Found grave errors and unsatisfied with length. Revised and lengthened.
Don't own Ranma or Sailor Moon. Won'get paid for this either.
Orchid Queen of Saturn
A perky red headed girl bounced up to Ranma and his Amazon guard. "I am Hanabi and these bozos following me are your Saotome cousins that are close to your age. Since there are so many of us here we can all introduce ourselves as the afternoon goes along. But I've been chosen to stick with you because I'm the biggest gossip in the clan, so don't say anything that you don't want repeated. Okay?"
Ranma blushed at the bald honesty of the girl in front of her. "Err. Well, this is Rinse. She's a cousin of Shampoo who was my h-husband by Amazon law. Sh-Shampoo died the day after our wedding night about two weeks ago."
Hanabi took on a look of sadness and concern. And clapped her hands for the departed. "I cannot imagine what you've gone through. We've heard some of the story, because elder Nodoka called and reported much of what happened while she was gone. We know some of what happened at Jusenkyo and at the Nyanchiczu village and I would like to hear whatever you are willing to talk about."
"C-could you tell me what you know and I'll t-try to explain what I know." Ranma's face took on a look of sadness.
"The story is that you fell into a pool that made you look exactly like Auntie Nodoka and that you and her are now expecting. I don't know how you are able to be as calm as you are. Especially meeting someone and falling in love like that, and then taking a hit. I just want to tell you it'll be alright but I know that it won't ever be 'right'."
Ranma began to tear up a bit. "I am a woman now and something in me says to accept that. It also tells me that I'll be a man again. But, by the kami, its hard. I accept it like a challenge and, anyway, if this is the price for having Mom be alive I'd do it over in a heartbeat, even if I never was a man again. It helps that my amazon friends have provided support and Cologne has been listening to me and explaining why I've felt the way I do."
Hanabi looked at Rinse and smiling, said "Well, if you can bring your group along, we can go bathe in the hot spring. Its strictly unisex in the spring, but we have separate changing and bathing areas. Plus, plenty of large towels and robes if you feel the need to protect your modesty." So the Saotomes and Rinse headed for the springs followed by the Amazon troops moving with military precision. The Saotome cousins walked casually beside the Amazon Warriors, engaging in conversation, at least the several that spoke mandarin well. By the time the group had arrived, there were several animated conversations going and good 'foreign' relations seemed to be well under way.
Ranma came out of the women's changing area laughing along with Hanabi and Rinse to see several boys her age clad with towels around their waist. She began a growl at the back of her throat, but stopped as they all bowed low and looked her in the eye, their glances never once wandering.
The oldest, who bore a fairly good resemblance to her male form spoke for the group. "Hello Ranma-san, I'm Kensuke Saotome. Me and my buddies here are all cousins of yours and we know all about your situation. I speak for all of us and want you to know that we plan on being your friends. We promise to treat you no differently than we treat each other and if any of us fall short, please let us know what's wrong and we'll fix it."
One of the younger boys to the back piped in, "Yeah, and none of us like to get beaten up. And. I'm not talking about you! Though you could probably take us out, and a dozen more."
His laughter and the laughter of the others carried no malicious undertones to Ranma. So she began to laugh along with them, "You're right. I just want to thank you for your support. You have no idea what it means to me. Hopefully, this time next year, I'll be able to be a guy again, at least half of the time, and things will be better."
Ranma had a thought, "Have you guys been told about the amazon laws of marriage?" Blank looks and a shaking of heads was their response. "Well don't get into a challenge fight if you think you'll win. Men who beat Amazon women are called husbands from the moment they've won and the women wear the pants and own the property."
The same boy who had spoken earlier interjected, "Well, I hope that doesn't continue for long. Oh! I'm Ichigo, by the way. Our clan is quite egalitarian, but primogeniture is how leadership is passed down and the first born has always been a girl except for you but now you're a girl and the latest heir. I can't wait for when you can be a boy again. You'll be the first guy to run the clan in recorded history. Do you think those Amazon women would just, just like date? I don't want to fight, just spar once in a while, maybe take one like that one to a movie. All of them are really pretty. Is that really their hair color…"
Ranma interrupted Ichigo, "Hanabi? Is Ichigo always like this?"
"Yeah. Ichigo's a regular motor mouth, but its all youthful innocence." The boy opened his mouth and shut it while blushing an intense shade of red at the reference to his age. "If they really believe that you are their queen or king, you ought to lay some ground rules some time. I know that 'I' wouldn't like it if I had to marry someone just because they beat me in a fight. It all sounds like an invitation to rape."
"Hanabi, believe me when I say that rape is virtually nonexistent in their culture, though some of their outsider laws border on it. I'll tell you some other time, now I just want to get into the hot spring and soak."
