Ruroni Ranko
Chapter Eleven

by Skysaber
aka Jared Ornstead

During the mushroom incident events diverge from normal and enemies try to take advantage of our pigtailed hero. Unfortunately for them, attempts to get rid of him often go disastrously wrong.


Nodoka stood staring at her boy.

On her arrival the crowd of girls had parted from around him, all feeling strangely honored to be witnesses to what Mars' fierce whispers explained was going on.

It was an emotional experience for all involved.

Cameras still rolled in the background, not having been told to 'Cut' after the action sequence of the last dramatic fight scene. So all of this was being recorded on film from multiple angles as the emotional silence stretched on...

... until Miranko's elbow found its way into Ranma's ribs, and she whispered, "Ranma! Introduce us to your mother, please."

And that seemed to shatter the tension, for a moment at least, as the boy samurai's training kicked in and he started to name those girls around him. "Mother, I'd like you to meet Miranko and Miukyo, Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars, Sailor Venus, and Sailor Mercury."

A chorus of "How do you do's" echoed from the girls executing quick bows. All of that came to an abrupt end when Nodoka took one step forward, instantly resuming the tenseness of a moment ago, as it was clear the intense woman had never dropped it. Her eyes stayed fixed on her son, drawn to him, drinking in his every feature and making everyone feel as though those two were alone in that wide courtyard.

Even the reporter lady found she was without words, and had stopped talking to her crew, as her need to provide commentary got dwarfed by the magnitude of the moment.

Sailor Jupiter didn't even object to being left out of the introductions. After all, she reasoned, she hadn't been introduced to the boy herself, yet. Although she'd previously vowed that would change, right now she too was too absorbed in the dramatic atmosphere that had built up between the famous movie star and her long lost and now returned son.

At last the famous woman spoke. "Ranma?" the came a note of uncertainty to her voice, not yet fully convinced despite her strong earlier impressions. "Where have you been?"

"Fighting demons," the boy answered honestly.

A nod to the Sailor Scouts present added credibility to his statement. They had the national press in an uproar over whether or not their actions were against real supernatural threats. And, if that were so, what the government ought to do about it.

Nodoka accepted that at face value for the moment. "Why did you never call? You must have heard I was looking for you."

At that, Ranma couldn't help but grimace. "Yeah, but..." he sighed, drooping his head before inhaling deeply to blurt out the truth. "At first the guy I was with kept me too busy, training me to be the best martial artist of my generation. We moved all over the map and didn't stay in one place very long. I didn't get to see the outside world much. He was also careful I didn't know anything but what he taught me."

Sailor Mercury's voice came across unintentionally but clearly, as she spoke mostly to herself but got heard due to the overarching silence, "Isolation and indoctrination are both standard practices of brainwashing."

Despite herself, Nodoka found herself nodding slightly in agreement with the young girl's terrible prognosis. But her eyes stayed glued to her son. "But Ranma, why did you obey him?"

Here Ranma grimaced. "He was always telling me he was my pop."

There came a gasp from all around at the near-sacrilegious gall of that terrible falsehood. All knew that Ranma's true father had been killed during the kidnapping attempt. Still, rumors might have flown, as speculation is apt to grow, especially about stars, had not Ranma unintentionally nipped that in the bud by continuing to talk through it. "I don't know why I ever believed that. I look nothing like the guy, acted nothing like him either, and never could explain what someone like you could see in him. He was a drunk and lied his head off about everything else. I don't know why I ever thought he could tell the truth about that."

A small smile of forgiveness graced Nodoka's lips. "You were young."

Ranma rolled his eyes and sighed further. "Yeah, but I still should have figured it out. He was always trying to sell me off to people. Real parents don't do that."

Many female eyes hardened over that simple statement, but Nodoka's were hardest still, offended at the gall of that man. "No," she agreed. "Real parents don't."

Overcoming much of his own emotional imbalance, Ranma favored his mother with kind eyes. "I look forward to learning more of what real parents are like."

Sailor Moon had been blinking, head cocked in confusion. She touched her lip and spoke, unintentionally interrupting, "But I met the man you call your father, and I was sure you loved him."

