X x x x x x
"I'm sorry." Ranma fiddled with his human fingers as his mother berated him over his palantir. Sitting in his room with the orb floating in front of him, Nod'ka was in her true form, and back in her lair. Debra hadn't wasted any time in contacting his mother, and he had just been lying down to get some sleep when she had called him.
"I'm very happy that Grandfather was so gracious as to remove that curse, and you should be thanking him every night for such a gracious act." She waved a claw at him, obviously trying to come up with more things to be angry with.
"I will." He wilted further.
"And this whole business with that human girl. What kind of bumbling fool is your father raising you to be?"
"If Auntie hadn't shown up." He tried to defend himself, not daring to bring up that it had been Nod'ka herself that had suggested he do something to Nabiki.
"What was that?" Nod'ka got in close to her own palantir, her large glowing eyes daring him to continue.
"Nothing." He said quickly.
"That's what I thought, now I better not hear about you two squabbling like a pair of hatchlings."
"Yes mother." He nodded, though he was still considered a hatchling.
"Hmm." Nod'ka cupped her chin between two claws. "D'bra said that the middle sister would likely remain a dragon."
"Seems like it, I already caught her throwing out her old human clothing." Ranma rolled his eyes at the new Dragon's ego. Nabiki was obviously quite smitten with her blessing, but who wouldn't be?
"Since that is, you should be nice to her young man."
"But momma!" He whined, his head shooting towards the door, along with pointing an accusing finger in the same direction. "Don't sit there spying on me."
"You're loud enough that I could hear you downstairs." Nabiki answered, stepping out from behind the door. She was in an adult human form, dressed in a form hugging set of shiny silk pajamas. "But I'm interested in why they don't know what you're saying while I do."
"Come in dear." Nod'ka invited the human turned Dragon in. Nabiki took the invitation to come in and kneel in front of the palantir. "The humans downstairs do not understand us, because we are speaking in draconic. It is instinctive to all Dragons and lesser creatures such as wyrms and drakes." Nabiki simply nodded her head in understanding.
Nod'ka's head twisted side to side briefly. "Would you mind turning into your true form?"
"This is my real form." Nabiki answered.
His mother smirked. "There's no need to be shy, you're a Dragon now, not some under evolved ape."
"Fine." Nabiki dropped her disguise, and now stood on all fours in Dragon form. Shaking her head briefly, Nabiki sat down. "Ugh the change in perspective."
Ranma stared at his mother, wondering why she had wanted Nabiki take her new body. It wasn't like either of them couldn't instantly see what she was. Nabiki wasn't even that impressive looking. The same size as himself, there weren't any of the physical differences that developed between males and females yet. If she didn't have more purple to her coloring, humans wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
"You'll be very beautiful when you grow up." Nod'ka complimented the new Dragon, who smiled after a moment. "I'll call you back in a day or two." The elder Dragon turned back to him.
"Right." He nodded, happy that he wasn't going to be verbally berated anymore. The power to Nod'ka's palantir cut out, and he shoved his own back into storage.
"So where do you get one of those?" Nabiki inquired.
"They're very expensive and on Jade." He answered haughtily. "Who would you want to contact anyway?"
"Good point." The other Dragon admitted.
"Ranma would you quit making so much noise? I'm trying to get to sleep." Akane whined from the doorway. The youngest sister looked between him and Nabiki, back again, then slowly took a step back from the door. "Two－ two of you?" gasped.
"Hey sis." Nabiki waved a clawed hand at her sister.
Shaking her head violently side to side, Akane took a very deep breath. "I'm too tired to deal with this." informed them, quickly running back to her room.
"Hmm, that gives me an idea." Ranma said to himself.
Glancing over at Nabiki with a sly look he laughed to himself. "You want to have some fun with your family?" Ranma may not like that Nabiki was now a Dragon, he may not like that it was actually his fault, but maybe just maybe they could get along.
X x x x x x
Akane nearly stumbled while walking down the steps before slowing her pace, and making her way to the living room already smelling breakfast. While the wyrm who was a slave to Ranma had a beyond poor attitude, she and Kasumi made a good pair in the kitchen. Maybe tomorrow she would get up early and help out too!
In the living room, her father was sitting with his nose buried in a newspaper. Taking a seat to his right, she waited patiently for everyone else to show up. The first to arrive was a familiar and unwanted shape, that being Ranma in Dragon form. Trotting in like he owned the place, the winged reptile took a seat exactly opposite of her. 'Oh wait, he does own the place now.' She thought darkly on her father and elder sister for their greed.
Akane heard another set of four legged footsteps, and watched a second Dragon enter into the room to sit down next to the previous. Rubbing at her eyes, she looked between the two, forcing herself to remember that Nabiki had now become a Dragon. That didn't stop her from feeling freaked out that they were both staring at her with eyes that were glowing a soft blue.
"Good morning, Nabiki." She greeted slowly and to neither of them specifically, unsure which of the two Dragons was her sister.
"Good morning." Both said in almost complete unison, their voices were as similar as their looks, leading to no help in figuring out which was which.
"Uh, which one of you is which?" She asked while frowning.
"Which one is which?" They answered again, though there was a bit of a delay as the one on the right spoke first. Akane's frown deepened, wondering if she should just clock both of them, and get it over with.