The group walked into the segregated bathing hall where the men and women separated again to get ready for the springs. Ranma followed Hanabi and was followed in turn by her Amazon friends and guards. Ranma stood self consciously while the other women waited for her cue. Finally she scrunched her face in determination hung her towel on a peg. The others immediately followed suit, all of them gathering bathing supplies from the shelves.
Hanabi and Rinse smiled at Ranma's embarrassment and gently took an arm each, setting her on a stool. The Saotome cousin took a bucket of water and poured it over her head while Rinse began to lather up her back. Hanabi put shampoo in Ranma's hair and began to work her hair into a lather too. After a bit, the neo woman began to relax. Hanabi took a bucket and rinsed Ranma off as Rinse got a towel to begin drying her hair out.
As Ranma wrapped her hair up in a towel and covered her body with another, she turned to Rinse and Hanabi, who were washing each other's backs. "I want to thank you two for being here for me. For accepting me. I won't forget it."
"Just remember, Ranma. We're family and Rinse's people are family now, through Shampoo. We can remember her by having her be registered as the father of your child."
"You know, its funny, because I don't really feel p-p-pregnant. The morning sickness is just that. Until I start showing, it'll be hard for me to recognize it."
"Well, when you do start to show, please don't get upset when 'all' of us women start to make a fuss about baby showers and shopping for maternity outfits. I'll tell you what! We're going shopping for some nice clothes for you and your 'guards'. Also, dear cousin, as long as you know what fits your male form, we can buy a wardrobe of men's clothes and have them ready for the day that you can change back."
Ranma couldn't believe what she was hearing but could believe the warmth and understanding coming from Hanabi. She began to tear up and her lower lip trembled, just before she exploded. "WAAAH! You DO understand!" Hanabi was grabbed in a glomp that threatened to pop out her eyes.
Rinse put an arm around Ranma and said, "You need to let her breathe a little. Come on and let's get into a spring. Us Amazons won't be able to enjoy it until you are in and give permission."
Sniffling, Ranma wiped her tears and looked at Rinse and the women lined up behind her, none even bothering with towels for modesty. Her guards 'were' wearing their scabbards and weapons, though, and for some reason it looked awful sexy. She wiped a small spot of blood from her nose and nodded, turning down the stairs to the springs.
As Ranma sat on a submerged stone bench, her friends and retainers joined her in the spring. They all released a collective sigh of relief and several conversations began to spring up between the various groups. Rinse stared at one group of women listening to a young boy. She spoke up, "It looks as if young Ichigo is being adopted by the Fourth Scouts."
Hanabi smiled, "Yeah. The kid is like that. Some of the elders are thinking of placing him in the diplomat corps as soon as he graduates from college. But what I see may mean that he will have to go to school while on the job. I'll have someone speak to him later." Turning to Ranma, "Well, how do you feel about getting some girls and guys and going to the mall in Juuban. There's fun stuff to do besides shopping. I think that we can also get some better clothes than that training gi to wear that your mother complained about. You will want to stay in shape and the Saotome pregnancy katas and techniques will keep you from losing your edge."
"You mean there're techniques to use during pregnancy?!"
"Well duh! You have to be able to defend yourself and your unborn child! You are your baby's last line of defense. And, we do have our share of enemies."
Ranma sat back thinking, 'I get to learn some techniques that I wouldn't ever have been able to learn? How cool is that? "Uhh. Whaaa!" Her eyes suddenly rolled up in her head and her body began to glow. Rinse caught her before she slid under water, but let go as the naked Ranma began to levitate.
A light show commenced as the Amazons gathered around and went to one knee, bowing. The Saotomes just looked on in awe.
After a bit, a fully dressed Ranma slowly descended to the ground by the pool. Rinse and Hanabi caught her and lay her down on some dry towels that had been quickly gathered. A pole arm appeared from nowhere and clattered to the ground, barely missing some of the observers. An amazon tried to pick it up and found that she couldn't budge it even a millimeter. They gave up when four Amazons failed to move it.
The faint glow never left Ranma after her transformation. After a few minutes, it began to pulse and someone noticed that the spire above the temple was glowing and pulsing in time to Ranma. Hanabi asked Rinse, "Any idea of what's going on?"
"Not a clue! This isn't like what happened at Joketsuzoko-OH!" The ground began to shake, some people losing their balance and sitting down in the open. Shortly it stopped and the glowing spire ceased glowing.
Hanabi let out a breath and spoke for everyone, "What in the nine hells was that?!"