All eyes went back to Ranma, who laughed good naturedly. "Oh, that's a part of the story I hadn't told yet. You see, the honorless bastard who'd first trained me didn't keep me forever. When I was about six..." the boy paused a moment, closed his eyes and inwardly resolved to blur the two stories into something a little more believable than having grown up almost completely twice. Magic on that scale was a little hard to credit by most people.

Opening his eyes, he met his mother's gaze with a kind smile. "Well, Genma, the name of the man who stole me was Genma Saotome, finally sold me, and I was rescued from the group of slavers by the man who raised me since. He is a good man. Still, every thing about life with Genma had been so traumatic that I'd begun to repress things, and the rescue was not a particularly pretty one. People died, and it didn't help that I'd forgotten my last name wasn't Saotome. So since he wasn't going to return me to that scum, my new dad kept me for himself. It wasn't until lately that I even began to recall that I had a mother."

Nodoka's eyes had softened, and she zipped forward and took him in a tight hug, whispering kind words into his hair. "You were young, and while I wish I could have been there to make it all better for you, I'm glad you had someone who made it alright."

Ranma, for possibly the first time in his life, was able to finally hug his mother. Lots of girls got gooey-eyed at the sight of the tender, mushy moment going on between them.

The camera crews were glad to be getting this on film.

Tokugawa era

Nabiki looked up to the sky, serene and at peace, then went back to her sweeping.

~What would I have done, if I could have seen myself this way two years ago?~ the girl wondered, then disguised a snort. ~Well, the answer to that is obvious. I would have taken pictures, used them as blackmail to extract money until that ran out, and then sold the pics to miko-obsessed perverts.~ she chuckled to herself.

Yes, she would have done exactly that two years ago. The Nerima girl who was obsessed with money and power would not even have recognized the young lady she had become. Her hair was longer, her demeanor more proper and her movements refined by living a lifestyle she'd always pitied when she'd read about it in the history books.

Yes, the Nabiki from modern Tokyo would not only have failed to recognize this new person as herself, she'd have done her best to prostitute her to someone like Kuno.

Ironic, that.

~Not like it would have gotten her very far,~ Nabiki gave a sharp, hard thought to her younger, more foolish self in her thoughts. ~I may be proper now, but that's only because I had to adapt to my environment. You have to fit in before you can manipulate, and I am a very manipulative girl.~

Back in Nerima she had carefully mastered all of the skills appropriate to her place and time. Really, she was just doing the same thing here, learning the new rules for her new environment and gaining the important skills for her now present time. It was just basic survival, that's all it was.

You couldn't be a big fish in any kind of pool until you could safely breathe the water.

The temple she now resided at had been the perfect place to do that.

Nabiki continued to sweep the steps of the shrine where she both lived and worked, amusing herself by thinking, ~Around here, the ability to blend in, so I don't stand out and advertise myself as all of the various disadvantageous or downright illegal things I really am, like a girl without a family, and thus no one to protect me, is utterly vital and a critical necessity! And, fortunate for me, once you enter a temple family no longer matters much.~

That had given her most of the safety she'd needed to rebuild herself. Of course, you also gave up all of your worldly possessions on entering a temple, but what they did not know about didn't hurt her, so she'd buried all of her cash and belongings, except her worst set of clothes, before even coming here, just to have a tidy nest egg on hand for later. After all, as useful as it had been, she didn't intend to stay a miko forever.

Or at least, she hadn't been planning on staying when she first came there, but as she lingered she grew less sure over time.

There were temptations to just stay and enjoy her new life.

Her accent and clothes no longer marked her as foreign, or even as a full-blooded Japanese who'd traveled abroad in defiance of current laws. So she was much safer on that count. No longer standing out as an outsider eliminated a huge chunk of the native dangers. Now she'd only had to face the typical, everyday stuff that everybody back here had to live with -- some of which, quite frankly, was still pretty terrifying all on its own.

Being part of a temple gave her a sort of substitute clan. A group who could and probably would protect her to a degree, but, unfortunately, who also held onto her as their legal property. Because women like her did not own property, they WERE property. She was as much the possession of the temple as the broom in her hands, and they could do anything to her they saw fit to do.

