Chapter One: Childhood

"Hurry along now Mika," Ikuko said urgently. Her three-year-old daughter ran ahead of her. "We have to hurry home so that I can change Usagi's diaper." (She is always full of wonder and energy.) Ikuko thought with a smile.

"Okay Momma," Mika said. She ran on ahead, her blond hair whipping in the wind.

"Slow down," Ikuko said. Mika ran on for a second, and then she stopped and looked towards her right.

"Come on boy," Genma said. "You need to put more oomph into your swings. Now once more come at me."

"Alright Pops," Ranma replied. Genma hastened towards his son and he threw a punch. Ranma dodged the punch and the two battled. (He still has a long way to go.) Genma thought. He threw a punch through Ranma's defense. "Concentrate boy." He threw another punch and Ranma dodged it. "Tighten your defenses." He threw another punch; Ranma dodged it, and threw another punch. "That was good boy." He smiled at his son. "Let's take a short breather." He sat down.

"Thanks Pops," Ranma said and he sat down.

"Oh wow," Mika said. She smiled. "That was so cool." Genma and Ranma looked at the blue eyed, blond haired girl. She wore a red blouse and skirt.

"Mika," lectured Ikuko. "That was very rude of you." She looked at Genma and Ranma. "I am sorry Mr. Saotome. My daughter is often very curious." Genma smiled.

"Oh it's alright, Mrs. Tsukino," Genma said. "The boy is learning the Saotome school of Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū."

"Momma?" asked Mika She jumped up and down.

"Yes?" Ikuko asked.

"I want to learn martial arts too," Mika said.

"Oh Mika," Ikuko said. She put her arm on her daughter's head and she looked apprehensive. "I don't think it's a good idea."

"Why not momma?" Mika asked. "I really want to learn martial arts. Please. Pretty please."

"I agree with your mother," Genma said. "Martial arts are a…"

"What is the harm in letting her learn martial arts," interrupted Ranma. Genma looked at his son and then at Mika. (I'll have to lecture the boy later.) Genma thought. (For now what will be the harm in teaching her martial arts. She'll probably get bored real fast.) Genma smirked.

"Sure," Genma said. "I have no problem with teaching Mika martial arts. When do you want to start?"

"Well…" Mika said.

"How about an hour," interrupted Ikuko. Her daughter began to speak up but she held up her hand. "I need to change Usagi's diaper and Mika needs to change to clothes more suited for martial arts."

"Sounds good," Genma said. "See you soon." Mika smiled and ran home. Her mother followed. "Alright boy." He stood up. "That's enough rest. It's time to resume your training."

"Okay," Ranma said.

"All set?" Genma asked. He looked at Mika who now was dressed in a gi. Her mother touched her arm on her shoulder, smiled and sat down. Mika nodded at Genma.

"Yep," Mika said, smiling "I am ready."

"Good," Genma said. "The first step in becoming a martial artist is…"

Genma looked at his son, and at Mika. The two started a spar. (She's not bad.) Genma thought. (I thought for sure that she would have gotten bored by now. She's learning fairly quick.) He watched the spar intently.

"Concentrate boy," yelled Genma. "You need to stay focused." He watched Mika throw a punch at Ranma. He dodged the attack, and he threw his own. Mika ducked under the attack. She smiled and rolled away from another one and kicked. (Wait?) Genma thought. (Is she having fun.) He grinned. Mika's kick made it through Ranma's defenses and he recoiled. He threw a punch and Mika ducked but the attack connected. The two threw more punches at each other.

"That was a pretty good kick," Ranma said, smiling. "You're good."

"You too," Mika replied.

(It has been half a year since she started training.) Genma thought. He watched the two children spar and got lost in thought. (The boy seems to be responding to her presence. In a way, she's helping to keep the boy focused on the art.) Genma's left arm punched his right palm. (That's it.) He smiled. (Mika will help keep the boy focused. Why didn't I think of it sooner?) He walked up to them.

