Post Manga 38
Originally titled "Omamori" [Talisman] this fanfiction (like most of my other Ranma works) is centered on Akane. As you can tell from the bold "GRRRL POWER!" above, I'm intent on making Akane the good guy. I don't hate the other fiancees, but I am a Defender of the True Fiancee, so if you don't like R + A... leave now, and forever hold your peas. ^.~
Like I own Ranma. Hah. The idea of the talismans isn't mine either *sniff*. It's adapted from the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoon. ^^;; So sue me, I'm A Jackie Chan-atic.
Nodoka Saotome was a very perplexing person. You see, her son barely remembered her, her husband was afraid of her, and the Tendo family had just met her only recently. Less than 18 months ago, when Ranma had first arrived at their training hall, in fact. So she still had a lot of secrets up her... kimono.
Akane Tendo, youngest of the Tendo sisters and betrothed to Ranma Saotome, Nodoka's only son, was the first to find out one of many "secrets" regarding Nodoka. It all started one "ordinary" day...
[Nerima Ward, July 26th]
"You called, Auntie?" Akane came smiling out from the dojo. She wiped her brow with the towel around her neck. She'd just finished some aerial katas, and boy would Ranma be surprised when they sparred! Of course, Ranma always refused to fight her fairly, and he was still more adept than she... but it was a start.
"Yes, Akane. I have a... well, a story to tell you." Nodoka smiled. She placed her hand on her family katana, the one that never left her side. She only used it for whipping her lazy husband into shape; she would never even dream of using it. She had once, long ago... but...
Akane settled herself down on a cushion beside Nodoka, eager to listen. Even if Nodoka was Ranma's mother, it still felt nice to have an older-- and not-related woman to talk to. Maybe what Akane wanted was a motherly figure, and while Kasumi had adopted that role in the Tendo home, she didn't quite fit the part in Akane's mind. Nodoka, on the other hand...
What am I thinking? For Auntie to become my... 'Mother' I'd have to marry Ranma!
Akane looked up, her cheeks stained a light pink, as Nodoka began her story.
"It started out several hundred years ago. The Saotome family line was just starting to develop the Anything Goes line of martial arts. Regardless of what..." Nodoka cringed, "Master Happosai says, the Saotome line had been martial artists long before he introduced Soun and my husband to it." Nodoka herself was proof enough of that-- her family katana had the Saotome crest on it, and it was very old-- the style and materials used for the blade were rare, not to mention expensive in Japan these days.
"A distant relative of mine --you know, the Saotome line is passed down through me, and not Genma-- named Fukami came upon a temple. She needed rest after all her training in the wilderness --because Japan was mostly wilderness back in those days-- and stopped at the nerest shrine to catch her bearings. However, she was startled when an aging priestess challenged her to a match. Never one to turn a challenge down, she accepted. It was no surprise that she beat the priestess, except to the monks watching. They told Fukami that the aging Priestess -their prophet- was undefeated, even by their best male champions. The temple trained people for thousands of years in all number of Arts, and the priestess was the strongest of all those that had been trained, and stayed at the temple. That's when the Priestess revealed a secret..."
"What?" Akane asked, leaning forward in anticipation.
"Well, she said that she had only challenged Fukami because she had had a vision that she would be defeated by a girl with Fukami's likeness and attitude. It was a vision come true, the monks said, because their prophetess was never wrong. So, Fukami trained with the monks and the priestess for a very long while, perfecting and adding onto the Anything Goes style. In fact, many aspects --even the name-- of the Anything Goes style came from Fukami. A whole year passed, and the monks and priestess deemed Fukami ready."
"Ready... for what?" Akane asked, her brows furrowed in confusion.
"To defeat their male champion."
"But I thought that not even the male champions could defeat the Priestess!" Akane protested.
"Ah-ah-ah. You see, the male champion refused to ever fight the Priestess. He said it would be... dishonorable, and unmanly." Nodoka allowed herself a slight smile, while Akane sweatdropped.
"Why... does that sound so familiar?" Akane asked no one in particular, a sarcastic tone in her voice. Anyone could have told those present that she was referring to her fiancee, who refused to fight girls fairly unless it was a life or death matter.
"However, in order for Fukami to continue practicing, and one day teach the Art she had learned from the temple, she had to defeat the male champion. It was a tradition of the temple, so that all people worthy of their champion title would hold it for their entire lives. Thus, the champion was forced to fight Fukami, by right of the temple's tradition. Since he had never fought the priestess, he had to fight the girl that had defeated her-- Fukami."
"When they finally met, things... got out of hand."
"Huh? How so?"
"Well, for starters, for weeks, Fukami had prepped herself into thinking that the champion was just another withered old monk. Her agility and speed would allow her to defeat such a person quickly."
"But he wasn't old at all, was he?" Akane asked, knowing the answer.
"Not at all. In fact, he was a very handsome, young man... just about Fukami's age. Fukami had a crush on him at first, not knowing he was the champion, but when she discovered who he was, she tossed away her feelings and focused on the fight. But she was unable to put her entire heart and soul into the fight, and was defeated-- not easily, but defeated nonetheless."
"... Is that it? What happened to Fukami and the champion?" Akane asked, distressing.