Things like, oh, marry her off to the sort of man Kuno's always wanted to be - ironic, that. But she had no say in the matter.

Not exactly the ideal spot for a modern, liberated female, and the main thing that still kept her fondly dreaming of a return home. Not the only thing either, there was also her dear older sister Kasumi's cooking to consider, and hot baths, and.... well, the list went on.

Feudal Japan was not very comfortable in terms of day to day luxuries, or spices, or even conveniences like a simple blow drier.

Yes, she was roughing it by her standards, but at least no one was currently out for her head, like they used to be after her newly arrived self, and later thief on the run. She was still a heretic by the local standards. Having a dad like Soun was still plenty to have soured her on ancestor worship permanently, so she still drew all of her spiritual comfort from the Christian prayers her mother had once taught her when she was very small; only she didn't dare say any of them out loud, especially not here, at a Shinto temple of all places! But at least she'd gotten accomplished at disguising all of the things she ought to be killed for.

Really, she'd never have imagined herself as having broken so many deadly laws. But that was just the way it was immediately after her arrival. She was a modern Japanese girl, and that meant death by ancient Japanese laws and practices.

Of course, life was no picnic for an ancient Japanese female, either. And Nabiki had already begun making plans, anticipating having to get out of her current circumstance as sooner or later something was going to crop up, she felt certain.

Partly because she was starting to become hot property. She wasn't young. Back here in Tokugawa Japan girls married in their early to mid teens more often as not. But she wasn't quite yet old either, and had been picking up proper mannerisms fairly well, so was becoming a fit bride just by that standard. She still had her remarkably well endowed (by poorly nourished ancient Japanese norms) body, and her literacy and ability to work figures both stood out as outstanding. So there were a few lords looking into having her married to one of their lesser sons on those qualities alone so she could do all of the accounting for their holdings.

Older sons of those same local lords were already interested in the tales told about her very well developed figure; stories spread by the other shrine maidens, all of whom shared baths with her, and who tended to remark upon her curves to the local gossip circles, which in turn spread those tales to other interested parties.

Since advanced literacy and math skills were not something that came from the ranks of the peasantry, there were already accepted rumors about her being some lost daughter of some lord or other, and so perfectly acceptable for marrying off to another lord's progeny - if the temple which presently served as her clan was amenable, which, given the amount they could get in return for her, it most definitely was. The only question was how long they'd keep the opportunity open, and which of those offers they'd select.

Stripped of all of the formalized niceties, she was being bid on, and the temple was trying to determine the highest bid they could exchange her for. Simple business.

Sooner rather than later, she'd have some petty noble as her husband. Someone just like Kuno had always aspired to be. She brought no major clan affiliation or alliances, so it would be a small lord rather than a major one, but as her considerable skills and figure did stand out, among those who wanted her she was a hot item indeed.

Part of Nabiki was flattered that nobility was looking into her as an attractive bride. She would even have servants if she went that way, something that she'd always wanted. But popping out babies in the here and now meant giving up on ever going home. She knew herself well enough by now to know she wouldn't be able to bring herself to leave her children behind, and they wouldn't fit into her world any more than she'd fit in here. But more importantly, she KNEW there was a grand scale civil war coming up, and while she did know what side emerged victorious in the end, she had no way of convincing a future husband of that. So there was no telling which side her husband or his clan would be on.

Even if they did choose right, both sides took massive casualties in that war. And the lords, especially the young lords and samurai that made up most of a traditional fighting force (and the very body of men who were currently looking into marrying her) dropped like flies. She had read a tale or two about how after the Meiji Revolution the brothels were crammed full of the wives and daughters of fallen samurai, who'd lost their holdings when their lords had died - even those who'd been on the winning side!

No, Nabiki had no desires to tempt Fate. One of Ranma's statements, about hoping that destiny had enough of a sense of humor to land her in a brothel for having tried to turn everyone around her into a whore, came just a bit too close to home.

If she married a local samurai, that was all too likely a probability. And she didn't wish to see if Ranma had been on Fate's side when making that prediction. But the temple was looking into capitalizing on one of those marriage offers soon. So Nabiki was already looking into getting out even sooner, then resuming her efforts to get back to the future once again.

