Ranma 1/2, Slayers, Harry Potter, and any other series used in this fanfic are owned by their respective creators/publishers/whatever
Thanks to CyberSkaarj and the people of Fukufics for pre-reading.
At exactly 7PM, Ranma and Ryoko met each other above the lake. The news of the two's fight had spread around the Masaki house, and so the residents of the home -- as well as Hermione, Nashigi, and Gosaria -- were currently sitting around on the deck to watch. They had even brought some snacks to enjoy while the fight went on. One thought that ran through everyone's mind was how much the young cat-girl had improved since they had last seen her.
The three guests to the house were curious because they didn't know how good Ranma was at martial arts. While Hermione had known that the cat-girl was a martial artist, she had never seen her in action. Gosaria and Nashigi knew of, and had watched some of, Ranma's morning warm-ups in the Slytherin common room, but they had never witnessed much of their friend's real training. They had managed to go, but Happosai had somewhat freaked them out. To date, the three of them had more knowledge of the redhead's magic skill than her fighting abilities.
"Are there any rules that you'd like to place, Ryoko?" Ranma asked as she scratched the base of her ponytail.
"Same as usual, Pipsqueak." Ryoko answered from a cross-legged position. The 'usual' meant that their fight would be no holds barred with the exception of Ranma not being allowed to use any magic spells, and Ryoko would go 'easy' on her. 'Going easy' basically meant that the ex-space pirate would use just enough of her power to give the cat-girl a challenge, but not enough to completely waste said cat-girl.
Ranma nodded in response. The redhead wasn't delusional, and knew that Ryoko went 'easy' on her for her own health. She knew that if they had both used everything they had, the older Masu would win without question. She had her martial arts training and skills, but Ryoko was over 5,000-years-old, tricky, and had an incredible amount of raw power. Ranma would be able to keep up for a while, but the ex-space pirate would end with the upper hand. Likewise, if Ranma was able to use certain spells in her arsenal, she would have been able to easily win.
Silence ensued as the two fighters stared at each other for a long moment. Down by the house, Gosaria was about to open her mouth to say something, but was silenced when motes of light began to form around both fighters. The motes of light around Ryoko were orange-yellow, while the motes of light around Ranma were a light red color. When the two Masu held out their hands, the spheres gathered into their palms, and each formed a 15-inch energy sword.
Without even a warning, the two combatants charged at each other and met; both swords struggling to get past the other. After a moment with neither gaining the upper hand, they shared an almost identical smirk before leaping back. Ranma had to make a quick dodge to avoid the energy sword that Ryoko had tossed at her. The cat-girl proceeded to raise her sword to block the downward slice that the ex-space pirate had proceeded to follow up with.
Pushing her opponent's sword to the side, Ranma charged forward and only sliced air as the older woman teleported from view. The redhead stood there in wait, and when her senses began to warn her, she spun around and blocked another slash before pushing forward and managing to cut a small line in Ryoko's outfit.
Leaping backwards, Ryoko examined the cut in her clothing. "Not bad, shrimp," She praised, "Usually it takes longer for you to do something like that."
"I've been practicing." Ranma answered with a smirk. After getting the hang of the doppelganger ability, she would usually train against it when she didn't have to go to Xellos or Happosai. "You've probably been sitting on your ass all day, though, right?"
The ex-space pirate raised an eyebrow at the young redhead's cheek. Her own smirk appeared on her lips as she extended her other hand and formed a second energy blade. "Then how about we take it up a notch?" At the slightly slack-jawed look on her opponent's face, Ryoko gave a rather sadistic chuckle. "Well, since you're obviously so good, I wanted to see if you could handle yourself against two blades."
"Now wait just a--" Ranma halted as she quickly raised her sword to block a swing before ducking under the other. She was soon on the defensive as Ryoko -- who was providing amused taunts -- pushed her back with both energy blades. While Ryoko didn't have the power backing the attacks like she usually did with one sword, she had the speed to make up for it. The energy blades were still as dangerous as ever.
After dodging for almost a full minute, Ranma halted in place before quickly pushing the left blade out of the way and spinning around the right and giving her opponent a slash to the side; or she would have if said opponent hadn't teleported just as she had slashed. "Damn it."
A split second later -- to the shock and horror of Hermione, Gosaria, and Nashigi, -- Ryoko teleported back into view and quickly sliced off Ranma's sword hand. "You know, Ranma, if I remember correctly, you've been told many times not to over-extend yourself. Just how many times will you have to have your hand sliced off?"
"Yeah, yeah," the cat-girl responded as she -- to the even greater shock of her three friends -- regenerated her missing hand. If her opponent hadn't teleported, she would have scored a successful hit.
"Her hand was cut off!" Nashigi shouted as she jumped to her feet. "How did she grow it back like that?"
"It's because of her Masu physiology." Noike supplied. "Both she and Ryoko can replace their limbs if they end up losing them in some way."
Gosaria tilted her head. "You know, that's kind of handy." The statement caused several sweat-drops to form.
"I know!" Mihoshi said happily. "Could you imagine if they couldn't replace their limbs and ended up having a leg cut off? The other would have a leg up on the other."
"And wouldn't one of them then need a peg leg?" The younger blonde asked. "That would be strange."
Washu -- along with everyone else -- slapped a hand to her forehead and audibly groaned.
Back with the fight, Ranma charged forward and weaved between Ryoko's energy blades. Once she got close enough, the redhead attacked with a quick flurry of punches via Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken re-training. She had managed to land quite a number of punches before nimbly dodging an attempted fist to the face. Before her opponent could react, Ranma gave a quick and sharp kick to Ryoko's stomach and knocked the ex-space pirate back a few feet.
Quickly righting herself, Ryoko placed a hand to her stomach. 'She really has gotten stronger and faster.' The cyan-haired woman thought as she began dodging a string of fluid and quick attacks. Reaching out, Ryoko grabbed hold of the fist that was just about to land another blow. Tightening her grip, she spun around and sent the redhead flying for a few meters. As her opponent gained control of herself, Ryoko extended her arm the palm of her hand facing forward.
Firing off a of couple energy spheres, she watched as Ranma brought up a protection barrier; causing the blasts to collide harmlessly with the shield. Not letting up, Ryoko fired several more shots and noticed that the cat-girl seemed to be having a hard time keeping the protection up for very long. With a sinister smirk appearing on her lips, Ryoko began gathering energy into her hand. A second later, she fired off a large beam that collided with Ranma's shield and broke right through it; exploding on contact as soon as it hit the redhead.
When the dust settled, Ryoko found herself frowning in annoyance. Instead of a scuffed-up 12-year-old cat-girl, there was a scuffed up doll that had the exact likeness of said cat-girl. "Damn it, why did Washu have to teach her that?" Ryoko asked in annoyance as she glanced around for any sign of her opponent.
"Because it's kinda fun, actually." A voice from above answered. Turning her head skyward, the ex-space pirate caught sight of Ranma; floating horizontally. The cat-girl was slightly singed, so there was at least some satisfaction. Ryoko also noticed that the younger girl's fist had an almost flame-like aura around it.
"Hey, Pipsqueak, we agreed on no magic use."
"Actually," Ranma argued with a smirk, "We agreed on no magic SPELLS. There was nothing about not using the mana itself." The cat-girl proceeded to pull her fist back before quickly throwing it forward. "Hiryu Shoten Ha!" Both the heat generated from the mana AND the coolness of Ranma's aura combined easily to create a rather large tornado that engulfed Ryoko and spiraled downward towards the lake. Following up on this, she fired several energy spheres directly into the swirling mass of wind and collected lake water.
"Outstanding," Washu announced with a clearly visible interest, "She managed to successfully combine her mana and ki into the technique. That way, she doesn't have to rely on an outside source of heat that could end up turning unreliable."
"But isn't that tornado a magic attack of some sort?" Hermione asked in disbelief as she stared at the twisting and roaring tornado.
"No, that's a martial arts technique." Sasami provided with a shake of her head. That caused the three guests to give her an odd look. "Ranma-chan stated once that the technique works by combining a calm and cool aura with a source of incredible heat and energy."
A perplexed look appeared on Gosaria's face as she placed a finger to her chin. "That makes no sense. How do two different temperatures create a tornado?"
"I actually agree with Gosaria." Nashigi added. "If it was magic, I could understand."
"That was all Ranma would say." Tenchi supplied. "She mentioned that it was a secret technique belonging to a secret Chinese village of warrior women, and that she wasn't going to piss them off by giving away secrets."
Hermione, Gosaria, and Nashigi stared at each other upon the mention of 'secret Chinese village of warrior women'. The idea was odd, but considering everything they'd learned and witnessed, it wasn't that unbelievable or weird.
Up above, Ranma was caught slightly off-guard when Ryoko practically burst out from the twister and caught her in the stomach with a fast and powerful punch. Wincing as she clutched her stomach, Ranma was unable to react to a large energy beam at point-blank range that sent her flying back several meters. She managed to right herself again, but had to shake her head a little to get rid of the slight ringing sensation. "What the hell?"
"Hey, if you can bend the rules a little, so can I." Ryoko answered with an amused laugh as she shot forward.
Frowning slightly, Ranma positioned her hands into claws and formed a small layer of ki as she weaved between the barrages of energy blasts. When Ryoko was right upon her, the cat-girl dodged quickly to the left and answered with a flurry of claw slashes. A small portion of Ryoko's outfit in the back was shredded, and her body itself was sporting several deep and painful looking scratches.
Teleporting to a safe distance, Ryoko reached behind her and winced painfully as she ran her fingers against the claw marks. The glare she directed at Ranma was all the warning the cat-girl had received before several dozen spheres of energy appeared in the air around the glaring Ryoko.
'Shit,' Ranma cursed as every single ball of energy shot towards her at high velocity. While she had managed to dodge several of them, a great number had smashed right into her and caused her body to feel as if she had gone 20 rounds with a speeding van. When Ryoko formed several more spheres for a repeat performance, Ranma teleported to a position behind the older woman and attempted a roundhouse kick to the side of her head. Ryoko ducked under the kick before attempting a fast and powerful uppercut to the redhead's chin.
Another quick teleport allowed Ranma to reappear right before her opponent and direct a punch towards the woman's gut. To the cat-girl's annoyance, Ryoko managed to grab onto her wrist. The older Masu yanked the redhead towards her and brought her knee up in an attempt to ram it into the younger's gut.
Ranma managed to see the knee coming and used her free hand to push herself up and ram the top of her head into the older woman's chin. The force of the blow caused Ryoko to let go of the cat-girl's hand, and with both of her hands free, Ranma positioned her arms into an 'X' formation with her claws facing outward. Leaping forward, the cat-girl slashed at her opponent, and bounced off due to the force-field that Ryoko had created at the last moment.
With her barrier still up, the ex-space pirate re-formed a pair of energy blades. As soon as she canceled the barrier, Ryoko charged towards her opponent and tossed one of her swords at the cat-girl. When Ranma dodged to the right, Ryoko followed and brought her remaining blade downward… only to hit air when the cat-girl vanished and reappeared behind her and gave her a quick kick in the back.
Ryoko spun around to face her opponent, but couldn't react in time before a foot smashed into her face and sent the cyan-haired woman flying back several feet. Coming to a stop and managing to right herself, Ryoko raised her hand and ran it across her nose. When she noticed that quite a bit of blood had come from her nose, the ex-space pirate's lips turned into a sinister smirk.
At the sight of the older woman's facial expression, Ranma started to sweat. She knew that look. It meant that Ryoko was done playing around with her, and that the woman was ready to end the fight; in a way that meant a great deal of pain for the redhead. She was about to say something, but was interrupted as a large beam accompanied by dozens of smaller energy balls careened towards her. Putting her teleporting and dodging skills into use, Ranma managed to avoid the entire barrage. She came to a stop, however, when an energy sword shot past the side of her head from behind; leaving a three inch long cut on her cheek in the process. Turning her head, Ranma noticed that Ryoko -- with a deceptively friendly look upon her face -- was right behind her. The cat-girl would have moved away, but the ex-space pirate had a firm grip on her arm.
Ranma cursed to herself in annoyance. It seemed that Ryoko wanted to end the fight, and she wanted to end the fight by completely and utterly kicking her ass into submission. 'Perhaps', the cat-girl though, 'kicking her in the face was a bad move.'
"Don't be so tense, Ranma-chan." Ryoko stated in a rather sweet voice. "I'm not going to hurt you THAT bad."
"What, you expect me to believe that?" Ranma asked with a raised eyebrow. Without warning, the cat-girl ducked, formed an energy sword in her free hand, and sliced off the hand that was gripping her other arm. As the ex-space pirate was recovering, Ranma teleported to a safe distance… which wasn't so safe due to Ryoko instantly appearing behind her. "Damn!" The cat-girl cursed again before dodging and teleporting away from several energy blade strikes and an energy blast.
The two continued to play an odd cat-and-mouse game for the next few minutes; Ranma would teleport away or try and fight back, and Ryoko would follow and beat her at each turn. After another moment, the cat-girl completely vanished from sight, and Ryoko was left to try and figure out where her prey had gone.
"Hey, did you actually run away or something, pipsqueak?" Ryoko asked as she turned her head in every direction to try and find the younger girl. "Where the hell are you?"
Ranma could only blink in confusion from her spot right in front of the cyan-haired woman. She was standing in plain sight, so why was the older Masu acting like she didn't know she was there. 'What the hell is going on?' The cat-girl asked as she glanced down; only to notice that she was completely invisible. "The hell?!" With that shout, she came back into full view.
"So you were using that Umisenken thing to hide?" Ryoko asked. 'If that's true, then why did she just drop it?'
The redhead shook her head vigorously. "No, I didn't even attempt to suppress my ki! It just happened when I was doing all those teleports. I never even realized that I was actually invisible!" She tried doing it again, but only found herself teleporting. "I don't even know how I did it!" She'd be damned if it wasn't cool, though.
Sitting with everyone else down below, Washu had an interesting look in her eyes that appeared as soon as Ranma had mentioned that. 'I wonder…'
Back in the air, Ranma was scratching the base of her ponytail as she attempted to figure out how to do what she did again. She had never even felt any kind of strain that usually accompanied the use of the Umisenken. Hell, with the Umisenken, she was never TRULY invisible to begin with, and she could always at least see herself. With what she did just now, though, not even she could see herself.
Ranma was brought out of her musings by a hand that was placed on her shoulder. "Huh?" She asked as she glanced up to see a smirking Ryoko.
"We're still in the middle of a fight, Pipsqueak."
With how her current position was, and the fact that Ryoko also had a couple doppelgangers surrounding her, there was only one thing Ranma could say. "Damn…"
Ranma winced as she lowered herself into the hot water of the Masaki floating bath house. To say that she hurt would be an incredibly gross understatement. Almost every part of her body -- including her ears and tail -- was in some kind of pain. Her entire form felt bruised, battered, beaten, and stiff. Ranma was actually glad that she hadn't used any magic spells during the fight, because she could now use her mana to heal herself.
"I guess I got a little carried away during our fight." Ryoko announced with a laugh as she appeared next to the younger girl with a bottle of sake in one hand. "You lasted longer than I thought you would, Shrimp." The cyan-haired woman proceeded to take a few sips of sake. "You managed to keep up even when I created two clones. It's too bad the fight ended up being stopped."
"If we hadn't stopped that so-called fight, you would have continued until you completely incapacitated her." Ayeka stated from behind the two as she washed herself off. "And since Ranma-chan -- despite being outnumbered -- wouldn't back down and insisted on continuing until such a thing happened, the fight had to be stopped."
"Yeah," Laira began softly from her spot next to the cat-girl, "I couldn't continue watching after the first blow to your eye, momma." The young cabbit stared up at the black eye that resulted from the hit. "That black eye looks really painful."
Ranma managed to wave a hand. "It's not that big of a deal. I heal fast, and I also have my magic to help. Besides, I kind of figured it would end up happening anyway." She WAS fighting an incredibly powerful and somewhat sadistic brawler, after-all. "I would have done better if my doppelgangers were better. They're only good for training against for a short time right now; not for use in a fight."
Ryoko reached out and -- in a friendly manner -- wrapped an arm around the redhead's shoulder. "I'm actually surprised you've improved this much even though you're cooped up in that school all year." The ex-space pirate took another sip of sake. "And you actually seem to be more comfortable than you used to be. Usually, even after all the time you've spent here, you'd be all fidgety and shy about being around others in the bath."
