Silken Vail

Author Notes: This is a slight AU so expect oocness. Just a test chapter to see if anyone is interested in this fic. Please read and review.

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Chapter 1

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Ranko found herself at a crossroads. This would be the final act, the final step that would seal her choice and set it in stone. If she followed through with this a new world of possibilities would open to her but if she did not things would remain as they always had and there was a certain security in knowing that. What sparked this rash and sudden decision where the events in China only a few weeks ago.

Her father and she had been touring ancient training grounds as they always had, till they came across Jyosancho, a valley of cursed springs whose pools would change ones body into that of what had drowned in it so many thousand years ago. Of course it was all old wives tails to bring in tourists but it had made her think about something she had never thought about before.

Being raised like a boy her whole life gave her a different view on the world that other 'normal' girls didn't have. To them she was a tomboy and more. They never understood why she enjoyed starting trouble and fighting anyone that crossed her path. All they saw was a 'delicate girl' acting like a boy and always made fun of her and pushed her away. She never once felt like she fit in. Nether the boys or girls would accept her as her. In their eyes she was always pretending or acting.

But then at the training ground a whisper of a forbidden thought entered her mind. Why not become a boy? It would solve all her problems. She could fight and be as unladylike as she cared and no one would criticize her for it since that's what boys did, they fought.

The idea after a few days of training at the grounds had grown from a whisper into a temptation and she had even ventured out into the pools one night to find the pool of browned boy. When she returned to the camp later all she had gained from the small adventure was a set of wet cloths and a feeling of bitter disappointment.

The disappointment was so heavy that the next day when they visited the amazon village she had thoughtlessly joined her father in a feast as she watched some sort of competition. Over the years she had learned to avoid her fathers lead as if often spelt trouble in the near future. Sadly this time it had slipped her mind and she had inevitably been pulled into a troublesome situation.

Long story short she managed to humiliate one of the village's best fighters and received the kiss of death. Another thing that irritated her, had she been a boy at the time she wouldn't now have a very angry amazone out for her blood. With the help of her father as a sacrifice she was able escape and the thought brought a small smile to her lips.

Her father had had it coming for a long time now. All the situations and debts he forced onto her shoulders where finely coming back to bite him. It was easy enough; she had simply neglected to help him after he wandered into a ridiculously obvious trap with the lure of food.

While the amazons where busy trying to deal with her father, she decided to make a break for it. It wasn't her fathers head they wanted on a stick after all so the worse they could do was make him wash all the dishes he had used at the feast. That or maybe interrogate him for information on her whereabouts but she wasn't worried. If there was anything her father was good at, it was escaping from the trouble he caused.

But here she was now, back in Japan just down the street from the final destination on her and her fathers ten year training trip considering becoming a boy. It was the most logical explanation after all, at least in her mind. It would solve the issue of the amazon girl chasseing her and finally allow her the be the ways eh wanted without raising suspicions.

And of course there was the matter that Mr. Tendo her fathers old friend thinking she was a boy. Despite her father's attempts to hide it, she had more then once caught him bragging about his 'boy' in his postcards to Mr. Tendo. If she showed up now without her father and as a girl there was no doubt they wouldn't believe a word. If she wanted a roof over her head till her father managed to escape the amazons then she was going to have to be a boy.

"All right, I've decided." Ranko stared seriously at herself in the public bathrooms mirror and nodded with a frown of determination. With a deep intake of breath she pulled her pigtail up and closing her eyes so not to witness the horrific act, she cut it clean off. Opening her eyes she felt a pang of regret as she was about to toss the several severed feet of long crimson hair into the public trash bin but instead stowing it away in her travel pack.

She continued trimming and cutting her hair but found it difficult and awkward since all she had was a hunting knife that had been dulled from years of use. After a short amount of time she smiled. It appeared she managed somehow.

The image that the mirror now returned was that of a cute and feminine boy and she was sure it was enough to pass first impressions. Under her red silken Chinese shirt her breasts where bound tightly, it was uncomfortable and she was both glad and slightly miffed that she hadn't been granted with large breasts. Of course it didn't hide them fully but her thanks to her somewhat muscular arms it gave the illusion she was buff.

The hair that she had finished cutting was now quite short, uncomfortably short barley a few inches long at any given point. Her amateur job on it made it appear wild and unkept but passable as being an actual hair cut.

"Looking good." Ranko smirked as she spoke deeply as she could. Bickering and arguing with her father had given her a lot of practice at mocking him so it wasn't too difficult to make a believable voice. She just hoped it didn't sound like she was trying to hard.

"Time to go." She spoke with a cocky grin. "Let's see what was so important about the Tendo's."