"That's enough for now," Genma said. "Good job. You are both doing well. Let's take a break."

Mika finished eating, jumped off her chair and ran upstairs. Her mother looked at her and shook her head.

"Mika," Ikuko called out. "Where are you going?" She heard her daughter bound back down the stairs and moments later Mika popped her head into the room.

"I'm going to change back into my gi and train some more," Mika excitedly said. Her parents stared at her, and Usagi began to cry. Ikuko walked over to her daughter and picked her up.

"You've been at it for most of the day," Ikuko said. "Isn't it time to take a break?" Mika walked in the room, her hands behind her back. She looked at her mom with innocent eyes.

"But momma," Mika said. "Sensei says that I am almost ready to learn something new. Please may I continue to practice?"

"Kenji," protested Ikuko. "Don't you think our daughter should stay in for the night?"

"Mika," Kenji softly said. "I think you should listen to your mother."

"Please just a little longer," wailed Mika. She grinned a moment later.

"Oh alright," relented Ikuko. "Just two more hours okay?" Mika ran to her mom and gave her a hug.

"Thanks momma," Mika said happily. She ran off towards her room. Ikuko shook her head, smiled and carried Usagi off towards her room. Kenji sipped his tea. A small frown formed on his face. He looked out the window and watched his daughter and neighbors practice their martial arts.

Mika ducked under a punch thrown at her. She beamed and dodged another one. She kicked, and Ranma avoided the attack but he didn't anticipate the left hook. He returned Mika's smile and the two continued to attack, and to dodge each other's attacks.

"That was a good move," Ranma said. "But I'll win this spar."

"Thanks," Mika said. "We'll see." She grinned and she continued to weave through the attacks.

(It's been almost two years since Mika started to learn the Saotome school of Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū.) Genma thought. He watched the two spar. (Neither of them is better than the other.) Mika hurled a punch and struck Ranma in the chest and the five year old landed on his butt. (Interesting.) He smiled. (This time Mika won the match.) He walked over to the two.

"Boy," Genma said critically. "You need to stay focused the entire fight, If you lose your focus at any time you will be defeated." He bent down and helped Ranma up.

"Yes Pop," Ranma said.

"Mika," Genma said. "You sometimes leave your defenses wide open. Your opponent will always be looking to take advantage of your weakness. You always need to make sure that your weaknesses are not exposed. Do you understand?"

"Yes Sensei," Mika replied. Genma nodded. "I think it is about time to teach you two aerial combat."

"Alright," Ranma cheerfully said.

"Awesome," Mika said, with a small grin.

Ikuko looked out the window and saw Genma teach his son and her daughter aerial martial arts. She walked over to the sink and began to clean the dishes.

"Kenji," Ikuko said. "I am worried about Mika."

"Oh? How so?" Kenji asked. He looked at his wife.

"She spends way too much time practicing the art," Ikuko said in a worried tone. As she talked, she continued to wash the dishes. "I worry about her. There are some days when she comes home, bruised, injured, and even once had a broken left arm. Don't you think martial arts are too dangerous for our daughter?"

"I have to admit I feel some trepidation about her love of martial arts," Kenji said, "however she's happy and shouldn't that be our biggest concern?" Ikuko finished cleaning, washed her hands, and dried them. "Besides I've watched her train on occasion and I've never seen Genma hurt her out of malice." Ikuko took a seat next to her husband and put her hand on his knee.

"Maybe so," Ikuko said, "but that is not what I am worried about." She looked outside, saw her daughter fighting in mid-air, and she gasped. "I'm more worried about how she has no friends her age to play with."

"She spars with Ranma," argued Kenji. He sipped his tea.

"I meant girls her age," deflected Ikuko. She looked at her husband.

"Oh," Kenji said. "I am sure that she'll make friends when she starts school."

"I should have never relented," Ikuko softly said. "Almost all of the other neighbors have sent their children to the optional schooling." She stood up and walked to the window. "Our daughter is so obsessive with martial arts. I wonder where she gets it from."

