, smiling. "Once you progress through and get used to the job, there will be a lot of people addressing you of that rank. By the way, that's the official JNSA badge for all of our non-clandestine operatives, and you only show it when it absolutely must be shown. I'm sure I don't have to explain every little detail as to why, right?"

"So, where to next, commander?"

"You have to pick out your weaponry, next. We have an in-house armory upstairs."

-----------------

Ranma's jaw dropped. "I can have whatever I want?"

"Anything within reason," Takayama told him.

"Alrighty, then." He cracked knuckles and thought for a bit. "I'll need a Beretta 92FS Inox with a match grade barrel, with a laser-sight rod guide, Novak tritium Nite-Sites, and 6 spare 15 round clips. I need a Sig Sauer P226 9mm with the same specifications as the Beretta. I'll take the Heckler and Koch G36K with ten 30 round box magazines and five 100 round drums. And last, I need a Heckler and Koch MSG-90 sniper rifle fitted with a Hensoldt scope with five 20 round magazines."

"You certainly know your stuff, don't you?" Takayama said, jotting everything down.

"I keep myself updated," Ranma smirked. The G36 and MSG-90 were super toys that he had only read about and never had used before, but what he did read about them in professional magazines and reviews was impressive and awe-inspiring. The Beretta was a no-brainer, it had been his issued weapon for years and it was most familiar to him, despite the fact that it was quite large and tended to be bulky. The Sig P226 was a full size backup gun, primarily. Its size was slightly smaller and less bulky than the Beretta, and its flatter profile would make it somewhat easier to carry. In the past he had only a small revolver as a backup weapon mainly due to a lack of choice (he hated how Smith & Wesson pistols handled), but this time he had any choice and money wasn't an object of consideration.

"Anything else you need?"

"Yeah, actually. Make sure that the barrels on all four guns are threaded, and I'd appreciate access to suppressors that would fit them."

"That won't be a problem at all." He pointed at Ranma with his pen, appreciatively. "Good to know you're thinking ahead, using silencers to discreetly use your equipment. Good man."

To someone who doesn't know any better, one would think of a silencer as an assassin's tool, a tool used in the black-arts. But in truth they came in very handy for close quarter use inside buildings, especially when teammates were nearby. A single, unsuppressed gunshot has the potential to be loud enough to disorient and nullify the audibility of an operative, which could lead to serious trouble in an operation where speed and finesse is vital. Suppressors are not whisper silent as portrayed in movies and in fact still attract a lot of attention, but at least it sounded more like a loud pneumatic nail gun instead of an explosion.

Ranma whistled. "Jeeze, I bet all of this must cost a fortune!"

Takayama laughed at that. "You have to remember just how rich this country is! We extort billions from the big corporations. Besides, we are one of only six units in Japan authorized to carry firearms on a regular basis. I just don't happen to set a limit on what you can carry."

"Nice, nice," Ranma complimented.

"I'll need some time to get all this stuff ready for you, so why don't you head down and wait. By the way, the car you requested for is down in the underground garage."

"What?" Ranma's eyes grew wide open. "You actually got it?"

The elder commander shrugged as if it was no big deal. "Of course. It's brand spanking new, with almost all the mods you asked for."

"Almost?"

"We had to alter the engine to make it more reliable. As much as American cars appeal to me, their durability don't exactly match the Japanese," he replied.

"Hey, I'm shocked you guys even honored my request, let alone giving me something that big. Let's go check it out."

Takayama coughed, and shook his head. "I will have someone come up and escort you to the garage, this place is quite big and easy to get lost in."

"No problem."

-----------------

The intoxicating aroma of leather made him shiver in delight as he took another whiff of the interior, a lavishly furnished mix of only the highest quality materials. It was a far cry better than his old duty car, which was scented with spilled coffee and stale donuts and chips.

Ranma was actually quite familiar with cars, it had been sort of a hobby that he had quickly picked up on during college and had stayed with him all the way. The 2001 Chevy Tahoe that was in front of him was something he quickly noticed was not "stock", to properly describe it.

He had specified for an all black exterior finish, outfitted with run-flat all-terrain street tires and internal police lights and sirens hidden in the grill and bumpers, with additional blue/red lights stuck at the base of the windshield on the dashboard.

But the moment he opened the driver's door to take a peek inside, he could tell that a lot of the stuff inside definitely wasn't GM material. The leather, which he first noticed because of the aforementioned fragrance, was of much higher quality than anything General Motors even produced. The seats were completely different, and felt almost custom contoured to his body. The fit and finish of everything wasn't flimsy and plasticky, as almost all American cars were accustomed to. The console of the car had a large LCD screen neatly and tastefully installed above where the stereo controls were supposed to be, and the stereo itself looked like a custom unit. He examined the engine bay next, to see what Takayama had been talking about earlier. As he lifted the self supporting hood he expected to see a pushrod motor with Vortec inscribed on the valve rails, and perhaps even the supercharger he had requested. Instead, there was a large silver cover on top of what looked like a double overhead cam V8 engine.

"I see you've noticed the alteration I was talking about," said a voice from behind Ranma.

He looked around to face Takayama. "Yeah, I did." He turned around to look at the logo on the silver engine cover. "This is a Toyota engine?"

"Toyota in Japan, but if this were America I guess it would be Lexus to you," he answered.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm sure you've noticed that the interior isn't exactly stock Chevy material either, right? We had this car sent to Toyota so that they could convert the interior into a more hospitable place and we also had them implant a custom, 5.5 liter V8 taken from a Toyota Celsior* as a donor motor. The block was bored out and stroked with a long throw crankshaft and the heads are custom made. We can't risk bolting on a noisy supercharger in case you use this car in a noise sensitive situation. Nevertheless, the engine still makes over 400 horsepower and 490lbs of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission reinforced with an auxiliary tranny cooler. The gas tank has been enlarged to a 35 gallon capacity. The car can be silenced by pressing a button on the dash, it closes the bypass valves for the exhaust and silences it."

*The Toyota Celsior is the Lexus LS430 in America. More on this at the end.

"Again, I can't help but wonder how much this must've all cost."

"Nothing at all, actually." Takayama shook his head. "Toyota is legally contracted by us to support in all necessary operations deemed important to the national security of Japan. The same applies to Fuji Industries*, Honda, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, and Nissan. We give them an invoice, they deliver. In return, the PM of Japan influences the US Government to allow unrestricted sales of Japanese vehicles, as long as they are made in the US. The Japanese employ Americans to build their cars, on their competitor's own home turf, and they get to collect most of the profits. Anyway, here's a 2001, Chevrolet Tahoe LT 4x4 equipped with a police package spec transmission, high intensity discharge xenon lights, internal siren and emergency lights, an upgraded engine, and a tough shell of armor. Everything you asked for, right?" Takayama said.

*Fuji Heavy Ind. makes Subaru.

Ranma looked flabbergasted. "Are you kidding me? I can't even believe this! This is awesome. It looks like a blacked out cruiser, not a squad car."

Takayama threw him two sets of keys, which looked more like plastic fobs. Interesting little pieces of technology, these things. You left it in your pocket and the car recognized it like a transponder, and it sent an encrypted electronic code to activate the car and to deter any form of tampering. The car had a push-button starter. "It's all yours. This isn't exactly a good car for undercover use or for low key assignments, so we can issue you a loaner at anytime if the situation permits. But this big thing is definitely the right thing to be in when the shit hits the fan. Another thing you need to know is that whenever you need to refuel this car or any vehicle of yours for that matter, you should be charged gasoline before state taxes once they know you are operating a government vehicle."

"And how do I accomplish that without blabbing to the whole world what my occupation is?"