"Oh my, how adorable!" Kasumi gushed at the two Dragons, nearly dropping the food that she had been carrying in her mad dash to gather up a Dragon up into a big hug, clearly overcome by some strange notion that the big lizards were cute. Two, who had been following Kasumi in just rolled her eyes and continued setting the table.
"Wow, this is really annoying." One of the Dragons, that Akane could now guess was Nabiki commented as Kasumi began petting her. Though Akane was still at a loss on how to tell the two apart. Ranma made the mistake of snickering and was quickly caught by Kasumi, who attempted to hold both of the two meter long Dragons in her lap.
"And this would be worse." Ranma added as both Dragons squirmed from Kasumi's grasp to escape to Akane's side of the table.
"Hey, don't use me as a shield." She protested, catching Genma coming into the room wearing his usual gi.
"Alright boy, you're getting pudgy." Genma grabbed the Dragon on her left by the back of the neck and the tail. "Training time."
"Wait I'm not Ranma!" The Dragon protested to no avail as it was thrown into the koi pond.
"I know what my own son looks like." Genma nodded to himself. "Oh wait, you're Ranma."
"I'm Nabiki!" The Dragon soon joined the other in the pond.
"Well I was sure to get the right one now." Genma began to laugh, only to stop suddenly.
Akane shifted herself to the side to see past Genma's form to see both Dragons sitting in the water in similar poses, the small light emitting spots along their heads, necks, and forearms glowing brightly. 'Not my problem.' She quickly slid out of the line of fire in time to miss the explosion.
X x x x x x
"I'm leaving." Akane told Kasumi while grabbing her bento from the kitchen. She was going to be late due to Nabiki and Ranma being annoying.
"I thought you were already gone." Kasumi answered, demurely placing a hand on her right cheek.
"No." Shrugging off the oddity, she slipped on her shoes and ran from the home towards school.
As she was going down the road, she came up behind twin girls in Furinkan uniforms. For some reason they seemed really familiar. Turning her head as she passed, Akane tripped, and fell on her face. "Ack!" Cringing in pain, she clutched at her nose.
"Oh dear, it looks like Akane fell." A voice perfectly matching her own, commented.
"That's very true, Akane did fall." A second one added a half beat later.
Hastily getting to her feet, Akane stared at her two twins, each one with an amused smirk on their face. Many questions were running through her mind but the biggest one to stand out was who these two were?
"Don't hurt yourself thinking." The Akane on the left laughed.
"That does seem to be a bit of a problem with her." The right one joined in.
"Wait a minute." She narrowed her eyes as things began to click into place; Kasumi thinking that she had already left as well as the superior look in her clone's eyes and that dismissive tone.
"Ooh, she may have got it." The right one clapped her hands.
"I don't know which one of you is which." She made a big show of rolling up sleeves that didn't exist. "But what I do know is that Ranma is being perverted, and I need to knock the stupid out of my sister's head before she's as infected with it as Ranma."
"It seems we hit a nerve Akane."
"That we did Akane."
"GAH!" She screamed and tried to hit the closest twin who dodged out of the way, and the two took off down the road towards the school. "Come back here!" She called out, charging after them.
X x x x x x
Kuno Tatewaki stood in the gate into Furinkan waiting for his one true love to arrive. He did not accept that she had been defeated by anyone else. That fluke the other day was obviously caused by the foul magic of that Dragon who had begun to defile his place of learning with it's presence. Even the mercenary Nabiki had been caught in his spell, being turned into a small child.
He was musing about that development to the point where he almost missed his two loves running towards him, laughing and giggling with the obvious intent on jumping into his waiting embrace. "Two loves?" He questioned and rubbed his eyes just to be sure he wasn't seeing things. Then an even more incredible thing happened, a third Akane appeared behind the other two.
Grabbing a nearby student by his shirt and forcibly bring him up to his face, Kuno looked between the three Akanes before turning to the student. "Am I seeing things?"
"Then what am I seeing?"
"Thank you." He released the student. "Hold!" He yelled running up to the three girls.
X x x x x x
Nabiki was enjoying herself, Akane wasn't fast enough to catch them, and she wasn't even close to being out of breath. Just another advantage to being a Dragon, she reasoned. Of course if she wasn't a Dragon she probably wouldn't have been able to disguise herself as Akane without a great deal of magical training. So what if she was basically a big lizard now? She didn't want to go back to being just a human anymore, not if it meant giving up this kind of instant power.
She almost didn't notice Kuno, but was forced to because Ranma grabbed the back of her uniform to stop her from running into him. This momentary distraction allowed the real Akane to catch up and hit her over the head with enough force to knock her to the ground before Ranma joined her a second later.
"You two idiots! Stop looking like me right now!" Akane simmered briefly before Kuno gathered her up in a hug.
"That fire! That spirit! This must be the real one!" The kendo garbed teen yelled happily. Kuno's declaration was followed by a violent end when Akane hit him hard enough to send him flying up to the top of the school.
(I think we should change back.) She low speaked to Ranma and used the disguise spell to change back into her human body. Watching Akane huff and puff while glaring at the direction she had just knocked Nabiki's classmate, she really didn't want to be on the receiving end of that anger.
(Good idea.) Ranma nodded but took the same form Nabiki had just taken.
"What's the big idea?" She demanded.
"Why did you take my body?" Ranma countered.
"Your body? That's my body!" Nabiki got right into Ranma's face.
"Oh don't worry." Akane butted in, placing a hand on both of their shoulders. Nabiki slowly turned her head to look at Akane's smiling face at the same time Ranma did. "I think you both have this coming."
