Bright is the moon high in starlight

This ain't no self-insert fic.

This ain't no slash fic neither.

This is Top Dog.

--

Bright is the moon high in starlight

Chill in the air cold as steel tonight

We shift

Call of the wild

Fear in your eyes

It's later than you realized…

--

"So do you have an answer for Mother?"

Kodachi turned round, and found Wolf stood there giving her an unreadable look; the blonde Amazon was leaning against the Tendo's perimeter wall with a cigarette tucked into the corner of her mouth.

"Indeed." Kodachi said. "I and my family's retainers will give you what assistance we are able to. I must, however, advise you to avoid contact with my father and my brother; both have gone stark staring insane in the years since my mother's death."

Wolf inclined her head. "Unfortunate, but such things are sadly common among the weaker-willed gender; in time you'll find men are usually pretty screwed-up puppies. The situation in Joketsuzo is becoming untenable; Mother has decided to act now before it's too late." She grinned humourlessly. "To that end, we are in Tokyo to solicit the assistance of your own people, and of Ranma Jaku Saotome."

"Where does he come in to this?" Kakashi asked, sounding startled.

"He recently married the Joketsuzoku Heir." Wolf stated. "I overheard a discussion between Cougar and Fox on our way here, and it seems there is some kind of prophecy; what I know is merely conjecture, but I understand Mother believes he may have something to do with it."

"So, what's the plan?" Kodachi asked.

Another of those terrible humourless grins spread across Wolf's face.

"We're getting the Reformist Joketsuzoku out of there with everything that isn't nailed down, even if we had to pry the nails out." She said. "Over the coming weeks, almost two thirds of the current population of Joketsuzo will be making their way to this city; approximately three thousand of us, including men and children. We need sanctuary. Kou Loun and her Conservatives will come for us, and they won't care who gets killed in the crossfire. We pose a threat to that mad old woman's thirst for power, and she is willing to go to any length to control Joketsuzo as a nation and the Joketsuzoku as a people. It is fortunate indeed that Hera refuses to act against any descendant of the six founders of Joketsuzo, and that includes most Amazons of any faction."

"Finding accommodation for three thousand Amazons will not be an easy task." Kakashi remarked. "You need to talk to Soun Tendo."

"What's he got?" Wolf asked.

"He owns Nerima outright." Kakashi told her. "With a scattering of exceptions, every building you can have seen since you crossed over from Juuban belongs to Soun Tendo. Every square metre of ground in Nerima belongs to Soun Tendo. The tunnels beneath Nerima belong to Soun Tendo. The roads in Nerima belong to Soun Tendo. Fully a third of the population of Nerima work, directly or indirectly, for Soun Tendo. Every business in Nerima either rents it's premises from Soun Tendo, or belongs outright to Soun Tendo. Even the police in Nerima rent their station from Soun Tendo. Hell," and he gave Kodachi an apologetic look, "Even the Kuno family pay ground rent to Soun Tendo. Money talks, big money speaks the loudest, and big money is what Soun Tendo has." Kakashi shrugged. "I understand he also has money tied up in several heavy manufacturing concerns, here in Japan and in other countries – including, interestingly enough, several concerns in the armaments industry, and a major stake in Shinohara Heavy Industries."

"Ah." Wolf said. "I understand."

"Actually, I am given to understand that the tunnels beneath Nerima belong to Akane Tendo these days." Kodachi remarked.

"In a way." Kakashi said with another shrug. "Though admittedly their undeteriorated state is largely down to us; they're useful."

--

Disclaimer: Sorry, I'm an atheist, I don't believe in anything and that includes disclaimers…

--

Top Dog: Biker Half 2.0

Book 1: Birth of a Modern Legend.

A Doghead13 / United Galaxies fanfic

Written & produced by Calum J 'Doghead13' Wallace

Preread by KuroNeko

Hosted by Studio Asynjor

Brought to you by Hairy Scottish Git Productions, GMBH

This is not a drill.

--

Chapter 13: First Blood part 2

(In which a fire becomes a blaze)

Right as Kodachi and Kakashi were getting very involved in a conversation with Wolf, a man was casually ambling into the Tendo compound. He'd come sauntering over from where he'd been watching the show from a big black car a couple of blocks up the street, given Tiger (who was loitering in the street) a smug look, and headed straight into the garden.