Not the least of her reasons was being homesick. There were countless modern conveniences she missed, but especially the luxuries lost to her: hot running water, the TV, the ability to shop for clothes instead of make them herself, and so on. She'd also very much like to have chocolate again - Nabiki didn't use terms like, 'would kill for' anymore because, having done that once for a bag of rice, she wasn't eager to repeat the experience. But the real kicker came almost as a shock to her: she missed her friends and family back in Nerima.

Back in the day, she didn't think anyone could miss her daddy, but Soun's daughter wanted to go home again, and circumstances were conspiring to force her out of her comfy retirement and back onto the search for a way to go.

Thinking the whole thing through, as one of her sideplots she had entertained a few ideas about taking her current stash of money and going to deposit it in a bank somewhere, so that if she could ever reach the future again she'd be filthy rich on the compound interest.

But then sober reality had hit.

Before the days of central banking, bank failures were a common, one might even say regular, occurrence. But even modern banks will 'close out' accounts that went inactive for a short period of time and would just keep all of the money.

No, banks were out to make money for themselves. That's all there was to it. An account left inactive for a hundred and fifty years was just, effectively, a donation to the bank as they'd inevitably take all of the money for themselves.

This was not an odd occurrence. It was policy, They even (quietly) ANNOUNCED they did that sort of thing! And it got even worse during or after a war, when so many clans and families disappeared and the warring sides wanted all the money they could lay their hands on, questionable sources or not!

So, pleasant dreams aside, she had no more chance of getting rich that way than she did of becoming Empress of Japan.

Actually, empress was far more likely. And that brought her back to her current set of difficulties - that of the rising certainty of her soon being married off.

Nabiki enjoyed washing clothes, and it was one of her few skills applicable to the local environment. So it had been a small deal on her arrival at the shrine to join the other washer women. Passing herself off as a mute or at least very quiet and rare spoken girl had been her plan, at least until her accent localized (which it eventually had), but once again old habits struck to make that impossible.

Washer women are among the most incurable gossips ever found, mouths keeping minds busy while their hands went through the routine and boring tasks. Trying to hold her tongue among such a flood of current information had been impossible for the mercenary Tendo girl. Holding and distributing information had been her stock in trade since her earliest childhood, and she hadn't been able to resist pressing for more interesting details here or there, which led to her being among the worst gossips of the whole bunch!

Thankfully her accent had held. No one had questioned her there. But she had made the mistake of asking about events or details that referenced the history of this period as she knew it - and in more than a few of those cases, that history hadn't happened yet!

Gossips being gossips, word of those flubs had spread, and when those events actually came to pass more or less as she'd described them, suddenly Nabiki had gone from just a lowly washer woman to a potential oracle or prophetess! Someone capable of making accurate predictions concerning the future.

Hot property indeed.

In the short term, that had meant an elevation from her position as washer woman to a keeper of the sacred fire, which meant chi training, which the poor girl had gratefully soaked up and then even expanded upon, knowing as she did the periphery of some of martial arts training exercises she'd been exposed to in the future.

Picking up the basics of chi manipulation at last had allowed her to make use of some of the other things she'd been around and witnessed the other martial artists learn. Flashy things like chi blasts were still beyond her, as was her father's demon head (which wouldn't have made her popular in the here-and-now in any case, and actually would probably have led directly to her death at the hands of demon hunters), but she was able to go from the very basics on to the next step of using chi to augment her body to make her faster and stronger. Nothing compared to the local heavy hitters, but better than the peasantry she'd once run in fear from.

Of course, being a prophetess and an advanced (by their standards) chi user, the shrine was more reluctant to let go of her. But in practical terminology all that meant was that her new abilities just drove the price up, and attracted a whole new level of clientele.

A more dangerous level, unfortunately.

Now it was almost an even toss-up between some middling to major local noble picking her up as a bride for a second or third son (or a second or third wife for a first son), or a local warlord deciding to pick her up for free simply by assaulting the temple to capture her, forcing her to use her talents and make predictions for him or be tortured.

Yup. Life was just fun and dandy here in the Meiji.