"Yeah, well in each house at Hogwarts, there's only two baths. One of them is for the boys, and the other is for the girls." Ranma explained as she placed a hand over the black eye that Laira had mentioned and began to chant a healing spell. "Sometimes, almost the entire female populace of the house takes a bath at the same time. It took a while, but I actually managed to get completely used to it, and I don't have too much of a problem anymore."
A devious look appeared on Ryoko's features. Without warning, she pulled the young cat-girl close. "Oh, so you really are comfortable with being close to another woman while taking a bath?"
Ranma's face flushed deep red, and -- with a speed that Ryoko couldn't even track -- pushed herself away from the woman and jumped to the other side of Laira; wincing as she did so due to her bruises.
"Ha, so you still have SOME feeling of discomfort!" Ryoko announced in victory. That meant she could still tease and torment the redhead while in the bath house. "So much for not having a problem anymore; right, Shorty?"
"Contact's different, okay?" Ranma responded in annoyance as she sunk down into the water.
"Ryoko!" Ayeka shouted. "That was a completely uncultured thing to do!"
"Oh put a sock in it, princess." Ryoko shot back with a dismissive wave of her hand. "It's been completely boring around this place without the Pipsqueak. Now that she's back, at least for a couple more days, I can have some amusement."
"Boring?" Ayeka asked with an almost angry look. Said look piqued Ranma and Laira's curiosity. "How can you say it's been boring around here? Just last month, you actually managed to seduce Tenchi!"
Ranma -- hitting her head on a rock above her in the process -- shot straight up from the water. After rubbing her head, she and Laira stared straight at the ex-space pirate in disbelief. "No way," the cat-girl began, "You mean it finally happened?"
Ryoko leveled a glare at Ayeka. "Oh don't play innocent, Ayeka. Just a few days later, you did the exact same thing! In fact--"
Ayeka stuttered at the accusation. "I-- Ryoko-- Do not say such deviant things in front of innocent and impressionable ears!" The purple-haired princess shouted as she glanced at Ryo-Ohki, Laira, and Ranma.
"Impressionable my ass!" Ryoko growled out. "The Pipsqueak is mentally 30-years-old." A grin appeared on the ex-space pirate's lips. "Besides, she'd probably like to hear the details so she could go and congratulate her buddy Tenchi on his achievement."
"Um-- Actually, I think it's time I get out of the bath." The cat-girl answered as she turned to leave; only to be grabbed by the hair and yanked into Ryoko's arms. "Hey, let me go. I don't wanna hear the damn details!"
Laira placed her hands over her ears. "Yeah, I don't want to know either. If you tell momma, I'll end up knowing as well." The cabbit whined.
"Why would you reveal things like that anyway, Ryoko-neechan?" Ryo-Ohki asked with a frown.
"Yes, Ryoko, they don't need to know!" Ayeka shouted as she attempted to reach out and grab the cat-girl. She was stopped, however, when Ryoko pushed her back with an energy blast.
The ex-space pirate laughed. "Oh lighten up, Ayeka." She proceeded to lower her head towards Ranma's ear. "Listen up, Shrimp. I'm sure you'll just love the details. You see, it all started when I…" Ryoko trailed off, and instead of telling the cat-girl anything else, she pushed her down into the water. As the older woman held Ranma under the water, she gave off a loud and amused laugh. "Did you really think that I'd actually tell you? My god, you are SO fun to torment." She really did miss having the redhead around.
Ryoko's amusement was short-lived as Ranma burst out of the water and planted a foot directly into the woman's face. Ranma's own face was tinged pink in both embarrassment and annoyance. "Grow up, ya old hag!" As she lowered her leg, the stiffness and pain of her body came back to her and caused her to fall back onto her ass in the water. 'Damn, that was painful.' The cat-girl thought as she glanced towards Ryoko. The force of her kick had actually been enough to send the woman back a few feet and into unconsciousness. Ryo-Ohki was over the by woman and giving her a few pokes to the cheek, and Ayeka was actually laughing over what had just happened to Ryoko.
The opening of the entryway caused the cat-girl to turn her head. Heterochromatic eyes watched as Sasami -- accompanied by an awed Hermione, Gosaria, and Nashigi -- made their way into the bath house. When the blue-haired princess noticed that Ryoko was rather indisposed of at the moment, she ended up running over to see what had happened. Meanwhile, the three girls who had accompanied her were taking in the place with wide eyes. The first one to notice the cat-girl was Hermione, and she didn't waste any time in making her way over to her friend.
"Lina," the brown haired girl began as she halted at the edge of the water, "Are you alright? That was a terrible beating you took during that fight." Hermione proceeded to place a hand to her mouth in shock when she got a proper look at the redhead's eyes. "Look at your eye-- Both eyes! You really should get some medical treatment. I've heard that ice is good--"
"Relax," Ranma answered with a wave of her hand, "It's not all that big of a deal; I already used a healing spell. Everything will mostly be back to normal in the morning. Besides, I don't hurt as much as I did after the fight ended."
Kneeling at the edge of the water, Gosaria tilted her head. "So it looks worse than it really is?" The blonde asked as she took a finger and pressed it against the cat-girl's shoulder. The pained reaction from said cat-girl caused Gosaria to frown. "I guess it really hurts as bad as it looks."
"OF COURSE it'd hurt if ya JABBED your damn fingers into it!" Ranma responded in annoyance as she whacked the blonde upside the head with a fist.
"Owwww…" Gosaria whined as she rubbed the spot where she had been hit.
Ignoring the whining of her friend, Ranma turned around and rested her back against the edge of the bath. Raising her hand, she attempted to mimic the -- rather spontaneous -- invisibility that she had achieved earlier. Try as she might, she couldn't even make herself blink for even a second. After a couple more tries, she decided that she'd probably have to go and check with Washu after getting out of the bath.
Ranma was brought out of her musings when her friends made their way into the water next to her. "You know, Lina," Nashigi began as she allowed herself to sink down to her chin, "I'm finding myself to be a little jealous of you."
"Why are you jealous of momma?" Laira asked curiously from the other side of the cat-girl.
"She's been able to spend almost 10 years around things like this. I've always wanted to experience space travel and such things from muggle movies and TV, but you," Nashigi turned her head to look at the younger girl, "have spent all this time experiencing the things I've wanted to. Laira's even your own portable space ship computer."
Ranma stared at Nashigi for a fer moments before a smirk formed on her lips. "Hey, look at it this way. You have an incredibly awesome friend who has allowed ya to experience what you've always wanted to see."
"That's true." Nashigi answered as she crossed her arms. "However, you do realize that what you said came off as a little too cocky and full of yourself, right?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ranma asked in annoyance as Hermione, Gosaria, and Laira giggled. "At least I'm not a delusional, large-breasted banshee who believes herself to be a rival of someone else."
"Oh Lina," Nashigi stated with a rather sad smile, "Must you always fall back on the taunts about my laugh and bust size? I'm aware that you're jealous of me for those marvelous traits, but--" She was promptly pushed below the surface of the water via an elbow from the cat-girl next to her.
"Lina," Hermione began, "I've been wondering ever since you got us those Moon rocks. What exactly is it like on the Moon?"
"Desolate and silent." Ranma responded simply as she scratched her head. "Because of my physiology, I don't suffer from the spatial vacuum. However, I do feel a very minimal amount of pressure at first, but the feeling gradually goes away." Crossing her arms, Ranma attempted to think up some more to say. "It's just a huge lifeless rock full of craters, vacant sea beds, and crumbled ruins of an old and forgotten Moon kingdom--"
Oddly enough, it was Gosaria that was the quickest to point out the weird part of the description. "Did you just say Moon kingdom?"
"Huh?" Ranma asked before the question registered. "Oh, yeah, I did. Thousands of years ago, this part of the galaxy was actually home to an interplanetary magical kingdom with the Moon being the core."
"But that's insane!" Hermione shouted; accidentally colliding with Gosaria as she turned. "Oh, sorry Gosaria!" She apologized before turning her attention back to Ranma. "How could there be an intergalactic magical kingdom thousands… of…" She halted as she stared right at her redheaded friend. After everything that the girl had revealed to her -- male past life, small animal turning into a space ship, extra-terrestrial life, a 20,000 plus-year-old genius, the weird and crazy abilities, and several other things impossible to list, -- was she really in any position to state impossibility right off the bat?
"Never mind," Hermione stated softly and settled back into her spot. "How did you find this information out anyway?"
Ranma turned to the side and placed a hand onto Laira's head. "Laira and I made a trip to the moon during the Christmas holiday as part of her test flight."
"Test flight?" Nashigi asked with a degree of curiosity.
"Yeah, that was basically Laira's first successful flight. Every time she tried to fly before then, she'd end up crashing to the ground." Ranma missed the rather pale looks that appeared on her friends' faces at the mention of Laira's crashing issue. "Anyway, after some exploring, we ended up in the underground ruins of the palace. Due to the partial vacuum, everything seemed to be in good order for having nobody around for all those years."
Using a pinky to clean her ear, the cat-girl continued. "We ended up coming to a room that housed a rather large and advanced still working computer called the Eternity Main System. After finding the stupid password, I was able to get onto it and view the information." Her lips turned into a smirk. "I was able to copy every single bit of information down onto my laptop."
Hermione's eyes were wide. One reason was that there existed a working computer on the Moon of all places, and the other reason was that her friend had actually copied every single detail onto her computer. "Have you been able to read up on everything?"
"Nah," Ranma answered, "I've only been able to go through a fraction of the data. Reading through 30,000 years worth of stuff tends to take a while."
"Do you know why the Moon Kingdom is gone, though?" Nashigi asked with interest.
"Some crazy chick from Earth calling herself Queen Beryl led an army that led to the destruction of the kingdom. There wasn't much info on that because everyone was-- well-- dying at the time."
The very idea of it was both ludicrous and amazing. Hermione, however, wasn't wasting time on the possibility and probability of the rather insane and crazy thought of an intergalactic magical kingdom of old, but on the information that her friend actually had on that tiny computer. "Lina, you heard that Washu is going to make a laptop similar to yours for me, right?" At the redhead's nod, Hermione continued. "Well, Washu mentioned that we'd be able to send information back and forth from each other, so maybe--"
"Yeah, sure, I'll send the information to you when ya get your computer." Ranma answered simply. She didn't see any reason why she shouldn't. "In fact, I could probably send ya a bunch of things every now and then."
Hermione's reaction was rather random. The brown-haired girl had actually squealed in joy as she -- impressively -- leapt over Gosaria and Nashigi before wrapping her arms around the surprised redhead in a rather tight hug. "Thank you so much, Lina! I'm so glad to have a friend who understands my desire for knowledge and learning!"
"Um, Hermione," Gosaria began as she moved over to the pair, "I think you might have broken Lina."
"What do you mean?" The brown-haired girl asked as she pushed herself away from the cat-girl. She then noticed that her friend was blushing furiously with a rather glazed appearance to her eyes. "Lina, are you alright?" She inquired as she gave her friend a small poke.
Getting to her feet, Laira proceeded to wave a hand in front of her mother's face. "Momma doesn't have a problem anymore with being around naked girls while taking a bath, and she can handle light contact. Things such as a hug or very close contact are something she CAN'T handle… unless it comes from me or grandma Narcissa."
Nashigi decided to place her view. "Well, if we remember correctly, Lina DOES have a boy's mentality. Even though she had a female life before it, she was directly reborn into this life from her previous male life; mentality and all."
"OH!" Hermione shouted as she placed a hand to her mouth. She had completely forgotten about that fact. "I'm so sorry, Lina."
"Th-- That's okay." Ranma finally managed to say with a wave as she pinched her nose. "I think I've been in the water too long. I'm going to go visit Washu-chan. Let's go, Laira." The cat-girl promptly vanished from view.
"Hey, wait for me, momma!" Laira shouted as she followed suit.
A small frown appeared on Hermione's lips. "I hope I didn't do anything wrong again." First it was the verbal argument they had when the redhead revealed the truth to her, and now it was her invading the girl's personal comfort.
"Ranma-chan can be like that at times." Sasami commented with a giggle as she made her way over to the trio. "You didn't do anything except slightly embarrass and make her uncomfortable. She just couldn't admit that, and so she excused herself so she could go to Washu's lab and get some breathing room."
"So she's used to it?" Gosaria asked.
Sasami, in response, pointed her thumb towards the incredibly inebriated Ayeka and Ryoko. "That looks pretty embarrassing as is, doesn't it? When those two, and Mihoshi, get drunk, embarrassing things tend to happen." The blue-haired princess placed a finger to her cheek. "And for some reason, Ranma-chan had a habit of getting into embarrassing situations."
"She still does." Nashigi answered with an amused look. "In fact, that weird outfit that always randomly appears on her is pretty embarrassing."
Hermione had to place a hand to her mouth to keep from giggling. She knew what outfit it was, and had seen both it and the cat-girl's reaction many times. She knew she shouldn't laugh, but it WAS humorous.
"Achoo!" Ranma blinked for a moment as she rubbed her nose. That sneeze had just come out of nowhere, and the most likely reason was because SOMEONE was talking about her. She honestly had no idea why or what about, though.
Deciding that it probably didn't matter, the cat-girl picked up where she had left off as she sat on a floating cushion across from her teacher. "So yeah, I was kinda wondering why I suddenly went invisible during the fight, and why I can't do it again."
"It's simple." Washu stated she typed away on her transparent laptop. "Your Masu DNA has evolved slightly." Stopping in her typing, the diminutive genius glanced up at Ranma. "When I performed that exam on you the other day, I noticed that it was in the process of happening due to the patterns being more erratic than usual."
"Huh?" Ranma asked in slight confusion. "What do you mean by that?"
"Well, I guess I shouldn't say that your DNA is evolving, because it's not exactly doing that." Washu placed a hand to her chin. "You see, Masu DNA is, in a way, dynamic. I've explained to you before about how the basic water-dwelling creature itself senses danger and feels a need to protect itself, right?" At her student's nod, Washu continued. "Well, deep down within the Masu DNA you have, there's still an instinctive desire to survive and grow. If the 'host' is in danger in some way, the Masu DNA will attempt to get to work on finding out the problem and correcting it. This is why you won't become ill under normal circumstances, and even if you do become ill, your structure will work on fixing the issue and preventing it from happening again."
Ranma gave a nod in understanding. The fact that her DNA had some kind of sentience was a little on the weird side. "Right, I get it, but what does this have to do with what happened earlier?"
"Basic survival instincts at work, really." Washu explained. "You have used the Umisenken quite a lot since you built up enough ki to use it, right?" The cat-girl gave a nod. "After using it for so long, your DNA has probably analyzed the survival capabilities of the technique, and it has decided to build upon the 'incomplete' ability by creating a 'complete' and natural ability."
"So what you're saying," Ranma started slowly, "Is that I'm going to now have an ability similar to the Umisenken, but the difference is that I'll be able to become truly invisible?"
"Correct, Ranma-chan!" The older redhead answered happily. "However, like when all of your other abilities were new, this one could take some time before you can use it properly. Your body has to get used to the change that your DNA has created."
Her student crossed her arms and pouted. "Damn, and I was actually looking forward to having some fun with it." The younger girl blinked for a moment. "Hey, does that mean I could develop and create other abilities as well?" She asked in excitement. "I mean, it's awesome. I thought I was gonna be stuck with the same old abilities Ryoko has."
"It's hard to say." Washu answered as she stroked her chin. "While it is possible, you'll have to take into account that your DNA has to feel that there actually is a need to develop a new ability. There's an even greater possibility that this may be the only one you'll develop." When she noticed Ranma's mood deflate at the news, the diminutive genius hopped off of her cushion and placed a hand onto her student's shoulder. "Hey, don't let the possibility get to you. You've gained one ability, so the probability of gaining another is there. It's just a matter of time."
"I guess." Ranma responded in annoyance as she turned her head and watched Laira gobble up a bunch of carrots. "What about Ryoko?"
Washu understood what her student was trying to say. "While the same can go for her, Ryoko's capability of evolution comes from being able to use the gems. She's still relatively too young to be able to use the full power of the gems, but she'll be able to within a few years."
"What'll happen when she can use all three gems perfectly?"
"You really want to know?" The diminutive genius asked. "She'd be as powerful as Tsunami." At the looks on both Ranma and Laira's faces, Washu had to laugh. "Well, she IS my daughter after-all."
The young cat-girl placed a hand to her forehead. 'Jeez, this house really is one of the most concentrated sources of power in the universe.' A smirk formed on her lips not soon after. 'At least I'll never run out of challenges while staying here.' Sure, maybe she did get pounded into the dirt most of the time, but it was the challenges that were enjoyable.