"Don't worry, since you signed up for the credit union we have, you should use only the credit cards we send you and our accountants should automatically deduct the cost from your final bill. By the way, remember what I told you over the phone before you got here, you only have one week to decide on a place to live instead of the one month I originally promised. Some difficulties came up and we need you to run some operations as soon as possible."

"I got it, I'll probably decide by the end of today. Do you have my weapons?"

A cart pulled up next to Takayama. "Two pistols, two rifles, four suppressors, all checked out by our in-house gunsmith and modified to your request. I also got the ammunition you requested, loaded up in your sidearms."

"Thanks, I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate you giving me this job," Ranma thanked him. He grabbed his Beretta and put it into a conceal carry strong-side holster that he had earlier attached to his belt.

"So where you headed now?"

"Nerima," he simply replied. He opened up the Tahoe's tailgate and loaded the rifles and heavy cases of ammunition into the back. He pulled and latched the cargo cover over the weapons to void prying eyes.

"To meet your parents? What a faithful son you are." The commander pulled out an object from his pocket. "Here, you're going to need this."

Ranma caught the small object. "A cell phone?" Just his luck, he didn't even have to go through the hassle of getting a new phone again.

Takayama clicked his tongue. "It's more than just a cell phone. It's also a GPS tracker and a radio transmitter. I've already had some of the important phone numbers you'll need stored in there, clearly marked. It's our only reasonable way of tracking you and your whereabouts short of locking a collar around your neck. You can put it to silent mode like a regular telephone if you need, but don't turn it off because it can't. It has a weird battery that I myself haven't been able to figure out yet but the bastard never has to be recharged. All of our important duty cars, your Chevy included, have this same battery so that we'll never have problems."

Ranma nodded appreciatively. "Thanks. But I think I'll get out of here now, I really want to get out in the open," he said eagerly. He gave a quick wave and hopped into the car. The onboard wireless telemetry instantly recognized his plastic transponder and all the electronics onboard lit up.

"Don't get lost when you leave this place, you're quite a bit away from Nerima so use the GPS navigator," Takayama said, reminding him.

He simply nodded and started up the car, emitting a very refined and audible growl from the tailpipes. The engine itself was very quiet.

"Have fun! And I'll contact you, or vice versa," Takayama said through the window.

All Takayama could see was a quick nod as the large SUV scooted off in a hurry, almost in a lurch with a puff of smoke. The driver apparently was surprised by the immediate power of the throttle.

The big black tank awkwardly merged into the busy metropolitan traffic of the city, and did so with little opposition. A Chevy Tahoe towered over most of these cars, and the normally aggressive mid-afternoon drivers let it through.

It was a bit of trouble at first to drive on the left side of the road after learning how to drive in the US, but Ranma quickly adjusted. He fingered the one-touch power window button to let in the city air. Sure, the smog was heavier and most likely the same as the polluted conditions of Los Angeles, but this was different. He took a quick, snappy whiff. Oh yeah, and that extra burnt diesel in the air was definitely more unique here. This was home, this was Japan.

He managed to finger through the LCD panel of the onboard computer that was staring straight at him from the dash. The navigation system proved to be more intuitive than he'd expected, he plotted a course to Nerima in no time.

As he got on a local expressway, Ranma nearly did a double take. He looked into the rearview mirror, and chided himself. With all the bustle and hustle of packing up and moving here, he had completely forgotten to tell his parents about it.

"Where's that phone Takayama gave me," he mumbled while digging through his pockets. He dialed in the number to the Saotome home.

"Moshi, moshi?" a very polite voice answered.

"Okaasan!"

"Ara? Ranma?" the voice dawned with recognition. "My goodness, how are you son?" Her voice lit up right away.

"Fine, fine," he said cheerfully, a big grin painted on his face.

"How nice of you to call home? How are you?"

To Nodoka Saotome, a woman who still barely knew the joy of having a full, happy family with her, even a simple telephone call from her only son was a rare and treasured occasion. Although they weren't necessarily pleasant. Those few phone calls she did receive were more like the calls of a distressed young man pleading for support and comfort.

Ranma craned his neck to barely see the highway sign he was just passing. "Mom, I'm actually in Japan right now," he said simply. He didn't know quite how to explain everything to her, so he decided to be straightforward. "I kinda just moved back today."

Nodoka nearly forgot to exhale. "REALLY?" she said, her eyes sparkling.

"Yeah, I'm sorry about the late notice." He scratched the back of his head. "Is it okay to come visit right now?"

"Of course, son!" Nodoka yelled to her husband with the phone on her shoulder. "Genma! Ranma is coming home!"

After hearing several pleased background yells, Ranma heard his mother again on the phone. "Your father is glad you're coming too."

"Good, good. I'll be there in about thirty minutes. See you soon!" He cut the call and set it on the center console, only to hear it ringing as soon his hands left it.

He answered it promptly. "Moshi-moshi?"

"Hey Ranma, I forgot to tell you a couple of important things that slipped my mind while you were here. They're pretty important too, so that's why I called."

"Well, I'm glad you decided to let me know," Ranma replied, looking a bit worried.

The next few minutes was spent with Ranma listening to a couple of important jurisdictional protocols and standard operating procedures, and most importantly his range of authority when confronted with clashing forces within his own allies.

When Takayama said he didn't have to worry about paperwork and bureaucratic bullshit, he wasn't kidding.

---------------

It had been difficult navigating such a behemoth of a car in the narrow streets of Greater Tokyo, Ranma made it to his destination without a hitch. Speeding on the expressways wasn't a problem as all the automated speed detecting cameras that snapped away at license plates didn't apply to a government vehicle such as his.

He parked his car in the tight street right in front of his parents' house, garnering some attention from the locals who were befuddled by the big black SUV's presence. Ranma honked the horn twice as he stepped out.

"Mom! I'm home!"

The gates of the Saotome home flew open as the excited Nodoka scurried out eagerly with Genma right behind her in tow. Her eyes sparkled in delight and her mouth wide open at the sight of her son, it was a sudden surprise that even her reserved self couldn't contain.

"Ranma!" Nodoka gave her son a great big hug as he ran into her arms and scooped her off the ground. Her eyes watered, enchanted in the moment.

"Okaasan, I've missed you so much," Ranma said happily, still embracing her.

She released her son and looked up to caress the face of her son that she hadn't seen in years. "You've changed even from the last time I saw you, you could give your poor mother a visit every now and then you know!" she chided him, a smile still glowing on her face.

"I know mom, I know," Ranma replied, holding his mother's hands. He wasn't going to make a long winded excuse and recap his life.

"Ranma m'boy, this your truck?" Genma whistled appreciatively at the expensive looking foreign car. He walked up to his son and gave him a firm handshake."

"Good to see you too, pops," Ranma said, returning his father's strong handshake. "I'm glad to see you're looking healthy."

Genma stood strong with arms crossed at his chest, but he couldn't help but show a smile as bright as his wife's. Inside, he was ecstatic and immensely content to see his son again. He'd never admit it, but as the years eroded away he found himself pining for his son's companionship or even the comfort of him being close enough to visit. His old callous treatment as a father had slowly evolved into a more compassionate opinion of his family.

"I'd feared sometimes that you might've gotten soft, but just from taking one look at you I can see you've been training hard and keeping up," Genma said, pleased. "What are you doing here, showing up out of the blue? Your mother and I almost didn't believe you on the phone. Did you finally decide to take a vacation and visit your parents?"

"Actually, it's more than that," Ranma said. He wasn't quite sure how to explain this, as it really had been very last minute. He wasn't sure how to handle his appearance in Japan again. "I have a new job here. The Japanese National Security Agency offered me a great job. I'm a Captain in their public safety division."

"Captain!?" both parents replied in dual shock.

"Su-geh! You've really worked yourself up, my son! I'm so proud!" Nodoka beamed.

Even Genma had to admit, seeing his son be an overachiever was still a proud victory for him as he did his best in whatever he tried.