"It was my world's newest citizens being sent on their way." Everyone turned to Ranma, standing there with a trance-like gaze, casually resting the glaive in the crook of her arm. "Mother commanded Max to do something slightly beyond his capabilities, so he tapped the nearest source of power. Me. I must have a talk with him about doing that without consulting me."
At that, Ranma's clothing rippled and, now wearing a white ankle length dress, she collapsed again. This time, she was carried to the main house to a bed by four nude Amazons and led by the equally nude Hanabi and Rinse.
Ranma's eyes shot open with full awareness when a door opened and a delicious mixture of smells assaulted her nose. Sitting upright she looked around to find herself in a large canopy bed, surrounded by her great grandmother and great grandfather, a dressed Hanabi and Rinse, some Amazons trying to look fiercely vigilant, a kitten with a half moon mark on its forehead, Cologne, and her mother holding a tray loaded down with food. Nodoka placed the tray on the bed in front of Ranma and backed up a step.
With a heartfelt "Thanks Momph." Ranma attacked the food and made the meal disappear at a rate that had everyone staring in disbelief at the carnage taking place. The poor meal never had a chance.
With a happy burp, Ranma smiled radiantly at her mother, "I really…really needed that."
"Ranma, I want to apologize for myself and Max. He told me that a glitch had him drawing on your power before he could ask for permission. He said that he has reprogrammed himself so that it won't happen again, unless there's a class one emergency."
"Well. Now that I can think about it, it was for the best. How long was I out?"
"It's been five hours and your bobble has already passed over us and is in space, on its way to Saturn. We 'were' going to have it ascend vertically, but the Chinese dropped three thermonuclear devices on it. This was a grave irresponsibility on Beijing's part and with acquiescence from the UN, we changed its trajectory. Now the only nations not subject to UN rule are Japan, Switzerland and Libya. We shall not allow our country to be subject to the UN forces because that might encourage them to claim ownership of Saturn, which is and shall be ours."
"They may try to put pressure on and threaten a trade war, but only if they want to lose access to our science and technology. Japan has more scientists working on reflex technology than everyone else combined and our Veritech designs have gotten us orders for hundreds of Robotech fighters."
"Mom? What's the UN?"
As everyone around the bed facefaulted (except for the Amazon guards, who thought it a reasonable question), Nodoka began to really plot long term revenge on Genma (maybe some nanites that would seal ninety-nine percent of everything he ate and heating it to uncomfortable levels as it was passed. That way he would be slowly starving and have a continuous hot pepper burn in the toilet).
Elsewhere, a certain fat martial artist sneezed, wished a certain Tendo daughter would hurry up with the meal, and then farted. Said fart igniting from a nearby candle thereby creating a blast that left him mooning the youngest Tendo. Who cried "Pervert" and manifested a large mallet to hit the offending anatomy. Upon striking, the girl was really upset when she found that the mallet was lodged within that part of the martial artist's body. He made a sucking sound of extreme pain through his teeth as the girl jerked on the handle of the mallet, trying to retrieve it for another blow. This was stupid, since it was a ki mallet and would vanish as soon as she let go, allowing her to make another, non smelly mallet.
Nabiki jumped out of her bed and jerkily made her way to the furo to force herself to some semblance of awareness. 'Thank you Kasumi for warming up the furo,' she thought as she stripped her pajamas and panties in preparation for the ritual of entering the land of the living.
Kasumi smiled with some mirth as she heard her younger sister stumbling about in the furo. The groans of self pity carried pretty well through the short hallway between the kitchen and the bathing area. She had forgotten to close both doors again. Kasumi didn't know why Nabiki was up so uncharacteristically early, but suspected that it had to do with the upcoming visit to the Saotome estate. She set the coffee to percolating in anticipation of Nabiki's arrival.
Akane leapt out of her bed and flung her pajamas into the usual corner and dressed in shorts and sweatshirt, preparing for her own morning ritual of exercise and kata. She breezed by Nabiki's room, curious about her older sister being up so early. She began to hum happily while she thought about being able to miss school and that 'other' morning routine. Then she scowled briefly at the thought that one of them might be engaged before the day ended. This Ranma had to be a pervert if the only way for him to get married was for his parents to arrange it.
After Akane had left for her morning constitutional, Nabiki entered the kitchen and eagerly took the cup of coffee that Kasumi had handed her. Removing the small, floating iron bolt that Kasumi used to test the readiness of Nabiki's drink of choice, she began to sip the over caffeinated beverage. Her eyes widened and her pupils shrank to pinpoints.
Finally, the middle daughter was ready to speak to her older sister. "Kasumi-chan. This visit will need to be handled with extreme care. I found some things out last night that, well, frankly scare the bejeezus out of me."
"Things? Sister, whatever do you mean?"
