A/N:

Sorry its been so long. I got bored the other day and decided to read my own fanfiction. I check my archives and found I had more written for this one than was posted. The same with Eezoon. So, recalling how much incompleted work sucks for the reader, I decided to work on my fanfiction again. Dragon's Ring I kinda still like, so I think I'll resume writing on it. So much has changed in my life in the last few years and I need to resume a hobby. The lemon scenes have been removed. It can be found in on the Lemons page at floyd dot homelinux dot net.

Birth Of A Matriarch

Chapter 4 -Mercenaries and Friends

They arrived at the Tendo Dojo to have everyone waiting for Ranma at the table in the den. Everyone looked up at her as she walked in from the door, through the hallway, on the way to her room. Suddenly Soun's Demon Head was in her face as she was passing the doorway to the den.

"RANMA! WHAT DID YOU DO TO MAKE MY DAUGHTER CRY!" He yelled in a demonic voice.

Shampoo came in behind her and casually reached forward, waving her hand like she was getting rid of smoke and the Demon Head dissipated.

Genma hopped up, "Ranma! Have you no honor boy! Go apologize to your Inazuke!"

Dye gave him a cold empty stare, something that the Saotome Patriarch had never witnessed before. He flinched.

Dye continued walking. Nabiki followed her path with her eyes, taking in the demeanor, her mind calculating. Shampoo followed.

Soun spoke up one last time. "RANMA! Why is Shampoo with you? Are you cheating on my daughter?"

Dye continued walking. Shampoo gave a glare back while still following.

Dye walked into her room, Shampoo about to follow when she spoke up.

"Shampoo, I need to rest and think on this for a while. Could you make sure no one bothers me?" Dye didn't turn back to look at her when she spoke.

Shampoo gave a curt nod, not that Dye could see it. "Yes Mistress." Shampoo stepped back out the door and shut it. She stood guard like a sentinel.

Everyone that came to talk to Ranma got turned away. Genma was particularly persistent and had to be put out cold with a bonbori to the head. Nabiki was the last one to come up.

"So, Shampoo, what's up with Ranma? Did he marry you or something?"

Shampoo narrowed her eyes. "If you think he did, do you think come back here?"

Nabiki leaned her head thoughtfully to the side considering this information. "How about you tell me what's up then?"

"Is not Shampoo place to tell."

Nabiki didn't budge. "Then you could let me in to ask him."

"Say keep all people out."

"That so? Well, tell him if he lets me in, I'll forget about his tab."

Shampoo hissed, "Is no longer bound to your ways, Mercenary Girl."

Nabiki gave a jolly smirk with an expression reminiscent of a tyrant king looking down on the humorously poor, pitiful common folk. Underneath all that however, she was angry. "Is that so? Tell me how that is."

Shampoo responded more forcefully this time. "Is not Shampoo place to tell."

Nabiki narrowed her eyes at Shampoo this time. Shampoo just stared at her passively. Nabiki turned on her heels, determined to get answers. She'd try one more time to get them from him when he went to school in the morning, if not, she'd try to get it from Cologne. They must have done something, seeing how Akane is now female again. Also, she'd like to know what they did on their training trip, and that is only something Ranma and her sister would know. If Akane got better, Nabiki would have to calculate that in for her betting pools. She also wondered if they progressed somewhere in their relationship...not that she thought they actually physically got anywhere.

Dye awoke morosely in the morning. She turned over and picked up her staff. When she opened the door she knocked something over. She walked out and shut the door to find Shampoo blinking sleep confusedly out of her eyes. It took her a moment to get her bearings. She then stood beside Dye.

Dye walked down to the bathroom to find Nabiki standing there with a hand on her hip. "Details Saotome."

Dye sighed. Shampoo stepped in front of Dye, putting her hands on the elbows of Nabiki and lifting her like a mannequin and setting her to the side. Dye opened the door and walked in. Shampoo followed. Now Nabiki was mad. Not to mention Ranma let Shampoo come in the bath with him! She opened the door to find Shampoo staring straight at her as Dye stripped out of her clothing behind her. Nabiki made way to walk past Shampoo only to have her step in the way. Nabiki bounced off the Amazons chest. Nabiki almost lost her cool. She always had control of the situation. Now she had no measure of it.

"Excuse me Shampoo, " She said coldly. Ranma stepped into the bathing area, shutting the door behind her.

"You're excused." Shampoo answered, waving her hand like she was shooing a dog.

Nabiki's face flickered for a moment, before turning and walking out. She couldn't believe Ranma let Shampoo touch her like that! Not to mention be in the bath at the same time! Someone would pay. If she didn't get answers soon, she was going to let hell break out.

Dye walked downstairs to the breakfast table, Shampoo shortly following. She sat down at the edge of the table next to Dye, eyeing everyone at the table.

Genma hoped up to his feet with his tea. "You've been moping along like a girl for too long!" He dumped tea on Dye. Nothing happened. Everyone at the table gasped. Genma sputtered, "B-But, But Akane turned back!"

Shampoo stood swiftly, smacking Genma into the floor with a bonbori.

Soun's wavering voice asked, "Ranma, why didn't you change back? Akane can."

Dye took a deep breath. She continued eating silently for a minute before answering. "I'm stuck this way for a few months."

"How many?" Nabiki asked, glad to finally be getting something. Shampoo glared at her.

"A lot. More than half a year." Dye answered purposely being unspecific. She did not need to deal with anything else until she had to. If she said 'about nine mouths' two and two would be put together, at least by Nabiki and Kasumi. Their dad's tended to be a bit dense, but Nabiki would probably spell it out for them purposely.

"What did you do on your training trip?" Genma asked, slightly smirking because he knew he took the tent and sleeping bag out of Ranma's pack. He apparently didn't realize that Ranma was stuck as a girl now, and was probably stuck the whole trip. Akane, on the other hand, he probably believed got cured beforehand.

Dye answered with an edge on her voice. "What do you THINK I did? I trained her."

Akane came down the stairs causing everyone to look her way. Her eyes met Dye's with understanding.