"I got a nice salary, nice living compensations, and a free car," Ranma said, pointing to his Chevy. "I took a chance in trying to start my life here again. I don't want to stay away from my home forever."

"Well your mother and I are glad to see you, period. Let's go inside, and your mother will fix us some tea."

"I'm so happy to see you, Ranma." Nodoka didn't bother containing her excitement. She grabbed her son's arm as they all walked inside, her wishes come true as her son had returned to her. "Do you know how much we've missed you?"

Ranma simply nodded, happy for both his parents and feeling a bit guilty himself. He hadn't really thought too much about visiting his parents back, as usual he had been so focused on his own life that he figured phone calls and letters were enough to appease his parents.

As his mother went inside the house Ranma and Genma stood in the Saotome yard which had been greatly revamped and renovated with concrete paths. There was a large area that had been well maintained and used for Genma's private training. Ranma was surprised at how mellow his father was, it seemed time apart had made him grow fonder of him. It went both ways, as Ranma realized how much he had missed his father the moment he shook hands with him.

"So, you learn anything new, son?"

"I learned a few tricks or two, pops."

Genma looked over at his hip; his trained eyes subconsciously always looked for any sort of weapon in any person he came in contact with from years of conditioning. "Your workplace gave you a gun to carry around? What a cheap tool that is, dishonorable in combat don't you think?"

Ranma scoffed. "I got special authority to carry this with me at all times, no badge carrying nobody can do that. And it's not quite cheap when all the bad guys are using these against you. It kinda levels the playing field."

Genma looked at him with narrowed eyes. "And here I thought you kept up with your martial arts. For all I know you could've been using a gun to get your way across all your problems."

"Oh for crying out loud, oyaji!" Ranma knew his dad was just picking for a good old fight to satisfy his itch. He took off his cotton vest and polo shirt, he didn't want to get them dirty. "I'll take you down in five seconds, old man. I won't even break a sweat."

"Did you just become a bigger comedian while you were gone?" Genma bellowed. He got into a karate stance. "No holding back Ranma, you know how it's been."

"If I can't beat you in five seconds I'll give you my life savings that I've collected for the past four years. There's about 70 grand in US dollars in my bank account." Ranma smirked.

That sealed the deal for Genma, who yelled out an attack and lunged. Ranma simply shifted and twisted Genma's arm in an Aikido counter and made three lightning fast kicks to his torso. Genma fell down like a pile of bricks, paralyzed and suffocating.

Nodoka walked out to the yard in time to see a mangled Genma being treated by Ranma as he struck a few pressure points on his body. Genma gasped loudly for breath and groaned in pain, his head spinning dizzily.

"I'm speechless, Ranma," Nodoka said, breathless. "Where'd you learn that?"

Genma finally croaked. "What the hell was that?"

"I told you I learned a thing or two. That was just simple pressure point attacking, it was extremely difficult and taxing to learn. I also learned a Korean martial art called Tuk-Gong. I've mastered it into the Musabetsu Kakutou Ryuu."

"I was going easy on you boy," Genma muttered.

He made a sucker jab right at Ranma's face with left hand as he was being helped up. The pigtailed boy didn't move and took the punch, with nary a wince or a bruise.

"You can try all you want, that slow cheap shot won't hurt me easily."

"Enough violence in the house you boys," Nodoka said irritated. "The tea's getting cold."

"Hai~."

-------------

The reunited family spent a few hours reminiscing and catching up on lost time together and Ranma was completely at ease at his current peaceful state. Nodoka had apologized for not being able to cook a feast for her son since she hadn't known he was coming, but even something simple like udon had been more delicious than any Japanese meal he'd had in America because he was eating with his family. His parents were reminded rather quickly that they also had a daughter for a son, part-time, as emphasized by a splash of water that hit Ranma's face while she helped clear dishes.

Ranma was genuinely surprised at his father, who had been thoroughly rehabilitated over the years. He still ate a lot, slept a lot, and liked being lazy. But he had done quite well over the years as a repo man with an extremely successful reputation, and the income reflected in the household. The kitchen was renovated, they had all sorts of new appliances from refrigerators, to washing machines, and even a kick-ass plasma TV and the sort in the living room. All the furnishings were new and they'd completely redone the lighting for a brighter home. Thank god for Genma in getting a job where stealing was the profession. At this rate, his father had been making quite a living for himself!

He hadn't noticed it earlier, but his parents were more like a real married couple now. He saw them holding hands, helping each other with washing the dishes, and on his mother's hand he noticed there was even a new diamond ring that was never there before. Just watching them idly talk to each other and their interactions was a far cry better than what he last remembered, although their relationship had slowly been improving then too.

Genma noticed his son looking at him curiously as he looked away from the big screen TV. "What are you staring at Ranma?"

Ranma casually waved his hands. He wasn't going to press the subject, especially if his father was being a better person on his own. But it did make him wonder, who was this man and where was his old father? The whole concept of his responsible dad made him chuckle.

And what kind of person had he become in these past few years, Ranma thought to himself. His parents were proud now, sure. His accomplishments were right there to show in their faces. But what would they have thought of the things he had done, and the sins he had left behind to start afresh on new ones here?

Nodoka walked into the living room with a tray of slices apples and pears for everyone to eat. She places them on the ground and handed a slice to her husband and son, who gladly accepted them.

"So what are you going to do now, Ranma?" his mother asked.

"Well, I need to choose a place to live pretty soon. The government is going to pay for it, but I have about a week to choose. I'm not sure about living in Nerima, or even Tokyo. Nothing's permanent, and I can relocate wherever I want as long as it's Honshu."

"I could use a sparring partner, you ungrateful lout," Genma said lying on the floor, with his back to Ranma.

"Can't indulge ya, pops. I'm gonna be a busy man. And don't tell me I'll get soft or nothin' because I literally destroyed you in a blink."

Genma would've said something but the difference in skill between him and his son were too staggering to argue against.

"Actually, if you two can excuse me I'd like to go visit Ucchan," Ranma said, getting up.

"Oh? Why don't you visit Akane-chan while you're at it Ranma? I'm sure she'd like to see you again too," Nodoka said.

Ranma froze in his tracks. "There are still some scars that I'm not over mom. I was actually hoping to avoid her for a while, but I'll talk to her sooner than later."

Nodoka bit her tongue, forgetting that the last time her son disappeared from years was because of her. Genma winced too, he had made a slight comment on Ranma marrying one of Tendo's other girls, but was almost burned away by Ranma's fiery glare. They didn't want to risk any more heartbreak to their son that they hadn't seen in so long.

"We won't bug you about it son, you just make sure you enjoy your stay here now that you're back home," Genma said.

Again, his father managed to surprise Ranma. "Wow, thanks pops. That means a lot coming from you."

Genma chucked a remote control at his face. "That doesn't mean you can get all mushy on me. Remember, you have to stay manly."

Of course. "Yeah, I remember it well old man." He peeled the remote control off his face and tossed it back. "I'll see you later tonight. Bye mom, bye pops."

"Take care, we'll leave the gate unlocked!" Nodoka yelled out as her son gracefully hopped the yard walls.

-------------

"Eeep!"

That was the third person he almost hit as he drove these streets, more crowded than he remembered from many years ago. But Ranma's eyes couldn't help but wander as he was seeing all sorts of new buildings and establishments all over Nerima that were simply empty lots last time he'd roamed these streets. And this was just from a quick glance as he sped through, reaching his destination at Ucchan's Okonomiyaki.

It was still early in the afternoon, and he suspected when schools were out and night set that these once familiar streets would be bustling with energy. He slammed the door of his Tahoe shut and patted it as it locked itself. Damn nice bonus, he thought to himself.