"By the way, Ranma-chan," Washu began, "I'm curious. How much of the info you got from the Moon have you read so far?" She was still impressed by the fact that the younger redhead was able to find that lunar computer and copy the information down.
"Only a fraction." Ranma answered as she pulled Stringy out from subspace. "There's a whole bunch of boring stuff mixed in, and so it's annoying to read at times." She proceeded to click through a bunch of info randomly. "Why didn't ya know about this place anyway? Shouldn't there be information about the Moon Kingdom already?"
"Honestly?" Washu asked with a hand on her hip. "I ended up re-checking. There's hardly any information about it documented. You see, the Juraian Empire was founded 150,000 years ago, and during that same time, the star system that Earth was located in was discovered and registered. A few thousand years later, the Moon Kingdom started to form, and when it fully formed, there were some treaties and agreements made between the empire of Jurai and kingdom of the Moon. Information from the treaty states that the Moon Kingdom would continue without any kind of outside interference from other kingdoms. This also required that all the information the Juraian Empire learnt was to be kept completely secret."
"I guess that makes sense." Ranma responded.
"And even after the Moon Kingdom was destroyed, the information remained secret in respect for those treaties and agreements." Washu added. "It wasn't until about 740 years or so ago that the Juraian Empire decided to make the Earth, and the Solar System, part of its territory."
"Think they'll ever release the information they have?"
Washu gave off a short laugh. "They probably don't even have the information anymore, and so there wouldn't be anything to release." The emerald-eyed genius peeked over her student's shoulder at the younger redhead's laptop. "It's possible that they wouldn't mind learning of this info so they can add it to the archives and history lessons in the Galaxy Academy and other schools." A smirk appeared on Washu's lips as she wrapped an arm around Ranma's shoulder. "You know, after turning in 30,000 years worth of information about a lost and forgotten kingdom, you'd probably become quite well known among those in the researching circle."
"Who knows," Washu continued, "You could even take up a career as a field researcher. There are countless areas out there in the universe -- including this very galaxy -- that remain unknown and unexplored. With your abilities, you could end up exploring places that no other person can." Washu moved closer to the younger redhead's ear. "Also, you'll be able to explore and answer to the wander-lust that you have."
Ranma had to admit; the very idea did sound appealing, and it even sounded exciting. In a way, she found it odd that she was actually thinking about it. If something like that had been suggested to her years ago, she would have practically scoffed at the idea. Such wasn't the case as of now. "Maybe," Ranma began, "But wouldn't my fighting abilities go to waste if I just focused on that? I mean, I'd probably end up fighting something once in a while, but it wouldn't be enough."
Washu pulled away from the younger redhead. Her student did have a point. The kid's love of the fighting arts and things related to it greatly surpassed almost everything else. "Well," the diminutive genius began, "You could always become a bounty hunter as well." She noticed the younger girl's curious gaze. "As a bounty hunter, you'd be putting your combat skills to use by searching for various intergalactic criminals wanted for various illegal deeds." Washu started to tap her chin. "In fact, it's very possible for you to become both. You could travel around for the thrill and excitement of opposing dangerous intergalactic criminals AND for the aspect of researching places nobody has ever been to."
As she thought about it, Ranma's tail began to slowly swish around in interest. Now THAT was a nice idea. Sure, she'd have two jobs, but they would go completely hand in hand with each other. If she was going after someone, she could also do some researching and cataloging of the area she was in. "Ya know, I actually like that idea."
"But if you do end up taking up those jobs," Washu began before playfully grabbing Ranma's cheek and talking in a child-like voice, "Don't forget about your adorable Washu-chan. If you do, she'll be all sad and lonely, and she'll wonder why her special little student doesn't care about her anymore." Letting go of the younger redhead, Washu clasped her hands together under her chin and aimed a pair of wide and sparkly eyes towards the girl. "You won't be a meanie and do that to your one true love, will you Ranma-chan?"
"O-- Of course I won't, Washu-chan." Ranma answered quickly before her eyes widened. "One true love?!" She asked in a rather flustered and embarrassed tone. Next to her, Laira began to laugh her ass off.
"Oh I KNEW you felt the same way, Ranma-chan!" Washu shouted as glomped onto the smaller redhead tightly.
"Now cut that out!" Ranma shouted from her rather confined position. "Why do ya always--" The cat-girl's complaint was cut off due to her body being enveloped within a bright flash of light. When the light cleared, she found that she was back in that dreaded Sailor Pompom outfit. As soon as Washu let Ranma go, the cat-girl found out too late that she was slightly off balance and fell off the floating cushion. As she fell backwards, she left a large trail of glitter.
"This isn't even funny anymore." Ranma stated in annoyance from her position on the floor. She watched as the glitter left in the air slowly fell and landed back on her. "This just has to be some sick joke." She added as she pushed herself to her feet.
Crossing her arms, Washu studied the younger girl in front of her. "So you're still having problems with that Senshi outfit?" She was aware of the fact that Ranma had some random-transformation issues, but she didn't think it was still going on.
"Yeah," Laira began, "Momma transforms randomly at least three times a month. There were some moments where she'd transform and couldn't get the uniform off for a few hours, and even if she did de-transform, she'd automatically transform right after."
Ranma gave a rather disgruntled nod. "I was lucky that mom never caught sight of it." She stared down at the dreaded outfit consisting of white, varying shades of pinks, bows, ribbons, frills, and glitter. Ranma was even sure she could still feel the make-up that came with the transformation. "There was a moment where she almost saw it, but I managed to de-transform in time." She didn't even WANT to imagine Narcissa's reaction to the outfit. "It's seriously getting ridiculous, Washu-chan."
Washu could plainly see how distraught and aggravated the younger redhead was, and it made her wish that she could help. "Have you tried searching for an answer from the information that you collected from the lunar computer?"
"Yeah, I started searching after the second month when it REALLY started to piss me off." Ranma answered with a frown as she hovered cross-legged in the air with her laptop floating in front of her. Because her Senshi uniform was being unresponsive at the moment, she was forced to wear it as she searched through the information on Stringy. "I couldn't use Stringy very much while at Hogwarts because of the fact that it'd distract the students or some such garbage. I was bored when Dumbledore explained it to me, so I don't think I heard the reason very well." Shrugging the thought out of her mind, Ranma continued. "Most of the time when I was able to use it, I was usually catching up on e-mail, doing the assignments you gave me, and a couple other things that took over time I had for searching."
"Have you been searching through the information on Sailor Senshi?" Washu asked.
"Yeah," Ranma answered, "I've been trying to read through the history on the Sailor Senshi and information on Senshi equipment. The history was just 30,000 years worth of stuff about the Senshi themselves and who they were. I gave up on reading through that a couple months ago. I was going to start on the equipment section, but…" Ranma trailed off as she scratched the base of her neck. "I was kinda having fun hangin' around with mom, and so I didn't really think about it."
Washu placed a hand to her chin as she pulled her cushion next to the young cat-girl and hopped onto it. "Well, let's check out the equipment section now. Try and see if there's any sub-section on the Senshi Fuku or uniform."
Complying, Ranma searched down the list of equipment until she arrived at the word 'Fuku'. Upon clicking into it, she came to a page giving brief descriptions on the uniform, and that was all. Ranma was about to write it off as yet another dead end when she noticed a bolded sentence that stated 'In-depth information on the Senshi Uniform; for the eyes of the Queen and Royal Scientists only. Anyone not authorized to view this information will be punished.' Underneath the bold wording, there was a box that asked for a password.
No matter how many times she thought about it, Ranma didn't think she'd ever get over the fact that the password keeping every single bit of information within the Eternity Main Systems computer safe was Ice Cream. It tended to make one question the thoughts of the very queen who used it.
As soon as she input the password, the page immediately switched to another one entitled 'In-depth History and Information about the uniform of the Senshi.' The very page itself was operated by a kind-sounding feminine voice.
"The Senshi Uniform: An outfit that gives a Sailor Senshi a higher durability against magic and physical attacks. While the uniform is designed more for the magical defense aspect, it DOES provide a greater durability and protection when a Senshi is caught in a physical fight." All through the introduction, images of a Senshi in various poses were shown. A couple short clips showing a Senshi standing up to magical attacks and physical attacks were also shown, as was the person being tossed through a wall and coming out relatively okay. "The Senshi uniform does have a limit, however. If the attack is too powerful, it will likely start destroying the uniform and harming the Senshi herself. Those wearing the uniform also have a rather limited disguise field. A person will not be able to tell who the Senshi is. However, as stated, the disguise field is limited. If a person were to spend several hours around the Senshi, they would be able to eventually see through the disguise field. If the person has seen her transform, the Senshi will lose the field affect on the individual." Several more images were shown to go along with the description.
"The uniform of the Senshi varies depending on which star system they are from. SOME examples of this differentiation include the area of Kinmoku, the Anima System, planets Lethe and Mnemosyne, and our very own Sol System." Along with the names of the systems came the examples of uniforms. For Kinmoku, the uniforms shown consisted of a black bikini halter top with a winged broach at the base. The bottom part consisted of what looked like black hot pants attached with a crisscrossing belt strapped to the waist. The black gloves were nearly shoulder length, and the black boots neared the thigh in length. In a way, Ranma was actually glad for the Senshi uniform that she currently had.
The uniforms of the Anima System varied, but one thing in common was that each of the women had some kind of features associated with animals. The uniforms of Lethe and Mnemosyne consisted of a simple camisole dress with matching colored chokers and open toe heeled sandals. Lastly, the Solar System example was exactly like what Ranma had seen Sailor Pluto wear.
"However," the voice began again, "There is one main thing that all Sailor Senshi uniforms ultimately share. That item is the Sailor Collar." A close-up of the top portion of an outfit was shown. The part that was pointed out was the collar that extended from the collarbone and draped over the shoulder. "It is unknown why every Sailor Senshi seem to have this article of clothing, but it is theorized that it is a sign showing that one is a true Senshi. However, this article is about the information and history of the Sol System, and not about the information and history of the other uniforms of other systems."
"Jeez, get on with it already." Ranma complained. She was promptly whapped upside the head by Washu. "Ow…"
"The Sailor Senshi uniform of the Sol System didn't start out looking like it does now. In fact, there were a couple of slight differences about the uniform that are largely forgotten about today." An image popped up of the original Solar System Senshi uniform, and the differences were obvious. Instead of the body-suit looking exactly like a leotard, the bottom extended downward into a pair of sailor pants that ended a few inches above the ankles. The pleated skirt was actually a pleated half-skirt that started at the sides and wrapped around back.
Ranma actually blinked when she caught sight of the outfit. If the Senshi outfit she was wearing actually looked like that, -- minus the excessive ribbons, bows, frills, and glitter -- she might not have minded it at all. "Why'd the outfit change?" She was whapped again by Washu.
"The Senshi uniform of the Sol System stayed like this until the second queen of the Moon, Queen Serenity II. When the Moon Kingdom had first formed, the Senshi had become princesses and queens of their respective planets. As such, they were part of the Moon Kingdom and under the control of the queen. As Senshi, they had also pledged their protection to Queen Serenity and her descendants. This gave Queen Serenity the authority over the style of their uniforms as well." Images appeared of the first and second Queen Serenitys. "During the reign of Queen Serenity II, the Sailor Senshi were the daughters of the previous Senshi. The second queen of the Moon Kingdom gradually noticed that her young Senshi had a habit of making snide comments about the Senshi uniforms of other systems and planets that were more revealing. In an action to teach the young Senshi -- and future Senshi -- a lesson in humility and understanding, Queen Serenity II used her power over their uniforms to change them into how they are today. The practice of humility remained for all Senshi to follow until the very memory of the event faded into obscurity."
Laira gave her mother a glance. "There's your answer, momma."
"You've gotta be kidding me." Ranma announced with a frown. "The uniforms were changed just because a bunch of girls found the uniforms of other systems amusing?" Just what kind of logic was that?
Washu glanced at the young cat-girl. "Think about it this way. Your personal guardians have become cocky because they think their uniforms are better than a majority of others. Those guardians are young as well, and their cockiness ends up going more and more to their head in time. Sooner or later, you have a group who thinks they are unanimously better than anyone else, and that very line of thought would be enough to cloud their judgment and get them killed. Even though that scenario might not have happened, the probability of it happening was still there. So, in response, their queen used her power over their uniforms to change them so they could learn a lesson."
"That makes some sense." Ranma said as she stared back down at her laptop. Her eyes widened as a thought occurred to her. "Hey, it said that the Senshi gave their authority over their outfits to the queen. Since she was able to change it, does that mean there's a way to?"
"It's possible." Washu answered. Her eyes continued to twinkle as she looked through the information. Ever since she copied the information that Ranma had obtained from the lunar computer into her systems, the diminutive genius had started reading through and cataloging the information. She was still going through the information, and she hadn't even started on the in-depth sections on the Senshi yet. "Nobody has ever been able to OFFICIALLY study the Sailor Senshi. Most won't allow others to study them, and there's also the Juraian Empire -- along with various others -- who refused to allow the studying of Senshi for various reasons. But," Washu began with an almost fanatical interest, "Here we have actual research that was allowed to be conducted by the Moon Kingdom."
"As mentioned," the voice continued, "The Sol System Senshi had given the queen the authority over their Senshi Uniform." An image of the fuku outfit popped up on screen. "In a way, the Senshi Uniform could be likened to that of a program, while the Senshi herself could be considered the user or administrator of said program. As such, they have a degree of control over how their uniform appears. However, what MUST remain for all Senshi are the Sailor Collar and the aspects that show what area of space they come from." Arrows showed up on the image of the Solar System fuku. The areas they pointed out were the tiara, chest and back bows, and the upper part of the white body-suit. "The uniform also requires some form of pleated skirt; be it full, half, or side flaps."
A smirk appeared on Ranma's lips. As long as she could change the uniform she was wearing to something more manageable, she didn't really care. Maybe she'd even go for the pants version of the uniform.
"HOWEVER," the voice interrupted loudly, "Because the Sol System Senshi had given the authority over their uniforms to the queen, they no longer have the ability to freely change their outfit."
"WHAT!" Ranma shouted as she jumped to her feet; leaving a trail of glitter as she did so. "What the hell do ya mean by 'they no longer have the ability to freely change their outfit'? Why the hell would they give up that right to the damn queen?!" She was promptly pulled back onto her cushion by Washu. "You've gotta be kidding me."
The voice wasn't finished yet. "If the Senshi wants to change something in their outfit that doesn't occur normally via power and form advances, then she must ask the queen to use her administrative powers over their uniforms and allow her to do so. However, since the Sol System Senshi uniform is as such to teach the Senshi humility and understanding, it is unlikely that the queen would allow the change to occur. To change their uniform, the Senshi would need both the password AND voice okay from the queen. In the event that the queen dies, the administrative function would automatically go to the princess, and the princess would, in turn, gain full administrative ability once she becomes a queen."
"That is so unfair." Ranma commented in annoyance as she promptly closed her laptop. The queen was -- of course -- deader than a doornail, and the princess -- if Ranma was correct during her conversation with the ghostly form of Serenity when she visited the moon -- was just a little girl with no possible chance of ever becoming a queen. That meant she'd probably be stuck in with the uniform she had for eternity. "All I want is at least some form of control over these damn transformations!"
Washu stared at her fuming apprentice for a moment as she began to think. "Ranma-chan," she said as she hopped off her cushion, "Do you think you would be able to channel some of the magic generated by your form to me?" At the questioning look of the young cat-girl, Washu continued. "Well, I want to do a little studying on Senshi magic, and you're probably the only one who would be willing to let me do just that." She started typing away on her transparent laptop. A moment later, a strange kind of crystal-like container appeared from one of Washu's subspace pockets. "Just channel some of your magic into this for me. It might be easier to gather the magic used in Senshi attacks"
Still grumbling over the rather cruel reality that was her outfit, Ranma held onto the container and started concentrating as if she were about to use an attack. Since she had only gathered the mana, it began to fill up the crystalline construct with a pinkish-colored energy. After about a minute, she ended her channeling and handed the container over to Washu. "Now what?"
"Now…" Washu trailed off as she pulled out a pair of scissors. Without warning, the 20,000 plus-year-old genius gleefully and quickly cut off a few pieces of Ranma's skirt and stuck them into a smaller container.
"Hey," Ranma shouted with a tinge of pink appearing on her cheeks, "What the hell are you-- GAH!" The cat-girl was pulled backwards as Washu -- appearing behind her -- pulled onto her hair and started shaking an almost never-ending stream of glitter into yet another container. "What the hell do ya think you're doing?!"