She sat down on the other side of Dye, only sparing a glance at Shampoo before beginning to eat.

Soun spoke up, "You're going to let Shampoo hang all over your inazuke?"

Akane gave him a bland look. Soun was taken aback at the lack of a vehement response, expecting her to knock Ranma out of the house or denying her engagement or that she cared. Nabiki took note of this.

Nabiki thought for a moment. "Why are you stuck and Akane isn't?"

Dye flinched. Nabiki noticed. "Because something went wrong."

Genma yelled, " This is that old ghouls fault! Why don't you make her fix it boy! I didn't raise my son to be a coward."

Dye deliberately took time chewing on the food that was in her mouth before swallowing to speak. "This coming from one?" Ranma said quietly. This had a much greater effect, she absently noticed, than if she had yelled it. "Besides, it's not really her fault."

Akane flinched at what Dye said and bowed her head, hair hiding her expression. Dye felt the echoes of her guilt practically radiating off her.

"Whadya mean it's not her fault?"

"It just ISN'T! OKAY?" Ranma yelled.

"Ranma... You disappoint me." Genma grabbed Dye to toss her into the koi pond, but she wasn't having any of it. The momentum was shifted when she picked up her staff, and using it much like Happosai's pipe, tossed Genma out into the Koi pond.

"Hmph." She picked up her bento and stalked out the door, Shampoo on her heels.

Panda Genma arose confusedly from the water.

Nabiki stood up with her bento and followed.

"So Akane, could I speak to you?" Nabiki asked as she eyed Dye and Shampoo walking ahead.

"No one's stopping you."

Nabiki was almost taken aback by Akane's answer. "Well, when did you get your curses fixed? Before or after your training trip?"

"After."

"Do you know why Ranma's stuck?"

"Yes."

Nabiki walked quietly waiting for her to elaborate. She didn't. "Well?"

"'Well' what, Nabiki?"

"Well why is Ranma stuck?"

"I don't wanna talk about it." Nabiki took note that this was a sore point. That meant it was probably one of the most important things she wanted to know. She would press on it later.

"So what's up with Ranma's stick?"

"A... gift from Cologne." Nabiki absorbed this, figuring it must be some sort of special weapon or something, considering the way the old woman used it.

"So what did you do on your training trip?"

"What do you THINK Nabiki?"

"I don't know, you tell me."

"TRAIN Nabiki, TRAIN!" She yelled in her face. "God, get your own damn life, then maybe you won't be butting into others'."

Nabiki actually got upset at this. Her sister never said something like that before. "Well excuse me for caring about my family, sister."

"Well, let me tell you something... You DON'T need to know everything. I'm tired of how you put Ranma's life and mine on display for a quick buck. Find somebody else to gossip about. I'm through."

Akane sped up to catch up with Shampoo and Dye, leaving Nabiki with her jaw hanging in an emotion so unfamiliar to her – shock. Shampoo cast an approving a look at Akane. Akane noticed, but didn't outwardly respond. Her demeanor reflected her irritation at Nabiki.

As they approached the school Kuno was waiting for them. Nabiki had told him that Ranma and Akane had gone on a training trip and that she would return today. He stood with his bokken raised proudly. When they became close enough for him to recognize he spoke.

"Akane Tendo, Pigtailed Girl! Have the foul sorcerer Saotome released you from his evil bounds? You must have come to date with me!"

Kuno responded in his normal illogical way. He charged at them arms wide. Shampoo placed her bonbori to occupy the space Kuno's face was to go through. Unstoppable object (more like relentless) meets unmovable. Well that answers that age-old question. The unstoppable bounced off unconscious. They walked on him as they continued towards the school. The standard group of males that awaited Akane started gathering. Nabiki had called her associates that night to tell everyone that Ranma probably married Shampoo, or will, thus Akane was free.

The trio appeared to ignore them and continued walking. Shampoo took a glance at Dye to see what she was planning to do. She felt Dye's aura go cold. Shampoo smiled.

"Pervert girl," she whispered, "Ranma about use secret Amazon technique. Cool your aura."

Akane almost got mad at what she was called and then blinked as realized what she meant. She took a deep breath and made it cold. It wasn't as cold as Dye's or Shampoo's, each being trained in the Soul of Ice technique, but cold enough not to get thrown. Dye stopped with Akane and Shampoo following her action in suit. She rose her staff slightly, before bringing it back down to touch the ground for effect. Her cold aura entered the visible spectrum as it flared outward. The aura rushed over Shampoo and Akane, blasting the nearby challengers with their hot, lusty aura's back. They continued walking.

When Dye arrived at class everyone was confused as to why Ranma was a girl. Hinako looked at Ranma angrily before drawing a yen.

"Ranma, why aren't you a boy? Are you are trying to distract the class like a delinquent? And who is that behind you?"

All the guys drooled at Shampoo. She just glared at the weaklings.

Dye took a deep breath and spoke as if it were a rehearsed speech. "No, Hinako sensei. I am unable to change back for a while. This is not the first time it has happened. Shampoo is with me because she is required to. She is my..." Ranma tried to think about to answer that in a way that would be acceptable. Akane spoke up.

"Bodyguard. This is Ranma's bodyguard." She looked at Dye. Dye shrugged, not really caring as long as it was taken care of. Everyone awed and started speculating how powerful this chick must be to be Ranma's bodyguard.

"Ranma, why do you need a bodyguard?"

Shampoo spoke up, "Is duty. I take care of everyone that is not worth time."

Hinako was about to snap a retort when she realized the time. She let it drop to begin class. There were no open desks so Shampoo sat Indian style next to Dye on the floor. Notes floated across the room to the three warriors asking if Shampoo was available, asking perverted questions about what they did on their training trip, asking why Ranma was stuck as a girl, why Akane was dressed like Ranma, and if girl Ranma was available. Dye just stared at Hinako to pretend she was paying avid attention and did not notice the notes. Akane did the same while surreptitiously glancing at Dye.