Ucchan's familiar sign greeted him as he walked towards the entrance, but as he got closer he noticed that change had affected this place as well. The entrance was remodeled larger, and the curtains were replaced by nice, glass swinging doors with laser etched logos with Ucchan's name. When he walked inside, he nearly gasped.

What was once a comfortable and cozy small operation was now an upscale joint with a bright, dazzling atmosphere and fine furnishings all around. Space was expanded with walls being broken down to accommodate many more tables as well as a number of private rooms. The familiar grill where Ranma had indulged in countless okonomiyakis was astoundingly bigger, wrapping around like a giant sushi bar as the tour de resistance of the restaurant. He had expected to see Ukyou's pretty face and androgynous attire behind the grill, but instead there was an employed chef working the grill with another behind him preparing ingredients. The lunch rush had just passed, but there were still a dozen or so people eating at various tables.

"Holy shit, now this is different..." Ranma mused by himself.

A brunette figure in a plain white sundress ran up to him half laughing from the private room she had just came out of and came to greet him at the door, where a sign instructed all customers to wait before being seated.

"Irrashaimase!" a bubbly voice greeted him. "Please choose any seat you wish, sir! Someone will help you..."

Ranma looked down and looked just us surprised as she did, the words taken out of both their mouths.

"R-r-ranma?" she said quietly. "Is that you?"

"Ucchan!" he blurted, startled. No wonder he hadn't recognized her, she was in a dress!

Ukyou's face went from shocked, to confused, to full blown thrilled as she picked up her jaw and her smile lit up Ranma's face. "RANCHAN!!"

"Long time no se- OOF!"

Ukyou crushed Ranma in a big bear hug as she squealed euphorically and a tear or two squeezed out between her eyelids. "Oh my god! I can't believe you're here!"

"Hehe, surprise?"

Ukyou punched Ranma in the shoulder, albeit a little too enthusiastically. "You're damn right this is a surprise! I haven't seen you in... Jesus, 4 or 5 years! When'd you get here?"

"I came back to Japan this morning, Ucchan. I got a job as a cop here, I'm going to live in Japan again," he said, smiling.

"You don't know how much I missed you, Ranchan! I'm so happy to see you, and you're here and I can't believe it!"

It was kind of cruel, but Ranma was slightly amused at the reactions to his return, and Ukyou's was definitely a welcome one. He laughed with her and hugged her again himself, his heart warming to the sight of his beloved back home.

"This place is like the Ritz, now! Man, what else have I missed out on, ne Ucchan?"

"You came at like the perfect time! What are the chances! Everyone is here Ranma, over in that private room! Come on in, we were all just having a big get together and drinking and having fun." Ukyou grabbed his hand and pulled him but stopped as he didn't budge.

"Everybody? You mean everybody we knew? Who are you talking about?" Ranma replied, his voice quiet.

"The Tendos, Shampoo, her granny, Tofu-sensei, Mousse, even Kuno! They're all here, we all keep in touch every now and then."

He continued to stay still. "Even Akane and Ryoga?"

"Yeah, they're here too," Ukyou replied without a hitch, wondering what he was hesitating about in all her excitement. "Hey guys! It's Ranchan! Ranma's here!"

Ukyou walked back into the large private room ahead of him, returning to thoroughly confused group.

Ranma trailed slowly behind her. "Ucchan, I don't think this is such a good idea..."

He could almost hear his own footsteps clicking on the newly polished tiles of the floor as he slowly walked into the room. All noise stopped, with the only person still smiling being Ukyou. Ranma almost felt the energy dissipate as he had entered this room, as if it had been abuzz with fun and good times before he had arrived.

There were nearly a dozen set of eyeballs staring at him, looking at him as if he were a ghost. Ranma didn't stare back, and merely glanced at each of them in succession. From left to right, he saw Kuno, Tofu and Kasumi, Soun, Nabiki, Cologne, Shampoo, Mousse, Ryoga, and finally Akane.

"Hey," he weakly greeted in the friendliest voice he could muster.

The table continued to stay silent, as all eyes were either fixed on Ranma and his badge which was glinting in the light for all to see and his pistol on his belt.

Someone finally perked up. "Ranma, is that you?"

He almost blinked, as the voice had come from Shampoo. He found it hard to see anyone as familiar in this room, excluding Cologne, Soun, and Tofu, who had managed to look the same over the years.

"Yeah, it is. I came back to Japan this morning. What's everyone doing here?"

Akane finally spoke up, broken out of her reverie. "We're here to just have a get together party. Everyone was invited, even Kuno over here."

Ranma dumbly nodded at her, barely making eye contact. He saw Ryoga, who seemed to be looking at him curiously with annoyance, but no anger. He had his arm wrapped around Akane's waist, leaning back comfortably in his chair. Soun was sitting dead silent looking down, not daring to utter a word.

"So what made you show your vile face here, Saotome? As I recall you disappeared, tail stuffed between your legs, pitiful cur," Kuno slithered.

Leave it to Kuno to be an asshole on command, Ranma thought. He gave him a menacing glare that was mean enough to cause even Kuno to flinch, furthering the tension.

"How have you been, Ranma-kun? It's been so long!" a voice piped up from the back.

That soft welcome voice was immediately recognizable, as Ranma faced to see Kasumi. "I'm fine, Kasumi. I'm moving back to Japan. I got a new job here, and I'm not going back to America." Even she looked different from the last time he saw her, Ranma noticed. She was a bit thinner and a lot svelter and she looked like a wife, being married to Tofu for the past few years now.

The continuing silence was proving more and more uncomfortable for Ranma, and he cursed himself for timing a visit as horrific as this.

"So, what you doing back here?"

Ranma turned to look at Ryoga. His anger was instantly triggered as he noticed his smarmy grin and condescending laid back attitude. "I just told you, I got a new job here. I don't live in LA anymore, I quit the LAPD and I took a high ranking position here."

"When did all this happen?" Tofu asked.

Ranma thought for a second before he spoke. "It all happened real fast and recently. I got a good job offer here and I felt like returning to Japan. I still can have a job back in LA but I felt like reliving a Japanese life again for old times sake."

Nabiki took a sip of her beer that she had in front of her with a catty grin. "Well, well, well. What are you now, commander of patrol officers in Nerima? Are we gonna be seeing you around in the local kouban boxes, Ranma-kun?"

Everyone laughed at the comic relief, while Ranma was the only one fuming in place in embarrassment. He felt like an outsider, and didn't know what to say. And with those comments coming from Nabiki, he felt that much more humiliated.

Ukyou noticed this and started feeling uncomfortable as well. She had a feeling she was the only one who had been ecstatic to see Ranma. "Now, now. I'm sure knowing Ranchan he's doing something fantastic."

Ranma grit his teeth. "I'm a Captain in the Japanese National Security Agency's Public Safety Commission. I have direct authority over every law enforcement figure in the National Police and a direct monopoly in the domestic security of this country." Ranma's voice took a sharp tone. "For your information I could pretty much do whatever the hell I want. The Supreme Courts themselves wouldn't be able to do anything about it."

Everyone was speechless at his outburst, and Nabiki especially looked taken aback. The elder Cologne merely looked at him from the corner of her eye, she was neutral in this quarrel of a bumpy congregation and listened on. Ryoga and Kuno were the only ones who looked angry.

Ryoga stood from his seat. "Just who the hell do you think you are? Barging in here out of nowhere and ruining our fun?"

Ukyou looked like she was about to shout at Ryoga but was cut off by Ranma.

"I didn't barge in here, asshole. I came here to meet Ucchan. And how did I ruin your fun? Jeez, P-chan. I'm here for five minutes and you're already trying to pick a fight."

"Come on Ryo-chan," Akane pleaded, tugging on Ryoga's sleeve. "Leave him alone, we don't want to start any trouble."

"Ryo-chan?" Ranma looked confused.