"Research, of course!" Washu chirped happily. "I want to study the properties of Senshi magic and clothing first hand. That also includes the glitter that you are practically bathed in." There was another reason for why she did it, but she wasn't going to reveal it to the cat-girl at the moment.
"Well ya could have asked before you cut the skirt and yanked my hair." Ranma grumbled darkly as she finally managed to de-transform from her Senshi uniform. Her left eye soon began to twitch when Washu wrapped her arms around her and started stroking her hair.
"Oh my poor little Ranma-chan," Washu said playfully as she rubbed her cheek against the younger redhead's. "Washu-chan is so sorry for making you angry, but she just loves it when her darling little Ranma-chan gets all flustered and embarrassed." Pulling back a little ways, the diminutive genius lifted Ranma's chin and stared into her eyes with a questioning look. "Would a kiss from Washu-chan make all the bad feelings go away?"
Flushing furiously at the very thought, Ranma quickly pushed herself away from the older woman. "Knock it off!"
A rather disappointed look appeared on Washu for about a split second before she placed a finger to her chin. "Oh poo, I really was looking forward to having the pleasure of stealing your first kiss." She proceeded to direct a wink at the cat-girl. "Don't worry, Ranma-chan, Washu-chan won't let anyone else touch those lips of yours." Washu added on to this statement by playfully blowing a kiss. "Because that'll be a pleasure reserved for me only."
Ranma's face took on an even greater shade of red at the thought of what the older redhead had just said, and it wasn't helping that Laira was giggling in amusement. Internally, she wondered why she had to open the whole can of worms by giving Washu all that data from the Moon. If she hadn't, this wouldn't even be happening. At least she was pretty sure it never would have happened.
Washu almost instantly appeared behind her. "You really do need to get over your shyness, Ranma-chan." This caused the cat-girl to 'eep' and jump several meters away before turning around and staring at her. "It'll cause so many problems in a relationship later on."
"Well if ya stopped trying to force yourself onto me!"
"But love states there's no other way!" Washu answered as she hugged herself. "My feelings… they tell me that there is no other! They fill my mind with varying fantastic and wondrous ideas ripe for us to do together. Some of them may be perverse, but why should we care?!" She actually pulled out a microphone and extended an arm into Ranma's directions. "Love is not based solely on the perverse activities of two! Maybe the idea of tying you down to a cold steel table and doing things that would make even a nympho blush is too perverse, but--" A shoe smacked into her face and caused her to stop.
"I said knock if off!" Ranma shouted as she tried to get her blushing under control. She didn't know whether to be embarrassed or freaked out by that entire paragraph. "Besides, Laira's about ready to faint in embarrassment." She added as she glanced over to her daughter.
"I'm okay, momma." Laira answered with reddened cheeks. "That really WAS too much information."
"Alright," Washu said as she rubbed the spot of her face where the shoe had hit, "I guess I did go a little too far that time." Usually she knew when to stop, but she was just having too much fun teasing the younger redhead. "Well, I guess that's enough of that for now." The diminutive genius gave Ranma's shoe back to her as she wrapped an arm around the girl's shoulder. "It's back to business, Ranma-chan!"
Ranma was still feeling rather nervous with being around the older woman, but since Washu was currently in 'serious mode', she felt that she was safe for the moment. "What do ya mean?"
"You wanted some help installing features onto Ein, right? Well, I think it's time we get to work on that."
Ranma's lips slowly turned into a smirk as she pulled out a deactivated Ein from her subspace pocket. A love-struck Washu attempting to come on to her was something she had trouble handling. A serious -- and not-so-serious -- Washu ready to teach her things and help her figure out how to create was something she COULD handle.
"Now," Washu said as she placed a finger to her chin in thought, "How would you feel about Optical Wave Beams capable of eating through two 15-inch wide slabs of super-reinforced titanium-lutetium in just one second?"
"You're kidding, right?" Ranma asked with a half-lidded stare. "Who the hell would come across something like that?"
"That's a little too powerful." Laira added.
"Alright, fine, how about a Mini-Photon Disruptor capable of knocking power out for over 10 miles?"
"Okay, how about--"
"No Ion Destabilizer Cannons capable of knocking everybody within a two-mile radius unconscious."
Washu stared incredulously at the young cat-girl. "How'd you know what I was going to say?"
Ranma shrugged. "Lucky guess." She's been the 20,000 plus-year-old's student for around 10 years. She was bound to figure out SOME things going through the somewhat mad woman's mind. "Look, I don't want any overly destructive and chaotic devices. Maybe something like a function that allows Ein to shrink so it can function as a security camera of sorts."
"That'd be easy enough to do, but are you sure you wouldn't want--"
"Damn, you're no fun at all."
"Hey, it's not my fault that the additions you consider fun are incredibly dangerous." Ranma said as she placed Ein onto a work table. "I'm not a mad scientist, ya know."
A smile appeared on Washu's lips. 'Not yet, anyway.' She thought as she watched the young cat-girl remove the covering off of the mini-kitten bot. The diminutive genius couldn't help but observe the inner workings of her student's creation with an appraising eye. While it was obvious -- to her -- that a beginner had created it, she still couldn't help but marvel at how well the younger redhead had done. "I still find it amazing that your first invention was something of this caliber, Ranma-chan."
"I wanted to create something interesting." Ranma admitted as she scratched the base of her ponytail. "I didn't want to stick with something small and boring, so I decided to try and work on something more complex."
Laira gave off a small giggle. "You just wanted to create something complex so you could brag about it and get compliments from grandma Washu." The small flick to the nose that she had instantly received ended her amusement. "Hey, that hurt!"
"There's a problem with the electronic circuit though." Washu interrupted as she pointed to the inside of Ein. "The entire circuit appears to already be wearing out, and a couple pieces have already broken apart. You did a great job of building Ein, but most of its components -- the capacitors, microprocessors, wiring -- are already suffering due to strain. I doubt you even realized how much power Ein would use just to float in the air alone."
A small frown appeared on Ranma's lips as she stared down at her first creation. The excitement and pride over creating Ein was dampened some with the revelation that the entire circuit board she used was too weak to handle the robot for very long. "And I've only activated her three times so far." She said. "So, what now?"
"We're going to have to completely replace the entire inner mainframe with much more suitable and powerful components that'll be able to handle the stress." Washu said as she began collecting everything that they'd need for the job. "It won't take too long to replace everything, though." She added when she caught the look on the younger redhead's face. "After-all, you DO have the greatest scientific genius in the universe helping."
Ranma felt a rather large feeling of relief. She had thought that she'd end up having to spend months on replacing every single part of the circuit board, but Washu was going to help her with the entire process. All the cat-girl really needed to do now was to observe and try to file the information away for later. "Thanks, Washu-chan." She said in a low voice as she scratched her cheek.
"You're welcome, Ranma-chan!" Washu chirped as she finished collecting the required gear. "Alright, so Ein won't function properly for very long if you continue to use the kind of lower scale components that you had originally used. If I were to guess, I'd say it would have been able to activate one more time before either ceasing to work permanently or explode." She found the disheartened look coming from her student to be rather adorable. "And considering how advanced Ein is, we're going to need a much sturdier mainframe." Washu handed a thin dark green circuit board to the younger redhead.
Staring at the object in her hand, Ranma noted that, unlike a normal circuit board, this one had a series of patterns consisting of small lines traveling to various small nodes. In the very center of the board, there was a small sphere with an even smaller one inside being held in place by small and barely noticeable tubes.
"Unlike the other one you were using, this one will be capable of sustaining Ein without a problem. In fact, this very circuit board would be durable enough to work an equivalent of 10 super-computers at once; Ein burning out will no longer be an issue." Washu finished. She then smirked when she saw the impressed look on both Ranma and Laira's faces. "Also, before we place the circuit board into Ein, we should install the device that will provide it with the ability to shrink and grow."
Washu tapped her chin for a moment. "Ranma-chan, are you sure you don't want any other function installed onto it? I still think that optical wave beams would be a good idea. You never know when you may need some kind of laser, and having one on hand would be handy."
Ranma opened her mouth to reply, but stopped. After thinking it over, the idea didn't seem to be all that bad. "Okay, we can add some optical lasers, but nothing powerful enough to turn a city block into a pile of rubble, got it?"
Washu had to hold back a giggle. Sure, the redhead had told her no lasers capable of turning a city block to ruin, but she didn't specify just how powerful. 'She really does need to learn how to be more specific and think things through.'
It had taken almost two hours, but they had finally put the finishing touches on Ein, and it was then Ranma's job to attach the front piece back onto the base of the invention. Once the task was done, she had reached over to grab hold of her headset to activate her mini-bot, but was stopped when Washu plucked the headpiece from her grasp. The action had caused Ranma to stare at the older woman with a questioning look.
"This headset won't work anymore, Ranma-chan." Washu replied simply. "The complete overhaul we did on Ein's circuitry has made it incompatible with your old control gear."
A frown appeared on the cat-girl's lips. "So we'll have to make a whole new control piece as well?" She had thought they would be done with all the tinkering for the night.
The older redhead raised her eyebrow at the question. "You don't think that I didn't take that into consideration when I explained it to you that we'd have to redo everything? Why Ranma-chan, I'm surprised with you!" Calling forth her laptop, Washu started typing in a seemingly random sequence. A subspace pocket soon opened up to release a crimson-colored device into Ranma's hands.
The upper part of the device consisted of a half loop, and one side of it dipped downward; the very end had what looked to be a small earphone piece. Another part of the device trailed downward before curving into an 'L' shape; the end also had a small microphone on it. The thickness was comparable to that of a string, but from the feel of it, the object was sturdier than steel.
"Your former headset was large and extremely noticeable." Washu explained as she plucked the crimson device from her student's hand. "This, however, wouldn't be as easily seen. The earpiece loops around the base of your ear, and the colorization allows it to blend right in with the color of your hair and ears." As she was explaining, Washu gently placed the earpiece into place on Ranma's head. "The microphone part will camouflage easily with your hair as well, and it doesn't have to be close to your mouth for Ein to hear your voice."
"Wow," Ranma began, "Thanks, Washu-chan."
"I haven't shown you one of the best parts of the headset yet." Washu said with a smirk as she pressed a small button on the part that settled at the base of the cat-girl's ear. Instantly, the section containing the microphone retracted and vanished into the earpiece. "Now nobody will be able to easily spot it, and you can keep it ready for when you need to get in quick contact with Ein." The petite genius directed a small wink at the younger redhead. "Doesn't it just make you want to declare your undying love for little ol' me?"
A rather large sweat-drop appeared on Ranma's head as she proceeded to give a long sigh. She liked hanging around with Washu; really she did. The woman, though largely eccentric and sometimes mad, had helped her countless times in bettering her training methods and providing methods that allowed her to do just that. Honestly speaking, Ranma considered the woman to be one of the few people she could almost completely trust; something not many others had the full luxury of. Washu seemingly being in love with her -- she still wasn't sure if it was all an act or serious -- was awkward, weird, rather annoying, and some other things she couldn't place.
"Anyway," Washu began suddenly, "Aren't you going to activate Ein to see if the upgrades work without a problem?"
"Oh yeah." Ranma responded as she pressed the small button on the earpiece that allowed the microphone to extend downward. "This is awesome, Washu-chan!" The cat-girl announced as she reached over to Ein and turned it on via a switch at the base of its tail. "Okay, Ein, activate!"
The mini-kitten bot's eyes snapped open almost immediately after Ranma had issued the command. The first thing Ein did after opening its eyes was to open its mouth and proceed to give off a rather large yawn. Its paws also moved to the side of its head and mimicked a series of stretches. After a moment, Ein blinked and turned its sights onto Ranma. With a bright smile, it hovered up into the air and flew over to the redheaded cat-girl.
"Mistress Lina!" It shouted as it landed on Ranma's shoulder and proceeded to affectionately rub its cheek against its creator's. "I feel stronger and better than I used to!"
"That's because Washu-chan and I replaced all of your inner components with stronger and more powerful tech." Ranma answered as she gave the robot a pat on the head. She still wondered why Ein turned out so childlike and affectionate, as well as insisted on calling her 'Mistress Lina', but guessed that it was better than cold and emotionless. "We also added some upgrades to ya."
"Can I try them out?" Ein asked with large and questioning eyes. "My processors have already found the upgrades and managed to interpret what they do!"
"Well," the young cat-girl began as she scratched the base of her ponytail, "I guess we should try out the optical beams and see if they work, but make it the lowest setting you can."
"Alright!" Ein shouted as its eyes began to glow a light blue color.
Washu, in response, began to sweat. Using lasers randomly could very well damage some precious equipment. "Wait, you can't just fire it off randomly! We need to get something to test--"
Her warning came too late as twin beams of blue energy were fired from the robot's eyes. Miraculously, the beams seemed to completely miss several pieces of equipment and continue on without the anticipated sound of explosions. When nothing was heard, Washu was going to suggest they try a more powerful beam out on a large slab, but a scream of pain followed by some shouts of worry cued the group in on that something HAD happened.
"Didn't that scream of pain sound like it came from Nashigi?" Laira asked curiously.
Without even a thought, the group made haste in the direction where the commotion was coming from. It only took about a minute before they came to a stop to see that Hermione and Gosaria were attempting to pull Nashigi back to her feet. The oldest of the three girls only appeared slightly charred, and she seemed to only be moderately dazed over having been hit by Ein's eye-beams.
Upon getting back to her feet, Nashigi gave her head a few shakes in the hope of getting rid of the rather dizzy feeling she was experiencing. "What happened just now?" She asked with a hand to her head. "What hit me?"
"Blue beams," Gosaria provided. "It was some kind of twin beam thing that came out of nowhere and hit you. It's lucky that you were only tossed onto your back!" She had actually noticed the lasers before they hit, but she was too late to voice a warning.
"Well," Ranma interrupted as she turned her head to stare at Washu, "At least we know that Ein's optical beams are working perfectly." She reached up and gave Ein a small pat on the head. It was a good thing she told the mini-bot to use the lowest setting it could, otherwise what happened could have turned out bad.
"Wait, those lasers came from Ein?" Hermione asked with wide eyes as she focused on the tiny robot floating next to her friend. "Is that what you and Washu have been doing since you left the bathing house earlier?"
Washu's eyes twinkled as the opportunity to have some amusement presented itself. "Oh, there were other activities as well." She responded as she wrapped her arms around the younger redhead and placed her chin on the cat-girl's shoulder. "I WOULD fill you in on the details, but I'm afraid that the three of you are just too young." Washu winked at the trio. "Your friend here really knows how to have a good time. Isn't that right, Ranma-chan?" The woman asked as she lifted her hand and slowly traced a finger along the younger girl's cheek.
Ranma's cheeks began to redden in complete and utter embarrassment. "Damn it, will you--" She was silenced when Washu gently placed a finger to her lips.
"Now, now, there's no need to be angry, Ranma-chan." The woman said softly as she gave Ranma a small and affectionate kiss on the cheek. "I told the young ones that they won't get the details, so you have nothing to worry about. Perhaps I'll make it up to you when we're alone again." Washu proceeded to whisper something that the three girls couldn't hear.
This time, Ranma's entire face turned completely red, and a small trickle of blood had managed to seep out from her nose. "N-- No way!" She announced as she turned her attention to her friends -- and even Laira -- for help. However, it was apparent that she wasn't going to get what she needed, because Laira was blushing like mad and had her back turned while pressing her fingers together. The girls, however…
"Th-- That's not proper!" Hermione shouted with a reddened face. "I can't believe that you're in such a serious relationship already, Lina! I know it was said that your relationship would be legal on some other planets, but to get all affectionate in front of us?"
Ranma blinked at the brown-haired girl. "That's not--"
"Say what you will, Hermione," Nashigi began as she placed a hand to her cheek, "But I find it to be utterly romantic with how much those two seem to like each other. Lina really is lucky to have found someone already; especially someone she's known for so long."
"Hey, it's not what it looks like!"
Gosaria tilted her head. "How can it not be what it looks like when it looks like what it's not supposed to look like?" Everyone gave her a rather odd look. "Well, it's true, right?"
"My circuits hurt trying to understand that…" Ein whined.
"Stop trying to." Ranma responded as she managed to slip out of Washu's grasp. She then glared at her friends. "We did not do ANYTHING except for working on Ein, got it?!" The cat-girl then pointed towards Washu. "She was only pulling your leg so she could get a free shot at embarrassing me!" Whether she was trying to convince her friends of that, or convince herself was something that Ranma wasn't exactly sure of.
