Wow, it's been a while. Sorry folks, but Grad School is not something a writing hobbyist does well in. Either he has to cut writing, or flunk class. To be honest, I'm lucky enough just to get this and another chapter out over the last semester without failing anything . . . and half of one chapter was written in the summer!
Anyways, my muse is finally on the move, working on something that isn't random plot ideas. For some reason, she really fell in love with the Code Geass anime, and has been coming up with 'alternate power' plot bunnies for it. Not sure why, since I don't know enough about the show to write it. Who knows, many I'll write a short preview of one just for kicks later . . .
If you think Ranma is OOC here, I apologize. However, this is just after the last chapter, and he/she is still recovering from the massive ki draining he just went through. He knows that he'd never be able to fight off Nikola's droids for long without some more recovery time. Plus, his presence would endanger his family and his loved ones. Better for him to build his strength then for the Tendo girls to get hurt.
By the new year, I ought to have two to four new chapters out for your viewing pleasure. I have over half of one of them done now, and I just need a bit more research time (after finals, thank you very much.
Sorry for making everyone worry; I'll try and schedule my time better in the future.
Oh, and I currently owe over $50,000 in student loans right now. You want that debt? Go ahead and sue; I own nothing more than the clothes on my back and the computer I'm typing this on. I'm not even sure I own my muse anymore . . . then again, that might be a good thing . . .
Bring it on . . . I dare you . . .
Akane and Nabiki stared at the scene in front of them. For most of the Saotomes' time in Nerima, those stares would have been accompanied by feelings of annoyance, disgust, anger, exasperation, and/or irritation.
This time, the prevailing emotion was a combination of worry and steadily growing sense of terror.
It had been a week since the incident in the forest, and Ranma spent most of it in bed. Any time Ranma was up and about, he stayed off the roofs, and wouldn't even spar with Genma.
That wasn't to say that Akane's training suffered. Instead, the pigtailed young man had her running through dozens of ki and emotional control exercises.
By this point, she could feel the ki flow inside of her, and while she couldn't consciously control it, she knew it wouldn't be long before she was roof hopping with the best of them!
Except now, her sensei was running around his room, shoving clothes and supplies in his bag and acting as if a Cat Talent Contest was setting up on the block!
'He didn't move that fast even when P-chan dropped by, out for blood!' Nabiki reflected . . .
XXX FLASHBACK XXX
"Ranma! Prepare to die!"
The Saotome scion flinched as the wall behind him exploded, revealing the eternally lost boy. Stumbling, he rolled into a handspring, wincing as his muscles protested.
"Damn you! Not only have I seen Hell because of you, now Akane hates me! Die, you bastard!"
Ranma gritted his teeth as he rolled into the koi pond, attempting to splash Ryouga while he was at it. His opponent ducked, and then launched a Shi Shi Hokudan at her, forcing her to abandon her position. Her landing, however, caused her legs to collapse under her, making her cry out in pain and frustration.
Ryouga grinned and raised his umbrella up over his head, ready to crush the small pigtailed girl, when a voice causes him to freeze.
It was not the voice itself that cause him to freeze up, per say. Nor was it the person that it belonged to. It was her tone, icy cold and full of venom, that did the trick.
Akane's most powerful emotion was her anger, making it ideal as a fuel for practicing her ki blasts.
However, it was also a major handicap for her, as a number of people knew how to use it against her. It also made her sloppy, which was something a good martial artist could not afford to be. In order to counter this, Ranma had taught her the Soul of Ice.
Now, instead of a raging inferno, Akane's temper was more like a slow building blizzard. She was still working on making the reaction into instinct, but that was expected. Still, the change was obvious.
First, her battle aura was more controlled, defined even. This kept her from going berserk due to her rage. Instead of blazing up like a fire, it whirled around her like a tornado. Second, her ki mallet, a manifestation of her pure feminine rage, looked less like a wooden hammer and more like a large, Norse weapon, carved out of ice.
Third, the shockwave that was created when she slammed it into Ryouga shook the house behind her!
Ryouga flew from the Tendo Dojo at speeds that even Ranma envied, though she wished that she never had to travel that fast under her fiancé's power. Her follow up shattered the lost boy's battle umbrella, which had been let go on impact.
As soon as the last piece of wood from the umbrella landed on the ground, Akane was thawing, and had immediately slid onto her knees so she could fuss over Ranma, worrying about how Ryouga was picking on her.
On one hand, being mothered like that grated on Ranma's masculine ego, which, while not the size of Tokyo anymore, was still easily bruised.
On the other hand, the sudden role reversal between the Wild Horse and the Eternally Lost Boy was kind of nice . . .