Akane looked annoyed this time. "We got married a couple of months ago. I sent you an invitation, remember? Not that anyone expected you, but I sent it out of respect and at the request of my dad."

Something snapped inside Ranma's head. "I did get it, you kawaii-kune tomboy. I remember taking it to my fireplace and burning it."

Akane looked hurt and was visibly upset, and Ryoga's temper took a dive.

"Get out of here RANKO!" Ryoga shouted at the top of his lungs. He wasn't going to cause a scene yet, he had the vantage point in degrading Ranma. "No one wants you here, don't you get it! If you're going to act like a bratty girl again," he stopped to pick up a glass of water and chucked the contents at Ranma. "You might as well be one!"

With a quick wave of his right hand Ranma emanated a glowing red shield of ki that blocked the water from touching him, evaporating it on contact. As quick as his hand, the shield disappeared.

Everyone looked on, flabbergasted at the new trick he showed off. Cologne in particular now felt her spirit kicking.

"How did you do that son-in-law? You've managed to stay interesting after all these years," Cologne cackled.

Ranma was still upset, his features burrowed with aggravation. "I did a lot in the past four years. Don't ever mistake the fact that while I've been gone I've gone soft. I only came here to meet Ucchan, and not bother any of you. And don't ever call me that again, you old ghoul."

Cologne cackled again. "Haha, of course. Old habits die hard, I hope you understand?" Her smile disappeared, replaced by disgust. "Don't worry about that Ranma, a simpering cowardly fool like you who runs away from everything he's ever known is unworthy of a betrothal to an Amazon warrior. Especially one as dignified as my blood line. You disappointed me you know. The only reason we left you unbothered in college was so you could be educated and skilled, wise enough to bring valuable knowledge and wealth to our tribe. I would've pursued you, but seeing how pitifully you just hid from the world, even my resolve broke in your faith."

Shampoo looked heartbroken as she averted her eyes from everyone else's, and Mousse sat looking uncomfortable as he had grown out of this fiasco long ago.

Ranma was looking for an escape from this humility and personal torture, as he felt the primal urge to strangle the living bejeezus out of everyone he resented.

"Do you still hold the beauticious pig-tailed girl captive you sorcerer? I will defeat you somehow, fiend."

"Get out of here Ranma. Nobody wants you."

"Four years away and still a foul-mouthed jerk. How dare you talk to me like that even after I was nice enough to think of inviting you to my wedding."

"Ranma-kun being a Captain in Japanese law-enforcement? Please, that was a good joke. If these were the old days I'd be taking bets all day to such nonsense."

All the voices swirling, taunting him and ridiculing him filtered through his ear and seethed out the other in a mist of heat. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, wondering why the hell he was dealing with all this bullshit around him. Breathing in and out he tried to control his temper, as this was the time to repair broken ties.

But maybe perhaps that would come another day.

"You know what?. Shut the fuck up."

"What was that?" Ryoga said, lifting his head.

Ranma slowly remembered just how bad things had been when he left. Apparently his wrath still had a few bones to pick.

"I said..." Ranma held his breath. "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

Ryoga's expression stayed neutral and he seemed to be looking for a reply. Kuno was looking furious, and the rest were speechless.

"Ranma, where did you learn to talk like that?" Tofu said, upset.

"Now you've really gone off the path, Ranma. Are you out of your mind talking to us like that!" Ryoga yelled right back.

"I said shut your fucking hole Ryoga! You're always a goddamn pain in the ass and I'm not even asking for trouble this time!"

"Calm down, Ranma!" Tofu shouted, worried this might escalate into something regrettable.

"So now Saotome speaks with a vile tongue as well? I see you've gone to great lengths to disgrace your soul and even your very name. The Saotome name reeks with the stench of dishonor," Kuno spat.

"You shut your fucking mouth too, Kuno! I ain't the one with the family of loonies hanging around that attic you call a noggin'! You're a fucking joke! Who the hell are you to question my honor? What do you know of mine and what I've done? You know nothing!"

"That's enough!"

Tofu sprung up to disable Ranma with a pressure point to his neck and render him unconscious. His strike was sluggish in comparison as Ranma grabbed his hand and twisted it down, arm barring the doctor towards the ground in a painful hold. Ranma's own finger shot down and he poked the doctor in the neck, putting him to sleep.

Kasumi shrieked for her husband and landed at his side, grabbing a hold of his unconscious body.

"I'm sorry Kasumi, I didn't hurt him. He'll be awake in a few minutes."

"Cur!"

Ranma pivoted quick to see Kuno's bokken thrusting straight towards his head, yelling with all his might. Ranma lifted his finger and thrust back at the tip of the bokken as it neared him, splitting the wooden sword into mere splinters that fell to the ground.

"What sorcery is this!?" Kuno yelped.

"Your own screwed up mind," Ranma replied in between clenched teeth.

He grabbed Kuno's face with his right hand and poked his right eye painfully with his thumb, and right as Kuno started screaming Ranma kneed him in the throat as he yanked his head down. Tatewaki Kuno felt his throat shut tight and his lungs catching fire as he croaked on the ground, completely incapacitated and struggling for air.

Ryoga looked on and had enough. "I'll take you on, Captain."

Ranma pointed a derisive finger at Ryoga's face. "You and me. Outside."

The delayed truce didn't even make it that far as Ryoga started throwing blows as soon as they neared the restaurant exit. Ranma tumbled out and dodged skillfully as Ryoga broke out in a flurry in full force out on the street, with pedestrians passing by looking on in terror.

Each of his strikes were wasted as Ryoga continued to punch and kick one after another, with Ranma effortlessly dodging them. Ranma yawned, swiftly moving left to right, his attention not even completely focused on their grudge match.

"Are you done, P-chan? This is getting tedious."

"Die Ranma!"

Ryoga's legs were swept out from underneath him and he managed to flip back on his hands and back on his feet only to see a grinning Ranma. Taunting him, making a fool of him. His anger reached a boiling point, and his fury caused his vision to blur red. With all disregard for those around him, he prepared his final attack.

"Oh, what do you think you're doing?" Ranma calmly walked towards him even as Ryoga was gathering a growing sphere of dark ki around him.

"It's over for you, Ranma! SHI-SHI HOKODAN!!"

To those who were in viewing proximity of the fight, their eyes were fixed on the huge yellow pillar of energy that shot up to the sky and gathered like a dark and heavy spherical sun that instead of providing warmth, shot out a breeze of chilly air to everyone around.

The ball slowly stopped climbed and formed into a perfect ball, and slowly proceeded to drop as Ranma walked closer to Ryoga who was currently lifelessly standing amidst his pillar of despair.

Ranma sighed as the ki started to plummet. "I didn't want to have to do this." He cupped his hands and aimed it up, before screaming. "TUK-GONG MOUKO-TAKABISHA!!"

An immense, almost indescribably large boulder of intense glowing blue chi formed around Ranma's body passively enveloping himself and Ryoga as it rocketed out of his hands and sucked up all the ambient air around them. The blue ki clashed with Ryoga's despair chi in an electric fury and was forced back as it was shot into the sky and out of view, propelled by the blue ki.

Ryoga nearly fell down in shock, his legs shaking. He was tired and his breath was ragged as he looked to face Ranma, who looked like he was only sweating.

"How is it possible you're so damn strong!"

Ranma shook his head, and looked appalled. "Four years of blood, sweat, tears, and losing some of your peers and losing some of yourself as the years past go by. It doesn't come for free. But the bigger question is, how are you so STUPID, Ryoga? Do you know how many people are out here? Do you know how many people you could have killed?"

"Die!" Ryoga panicked and threw tired, clumsy punches at Ranma.

Ranma swooped under one of Ryoga's right hooks and grabbed his arm in a twist over his left shoulder, seizing him in pain. "Your little piss-ant attitude is going to kill someone, Ryoga. You need to be restrained."