Dye was mulling over her new life. What would her mother think about her being stuck this way? Her mom might accept it. What would her mom think of her being pregnant? Now that was something she did not want to imagine. Her mom might actually make her commit sepukku. But she wouldn't because she couldn't. She was responsible for more than herself. She didn't want her mother to hate her, but it seemed she had little choice. The fact that she would not be able to carry on the school quite like she liked didn't help matters either. She still had to figure out how to satisfy that one. She thought it was great she would learn everything the old bat had to teach, but thoughts of her mother and the loss of much of her freewill eliminated all enthusiasm she had for it.

The classroom door burst in as Kuno came in.

"Hark! I have been informed that the pigtailed one resides in the class!" He looked around the room and his eyes locked onto her. " My Goddess! I shall sweep you away!"

Hinako whipped out a yen so fast her hands blurred. Shampoo started to stand but saw Hinako's movement. She settled back down to see Kuno fall to the floor like an old man with epilepsy. Hinako continued class, ignoring the weak mutterings of the school idiot.

****
At lunch the Dye dashed out the window, Shampoo and Akane following. They followed her to the gym storage shed, and locked the door behind them. No one had seen where they went.

They silently ate their lunch for a while until Akane decided to speak.

"How do you feel about all this Ranma?"

Ranma wasn't going to answer her, but saw her concern.

"It doesn't matter how I feel. Even before this happened it didn't seem to matter to anyone. I'm going to become Matriarch just like a promised. I have to. I am no longer just responsible for myself, but an entire people, Akane. All my other honor-bound duties are secondary. I don't see how I'm going to continue the Anything Goes School. Akane, you are the only hope to produce an heir for that school. I will teach you everything I know about the school. I think you might have to raise our heir mostly by yourself."

Akane took deep breath before breaching turbulent waters. "What happens to our child?"

Lines showed on Dye's face that Akane never noticed before. It seemed like she must have been worn out long before this happened. It was a sobering thought.

"The child in me? It's supposed to be Amazon. If it's female, it will be the mother of the new bloodline of the Matriarch. If it's male, I might make it the heir to the Anything Goes school. Cologne said that children birthed through me are supposed to be Amazon, but I don't want to subject my son to that discriminating culture. I don't want my son to be weak. I'll try to get Pops to keep up your trainin' you while I'm pregnant. A few months after I have my child, and I'm back in shape, I'll finish your training."

Dye sighed, "If my child isn't accepted or it's female, I will give you an heir with you as the mother. If our child is gonna be an Amazon, I haveta raise it there. You can't follow me to the village because you have to run the dojo after I finish your training. But don't worry, I will come and visit with our kid."

Akane bowed her head sadly. Her voice cracked as she spoke, "How are we supposed to stay together? Our kids should be at home, together with their parents." She took a moment to gather her resolve, "If-If I have to, I'll just follow you to China!"

Dye looked at Akane sadly. "Akane, you would leave your dad and Kasumi by themselves with an empty dojo? You would put pressure on Nabiki to somehow go to college and support them back home? It goes without saying that Kasumi will eventually want and need to leave the house to get out on her own. That's selfish, Akane. Maybe when our heir is ready to take over the school, you can stay with me, but that's a long time from now. That's while I'll spend a month or three a year here, so we can be together with our kids like a family. I think that is the most I can do."

Akane wept. Dye pulled her close and held her. They decided to skip the rest of school. Dye walked Akane to the gates of the Dojo, before going to the Nekohanten. Shampoo, as usual, followed like her shadow.

A chime sounded at the Nekohanten and Cologne hopped over.

"You're ready to start earlier than expected. You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for, Dye. You are always full of surprises. I've never been bored in my stay here." She hopped towards the back. "Come. And turn the sign to closed."

Ranma and Shampoo followed her up stairs to the rooms. Cologne stopped Shampoo from entering. "I'm going to be teaching meditation techniques along with ones for aura, Shampoo. Your very presence will disrupt it. I have to ask you to stand guard outside." Shampoo looked irked and Cologne spoke to calm her. "You've been doing a great job. It won't hurt to leave her with me."

Cologne settled on the follow and motioned Dye to sit across from her.

"Now, I need you to clear your mind and shut off all natural senses but sound. By this I mean you should only be aware of your aura perception and my voice." Cologne waited for 10 minutes as Dye attempted this. She spoke.

"Do you hear me?" Dye nodded. "Good."

Cologne let her aura flow over Dye. "What do you feel now?"

"Your aura. It seems very old."

"Yes. It is quite old. I did not lie about being over 300 years old. Now I'm going to try to communicate to you through my aura."

Cologne thought of Akane's speech. "What do you feel?"

"Akane speaking. Angry by the feel of it."

"Good. You're catching on a lot faster than I thought. I'm going to try to link us through our ki."

Dye felt like she was falling, many images and sounds flittered past her senses in a rush. She did not try to catalogue it all.

Okay. Can you hear me?

"Yes."

Don't respond with your voice, young one. Respond with your mind.

Yes.

Okay I'm going to try visual now. What do you see?

Our first battle on the rooftops when you came to Nerima, I think. It-It's from your point of view.

Good, I'm going to train you how to pick up information faster than normal. I recommend you to think of my information as a kata. Your memory is best when associated with Martial Arts. I'm going to start off sending characters rapidly, and I want you to remember as much as you can.

****
Nabiki entered the Nekohanten looking to speak with Cologne. She figured the old woman would know what was going on. To her surprise it was closed.

"Anyone here?"

Shampoo came into view from the stairwell. She narrowed her eyes.

"What Mercenary girl want?"

"She wants to speak with Cologne. She here?"

"She busy."

"Fine, I'll wait." Nabiki took a seat. "Could I have something to eat?"

"Is closed. Should have gone home and ate."

Nabiki didn't respond. Mousse came in from the front door.

"SHAMPOO!" For once he had his glasses on. "Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you."

"Stupid duck, lots of things have happened since you go on trip for Honored Elder."

"Why didn't you tell me Shampoo? I will go anywhere with you."

"Is not your place."

Mousse ran towards Shampoo for a hug only to get splashed and caged.

"So, what happened, Shampoo?" Nabiki asked.

Shampoo answered like before. "Is not place to tell."