This man was about five foot eight with long mouse-brown hair in a ponytail, and was dressed in high boots and trenchcoat with cargo trousers and a battered check shirt underneath; he had suspicious bulges right where shoulder holsters would be, and a pair of silver-plated Desert Eagles holstered on his belt.

He glanced around, then casually sauntered into the garden, nodding at Mu Tze as he passed; the half-blind weaponmaster carefully adjusted his spectacles, realised who he was looking at, and had to sit down.

"Who's he?" Ru Ki asked as the amiable-looking chap ambled over to the Tendo's front door and casually knocked.

"Only… only… only…" Mu Tze stammered.

The door opened, revealing a smiling Kasumi, and at about the same time Genma stuck his head out the French windows.

"John!" the grey-haired biker squawked.

"Hey there, Genma. Akira's having to deal with a bit of untidiness over on the border, and I was insystem anyway, had something to look in on over in Scotland, so I thought I'd drop past and check in, see how things are coming on." The man said.

"Magus Kirth." Soun said, having stuck his head round the corner of Genma, a tight squeeze at the best of times. "Come in; welcome to my humble abode. I assume you're here on business?"

"Officially unofficial business." John Kirth said with a wink as Kasumi showed him in; by this time, Genma and Soun had come outside and were coming back into the house behind the brown-haired mage.

"Only John Kirth!" Mu Tze squeaked.

"Yeah, I got that much, but who is he and why'd he make you have to sit down?" Ru Ki prodded.

Mu Tze grinned shakily at her.

"He's one step short of a god." He said. "You know about how the Way of Hidden Weapons became part of the Amazon ways, right?"

"… only vaguely." Ru Ki admitted. "I mean, I know the grand master of the style married into the Joketsuzo hundreds of years ago."

"Well, that's the person who invented it." Mu Tze said.

"He doesn't look much like a martial artist." Fox muttered.

"That's because he's not." Mu Tze told her. "He's a mage." He pulled up one sleeve and traced his fingertip along one of the long fine white scars on the back of his arm. "You know about these?"

"Well, yeah." Fox said. All the Amazons were perfectly aware of the first step in learning the Way of Hidden Weapons; to manipulate ki in the necessary manner required assistance, and that assistance came in the form of strips of runic-engraved and ki-charged hardwood implanted under the skin of your forearms and shins.

"It's not much like anything else in the Amazon ways, is it?" Mu Tze said.

"Well, no." Fox admitted.

Mu Tze nodded. "Just my point. These aren't the sort of thing a martial artist would come up with. It took a mage to invent something like this. The wood has to be specially enchanted so your body doesn't reject it, and it has to be made from empowered materials – saplings of a very specific and very rare type of broadleaf, that have been grown from enchanted seeds and had further enchantments woven upon them as they grow. A normal warrior cannot access the place we use to store our arsenals without having the talent of magic; only a modified warrior may do so, and only with careful training and the right tools."

"Goddess, if we stay here in Japan like Wolf was muttering about, I guess we're the last generation of students of the Way of Hidden Weapons." Feng Long muttered.

"Not so." Mu Tze said. "Firstly, those trees were created for my foremothers use by the man who just walked into that house. Secondly, I have seeds and all the things needed to empower the wood. And thirdly, well, why do you think I insisted on Shan Meng staying behind? She's progressed far enough in the Way to properly care for the trees that give us our power. I pray we'll be able to transplant the grove to this foreign soil once the Reform is a reality, but if we cannot or the Elders do something as rash as," and he winced, "Destroy them, then, well, I just hope they'll deign to grow here."

--

"So why's your front garden full to the gunnels with Joketsuzoku clanners then, Lord Tendo?" John Kirth asked, sitting down on the sofa.

"That's complex." Soun said. "There's some kind of schism growing within the Joketsuzoku power structure; I believe we are seeing the beginning of the final collapse."

John sadly shook his head. "Trust Red to be right again; what a waste. Where do your lot come into it?"

"Via your employer's lot." Soun said. John cocked an eyebrow, so the Tendo patriarch elaborated. "You're aware of the Joketsuzoku's marriage-by-combat laws?" John nodded; Soun jerked a thumb at Ranma, who was fiddling with his bike's carburettor and pretending not to listen. "He got in a slight disagreement with the Joketsuzoku Heir, and won the resulting fight."

"Ah." John said. "A three-way blood union; this could get entertaining."