Ranma snapped down Ryoga's elbow on his shoulder and broke his arm, leaving him screaming in pain. Ryoga's horrified look only worsened as he saw the look on everyone's face as they had watched the fight, too shocked to say anything. Akane was the only one who ran to his side, crying.

"Oh my god! What did you do?" Akane wailed, tears streaming down her eyes. "How could you do that to him Ranma! You knew you could beat him! Why'd you break his arm!"

Ranma grit his teeth again, unrestrained bitter anger flowing from his calloused heart. "Akane you bitch... I risked my life for you, saved your life, give you my love, gave you everything! And you betray me and turn me into your enemy!? Ryoga needs to learn a damn lesson! He could've killed someone out here!"

Akane wiped away her tears, even though they continued to flow. "You're not the Ranma I remember! What's wrong with you!"

"See, that's the problem with you people! What's wrong with me? You haven't seen me in four fucking years, and you make your simple assumptions! You all might've lived your perfect sugar cookie sunshine lives here, but I didn't! Okay!? I'm violent, ruthless, and foul mouthed. But I came back to do a good thing and do good for my country!"

"Since when were you the fucking saint, Ranma-kun?"

Ranma whipped his head to see Nabiki, her narrowed eyes looking coolly at him. "When I got a clue that my life wasnt worth spending around here, four years ago."

Cologne hopped forward on her cane in the midst of all this nonsense she witnessed. "Then what did you come here for? To rile up old acquaintances? To have a fling or two?"

"The only person I wanted to meet was Ucchan. But all of you had to ruin that."

"Always the selfish, foolish, young boy, Ranma. But such fervor. Maybe I should make you Shampoo's groom after all."

"Don't even joke about that bullshit, Cologne. I'll break you myself if you try it."

"Forgive me for trying to crack a joke," Cologne spat back, insulted. "And either way that's no way for you to be talking like that to me. I won't take it from you, do you hear me? You won't get your way with such insolent arrogance."

Ranma's patience just about ran out. "How about I just snap your fucking spine in front of Shampoo, would that be enough?"

Cologne's hairs tingled and her aura rose at such a careless remark. "How dare you! How dare you say that to an elder of the Amazons, one who is much older than you! You think you'll get away with that!"

Shampoo was being held by Mousse as she proceeded to freak out with her hands to her mouth, fearful for both her grandmother and Ranma. Ryoga had already been dragged off the street, with everyone keeping their distance at the volatile Cologne. With the awesome prowess of these two martial artists in front of them, there was no telling who could get hurt.

"Perhaps I didn't make it clear," Ranma sighed. He seemed to almost disappear in presence and reappear within inches of Cologne, his movement quicker than the eye could see. His battle aura flared a visible crimson flame burning from a cocoon shielding his body. "I said I'm gonna break your fucking spine and rip your fucking heart out if you don't get out of my fucking face!" He drew his pistol and pressed the muzzle against Cologne's head, who first the first time in many years of her old life, was paralyzed by the sheer awe-inspiring envelopment of someone else's ki. "I've had enough meddling from you before, and I'm not going to take it anymore! Leave me alone!"

Shampoo finally broke free from Mousse and ran to clutch Ranma's body, sobbing on his back. "Please Ranma! Don't kill hibachan! Shampoo beg of you!"

Jolted out of his uncontrolled rage by Shampoo's heart wrenching weeping, Ranma holstered his weapon and took a step back. His face was flushed with shame, and he didn't know what had come over him.

"I'm sorry about this, all of you," Ranma said, unable to look any of them in the eye. He only looked over to Ukyou. "Ucchan, can you afford to leave the restaurant with me? It'll only be an hour or so."

Ukyou looked uncertainly at the rest of the shell shocked Nerima crew and Ranma's miserable visage. "Let me got tell Konatsu to look over the restaurant while I'm gone."

Ranma walked over to his car and touched the handle, automatically unlocking it. Ukyou ran out with her purse in tow and Ranma pointed to the other side of his SUV.

"Get in, let's go somewhere."

"Uh, sure."

He closed his door and started his car preparing to back out, until Nabiki stamped up to his window and pounded on it.

Ranma rolled down his window. "What do you want, Nabiki?"

Nabiki was just about out of patience herself. "Where the hell do you think you're going? Get back here, Saotome! You've got some explaining to do!"

Ranma rolled his eyes and rolled up the window just below his eye level. "I've got two words for you, Nabs. FUCK and YOU. See you around."

Nabiki's jaw dropped as he rolled the window up completely and drove away and out of sight. Akane ran up behind her, worried.

"I can't believe that just happened, onee-chan." Akane wiped her face. "He's so different, I don't know who that was just now."

Nabiki was grinding her teeth, boiling with anger. "I'm going to find out what happened to him these past couple of years. That guy can't possibly be the Ranma we know."

------------------

After a few minutes of wondering what to order, Ranma brought over a tray of French fries and chicken nuggets to munch on with Ukyou. They were seated at a booth, and were surrounded by a bunch of teenagers who had been out of school.

"Mmm, McDonalds french fries always does the trick for me. Never get sick of em," Ranma mumbled with a handful of fries in his mouth. "Mom sure did give me an earful for what happened back there. But she'll get over it, I'll tell her what happened exactly."

Ukyou looked sullen as she sat on the other side, trying to look for something to say. She remembered Ranma picking up a phone call from his mother on the way here, and she had not been pleased about what had just occurred.

"What's wrong, Ucchan? Have a nugget."

"What was that back there, Ranma."

Ranma finished chewing his food and grabbed a napkin to wipe his fingers. He looked out the window for a moment before replying, "Four years of pent of frustrations."

"......"

"I only went there to meet you Ucchan. Just wanted to see how my friend was doing."

Ukyou looked up to see eye to eye with Ranma. His gorgeous steel blue eyes seemed the same, but the radiance that mystified them was now different. "You've changed so much. I don't recognize you anymore."

"I thought you might say that," Ranma casually replied. "A lot's happened in the past four years, Ucchan. Things none of you could've possibly understood, things I've experienced as a cop that I was never prepared for."

"Where'd you learn to swear like that? And hurt people?" Ukyou looked like she was on the verge of tears. "You broke Ryoga's arm and threatened to kill Cologne like it was nothing."

"I guess I can only blame myself for being the sadistic, ruthless thug you see in front of you. There's a lot to it, Ukyou. I wish I'd written to you or even called you once while I was abroad."

"That's in the past, Ranchan," Ukyou sighed. She didn't feel like going through a trip down memory lane. It was an abused and painful path to take.

"I can't even begin to explain to you how I became what I am now, Ucchan. I've had friends die in my arms. I had to see innocent people getting killed. Seeing children killed. Drugs. Sex. Violence. Too many things that have plagued me, the old me. I've been forced to adapt, improvise, and overcome. And what I've become isn't pretty, Ucchan."

"Stop this, Ranchan. You're back home, you've left it behind. Let's not dwell on the bad."

"I've killed before."

"!"

"On more than one occasion." Pfft, that was a massive understatement, Ranma thought disgusted at himself. "I've gone through shrinks, counseling, personal anguish. All that stuff. But I'm telling you this much, because I want you of all people to at least believe in me. You're one of my few friends, maybe the only one I have here left in Japan, Ucchan. I don't think I can live here or live with myself if you can't accept me."

Ukyou stepped out of her booth and into Ranma's, and gave him a warm hug. "You're my friend, no matter what you've done. The Ranma I know, always at least atones for what he's done, right or wrong regardless."

Ranma let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "Thanks... it really means a lot."

Ukyou leaned against Ranma, sighing as well. "You came back to us and in less than an hour you stir up a hurricane. Sure is good to have you back."