Cologne came hopping down the stairwell, Dye right behind. She was talking as she went. "We will continue tomorrow. You've made great progress. You should know mandarin in about 2 weeks."

"Mandarin?" Nabiki echoed. "Why would Ranma need to know Mandarin."

Cologne continued hopping over to the counter. "I see we have unexpected guests. I see you took care of Mousse." Shampoo nodded.

Nabiki asked again, "Why would Ranma need to know Mandarin."

"Why wouldn't he?" She answered sounding like she was giving a riddle to annoy an upstart youth.

"Ranma, why are you here? She is who's responsible for you getting locked in your curse, isn't she?"

Dye sighed. "I already told you she's not," she muttered irately. "At least not directly," she added as an after thought.

"So are you training with her, or something?"

"You could say that."

Nabiki almost gave a frustrated growl at his unclear answer. "Could you tell me what's happened? Maybe I can help."

"So you can sell it? And you couldn't help." Dye spat.

Cologne cackled, "You act like a little girl whose candy has been taken. You don't need to know everything, young one. Nevertheless, you will understand some of it in a two months if you're smart enough, at three it should start becoming obvious." Dye absently ran her hand across her belly.

"Bye, Elder."

"Goodbye, Child."

****

Dye, Shampoo and Nabiki made their way towards the Tendo Dojo.

"She didn't call you son-in-law. She isn't trying to get you and Shampoo hitched anymore."

Shampoo, upset, snapped a response before she could stop herself, "Cannot marry woman!"

"Woman? Your great grandmother thinks Ranma's a woman? That's a laugh."

Dye looked coldly at Nabiki. "Actually, it isn't, Nabiki. None of this is fun and games anymore. So butt out."

Fine. If they're going to be that way, I'll just give them hell.

They arrived at the dojo just in time for dinner.

They sat down at the table and said the standard "itadakimasu." Soun was about to speak, but Nabiki interrupted.

"So, Ranma, why were you at the old ghouls for training?"

Dye glared at Nabiki.

Soun added on, "Yes, she didn't even fix your curse! And then you allow this young girl to follow you everywhere like she's your inazuke. I won't have you making a laughing stock out of this family, openly cheating on your inazuke!"

Akane spoke up in a tired voice. "Don't go there, Daddy. She is no longer trying to marry Ranma, so let's leave it at that."

"Ranma! Until you get stop allowing this other girl to stay with you, you aren't welcome here!"

"Here, here Saotome!"

Akane's voice dripped with acid, as she spoke, "That's not going to work this time. You kick him out, and he'll stay gone for good this time. You can consider the engagement ended and never to be."

"But Akane, our family honor!"

Akane finally got fed up with that excuse. "This has NOTHING to do with honor! You two just want to grow OLDER and FATTER while me and Ranma take care of you. If you still want that to happen, I suggest you drop it!"

Genma and Soun were taken aback from Akane's outburst. Soun spoke up with the most commanding voice he could summon, "How dare you speak to your father that way Akane! I thought I taught you better!"

Dye spoke up with steel that was normally found in her mother. "If you two DON'T drop it, I WILL leave. I'm not even kidding this time. Explanations will come in time. You have NO IDEA how close your dream is to failing."

"How about you tell us now, Saotome?" Nabiki asked. She wanted answers and she was going to get them.

"Now is not the time."

"Make it the time."

"Nabiki, if it wasn't for the Martial Artist's oath not to harm those who cannot defend themselves, you would be VERY hurt right now," Dye said with a frost comparable to a glacier. To Nabiki's credit, she flinched. She had never received anything remotely related to a threat from Ranma. She found that it actually caused more than a little fear.

"So, changing topic, I trained Akane very well over our trip. How about you test her out pops? I'm sure she has a lot to show you."

"What could this girl have to show me?"

Dye upended her water on Akane, turning her male.

"Now she's a boy. Let's see what he has to show you."

Genma sat there giving Dye a dubious look until she stood and dragged him to the Dojo, throwing him in. Everyone shortly followed. Nabiki took a moment to get her camera. Male Akane was a hunk.

They took a seat on the far side near the door. Dye raised her hand and brought it downward quickly, called for a start. "Begin!"

Akane began by testing Genma's defenses, only using half of her new speed. Genma got tagged once before he upped his defenses.

"Seems you taught her a thing or three boy! You might be cut out to take over the school after all."

Dye didn't show an outward response, but inwardly she flinched. She wouldn't be able to take over the school, Akane and then her child would.

Genma went on the offensive testing Akane's defenses, and not getting a single hit. He decided to up the ante and sped up and started upping his skill usage. Akane countered the attack that came closest to hitting her so far, and the panda slid across the dojo floor. Everyone but Ranma was awed.

"Is that all you got, you fat old panda!"

"Don't get cocky girl! I'll show you!"

Genma got sneaky and managed to toss her across the room, but she landed on her feet in the same way Ranma would have. Genma narrowed his eyes.

"I'm bored now. I think I'll go ahead and turn you into panda meat."

She charged Genma and a flurry of attacks where exchanged. They took it to the air a few times, the little amount of air they could get in the dojo. Then, at the peak of one of their midair exchanges, a kick from Akane smashed through Genma's defenses sending him head first into a wall. Akane dusted her hands off like they were dirty.

"That'll teach him not to underestimate me." Dye nodded lightly, looking like this is what he expected of the outcome.

Genma took a little while to pull his head out of the dojo wall. He fell flat on his rear.

"Oh, by the way pops, since you've about taught me all you can teach, I recommend you do the same with Akane. After all, she'll be teaching as well."

Soun nodded in agreement. "Yes, yes. He is quite right. Be careful with my baby girl."

****
The morning classes the next day wasn't as hectic as the day prior was, Nabiki told as much as she could figure. What they didn't know was the school now knew of Akane's curse.

The trio went to the girl's locker room and the girls screamed when they saw Dye.

"PERVERT!"

Things where thrown at her, but Shampoo just pulled out her bonbori and used them as a shield for them.

Akane stormed in the locker room and yelled, "Ranma is STUCK this way for a LONG time. He is required to have gym, and so he's stuck with the girls. What do you expect him to do? Go change in front of your boyfriends?"