"Not the end at all. Fukami had grown to love the temple and its Priestess so much that she begged to be tested in another manner, to prove her worthiness of teaching the temple's line. That way, she could incorporate the techniques into the Anything Goes Saotome style, and teach them to students-- and eventually her children."
"So? What did the Priestess say?"
"Well, the Priestess said the champion had to decide. So the champion told Fukami that she had to search for 12 sacred talismans. Fukami thought it was a joke, and was about to leave, but the Priestess stopped her. "
"Wha? But how...?"
"Well, Fukami didn't want to give up on the Art, but if she couldn't use the techniques she had spent an entire year refining, then what else could she do? She wanted to leave where her humilation couldn't find her. But the Priestess said the 12 talismans would enable her to defeat any foe-- even the champion."
"But... why didn't the champion go after them himself, if they made someone so powerful?"
"That, my dear, is the cincher. The talismans could only be obtained by a woman of pure mind, body and soul. Since the Priestess was the only woman who fit that description, and Fukami had defeated her, the monks and the champions reasoned that Fukami was the next best canidate."
"Fukami set off on her adventure, but before she left, she recieved special blessings from the Priestess, and a message from the champion. He said that he hoped she succeeded-- because he believed that she was the Chosen One meant to obtain the talismans... and he believed in her."
"That jerk said that, after defeating her? You'd think he'd be gloating..."
"Ah, you would. But you see, he had fallen in love with her, having seen her spirit and devotion to the Art in their battle. She might have been willing to throw it all away, but for just cause, because she loved the Art so much, she would give it up if she couldn't use those techniques she had worked so hard on."
"... is it really worth it? Just because you're not the best, to give it all up... throw your life away, just like that?" Akane asked solemnly.
"You tell me. You've met many martial artists, of varying schools and calibers in the 18 months my son has been here... do you think it's worth it to give it all up because someone's better than you?"
"Well..." Akane paused. The people she had met --rival or no-- were talented martial artists, but each in their own fields. Ukyo was the best at Okinomiyaki cooking and martial arts, while Shampoo was the best in Amazon techniques, surpassed only by her great-grandmother, Cologne. Mousse was the master of Hidden Weapons, while Kodachi excelled in Martial Arts Gymnastics. Kuno, while an idiot, could use a bokken better than anyone else at Furinkan, and Ranma...
" I don't know. I don't know why I
keep trying when I know I'll never be better
than..." His name was on the edge of her lips, and
Nodoka frowned a bit at Akane's open statement.
"So why not give up?"
Akane looked up, as if she'd just had an epiphany.
"Fukami didn't. She wanted to take a second shot at it, and keep practicing so she could make the champion proud of her. She might have humilated herself by begging for another chance, but humility and asking for help are part of life. I don't give up because I know I can be the best too, in some Art I've developed just for me."
"That is the spirit I was looking for!" Nodoka smiled, and Akane grinned back happily. So what if Ranma was fast and strong? He couldn't forget all those times when he hadn't been fast enough to dodge her mallet, her slap, her bokken...
Come to think of it, maybe I am a bit too unfair to Ranma... but I still want to prove to him that I'm not as weak and tomboyish as he always makes me out to be. 'Uncute fiancee.' Hah.
Akane sweatdropped without a word, and scratched the back of her head in embarassment.
"Akane," Nodoka said suddenly, growing serious, "How would you like to embark on the same mission as Fukami did?"
"W-What?" Akane asked, astonished.
"If you think you need to prove yourself by trying to get into a fair fight with Ranma... well, I don't blame you, he is a little egotistical... then this is the perfect chance for you."
"The 12 Talismans need to be secured by someone. In the hundreds of years since Fukami obtained them, they have since been scattered about the world. I speak on behalf of that original priestess, who believed in Fukami. Please Akane."
"But... what makes you think I'm the Chosen One... I've never fought you... let alone defeated any kind of monks or... or champions."
"You have. I just don't think you've recognized it, yet. I'm not going to guilt you into doing this, Akane. I just thought..."
Akane hated seeing Nodoka upset. It was bad enough when Ranma and Genma kept on ducking whenever she happened by. Akane was beginning to feel guilty anyway...
"I'll do it."
Nodoka immediately brightened, "You will?"
"Yes. It'll give me something to do this summer anyway." Akane grinned. Besides, if it had to do with martial arts, then it could be considered training.
"Thank you, Akane! Thank you!" Nodoka smiled.
At that moment, however, Ranma entered, looking frazzled. He groaned before collapsing onto the couch, sound asleep.
Nodoka smiled at her out-cold son and back again at Akane.
"I'll explain more to you later. But I must tell you-- it will be dangerous, and there will be others after the talismans. No one can know about exactly what you intend to do, because of these factors. Do you still want to do it?"
"I already said yes, didn't I?" Akane smiled, a determined expression on her face.
"Good. Thank you... daughter." Akane smiled proudly at her "Auntie" and future mother-in-law, and turned heel to go upstairs and pack. She would leave tonight, and start her adventure as soon as possible.
The end of Chapter 1: The Chosen One.
Coming up in Chapter 2 of "The Search for the Talismans"...
I can't... I just... Akane stretched as far as her arm could reach, but it was still too far away. At this rate, the Dark Hand would get to the first talisman before she would, having a head start! She couldn't let that happen! Right when she was ready to give up, though, Akane's vision blanked into white, and she found herself staring face to face with someone very familiar to her...