X x x x x x
Sitting under his usual tree to eat lunch, Ranma cast a simple reflective spell, and frowned at the human face that was shown. He liked blue, but the black really didn't work on top of human skin tone. 'It was just a joke.' He dispelled the mirror to start eating his food. 'Stupid violent tomboy.'
Starting to dig into the meal prepared by Two, he paused when a magical mirror was summoned in front of him again. "Nabiki." He rolled his eyes. "Do you know what a real Dragon has?"
"What?" The other Dragon asked sitting down with her own lunch. Nabiki was also showing signs of violence but was disguised as a human her original age.
"Style." He answered. "Throwing around any spell that you see is tacky."
"I'll keep your advice under advisement." Nabiki replied without taking him serious, preferring to reach up and touch her bruised cheek and wince. "Akane can hit hard."
"You have a gorilla for a sister." He added. Normal humans weren't able to hurt a Dragon, even newly hatched Dragons were impervious to most physical attacks because their bodies were naturally armored, unlike the delicate and fragile flesh of humanoids.
"No argument there. So why is it that you agreed to turn into a girl? I thought you hated it?"
"Hmm?" He glanced over to the new Dragon with his chopsticks hanging from his mouth. "No, it was turning into a human I didn't like."
"Oh? So do you randomly turn into a girl whenever you－ feel the need?"
"Feel what need?" He asked, not understanding her implication.
"Nevermind." Nabiki didn't explain her strange wording. Shrugging and assuming that it was some strange human thing that the new Dragon was still clinging to, he went back to eating his lunch. "Ne, Ranma, am I seeing things?"
"Hmm?" Ranma looked up from his foods to look across the school yard to where Nabiki was looking. It was a troll boy, taller than the humans around him staring with confusion at a large piece of paper. Like all trolls his skin was green, his ears were pointed, and he was more muscular with a bulkier build. A massive traveling pack was strapped to his back that was actually bigger than him. "Oh crap."
"What do you mean 'oh crap?'" Nabiki asked.
"Just hope he doesn't look over here."
"Too late." The other Dragon sing songed.
"Ra'ma!" The green teen yelled and charged towards him.
Ranma cursed before dropping his lunch and getting to his feet. "Earth wall!" He shot both of his hands forward and the ground exploded upwards directly in front of the troll making him run face first into it. There was a brief pause before a fist broke through the wall, the other followed a moment later, before it was shattered by the troll pushing both hands out to the side.
"HA!" The troll smirked, using the Jade language of Basic. "I knew it was you, even if you are hiding as a kid."
"Why don't you just leave me alone?" Ranma quickly thought up the next spell he was going to use.
"For making my life a living hell, I will kill you." The troll boy growled, reaching above his head to pull an umbrella off his backpack before shrugging it off.
"Listen Ryoga." Ranma knew that the troll was not the smartest around so maybe he could avoid sparring with him today.
"I'm not going to listen to your tricks anymore Dragon."
Ranma avoided a stab from the blunt end of the umbrella by jumping to the side. 'Ryoga's gotten faster.' He noted. Jumping upwards to avoid a horizontal slash, he cartwheeled over the attack, and briefly placed his hand on the umbrella to place a spell on it that would make it impossibly heavy. Landing, he was about to go on the offensive, expecting that the troll would be distracted, only to catch a green fist to the face that sent him flying backwards into the tree where he had been sitting for lunch.
"Ha ha! Now that I have this I'll finally be able to defeat you." Ryoga boasted, hefting the umbrella. "Dwarven steel."
"How'd an idiot like you afford something like that?" Ranma wasn't all that hurt from the attack, his natural resistance to damage helping to absorb the blow, and a small magical barrier had stopped his impact with the tree. He did have a problem, his magic would be negated by the steel, so he had to rely on his physical abilities.
"Shut up!" Ryoga snapped. "Tell me, do Dragons like their dead sent anywhere? I'd be more than happy to send you back to your mommy as a nice hand bag."
"Oh you're going to pay for that." Ranma altered his human form to be older and cracked his knuckles. As a child, Ryoga had far too much of an advantage just from reach, and with his magic limited to indirect attacks, he needed to compensate.
X x x x x x
"Hey Akane look at this!" Sayuri pointed out the window of the classroom.
"What is it?" She asked, having finished her lunch, she rose from her desk to see what her friend was looking at.
Ranma, in human teenager form, was fighting a green boy a head taller than him, and he seemed to be having a lot of difficulty battling the strange teen. The two were moving quickly around the school yard, Ranma avoiding physical attacks and trying to hit the green boy with various magical attacks, only to have them dissipate harmlessly off an umbrella the other teen was using like a club.
"Wow, looks like someone is finally going to put him in his place." She commented, smiling at the idea of Ranma's ego brought low. "Woah!" She watched as Ranma cast a particularly brightly colored and impressive looking spell that exploded in a shower of blinding bright sparks.
X x x x x x
'Good thing Pop isn't here or he'd be annoying me over how much I've slacked off.' Ranma avoided an attack by Ryoga, the umbrella he was swinging going easily through a tree trunk. 'If he didn't have that stupid umbrella this would be over.' Ryoga was stronger and with his troll heritage was very durable. Ranma's natural armor was completely negated by Ryoga's strength and little of his indirect attacks could do any real damage. He couldn't even cast an amnesia spell due to the direct metal connection.