"First off, Uncle Genma isn't a Saotome by birth, he married into the family and is not well thought of by them. I contacted a high ranking family member last night to check them out and she confirmed my fears about the man being little more than a con artist. We may be given an offer of accepting the engagement or given a material settlement to void the agreement should the clan not desire the marriage."
"But wouldn't our honor be tainted, if we refused the engagement, or theirs if they refused, for that matter?"
"Not if it involves a family close to the emperor and if they don't support Genma's claim. They are so close to the emperor that they are essentially the embodiment of honor. Still. There's too much we don't know beyond the fact that they are incredibly rich and well connected. I think that you and I will probably be the only ones in our family that will be able to think clearly. I know that you have some feelings for Tofu sensei, so if they insist on the arranged engagement, I'll accept. I hate to admit it, but I am very frightened to do that based on how little we know about them. I'm even more frightened of what might happen if Akane wound up engaged to Ranma. I would be the logical choice for the protection of our family."
"That's very brave of you little sister and I want you to know that, should you be hesitant, I will fill the breach for our family's honor. I'm sure that Tofu-kun would understand, though I really wish he wouldn't act so silly when I'm around."
"Thanks sister, all we can do is find out what we can today and keep father and Akane from hurting our chances at profiting from this."
"Well, if you could take the dishes and silverware to the table, I'll have breakfast ready in a couple of minutes."
It was a quiet family group and one eight toed (I know that technically the big toe isn't a toe, so it's six toed), fat, balding, child abuser, cursed, incontinent, insensitive, misogynistic, dyslexic, smelly, flatulent, greedy, dishonest, yeasty, thieving, urinous, cowardly clotpole of a martial artist that ate breakfast in silence.
As they finished, Nabiki stood, "Father, after 'Genma' came in and announced…"
Soun interrupted, "Daughter, you must speak of our guest and my old friend with respect."
Nabiki replied before her father could send what she had to say off track, "As I was saying, after the announcement, I decided to do some investigation of the Saotome family. Father, the Saotomes are one of the richest families in Japan, if not the world. They have ties to the emperor and possibly political connections globally. And. Now our little samurai family has been brought to the attention and close scrutiny of their main clan. I don't know if this bothers you, but it scares the HELL out of me. 'Genma' is a Saotome only through marriage. His family name was Tomoe."
"Why should we fear when one of you will be a Saotome?"
"Didn't you hear me! Genma isn't a Saotome by birth, much less a clan head! The main clan strongly disapproves of Genma's past actions and is going to interview us because they think that we are victims of one who is as a ward of the clan. I think that we will be lucky to get a settlement to buy our silence, much less an engagement. If we are deemed troublesome or a nuisance, our silence will be that of the dead."
Soun sat staring for a moment, "But. But…"
"I say we just blow the perverts off."
"Akane!! That attitude of yours could very well get you killed. It could get us all killed. These people are much more than yakusa. Sister. I implore you to keep your mouth shut and answer only with a yes, no or maybe when questioned. No name calling. Okay? Okay?"
Akane could see the fear in Nabiki's eyes.
Kasumi spoke, "Akane, dear sister, I'm afraid I must agree with Nabiki-chan. Perhaps you should stay home. We will make sure that you won't be dragged into this."
Akane thought for a second and said, "No. For the honor of the clan, I have to be there. I'll- I'll try to be-b-behave!"
"Okay, sis, but I'll be watching you." Nabiki intended to do just that.
Kasumi had left the room and returned with fresh tea and set it out for everyone. A special cup was given to Akane. Though Nabiki might accept Akane's word, she knew better. Akane's tea was laced with a proprietary blend of opiates and rare herbs, courtesy of one love struck doctor. Akane shouldn't pose a problem for the next twelve hours.
As they finished their tea, a knock came at the door and they went en mass to find a liveried driver and two black suited men in sunglasses standing there. The driver looked them over and said, "It looks like everyone is here, please follow me."
At the curb was a large limousine with completely blacked out windows. As they all entered the limo, Nabiki noticed that the windows were truly blacked out and in the background she could hear the susurration of a sophisticated active noise reduction system, something she had read about as cutting edge technology in some business security trade publication. "They 'really' don't want us to know where we are going."
They went on a roundabout tour of town. When Akane began singing '99 bottles of sake on the wall' in a very off key voice, the trip became much longer.
Ranma and her mother were sitting in the tea room, practicing for the ceremony that would commence upon the arrival of the Tendos. "Ranma! I am very pleasantly surprised that you are this adept at something that Genma would have considered girly."