Meanwhile, Genma, Soun, Nabiki, Kasumi, and Nodoka (who had stopped by to visit her manly son and his fiancé) stared in stunned silence. Nabiki, of course, knew that Ranma was severely weakened and why, and Nodoka and Kasumi was willing to listen to her (her father just sobbed while Genma ranted about his weak, girly son).
However, Akane's new form of expressing her raw fury was so awe-aspiring that even the urge to celebrate the union of their schools was wiped from the two idiots minds.
In other words, they feared that if they interrupted this scene, they'd be next.
See, even idiots can be trained!
XXX END FLASHBACK XXX
Suddenly the door behind them slammed open, causing both girls to jump.
Needless to say, Genma had not been happy with his son's 'laziness'. The day after Ranma returned, he had been woken in midair on his way to the pond. Genma followed after, landing right in front of it, a taunt on his lips . . .
Only to find Ranma lying face down in the water, struggling to move.
Needless to say, Akane, who had woken up at the commotion, was very displeased with Uncle Saotome . . .
Very displeased . . .
Genma had contented himself with playing checkers with Soun, and mocking his son every five minutes, especially when he had Akane performing 'Useless Belly Button Gazing.' He immediately left that line of thought after Ryouga's last visit, when he saw the 'Norse God Hammer Strike.'
That wasn't really its name, but Genma wasn't about to get on the wrong side of that!
"BOY!" Genma roared, "What the hell is going on he-"
Nabiki and Akane didn't even blink. One moment, Ranma was rushing around, the next, he was standing right in front of his father, a large stack of yen notes held out in front of him. "Oyaji, trouble the likes of which Happosai has yet to bring is on its way here. Take this money, grab Tendo-san, and go find a couple of bars in Kyoto to frequent, 'cause you sure as hell don't want to be caught up in it!"
Genma could only stare at the large pile of cash in front of him, until the words 'Happosai' and 'trouble' caught up to him. Then, the money vanished, and Genma was already on his way down to grab his drinking partner.
Nabiki jumped when Ranma turned to her, eyes wide in panic, "Nabiki, you need to go over and let Ukyo and Cologne know that they need to keep the crazy levels down to a minimum for the next week. Shampoo and Mousse need to go on vacation or something, and Ukyo should pretend not to even know I exist until I come back and give her the OK. I'd say the same for you two, but somebody needs to keep the kids at Furinkan quiet!"
"Ranma, what's going on?" Akane plead, starting to panic, "Tell me, maybe I can help . . . "
The boy shook his head frantically, "No time, she could be here any moment . . . " Both girls jerked back at this, thinking 'new fiancé' but Ranma continued on, "And if you see this ugly, middle-aged gaijin woman who reminds you of a toad, don't roof-hop, don't rush off, but make sure that she doesn't get a hold of you!"
With that, Ranma grabbed his bag, kissed Akane on the cheek, and leapt out the window.
It had been over a week since then, and things had been pretty busy. To help out with the housework, Saotome Nodoka had come over to stay. She had originally come back over to spend some time with Ranma, but when told of his sudden departure, she immediately decided to stay and help hold down the fort. Kasumi really appreciated the help, as did Akane.
What was really surprising for both of them was when they managed to help Akane make a half decent meal. Both master chefs were rattled after the experience, but as they watched Nabiki bite into one without gagging or going into a coma, they each felt a sense of accomplishment. The Tendo Tomboy blushed at this backhanded praise, and started telling them how Ranma had taught her so many different exercises that were based on helping to increase one's focus.
She even gushed about how Ranma might have some theories about helping her learn how to swim, though he couldn't give her any promises. She couldn't understand what he said after that, but it did have something to do with 'elemental ki', whatever that was.
Ukyo had sworn to keep things normal at her place, but Cologne had some issues on her end. While she took great pride in her strength and skill, as well as that of her tribe, there was definitely something off-putting about Ranma fleeing terrified from one middle-aged woman. Alas, Shampoo was her main moneymaker, and was too prideful to go into hiding. Mousse, however, was easy to take care of.
The frostbite he'd pick up in the freezer might be a different story, but she didn't really care about that.
Nabiki, on the other hand, had been pretty busy herself, and as she shuffled downstairs that Saturday wearing a fluffy pink dressing robe and holding a manila folder, her research was about to show some fruit.
After her second cup of coffee, Nabiki yawned, placed the folder down in front of her, and said, "Gather 'round, I think I may know who has Ranma-kun running scared."
Akane perked up at this immediately, though Nodoka frowned, "I really don't think it's manly of him for running off like that, leaving you here alone . . . "
Nabiki snorted as Kasumi shuffled in from the kitchen, eager to hear the news, "Trust me, this has less to do with him being 'unmanly' and more to do with him not wanting to end up on a dissection table."
This was like ice cold water to the other women in the house, whose stares ranged from outright curiosity (Nodoka), to utter horror (Akane). Nabiki ignored this as she opened the folder.