Looking down the steps she was sweeping, Nabiki noted off in the distance a party approaching on horseback. Judging by the standard they carried it was one of the more aggressive of the local warlords, and the amount of armed men he had with him made for more than a simple bodyguard.

It was a small war party, and by the glints of light coming off metal in the distance, not the only one trying to get to the temple first.

Nabiki put her broom down and ran to go make a package out of her few belongings and raid the kitchen for some food so she'd have something to live on as she ran off through the surrounding woods. Having lived on the run before, she knew having a few simple things made all of the difference in trying to reestablish herself elsewhere, and her time at the shrine had just run out.

Modern Japan, Nerima

Akane was as far from happy as it was possible for a girl to get.

Having raised a fuss at Kuno's party, she'd been thrown out, face-first into a pig pen. Since the cuts on her cheeks and forehead had not yet healed, that meant the muck and mire got in them, requiring immediate attention. So she'd gone across the street to a traditional bathhouse, forgetting that she'd had no means to pay.

Shoving her way in had not been a problem, and given the emergency of her wounds the daughter of Soun had not even hesitated to use force to get her way.

Unfortunately for her, using force to use the facilities of a business that was owned by the Yakuza was often a bad idea.

A washcloth soaked in chloroform carried in by a female bather and applied by surprise had taken the angry girl out of action pretty quick. Then it was into a tub of dirty laundry with her to be carried out the back and put into a van.

This explained her waking up, still nude, behind bars in a cell on a farm for training sex-slaves for the foreign market (her scars made her unsuitable to the domestic one, as they would shove the price down unacceptably for customers able to read kanji).

The whip wielding woman glaring at her from outside the bars was not helping Akane's confidence problems.

Modern Japan, Juuban

At last the battle had ended. The film crews had put away their gear (well, most of them, anyway), and it was 'get to know you' time for the estranged mother and child pair.

This left, of necessity, everyone else a little out of the picture. But while the epic resolution to one of Japan's modern tragedies was being made up in privacy, the others just kind of got together and had lunch, catching up on how they each knew Ranma. This naturally led to those of Nerima having the lion's share of the talking, as they'd know him much longer. But the person who ended up the star of this show was someone none of the immediate players had expected at all.

Cologne had appeared, all three hundred years of experience and knowledge packed into a package no older or less beautiful than her great granddaughter. And, since she'd brought the takeout for everyone to eat, she was more than welcome.

Also, her stories, both about Ranma and not, were simply the best. The empty boxes of the slaughtered meal were already scattered about and she was hardly getting started, having already had to retell one tale twice now to her stunned audience because they couldn't believe some of the more incredible bits.

Sailor Mercury blinked several times after the retelling. "But... weren't you arrested? The amount of property damage alone!"

Mars and Moon both blushed, turning their heads away and pretending not to pay attention to that statement, as there was a good reason why they kept their costumed identities secret - no one knew where to send the bills for their youma battles.

"Of course not, dear." Cologne chuckled. "I'm a diplomatically immune representative from an independent Chinese community. The authority figures were very helpful."

Mercury was still blinking. "But the communists do not tolerate independent states in areas under their control. They've fought several wars of expansion, and are famous for the brutal suppressions of their own people who try to resist their authority!"

The young matriarch could not, and did not try to, suppress her smile. "And who said anything about being under their control? We never were, and the last time they came to dispute that fact with us, we beat their whole country so badly they literally begged us to accept their surrender!"

"But... but they have nukes." Serena blinked, not getting it in spite of having a large number of Amazon techniques and powers explained during her previous stories.

Her statement further amused the young Amazon elder.

"Bah! The best of all possible weapons is worthless if you can't find a way to use it on your opponents. Yes, the Chinese are a nuclear superpower. What of it? We'd all left our valley before they even knew they were at war with us. We'd known of their capabilities and lack of regard for human life long before we came into conflict with them, so we knew they'd happily incinerate the lot of us if they'd been given a chance - but there's the thing, we knew better than to give them that chance."

The blue haired amazon woman chuckled darkly.