"Mom. Pops just dropped me off at a dojo and disappeared for a month. I think that he got caught robbing a liquor store after having sampled too much of the swag and it took him that long to escape. It turned out that the dojo was a front for highly specialized kunoichi assassins. Their reputation was that they killed no innocents. Their tea ceremony consisted of three parts. The first two were testing and interrogation. Passing the first removed the need for the second and third. Passing the second meant that the target was an unwilling participant or could be convinced of the error of their ways. The third part was where I truly lost my childhood views on martial arts there. Really bad people should die for the sake of innocent future victims. I still have nightmares about the training I received, but I think I am better for it."
Nodoka recognized who the clan was that Ranma spoke of. They weren't Saotome allies, but they also weren't enemies. They HAD to have known who Ranma was. That they had trained the boy in at least some secret techniques indicated a long term olive branch to the Saotomes. That they hadn't contacted the family meant that they wished to remain neutral. She would let them know of her appreciation, but that they would shortly be unable to maintain that neutrality. A Saotome offer of permanent employment should more than compensate them.
"Ah. Just thinking son. What do you think of the Tendos coming here?"
"I don't like it. Pops is screwing me over. Again. Just to suit his own lazy ass. The only honor involved might be the Tendo honor, but I bet it was just him and some old drinking buddy."
"That sounds about right. I'll allow you to make the decision to engage yourself or to allow me to negotiate a settlement using money or employment, which is the same thing, but more beneficial to all parties concerned."
Outside the mansion, the limousine had arrived and the Tendos plus one scumbag exited and took in their surroundings.
Nabiki's breath caught in her throat as she saw another limo leaving at the other end of the drive with the imperial chrysanthemum embossed on the door. The profile of its passenger was unmistakable. "That. That had to be deliberate." She whispered to herself, barely containing the contents of her bladder.
"Was that who I think it was, Nabiki-chan?" Asked Kasumi with a gentle smile.
"It sure was, sis. Lets get this circus over with and find out if our family has a future."
"Oh, I think it will turn out just fine. Let's just keep a positive outlook."
Two people greeted them with light banter, introducing themselves as Kasumi and Ichigo Saotome.
Soun may have been considered unobservant, but he also had seen what his older daughters had seen, "Saotome, old friend, I think that there may have been something to what Nabiki said this morning. I hope that you aren't planning something like what the master used to do."
"Don't worry Tendo. I have something that will make Nodoka see things our way. You'll see!"
"This isn't like the old days, Saotome, but I'll wait and see."
The visitors followed the Saotome matriarch and patriarch inside.
They passed through a grand hallway lined with a mixture of what looked like ancient and modern styles of portraits. Nabiki noticed though that the most modern looking subject, a woman in a moderate length fuku, with bows and crown, was also the oldest, judging from the fading and cracked canvas. Near by was an ancient tablet with an almost identical image in a different pose. The kanji on the associated placque described a date and name that locked up Nabiki's thought processes for the time it took them to arrive at a spacious tea room.
What greeted their eyes were two women dressed in truly archaic kimonos kneeling on one side of a slab of marble upon which was placed an old tea set. Their guides indicated that they all take their places for the tea ceremony.
Once seated, one of the apparent twins addressed the visiting family. "I am Nodoka Saotome, current Head of Clan Saotome and Regent of the Royal House of Saturn."
Nodoka observed the reactions of the Tendos, from Soun's nervous tic to Nabiki's mask of calm hiding a combination of nervousness and calculation, to Kasumi's aura of calm that seemed to be trying to blanket the other family members to the youngest, who was smiling and nodding in a drugged out kind of way. Her ex-husband was trying to contain his self righteous anger and it was obvious that it was about to blow.
"Woman! What is going on here?! I should be setting where you ar…URK!!" Two women had appeared behind him and neutralized him with paralyzing shiatsu techniques.
"That is enough, Genma Tomoe!" Spoke Nodoka. "Because of something you have, I cannot deal with you as I wish. Yet. Your trial is coming and you'd better mend your ways soon if you don't wish to face the full wrath of the clan." Genma was dragged to a wall and stood up with all the regard of a noxious potted plant. The two guards vanished behind a partition.
Nodoka visibly calmed herself down and surveyed the Tendos. "Now, to the reason that you are here. I wish to hear the details of this 'agreement' that my former husband negotiated." The steely command within the statement and use of the word negotiated galvanized the middle daughter.