"Honey," Kenji said. "At least she has a focus in her life, something that she cares about." Ikuko looked at her husband.

"How true," Ikuko said. "But I never should have caved in. I still think she would benefit from the optional schooling." Kenji laughed. "What's so funny dear?"

"Just that our daughter is good at the puppy dog eyes," Kenji said. "She worked you over with it during the discussion."

"I know," sighed Ikuko. "My daughter is so manipulative. However, I can't fault her for it. I guess I should be happy if she is happy." Once more, she glanced outside.

"Don't worry," Kenji said. "She will have to attend school when she turns six." Kenji sat upright. He walked to his wife. He put his hand on her shoulder and the two parents watched their daughter practice sparing in midair.

"You'll support me when the time comes?" Ikuko said. Kenji nodded. "Good. I just hope when that stage comes she'll make some more friends."

"I know that she will," Kenji said. Usagi walked into the room.

"Momma," Usagi said. She looked up at her parents. Ikuko looked at her younger daughter and smiled.

"Yes?" Ikuko asked.

"Can you read me a story?" Usagi asked.

"Sure," Ikuko said. She took one last look at Mika and then at Usagi. She walked over to Usagi and held out her hand.

"Mika," Ikuko called out to her six-year-old daughter. "It's time for supper." She watched her daughter's martial arts training for a moment before she stepped in the house. She touched her pregnant belly.

"Just a sec mom," Mika yelled. She dodged a punch.

"I think it's time for a break," Genma said. "Nodoka should have supper ready soon." He looked at his two pupils. (They both have come a long way.) Genma thought. He smirked. (Nevertheless, they still have lot to learn.)

"Alright," Mika said dejectedly. She and Ranma disengaged from their spar. "That was fun."

"Sure was," Ranma said. He bowed before Mika and she returned it.

"Come along boy," Genma said. "It's time to eat. See you in an hour Mika." Mika walked over to her house while the two Saotomes entered their home.

"Mika," Ikuko said. "We have to talk." She ate her food.

"Yes momma," Mika said.

"Classes start next week," Ikuko said forcefully.

"But momma," complained Mika. "I want to keep training in martial arts."

"Now Mika," interrupted Kenji. "You don't have a choice."

"Can't I…" Mika started to say.

"Honey," Ikuko said. "Don't worry. You'll have a fun time, and meet new children. I promise that when you come home you can practice your martial arts."

"But, but," wailed Mika. Small tears formed on her face.

"There will be no discussion," Ikuko said sternly. "You have to attend." Mika gave her parents a puppy dog look. The family ate and after ten minutes, neither of her parents showed any signs of relenting. "Mika. No more of that. If you keep it up I will have to punish you."

"Alright momma," half-sobbed Mika. "I'll go to school." Her father ruffled her hair.

"You'll see," Kenji said. "You'll have a good time."

"Momma," Usagi said. "Can you read a story to me?" Ikuko looked over at her daughter and smiled.

"Sure," Ikuko said. She sat up and walked over to daughter, while Mika finished eating. Mika ran out of the dining room and up to her room.

Mika walked down the stairs and she saw her mother in the kitchen. She smiled and sat down on a chair.

"Good morning," Ikuko said. She smiled and finished cooking. She served her daughter her breakfast, served herself a helping, and took a seat. "How are you doing today?" Mika smiled and began eating.

"I am well," Mika said moments later. "I feel sore but I'll be fine."

"Maybe you should take a break from martial arts today," suggested Ikuko.

"You can't possibly mean that momma," Mika said in shock. (Of course.) Ikuko thought, sighing. (What was I thinking even possibly suggesting such a thing?)

"Momma?" Mika asked. She stared at her mother. (She saw that?) Ikuko thought.

"It's nothing," lied Ikuko.

"Okay," Mika said. She continued to eat her food. A few minutes later, they heard a knock at the door. Mika jumped off her chair, ran to the door, and opened it up. She saw her Sensei and training partner.