It didn't take long to reach the Dojo and she was momentarily stunned and impressed as she walked down the path to the front door. It wasn't like her father to have such friends, specifically friends with money. After a closer look at broken roof tiles and other noticeable signs of wear and tear she amended the thought. They may have had money but now it appeared they had let things slide a bit.

Ranko's thoughts where interrupted as a sudden scream echoed throughout the dojo.

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"Daddy you can't be serious!" Akane growled and showed every last bit of her anger on her face as she glared at her father.

"Now now Akane this arrangement was made before any of you where born and it stands on family honor." Soun Tendo replied happily, Akane's anger completely lost on him in his moment of blissful happiness.

"Don't think you're an only sister, sis. It could just as easily be me or Kasumi that get hitched." Nabiki smirked and received a grow from Akane.

"Why are you dressed up like that anyway?" Akane demanded staring at Nabiki who was dressed in a festival kimono. She had changed into it shortly after their father announced the 'happy news' and had been smiling secretively the whole time since.

"The Dojo goes to whoever marries; I just want to make a good first impression. After all the Dojo is worth a bundle." Nabiki smiled like a cat as she sipped her tea.

"Is money all you think about?" Akane asked in disgust with an expression of contempt.

"Mhmm." Nabiki grinned. "And who knows, he might be cute."

"They are never cute!" Akane huffed and turned away. "This isn't a manga Nabiki."

"Father how old is Ranma?" Kasumi spoke up suddenly, as she poured herself some more tea. "I hope he's not young."

"Well." Soun pondered then smiled brightly as if about to describe a magnificent man. "I have never met him."

"You have never met him?" Kasumi for the first time since hear of the engament, frowned.

"Nope but from what Genma has told me in his postcard, he is a man among men, a genius in the arts. Why just recently they braved the terrible forbidden cursed training grounds of China and survived to tell the tale!" Soun glowed in pride.

"Oh China, exotic!" Nabiki chirped. "What's his name?"

Soun happy to continue opened his mouth to speak then frowned after a moment in thought. "Genma never said."

"I can't believe you daddy you don't even know his name?" Akane screamed.

"When he arrives we can ask him ourselves!" Soun offered sweating a bit just before the loud pattering of feet echoed closer and closer. Suddenly a red and black blur came sliding into view on the boardwalk outside the open screen. Everyone blinked and stared up at the new arrival. Standing on the boardwalk was a boy who wore a quickly growing expression of confusion.

"Oh... Um…" The boy spoke suddenly in a soft boyish voice after several long moments. "I heard a scream and…"

"You wouldn't happen to be Genma's son would you?" Soun blurted out ecstatically and hopeful.

"Yea, I'm him." Ranko replied and before she could continue she was captured into a bone crushing hug.

"Oh how I have waited for this day!" Soun cried tears of happiness then quickly dragged Ranko along and forced her to sit opposite his three daughters.

"Is your father here?" Soun taking his seat eagerly asked.

"Um…" Ranko disoriented from the emotional man stammered a bit before answering. "No, had some unfinished business in China. Something about a forbidden technique, said he would be back in a few weeks."

"Oh Genma he hasn't changed." Tears continued to pour down Soun's face as he apparently lost himself in a memory.

"Tea?" Kasumi offered tea to their guest with a smile.

"Sure…" Ranko accepted and felt a tingling sensation down her spine. The atmosphere didn't feel quite right and she couldn't put her finger on it and decided go with the flow.

Akane stared at the boy with an expression stuck between surprise and stubbiness. Looking over at Nabiki who winked at her made her growl and pulled the boy's eyes to her. She quickly covered it up with a soft cough and tried not to blush. Ok maybe he was a 'little' cute but there was no way any of them where going to marry him.

"Oh I don't believe I caught your name, Genma never said it in his postcards" Soun spoke as he returned to reality.

"Ran…" Ranko paused a second. There was no way they she could call herself Ranko, besides a boy needed a stronger name, a tougher name. Something with power and grace… like… like a horse! That was it! "Ma… Ranma Saotome, pleased to meet you"

"Wonderful!" Soun beamed and waved a hand towards his daughters. "Theses are my three draughts. Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane."

Ranko nodded at each name in greeting, the tingling uneasy feeling rising from their expressions. Kasumi appeared the most casual but she could scene a hidden tension. Nabiki on the other hand wasn't tense at all and smiled in such a way that make her feel like she made a terrible mistake in coming here. Akane's expression continued to change from mixtures of anger, surprise, and confusion.

"Please choose which one will be your fiancée." For several moments Ranko stared at the girls processing the words… until she finally registered them. Her eyes shot open wide and spit out a full mouthful of tea she had been drinking choke and chough on it as she stammered.