'He might actually be able to beat me.' He realized, noticing that his ether was running very low. Catching Ryoga in the chin with a side kick, the green boy staggered backwards while clutching his mouth in pain. Grabbing the umbrella, he pulled it back over the teen's fist. Ryoga didn't let go until Ranma had nearly broken his arm.
"Hey!" Ryoga protested the loss of his weapon. Avoiding Ryoga's attempts to grab him, he bounced out of the way until he was standing on top of the wall surrounding the school. The lost troll ground his teeth, the two lower tusks visible over his upper lip, and stared at him in impotent rage.
"I really have no clue how some talking monkey like you got a hold of dwarven steel, but I thank you for it." Ranma taunted, trying to remember if he could actually put such a magic canceling item in magical storage.
"I'll kill you!" Ryoga leapt at him.
"You said that already." Ranma stepped out of the way and used the umbrella to strike Ryoga mid back.
Dropping down back to the school yard, he hid the umbrella behind him, and altered his disguise to look like the human girl he was formerly cursed to become wearing a school dress. Ryoga was actually able to find his way back over the wall. He stopped immediately when he didn't see his opponent, looking around before his eyes found her.
"That disguise won't fool me!" He yelled and attempted to punch her in the face. Taking in a quick breath, she screamed, and closed her eyes tight. She heard Ryoga's feet miss a step and the attack never came. Forcing out some tears, she opened her eyes to see his fist very close to her head.
"Uh－ you're not Ranma?" Ryoga asked her.
"Who's Ranma? Just please don't hurt me." She begged.
"Oh! I'm so sorry." He quickly apologized. "You didn't happen to see a guy with blue hair go running by did you?"
"He went that way." She pointed back over the wall.
"Thank you very much and I'm really sorry about almost hitting you." He jumped back over the wall.
Smirking, Ranma brushed her bangs out of her eyes with a confident flick of her wrist. "Too stupid to be a threat."
X x x x x x
"That bastard!" Ryoga cried out and punched through a large tree trunk. "Not only did he get away but he stole my umbrella!" Rearing back his head he yelled up into the air. "I will kill you Ranma! You stupid Dragon!"
"A Dragon?" An older male voice answered him in Common.
Spinning around rapidly, Ryoga found a human man wearing Jade clothing, and leaning casually against a tree with a traveling pack set to the side. A wide brimmed hat covered the top half of his face. The man's clothing consisted of a vest made of brown reptilian leather over a black shirt. His pants were a set of jeans from Earth realm and hanging from his left hip was a sword.
"Am I back on Jade?" Ryoga asked. The language on Earth realm was sometimes similar to Common but where he usually ended up was just a confusing gibberish with strange runes for lettering.
"No." The man answered slowly. "Earth realm, I believe it's called Canada. But you mentioned a Dragon?"
"Uh ya, this Dragon I have to kill." Gritting his teeth and clenching his fists, Ryoga cursed the mage who had put the spell on him that had ruined his life. "Or I can never find my way home again." Two years he had been stuck with this curse, two years spent wandering aimlessly, unable to find his way even from room to room. Except to find the one that he must defeat.
"My name is Arkis, tell me more because I think we could help each other out."
X x x x x x
"Come on Ranma, spill." Nabiki demanded.
Rolling his eyes, Ranma continued to walk home from school with both Akane and Nabiki continuing to pester him on who Ryoga was. Twirling his recent acquisition, he still couldn't figure out what to do with it considering it was magic dead zone. That meant he needed a physical space to store it in. 'Guess I'll have to start construction of some kind of lair at mom's new house.'
"I'll stop asking if you just explain." Akane added after her sister.
'Tempting.' He was still less than happy over Akane assaulting him earlier. Something that he would have to pay her back for soon enough.
"Well it's like this. A couple years ago the Troll, Ryoga, ended up bumping into me while he's wandering around like the idiot that he is. I notice he has this curse on him and I politely inform him of it. Ever since then he's been randomly showing up and trying to kill me."
"Is that normal?" Akane asked. "Cause I can see that being pretty common."
Ranma stopped in midstep and turned to look at Akane with all the casual disregard he could muster for her welfare. "Hmm."
"What?" The girl asked.
"Nabiki." He looked to the other Dragon, deciding to give her some say in this. "Do you care much about your sister?" The new Dragon gave him a raised eyebrow in response. "I was just thinking that I would try another experiment with the magic from Jusenkyo." Sure Grandfather Exthilion had told him not to do so but the great serpents eyes weren't everywhere.
"That sounds interesting." Nabiki slowly turned to give Akane a similar look to his own. "It would be－ amusing from an outside perspective."
Akane's eyes widened and she took a step away from them. "Now wait a minute."
"Since Two is still here, Akane could become a Wyrm before the magic breaks apart." He suggested.
"And you remember what happened when you did that to me, right?" The blue haired girl asked sarcastically.
Ranma had to take a moment to realize Nabiki's implication before he did come up with the memory of her being able to casually beat him like a drum. Imagining that with Akane's already violent nature, he repressed a shudder. "Perhaps I was being too hasty."
"Oh just shut up." Akane punched him in the arm.
X x x x x x
Four days later
"Saotome Ranma, get back in your seat this instant." The teacher called across the room to him.
"But I have to go use the－."
"You did that five minutes ago and ten minutes before then. Now sit back down and do your work or you will fail this class."