Soun began, "My old frie…"
Nabiki spoke out, "Father! Please. Let me handle this." The ice in her tone froze his tears as well as his voice. "Honored Elder. Please forgive my presumptuousness and allow me to speak for my family. I am Nabiki, Soun Tendo's middle daughter." Nodoka nodded. "Genma-san came to our house after our father told us of an agreement to join two schools of martial arts. I understand this to mean that Genma's son Ranma would engage to wed one of us, Kasumi, myself, or Akane. Seeing that the agreement is in question, I think that there are some possibilities for us to move forward on. One is that I will offer myself as your son's fiancée, should that be your decision. Another would be to ac-accept reasonable compensation to discharge the giri between our families." Bowing low, she continued, "May I speak with Ranma-sama to see what his wishes are?" The girl then looked around for the, to her, missing Saotome.
Nodoka replied, smiling, "Very well. Grandmother, grandfather, could you escort Nabiki-chan's family to the west sitting/dining room? And could someone escort that 'person' to a secure holding cell."
Nabiki's heart soared in relief. 'She called me Nabiki-chan, that has to mean that she holds no grudge against us, even though she's divorcing that man. Thank you Kami-sama!'
Once the room was cleared, Nodoka's twin began a brief tea ceremony. The Tendo girl noticed what appeared to be some hand seals prior to being handed her tea. As she drank, she noticed a faint tingling, pleasant sensation and the woman smiled as she took the cup back. Ranma spoke for the first time, "You are honest, and will not forsake those you care about."
Nabiki realized that she had been tested and had not been found wanting. This understanding restored her self confidence and natural resilience. With a measure of her normal professionalism, she spoke, "So where is Ranma?"
Nodoka spoke as her twin began to fidget and look everywhere but at her. Nabiki's confusion began to run rampant. "How open are you to the existence of magic? Real magic."
"Well, I guess that I believe in the tenet that any sufficiently advanced technology can appear to be magic to the uneducated. Is that what you want to know?"
"Not exactly, but it will have to do. I don't have the wherewithal to prove Ranma's case directly to you, but I hope to convince you that it is 'very' real. Mau-chan! Could you please bring in Loofa."
Nabiki turned to see where Nodoka was looking and spotted a small kitten with an odd marking on its forehead followed by a voluptuous warrior maiden who would have put one of Wagner's valkyries to shame. The woman carried a pitcher of water and a kettle that had a wisp of steam coming from it. The kitten and warrior stopped and calmly looked at Nabiki, while Nodoka continued.
"Recently, Ranma, myself and Genma ran afoul of some springs in a remote location in China. These springs are imbued with very powerful magical properties. They are named Jusenkyo. The short explanation is that whatever falls into a spring takes the form of whatever last drowned in it."
"Wait, you don't have to concoct any stories. I've already agreed…"
"I assure you that neither we nor you are crazy, be patient. Loofa, here, fell into the spring of the drowned peregrine falcon and the changes are initiated by exposure to different water temperatures." Nodoka rose gracefully to her feet and took the pitcher of water that had been placed on a tray for that purpose. Looking into Loofa's eyes and getting an expression of willingness, she poured about a cup full of water over the woman's head.
Nabiki began to hyperventilate as the woman shrank almost faster than the eye could see into her clothes. A beautiful raptor emerged and stood regally upon the pile of discarded clothing, staring at the girl as if challenging her to deny the evidence of her eyes. 'Its real.'
Nabiki's eyes jerked to look at Nodoka then Ranma. A look of comprehension, almost epiphany came over her. Nodoka smiled 'This girl is smart, definitely the brains of the family. Let's see if we can use her.'
"So Ranma, how does it feel to grow up to be your mother? Usually boys grow up and find they've become their fathers. Why can't you change back?"
Ranma decided it was time to participate in the conversation. "Mom fell into an uncursed spring and drowned. I jumped in to save her. When we got out, I was able to restore her to life and health. It's a power I have now. The reason I can't change back is because Mom was pregnant when she fell into the spring."
Nabiki looked Ranma in the eye incredulously, "Your. Your pregnant?"
"Yep. Maybe a month along or so, complete with morning sickness. And I have to give birth to have a chance at changing back."
Unheard by Nodoka, but obvious to Nabiki, was the thought 'How could anyone love, much less like a freak like me.' The woman's self confidence was at a very low point. Nabiki's instincts kicked in and she gave Ranma a spontaneous hug. 'What am I doing this for?' Releasing the neo woman, "Ranma, I think that you are a better man or woman than I, did you know of the danger?"
Ranma nodded and was enveloped in another hug.
"There's more, Nabiki. I met one of my soul mates in the Amazon village. She became a man for me and we were married for only a day before she was killed fighting the People's Army. Her name was Shampoo."
Nabiki continued to hug Ranma, "I don't guess you want to get into another relationship after that, but I swear that I'll be your friend, whatever you decide, Ranma-kun. I'll handle my family."