"Ya gotten an annoyin' idea a' entertainin', Kirth." Genma grunted, giving the mage a dour look. His pocket suddenly started making a noise like a very old-fashioned telephone bell. The sort that goes 'Drrring drrring!'. He looked starled, pulled an extremely compact cellphone out of his pocket, gave it a dour look, and answered it.

"H'llo… who th' fuck are ya?... ya fuckin' what?... ya gotta be fuckin' wiv me… shit… Shit… Shit, shit, shit… I read ya… Where are ya?... OK… Nah, ain't far away… Yeah, we'll be there soon."

"Wazzup, Dad?" Ranma asked.

"That wuz some bloke callin' himself Doc Tofu." Genma growled. "He sez he just found yer wife layin' in th' street, she's at his clinic an' she ain't inna good way. He found me phone number in her wallet."

Ranma stared at his disassembled carburettors for a moment. An ignition key flew across the room and landed in his lap; Micheru had just tossed it to him.

"Where?" he said.

Soun reeled off some directions. Ranma nodded, piled onto Micheru's bike, booted it into life, and went blasting off out the garden and away down the street in a cloud of tyre smoke. His helmet was still hanging from his partially-stripped bike's handlebars.

"What's up with him?" Akane asked, sticking her head into the living room. "And who's that?" Her varied cohorts were peering round or over her.

"Apparently Shampoo's at Dr Tofu's clinic, I assume Ranma's heading thataway." Her father told her. "And this is an old… acquaintance of myself and Genma…"

"Jonathon Julian Kirth, Esquire." John said, sketching an idle salute.

"She's at the clinic? What's she doing there?" Akane asked.

"I'm not sure." John said. "But, well, what does one normally do at a clinic?"

"It's a place you go to when – SHIT! Nabiki!" Akane gasped.

"What's wrong with Nabiki?" Soun asked, sitting bolt upright.

"Oh shit, we were talking about that cop pal of hers who got murdered and she took off to talk to someone, she wouldn't say who, and Ranma got Shampoo to tail her!" Akane told her father.

Soun's face fell; he glanced at Kirth, who frowned, fished a map and pendulum out of his pockets, and started dangling the pendulum over the map.

"One of your daughters, correct, Lord Asinara?" he asked.

"Indeed, my second-to-youngest daughter, Nabiki Tendo." Soun growled.

John frowned.

"Someone's blocking me." He said. "She's somewhere in Tokyo, but I can't get a fix on her."

Soun crashed to his feet and then gave Akane and the goths a sincere shock; he hurried over to the side of the living room with the Shinto shrine to the memory of Kimiko Tendo, pressed his finger firmly into a knothole on the base of the shrine, and rotated the portrait of his dead-but-not-quite-gone wife through ninety degrees clockwise. There was a whirr and click, and the entire shrine rose off of the floor. Soun calmly opened the curtains that shrouded it's legs, and Akane was decidedly surprised to see that a gun rack had risen out of the floor.

He selected a weapon – an FN FAL battle rifle with an M203 underslung grenade launcher attached to it, that as it happens Okuno at TMPD's ballistics lab would have been most interested to examine in light of the destruction of a certain Korean restaurant – very calmly loaded it, selected a bandolier of grenades and rifle magazines, loaded a round into the launcher, checked the safety on both rifle and launcher, then placed weapon and ammunition on the table and picked up the phone.

"Help yourself, Genma." He said. "I've got to make a few phone calls."

Genma grunted, glanced over the rack of weapons, and withdrew an M1 Thompson sub-machine gun with a satisfied noise.

"While since I seen onea these." He said.

"Daddy, why've you got this kind of weaponry?" Akane asked, peering at the small arsenal and only just managing not to drool. Was that an M60? Oooh, MP5's with drum magazines, sexy, and – crikey, a Stinger?

"Home defence." Soun said. "My father's brains were blown out all over the doorstep in this house; I feel safer knowing I have a little firepower close to hand."

--

"Hey. You the doc?"

Dr Tofu looked up from what he'd been doing, which was in fact going through his contact list looking for someone who might be able to further help the gunshot purple-haired girl who was currently clinging to life by a thread in his operating theatre, and found himself confronted by a sizeable wild-haired leather-clad unshaven lout.

"I am indeed." He said. "Doctor Ono Tofu, at your service. How may I help you?"