"W..what!? Fiancée? What the hell are you talking about?" Ranko gasped and stammered almost forgetting to use her boy voice.

"Did Genma not tell you?" Soun didn't seem the least bit affected by Ranko's surprise. "Before you where born me and your father made a pact to have our children marry and join the too schools together."

"That… That bastard!" Ranko growled and hopped to her feet in anger. "Where dose he get off…" She began to mumble and stomp out of the room rolling up her sleeve as if preparing for a fight.

"Wait Ranma where are you going?" Soun called after her franticly.

"Back to China to clobber my pops." Ranko growled but before she could even turn the corner onto the boardwalk she was tackled my Soun.

"I can't let you leave without agreeing to the engagement! It's a matter of family honor!" Soun pleased as Ranko tried to pry him off.

"Hey let go! Hey!" Ranko protested but apparently Soun wasn't as frail as he looked as he carted her back into the dinning room and plopped her back down in front of his daughters. All of which looked bobbled at their fathers actions.

"Please pick a one of my daughters and become the heir to our Dojo." Soun beamed, his voice full of hidden threat as his bear hug around Ranko tightened intimidating.

"I ain't picking no one! Let go of me you old man!" Ranko growled and struggled but it was clear how futile it was. After several minuets of struggling and wrestling with Soun she gave up.

"Is your pops always like this?" She asked her three allies. Or at least she hoped where her allies. She sure as heck didn't want to be engaged to anyone and to make matters worth she wasn't exactly the guy they thought her to be. Damn her old man, she was going to make him pay!

"No actually." Kasumi smiled sweetly, and politely covered her moth to hide the amusement that showed there.

"Daddy stop it!' Akane demanded. "You're embarrassing us."

"Not till the families are joined!' Soun childishly continued.

"I'll take him." Nabiki smirked and brought a sudden cry from Ranma and Akane.

"What!?

"Well daddies not going to stop till Ranma picks one of us. I don't see why one of us can't pick him instead. I'll take him." Nabiki explained with an evil glint in her eyes.

"Wait hold on a minute!" Ranko protested but Soun's happy outburst interrupted her.

"Then the engagement is final! Nabiki will be Ranma's fiancée. Oh happy days! At least the promise can be fulfilled and the families joined!" Soun lost in his happiness released Ranko and began dancing around the room.

"Nabiki! You can't be serous!" Akane gasped. "You don't even know him."

"So?" Nabiki smiled. "I'm grabbing him before you change your mind. Besides he's quite cute."

"Nabiki!" Kasumi scolded her.

"Hey! Hold on, I haven't agreed to anything here!" Ranko protested and stammered feeling somewhat awkward and embarrassed at being talked about so bluntly.

"You didn't have too, once daddy gets an idea into head it might as well be caved in stone." Nabiki smiled sweetly. "And what's there to complain about, I'm not exactly a bad catch."

Ranko felt a flush of embarrassment at the sly cattish grin Nabiki favored her with. If she only knew her new fiancée was in fact a girl that expression of hers would most likely be one completely different. This wasn't good, it wasn't good at all. Perhaps this was Karma for leaving her father back in China.

"You are, he just doesn't know it yet." Akane spat angry at her sisters comment. Like she would ever change her mind about wanting to be this boy's fiancée.

"Oooh It sounds like you wanted him after all." Nabiki winked at Akane and caused her to stammer in disbelief and anger.

"Like I will ever want to marry a boy that looks like some girl!" Akane shouted and quickly stomped from the room fueled by her temper. Ranko couldn't help but feel a stab of anger and pain from the careless comment. Sure she was a girl and she didn't want to be anyone's fiancée but it couldn't help but hit home on her alienation from her own sex.

"I'm Sorry Ranma, Please don't mind Akane. She has a terrible temper." Kasumi apologized and offered more tea which Ranko turned down with a frown.

"She's just jealous." Nabiki explained smugly.

"I'm never going to marry you." Ranko stated simply with a serious face.

"We will see." Nabiki smiled sweetly.

"Never going to happen."

"Mhmm." Nabiki nodded with the same smile and Ranko couldn't help but feel mocked.

"You're not my type."

"To bad."

Ranko could only glare at Nabiki, who was this girl anyway? She had never met anyone like her in her travels and she wasn't sure she particularly liked her. Regardless of what Nabiki's confidence told her it wasn't possible for two girls to marry much less produce a new heir for the Dojo. There was absolutely no chance of them ever marrying.

"Oh Ranma, let me show you around the Dojo." Kasumi spoke up after a long pause in the conversation. Ranko nodded to her happy for an escape from Nabiki not feeling at all comfortable around her currently. She made a big mistake coming here and she had a felling things where only going to get worse.

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End Chapter 1

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