Grumbling something insulting towards the teacher in Draconic, he did as ordered. Taking in and letting out a deep breath, he tentatively raised his right hand up and let it fall down on the computer mouse.
"What's the matter? Is the superior Dragon scared of a little ol computer?" Akane teased from a nearby computer.
"It's broken." He protested, violently shoving the mouse around to get the computer to do something.
"That's because you have to click." A girl next to him giggled good naturedly at his inability.
"Click? What's that going to do?"
"How can you be this terrible with computers?" Akane rolled her eyes at him.
Crossing his arms in irritation, he glared at the monitor, and tried to figure out why these things were so important to humans. The images it did display were boring and he even had trouble noticing what was happening on it. A Dragon's vision wasn't tied to such crude physical means like a lower life forms was.
"Ra'ma! Come out and face me you coward!" A familiar voice cried out in common.
"Hey teach, is a challenge a valid excuse?" He called to the man at his desk.
"Fine go ahead."
"Great!" His chair was knocked over in his haste to get to the window and to jump through it. Changing into his teenage human form, he landed on the grass, and ran towards his incompetent sparring partner who was standing on the concrete in front of the main entrance. "That was quick Ryoga, here I wasn't expecting you for another week at the earliest."
"Where's my umbrella?" The troll growled and pulled back his lip to sneer at him.
"It's in a safe place." He smiled at the other Jade resident, knowing that the Dwarven steel weapon was safely stashed away. "You're in luck though, I do want to fight you today so you may－ if I make some colossal mistake, be able to break that curse you have."
"Oh I will be breaking it today, irregardless of what plans you have."
"Regardless." Ranma pointed out.
"It's not irregardless, it's just regardless."
"I'll say it however I want!" Ryoga yelled and charged at him. Weaving out of the way of a flurry of blows, he struck back with several of his own that Ryoga was able to block. Deflecting a punch to his face, Ranma planted his right heel into Ryoga's stomach, driving the cursed teen back several meters but otherwise doing no damage.
"Hold still!" The Troll growled and attempted to grab him. Knowing that if the other Jade resident got a hold of him it would be trouble, he hopped up into the air backwards to put some distance between them. Ryoga followed and Ranma smirked at the stupid move before punishing the cursed boy. Delivering three quick blows, he sent the Troll plummeting down and into the concrete. Landing lightly a short distance away, he didn't have to wait long before Ryoga was back on his feet like nothing had happened.
"Let's see how you deal with this." Raising up his hands and calling up a small amount of ether, the concrete beneath Ryoga in a circle broke apart into hundreds of pieces before rushing up to pelt the Troll rapidly. Staggering under the assault, Ryoga briefly tried to stand in the torrent before diving out of the way.
Still kneeling on the ground, Ryoga clutched at his face where a shard of concrete had nearly broken his nose. "Still using your cheap magic?"
"I should just give you that umbrella back so you might have a chance. Although if I just keep beating on you maybe you'll learn your place."
"My place? Look at you!"
"Hmm?" Glancing down at himself, his clothes looked good, he was his handsome human self, and he was casually dismissing any threat Ryoga held.
"You act like Dragons are all superior, but you do so wearing a human skin."
"I hardly need to take this form to beat you." He snorted.
"Prove it." A malicious smile spread over Ryoga's face and Ranma decided to wipe it off.
"Fine." He was just starting the spell to revert back to his true form when he noticed someone dropping a presence mask behind him. 'How did I miss that?' As his form shifted, his head slowly turned to see a human just as he struck him in the lower back. Screaming in pain, he collapsed to the ground in dragon form. Trying to regain his feet, his back legs, and tail refused to respond. Turning to look, he saw that they didn't even twitch, and he couldn't feel his body from the legs down.
"Heh, Dragons are all the same." The stranger laughed to himself.
'My back is broken.' Ranma's mouth was open in shock. A Dragon's bones were weak and easily broken during the brief time during a physical transformation.
"You－ what did you do?" Ryoga demanded from the man.
"What? I said I would help you defeat the Dragon." The man answered and brought a hand down to grasp the hilt of a sword. "Now I can finish it off."
"Invera beam!" Ranma shouted and channeled his entire reservoir of ether into frying every last nerve in the man's body. Every ether vent on his body lit up and red beams shot out a second later. The spell never hit because the man drew his sword and blocked, the weapon absorbing the magic intended to kill the human.
"Just like a Dragon, give em a good enough shock and they can't think straight." Twirling his broadsword briefly, he brought it down to point right at Ranma's nose.
"Why?" Ranma asked and shuffled himself backwards with his front legs. He couldn't think straight, his mind only focusing on how his magic was worthless and he was physically crippled.
"Cause you'll be worth a lot of money when I sell your hide." Pulling back his arm, the man prepared to strike. "Now hold still so I can kill you quick. Platinum scales will be enough for me to retire."
"Hey wait, you can't just execute him." Ryoga actually came to his defense, stepping partially between him, and the sword wielding human.
"What are you talking about kid? All I've heard since I met you was how much you wanted to kill this Dragon."
"It's one thing to kill somebody in a fight, but like this?"
"You're kidding right? Like it even matters, it's just a Dragon. If you were in his position he'd probably torture you and leave you to die."
"I have to be the one to beat him or I can't break the curse." Ryoga fully stepped between them.
"Go ahead then." Relaxing his stance, the man gestured towards Ranma with his free hand. "I can wait to clean up, it's not like anyone is going to get in the way."