"My name's Ranma Jaku Saotome." The young man said, fishing a wallet out of his jacket; he opened it and showed it to Dr Tofu. Beneath the transparent-fronted bit at the front of the place where you'd put credit cards was a photograph of the purple-haired Amazon who was currently in his operating theatre; she was holding a decrepit electric guitar and grinning enthusiastically at the camera.

"I heard you seen this girl." Ranma stated.

"Why would that be of interest to you?" Dr Tofu asked.

"Her name's Xian Pu O'Conner." Ranma stated. "She's a Joketsuzoku Amazon and she happens to be my wife."

"I see." Dr Tofu said, rising to his feet. "She is not in a good way, Mr Saotome; she's been shot several times, lost a lot of blood, and she has several broken ribs, one of which has punctured her left lung."

"Is she gonna be okay? Is the baby gonna be okay?" Ranma asked, fear easily audible in his voice, instantly convincing Dr Tofu that he did indeed care about Xian Pu.

"I honestly cannot say." He said. "I've done what I can to help her, but like any immature werecreature, her body's chemistry is different enough to that of a human that conventional surgery techniques would likely do her more harm than good."

"Waddya mean, werecreature?" Ranma growled.

Dr Tofu blinked, faintly startled. "You didn't know? Odd."

"Spill it."

The good doctor nodded.

"Certainly. The short version is, humans such as myself are the new kids on the block. The real rulers of this world are shapeshifters such as yourself and your wife. No need to look at me like that; you are major news to everyone on Earth who's in the know. You're the heir apparent to rulership of one of the biggest shapeshifter Clans – the basic socio-political unit of your species' civilisation – and you were Named as Heir due to a prophecy, the exact wording of which has been kept a closely-guarded secret."

"So I'm not human." Ranma muttered; he glared at his hand for a moment. "Fine; that'll be why my brother can chuck a Hummer. Whatever, what I wanna know is if this is gonna help Xian Pu."

"Quite possibly, yes." Dr Tofu confirmed with a nod. "It should be possible to induce her to First Change – develop the ability to shapeshift – early, causing her enhanced powers of healing to become active at the same time, but I don't have the expertise to do that."

"What sorta people would?" Ranma asked. "How about, say, an Amazon Healer?"

"Definitely, if of course we could find an Amazon Healer we could trust."

Ranma considered that for a few moments, then suddenly smirked.

"Am I right that wolfsbane screws up shapeshifters?"

"Indeed. It interferes with the hormones associated with shapeshifting and regeneration." The doctor confirmed with a nod.

Ranma's smirk became downright nasty.

"Well, it just so happens that a buncha Amazons rolled inta town half an hour ago, and I know they've got a healer with 'em; recognised the insignia." He pulled his spare magazine out of his pocket, and flipped it round so Dr Tofu could see what was sealed into the hollow points of the slugs. "And it's amazing what people will do at pistol-point."

"I will not have violence within my establishment." Dr Tofu flatly stated.

Ranma shrugged. "I ain't gonna pull the trigger, killing this healer wouldn't do Xian Pu much good, but what the Amazons don't know won't hurt my wife."

The doctor considered that for a moment, worked out what Ranma was saying – that he didn't plan on carrying through with his threat, but he planned on making the Amazons think he was willing to carry through with it – then accepted that with a nod.

"Very well." he said.

Ranma nodded, then frowned. "Hey, can I use yer phone?"

--

"Hello, Tendo dojo, Soun Tendo speaking."

"Tendo, it's Ranma." came a familiar smoke-roughened voice. "I'm at the doc's place. Xian Pu's been shot a bunch of times, and she's in a bad way. Find out if them Amazons got a healer with 'em, and if so get 'em the Hell round here – the doc says he don't know if she's gonna make it."

"Understood. We'll be there sharpish." Soun said; Ranma grunted something that might have been supposed to be a 'good', and banged the phone down.

Soun turned to John Kirth.

"That was Ranma. He says the Joketsuzoku Heir had been gunshot."

"From your tone I guess she's pre-Change." John said.

Soun nodded, and hurried outside.

Tiger looked up from where she'd been interestedly listening in on Mu Tze's conversation with his students as soon as she noticed Soun hurrying out the house and making a beeline for her.

"Is there a problem, Lord Asinara?" she asked.

"Xian Pu O'Conner has been taken to a local doctor's clinic." Soun told her. "I understand she is badly injured; she's been gunshot."