An almost disappointed look appeared on Washu's features for a split second. "Sadly, it's true. We didn't proceed any further in our relationship." She admitted with a nod in the girl's direction. Her lips soon formed into a smirk. "It's just so fun to tease Ranma-chan, and you three believing it was so much more enjoyable."
"But isn't that kind of teasing a little extreme?" Hermione asked with a frown. Not only that, but it was incredibly embarrassing for her friend to be subject to such a thing. She wouldn't admit, however, that she did find the scene to be somewhat amusing.
"Hey, what else can Ein do?" Gosaria asked as she from her spot near Ein that she had somehow gotten to while everyone else was distracted. "Did you only give it an ability to shoot those beam things?"
Ranma, happy to get off the rather uncomfortable subject they were previously on, gave a quick nod. "Yeah, there are some other upgrades as well." The cat-girl placed a finger to the microphone. "Okay, Ein, I want ya to shrink."
"Got it, Mistress Lina." Ein announced happily as its eyes shone brightly for a moment before the mini-bot -- whose main body was almost seven inches in circumference -- shrunk to the size of a half-inch in circumference. "Wow," Ein announced, "I'm really, really small now! This is so great!"
Hermione, Nashigi, and Gosaria stared at tiny robot in awe. If it was flying around, not many people would even notice it, and the thing could get into a great deal of small places nobody else could.
"Now to test out and see if her inner surveillance cam works properly." Ranma stated as she pulled Stringy out from subspace. Before she could open it, Washu grabbed onto her hand before reaching towards her ear. "What are you--" The cat-girl halted in surprise when a holo-visor appeared in front of her eyes. "Whoa…" It was all she could say as she stared through it.
"I had told you earlier that the retracting microphone was one of the best parts that I hadn't shown to you yet." Washu explained before wagging a finger. "However, I didn't tell you that there was another function to it. What has appeared in front of your eyes is a holo-visor that also comes from your headset. When you activate Ein's surveillance camera, this visor will allow you to view directly through its eyes as if you were there. It's a lot better than having to rely on your laptop to view the footage."
Nashigi made her way over to her friend. "That really is a lot better than that bulky eyesore you wore a couple days ago, Lina." She responded as she examined the replacement headset. Her lips turned into a frown. "Now you actually look cooler than me!" Nashigi received a half-lidded stare from the cat-girl in response to her statement.
"It does seem amazing." Gosaria stated with a nod. She hated the fact that she was the only tech-illiterate one among her friends. Even if she was told how something worked, she wouldn't be able to remember it completely. Gosaria hadn't fully understood yet that most of the problem stemmed from the fact of just WHO she was in her previous life. She knew very well that she was ditzy, sometimes slow, a little forgetful, slightly clumsy, and said stupid things, but she felt that she wasn't that bad compared to that rather pathetic blond swordsman she had various dreams about. The man in her dreams was great at using swords though, and she honestly found herself wishing she could try some of the things the blond man could do.
"This'll make operating Ein much easier when I'm at Hogwarts." Ranma said as she deactivated the holo-visor. "Ein will be able to fly around in its small size undetected, and I can keep my headset around for if I need it."
"Won't you get in trouble for bypassing the magical interference and having a robot move around the school?" Hermione asked with a frown. "You explained that you couldn't use your laptop as much as you liked because of the issue of being forbidden from using it around a lot of students." A different thought occurred to the brown-haired girl. "I'll have to be careful about using the laptop I get as well. Still, why would you have Ein fly around?"
Ranma gave a rather lazy shrug. "Dunno, it sounds like a good idea to me. Nothing interesting will probably happen that would require Ein's use, but that doesn't mean I should let it sit deactivated for a whole year." A possible idea was to release Ein and let her do a small check of the castle every few weeks or so. While she didn't mind breaking a rule or two -- or several, -- playing it safe with how much she used Ein would be a good idea. "Ein, return to your normal size, and deactivate for the night."
A sad look appeared on the kitten-bot's face. "Alright, Mistress Lina." It responded in a rather depressed tone. "Let me out to play again soon, okay?" It asked as it lowered itself into Ranma's hand. Before deactivating, Ein gave a bright smile and happily waved its paw. "Bye-bye!" A second later, it closed its eyes and stopped.
"Why's it so child-like?" Hermione asked as she observed her friend's invention. She had actually hoped it would stay activated a little longer.
"Not sure." Ranma responded with a shrug as she stuck Ein into her subspace pocket. "Ein was like that when I first activated it. I've tried to figure out why Ein's personality was like that, but I couldn't figure it out."
Gosaria decided to ask the next question. "Is Ein a boy or girl?"
"Uh…" Ranma scratched the base of her ponytail. "Does it really matter what gender it is? It's a floating robotic cat-head with paws and a tail."
"Referring to Ein by a gender would give it more of a personality and character." Washu said as she stroked her chin. "You have to keep things like this in mind when you create things that have a high degree of sentience."
"Alright, I guess I could give Ein a gender."
"Female," Nashigi said with an accompanying nod. The sentiments were shared by Gosaria, Hermione, and Washu. "I can't see it any other way."
Ranma's lips twitched for a moment as she glanced at everyone else. Finally, she closed her eyes and answered. "Male," she stated simply. "Ein's gonna be male."
"Why male?" Gosaria asked with a slight frown.
"Simple," Ranma began, "I'm surrounded by too many females, and so I need to even it out in SOME way." The only males that she honestly spent any time around were Tenchi, Katsuhito, Draco, her father, Fred and George, and -- to an extent -- Harry and Ron. That list was minimal in comparison to the female list which included the girls at the Masaki home, Laira, Gosaria, Nashigi, Hermione, her mother, Hotaru, Nodoka, Sakura, the girls she shared a dorm with at Hogwarts, etc. Ranma honestly and truly needed at least ONE more male figure to keep her sanity intact. "And so, Ein gonna be a boy. It's as simple as that."
"So it's decided." Washu responded with a quick clap of her hands. "You now have an adorable little son, Ranma-chan."
"Well, you've created an object with human-like sentience, and you have given it a name and gender. To some people, that would mean that Ein could be comparable to a child; especially with its child-like personality. Since you are his creator, it would make you Ein's parent. As such, you now have a second child to take care of." Washu placed a hand onto the younger girl's shoulder. "Take good care of your son, Ranma."
"Now wait just a--"
"Wow," Gosaria began, "12-years-old and already the mother of two."
Ranma sweat-dropped. "Ya do realize how bad that sounds, right?"
"Still, you do have a son and daughter." Hermione stated. "There's no real denying that much."
Placing a hand to her head, Ranma sighed in defeat. It was hard to get any sense of things when you had four people ganging up on you. 'Speaking of daughters…' The cat-girl trailed off as she turned her head to look for Laira. "Hey Lai, where are--" She halted in mid sentence when she caught sight of her daughter.
Just a few feet away, Laira was curled up in a rather comfortable ball. Her eyes were closed, and a faint snoring sound could be heard coming from her small body. Humorously, the young cabbit was also peacefully sucking on her thumb as she slept.
As she walked over to her daughter, Ranma couldn't help but allow a small smile to break out on her lips. That scene was probably the only time she would ever freely admit to one being too cute for words. Without a word, Ranma bent down and carefully picked Laira up into her arms without disturbing her sleep. The young cabbit did, however, wrap her arms around the cat-girl's neck and comfortably placed her cheek against her mothers. At this, Ranma gave off a light chuckle as she made her way towards her friends and Washu.
"I'm gonna go put Laira to bed, and I think I'll join her." She WAS feeling rather tired as well, and it was probably the best time to turn in for the night. With no more words traded, Ranma made her way out of the lab with her daughter in her arms.
The momentary silence was broken by Hermione. "She really does make a good parent." The sentiments were shared by the other three individuals.
The next morning found Ranma using a broom to sweep up the stone pathway leading up to the shrine entrance. The cat-girl was moderately annoyed with the fact that she had to forgo her usual training time in favor of some repetitive chores around the Masaki Shrine.
"Why do you have to do these chores again?" Gosaria asked as the girls watched their friend work and wondered if they should lend a hand. Laira had actually chosen to help her mother by dipping a ladle into a bucket and tossing the water onto the walkway.
A small vein appeared on Ranma's forehead. "I already told ya! The old man's having me do this because I accidentally broke a promise I made to him years ago that said I won't reveal myself to anybody else from my previous life." The punishment for breaking the agreement wasn't exactly as bad as she thought it would have been. "For the next three years, I have to help out with chores around the shrine whenever I'm here."
"Honestly, it doesn't sound all that bad." Nashigi answered. It could have been worse; she could have had to help with every chore around the house as well.
Ranma gave her a half-lidded stare. "The old man actually finds things for me to do, and he'd be sadistic enough to point out that I 'missed a spot', or that something 'is stacked too unevenly'."
A frown appeared on Hermione's lips. To her, it honestly sounded as if the elderly Shinto priest had a rather odd sense of humor. "Lina," she began curiously, "Who was the person from your previous life who found out?"
"My ex-fiancée." Ranma answered simply as she continued to sweep the pathway.
"But isn't your ex-fiancée one of the people who already knew?" Gosaria asked with a tilt of her head. "How can you get in trouble for telling someone who already knows?"
"OTHER ex-fiancée." The cat-girl provided with a hint of reluctance. When her three friends gave her odd and incredulous looks, Ranma raised a hand. "Hey, it's not what ya think! It's all because of my father in my previous life!"
"How?" Nashigi asked with a raised eyebrow. It still amazed her that she knew so little about the redhead's past and present lives, so hearing more info was always interesting.
Ranma grumbled to herself as she began telling the three. "Okay, so I told you three that I had a fiancée named Akane Tendo, and that it was arranged by my previous father and her's, right?" When her friends nodded, Ranma continued. "Basically, pops also made an arrangement with another man a few years later in return for the Okonomiyaki yatai the guy owned, but pops took the yatai and left Ukyo behind."
Gosaria pounded a fist into her hand when she actually remembered that name. "Hey, you mentioned Ukyo once when you first told us about your previous life! You told us that she was a childhood friend who made that okona-- okonoma-- whatever food you said, but nothing about her being a fiancée."
"You actually remembered that?" Ranma asked with a blink. It was weird how the blonde could be so slow and ditzy at one moment, but be more observant than anyone else and competent the next. In fact, Gosaria actually seemed more so now than she was at Hogwarts. However, now was not the time to dwell on oddities of nature. "Well, she was my friend when we were kids; before the fat panda pulled that whole stunt with the yatai." Ranma halted for a moment before shaking her head. "It's not important, and everything would be boring to recount. Long story short: Ukyo found me years later and tried to take revenge on me, but then I called her cute, and that caused her to give up her revenge and return to being my friend AND fiancée."
Her friends stared at each other for a moment and couldn't help but find the entire story to be odd. Of course, odd coming from the cat-girl was actually par for the course as far as they were concerned. Anything less would just make everything seem bizarre.
Ranma, not paying attention to the looks, made her way over to Laira and was about to congratulate her daughter on doing a good job, but the young cabbit ended up spinning around and tossing the contents of the ladle right into her face. Ranma sputtered as she wiped the water from her face. "I really hate water sometimes." She said as her friends began laughing.
"Sorry, momma." Laira apologized with a slight blush as she scratched the side of her cheek. She had started to have a little too much fun with tossing water onto the ground, and so she wasn't thinking when she tossed the water into the air.
"Don't worry about it, Lai." Ranma said as she shook her ears free of water. She then proceeded to glare in the direction of her laughing friends. Her lips twisted into a rather sinister smirk as she snatched the bucket of water from Laira and made her way towards the trio of girls.
Hermione -- noticing the cat-girl walking towards them with the bucket -- gave off a rather audible 'eep'. "Wait, Lina, Don't!" She shouted as she backed up several feet.
"Y-- Yeah," Gosaria began while waving her arms in a warding gesture, "We didn't mean to laugh!"
Nashigi actually stood her ground and pointed in the cat-girl's direction. "Ha, you think I'm afraid of a little water? I think not! Do your worst, Lina! Oohohoho!"
"Gladly…" Ranma said as she leapt into the air and gave the bucket a rapid spin. "Anything Goes School of Martial Arts Secret Attack: Drenched Rat Surprise!" With a quick flick of her wrist, Ranma sent the contents of the bucket hurtling directly towards the older girl.
Just as the liquid was about to hit, Ryoko -- with a somewhat board expression upon her face -- appeared directly in the line of fire. "Hey Pipsqueak, you have aAAHH!" She shouted as she suddenly became completely drenched in water. "Gah, I'm soaked!" Turning her head skyward, she noted the bucket that was in the hands of the young cat-girl. "Ranma…" Ryoko growled before appearing in front of the younger girl.
"Err-- Hey, Ryoko." Ranma answered with a nervous laugh. "Look, I didn't mean to get ya all wet; you just got in the way. It's your own fault!" The bucket in her hand was snatched away before finding a new home as a lovely covering for her head. "Hey," Ranma shouted in a muffled voice.
Ryoko placed an elbow on top of the bucket to keep the younger Masu from removing it. "What I was TRYING to say before you gave me an impromptu bath," at the mention of being drenched, Ryoko raised her arm before bringing her elbow back down and striking it against the top of the bucket; eliciting a slight yelp from the cat-girl. "Is that you have a phone call."
"Who is it?" Ranma asked in a muffled voice.
The ex-space pirate gave a small shrug. "I don't know. All I know is that I was drafted for the job of telling you that someone was looking for a 'Lina Malfoy'." She reached up and scratched her head. "And I was enjoying such a nice nap…" With a small shake of her head, Ryoko moved away from the young redhead. "Well, I've already done what I was asked." With that, the older Masu teleported away from the area.
After removing the bucket from her head, Ranma floated down and halted next to her friends and daughter. "I wonder who's on the phone." She mumbled as she rubbed the top of her head. Her first guess was that it could be either Nodoka or Akane. Ranma decided not to dwell on it until she was actually at the phone. "C'mon, I'll take you guys down there the fast way."
"But I don't like teleporting." Gosaria whined as she was pulled towards the cat-girl. "It makes me feel all funny and weird!" The sudden change in scenery was hard to get used to as well.
"It's not that bad, Gosaria." Hermione said. "I'll admit that it does feel weird, but it IS an incredible ability." She was actually slightly jealous over the fact that the cat-girl could teleport almost anywhere she wanted. "Say, Lina," She began a split second before Ranma teleported them down to the house, "How far can you actually teleport? Is there a limit?"
After letting go of her friends, and allowing a de-transformed Laira to hop onto her head, Ranma scratched the base of her ponytail as she thought about it. "The last time I checked, I could teleport to a distance of about 100 miles; as long as I have a clear image of the destination. I can manage a longer distance if I put more concentration into it, though." While the thought of it was amazing -- as portrayed in the expressions of her friends, -- Ranma still wished she could teleport farther to certain places -- such as Nerima and Juuban -- without requiring multiple teleports. It was one of the reasons why she disliked that her Masu powers had to grow with time instead of training.
Deciding to toss the thought away for now, Ranma made her way over to the phone and accepted it from Sasami. "Hello, this is Lina Malfoy." She said as she placed the receiver near her ear. "Who--"
"YOU JACKASS!!" The voice on the other end shouted loudly enough to play havoc on the cat-girl's eardrums and almost send Laira flying off of the top of her head. Needless-to-say, the voice was also loud enough for nearly everyone to hear it. "YOU'VE BEEN ALIVE ALL THESE YEARS AND NEVER EVEN SAID ANYTHING!"
"U-- Ukyo?" Ranma asked as she winced in pain due to the unexpected vocal assault on her sensitive ears. She was honestly surprised that the older woman had already managed to get in contact with her.
"You're DAMN RIGHT that it's me!" Ukyo answered with a softer, but still royally pissed off, voice.
"How'd ya figure out how to get in contact--"
"Do you think I'm stupid?" The voice asked in annoyance. "I realized while laying in bed last night that Akane, Kasumi, and Nodoka seemed to know you EXTREMELY well all those years ago. In fact, when I thought about it, things seemed downright fishy!" The ex-fiancée caught her breath for a moment. "I decided to pay a visit to Akane earlier and told her that I KNEW about you, and that I wanted ANSWERS. She ended up bringing me to the Saotome residence because Nodoka knew the number to where you might be."
Ranma scratched the side of her cheek and sweat-dropped. "Ah…" She managed to say. "Are ya still--"
"You're damn right I'm still here!" Ukyo responded. "And I want to see you in person NOW. I don't care how long it takes; just get your ass over here before I figure out where you are, and don't even think about trying to run! If that happens, I'll track you down and bend you over my knee and give your tailed behind the spanking of a lifetime! Is that clear?!"