That quieted a lot of the girls. "He's just here to check us out, and tell our boyfriends how we look naked," one girl hissed.

Akane took a deep breath before continuing. "You know that I would be the FIRST to pound him if that were true. Am I right?"

The girls looked at one another questioningly, and couldn't find any flaw to that statement. Even when Ranma really didn't do anything perverted she still pounded him.

"If you really are unsure just get me some hot water."

Akane's friend Yuka took out her water bottle and went to the sink. She came back shortly with hot water. She splashed it on Dye and nothing happened. This shut the girls up but they still made sure to change with their backs to Dye.

***
When gym was over they hit the showers. Dye waited outside with Shampoo, not wanting to push her luck with the girls. That was when she heard a squeal that started female, deepen into a male voice. She ran in to find a male Akane trying to cover his goods. All the girls in the shower were practically staring. You could hear them muttering compliments about how hot Akane was. Dye snatched one of the towels a girl put hanging over the shower wall, and covered Akane's waist with it.

Dye muttered in a low accusing voice that was just loud enough for everyone to hear, "And all of you call me a pervert."

Dye walked male Akane over to the sink and waited for the water to get hot. He then took a hand full and splashed it on Akane, turning her back female. Akane quickly got dressed and Dye changed back into her normal clothes and they left back for their class, Shampoo meeting them at the locker room door.

Over the next month things went relatively the same, except the pervert squad got a clue to leave Akane alone. Kuno still got beat up every morning. Instead of fighting Ryoga, they made him get lost. Nabiki took as many pictures as she could get of male Akane, selling discreetly to girls. The ones where Akane fought Uncle Saotome shirtless sold the best.

Dye learned mandarin and Amazon law that month, finally having learned how to receive knowledge from Cologne via their ki link. Dye vaguely realized that she could sense Cologne through her staff at any given time. She realized it must have something to do with the covenant.

Genma harassed her about her training, but Dye merely told him he had nothing to teach her. He argued with her about practicing then, and Dye shut him up by telling him he was training with Cologne, which was somewhat true. She wasn't physically training except by exercising on her own, she never sparred anymore because of her child. She did not want to kill it carelessly by miscarriage due to a blow to the stomach.

Akane and Dye got their parents to quiet down about Shampoo, saying that she failed to capture Ranma so she was now his retainer. It was close enough to the truth. Nabiki gave up on trying to get information from them directly, mentally adding to the picture every time she learned something new to the situation.

Akane still trained with Genma, albeit slowly as Genma was hesitant about teaching a girl, but Soun insisted. On the weekends Nodoka would come and explain Saotome family history, the history of the Saotome blade, when and who used it for what, and in the Saotome school of Kenjitsu that she founded with the help of her husband before he went on the training trip with her son. The school was Masaki style swordplay bent into the Anything Goes type of unrestricted combat. That meant that moves you would never see in structured Kenjitsu were used. There was a reason Genma was afraid of his wife. She reminded him of the legends of the God's Cry School of Kendo. That was why he avoided becoming a focus of her ire. No one but Genma had seen the power this woman could wield when thoroughly POBAI (Pissed off beyond all imagination).

(A/n: Kenjitsu is Art of the Sword for a warrior, Kendo is the art of the sword for sport like fencing It goes by a point system. BIG difference. Kenjitsu practitioners use Bokkens like Kuno for more serious sparring. Kendo practitioners use a Shinai like Akane uses to hit Ranma sometimes. Shinai's aren't meant to hurt, while bokkens I'm sure are intended to for the practitioners to learn. In a fight with a real sword, which Kenjitsu trains you for and kendo does not, contact with the blade is a bad and painful thing. That is why I figure bokkens are solid and hard to hurt, so you learn from the pain. The significance of Kuno wielding a Bokken is that he trains to be a warrior – it's not just for wimpy sport.)

Dye became increasingly irritated, snapping at people and such. When she asked Cologne about, she laughed, saying that it was due to her hormonal balance. She just needed to have Akane quote "repeat the treatment." Dye blushed crimson. It took a week before Dye decided to give in and asked Akane to come to her room one night. She didn't tell Akane what for, however.

Shampoo heard someone walking towards her, and turned to see a shadowy figure. She drew her bonbori cautiously. Even thought no one had disturbed Dye in a while, it still was possible. The figure came into view, and Shampoo realized it was Akane. Akane put her index finger to her lips to signal quiet. Shampoo cocked her head questioningly. Akane pointed at Dye's room. Shampoo's eyes widened and she nodded quietly sliding the door open for Akane to enter. She shut it behind them.

"Ranma...psst... Ranma."

Dye sat up and looked towards the door seeing Akane. She motioned Akane to come closer.

"What is it that you wanted, Ranma?"

Dye sat up, holding the sheets to her chest with one hand, a glass of water in the other. She flung its contents onto Akane, turning her male. Akane was about to get angry until Dye let the sheets fall from her body. Male Akane's jaw dropped.

**CENSORED LEMON-LIME GOODNESS**

Male Akane stayed in her embrace with Dye, basking in the afterglow and out of breath. She heard someone whisper in her ear.

"Can Shampoo play? Shampoo need have fun too."

Akane was about to angrily deny her request, when he felt Shampoo's naked body press against him.

"Shampoo leave clothes at door, hope you don't mind."

Akane always was jealous of Shampoo's looks, and feared to lose Ranma to her. She never expected in a million years that Shampoo would make a move on her.

***MORE CENSORED LEMONY GOODNESS*****

"You two no worry, Shampoo put ward of privacy on door, sealing room. No one can hear what go on in here, nor come in. Was supposed to be used when seduce Ranma, but figured now be good time to use. Feel free to be as loud as want."

*** MORE CENSORED LEMONY GOODNESS****

****
Nabiki was walking down the hall to get a late night snack when she realized that Shampoo wasn't guarding Ranma's door. She grinned evilly and reached to open the door. When her hand came within an inch of the door she was shocked. She grabbed her hand and cursed.

