Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma 1/2. Never have, never will. Rather, it is the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Viz, and a bunch of other people, none of whom are me. If you think I could come up with something like this, I'm very flattered, but I'm sorry to disappoint you; I didn't. If I had, I wouldn't be as poor as I am.

Timeframe: This diverges from the main timeline shortly before vol. 24 of the manga. It may also be slightly AU otherwise, I'm not sure. Since the timeline is vague at best in this series, I'm going to simply say that it's been quite some time since Ryouga has last appeared.

***

Part One: The Pink-Haired Girl

Prologue: Ry… Ryouga?

"Ranma Saotome! Prepare to *die*!"

The aforementioned pig-tailed martial artist sighed and leapt off the fence, which was quickly demolished by an attack so fast that it seemed to simply explode. All Ranma saw of the actually attacker was a yellow-colored, human-shaped blur bouncing off the fence as it was reduced to splinters. He blinked in surprise even as he assumed a defensive posture; Ryouga sure had gotten fast.

Waitaminute.

That wasn't Ryouga's voice. But the challenge was the lost boy's usual battle cry; even though it was shared by several others, no others had ever managed it in the same maniacal-depressive tone (maniacal, yes; depressive, usually not). The confusing part, though, was that Ranma was sure that the weapon to demolish the fence had been an umbrella. How many people, really, fought with umbrellas?

All this ran through his head as he tracked the blur that had attacked him. It stopped, finally, against a building with a deep overhang that cast the figure in shadow. And a very familiar bamboo umbrella was open, hiding most of the person from view.

"Ryouga?" He asked curiously, as the person he assumed to be his perpetually lost rival didn't move. Or speak for that matter, other than a low growling sound.

"Ryouga?" he repeated, starting to get annoyed. The growling only got louder. Ranma noticed with a start that the sound was somewhat high pitched. And filled with fury and frustration, although that was more expected.

This lack of action confused Ranma. Ryouga – it had to be the aquatranspig – was not the sort of person to cut off an attack. Ranma readied an offensive, anything to cut off the stalemate, when with a resigned yell Ryouga did something that made him freeze.

Lifted the umbrella. And… stepped out into the sunlight, revealing…

A rather pretty, if disheveled and dirty, young girl with short pink hair held back by a yellow bandanna and dressed in matching clothing that hung very baggily on her frame. Her face twisted up as she looked at Ranma into an expression of… something. Ranma never did see what the expression was becoming, because the girl was simultaneously flipping the umbrella onto the huge pack she carried – or trying to at least. She collapsed unconscious before finishing the motion.

At this point Ranma was seriously confused.

"Ry… Ryouga?"

***

~Mordain