"Crystal…" Ranma answered as the sweat-drop on her head grew bigger. She knew for a fact that the okonomiyaki chef meant what she said. Hell, she DID spend 10 years to track 'him' down. Once she hung up the phone, Ranma turned around to see several pairs of eyes directed her way. "Um…"
"Who in the world WAS that?" Noike asked with wide eyes as she walked up to the cat-girl. The adopted daughter of Seto Kamiki Jurai was able to hear the initial shout from the entrance to the kitchen.
Hermione's eyes widened. "The ex-fiancée who found out who you really were yesterday?"
"Yeah," Ranma answered with a frown as she tried to ignore a laughing Ryoko. "She found out how to get hold of me faster than I thought, so now I have to make a trip to my former mother's house in Nerima and meet up with her." On the bright side of it all, she could visit Nerima and see how things were going after a year of absence. "Say, Lai, ya wanna go with me? You'll be able to see Sakura again."
A bright smile appeared on the cabbit's lips. "Okay, momma!"
"Lina," Hermione began, "You wouldn't mind if we came along, would you?" The young witch was honestly curious and interested about visiting other parts of Japan, and she didn't want to spend the remainder of the week stuck in one house when there were so many interesting things to see and learn about.
Gosaria nodded her head in agreement. "Yeah, I want to see someplace else! It'll be so boring if we can't come. Please?"
"Also," Nashigi said as she pushed some hair away from her eyes, "We'll be able to learn a little more about you. I'm rather tired of being in the dark so much when it comes to you. It's just not fair."
"I don't know…" Ranma began with a frown.
"I think it's a wonderful idea." Sasami announced as she placed a hand onto the young cat-girl's head. "It'll give you four a chance to spend some quality time together and learn some more information about a friend." Sasami glanced down at Ranma. "Besides, you haven't spent that much time with your friends since you got here. Doesn't it seem like a waste to bring your friends with you and not have any fun with them? What kind of friend forgets about the others?" She asked as she put a little pressure onto the top of the younger girl's head.
Ranma winced slightly as the message came across clearly. "Alright, they can come."
"Um-- Lina," Hermione whispered as the group made their way down the sidewalk of a residential area of Nerima, "Don't you think it would be a good idea to hide your ears and tail? I could understand if we were around wizarding areas, but we aren't." The girls were also curious as to why their friend chose to walk on top of the fence… backwards. The walking backwards could be easily explained by the fact that the cat-girl was trying to help Laira with balancing on top of the fence as well, but that still didn't mean it wasn't odd.
"You're worrying too much, Hermione." Ranma answered as she continued to help her daughter walk atop the narrow path. It was the first chance since the cabbit obtained humanoid form that they could actually do some fence balancing. "It's not like anyone around this neighborhood's gonna walk up to us and ask odd questions; they prefer to not get involved if they don't have to."
"Why are you and Laira on top of the fence?" Gosaria asked.
Before she could answer, the Ranma had to quickly grab hold of Laira before the cabbit fell off. Once she had made sure her daughter was back in balance, Ranma turned her attention onto the blonde. "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm teaching Laira balancing exercises, and one of the best ways to do that is to practice walking on top of a narrow fence." Reaching out, Ranma quickly saved her daughter from another potential spill. "C'mon Lai, pick up the pace." She added as she leapt a few feet away.
"But momma, I can't!" Laira whined as she waved her arms and attempted to stay balanced. "I'm going to fall if I try to take anymore steps, and I can't balance right."
"Not with that mentality, Lai. Don't think about it; just do it."
Nashigi raised an eyebrow as she glanced at the younger girl. "Don't you think you're expecting a little too much of her right now?"
"It does sound a little demanding to tell her to hurry up when she can't." Hermione added with a frown. She felt sorry for the young cabbit and wished she could do something. "As her mother, you should be more encouraging, and it'd probably help if you held her hands and went with it slowly. What you're doing now--"
"Hey," Ranma interrupted with a glare, "How I train Laira is none of your business; I'm being as fair and supportive as possible. It's not like I'm yelling insults at her, mocking her, or refusing to provide any help. If she's about to fall, I'll catch her." First she had received lip for how she was keeping her mother in the dark, and now she received lip for how she trained her daughter. "So keep your nose out of how I handle my family. I don't stick mine into yours, do I?"
Hermione opened her mouth to respond, but found that she was at a loss for anything to say. She had NOT expected to receive such a vehement -- and rude -- reply from the redheaded cat-girl. Collecting herself for a moment so she didn't bite back with a vicious comment of her own, Hermione gave her friend an apologetic look. "I didn't mean to come off as bossy or nosey, Lina. I was just worried that you were being too hard and unfair on Laira when she's having trouble just standing on the fence." Why was it that she seemed to be getting on her friend's bad side lately?
"Ya can't hold someone's hand and help them do everything." Ranma replied as she quickly caught her daughter before the cabbit fell off. "See, I'm not letting her fall off. I may not be helping her balance and walk, but I'll help if she's about ready to fall." After helping Laira get her balance back, Ranma walked backwards a few feet to create a nice enough distance. However, the section of fence that she had stepped on was rather faulty and unstable, and so -- before she could even register what had happened -- Ranma ended up falling off the fence HERSELF.
Her friends and Laira -- who had managed to jump off of the fence -- couldn't help but bust out in laughter at the cat-girl's misfortune. Even the glare they had received didn't quell their amusement over what had happened to their friend, and the rather immature pouting she was doing wasn't helping matters any.
"Whatever…" Ranma finally said with her arms crossed. Not bothering with getting to her feet, she levitated up and hovered in the air about one and a half feet above the ground with her legs crossed. "Let's just hurry up."
"Lina, are you sure--"
"Don't worry about it, Hermione."
With that said, the group continued on in silence. They had managed to earn several glances from people passing by, but -- as Ranma had stated -- nobody said anything and had ignored what was happening. About five minutes later, they came to a halt in front of a gate that lead to a normal-looking house. The left side of the walkway was home to a variety of flowers that seemed to be well-maintained and cared for. The right side of the walkway was also well-kept, and a few stone lanterns decorated the area. A few toys -- such as a toy rubber ball -- could also be seen on the ground; a clear indication showing that Sakura had been playing outside recently.
After making their way to the entrance, Ranma raised a fist and proceeded to knock on the door. It didn't take long before the door opened to reveal Nodoka. When the woman caught sight of Ranma and Laira, a bright smile grew on her lips. "Ranma-chan," she greeted in a low voice that wouldn't be heard by anybody who shouldn't hear the name. When she caught a glimpse of Laira, the Saotome matriarch's eyes widened. "And is this Laira? You mentioned in a letter that she managed to gain a humanoid form, but I didn't think she would turn out so adorable." Nodoka couldn't help but giggle. "Except for the purple streaks in her hair, and the little bit of lavender in her left eye, she really could pass off for your child."
Laira brightened considerably at the observation as she reached out and grabbed hold of her mother's hand. It always annoyed her when people thought she was only some kind of creature, so to resemble and appear like she was the cat-girl's daughter was something she loved. "Thanks, grandma!" She chirped.
Nodoka couldn't help but return the smile. It was then that the woman noticed the three girls accompanying the young redhead. She promptly turned her attention to her former child.
"Oh yeah," Ranma said, "Mom, these are my friends Hermione Granger, Gosaria Negia, and Nashigi Rosa. They came to Japan with me for a few days, and they know some of the truth about me and why I'm here." One by one, the three girls greeted the older woman.
Giving a nod in understanding, Nodoka directed a welcoming smile at the three girls before moving from the doorway. "Sorry for making you stand outside; please come on inside."
As soon as the girls entered the house and had slipped their shoes off at the door, Ranma turned her attention to her former mother. "Say, mom, where's Sakura?"
"She's upstairs playing with a couple of friends." The faded-auburn-haired woman answered with a giggle. "Ukyo brought over a young girl she's watching, and the two of them have hit it off instantly. Sakura's other friend is someone she met a few months back when we had taken a trip to Juuban. They don't see each other often because of the distance, but they did manage to have a sleepover last night."
Ranma found it nice that her sister had made a few more friends. She was about to ask another question, but halted before she could utter even a sound as her arm blurred into motion. When she stopped, Ranma had three mini-spatulas held neatly between her fingers in the hand that she had used. Ignoring the shocked and confused looks her friends were giving her, the cat-girl's eyes traveled along the path that the projectiles had come from. Ranma finally halted when she spotted Ukyo; calmly sitting next to Akane on the sofa and directing a rather emotionless look her way.
"Ya could have hit my friends or Laira." The young redhead finally said as she flicked her wrist and sent the spatulas hurtling into the okonomiyaki chef's direction. Hermione would have said something, but Ukyo gracefully catching the returned weapons caused her to shut her mouth. "Kinda reckless, don't ya think?"
Ukyo pushed herself to her feet and slowly made her way over to the cat-girl. Finally stopping just about a foot away, Ukyo stared down at her with an impassive look. "Not when I knew you'd be able to catch them, RANMA."
Ranma put on the friendliest smile she could muster. "Ucchan, I--" A very hard slap to the face interrupted her from even continuing what she was going to say. Rubbing the mark on her cheek, Ranma stared at the woman. "Hey, Ucchan, what--" This time, her other cheek was the one that was slapped.
Her friends and Laira were going to help, but were stopped by both Akane and Nodoka who directed them towards the sofa. Upon the confused looks, Akane decided to elaborate by telling them that it wasn't their place to interfere, and that it was the redhead's mess to clean up.
"Don't you DARE call me Ucchan again. You have NO RIGHT to even use that name." Ukyo finally said in an impressively calm voice. She proceeded to reach out and grab Ranma by the collar of her shirt and lift her up to eye level. "I want to know why." The look of Ukyo's cold and calm eyes actually made the cat-girl shiver. "Why didn't you ever tell me you were alive? Do you even realize how devastated I was with you being killed? Why did you only allow Akane, Kasumi, and Nodoka to know?"
"Ryoga knows too." Ranma added without thinking.
Ukyo actually blinked for a moment. "That's not helping!" She finally shouted before her eyes began to soften. "Just tell me why you never revealed the truth to me. I want to know why I was left out of your… new life."
As she stared at the woman who had started slowly falling to pieces, Ranma could only sigh. "I had several reasons for not telling you or most of the people I knew."
"What kind of reasons could prevent you from telling nearly everyone you know?"
"Getting killed again sounds like a pretty good reason." Ranma deadpanned. At the confused look, she continued. "Look, Voldemort, the guy who killed me, considered me a threat of some kind. Even though he ended up getting defeated -- weakened and in hiding -- there's still a bunch of his followers running around. If word got around that I was alive in some way, and almost as weak as a normal child, don't you think some bastards would get it in their heads to do away with me AGAIN? It wasn't until I was around eight-years-old or so when I was able to do about HALF of what I used to be able to do. You think I'd last that long before that? I already died once, and I don't plan on doing it again for a LONG while."
Ukyo opened her mouth to respond, but immediately closed it. What Ranma had said did make sense. If you didn't have the power to defend yourself, and there was an unknown group wanting to kill you, then it really WOULD have been better to pretend to be someone else; especially when they know you died. However, she still couldn't understand how Ranma was able to come back to life. "Okay," Ukyo said, "Then why did you let your mom, Akane, and Kasumi know?"
"Because that's how it ended up." Ranma stated simply. She didn't really want to elaborate more on it. "I wanted to tell some other people later on, but then I ended up receiving these." She pointed to her ears and tail. "And I also made a promise to someone to not reveal myself to anybody else because it could cause problems."
"What do you--"
"I can't tell you." Ranma answered with a shake of her head. Before Ukyo could react, the cat-girl continued. "Look, if you really want to know, make a visit to the Masaki Shrine in Okayama and explain yourself to Katsuhito Masaki. He's the one I promised."
Ukyo stared at the young redhead for a moment before lowering her back to the floor. She could easily understand why Ranma did it after hearing about how it was so the wrong people wouldn't learn the truth and kill her… again. However, she couldn't understand why Ranma would make such a promise to a Shinto priest, and what those cat appendages had to do with anything. She guessed that she really would have to make that trip to Okayama sometime in the future.
"Look, Ukyo," Ranma began as she scratched the base of her ponytail, "For what it's worth, I'm sorry that I kept you in the dark and hurt ya as much as I did." She proceeded to bow low to the woman.
Staring down at the bowing girl, Ukyo closed her eyes before turning around. "It's not as easy as that. You can't expect everything to go right with just a simple apology after a stunt like that."
"You sure didn't hesitate when I apologized to you all those years ago." Ranma bit back with a smirk. "You called off your revenge just like that." She dodged out of the way of a fist that was aimed for the top of her head.
"That was different!" Ukyo fought. "I was just a fickle and immature teenager back then, so of course an apology and being called cute would make me do a damn 180. It's going to take time, and a lot more than a simple apology for old wounds to actually heal. Even when such a time as that does occur, the one known as Ranma Saotome is long dead. To me, you are just a girl named Lina Inversia Malfoy, and I will never see you as the Ranma I once knew. His life and name has ended with him."
Ranma winced slightly at the older woman's speech. "That's kinda harsh, don't you think?" She had honestly hoped that Ukyo wouldn't be too angered by learning the truth, but it seems that she was wrong.
"Maybe," Ukyo said as she walked over and sat down in a chair. "But that's just how I feel right now. No matter how much I look at you, I always see the young cat-girl that I knew 10 years ago." The woman proceeded to sigh. "Still, I am glad that you are alive in SOME form. I do wonder why you came back as a girl, though."
Ranma gave her a half-lidded stare. "The goddess put in charge of my rebirth was in a hurry and didn't check to see if I was the right gender or not." The silence that followed was deafening, but it was destroyed by the sudden laughter coming from the okonomiyaki chef, an incredulous stare from Hermione, and giggling from Nashigi, Gosaria, Akane, and Nodoka. The last two had heard the exact details before, but still found it humorous. Laira was the only one who didn't laugh at the issue. 'At least I can count on Lai.' Ranma thought with her arms crossed.
The cat-girl's ears gave a sudden twitch to the sound of footsteps on a squeaky floor. Following the sound to the source, Ranma noted it was coming from the top of the steps. When she glanced upward, she was able to see three small heads staring back down. Ranma was able to identify the raven-haired girl and brown-haired girl as Sakura and Makoto respectively. The third girl, who seemed to be rather shy, had an interesting shade of dark blue hair. They started to whisper to each other, and Ranma's ears were able to pick up the conversation.
"See, I told you the noise wasn't from the video game." Sakura said to Makoto. "It's Ra-- Lina-neechan." She had almost slipped up, but had managed to catch herself.
Makoto turned her head to the raven-haired girl. "Should we go down and see her now? I mean, I do want to see Lina-neechan again, but they might be busy talking." The young martial artist-in-training was saddened by the older girl's sudden departure the day before, and she didn't think she'd actually get to see her again so soon. "So she's almost exactly like a sister to you?"
Sakura gave a rather quick nod. "We've known each other for nine years… even thought I can't remember the first three years." She couldn't help it; she was a baby at the time. "Maybe she can be rude at times, but she's fun to hang around with."
"Um-- Guys," the third girl began shyly, "I think she knows we're here, because she's looking right at us." The other two girls stopped their conversation to see Ranma smirking in their direction and giving them the victory sign.
"That's how good her hearing is." Sakura said before telling the two girls to follow her down the stairs. As soon as she reached the bottom, Sakura raised a hand. "Ra-- Lina-neechan!" The raven-haired girl shouted as she ran up to the older girl and glomped onto her.
Ranma gave her sister a smile. "Hey, Sakura-chan." She said as she ruffled the child's hair. The cat-girl then turned her attention to the girl that stopped just behind Sakura. "Nice to see ya again, Makoto-chan."
"You really shouldn't have left yesterday." Makoto responded with a frown. "You could have at least said goodbye before leaving instead of just vanishing. I was going to ask you some things about martial arts before you left."
"Sorry about that." Ranma said as she scratched the base of her ponytail. 'Jeez, why is it that I seem to attract so many brats lately.' Alright, so maybe it was because she had a habit of showing off a little magic here and there, or perhaps it was because of her being part cat. In fact, it almost felt as if her tail was being pulled at that very moment. When she turned her head, she noticed that the one pulling it was the shy blue-haired girl.