Tiger went rather pale.

"Gui Mei, I believe you are needed." She called over to where the white-haired girl was leaning against a tree and jawing with Mao Xing.

"What? What's happening?" the healer asked, hurrying over.

"It's Xian Pu." Tiger said. "She is seriously injured."

"Shit – we'd better move it!"

"Follow me." John Kirth commanded, making haste towards his car – an immaculate black 1959 DeSoto, which was parked just up the street.

"Mao Xing, you had better go too." Tiger said to the mechanic as they hurried towards the gates.

"What's happened?" He asked.

"I'm afraid it's your sister." Tiger told him. "She's been shot."

"Oh Goddess no…"

The car came to life with a roar as the two Amazons were still scrambling into it; Mao Xing nearly didn't get the door closed in time as John threw the car into gear and trod on the gas.

"What was that about?" Wolf queried, coming ambling over.

Tiger gave her a sharp look.

"The Champion's seriously injured." She said.

"How? Target?" Wolf growled.

Tiger didn't reply for a moment, then gave Wolf a sideon look.

"I don't know." She said. "Yet. All I know is, she's sustained at least one gunshot wound, and we are going to set things straight."

Wu Chii nodded, having been close enough to get the gist. She glanced at Mu Tze, who was staring off into space with a look of blank uncomprehending horror on his handsome face.

"We're going to do what we've got to do." She agreed.

Mu Tze snapped out of it.

"We're going to find whoever dared harm a hair in Xian Pu's head," he hissed, giving his students a flat stare, "And we're going to kill them."

"Well said, lad." Tiger growled.

The relationship between the varied genders, factions, and generations of Joketsuzoku were strained at best, downright hostile at worst. In the past few decades, more Amazons had been killed by other Amazons than by every last one of their many and myriad enemies put together.

But when some outsider harmed one of their own, the reaction was as inevitable as the incoming tide; the Joketsuzoku tooled up, closed ranks, and took the transgressors to bits one piece at a time.

--

As soon as the DeSoto was stationary, Gui Mei was scrambling out with Mao Xing hot on their heels. The two young Amazons rushed into the clinic, and were rapidly ushered into Dr Tofu's operating theatre.

Whereupon they found an obstruction.

"Oi." Said Ranma.

Gui Mei glared at the hulking outsider male who was apparently Xian Pu O'Conner's husband. The great lout was stood in the way, blocking her route to the operating table upon which the injured woman was laying.

"Get out the way." She growled.

Ranma's glare intensified, and he hauled his handgun out of his jacket, dropped the magazine, and damned nearly shoved the mag in her face.

"You know what these do." He said.

"You've got wolfsbane in those things? Dirty." She snapped.

"Whatever works." Ranma bit out. "I wanna make one thing clear; I don't trust you far as I could throw Tokyo Tower." He brandished the magazine. "My wife snuffs it, one of these goes into your head. Got it?"

Gui Mei stared at him for a long moment, then shook her head, her estimates of him creeping up a bit from rock-bottom.

"If she dies, you won't need to shoot me." She said.

"Oh?" Ranma growled.

Gui Mei nodded, finally succeeding in brushing past him.

"There are several tall buildings in this city, and if I screw up on this one I'll take a long walk off a short roof." she said. "It'd be less painful than having to tell Wu Chii I let her best friend die."

She critically examined Xian Pu's various wounds, then sighed.

"Damn. I hate doing this – it's so unnatural. First Change should be a part of the natural progression from child to adult, not some forced thing." She gave Ranma a bad-tempered look. "I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't life-and-death. Now, I suggest both of you men go through to the other room; I'm going to have to open a part of her, and trust me on this much, you can never look at someone quite the same once you've seen their insides."

Ranma let out a disgusted noise.

"I've seen me own guts." He said. "RPK hits in th' abdomen do that, an' I've also slept with a chick who's guts I'd seen… And if you think I'm not going to be here for her, you've got another think coming."

"What he said." Mao Xing said in a small voice.

She nodded, her estimates of Ranma going up again.

"Then please try not to get in the way; time is something that Xian Pu doesn't have much of right now." She said, and started getting her gear out.