"I made quite an entrance, didn't I? And I sure like what you've done with your restaurant. It's a classy establishment."

"You don't even know half of it, mister. I've got two restaurants goin' now, and a third one I'm going to open in Okayama some time this week. Got myself a little chain going. The Nerima one is going to be the flagship restaurant, and Konatsu is managing my other one in the Sumida area."

"You've been busy, haven't you?"

Ukyou laughed. "I went to night school and took some business managing classes, and used my savings to open up a second restaurant as soon as we graduated high school. You never knew about the other one because I didn't give you a chance to see it last time you came, and you were already gone next thing I knew."

"You move on with your personal life and get a boyfriend or two all these years?"

Ukyou blushed in surprise. "Where'd that come from? I've tried to see if I could go around with a couple of guys after the shock of not being able to have you, but I haven't found anyone yet. I guess nobody around is anything like you."

"Ack, you know I never meant to hurt you," Ranma said, feeling he shot himself in the foot by asking that question. "By the way, I wanted to give this to you."

Ranma pulled out an envelope from his pocket and handed it to her. When she opened it up she almost dropped it.

"What's the meaning of this? There must be at least 500,000 yen in here!" She flipped her finger through the numerous 10,000 yen bills.

"I wanted to pay you back for all the free meals I ate when I was younger, and man did I eat a lot back then, ne?"

Ukyou looked like a deer caught in a pair of headlights, and she shook her head. She shoved the envelope back into Ranma's hands. "I can't take this. I don't know what you're thinking giving me this. You're like family to me Ranma, and I can't charge my family. Please take it back. Don't you need it?"

Ranma smirked. "Fine. If you see it that way then it's a present for all the birthdays, Christmas', and whatever days that I missed for you. Besides Ucchan, I don't need any of that money. I'm not the poor martial artist like I used to be. I get paid a LOT for what I do. And if you still refuse it, I'm gonna force it into your bank accounts and scatter it so you can't trace it to send it back." Ranma's smile turned wider as she looked at him curiously for even knowing how to do such a thing. "It'll just be there, for you to use."

"Ok, ok." Ukyou raised her hands in defeat. "You win. Thank you. I think I'll use this to buy a used car. I've been thinking about getting one to get back and forth from my restaurants."

Ranma waved it off. "Don't even mention it." He stuffed his mouth with some more fries. "You know, I have a week to choose a place to live. The NSA says I can live anywhere I want in the eastern half of Honshu. They pay for everything too. I still haven't chosen where."

Ukyou leaned over. "How about settling down with me? Have a lil' fun with your best buddy?"

Ranma gently pushed her back, and gave a sad smile. "That would be fun, Ucchan." He saw her face light up, and winced. "It would've been great if we could've gone to college together. But I can't do that. You know what I mean."

"Yeah." Ukyou straightened up and ran her hand through her hair. "I know exactly what you mean," she sighed. "That's why I stopped waiting, Ranchan. Friends forever, right?"

"Friends forever. Don't ever doubt it." He looked at her carefully, and to her surprise gave her a wet kiss on the lips. "I don't see you as a lover or a wife, but I love you all my heart as a friend."

As soon as his lips released from hers Ukyou slid a few inches away and her face glowed like a scarlet veil. She brushed her lips, which were still quivering, too embarrassed to say anything.

"You've been my only real friend around here Ucchan." The smile he gave reminded her of his bright, young face from back when they were younger. "The reason I love you so much is because you were selfless enough to give me up. You don't deserve me Ucchan. Look at me. These hands," he said as he grabbed hers. "...are tainted. I've killed with these hands, do you understand? I want you to give up on me completely, because I'm not the same guy. Being your friend...that in itself is a miracle enough for me."

Ukyou could only fluster, still embarrassed. "J-jeez Ranchan! You turned into a chatter bug! Who could've guessed you would talk so much about your feelings like that!" Her voice turned more compassionate. "And don't think of yourself as a killer or a bad person. I can still see a lot of the old Ranma in you," she said, flicking his eyebrow. "All I see is that you've matured into something that you've carved yourself over the years. So you have a dark past, you're sorta like a soldier who just came back from war."

"I'm sorry, I didn't know I used to talk so little," Ranma mused to himself.

Ukyou shook her head vigorously. "No, not at all. Just you're not the type... well at least you weren't the type to be all down about yourself. Cheer up, yeah? Tomorrow's a brand new day, Ranchan."

"Well, that's that. Now how about you help me choose a place to live? I haven't thought about this at all yet."

"Well, where do you want to stay?"

Ranma thought about it, stroking his chin. "I'd prefer a place where I can visit my mom and dad, and YOU of course, on the weekends. But I want to be away from Tokyo, and away from Nerima."

"You can just live on the outskirts of Tokyo, that's plenty far enough you know," Ukyou replied.

"Nope, my gut instinct tells me Tokyo will be only trouble," Ranma said, thinking. He continued to munch on tidbits of food, and he snapped his finger.

"You got an idea?"

"Hey Ucchan, you said you're opening up a restaurant in Okayama, right?"

"Yeah, it's almost done. I'm going to open it in a few days. I opened it up after property values plummeted out of nowhere when a high school in the city exploded, and people started talking crazy like the city was under terrorist attack or some other nonsense like that."

"Are there living quarters in your restaurant?"

"Of course," she replied. "I make them so that I can stay indefinitely in any of my locations when I need. I'm building these from scratch to my specifications, so I figured I might as well be able to live there too."

"How's about this? You can move to Okayama and I'll station there! It's close enough to visit Nerima on the weekends, and it's plenty far enough away from this loony bin."

"Hey, hey," Ukyou chided. "This loony bin is our home, you know."

"I'll get over the loss," Ranma replied. "But anyway, I'd be able to visit you everyday."

Ukyou thought about it. She was a self sufficient business owner, and she could move to and fro as she pleased. And... she had a chance to be close to Ranma. And only her. "That's not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all."

"Not fuckin' bad at all." Ranma winced when he saw Ukyou raise an eye. "Sorry, bad habits die hard."

"It'll definitely take some time getting used to," Ukyou chuckled.

"Hey, take it or leave it, babe." Ranma swept his shirt exaggeratedly. "It comes with the package."

"Oh, you Casanova!" Ukyou shoved his head into the window, laughing. "Don't try to trick me with your cheap pickups!"

"I'm sorry, I couldn't resist," Ranma said, also laughing. He peeled himself off the glass, catching glances from other patrons in the restaurant.

"It's so great to have you back, Ranchan," Ukyou purred.

"It feels great to be home," he sighed in content.

End of Chapter 1

Disclaimer: Ranma is not owned by me, it is a copyright by Viz, Rumiko Takahashi, the other big companies, so on and so forth. John McClane is a trademark of 20th century Fox, John McTiernan, and other big company big wigs. Don't sue me cause I don't have any money, and if you plan to, go fuck yourself.

Author's Ramble: If only you guys could know how much I anguished over this one stupid rewrite, then perhaps you'd understand why it took so long. And why it's so damn LONG. Wow. Just kidding, at least 40% of the lag time is just a bullshit excuse of not having time to work on this. But now that it is finally done, I feel like a load has been taken off my chest and I'm very satisfied.

This rewrite has been over three years in the making, and I started it because when I originally started Officer Saotome 5 years ago it was in script, it was shitty, I wasn't a cop yet, and it just plain sucked. It's a shitty first attempt at a fanfic and this is just an attempt at redeeming it. No cocksucking script fic can compare to a prose piece of fiction, in my opinion. Thermopyle taught me that, years ago. I certainly had lots of fun writing this too, as I intertwined it with future elements I want to introduce to the plot in future chapter of the series. Even some elements of chapter 6 (which was released before this in a rough, uncut release from my eternal lagdom) will make more sense after reading this rewrite.