Upon noticing that she was being watched, the girl let go of the tail and blushed. "Sorry…" She apologized in a small voice. "I like cats, and I wanted to know if your tail and ears were real." As if to answer her question, the crimson tail that she had previously grabbed had started to swish around. The girl could only watch in awe as the appendage moved around before reaching up and tickling her cheek. "Wow…"
"What's your name, kid?" The cat-girl asked.
The blue-haired girl blushed at being directly spoken to. "Ami Mizuno."
"I met her when mom and I took a trip to Juuban." Sakura spoke up. "Some kids were bullying her in the park because she was being shy. I stood up for her and chased the other kids off." She had to let off a small giggle. "Mom thought I was being a little too boyish, but didn't say anymore because I helped someone."
"Ahem," Nodoka interrupted with a small frown. "Seeing as how Sakura doesn't want to be a martial artist, I'm trying to teach her how to be a proper and traditional housewife. Running around and chasing people off is not the proper path to becoming proper young lady."
Sakura simply rolled her eyes at the statement. She found it to be incredibly annoying that her mother honestly expected her to shoot for a life as a normal little housewife. "Anyway, even though Ami-chan was shy, we still managed to play together for a little while until she had to go home." Sakura's lips turned into a frown. "Why is it that all of the friends I've made lately are all the way in Juuban? Usagi-chan and her family were only staying with relatives here in Nerima until their house got fixed up, and they moved back there a few months ago. Ami-chan and Makoto-chan also live in Juuban!"
It was obvious that the thought saddened Sakura, but her mood brightened when she had suddenly noticed Laira. She had shown surprise that the cabbit's hair and eye had drastically changed color from the last time she saw her after being rescued from Razzlof months ago. Makoto and Ami were rather curious to know who the cabbit was, and they were somewhat confused when Sakura stated that Laira was Ranma's daughter. Miraculously, the two girls refrained from asking the cat-girl any kind of odd questions about the idea.
Sakura was also curious as to who Hermione, Nashigi, and Gosaria were. Her sister answered by simply telling her that they were friends of hers from Hogwarts. That very answer had caused the raven-haired girl's eyes to widen when she remembered something that she needed to tell the cat-girl.
"Lina-neechan, I have something I need to show you!" Sakura announced in sheer excitement. She had wanted a chance to show her sister what she had managed to learn. "Watch this!" Holding her hand straight out, the young girl started to concentrate. It wasn't long until a sphere of wind magic began swirling around within her hand. "See, I can perform magic just like you! I found that I could do it a few days after last seeing you."
The reactions all around varied from person to person. Nodoka could only stare at her daughter with mouth wide open and eyes full of shock. The Saotome matriarch wondered just how her daughter could learn she could use magic and keep it a secret. Not counting Ranma -- because she was reborn in a different family before obtaining magical ability, -- nobody else in her direct family had been able to use magic for generations, so how did Sakura suddenly gain magic ability?
Akane and Ukyo were only mildly surprised. The former of the two's surprise mostly came from the fact that Sakura had never shown any magical ability before, and to suddenly bring it out now was the shock. The latter didn't know a thing about Sakura, and so she just found it interesting and amazing.
Ami had already seen the girl use a little magic a few months back, and Makoto had seen a demonstration when she was up in Sakura's room with the other two girls. Still, they both found themselves amazed by the fact that their friend could do something like she was doing. Makoto was honestly finding herself wishing she could do magic like Sakura and Ranma could do.
Hermione was wide-eyed to see that the younger girl could easily perform wandless magic just like a certain cat-girl could. Sure, in a way, the younger girl WAS related to Ranma, but it was still a complete shock. Nashigi, on the other hand, thought it was awesome, and Gosaria actually clapped her hands.
After she got out of her initial surprise, Ranma found it hard to suppress a smirk. Ever since Sakura had told her of the dreams she was on that night during the Christmas Holiday, the cat-girl anticipated that her sister would end up gaining access to magic; she didn't think it would be so soon, though. Because of her magical ability, it was likely that Sakura would end up at a magic school later on. That brought on the question of just what kind of magic school was in Japan.
Tossing the thought out of her mind for now, Ranma reached over and ruffled the younger girl's hair. "Not bad at all, Sakura-chan, but you still have a long way to go before you can catch up to me." The comment earned her a raspberry from Sakura as the girl dropped her magic spell to catch her breath. "Looks like your magic is too low to do much of anything." Ranma taunted with another ruffling of the girl's hair.
"But why is it so low?" Sakura asked with a frown. "It's no fun getting tired after using some of it."
"You'll just have to wait until ya have access to more magic." The cat-girl responded with a shrug. Noticing the annoyed look on her sister's face, Ranma wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "Listen kid," she whispered, "When I first started using magic, I could only do two spells before becoming exhausted. Give it time; I'm sure you'll be able to do more later on."
"I guess." Sakura said as she continued to pout. "You'll teach me a few things later, right Lina-neechan?" She proceeded to bring forth the dreaded puppy-dog eyes attack. She knew the older girl had trouble ignoring the look, and that's why she did it.
Ranma had to sweat-drop as the raven-haired child assaulted her with the teary-eyed pout. She attempted to resist it, but found that it was impossible when the look came from the smaller girl. Finally, with a sigh, she agreed to help the girl whenever she was able to use more magic without feeling tired.
"Yeah!" Sakura shouted in happiness as she leapt into the air. "I'm going to learn magic and become a sorceress!" She knew several spells she wanted to try from those dreams she had of that Luna Inverse woman.
Nodoka gave off a long and drawn out sigh. She really had wanted her daughter to grow up to be more traditional, but it seemed that several factors were working against her. Still, Nodoka found that she did have some sense of pride in knowing that her daughter had access to magic.
Ranma had originally anticipated that the visit to her former mother's place would turn out hectic and out of control. However, everything had seemed unusually calm, and the cat-girl was expecting SOMETHING to end up happening sooner instead of later. It's just how things always seemed to operate every single time it managed to get too calm and uneventful.
Akane had actually left a few moments earlier so she could get back home to her husband and daughter. She had told the cat-girl that she should come over sometime so Yuzuya could see 'funny-looking kitty girl' again. The comment had earned a mumbled comment from Ranma, which prompted Akane to give the girl a quick and hard flick to the nose before heading out the door.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things was that Hermione and Ami actually seemed to get along quite well. A discussion earlier -- started by Hermione -- had somehow sparked Sakura, Makoto, and Ami to speak about their choices of future careers. Sakura had stated -- with a pointed look towards her mother -- that she did NOT want to become a traditional housewife, and wanted, instead, to become an actress, comedian, or manga artist. That had also prompted Sakura to collect some of her drawings of such things as Doraemon, Astro Boy, Anpanman, Super Mario, and other various things.
Ranma honestly thought -- with a rather large sweat-drop -- that the drawings were extremely good. Drawing was definitely something the cat-girl wasn't any good at. Sure, she could doodle without any kind of problem, but to actually try and draw was something else entirely. Anything she attempted tended to come out looking crooked and disproportioned.
Makoto only had one large desire; to become a professional chef cooking for people to make them happy. Ranma thought it was kind of sappy in a way, but could understand that the girl had a love for cooking.
Ami also had one career in mind that she desired greatly. The young blue-haired girl wanted to take after her mother and become a doctor. She had accompanied her mother a couple of times to the woman's job at the hospital, and after seeing her mother in action, Ami had found that she wanted to follow in the woman's footsteps so she, too, could help people with a multitude of issues that they were having.
However, there was one obstacle standing in the young girl's way. She wanted to become a doctor, but she found out that to do that, she would need to study extremely hard and get into a university for even more training and learning. The thought caused Ami to feel down due to the fact that she was already having some trouble at school. It wasn't that she didn't like school, because she did like it, and she loved the idea of learning. No, the problem was that she had a tough time remembering certain things, and that caused her no end of trouble in such things as tests and assignments.
In response to it all, Hermione had gently led Ami to the spot next to her on the sofa and proceeded to give the younger girl tips on how she could accomplish what she was trying to do. Hermione had explained to the girl that it always helped to take as many notes as she could, and that reading book chapters and pages beforehand would also allow her to get a jump ahead.
As she watched the two discuss the proper ways to study and take notes, Ranma couldn't help but feel that the younger of the two was actually a Hermione in the making. The way Ami seemed to take in the information and repeat it back in understanding before listening again was a possible sure sign of things to come. If the thought of that wasn't odd enough, then the fact that the two talked for almost half-an-hour about it was.
Of course, the inevitable annoyance that Ranma had expected to happen did, indeed, happen. Nodoka had asked -- to the young cat-girl's utter disgust -- if the girl had found any cute boys yet, and if not, she might be able to help her out. Needless-to-say, Nodoka received a rather vehement rant.
"Jeez, will you just knock it off with the damn boy talk?!" Ranma asked with a pointed glare. "How many times do I have to tell ya before you finally get it that I don't. Like. Boys!?" She had received a lot of attention for her shout. "The very idea makes me sick and disgusted! Just give it up!"
Nodoka blinked for a moment before a smile appeared on her lips. The Saotome Matriarch proceeded to gently lift the young girl's chin with a hand. "Don't worry, dear, you're still going through a phase. Sooner or later, your hormones will kick in and allow you to meet that special boy."
Ranma -- to the surprise of everyone -- instantly slapped the hand away from her chin and stared at the shocked woman with a harder glare. "What the hell is so hard about it to accept and understand? The only thing about me that's female is my physical body; that's it! Just ask Washu-chan about all the tests and scans she has performed!"
"Be that as it may," Nodoka said with a frown. "You are still a girl, and--"
"Oh, that's a good one." Ranma deadpanned. "Narcissa doesn't have any problem with it. She may not know the full truth, but she knows that I prefer girls, and that I'd rather have my limbs painfully torn off than be attracted to or romantically involved with any kind of male."
Nodoka had an almost shocked and confused look on her face. "R-- Really? But why--"
Ranma crossed her arms and continued to glare at the woman before her. Why did it seem harder and harder lately to see her as a mother? "She said, and I quote, 'Maybe I do have some anger and disgust over the fact, but I am still your mother. A mother should be there for her child no matter what. If said child committed a crime, the mother should still -- deep down -- love her child unconditionally. Some expectations of what a mother expects of her child end up destroyed, but should she give up? Or should she just create new expectations that respond to the change?' She also said that she wanted to be there for me, and wouldn't let stupid things like me preferring the same gender get in the way of that." As she ended, Ranma subconsciously touched the locket that she had hiding under her shirt.
Opening her mouth to say something, Nodoka found that she honestly couldn't. She always did want the cat-girl to spend some more time with Narcissa and give the woman a chance to be a mother. However, to Nodoka, it didn't seem that her former child would ever get close to the other woman, but the exact opposite seemed to have happened within just a month, and now Ranma valued Narcissa's opinion -- which, while it made sense, just wasn't proper -- over hers. Her eyes also transfixed on what she noted to be a chain around the girl's neck that was attached to either a pendant or locket. Ranma was never fond of any kind of jewelry that she had tried to get her on several occasions, but here she was wearing something that she possibly received from Narcissa. It was at that moment when Nodoka realized just how badly she had lost the true title of 'mother'.
"I see," she said with a small frown. "Did you have fun spending last month with Narcissa."
Unaware of the Saotome matriarch's current feelings, Ranma answered with a nod. "Yeah, I did have a lot of fun; I wasn't fond of some of the more girly things we did together, though. However, she didn't want us to do those things because she thought they were something I SHOULD do BECAUSE I am a girl. Instead, she wanted us to do those things just for the sake of spending time together, and I sure the hell prefer that reason to the one of me doing them BECAUSE I'm a girl."
Nodoka had to let loose a sigh that she didn't know she was holding. It honestly was depressing when you learned that the child you did consider to be yours -- even if said child was reborn to another family -- got along better with -- and preferred -- someone else after just a month. "It's nice to know that you get along better with your mother than you do with me." Nodoka finally said in a soft voice. "I guess I really shouldn't try and tell you what you should or shouldn't do since I'm honestly not your mother."
"Huh?" Ranma asked intelligently. Did she just put her foot into her mouth and say something that hurt the woman's feelings? "H-- Hey, I didn't mean that I don't think of you as a second mother or anything." The wording of that almost seemed to come out wrong. "It's just that… well--"
"I understand, dear." Nodoka answered with sad smile as she patted the young cat-girl's head. "Narcissa understands a lot better than I ever could, and that's why you seem to get along better with her than me." Sure, she still thought of the girl as hers, but she guessed that it was akin to putting your child up for adoption. She could still be in the girl's life, but not as her true mother. In a way, Nodoka was still a -- very distant -- relative of the cat-girl. "I should go and prepare some more tea." She said as she walked away from her former child and made her way towards the kitchen.
"Wait a minute. I didn't mean…" Ranma trailed off and scratched the base of her ponytail. That discussion did not go as well as she would have liked it to.
Sakura shook her head as she placed a hand onto the older girl's shoulder. "That didn't turn out too well, Lina-neechan." She had easily noticed that the discussion had saddened her mother. However, she did understand why her pseudo-sister went off like she did. "Don't worry about it; you said what you had to, right?"
"Still rather harsh." Ukyo responded from her spot near a confused Makoto. Okay, so maybe she didn't understand most of what was going on, or who Ranma's new family was, but she did know that the young cat-girl shouldn't have been that pointed about it.
Hermione had attempted to say something, but was stopped by Nashigi who gave her negative shake of the head telling her to not say a word. Hermione was reluctant to back down and not have herself heard, but finally did when it was obvious that Nashigi wouldn't remove her hand unless she did give it a rest. The brown-haired girl quickly went back to talking to Ami; the younger girl honestly did remind her of herself in a way.
Gosaria and Laira were actually occupied with looking through the stack of drawings that Sakura had brought out to show them. Laira would occasionally send mental images of what she was seeing to Ranma, and the cat-girl honestly couldn't think of anything to say in regards to the drawings.
When Nodoka had returned, it almost seemed as if she was back to normal, but Ranma thought that the woman was acting slightly different towards her. It wasn't noticeable, and so she figured that it was mostly due to her imagination. However, there was the small nagging feeling within the back of her mind telling her that something had -- somehow -- changed in her relationship with her former mother. If it was a good thing or not, Ranma had absolutely no idea.
It wasn't long until Ranma felt that it was time to leave. She wanted to get back to the Masaki home and do a little training. She also had an idea in mind that she wanted to try out. The idea came from a dream she had last night that involved her performing some kind of strange Yarn Ball Style Martial Arts. Sure, the idea sounded odd, but Ranma found that the dream made it seem like it could be done. All she would need to do it would be to take the string and infuse it with ki, and maybe use a variety of other material for a variety of effects. Honestly, the dream also made her consider a possible way to revamp the entire Neko-ken style and make it fully usable.
"Lina," Hermione began, "There's still a great deal of time left in the day. Nashigi, Gosaria, and I were actually wondering if you could show us more of the sights. We've never been to Japan before, and so it would be nice if you could take us on a tour."
"Yeah," Gosaria agreed, "I want to look around some more as well."
Nashigi nodded in agreement. "You know a great deal of things about this place, and it would only be proper to take and show your friends around. Besides, didn't Sasami mention something about how we haven't spent that much time together, and it would be good to take this chance to have some fun?"
"Ya know," Ukyo began with a smirk. The day actually turned out to be rather amusing. Besides, she was still slightly peeved about not being told about Ranma's secret. "Your friends are right. A good friend would take the moment to show their friends a good time." The chef placed a finger to her cheek. "Maybe you could show them around Akihabara or Harajuku. Some place where they would like to go."
"What are those?" Gosaria asked with a tilt of her head.
"Akihabara is a shopping district for electronics, arcades, anime, and other similar things." Sakura piped up quickly. "Harajuku is also a shopping district, but it involves a lot of different clothing styles and fashion." The young girl stopped for a moment before going back to her explanation, but this time with excitement. "Harajuku also has a huge toy store called Kiddy Land!" At the mention of 'huge toy store', Gosaria's eyes almost seemed to sparkle. Likewise, Nashigi was excited over the idea of clothes.
A slight frown appeared on Hermione's lips. "They sound interesting, but I don't think I'd really want to spend time walking through electronic, clothing, or toy stores."
"Um," Ami began softly, "There is a district called Jinbocho. It has a lot of book stores and antique shops." As soon as the sentence had left the young girl's mouth, Hermione's eyes sparkled with sheer delight at the thought of browsing through shelves of books. To her, books were a lot better than clothing and electronics.