--

Ranma watched, simultaneously fascinated and creeped out, as Gui Mei put the final finishing touches to her work. There were several lines of stitching across Xian Pu's chest, including a line between her breasts; her upper torso looked almost like it belonged to some sort of feminine Frankenstein's Monster. Mao Xing had left, looking decidedly green, when Gui Mei had cut the injured girl's chest partially open.

"And now for the moment of truth." Gui Mei softly stated, judiciously adding a little powdered belladonna leaves to the concoction she was mixing in a bowl; she gave it a final stir, scooped a little into an incense burner, lit it, and began carefully wafting the smoke into Xian Pu's face.

"What's this do?" Ranma quietly asked.

"It's the trigger for the way I've temporarily altered the flows of her ki." The Healer explained, keeping her voice soft. "Any moment now…"

Xian Pu began twitching a bit. The moments ticked by; the smoke got thicker in the surgery, then Ranma blinked.

"Huh, didn't think she had that much body hair."

"She didn't." Gui Mei said, the relief very audible in her voice. "It's working."

Xian Pu was by now distinctly shifting about, almost like she was tossing in her sleep; she coughed a couple of times, then her chest made a horrenduous grating squelching noise, and she rolled clean over and fell off the operating table; Ranma caught her as she went into a horrendous coughing fit, hocking up great globs of half-clotted blood and mucous. The whole time, she was getting hairier and hairier; by the time the coughing ended and he laid her back on the table, she had an overall coating of chalky white fur and had noticeably increased in weight.

Her twitching fit was increasing, rapidly becoming wild thrashing, all the while with her muscles and general bulk becoming more and more apparent, until suddenly it all peaked and her body seemed to erupt. Her feet stretched themselves; her hands clubbed up. A tail erupted from between her buttocks; her face thrust itself forwards into a short muzzle.

And, a couple of seconds later, there was what looked like a white version of a leopard (or some-such other not-lion-or-tiger big-cat-with-spots) laying fast asleep on the operating table, with the slightly incongruous additions of the fur round the top, sides and back of it's head being dyed purple.

Gui Mei carefully moved the albino big cat into a more comfortable-looking position, then turned to Ranma with a smile.

"All she needs now is rest." She said. "Maybe you'd better see if you can find out who did this to her; I'll watch over her for you."

Ranma nodded.

"Thanks; I owe ya one." He said, and walked out.

"No you don't." The Amazon healer whispered, gently stroking Xian Pu's fur. "I already have all the thanks I'll ever need."

--

Micheru and Genma had completely reassembled Ranma's carbs by the time he pulled back into the garden. The DeSoto wasn't far behind him, and it had an unusual passenger in the form of a sleeping albino leopard with purple head-fur in the back seats; the Amazons, directed by a very bossy Gui Mei and a startlingly persuasive Kasumi, carried Xian Pu up to the bedroom she was sharing with the Saotomes, and then they began loading the Joketsuzoku Champion's private collection of firearms into said room, this time being bossed around by a shockingly assertive Si Ren.

While all this was going on, Ranma was having a rather bemusing encounter on the lawn. He'd found a tall (by Chinese standards) and muscular young man with long hair, very thick spectacles and white robes. This young man had proceeded to very much get in Ranma's way.

"You're Xian Pu's husband, right?" the guy in white checked.

"That's me." Ranma said with a nod.

The young Amazon male nodded thoughtfully.

"Hang on a moment." He said, and started rooting around in his robes, which Ranma was thinking of as a too-big white trenchcoat.

The Saotome heir watched bemusedly as the young man pulled an assortment of increasingly peculiar items out of his coat; an assortment of cricket bats, a rubber chicken, three different Kalashnikovs, two white mice (which ran off, and Ranma could have sworn one of them went, 'Narf!') a dartboard, various melee weapons, a lobster pot, a huge sack of sporks, a box of old-school German 'potato masher' hand grenades, a lawn chair, a six-pack of Fosters, a huge plush panda, a slightly startled spider monkey, a top hat containing a white rabbit, nearly a dozen white 'trenchcoats', four full jerrycans, an RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade, an ornate wooden chest adorned with silver filigree, a crate of barbecue sauce, an entire autorickshaw, and finally…

"Ah, there it is."

… an elderly pump-action shotgun.

"Right." The source of the sizeable pile of gubbins said, and worked the pump with obvious glee. "My name's Mu Tze, Master of the Way of Hidden Weapons. You're a lucky bastard, Saotome, and if you break Xian Pu's heart I'll blow your kneecaps off."