X x x x x x
Watching the brutal blow to Ranma, Akane was frozen in indecision. She had never seen someone crippled, let alone to then go on to execute them. So she was hesitating in doing her duty as a martial artist and protect the weak. Primarily because she wondered what she could do to two people, one of which could fight Ranma, a Dragon, on equal footing. Ranma didn't look like much help, after attempting a magic spell, he just sat there staring up at the two in a daze.
"Nabiki." She whispered to herself and ran out into the hall to go get her sister. Nabiki was a Dragon now and would be able to use magic, together they should be able to handle this.
X x x x x x
Slowly stepping toward his crippled foe, Ryoga couldn't help but see the horror on the young Dragon's face. He had happily planned this day since he found the one he needed to defeat but now that the moment was staring him in the face, it was becoming impossible to go through with it. Not for the severe consequences that would happen if other Dragons ever found out that he had killed one of their own. He couldn't pin down the exact emotion that was causing this hesitation which was causing him further distress.
"You didn't beat me." Ra'ma finally said to him and he paused. "He did." Glowing blue eyes shifted subtly towards Arkis.
"I can beat you now just fine!" Ryoga grabbed the Dragon's slender neck and hauled him up to hold in the air in front of him.
"I won't fight."
"You have to beat me in a fight. If I don't defend myself, that spell won't ever leave you, and if he kills me you'll wander forever."
"He's right." Ryoga realized, if Ra'ma didn't fight then it wouldn't be considered a defeat, so he wouldn't be able to satisfy the conditions of the curse. As soon as he had recognized that Ra'ma was the one, the curse had locked on to it.
"See that's going to be a problem." Arkis remarked. "I didn't come all this way just to walk away and they aren't going to happy when they hear about your part in this."
'Wander for eternity or be at the mercy of a Dragon court－ I can't decide which would be worse.' A slight buzzing in his head distracted him and he noticed Ra'ma's eyes glow a small amount brighter.
'Ryoga, I normally don't use this spell but if you save me,I won't tell anyone about what you did.' Ra'ma's voice entered into his head.
'Why should I trust you?' He thought, hoping the Dragon would be able to hear him.
'The Brood Queen is my Aunt, and she will find out. You can't get lost enough to get away with killing a possible heir.'
'The Brood Queen!' He had known that Ra'ma might be related to T'mat but he hadn't thought about that causing any repercussions. 'I don't have weapon.' Ryoga knew he was a good fighter but Arkis had apparently killed several full grown dragons and would have a dangerous bag of tricks.
'Unfortunately that umbrella is－ well this can't be good.' Ra'ma looked to Ryoga's right.
"What?" Ryoga asked out loud and turned to see some large black cylinder that would be impacting his face momentarily. "Oh."
X x x x x x
Whistling, Nabiki smirked as Akane's throw of the roller used to flatten the dirt on the baseball field hit the Troll in the face and drove him to the ground. The only reason she had agreed to help Ranma out is that he would owe her big time. 'Like he didn't already.' And Akane's promise to tell the man with the sword that there was another Dragon around that he could go after.
"You interfere?" The man asked with his hand ready to draw his sword. Nabiki had noticed that they weren't speaking Japanese and had used a translation spell so that she could understand him.
"If anyone is going to kill that annoying brat it's going to be me." She boasted.
The human looking man narrowed his eyes at her and pulled his sword halfway out of the scabbard. "Another Dragon?"
"And I just called D'bra!" Akane added.
"What did she say?" The man asked.
"Oh just that we contacted D'bra. Do you know her?" Nabiki asked innocently.
"The Brood Queen's daughter?" The sword was released.
"So you do know her. Yes she is a close relative－." Nabiki paused at noticing the Troll brush off the blow that probably should have caved his head in. "And I think she would be just ecstatic to meet you. She even has a direct portal to our home here."
"You're lying." He sneered.
"Do you really think you have the time to call me on that?"
The man gave no response before he reached a hand into his leather jacket and faded from sight. Nabiki's eyes tried to track the man after casting a Presence Mask but she realized too late how the spell worked as the aura trails around her literally exploded into a kaleidoscope of color. Groaning in pain, she covered up her eyes, and hoped it would pass quickly. (1)
"He's gone right?" Akane asked while looking around.
"No clue, that spell he cast just made me want to go lay down." Focusing on the Troll, Nabiki didn't know how to handle this one. She just lied through her teeth and was able to bluff the man into apparently leaving. "Now how to deal with you?" Continuing with the cool and confident route, she slowly sauntered towards the boy.
"Wait I changed my mind!" The boy said from his sitting position on the ground and holding his hands up in front of him.
"It's a long story and shouldn't you be more worried about getting him some help?"
Nabiki almost asked why again. "Probably."
Akane rushed over to Ranma's downed form and kept a wary eye on the Troll. "Uh－ you－ um－ what should we do? Don't think we can take you do a hospital."
Ranma stared blankly ahead for a moment before he tilted his head up and started to cry. "I want my momma!"
X x x x x x
Stepping through the portal, Debra stepped out on to the grass in her relative's yard, followed shortly by her boyfriend Agen in his human disguise. With a door on the side of the home open she could see that Nod'ka was already here and was cradling Ranma in her lap and the rest of the humans that lived in the home were also in the room. Rushing up into the home, she was happy to see that is wasn't a magical attack.
"Sorry, I had to find Agen." She said, the half dragon already taking a spot next to Ranma and starting to examine him.