"Good morning," chirped Mika.

"Morning," Ranma and Genma said.

"I am almost ready Sensei," Mika said, smiling "I just need to change into my gi."

"Actually Mika," Genma said. "Ranma and I came over earlier this morning. We have to talk about something."

"Please come in," Ikuko said. The four took a seat.

"I plan on taking Ranma on a four year training trip," Genma said. Mika looked at the two. "We'll be leaving in seven days."

"I want to come to," Mika said. Ikuko looked at her daughter.

"Absolutely not," forcefully deflected Ikuko.

"But momma," argued Mika. "I really want to…"

"Your mother is right," interrupted Genma. "However, I can refer you to other martial arts schools in the area. They'll be able to continue training you." He looked at her, smiled, and then looked at his son. "I must say Mika I've been very impressed with how much you've learned in the last three years."

"Thanks Sensei," Mika said.

"Before Ranma and I leave we'll continue to train as usual," Genma said. (And once I get the boy away from her. I can begin to teach him that girls are weak. I have no doubt that Ranma will be able to easily defeat her in four years.) He smirked. Mika ran up to her room.

Mika and her mother stood near the door to the Tsukino household and moments later the two saw Ranma and Genma leave their house. Mika ran up to them.

"Take care," Mika said.

"You too," Ranma said. He raised his arm in the air and smiled, and his backpack shuffled on his back. Mika returned the gesture.

"Keep up the training in martial arts Mika," Genma said. He took a quick look at her and then at his son. "Well it's time to go boy." Genma walked off and Ranma followed.

"Mika," Ikuko said. "Your first day of classes start today. When you come home I'll take you to a dojo."

"Okay," mumbled Mika. "Thanks mom." Tears filled her eyes and she walked back to her home.

Ikuko walked into the Tsukino household with her husband and Usagi. She carried a bundle in her arms.

"Mika should be home soon," Kenji said. "I am sure that she'll be thrilled to learn that she now has a baby brother.

"He's adorable," Usagi proudly said. The family took a seat. After many minutes, they all heard the door open and Mika walked in.

"How was school?" Ikuko asked curiously. She looked at her daughter.

"Okay I guess," Mika said. She saw the bundle in her mother's arms.

"Well Mika come over here and meet your new brother," Kenji said. Mika walked over and saw her brother.

"He's adorable," Mika said. "What's his name?"

"Shingo," replied Ikuko. She held Shingo, and then looked at her oldest daughter. "Mika. Go ahead and get changed. Your father will be taking you to your martial arts practice today." Mika hugged her mom and then her dad.

"Alright," Mika said. She looked at her brother and then walked up to her room.

Genma walked and looked around. (This neighborhood will work for a while.) Genma thought. He saw houses and an occasional dojo far in the distance. People walked on by the two martial artists and each was lost in their daily lives like insects in a gigantic hive. (There are plenty of dojos around.) He smirked and looked at his boy. Several cars drove by in a rush to reach their destination.

"I think this neighborhood will be okay boy," Genma said.

"Alright Pops," Ranma said.

"That house over there is for rent and we'll live here for a couple of months before we move on. I've already enrolled you into school." Genma walked over to small house and he looked it over. "You start classes in two days."

Takumi Kuonji flipped his spatula in the air and finished cooking the okonomiyaki for his customer. He smiled at his daughter Ukyou and then put the food on the plate and handed it to the man.

"Thank you for your purchase," Takumi said happily. The man smiled, walked off, and took a bite of his food. Takumi beamed at his daughter even though she was currently dressed like a young boy. "Did you see how I handled the okonomiyaki Ukyou?"

"Yep," Ukyou replied.

"Good," Takumi said. "The next customer we have I want you to follow through with what I taught you." Ukyou looked at her father and she smiled.