"Yup, gotcha." Ranma said, deciding he liked this guy.

"Okay, good, I'm glad we're clear about that." Mu Tze said, sounding like he hadn't been expecting that sort of reaction.

"I guess she means a lot to you." Ranma said.

Mu Tze slumped a bit and started stuffing his assorted junk back into his trenchcoat. "… yeah, you could say that. It's just… shit, she's the best friend I've ever had."

Ranma nodded, leaning back against the side of the gun truck.

"An' from the sound of it, yer beating yerself up fer not bein' there when she got shot up." He said.

"What'd you know about it?" Mu Tze snapped.

"Don't gimme that, man. She's pregnant, th' doc says it's twins, an' I'm th' father." He shook his head. "Didn't know her from Marilyn Monroe when I met her, but th' girl's gotten a way a' growin' onna guy."

"And that's for sure." Mu Tze muttered, finishing stuffing his junk away. He seemed to notice he was still holding the shotgun, gave it a quizzical look, and tucked it up his sleeve; this left just the autorickshaw, which he bemusedly examined. "Where the Hell did I pick that up from…?"

"That's a Burmese numberplate." Ranma pointed out.

"Odd; I've never been within a thousand miles of Burma." Mu Tze said, then shrugged, grabbed the autorickshaw, and somehow managed to stuff it into his coat. "Oh well, at least it means I've got wheels if I need 'em."

"How'd ya do that stuffin' stuff in yer trenchcoat?" Ranma asked.

"Family technique." Mu Tze said. "Fraid it's very secret."

"Fair enough." Ranma said with a nod. "I guess it's similar ta th' weapon manifestation techniques from th' Tendo school a' Anythin' Goes, but I ain't gonna pry."

"Weapon manifestation techniques?" Mu Tze asked, cocking his head. You could almost have stood a spoon up in the awkwardness.

Ranma nodded. "Yeah, check out Akane's practise routine onea these days. It's somethin' her old man developed, basically pullin' weapons outta nowhere… Soun said he designed it so he'd have a sword handy wherever he went, but fer some reason whenever Akane tries she gets an enormous wooden mallet."

"Aha, then it is similar to my techniques, though I know for certain that it is at best an incomplete version." Mu Tze said with a nod. "There's a reason we call the dimensional layer involved 'hammerspace'; most of what's in there is assorted hammers and hammer-like blunt instruments. All my students go through a big-mallet stage, as did I. It'll pass."

"That's what Soun said when I asked." Ranma said, nodding.

"Oi, Ranma." Genma grunted, wandering over with Micheru in tow.

"Wazzup Dad?" Ranma asked.

"Bout that white-haired guy who's wiv th' chick wiv th' duff arm." Genma grunted. "If he pulls his headband offa over his left eye, don't use any secret techniques in front a' him."

"What gives?" Ranma asked.

"Are you saying that's 'Sharingan' Hatake, the Copy-Cat Ninja?" Mu Tze asked, sounding a little perturbed.

Genma nodded. "Yah. Ya can trust him ta do what he says he'll do, but don't trust him not ta nick yer techniques." He lit up a cigarette. "Found that 'un out th' hard way; cheeky bastard nicked half th' Yamasenken before I spotted him bustin' out a Kijin Raishu-Dan."

"Dad, when in the fuck are you going to teach me them things?" Ranma complained.

"They ain't like normal techniques, son." Genma growled. "They're designed purely ta kill. There's never a right time fer that."

"Thanks for the heads-up; I suppose I'll return the favour." Mu Tze said, and turned to Ranma and Micheru. "The young male with the long hair and intense expression who was using a visual-light cloaking technique, I recognise from the briefing Elder Mi Soon gave us. His name is Sasuke Uchiha. Supposedly the only survivor of a sizeable dynasty within the Konohakagure ninja clan, though Elder Mi Soon believes there is at least one other surviving Uchiha, possibly as many as five. As an Uchiha, he may or may not have access to an expressed form of the Uchiha family's so-called 'copy wheel eye' mutation. If you see his eyes go red with black markings, don't maintain eye contact and be careful what techniques you use. The first expressed form of the mutation in question confers an ability analogical to photokinetic reflexes, and he will be able to reproduce any techniques he sees while using said form. I've encountered a guy with photokinetic reflexes before; the results were more than a little tense."