Nodoka decided to break into the discussion, 'My son makes the best friends'. "Nabiki, you are not very far from graduating high school. If you are willing to sign some emancipated minor forms and a nondisclosure agreement, would you be willing to take on employment as Ranma's executive assistant? I know all about your talents and you won't have to worry about any glass ceilings with us."
Nabiki plopped back onto her butt as Nodoka smirked to catch this self made ice queen off guard. "Will. Will you put that in writing?"
"Of course my dear. If you'll sign the nondisclosure agreement, I'll show you some things before you take the rest of the commitment. You need to come into the business with both eyes wide open."
Nabiki signed the form after reading, including the part about 'in perpetuity, unless released' regarding Saotome secrets.
Nodoka began, "When I introduced myself as Regent for the Royal House of Saturn, I wasn't kidding or referring to some esoteric charitable organization. Ranma is the queen and hopefully, king of Saturn and I am the regent until she is willing to take the throne. Ranma, can you show Nabiki your royal form?"
"Sure Mom." Ranma's form blurred and a ring of light passed from head to toe, leaving her dressed in a gown of shimmering white, with black trim on the hem and sleeves. Elbow length gloves adorned her arms and a silver crown with an odd symbol set on her head. This is a little embarrassing, but my battle costume is even more embarrassing. It's a lot like a school sailor fuku."
"The reason we are showing you this is that you will likely have to relocate and we thought that you might like to have your family with you, if they would like to come along."
"Does this have anything to do with why Japan hasn't submitted to the world government yet?"
"Sure does. We intend to resurrect a form of the ancient Moon Kingdom. Hopefully without making the same mistakes. You see, Genma is not Ranma's real father. His, or her, father is Khronos, the god of Saturn, an elder god."
"So, is Genma the father of your babies to be?"
"Nope, Khronos." Piped in Ranma.
"Soooo, Khronos is the father AND grandfather of Ranma's child, and Ranma will be both mother and sibling to her child?"
"Yyyepp. And it gets more complicated than that." Added Ranma.
"I've heard about family trees that don't branch, but this is ridiculous. I think that I'll be glad I'm not marrying you Ranma. I'd be getting headaches trying to figure out our kinships. Still, I said I'd be your friend and that will include working for you."
Nodoka spoke, "Well, I'll let you fill out the rest of the paperwork in a bit. For now lets go have a nice family meal. Most of the clan, including Ranma and you will be departing for Saturn in a couple of months. Part of the deal will be a rather large estate in the highlands near the capital."
Nabiki finally decided to faint.
Elsewhere, Akane was making fast friends with some Amazons with her low opinions of the male population in general. She had already acquitted herself pretty well in some friendly sparring matches. The drugs that Kasumi had placed in her morning tea had inadvertently awakened a true talent for drunken fu. Her fighting had become so chaotic as to be impossible to be read by her opponents. Off on the sidelines, sitting at a table with Kasumi and the Saotome elders, Soun was watching his youngest daughter with ever widening eyes.
"Kasumi, has Akane been taking to drink lately? If she has, she has hid it well.'
"Why no father. Why do you ask?" Kasumi asked, sweatdropping a bit.
"Akane's fighting at a much higher level today than I have ever seen her do in the past. She almost seems to be using drunken fu, a fighting style that strikes fear in the hearts of opponents that recognize it. If that is what she is doing, I'll have to reconsider my decision to allow her to be my heir."
"Why is that father?" Kasumi's sweatdrop grew.
"Because, drunken fu is a forbidden technique, except for one clan that practices it in the service of the emperor."
"Father you don't have to reconsider anything! I need to beg forgiveness from Akane. You see, I was fearful of what harm her temper might cause and gave her a fairly long acting drug to reduce her tendency to be angered at the smallest perceived slight. The medication was one that was approved by Tofu sensei, though he has no knowledge that it was used on Akane."
Soun appeared to be deep in thought, surprising Kasumi with his lack of tears. After a minute or so, he said, "Daughter, I think that Akane needs to resolve her anger issues in ways other than by drugs. Keep the supply you have but ask for permission next time a situation like this arises.
Out on the training plaza, a group of Amazons watching Akane fight one of their sisters were snickering among themselves. The leader said, "Well, if this girl hates males half as much as she says and thinks that no girl can be perverted, let's fix her up with Sookie Su." The tittering of the other girls expressed their agreement.
Akane was in heaven, and though she didn't realize it, she was beginning to come down from the drug induced euphoria. She was still performing at a level that she had never been able to achieve before and had carefully taken a mental snapshot of the state of her mind to go over and see about calling it up in the future.