Ranma and Genma walked down the street of their neighborhood and Genma eyed his son with the corner of his eyes. (The boy is coming along nicely.) Genma thought. (I just have to teach him that girls are weak at martial arts.) He wiped his head. (His interest in learning martial arts stabilized but the three years that he trained with Mika has convinced the boy into thinking that girls are actually good at the art.) He looked at his son and sneered. (I'll have to remedy that.) He looked in the distance and he spotted an okonomiyaki cart in the distance. (It's time to put the boy to work. Now we can score free food.) He grinned when he came into view of the chef at the cart.

"How may I help you sir?" asked Takumi. Genma looked at the man and then his daughter. (Are they martial artists?) He spotted the small spatula on Ukyou's back.

"I've noticed that you and your son are martial artists," answered Genma. Takumi nodded. "How about a spar. If my boy wins we'll both win an okonomiyaki for free."

"Wait and what if your son loses?" Takumi asked. Genma looked in shock, but then smirked.

"If he loses we'll pay double the price for the okonomiyaki," Genma said.

"We have a deal," accepted Takumi. Genma and Takumi shook hands. "Ukyou are you ready?'

"Yep," Ukyou said. She stood up and faced Ranma. She bowed and Ranma returned it. Ukyou unsheathed her spatula and she ran towards him. She swung and Ranma ducked under it. She swung again, and Ranma dodged the attack. He threw a punch and knocked Ukyou into the ground. Genma smiled and Takumi groaned.

"Well it looks like my son won," Genma said.

"Damn," muttered Takumi. He fired up his stove and began to cook. "By the way my name's Takumi Kuonji." He pointed at Ukyou. "My child Ukyou."

"I am Genma Saotome," Genma said. He pointed at Ranma. "My son Ranma."

Ranma and Ukyou sat next to each other and the two munched on the okonomiyaki. Ranma looked at Ukyou and smiled.

"You're not half bad," Ranma said. "You're the first boy that I've fought that is around my age. (Ranma thinks that I am a boy?) Ukyou thought. She stared at him. (I see no reason to tell him otherwise.)

"Have you fought anyone else around our age?" Ukyou curiously asked. Ranma continued to eat.

"Uh huh," Ranma said. "A girl our age. Her name is Mika Tsukino. She's really good. Sometimes I miss her but ever since Pops and I have started our training trip I haven't spent much time thinking about her."

"I see," Ukyou said. She nodded and smiled. "Ranma?" Ranma looked at her.

"Yea," Ranma replied.

"Would you like to spar tomorrow?" Ukyou asked. Ranma smiled.

"Sure," Ranma said. He smiled. Genma stood next to Takumi and he smiled. Your daughter isn't half bad at martial arts. Takumi stared at Genma in shock.

"How," Takumi asked, "did you know?"

"Her ki," Genma replied, "gave away her actual gender." He smiled and looked at his son and then he looked at the sky. "Well it was fun but Ranma and I ought to be going now."

"See you," Takumi said.

"Back again?" Takumi asked the next day. Genma put his hand on Ranma's shoulder.

"Ranma wanted to spar again. Are you all right with the same arrangement as yesterday?" Genma asked slyly. (The nerve of Saotome.) Takumi thought. (Ukyou will win this time and we'll see who has the last laugh.)

"We have a deal," Takumi said.

Takumi handed Ranma and Ukyou each an okonomiyaki and the two walked off. He began to cook another one for Genma. (Damn Saotome.) Takumi thought. (I sure hope Ukyou wins tomorrow. She has lost twice now) He flipped his spatula in the air. (Why do I get the feeling that Genma is using this to get free food?)

Ukyou looked at Ranma with her eyes as the pigtailed martial artist munched on his food. (I hate you Ranma.) Ukyou thought. (I'll make you pay for humiliating me.) She looked at Ranma and she finished eating.

"So how long have you and your father been on your training trip?" Ukyou asked.

"Almost half a year," slowly replied Ranma. He scratched his head. "I think. It's all a blur to be honest."

"I see," Ukyou said. "How long do you two plan on staying in this neighborhood?"

"Hmm," Ranma said. "I really don't know." He smiled at Ukyou and stood up. "Want to spar?" Ukyou looked at him.