"Thanks fer th' heads-up." Genma said with a nod. "Huh, didn't know th' Konohakagure still had an Uchiha… interestin'."

"So they're somethin' like that Copycat Ken guy we ran inta while we wuz over in Thailand, right?" Ranma asked.

"Yeah, but more so." Genma said, nodding. "Pity whoever wasted mosta 'em didn't finish the job."

"Great." Ranma muttered.

"Hey! Fucking pay some fucking attention you fucking fucks! Fuck sake, I coulda fucking iced the whole fucking lot of you fuckers and you'd never have fucking noticed!"

The four whirled round, even Genma, and found a set of pissed-off yellow eyes looking straight at Ranma.

They belonged to a short, flat-chested, buck-toothed, buzzcut-haired, boyish, angry-looking blonde girl dressed in jeans, denim jacket, combat boots, a Sex Pistols T-shirt and a knobbly choker, with the interesting addition of telltale bulges right where shoulder holsters go. She was leaning against the side of the DeSoto.

"Yeah, ya coulda." Genma admitted, sounding frankly impressed.

"You're Ranma fucking Saotome, right?" the girl checked, glaring at Ranma.

"So who wants ta know?" Ranma growled, instantly annoyed.

"For fuck sake, fucking cut the fucking trying to fucking glare fucking holes in my fucking head." The girl snapped. "What the fuck ever, my fucking name's Lydia fucking McKraken if you fucking must fucking know, I'm sticking my fucking neck out for you and your fucking crew, Saotome, so at fucking least fucking try to fucking act fucking grateful. That fucking Nabiki fucking Tendo girl fucking asked the fucking wrong fucking fuckers the fucking wrong fucking questions, and now some fucking seriously fucking unpleasant fucking fuckers fucking got her and she's fucking not fucking having a fucking nice fucking time. My fucking boss fucking thinks I'm fucking being a fucking good little fucking rodent and fucking keeping it to my fucking self, but you fucking know fucking what? I don't fucking like fucking seeing a fucking girl getting fucking fucked over like fucking that and I'm fucking fucked if I'm fucking sitting on my fucking arse and fucking doing fucking fuck all." She tossed him an envelope. "There's what the fuck I can fucking get away with fucking passing to you. The fucking manager of that fucking whorehouse can fucking tell you who the fuck to fucking fuck up, it's his fucking boss, though you're gonna have a fucking time of it fucking getting the fucking fucker to fucking spill the fucking beans."

Ranma digested that, being slightly impressed by how often this young woman was able to insert the word 'fuck' into a sentence.

"Thanks, Lydia." He said.

Lydia smiled for about a picosecond. "You fucking owe me, Saotome. I gotta fucking fuck off before my fucking boss fucking cottons fucking onto what the fuck I'm fucking doing and fucking rips the fucking fuck outta me; no fucking rest for the fucking wicked."

Ranma snorted, and she slipped away into the gathering dusk, seeming to vanish into thin air before she'd so much as exited the garden.

"That is one helluva talented lass." Genma stated.

Ranma snorted again.

"Round th' crew up." He said as he read the contents of the envelope. "We got heads ta break."

-- End Chapter --

AN –

OMFG! How in the name of small fuzzy things from Alpha Centauri did I manage to forget to upload chapter 12 for MONTHS? Oh well, then it's a two-chapter update...

Well, it was a long time coming but it's finally here. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised the thirteenth chapter was such a pain in the arse.

John Kirth's car is identical to Spike's car from the Buffy TV series. And yes, he does have a habit of listening to the Sex Pistols while driving. Oh, and you'll get to see what he was 'looking in on over in Scotland' towards the end of 'Harry Johnson and the Deathtrap Girl'.

Yes, John Kirth is rather glaring Gary Stu-fodder (in fact a walking Deus Ex Machinia) and I know it; he's needed for several reasons:

First off, he's one of the primary links between this and the Harry Johnson saga, and I'm not just talking about his brief appearance near the end of 'Headmaster's Socks', he's got a few spanners left to throw into the works over in that neck of the Top Dog woods.

Secondly, the Biker Half crew are going to need a freakishly powerful mage around later on, and he was there as the freakishly-powerful-mage in the original iteration of Biker Half.

And thirdly, like with the Nac Mac Feegle, there are few things that cannot be improved by the addition of freakishly powerful mages.

Cheers,

Cal.