Shampoo probably put that on the door so she could have her way with Ranma, she thought. But Ranma's stuck as a girl...well maybe Shampoo's bisexual. I'll just let Akane know what's going on...

She went to Akane's room to find the door ajar. She opened it and found that Akane wasn't there.

Where is she...could she be? She thought. No...Akane wouldn't do that...

Nabiki still had her doubts no matter how much she tried to convince herself otherwise. She went and got her snack and came back. She mentally debated whether to wait until someone leaves the room, but then thought better of it. She was not a morning person as it was, and she'd never be able to stay awake until someone came out. She went back to her room to sleep.

****
Dye awoke early, being used to doing so because of early morning training her dad used to do. She realized she was laying on Akane. She sat up and yawned, glancing at the clock. Only Kasumi should be awake at this hour. She looked back down at Akane and blinked in surprise as she saw Shampoo. The memories of the previous night flooded back in a rush. The Amazon bombshell decided to jump in. Dye wondered how Akane would take to this. She nudged Akane awake.

Akane opened his eyes, blinking them into focus. The first thing he saw was Ranma's smiling face and naked chest. He reached up, brushing his hand across Dye's chest affectionately before pulling her down into a deep kiss. He broke it and smiled at Dye. Dye pointed at his side. He turned his head to find a nude Shampoo napping on his chest. He screamed.

Shampoo awoke in a rush, hopping up into combat stance as she realized her state of dress. She looked down to see a nude Male Akane, and then looked higher to see an equally nude Ranma. She relaxed her stance and smiled brightly. She dropped to her knees and gave the frightened Male Akane a kiss reserved to lovers. When she stopped Male Akane gasped to catch his breath.

"Sh-Shampoo...we...you...wha?"

Shampoo nodded happily. "Was way too long Shampoo virgin."

Akane's eyes rolled in the back of her head as she threatened to pass out. Dye shook her back to the realm of the conscious.

"You two should hurry and bathe before someone comes looking for you. I'm sure Kasumi already noticed you not sitting outside the door, but I doubt she will say anything, Shampoo."

Shampoo nodded. She threw her dress back on over her head, and Akane threw her pants she got from Dye on. Shampoo muttered something arcane sounding and the ward fell off the door. They sneaked down the hall and into the bath.

Dye waited for them to come back, throwing on some boxers and a T-shirt. He gathered the sweaty, moist sheets and threw them into his clothesbasket for dirty clothes. A now female Akane poked her head into the room telling Dye the bath was ready.

Shampoo followed Dye as far as the bathroom door, and then stood guard outside. She couldn't bath with Dye or her family would cause uproar. She smiled contently, remembering the night before.

****
When Akane entered the room she noticed Nabiki look at her with a smirk. Akane inwardly groaned. She sat at the table awaiting the inevitable. It was better to get this out of the way now.

Dye came in shortly after with Shampoo shadowing her. Shampoo sat on the opposite side of Dye than Akane. Dye didn't notice Nabiki's look, and began eating with everyone else. When they were halfway through the meal, Nabiki spoke up.

"So, where were you last night Akane?"

Akane blinked, expecting her to ask where Shampoo was, or why she couldn't open the door to Ranma's room.

"What do you mean?"

"You weren't in your room when I got up late last night for a snack." Nabiki said point blank.

"Oh. I was on the roof. I couldn't sleep." There, she thought, Nabiki can't counter that because she never would check the roof.

Nabiki was silent before she spoke again, "Shampoo, I didn't see you in guarding Ranma's door as usual either."

Shampoo just narrowed her eyes at Nabiki, then continued eating. Nabiki felt anger flitter across her thoughts until she automatically quelled it. Dye didn't say a thing.

"Well?" The rest of the family decided to voice their interest.

"Yes, Shampoo, I thought you never leave Ranma's side," Kasumi chimed.

Soun grew a demon head, "YOU BETTER NOT HAVE BEEN CHEATING ON MY DAUGHTER RANMA!"

Dye didn't bat an eyelash. She just gave him a bland look and continued eating.

"Look at the time, Ranma. Time to go." Akane said a little forcefully, giving Nabiki a glare.

She pulled Dye to her feet, but she didn't let go of the bowl. She gobbled down her remaining food as Akane tugged at her pigtail. Then she dropped her bowl and followed Akane. Shampoo shadowed as usual. Nabiki stood quickly, saying thanks and jogged after them.

***The trio came to a stop a short distance past the dojo.

"I can't believe Nabiki! Can't she just get a LIFE!"

"Mercenary girl can't get one. No one like her, now you see why."

Dye nodded in agreement. Then they got wet. In their rush, they forgot to walk on the opposite side of the street, to avoid the old lady. They all groaned. Dye's eyes then widened as she realized her worst nightmare was probably standing right next to her. She slowly turned her head to find...

Shampoo still fully human with a look of shock on her face.

"What happen?"

Dye's jaw dropped. Akane was still walking ahead muttering about stupid nosy sisters and never realized she was the only one still walking.

"A-Akane...," Dye's waving voice called.

"What?" Akane asked irate.

"Sh-Shampoo..."

Akane turned to see a wet, but human Shampoo standing there confusedly. "What?" She asked irately.

"Shampoo got splashed."

"So?" Akane said before her eyes widened.

Dye swallowed deeply before venturing, "You don't think...that..."

"No," Akane murmured. "Oh no." She began shaking her head in disbelief. "Oh no no no no. Not again."

Dye ran to Akane and led the distressed girl to Tofu's. Shampoo followed, her eyes cast to the ground in thought.

Just wait until Great Grandmother hear this, She thought.

They didn't see Nabiki watch the exchange just out of hearing range.

They entered Dr. Tofu's waiting room and sat down. Tofu heard the door open and close and came out.

"Long time no see! Been months! I just got back from my trip. How ya been?"

Dye answered first, "Better."

The other girls seemed out of their wits. Tofu noticed.

"What's wrong?"

"Well Doc, I guess you should be the first to know...seeing how you're my doctor."

Tofu looked at Dye seriously. "Sure, anything you say will stay between us." Tofu's head then jerked towards door. "Hold that thought."