"Lina," all three girls said at once as they turned their attention onto their cat-girl friend, "Can you take us to Jinbocho/Harajuku? Please?" All three had even used a well-coordinated puppy-dog eyes attack that caused Ranma's eye to twitch violently. It wasn't hard to think of Gosaria or Nashigi doing it, but for Hermione -- of all people -- to use the method…
"Alright," Ranma answered as she raised her hands in defeat, "I'll take ya all to visit Jinbocho and Harajuku." In response, the three girls gave shouts of joy and wrapped their arms around the cat-girl. "But we're also gonna go to Akihabara! If I have to suffer through taking you to Harajuku and Jinbocho, then you're going to suffer through Akihabara!"
Ranma had to give off an exhausted sigh as the group finally returned to the Masaki home. She had originally assumed that the entire trip through Akihabara, Jinbocho, and Harajuku would only take an hour/hour-and-a-half tops. The reality of it all had actually hit her when they were passing the third hour, and it had completely ran her over when they finally hit the sixth hour mark… or was it the seventh hour mark? Yeah, it was the seventh hour.
She had actually decided that the first place they'd stop at would be Akihabara. Maybe, now that she thought about it, it would have been a good idea to stop at that destination last. However, at the time, she had only thought about going there first to possibly build up her willingness to actually travel to the other locations they were going to. In reality, it only made her reluctant to leave the area and wish she had chosen it as second or third stop.
One thing she had to do before they entered the area was to place a hat over her ears and hide her tail. She had made the mistake one time of walking through the place without the necessary precaution, and what had happened was that she had been surrounded by a bunch of crazed otaku who had tugged on her ears and tail, glomped onto her, taken pictures of her, sniffed her hair, and all around freaked her out into completely incapacitating each and every one of the men and women who invaded her personal space. After that, she had taken all of the cameras she could and soundly disposed of them with a lovely fireball show. Since then, Ranma had made absolutely sure that whenever she did visit any area even remotely near Akihabara, her ears and tail were well hidden. Sure, Ryoko and the others -- except for Laira -- found it funny when they had found out, but she definitely didn't. It would have been outright traumatizing for a weaker person, but for Ranma, it was only incredibly sickening and disturbing.
The first thing that they had done when they arrived at Akihabara was -- because Laira wanted to go there -- to head for one of the shops that provided anime and manga. When they had returned to the Masaki home a few days ago, Laira had started to read a relatively new manga series that was about alchemy and transmutations, and so she wanted to see if she could find anymore. Since she gained the ability to use some kind of acidic solvent after assimilating the Philosopher's Stone, Laira had wondered if she could do any other kind of alchemic deeds.
The next stop that they had made was to an electronics store. Gosaria had -- once again -- fallen into both awe and confusion over all the technologic gadgets and pieces she was surrounded by. She had to constantly be stopped from touching certain electronics, and prevented from picking things up as well.
The last thing that they had done while in Akihabara was to visit an arcade, and Ranma had actually managed to convince the others into playing some fighting games against her... which resulted in her soundly thrashing each one of her friends. Of course, there was the fact that they didn't understand what they had to do at first, but oh well. Laira, though, was able to provide the redhead a sound challenge in the games.
Both Laira and Ranma were rather reluctant to even leave the area, but Ranma had to finally agree to teleport the girls to the next stop on the trip: Jinbocho.
All in all, the redhead had found the place to be rather boring, but it was obvious that Hermione had fun browsing through various books. However, her browsing through books did cause Hermione to notice something that she hadn't paid attention to during their previous stop and after arriving in Japan. She had noticed -- as she skimmed a book -- that even though the text was in Japanese, she could read it without a problem. That fact had also dawned on Nashigi and Gosaria as well, and so the trio had brought their finding to Ranma.
The cat-girl's response was a simple one: The universal translators that Washu had them put in their ears the day they arrived. While the main function was to change how spoken languages were sent and received, they also gradually filled information into the brain that allowed one to learn the various languages that surrounded them. Even though the girls had never learned how to read, write, listen, and speak Japanese, the universal translator devices had injected the information into their brains to allow them proper communication and reading of the language. When asked why Washu had never explained that to them in the first place, Ranma responded by saying that the diminutive genius had wanted them to learn it on their own first hand.
Interestingly enough, the group had also come across a wizarding bookstore taking up residence in an otherwise vacant lot. It was probably the third time that Ranma had actually bothered to enter one of the many scattered Japanese wizarding shops that she had come across throughout the years. While many magical shops were hidden like the ones in Europe were, there were some that actually were visible to the non-magical populace. Those types tended to mostly sell various charms, good luck objects, and other similar things.
Hermione had enjoyed browsing through the various subjects found with each book she touched. In fact, when it came time to finally leave Jinbocho -- about two hours later, -- it was Hermione's turn to feel reluctance in having to travel to the next destination; one that didn't really seem all that desirable.
Immediately after appearing in Harajuku, the group had found there way onto Takeshita Street. The first thing that had happened was that Nashigi and Gosaria had spotted some rather elaborate outfits in the window of a shop, and so -- along with Laira's help -- they proceeded to drag Ranma and Hermione into the building. What had occurred after that was what almost could have been considered as a fashion show of trying on various outfits that literally exhausted the redheaded cat-girl.
The highlight of it all, though, had to be seeing Hermione -- of all people -- wearing a black with white lace Gothic Lolita outfit that Nashigi had somehow managed to talk her into trying out. It was obvious how embarrassed Hermione had been as she wore the outfit. The brown-haired girl had pulled on the short and frilly skirt in an attempt to cover her legs, but it was to no avail. The girl's blush had worsened when Ranma had started to laugh her ass off over the whole scene.
That moment had actually set in motion Hermione's first ever revenge plan. By collaborating with Gosaria, Nashigi, and Laira, the young witch had managed to get a complaining Ranma into a pink and black puffy-sleeved Gothic Lolita dress complete with pink stockings, laced black heel-shoes, and matching umbrella. However, Hermione's satisfaction at revenge ended up destroyed when the cat-girl smugly mentioned -- as she opened the umbrella -- that she 'made the outfit look good'. Sure, Ranma didn't really care much for trying on clothes, thought the outfit was too pink, girly, and frilly, and wouldn't be caught walking around in such a thing unless there was a good reason, but it was a great opportunity to rain on Hermione's parade and turn the girl's 'victory' into a 'loss'. Of course, at the same time, the desire to quickly get out of the large and frilly outfit was at the forefront of her mind. What she had worn had reminded her too much of the Sailor Pompom uniform she was stuck with.
After what had seemed to be an agonizingly long time, along with having to see Nashigi try on an outfit that had looked a little TOO much like the outfit worn by her past incarnation -- and nearly being forced into a disturbingly similar outfit, -- the group finally left Takeshita Street. However, Gosaria had remembered it mentioned that there was some kind of toy store around the area, and she had wanted to visit the place. Ranma, who wished that the blonde had forgotten about the place, tiredly lead the way to the area known as Omotesando.
After they made their way through the crowds and traffic, they came to a large grey building with the name 'Kiddy Land' above the entrance. Upon entering the store, Gosaria's eyes had instantly gone shiny; it was the only warning anyone had before the blonde had merrily skipped off and begun browsing. Gosaria had almost seemed to practically teleport from area to area without missing a beat. She didn't stop jumping around until Ranma had whacked her upside the head with a fist. After that, the blonde had calmed down, but went back to being excited when she found an obscenely cute jellyfish plush toy with a top-hat, monocle, and teacup.
When her eyes had lain upon that very object of unholy plush, Gosaria had -- without even a thought -- ran over and grabbed it into one big hug. Once she had the plush in her arms, the blonde had turned her attention to Ranma. As if she had teleported, Gosaria's face had appeared just inches from the redhead, and -- as if she were a young child -- her shiny blue eyes stared pleadingly into her friend's dual-colored ones. Ranma had attempted to stand her ground by saying that Gosaria was too old for useless things like that, but the blonde just wouldn't relent.
After what had seemed like an eternity, Ranma had finally given up and checked the price tag. Considering that she only had 4,000 yen on her at that moment -- she had had more, but she ended up buying some manga for Laira, -- 1,500 yen for a cheap-looking plush toy seemed like an incredible rip-off. None-the-less, she had decided that, as a proper friend -- actually, more like doing it so that Gosaria would knock off the blasted sad-eyes shtick, -- getting her the toy would be the proper thing to do. Once that deed had been done, and Gosaria had given Ranma a great big hug and a childish -- and incredibly embarrassing -- kiss on the cheek, they were finally able to call it a day and head back to the Masaki household…
…Which was what they were doing at that very moment. Ranma was tired and exhausted, and all she wanted to do was get home, flop down onto her ass, and relax until it was time to go fall into bed. She didn't want to think about anything else for the remainder of the night. So, of course, something had to pop up that would completely ruin those plans.
"Karaoke?" Ranma asked as soon as the group entered the house and were met by Sasami. The older girl had just informed them that everyone just felt a desire for a karaoke night, and so they had pulled out the portable karaoke machine. "You've gotta be kidding me."
"What's the matter, pipsqueak?" Ryoko asked as she appeared above the cat-girl. "Afraid to let your friends know that you have such a lovely singing voice?" She wasn't being sarcastic either; the young redhead really could sing. Ryoko had challenged Ranma a few years ago to sing, and she had taken her up on the challenge and easily won.
"No, that's not--"
"Lina, you can sing?" Hermione asked with wide eyes. The idea of her friend singing sounded -- in a way -- strange. It wasn't that she didn't believe it; it's just that it was something that didn't seem 'Lina-like'.
"That sounds awesome!" Gosaria spoke up as she glanced at the cat-girl in front of her. "Are you really good at it, Lina?"
"Well," Ranma began as she scratched her cheek, "I don't mean to brag, but I do have a bit of talent when it comes to singing. I mean, there ARE a lot of things that I have a talent for." She ended with a small chuckle that caused everyone to sweat-drop, and Laira to place a hand to her forehead and sigh. Sometimes her mother's ego really did get the best of her.
"So why do I have to sing with Boobzilla?" Ranma asked with a frown as she stood next to Nashigi. Both of them were standing on the raised platform that was usually reserved for the low table; making the area seem like a kind of stage. Instead of the low table, there was a small karaoke set, and both Ranma and Nashigi were holding microphones.
"Because, Lina," Nashigi began as she placed a hand to her chest, "My beautiful voice will add some elegance to an otherwise mediocre performance."
"Jeez, sometimes I wonder if you're of some relation to the Kunos." Ranma grumbled to herself as she tapped her finger on the microphone a couple times. "So why do I have to sing with her?"
"Well," Noike said, "Nashigi said that she had never participated in karaoke before, so we thought it might be a good idea to let her sing with you so she could get the hang of it. Hermione and Gosaria will also get a chance to sing as well." The woman's eyes quickly narrowed when something caught her eye. "MIHOSHI! GET AWAY FROM THE MACHINE! YOU REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME, DON'T YOU?!"
Mihoshi gave a cry of surprise as she quickly jumped away from the Karaoke unit. "You didn't have to yell, Noike-chan. I just wanted to see if it was plugged in correctly!"
"WELL DON'T!" Noike's shout caused the blonde to cover her head and move over to a safer area.
Gosaria tilted her head as she attempted to make her way over to the song machine. "So this thing plays songs? How do you turn it-- OOWW!" She cried in pain as she clutched the top of her head.
"And don't you go touching it without permission either." Washu said as she closed a paper fan that she had used to whack the girl upside the head with. While Gosaria wasn't nearly as bad as Mihoshi, it still wasn't safe to allow her to mess with things she shouldn't.
Ayeka placed a hand to her cheek. "You know, we still haven't thought of a song that they could sing."
"Maybe we should have it pick out a random song." Tenchi supplied.
Washu interrupted by snapping her fingers. "I know a song they can sing. It's been around the galaxy since my academy days, but it lost popularity over the years. However, it seems that it has also begun to gain its popularity back." The diminutive genius managed to hide her amusement. "I'd actually like to see them try and sing it." After typing away on her laptop, a subspace pocket opened up and spit out a disk. Taking it, Washu made her way over to the karaoke machine and inserted it. "Alright you two, get ready." After turning the machine on, Washu walked away and took a seat with the rest of the house.
The view screen soon popped up with the title of the song: A Maiden's Prayer. This prompted Ranma to give Washu a half-lidded stare. It wasn't long before the beginning music started to play out, and Ranma began to find herself with an odd feeling of Déjà vu. In fact, the song seemed completely familiar, and the only thing that seemed drastically different was who her singing partner currently was. She was about to say something about it, but the main part of the song started playing, and she had to start singing.
"To a girl who falls in love with love," A minor sweat-drop appeared on Ranma's head, but she continued on to keep in sync with a somewhat terrible Nashigi. "You're too dazzling, my darling."
"Glittering rouge" "A desired-- uh-- Dream"
"A pink peach"
"I want you to reach my maiden's prayer. A tiny silver boat floating in the night sky sways in the waves of love and hate. Burning a kiss into my little chest, my heart is flying back to you."
"Please reach, my maiden's wish. I give my entire pure, pretty self to you."
When the music break began, Ranma had to give her head a quick shake. She knew why the song sounded so damn familiar. Lina Inverse had sung it at one time, but her singing partner at the time was that girl, Amelia. Upon taking a look at Nashigi next to her, Ranma noticed that the older girl seemed rather flustered with the fact that she wasn't doing too well. The cat-girl would have made a crack about what the girl had said earlier, but didn't have time because the music got back to the main part.
"To a girl who falls in love with love, you're too dazzling, my darling."
"Giddying cologne" "A… Shining dream"
"I want you to grant my maiden's wish. Surfing the night's sky, a tiny silver boat sways in the waves of love and hate. Burning a kiss into my tiny chest, my heart is flying back to you."
"Please reach, my maiden's wish. A blown kiss is a boomerang; a one-way ticket boomerang."
"I-- um-- give my entire pure, pretty self to you." "I want to place my feelings astride a white Pegasus"
"And to deliver to you the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle of love."
As soon as the song had stopped, a pink tinge appeared on Ranma's cheeks as she began scratching the base of her ponytail. That wasn't as bad as she had originally thought it would be, and she had fun listening to Nashigi go completely off tune and mess up on certain things. "What's the matter? I thought you said that you had a beautiful voice. From what I could hear, you were only scraping by because of me."
Nashigi crossed her arms and lifted her chin. "Ha, I just never heard that song before. If I had, I would have done much better than I had."
"Face it," Ranma said as she gave the older girl a wink and victory sign, "You just couldn't keep up with the better singer. C'mon, say it." The cat-girl proceeded to teleport to various spots around the older girl and. "C'mon, say that you couldn't keep up." She said as she gave the girl several pokes. "C'mon already!"
"Fine," Nashigi stated with a frown as she raised an arm, "I admit it; I couldn't keep up and lost to the one with the better singing abilities. I will accept this defeat, but next time, my formidable rival, I will be the one who triumphs."
Ranma gave off a simple shrug. "Whatever you say, Boobzilla." It always did feel good to get one of those confessions out of the older girl. With the constant annoying comments and delusions that Nashigi made at various turns, it was always satisfying to bring the girl down to earth. "Wanna have another go later on? I'll beat you again without a problem."
The rest of the people in the room could only sweat-drop at the antics of the two up on the pseudo-stage. The young cat-girl really did tend to get a little too competitive at times… even when it involved a calm and relaxing event such as karaoke.
Holy crud in a barrel, this chapter turned out hellishly long, and the summer vacation has turned out longer than I had originally expected it would.
Hell, my original plan from a long time ago went something like this…
Chapter 20: Ranma's month with Narcissa, and then Ranma picking up the girls at the end of the chapter and heading to Japan.
Chapter 21: Spending some time in Japan before heading off to Mau
Chapter 22: Ranma's trip to Mau before returning to Earth.
Obviously, things didn't work out like that, and instead, my planning was edited to…
Ch. 20: Ranma's month with Narcissa, and then heading off to retrieve the girls
Ch. 21: Retrieving the girls and heading to Japan, and having things happen in Japan
Ch. 22: Finishing up the trip in Japan and having Ranma then go to Mau.
Ch. 23: Ranma's time on Mau before returning to Earth.
However, with how this chapter turned out, Ranma's leaving for Mau will now end up in chapter 23, and -- along with chapter 24 -- include Ranma's adventure on Mau before heading back to Earth.
Dang… it's crazy…
Anyway, onto an interesting thought that I've been wondering. What would happen if Washu, Ranma, Hermione, Skuld, Ami Mizuno, and -- just for the hell of it -- Kaolla Su ever got together in one room and combine their intellects and knowledge of various things
The mental image of it is rather… disturbing. The world -- no, universe -- would be doomed beyond repair.