The picture on the file displayed a pudgy gaijin woman, all in light pink and maroon, smiling at the camera. It was not a pleasant smile, but more of one normally used by sharks looking at Pacific Surfers, showing way too many teeth for comfort. Her blond hair was curly and styled in a frou-frou haircut, which made her look absolutely ridiculous. This, combined with her black eyes that gleamed with some diabolical intelligence displayed by mad scientists everywhere, made her look especially offsetting.
While none of the girls were willing to admit it out loud, the woman's resemblance to a toad in a blond wig was rather clear.
Little did they know that many of the Americans who knew the woman were less inclined to act with such manners; It was a common joke that said woman must be the secret love child of Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, and Doctor Evil.
It would later be followed up that such comments were insults . . . to the frog and pig, at least.
"Doctor Dorothy Ann Nikoka, age 42. Worked as a scientist in a British Paramilitary group known as UNIT. I didn't dig too deep into that, but her public job record states that she has an incessant curiosity that would have marked her as one of the top scientific minds in the world. Her complete lack of morals, on the other hand, has identified her as a loose cannon, and her attitude doesn't earn her any favors. The file says that she was put on probation two weeks before Ranma returned, citing an incident with an outside contract. From her works on biology and physics, I can safely assume that Ranma caught her eye, and she tried to tie him down on her examination table for a little look."
The faces of her audience had turned various shades of white, with an "Oh my!" from an obvious source. Nodoka, however, was a bit more practical.
"Does it say why Ranma-kun is running away from her?"
Nabiki grimaced, "The file doesn't but I got an email from Jones-san that gave me that info. Apparently, my search tripped one of their safeguards, but she managed to cover for me this time. Along with her scolding, she told me that two weeks ago, Nikolai-san stole a few high tech, experimental items from one of their high security vaults and then took off underground. They're having some problems tracking her, but her last known coordinates mark her as heading this way. She knows that Ranma lives in the general area, and plans on trying to capture him to complete a long list of experiments that may not leave him . . . or her, as the case may be, in one piece."
Noticing Akane's stormy look, she added, "She's also not very picky, so if she finds another subject or two . . . well, let's put it this way: as his student, you'd have the physical portion of her interest down." When Akane turned pale, she added, "However, Jones-san believes that she was far more interested in Ranma's Jusenkyo curse than anything else."
Kasumi gasped, "Oh my! Is that why he sent Uncle Genma away and tried to get Cologne to hide Shampoo-san?"
"It's a good bet. Auntie Nodoka, if she comes to the house, introduce yourself as our Aunt, and not as a Saotome. I wouldn't be surprised if she tries to get him through you." Nodoka nodded, palefaced, "Akane, if she comes to you, act natural. I've got the school blackmailed into silence, but all it takes is one rumor for her to find you. If she asks, you don't know a Saotome Ranma. If push comes to shove, point her at the Nekohanten."
"Kasumi," Nabiki then said, with an odd smile on her face, "You may want to go to this address for some reconnaissance, if you get my drift." She then handed her older sister a folded slip of paper. Kasumi opened it and then gasped in surprise. She then took notice of her audience, turned a shade of red that had never before been seen on her face, and then scuttled off, giggling a giggle that reminded both Tendo girls of a small, leather-bound book.
"What was that, Nabiki?" Akane asked.
Nabiki smirked, "Oh, just the only bit of good news I could find online: the address to Doctor Tofu Ono's new clinic!"
Nodoka had to have it explained to her later when Akane suddenly began sputtering and blushing with a shade of red equal to her oldest sister.
It wasn't until next week that Dr. Nikolai appeared at Furinken, waving a photo of a redheaded female Ranma and trying to ask questions about her in bad Japanese. Akane eyed the woman warily.
She honestly didn't look like much. She was definitely not a fighter, and didn't have a bit of ki presence. The Tendo Tomboy couldn't see why Ranma feared the woman so.
At least, that was until Kuno Kodachi stuck her foot in it.
She had chosen that moment to swing in, laughing haughtily, looking for her beloved Ranma-sama. When she saw the blonde gaijin waving the picture of the harridan around, she leapt over to find out what was going on.
The moment she landed, Dr. Nikolai had a small, odd shaped gun trained on her. Kodachi, surprised, tried to dodge, but found that, instead of bullets that could have barely been dodged, the gun fired a blue bolt of electricity, effectively stunning the girl.
Kuno Tatewaki, upon noticing this, charged. Kodachi might have been crazy, but family is family, and nobody messed with his sister!
It was ironic that he was still using the moniker 'The Blue Thunder,' for that is exactly what he was hit with.
By this time, the entire schoolyard was in an uproar, and Dr. Nikolai was barely able to keep from being knocked over in the confusion. Akane managed to use this to slip out and run for home, hoping against hope that nobody noticed.