He walked to the door to find Nabiki leaning against the wall listening. She jumped.

"Er...Hi Doctor Tofu. How ya been?"

"Great Nabiki. I just got back from my trip."

"You have a good time?"

"Great."

"You aren't going to ask me to come in?" Nabiki raised an eyebrow.

"Um...not right now Nabiki, Ranma and me are about to talk."

"So? I can wait in the waiting room."

"Um, I think it's private."

"Well, yeah, I'll keep it within family, Doc."

Tofu laughed. "That's okay Nabiki, I know you mean well, but I don't think if Ranma didn't tell you already, he doesn't want you to know. He'll tell you when he's ready."

Anger flitted across Nabiki's face. She was losing control far too often nowadays. Before no one could keep a secret from her. Now she smells this big juicy conspiracy, and can't get a bite.

"Okay Doc, Thanks," She said with false cheer. She had to restrain herself from stomping off like a child.

****
He locked the door and came back in to led them to the examination room, where there were no windows to listen through incase Nabiki came back around to eavesdrop.

"So what's up?"

"Well you see," Dye began, telling Tofu about Colognes Ultimatum and then about their training trip. She then hesitated and paused in her speech. She took a deep breath before continuing.

"Me and Akane...became sexually active during our training trip."

"But you were stuck in you're cursed forms...Oh. So you..."

"Yeah." Dye answered in a meek voice. "The only catch is when we got back, we found my curse to still be locked after Cologne used the cure. Cologne unlocked it after I agreed to impregnate Shampoo. But when my curse was found to be locked, she checked my ki, finding that I had a life inside of me. It turns out I was pregnant. By their laws, I was declared a woman, and since Shampoo could never complete the Kiss of Death, I took her place in the Tribe, she becoming my Retainer. Cologne then made me take the Wisdom of Generations pledge, to be her heir to the Amazon Matriarchal seat. Turns out the staff the old woman has represents the very same pledge I took. This is mine." Dye raised her staff to show.

"But," Dye continued, "That's what happened a month ago. We came in here because we needed to sit down. Because of my high hormonal balance now that I'm pregnant, I've become rather...needy. Akane came to my room last night to help, and Shampoo ended up joining."

Tofu's eyes widened.

"Shampoo doesn't change when wet anymore. I think Akane might have just fathered another love child."

Shampoo blanched, and Akane turned pale and shook.

"Oh my god, Ranma. Your life has always been complicated, but this takes the cake."

Dye solemnly nodded.

"So does anyone know?"

"No."

"I see. You won't be able to keep this a secret forever."

"I know. Well, it felt nice to get this off my chest. I think we need to hurry up and get to school before we get drained. I don't want my child being drained. Thanks Dr. Tofu."

Dye walked the door with the other girls silently following. Tofu ran to meet them in the waiting room before they left.

"Don't forget to make an appointment with me to check how healthy the child is."

"Okay doc. Later."

****
"Why are you stuck as a girl, Ranma?"

Dye sighed. Her mother had suddenly up and decided to start visiting the Tendo's again. She was now eating dinner with her mother and everyone else. She really wasn't ready to tell everyone yet, and was trying to take as much time as possible before telling everything. Dye explained Cologne's Ultimatum and how she was still stuck after she "made" her unlock it. She told her mom she would be stuck for months.

"But, you will be a man again, right?"

Dye nodded.

"I think it's best if you marry Akane as soon as your curse is unlocked."

Soun and Genma nodded vigorously in agreement. "Yes, in seven months it will have been three years. That is plenty of time for you two to have gotten to know each other."

Dye took in the adults staring at her. She nodded. Soun and Genma had tears rolling down their faces.

"You agree Akane?"

Akane seemed to only be paying half attention, not really caring about this conversation. She looked up from her food and absently answered, "Sure...why not?"

Soun and Genma started to dance. "Oh happy day!"

Nodoka looked speculatively at Akane. "I suppose that I should begin your training, Daughter."

"What training?"

"I need to train you in the art of Anything Goes Swordplay, so you may wield the Saotome honor blade upon your marriage."

Akane grimaced. She wondered if she would still be getting that training after they found out about Ranma's pregnancy. That's not even mentioning her and Shampoo's "love child."

"I will come to train you on the weekend."

Akane nodded. "Okay."

"Oh, and Ranma. I almost forgot to ask. Why is that other girl here?" Dye sighed deeply. "Is that your concubine?" Nodoka said with a wee too much enthusiasm.

"Um..." Dye looked at Shampoo who shrugged. She then looked at Akane who did the same.

Akane didn't think it mattered much anymore. Shampoo was pretty much family. Shampoo was the mother of her child after all.

Dye answered, "Um. Maybe?"

Soun and Genma choked and glared at Dye. She just smiled nervously in response.

"My son is SO manly!" Nodoka swooned.

Soun and Genma looked at the woman crazy. Soun reared back and summoned a Demon Head. "WHAT ABOUT MY DAUGHTER!"

Nodoka waved her hand through Soun's demon head, making it dissipate. Soun was irked that people were doing that so much lately. "Leave my son alone. It is quite manly. There's nothing wrong with having a concubine. It is quite traditionally usual for manly men. One woman couldn't possibly satisfy my son."

Soun was about to object, when Genma slapped a hand over his mouth and shook his head. He whispered, "Tendo, ol' pal. You may not like it, but it just made Nodoka think Ranma even manlier. That means you are more likely to HAVE a son-in-law to marry." Soun yelled into Genma's hand before settling down. Genma slowly removed his hand, ready to put it back if Soun shown any signs of objecting again.

"What do you think of this, Akane?" Soun asked.

Akane blinked as she realized her father was talking to her. "Sure, it's fine. I mean, he's MY husband right? Shampoo could take care of the cooking and cleaning or something so I can focus on teaching. I mean I'm not really good at that stuff."

Soun started crying waterfalls. "WAAHHH. My daughter's sharing her husband with another woman. WAHHHH!"