She had taken a pretty hard knock over the boundary, losing another match, when some of the amazon girls came up to her. The apparent leader was smiling hugely, "Akane this one and this one's friends are very impressed with your skill and strength. We would like to give a challenge to you on behalf of our sister Sookie Su." Much tittering accompanied this statement. The girls parted revealing a slight amazon with perky breasts only slightly smaller than Akane's own. She had golden blond hair and a braid of daisies set like a crown. Her clothing was much like the other Amazon's and she had the largest dark purple eyes that Akane had ever seen. For some reason, she felt something click inside. She reached out and took the other girl's hands and spoke, "Hi I'm Akane. Would you like to be friends?"
"Su not good speak Japanese, but, yes! Want friend!" Smiling as if to split her face, Sookie Su spoke out "Sookie Su challenge you to "
Akane only understood the 'challenge you' portion as the girl mixed the Chinese and Japanese words up. She confidently answered, "I accept!" and the chinese gril grinned even wider as she bowed deeply to Akane. Akane bowed back and took a ready stance of the Tendo school on the center of the fight circle. The other girl leapt in and took an Amazon Wu Shu sword stance with a curved wooden sword.
Soun took note of the beginning fight and from the excited Chinese passing among the growing crowd of spectators, he deduced that something special was occurring. 'What is my baby, Akane, getting into?' were his thoughts. An Amazon came between the two and slashed her arm down, shouting "Begin!!".
Su didn't wait for Akane's opening move and screamed as she brought the sword around to catch the dark haired girl in the side. Akane appeared to stumble to the ground, catching herself with one hand while the other came up and batted the sword up at an awkward angle for Su to recover from. Akane rolled on her side under Su, who leapt up to avoid being hit in the knees. Akane's foot caught the other girl's stomach in a seemingly random flop and tossed her to the edge of the ring.
As Akane stood a bit unsteadily, Su had dug the tip of her practice sword into the hard packed earth of the arena and used it to spring toward Akane, pulling the sword after her. Akane looked up to see a windmilling practice sword coming her way and, smiling, clapped her hands, clasping the practice sword and fell back. Su, putting so much into the strike was thrown over Akane, but recovered gracefully and returned to the fray. Over the next ten minutes, the two continued to battle it out, with Su constantly attacking and Akane punishing her for it.
Finally, Akane decided to end it. She was having the time of her life and felt herself improving by leaps and bounds, but could feel the end of her strength approaching and decided to finish, win or lose in her favorite technique. She jumped away from Su to get time. For some reason, it didn't work as easily as usual and Sookie Su was coming in with an overhand wing of her sword. A sense of urgency hit Akane and there it was. It was a white hammer, not her usual wooden mallet. She realized that she could detect no specific emotion in its makeup and that it was much denser though smaller than her normal mallets.
As her thoughts finished, time seemed to speed up to normal as her hammer smashed through the wooden sword and continued on to graze the dodging head of Su. Sookie Su spun three times to land flat on her back, unconscious. Akane stood there, the last fight had burned all of the remaining drugs from her blood stream leaving her to contemplate with crystal clarity what had been going on, including the realization that she had been drugged.
The first thing that she realized was that this had been the single most fun day ever. The second was, 'Have I been that angry all the time? My techniques were all much better without it. I've got to control it. The third thing that Akane realized was that she just remembered enough of her Chinese from school to put together the challenge statement. Her eyes rolled up in her head as she collapsed like a spaghetti noodle.
Akane slowly awakened to a passionate kiss being applied to her person, tongue and all. The hand lightly rubbing her chest felt extremely nice, causing pleasant reactions elsewhere. She returned the kiss, with interest, until she heard clapping and applause.
"Mmmph! Wha?" She said blinking at the girl glomped on to her person.
Rinse had shown up just before the challenge and didn't stop it, because she liked Sookie Su and thought that the girl deserved some happiness, considering her history. "Hello. Akane?" Getting a nod. "Congratulations! You are now an Amazon and Sookie Su here is your sister wife. Should either of you ever take a male for a husband you can share the bounty, but I suspect that that might not be needed." Su was waving her arms frantically behind Akane and shaking her head. Rinse just returned a very pointed look that caused the girl to wilt.
The girl placed her hand on Akane's shoulder, causing her to spin around to see the saddest eyes. Her breath caught in her throat as the girl sank into a kowtow and slowly came up, shakily, holding her hand out. Fear of rejection was written loudly across her face. Akane thought, 'Maybe the drugs are still affecting me. Yeah, that's what I can say. But what about tomorrow? I LIKED what she was doing to me. Am I turning into a pervert? But that was a hell of a lot better than anything those BOYS wanted to do. Ohh Hell.'
Akane took the girl's hand and pulled her into a hug. Sookie Su whispered in Akane's ear, "You, I love." Applause arose from everyone around, except for Soun, who sported a frown.