"So long as my Son can walk again." Nod'ka answered with a small threat hidden in her voice.
"Aunty, Agen is here to help." Debra answered. "And he will do his best."
"I－ I apologize." The woman bowed her head.
"It's quite alright, lady Nod'ka." Agen reached into his bag and pulled out a potion. "I know you're just worried. Here, drink this." Ranma took a moment to look at the liquid before doing as instructed. Agen waited a moment before putting both of his hands over a spot above Ranma's hips. "This may sting a bit, please hold him still."
Nod'ka gripped Ranma tighter as Agen's hand began to glow and the ghostly image of his unicorn horn appeared on his forehead. Initially Ranma seemed puzzled at the lack of pain but quickly grit his teeth and started to squirm in his mother's grasp. Slowly at first then with increasing frequency, Ranma's back legs and tail started to twitch and as Agen finished casting the spell, Ranma's tail whipped up to smash her boyfriend in the face. Agen was knocked back on to the floor and sat rubbing his cheek.
"You alright?" She asked, knowing that a Dragon's tail was just as dangerous as the mouth.
"Should have seen that coming." He chuckled. "No shapeshifting for the next two days and I would suggest longer."
"We won't have to worry about that." Nod'ka spoke up as she nuzzled her face against Ranma's. "He'll be coming back home to Jade."
"But Nod'ka." Genma protested.
"But nothing!" Nod'ka snapped at her human husband. "I nearly lost my son today, most likely because of the oafish upbringing I've allowed him to have under you."
"I raised him to be a capable of defending himself. It's his ego that gets him into trouble. Guess who he gets that from?" Genma answered.
"You're going to blame this on me?"
"You're the one who filled his head with how special and superior he is."
"He's a Dragon! Of course he's superior!"
"Is that why I'm the one that raised him?"
"You know why I let him come to Earth realm with you."
"Because the last time he was on Jade one of your people nearly killed him!" Genma finished, stunning the people in the room who had not known about Ranma's past.
Debra would have liked to tell the two that perhaps this was a conversation for private but hesitated at the dejected look on her nephews face. Even back on Jade the incident had been kept private. The muscles around Nod'ka's eyes tightened.
"One of HIS people did because they saw you with him." Nod'ka said in a flat voice.
"Stop it." Debra stomped her foot and nearly broke through the floor board. "If you want to discuss this do it like adults, not like squabbling children." She felt like she may have overstepped herself by talking to her Aunt in such a way but Nod'ka's actions seemed to warrant it. "Now, can anyone tell me exactly what happened, and why is there a Troll here?"
X x x x x x
Listening to his parents argue inside the large room next to the entrance of the home, Ranma was lying on the floor because his back was still sore. Debra was interrogating Ryoga while the Tendos appeared to be keeping to themselves. Honestly he didn't care what the others were doing, he just knew that his parents were upset. Upset enough that Genma was actually standing up to Nod'ka and she hadn't even put up a privacy spell.
"You would be homeless if it wasn't for me. When you've actually contributed to my child's welfare you can dictate where he lives." Nod'ka snarled.
"Because throwing money at him is how you raise a kid." Genma replied. "First chance you had, you dropped him on me, and sent him away."
"If I hadn't been so benevolent as to let you into his life he never would have been hurt."
"So that explains why you've only seen him a handful of times since?"
"I don't have the time to spend every waking moment with him."
"No you just have the time to criticize every little thing I do. You show up whenever you feel like it, shower him with a few gifts, and then you vanish."
"How dare you talk to me like that? Listen human, it's obviously been a mistake to let him live like you vermin. He is a Dragon and it's high time that he started living as one."
"You're not taking my son anywhere."
"I would love to see you try to stop me." Nod'ka scoffed and started moving towards the door. "And I want you out of my home. You have an hour to get your things and get out." The final word was punctuated by Nod'ka slamming the door open.
Ranma jerked as if he had been hit in the back again as the sound hit his ears. She was storming out of the room when she caught sight of him. Taking several steps back, he looked between his two parents, trying to sort out what he should do. Torn between his loyalties he simply stood there looking back and forth. As much as he wanted to side with his mother, he had to admit that Genma was right about some things. She did put her job first, leaving him to live with Genma for the majority of his life.
"Ra'ma sweetie, you－ were listening?" Nod'ka knelt down to look him in the eye. "Listen, why don't you get your things, we're going to be going back to Jade."
"You heard her boy, do you want to go back to Jade? So you can be babysat by some wyrm or drake while she spends all day looking at scrolls?" Genma asked.
"I'll－." He paused. "I'll get my things." Ranma couldn't do it, as much as he wanted to side with Genma he had to go back with his mother. He was a Dragon and he never really belonged with his father in the first place.
"I see." Genma's face hardened and Ranma saw elation on his mother's.
He had thought making the choice would make living with it easier but he quickly imagined what it would be like without Genma in his life, and he didn't like what it felt like. "But Pop needs to come." He added.
"We can talk about it later." She answered him hesitantly. "I'm sure you'll be happy to see your friends again."
"The friends that watched?" Ranma asked, remembering quite clearly that the same friends had done nothing to help when an older Dragon had nearly killed him. He couldn't fault them for sticking their necks out for him but that didn't mean they were still his friends.
"That's not exactly fair now is it?" She stood back up. "You were all very young."
"Come on boy, I bet some food will make you feel better." Genma boasted and walked past him.