Okay, so here come the technical notes. To those of you reading for the first time (and rereaders ^_^), here's the scoop.

By the way, THIS version you're reading is a rough cut. It has not been preread yet, and I'm sure there's a few glaring errors in grammer/spelling/bullshit what not. So forgiveness, PREAASE!

Obviously Ranma's character is very OOC, but hopefully I think I developed hints of his scarred life in this chapter (and continued in subsequent chapters) to explain this.

The Special Investigations Section [SIS] is a real working unit of the Los Angeles Police Department's Metropolitan Division headquartered at Parker Center, in the city of Los Angeles California. It is a search and destroy surveillance oriented force that works under official LAPD protocol and guidelines and has been around since the 1960's to combat repeat hardened and hardcore criminals. Now the action sequences I've put up are of course over the top because it's Ranma we're talking about here, but the general missions are pretty real and they happen. They track repeat armed robbers, rapists, and other hardened criminals under careful surveillance and wait for them to commit a crime and provoke a shootout. Whine all you want about how immoral this is and how cops shouldn't watch a woman be raped or what not. I don't like it either. But if you see Los Angeles even for a day or two in the shoes of a police officer... I have to admit, the past few years have been harrowing and traumatizing and I've definitely learned a lot about the misery of life. Some parts of Los Angeles are an invisible cesspool, and even to those who live there and visit frequently, there is a mystique to Los Angeles' unforgiving crime.

I borrowed quite a few movie elements to incorporate, the three most obvious being Lethal Weapon (the intro shootout at the schoolyard), Die Hard of course, and from Michael Mann's Heat. I've always been a big fan of Die Hard, so I have to give Bruce Willis' character John McClane some props. The entire first car chase was inspired direct from Die Hard with a Vengeance, same car, same maneuvers and all.

Al Waters and Vince Thompson are comedic relief characters who even though I haven't written about them much, I've grown really attached to, and you will see them in the distant future. Vince Thompson especially is modeled about as close as I could to a modern day Doc Holliday. Specifically Val Kilmer's godly portrayal of Doc Holliday from the movie Tombstone. You know that's a winner right there.

And for the references to the movie Heat, Al Pacino's character Vincent Hanna is an obvious one. And another Val Kilmer plug, Chris Shiherlis, the one guy who got away in the movie. He's cool and all, but seeing as how they fucked it up for me by killing off DeNiro, it pissed me off to see Shiherlis get away. I used this as a plot device to A) Satisfy my annoyance B) Add some more depth to Ranma's shady past, which is still mostly unknown at this point in the story.

Other movie elements I borrowed from is LA Confidential in the LAPD flashbacks, specifically Ranma's partner and one of the officers who get killed. If you like good movies, PERIOD, and you haven't watched LA Confidential, watch this classic now. I think you'd appreciate this fic immensely just from the noir aftertaste that movie leaves after you finish it in its entire glory.

The council shooting board is based loosely off the movie Extreme Justice, which by the way is a movie about the LAPD's SIS specifically.

Now there is mention of Ranma learning a new martial art from the Korean special forces. Yes, Ranma would be able to kill them all with his pinky. Yes his ki attacks and massive strength are no match. But I tried to portray the skill versus skill aspect, and try to ingrain some more technical knowledge into Ranma's noggin. Like the fatality moves, cheap moves like throat jabs and eye gouges, and specific moves involving firearm use while combining martial arts. Tuk-Gong Moo-Sul (literally the "Specialty Art") is used by the Korean 707th Counter Terrorism Battalion in South Korea, and is also passed down to the 686th National Police's Gyung-Chal Tuk-Gong-Dae (Literally Police Special Unit), which recruits from aging and cross traded 707 soldiers. It is Korea's equivalent of the "SWAT" team, and they are deployed nationally as a quick reactionary force for minor to moderate incidents. The 707th are among the best in the world, and they are one of the privileged few to cross train regularly with US Army Delta Force, US Navy DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6), British 22nd Special Air Services [SAS], Israeli MOSSAD, and German GSG-9. I'd mention others, but I think they're pitiful compared to these powerhouses, hehe.

The JNSA is something that I made up, I have no idea what kind of methods the Japanese government uses, let alone which units get to carry concealed handguns. I tried to base it on the KNSA, the Korean National Security Agency, formerly known as KCIA, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. Yes, I know. Us damn Koreans like to copy off of the US government. The KNSA is the equivalent of the American FBI and CIA combined, making them very powerful with authority. I took a LOT of liberties concerning Japanese law enforcement, funding, operation procedures, and a million other things. So for here, I will concede to my passion for being technically accurate with things.

The car that was originally issued to Ranma by the JNSA in the script version of this fic lacked some of the cooler features I went in depth with, but the biggest notable change is the motor. Whereas originally I had him get a supercharged pushrod Vortec V8, I realized that shit can be done a step better and I had a customized Toyota Celsior motor dropped in. The Toyota Celsior is better known as the Lexus LS here in America. ^_^ The motor is bored out to a big 5.5 liters to propel the huge Chevy Tahoe, and yes anyone with enough money can get such a mod done. Money can do anything, don't you know?

And to add even more to that, by influence from PCHeintz on the Anifics forum (former Delphi crew), I will go more in depth on such an engine modification. Let's see... the 4.3L V8 used by Toyota for a wide range of their cars (mostly luxury) is identical to the 4.7L V8 used in its trucks and SUVs, only difference being that the larger motor only displaces more because of a stroked out crankshaft (the range of travel caused by the piston linked to the connecting rod that is attached to the revolving crank). So, by boring out the cylinder walls a little wider and adding a massive crankshaft, you can feasibly and reliably increase displacement for an added 1200cc's to get 5.5L's of love. Such a strategy will create a torque biased motor for sure (as stated by the 400hp, 490lbs of torque curve) and engine tuning for fuel and ignition timing can be simply achieved with an ECU connection and a dyno (with access to factory shit as mentioned in the fic, this should be no prob at all). The top-end, or the heads, valves, valve springs, etc can all be properly modified and custom built, as well as custom built pistons, rings, con-rods (all for a pretty penny), and other supporting hardware can simply be purchased aftermarket and is simple to find. Such mods would include a larger alternator, as PCHeintz had reminded me, fuel rails, fuel lines, injectors, pumps, radiators, and oil pans. I can go OFF and ON and ON and ON forever with this, but you get the idea I hope and please believe me when I saw I think these details through (although by self admission I will say I was sloppy in not mentioning enough to readers who are also enthusiasts of the same subjects as I, and that's all the more motivation to write stuff like this) and I don't splice in complete bullshit.

As for the police phonetics and blotter used, I'll be real brief. A "211" is an armed robbery call, one of the highest priority calls in the LAPD. Code 100 means "Execute, or ready to roll", as used in the context. The vehicle designations, such as Ranma's personal 5-King-90-16 is a special one, as 5-King-90 is specifically for SIS use, and the last number is just a specially designated one. Regular designations like 3-William-56, indicate 3 being Wilshire Division, William indicating a detectives unit, and 56 being another specially designated individual number. That's about it.

I also had to give a shameless plug in for pho as a cure for hangovers, as it is my absolute favorite thing to have when I need to recover from drinking and one of my favorite dishes, period. Ahh, pho... how I love you so much. Especially dac biet with all the trimmings.

Alright kids, until next time. I'll be working on the chapter 2 rewrite (oh dear I wonder how fun this will be...), as well as finishing up chapter 6 now and outlining chapter 7. For all you doubters thinking I quit my work... well honestly I don't have too much clout to keep you from blaming me for quitting considering how much I lag. But, until this shit's finished I won't give up. ^_^

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SEND ME FEEDBACK!!! I write way faster when people give me feedback! My e-mail is SgtRanma yahoo . com .

Finished August 15, 2006.