"Um sure," Ukyou said. She stood up. (Here is my chance.) Ukyou thought. (I'll beat you this time Ran-chan.)

Takumi stood next to Genma and he watched the two children eat the free okonomiyaki. (Damn. I've been swindled out of a weeks' worth of food.) He looked at Genma and then at the two children. (Huh wait?) He smiled. (Why didn't I think of this sooner? Ranma and Ukyou can marry when they are older.)

"Saotome," Takumi said coyly.

"Huh?" Genma asked. Takumi put his hand on Genma's shoulders.

"What do you think of engaging Ranma and Ukyou?" Genma looked back at his friend.

"Well um," stuttered Genma. "I've already engaged Ranma."

"Oh come on Saotome," argued Takumi. "The two are perfect for each other."

"I don't think…" deflected Genma.

"Of course if they marry the okonomiyaki cart will be the dowry," interrupted Takumi.

"Deal," agreed Genma. He grabbed the cart and took off; as he passed by Ranma, he picked up the boy. In a flash, the two disappeared out of sight and Ukyou and Takumi stood in shock, mouths agape.

"Ukyou," Takumi said. "Where are you going?" His daughter looked at him and he saw anger flash across her face.

"I am going to find them and get revenge," Ukyou said with a glare. "They left me behind and stole our honor." Takumi held his hand in the air.

"I won't ask you to not take revenge against them but stay home and train before you go after them."

"Alright," sighed Ukyou. "But I promise Ranma and Genma will pay for this atrocity."

"Mika," Kenji called out. He walked into the dojo and the smell of new lumber was still lingering. He saw his daughter practice her katas. "Mika?"

"Yes Pop?" Mika said. She stopped her kata and looked at her father.

"We have two guests visiting and they have asked to see you," Kenji said. "Can you please come to the living room?" Mika looked at her father and wiped her forehead.

"Okay," Mika said. She and her father walked to the living room. When the two arrived, they saw two people with spatulas on their backs.

"This is my daughter Mika," Ikuko proudly said.

"Hello Mika," Takumi said, smiling "My name is Takumi." He pointed at Ukyou. "My child Ukyou." Mika nodded.

"Hello," Mika said. Ukyou walked up and scrutinized her.

"I understand that you trained alongside Ranma Saotome," Ukyou asked.

"Yep," Mika said. "Have you seen him recently?" Ukyou nodded.

"Two weeks ago Genma stole my okonomiyaki cart," Takumi said.

"Oh my," Ikuko said. Mika gasped and looked at Takumi.

"No," Mika yelled. "He would never do such a thing."

"Are you calling my father a liar," spat Ukyou. She stared at Mika who glared back at her.

"Now children," Ikuko said. "There is no reason to argue. Mika calm down."

"But mom…" screeched Mika.

"Mika," interrupted Kenji. "Your behavior is unacceptable. You don't treat guests that way. Please apologize to Ukyou or I'll have to ground you for a week." Mika looked at her father and then at Ukyou.

"Ukyou, you also should apologize," Takumi forcefully said. He gave his daughter a stern look.

"Ukyou," Mika said. "I am sorry."

"Mika," Ukyou said. "Sorry."

"Mika," Takumi said. He smiled. "I understand that you're a martial artist. Would you like to spar with Ukyou?" Mika smiled and nodded.

"Sure," Mika said.

"I have to check up on Shingo," Ikuko said. "I'll meet you all in the dojo shortly." She walked upstairs while the others went to the dojo.

"Mom," Usagi said. "I heard yelling. What is going on?"

"Just a minor disagreement between your sister and a guest," explained Ikuko. She walked into Shingo's room.

"I see," Usagi said. She went back into her room.

Mika bowed before Ukyou and she returned it. (I can see the training resemblance.) Ukyou thought. (Mika's waiting for me to make a move. I had better make it a good one.) She dashed towards her opponent, unsheathed her spatula and swung. Mika ducked under the attack, and sidestepped a second attack. Mika threw a punch and squarely struck Ukyou on the shoulder. Mika ducked under another attack and she followed up with a kick that impacted into Ukyou's stomach. Ukyou recoiled backwards.