"So, yes. They nuked our valley. What of it? We were long gone by then, and our home territory is as close to the ideal for nuclear defense as you're ever likely to find. You'd need MILLIONS of nukes to hit all of those crooked little, steep sided valleys! The people on their coasts would have died of airborne radiation long before they hit us with a random blast. Our sorcery is sufficient to take down any spy plane or satellite they launch, and they have NEVER infiltrated us, so a random barrage is as accurate as they're ever going to get as far as finding us. But even say they did they couldn't have hurt our secret mountain caves that are as well-defended as NORAD - a cavern complex a mile or two deep is an easy thing to build if you've got warriors with the Breaking Point, and Hidden Weapons style to carry out the rubble. Even with a direct hit from pinpoint accurate information as to where our redoubts are (information outsiders to the tribe have never had) the largest nuclear weapon ever created would not have been able to destroy those tunnels!

"But also, that information blackout is only one way. Due to our special mind control shampoos we've been able to transform their most loyal adherents into spies for us. So if they ever did get accurate targeting information we could make new caves and relocate faster than they could reprogram their missiles to attack us! And all the things that protect us from their nuclear missiles apply just as well to their aircraft - aircraft that we can destroy with the same casual ease as our spells bring down their spy planes. The Wingbind spell, once used for hunting dragons, prevents any flying thing from staying in the air, plummeting like a rock no matter how well it might fly normally. A dragon has its own magic to prevent this, and still usually falls. A fighter plane or bomber does not even have that defense. We also call down lightning, summon storms... no, the aircraft of the Red Army live no longer than so many beetles tossed into molten steel when sent up against us. You might as well dress the pilots in their funeral robes before launch!

"As for their ground forces? Don't make me LAUGH! Nothing is slower to deploy or more unwieldy than a modern army. They need tons of supplies shipped in just to have breakfast! They need months to prepare for an engagement. While we, on the other hand, can carry everything we want or need in the sleeves of our own robes. We can deploy to fight or relocate to avoid a superior force as easily as a schoolgirl selects her socks in the morning. And in the remarkable event that they should ever surprise us, we could collapse our entrance tunnels above them and burrow out another way! But you make a mistake if you think they knew our territory well.

"The Chinese mainland is vast, and all but a small fraction of the population lives in a narrow strip along the coasts. What few aren't coastal dwellers generally concentrate in the giant river valleys, which leaves vast stretches of nothingness to get lost in, and it is not an easy terrain to search, like plains or deserts. Our home numbers some of most difficult and treacherous mountain ranges in the world, mountains high enough that most planes cannot fly safely overhead even if we weren't shooting them down, blasting them apart with bolts of lightning, crashing them in storms, causing fuel stores to explode, or simply transforming the bolts and rivets that hold them together into puffs of air.

"Our treacherous mountain homeland is not a place where you can easily send a million coastal farmboys through and find anything - more like you'd lose your farmboys. And with the avalanches and flash floods and other things we could arrange we could, and did, bleed their army white for trying. They lost thousands of men, and we were just getting started! Destroying roads and isolating troops dependent upon supplies is actually a game for us, and one we enjoy.

"The Splitting Cat Hairs technique is useful for more than just surrounding an enemy, you can send the illusions off at a distance to draw fire just as easily as keeping them close. So an elder, or a talented youngster, who knows that technique can stage false attacks and fool troops into firing off all of their ammunition without ever being close to danger herself. It was developed that way to make an opponent waste arrows, but works just as well on bullet using armies. And it saps morale like you wouldn't believe to be fighting 'ghosts', especially when our stealth specialists slip past their lines to men sleeping in their cots and leave hundreds of throats slit to be discovered in the morning! Or cause their own ammo dumps to explode, or other such fun things. And the havoc is unbelievable when most or all of their officers are among the dead."

"But what about modern sensors?" Amy asked, quite puzzled.

"Bah! Modern sensors are chiefly useful to find modern people - which we aren't! Our amazons have no radio or radar waves to detect, no computers to infiltrate, no large vehicles to track, use no lights to speak of, and know how to shield our body heat from infravision - a trick we picked up two thousand three hundred years ago when fighting a race of demons that could see using heat. The sensors of our enemies did them no good at all, even fooled them into believing they were safe when they most definitely weren't! We even have a few methods, among our magical objects, that we used to blind their satellites, or bring them crashing down! So they did not even have that to use against us! In fact, I think they are still replacing the ones we disabled or destroyed. And any passing into view above our province die all over again, just as a general precaution on our part.