Nabiki blinked at the exchange. There was no objection to the marriage, though she supposed it was about time they admit their feelings, but then there was no objection to Shampoo. In fact, she endorsed it. Nabiki internally cursed. There was way too much here that didn't make sense, but no one else noticed. Nabiki was just dying to know what was going on. She didn't know that she would be happier not knowing.

****

Ukyo just arrived in back in town and decided it was nigh time to visit her inazuke. She took a summer vacation to give Ranma time to cool down, moving her Okonomiyaki ya to the beach. She made bundles of money there. She came back a bit late, because she ended up having a little adventure of her own to help Konatsu out with his family. She re-registered at school and then came back and cleaned the dust out of her shop. When she was done she decided it was time to catch up with Ranma. She looked at the time and found that school was just ending. She'd intercept him on his way home.

****
"Ranchan, I'm back! You miss me?" Ukyo said as she spotted them walking ahead of her.

Dye flinched. Shampoo flinched. Akane flinched. The mind tends to ignore things that it doesn't want to see, so Ukyo didn't notice them flinch. What she did notice were that both of her rivals were a little to close to Ranchan.

"So, Ranchan, how ya been? Any new adventures?" She clamped onto his arm, eyeing Akane to see her reaction. Akane rolled her eyes and continued walking with them. Ukyo expected her to yell and hit Ranma, or stomp off in a jealous rage. She hoped they didn't get married while she was gone.

"You could say that."

"So...why's Akane wearing your clothes?" She said with an edge.

Dye looked at Akane asking for permission and she shrugged. "She got a guy curse from Cologne. My clothes obviously work the best for that type of curse."

"Oh." Ukyo looked Akane up and down. She felt jealous of Akane wearing Ranma's clothes.

"So you want to come over and eat? I know you've had to miss my cooking!" She loved to rub her cooking skills into Akane's face. She looked at her only to see Akane give her a sympathetic look that scared her.

"Um. Sure. We need to...um...catch up anyway right?" Dye looked at Shampoo and Akane who nodded in agreement.

It didn't take them long to get to Ukyo's shop. She never let go of Ranma, but no one objected.

Hmph. Maybe they realize that he's mine. She thought.

***Ukyo fired her grill up and started cooking.

"So, you hungry?"

Dye nodded emphatically. Her pregnancy was causing her to eat even more than usual. Not to mention she still exercised so she wouldn't lose too much of her strength. Shampoo nodded. Ukyo thought about saying no, but didn't want to look bad in front of Ranma. So Ukyo fixed three Okonamiyaki's for Ranma, Shampoo, and Akane.

"So... you want some hot water Ranchan?"

Dye suddenly seemed solemn after she spoke.

"Um...that's something I've gotta tell you about. I'm stuck this way for a while. Months."

Ukyo's eyes widened. She internally cursed that that put their wedding so far off, but smiled sympathetically at Dye. "I'm sorry Ranma. What happened?"

Dye told her the old ghoul tried to force her to marry Shampoo. She told her he took Akane on a training trip as they ate the Okonomiyaki Ukyo spun out. Ukyo had dropped one when she heard about the training trip, but quickly recovered. Dye then told Ukyo that when they got back, Cologne unlocked their curses, but hers was stuck.

"I wonder what was different about you that caused your curse to get stuck?"

Everyone but Ukyo gave a nervous laugh.

Ukyo pointed a small spatula accusingly at Shampoo. "So why do you let her follow you? This is her fault."

Dye mused on that why while she chewed her food. Dye to tell her half the truth. "Well, Cologne had nullified the Kiss of Marriage between me and Shampoo when she unlocked the curse," Dye began. Ukyo internally cheered when she heard that. "However, as failure to marry me or kill me, she has to be my Retainer. She goes where I go. You will never find her not by my side."

Ukyo almost steamed at the fact Ranma allowed Shampoo to follow him everywhere. "Why don't you tell her to buzz of."

Dye looked irritated before answering, "It's the least I can do. Besides, I'm kinda honor bound to let her. I'm a...honorary Amazon because of it."

Ukyo mouth opened wide. "Oh."

"So...you and Akane still engaged?"

Akane rolled her eyes instead of the glare she normally would have gave. Dye answered, "Yes."

"Oh."

Dye decided it was probably best to let Ukyo know now he was not going to marry her. "Um, we're scheduled to marry after I can turn back into a guy again."

Ukyo's eyes widened. "Your parents making you again?" She said hopefully.

"Um. Yes and no. We agreed."

Ukyo's eyes began to tear up. Then she got angry. "What about me Ranma, Huh? You're just going to leave me out in the cold after leaving me on the road all those years ago?"

Dye felt her own anger rising over her sympathy. "That was NOT my fault. *You* have a problem, take it up with my pops. *I* did not make that agreement, and *I* did not run off with your yatai. *I* never said I wanted to marry you. I love you like a best friend, but no more. Besides, you tell me what you expect our lives to be like? Us running this damn shop? I'm a MARTIAL ARTIST Ukyo. You know it is only right for me to carry on MY school that I've been learning since before I've even met you. If you put honor into the picture, my engagement with Akane predates my BIRTH. Not to mention I have the duty to carry on MY school. So what do you have to say to all that?"

"That's all you have to say?" Ukyo said coldly. "I spend ten years pretending to be something I wasn't. Ten years searching for your sorry ass to be left out in the cold. My family won't even ACCEPT me as a girl unless I marry you to carry on my family blood and art."

"Fine. Ukyo, let me ask YOU something. Who doesn't have some honor beef with me, huh? None of which is MY fault. I am NOT responsible for you. In the end SOMEONE'S honor was going to be hurt, not to mention feelings. WHAT makes YOU any better a choice than the others but your sob story?"

"I hate you." The words came unbidden from her mouth.

Dye flinched. "Well let me tell you something that will possibly make you feel better. Only the three of us here know this. I most likely, will not be marrying Akane. I am sworn to be the head of an entire people, Ukyo. That takes priority over any small claims. I am Cologne's heir. I will be Matriarch of the Joketsuzoku." Dye sighed. "Akane knows this and accepts this. That just shows how much she loves me. She loves me enough to let me go."

Dye stood and left a weeping Ukyo behind.