Later, Nabiki came home to inform the rest of the women that the crazed doctor had fled before the cops could arrive, leaving the two stunned Kunos where they had landed. They'd be OK, though the look in Kodachi's eyes kind of freaked her out.
Nabiki would later go on to say that it looked like Kodachi was 'shocked sane . . . and not happy about it.'
The next day, both Nabiki and Akane came home to find Kasumi quite rattled. Apparently, Dr. Nikolai had shown up sometime that morning.
According to the oldest Tendo sister, the woman's hold on the Japanese language was atrocious, her manners were obscene, and her temperament was even worse than that! Eventually, Kasumi had to 'politely' escort the woman out by threatening to call the cops.
What truly shook the brunette up was the fact that, for a moment, the ugly blonde looked like she was about to go for a stun gun or something almost as dangerous. However, the woman looked uncomfortable enough to just leave on her own powers without retaliating.
As the week continued, Nabiki and her team of schoolyard agents brought in even more news. The afternoon of Kasumi's brush with the disturbing woman, Ukyo had to deal with her. She had to do so the day after as well, and was quickly becoming more and more nervous about it. Konatsu had taken to watching the woman like a hawk, but it was clear that he was unnerved as well.
Later that night, an attack occurred on the Kuno mansion. The attacker left, but only after leaving a nasty burn mark on Kodachi's pet alligator. The girl was livid, and the agent watching the resulting police report reported that the sane look on her face had become even more pronounced.
The next night, Shampoo burst into the Tendo Dojo, panicked and screaming for her Airen to come fight off the aliens. Apparently, floating robotic probes had stormed the Nekohanten that night. Cologne had managed to fight them off, but the property damage that resulted was quite hefty. Furthermore, Mousse had gone missing, and it wasn't because he escaped on his own power.
Cologne was stumped. Shampoo was terrified.
Akane, Nabiki, and Kasumi could only look at each other, sigh in worry, and hope that they'd be able to stand the upcoming storm . . .
It happened that Friday.
One moment, Akane was in class, staring at a math textbook. The next, the windows exploded inwards, sending everyone screaming, including Hinako-sensei.
Floating robotic orbs, kind of like the ones seen on the latest Star Wars movie, moved into the room. Hinako-sensei, looking over the corner of her desk, did the only thing she could do.
She screamed and then tried to sap the energy from the nearest robot.
Not only did it have no effect, but the metallic enemy just turned towards her and zapped her with what looked to be a lot of electricity, leaving the childlike teacher unconscious. It then activated some kind of tractor beam, picking Hinako-sensei up and moving back towards the window.
Akane couldn't just let that happen.
Picking up a desk, she let the Soul of Ice take her over, and then let loose on all of her pent up aggression. She hurled the desk at the robot, knocking it aside.
If the robot had been made with Earth technology, it would have shattered into a million pieces. However, the alien was made with sturdier stuff, and though it did let go of Hinako (whom Akane grabbed and dragged back with her), all it did was ricochet off the wall, into another robot, and then realign itself with Akane.
She barely dodged the first bolt of lightning, and then managed to dodge out of the classroom before the rest of the horde shot at her. Hurling herself down the hall, she barely noted the Droids following her. She passed by her sister's classroom, causing a certain idiot Kuno to stick his head out the door.
She heard him yell something about evil sorcery, and turned her head to try and warn him. What shocked her though was that, with one swing of his bokken, he managed to split one of the droids in two! He posed heroically, crowing his victory . . . only to be shocked by the other three droids that were coming up the hall.
Still, it was the distraction Akane needed. She quickly opened the door to a Janitor's closet and tossed Hinako-sensei in. Then, slamming the door, she bolted towards a window that, many months ago, Ranma had once hurled himself through. Diving into the pool and sinking into the bottom, she glanced up to see a droid looking around for her. After a few minutes, it floated back inside the school, allowing her to head towards the pool ladder and pull herself up out of the pool.
Heading home to change out of her soaking wet uniform, she didn't notice the black, beady eyes staring at her from the other side of the street.
Later that day, Nabiki had come home panicked. The property damage had been enormous at the school, and the school was being looked over by a team of federal inspectors (that she believed had something to do with UNIT). Even worse, while Hinako-sensei had managed to stagger out of the closet she had been locked in, seven students had gone missing: two cheerleaders, a sumo wrestler, three members of the lacrosse team . . . and Kuno Tatewaki.
Little did they know that the next day would only be the calm . . . before the storm.
COMING UP NEXT: The Toad strikes again, this time with disastrous consequences for our heroines. Will Ranma arrive in time to save them from a messy and scientific fate? Will Kodachi truly become one of the saner members of Nerima? Does Kuno even have the ability to bear children anymore?