"But... but they had so many men!" Sailor Moon again objected.

At this Cologne actually laughed. "No, child, the strength of a modern army is not measured in men, or even in skill, but in factories and roads. Equipment is their lifeblood and they need a constant, enormous flood of it. You cut that off and they are already defeated. Killing them in the field is just sport after that. But while it takes months to build a factory or road, we Amazons could destroy them in seconds! We do not need explosives or other modern marvels to do it, either. Among our Amazon sisters there are many who have practiced the Breaking Point with their feet, and can deeply crater roads as fast as they can run along them, which is as fast as many local vehicles can travel, rendering them completely impassable behind! And a few, treacherous, windy mountain passes are not places to go off-road in. A simple broken bridge could stall their entire army for months!

The lady chuckled deep within her throat. "Constructing a modern road able to bear modern vehicles takes equipment that is scarce and costly, too. Huge vehicles that a single Amazon sister could destroy with a single swat from her bonbori that crumples its engine compartment and axles, rendering the whole thing that much useless scrap metal that can do nothing but serve as a road block until its owners cut it up to carry it away. It cannot even be towed at that point, and weighs too much for other machines to lift. One Amazon can leap in and knock out all the vehicles of a road building crew in less time than it takes for a guard to blink, then be gone again before he is even able to raise his rifle, and that is if she chooses not to undercut the entire camp with the Breaking Point and tumble them off a cliff! Or kill the sentries so she can slaughter the rest of the crew and guards in their sleep, then destroy their equipment at her leisure! Ordinary troops are no match for Amazons!

"Nor is the Breaking Point our only technique that deals with rock. Just as that one was developed for quarrying stone, we have one for farming that softens rock and stones to the consistency of swamp mud, the easier to plow and plant in, and very fertile for crops to grow in. But we can, if we choose, leave a crust of the original rock on top. So if we do that before an advancing army, the troops can pass over and never know there is anything wrong, but any tanks, jeeps, or supply trucks that try break through the thin crust and sink to the bottom in the time it takes to snap your fingers. If you are looking the wrong way you'll even miss it, and when you look back your tank is gone, just gone, with no sign to show what happened and with the crew entombed within, helpless to escape it. That's the sort of thing that spawns rumors of tank-eating demons, which is the last sort of story you want to circulate among an army that already believes that it is fighting ghosts. You get mutinies and mass desertions at that point, no matter how much your men might fear their officers."

Cologne chose to favor them with a smile. "Of course, a strategy pioneered by the Americans is that if you cannot drive in your supplies, you fly them in. But we Amazons can call up winds at our pleasure, and the right wind at the right time can smash low flying aircraft and shred parachutes. So our terrain became effectively impassible for modern armies when we went to war. They could not even feed the troops they'd already marched there!"

Here the former crone laughed once again. "And all of those are just their roads! You need not worry about transporting any equipment you cannot even build in the first place! A junior supply officer taken away to someplace private and given a shampoo and rinse with the correct formula and pressure points will cheerfully, even eagerly, tell you all you want to know about an infrastructure, including what to hit and where to shut it all down, and who knows more than he does in case you need to fill in gaps in his data!

"A factory is an expensive place that it takes months to build, but a contingent of a dozen or so Amazons armed with the Breaking Point and bonbori can reduce the whole thing to scrap and rubble in SECONDS! Most guards are still calling in the alarm when we are already long gone! A country never has more than a handful of large factories producing bullets and bombs, and those were all among our initial strike targets. We could not strike all of their warehouses and stockpiles, not having the number of Amazons needed to do so, but it hardly mattered in any case. Those we did strike we hit with lightning elementals who rampaged through, detonating all of the ordinance and leaving those bases in ruins from the craters of their own explosive shells! While the ones we did not hit were in no way sufficient to supply the insatiable appetite of a modern mechanized army!