"Perhaps your father is right, why don't you go have a seat and I'll have Two prepare us something." Nod'ka added.
"Alright." He nodded.
X x x x x x
"Alright just so that I have this straight." Debra paused. "Ranma is the target of your curse and to break it you must defeat him." She was trying to figure out exactly what happened today by asking the Troll boy questions in the living room of Nod'ka's Earth realm home. Several of the human who used to own the property were also there including the new Dragon, Nabiki. Agen was next to her, taking his own careful mental notes of the situation.
"Yes ma'am." The troll answered with a quick nod of his head.
"Alright, and you've had this curse for how long?"
"I think it's been about a year."
"Jade or Earth realm year?"
"There's a difference?"
"Jade realm then." Crossing her arms, Debra actually felt pretty bad for the kid, to be lost for three of Earth's years? She could understand why he would get frustrated. "So you met the criminal Arkis here on Earth?"
"I－ I don't know, it looked like Earth."
"So why did he agree to help you?"
"He－ he said he didn't like Dragons, heard me－ venting over not being able to break the curse."
Keeping herself from visibly showing her displeasure over the obvious attempt at lying to her, she glanced at Akane and Nabiki, the two that had saved Ranma. "What did you see?"
Akane was the one to speak first. "I saw that Arkis guy appear out of nowhere and hit Ranma in the back while he was changing. He goes down and I went to get Nabiki for help. When I got back I saw him." She pointed to the Troll. "Holding Ranma up by the neck. So I threw the nearest heavy object at him. Nabiki then bluffed, saying you were about to show up, and so he left."
She was going to continue but stopped to greet her cousin as he entered into the room with Genma and then Nod'ka. "So what's your part in all this?" She asked him, knowing that he couldn't be some innocent party. "Why was he trying to kill you?"
"I wasn't! I was just trying to defeat him!" Ryoga protested immediately.
"Oh please." This time she rolled her eyes.
"He's right." Ranma spoke up. "That's all he wanted."
"I hardly care what he wanted, his actions nearly cost my son his life, and I will see him punished for it." Nod'ka said while glaring at the Troll.
"Mom, it was my fault, I kept taunting him to get him to fight harder." Ranma explained.
"Be quiet Ra'ma, this is going to be handled by adults." Nod'ka tried to silence her son and Ranma appeared uninterested in causing a fuss.
Ryoga for his part seemed to realize the danger he was currently in and was trying to make himself look very small. Holding her tongue, Debra wondered why Ranma would actually defend Ryoga. Certainly the two weren't friends and there was nothing to be gained for Ranma to protect Ryoga.
"As dangerous as the situation was, it was resolved without any permanent damage, and if Ranma says that Ryoga wasn't trying to truly hurt him, I don't think it's our place to punish the boy for that." Debra was going to have to question Ranma in private to find out why he was really up to. Nod'ka did not look happy about her decision and Debra quickly analyzed how she might stop her Aunt from doing something rash.
"However!" She quickly added. "I think it's prudent that I take him back to his people on Jade, and discuss this matter further."
Nod'ka took a deep breath before speaking. "I am sad that this did not happen on Jade."
"Is there any chance this guy might come back? Arkis I mean." Nabiki asked after Ryoga came close to passing out from the intensity of Nod'ka's gaze.
"I don't think he stayed around long enough to see where you live but there is a chance." She admitted. Arkis was one of the few humanoids stupid enough to try to make hunting dragons into a career. He was also one of the smaller amount who was smart enough to get away with it. "If he does, I would wager he would target either of you for an act of revenge." She glanced between Ranma and Nabiki.
"Oh my baby girl!" Soun cried dramatically and gathered his daughter up in a bone crushing hug. "You'll protect her from this horrible man won't you?" He turned to ask her.
"I'm not a body guard." She scoffed.
"She may stay with me on Jade." Nod'ka offered.
X x x x x x
Nabiki barely noticed Nod'ka's offer before she was nearly crushed by her father again at the idea that she might leave him. Struggling to get her octopus like father off her, she gave up the struggle in her human form, and changed into a Dragon. The change in shape allowed her to slip from his grasp and rush over to use Debra as a shield. As far as she was concerned, Debra was a safe figure. This had the side effect of putting her next to Agen, who smelled so good she had to fight not to drool all over the floor.
"Dad I can't just leave." She protested to cover up how her stomach was growling.
"If it's for your safety you can!" He shouted dramatically. "Although there is her education to think about." He added as an afterthought.
"Ra'ma will have a tutor, I'm sure they can take on a second student." Nod'ka answered.
"But I don't want to go." Nabiki whined as she saw the dots being connected by her father.
"My agency will be working on finding him." Debra turned to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "A month, maybe two at the most, and we should be able to track him down."
"If it's so easy why haven't you done it before?" She asked sarcastically.
"To be honest, Dragons can vanish for years on end, and it can be hard to notice when one of us is killed. Now, we know he's here on Earth somewhere, we can track all the passages to and from Jade that he might use, and I'll be using my agencies connections to make sure he gets brought to justice." Debra answered.
"But－." Sitting down, she let her wings drop lifelessly to her side. "I don't want to go."
X x x x x x
(1) - A presence mask spell disrupts aura trails within an 8 mile radius. Aura trails can almost be read like a book by a Dragon. So for Nabiki to be looking directly at it when it happened was like having all the colors around her suddenly switch positions randomly.