"With Hidden Weapons to conceal our armaments we can blend in to a population and strike wherever we need, sewing chaos and carnage behind us! Cause enough local catastrophes and the carefully ordered social structure that is so good at spying on its own population is thrown into enough disorder they could never find us! Threaten a few police chiefs in the right ways and suddenly the cops don't WANT to find you! They don't DARE for fear of the reprisals promised to them. And the hardcases can be shampooed so they can't even recognize what an Amazon is, even when she stands right before him!"

She chuckled. "No, there are sisters among our Amazons who want to go to war with the Red Chinese again, just for how much fun we had the first time! It was as simple as beating an egg! With about the same amount of risk on our part. By the time the war ended we had already captured one of their high officials, and after a shampoo and rinse he was enthusiastically helping us send the codes to reprogram their own missiles to nuke China's coastal population centers! They could hardly surrender fast enough at that point! The head of their government still lives in terror of us, and their generals weep at rumors of our approach."

Cologne was, by now, enjoying a full on laugh at those memories. "Remember girls: It makes no difference what they have, or how willing they are to use it, if they are not able to hit their targets!"

"But it wasn't a total success. You still lost your homeland. The radiation in your valley would make it quite unlivable for a great many years to come." Amy pondered.

"Girl, they didn't so much as kill one of our herd animals. Even our sheep went unhurt by the Red Chinese, while on the other hand we broke the back of the communists' entire army and were working our way through their industry when their government folded and begged us to let them surrender. As for our home valley, we have chi techniques that shield from background radiation, developed long ago to explore certain deep caves and refined to fight demons we found there. We have a LONG history and have encountered most things before. Radiation is not new to this world. Concentrated forms of it are unusual, but then so are the techniques to concentrate chi energy. And cleaning up after battles with those earth demons long ago taught us how to gather radioactive particles out of the air, earth and water and dispose of them safely. Our valley is fine, and as fertile and safe as it has ever been. We even gathered those radioactive chunks to make into our own bombs, which we play with the Red Chinese by letting them find one in the leader's bedroom from time to time - but it's always gone before their bomb squads can arrive. It serves as a great motivational tool, however. They fall all over themselves not to displease us. After all, how many times do you want to go to the bathroom and find out you are sharing space with a nuclear weapon on a countdown to detonation?"

The former crone laughed heartily. "No, like the previous Chinese emperors before them, our communist overlords live in terror of us. As well they should. If we so chose, we could disappear among their own population bases before they could get their own forces out to attack us! It was just more fun to defeat them in the field, terrorize their leaders, sink their tanks and vehicles, crater airport runways, and destroy their roads and infrastructure!"

Her gaze became dark and level. "And they know well that even should they, by luck, surprise or skill, destroy our main villages and the bulk of our tribes with them, we have enough scattered members that none of the leaders of those who'd destroyed us would survive - and we've had three thousand years to think up imaginative tortures for those that truly manage to displease us. Even without our main tribes, our survivors could smash their nation and condemn their leaders to thousands of years of torment. The last Emperor of the Chinese who managed to deal us such an injury still hasn't managed to die yet, in spite of over a thousand years of wishing he could end the pain. Our tribes recovered a long time ago from the extinction he nearly brought upon us, but he still resides in a literal hell. We even arranged for some of their current leaders to have a little visit, to have witnessed what awaits them if they ever do manage to do us that injury."

She chuckled darkly. "None of those men have stopped weeping about it yet. No, they'd sooner put a gun to their own heads and fire than try to move against us again! I could, right this minute, get on the phone and tell them to go to war against a country they'd surely lose against - and they would do it rather than displease us!"


Author's Notes:

I get so tired of stories trying to pretend that the mechanisms of modern government would be the perfect tool for Nabiki to casually crush those pesky little Amazons. In the first place, the 'grand all-powerful Nabiki' approach simply turns my stomach! She's never displayed much of what I'd call true cunning, all too willing to betray sacred trusts over pocket change. And, in the second place, the Amazons display so much magic and special techniques that even if I were granted the full powers of any government on Earth to prosecute war against them without limit, I'm not sure that I could succeed, partially for reasons I just described.

If government can't casually wipe out organized crime, which is just made up of ordinary people, what chance would they have against a determined race of Chinese Amazons given the powers they've shown in the series?

No, I can well see why ancient, Chinese emperors lived in terror of them.