(Genma has trained her in the art really well.) Takuma thought.

Ukyou swung her weapon at an arc and Mika easily sidestepped it. Ukyou swung again and Mika ducked under it, and another swing struck her in the chest. Mika threw a quick punch that Ukyou easily dodged and then a second stronger punch struck into her left arm. Mika jumped backwards and smiled. She looked at Ukyou.

"You are good," Mika said, smiling.

"Thanks," Ukyou happily said.

"However," Mika said. "It's time to end this spar." Mika grinned and ran towards her opponent.

"We'll see," Ukyou said. She readied her spatula and Mika threw a punch. Ukyou blocked the attack with her spatula but she failed to anticipate a sweep-kick and in a flash Ukyou was on the ground.

"Good match," Mika said. She smiled and helped Ukyou sit up. Mika sat down next to her. Her parents beamed and walked out of the room followed by Takuma.

"Thanks," Ukyou said. "I guess that you now intend to embarrass me like Ranma has already." Mika shook her head.

"I don't know what happened between Ranma and you and I am sorry for getting angry earlier," Mika apologetically said. She looked at Ukyou and shook her head. "As a martial artist I always try and improve myself. My new Sensei taught me a martial artist should never embarrass her opponent."

"Every day that I fought Ranma I was always embarrassed," Ukyou said. She looked down at the dojo. "Ranma's father arranged to get free okonomiyaki once a day and each day I would lose. A week later the two ran off with the okonomiyaki cart."

"I am sorry to hear that," Mika said. She observed Ukyou. (Wait?) Mika thought. (Ukyou didn't move like the other boys I've fought in class. Is Ukyou a girl?) "Ukyou? Are you a girl?"

"Well um," stuttered Ukyou.

"It's alright," Mika said. She smiled and grabbed her hand. "I am a girl and I don't let that stop me from practicing martial arts. Would you like to be friends?"

"I would like that," Ukyou said, grinning

Seven-year-old Mika sat alone at a table and ate her lunch. A black-haired girl walked over to her and took a seat. She beamed.

"I notice that you eat alone," the girl said.

"Everyone is afraid of me," Mika said dejectedly. She looked at the girl. "They know I practice martial arts and that scares them. I've gotten used to eating alone."

"I think that's cool that you like martial arts," the girl said. She smiled and held out her hand. Mika accepted it and the two shook hands. "My name's Etsu Kojima."

"Mika Tsukino," Mika said. "What do you like to do?"

"I like learning," Etsu said. "I spend my time examining new things." Mika smiled.

"Are you a new around here?" Mika curiously asked.

"Yea," Etsu said, nodding "My family moved from Ōta Ward a week ago."

"I hope you like the Minato Ward," Mika said. Etsu smiled.

"Thanks," Etsu said. The two ate their lunch and talked. "Oh looks like it is almost time for classes again. I am glad to make friends with you Mika."

"Me too," Mika happily said. The two girls cleaned up and walked back to their classes.

"Alright students," Sensei Endo said. "Class is dismissed, however I want you all to stay and watch Mika Tsukino challenge me for the black belt of this school." He smiled and Mika walked over. "Are you ready?"

"Yes Endo-sensei," Mika said. Her sensei bowed and she returned it.

"He can't seriously be suggesting that my daughter spar with him," Ikuko said outraged. She attempted to walk over to her daughter but she felt an arm grasp her. "Hey."

"Mrs. Tsukino," Mr. Oota said. Ikuko looked at him. "This is a spar between your daughter and Endo-sensei. Please don't interrupt."

"Sadao-san my daughter she'll be hurt," Ikuko said. Sadao shook his head.

"I have the fullest confidence in Mika and you should too," Mr. Oota said. "She's really good." He smiled and let go of her. "And this is a test to see how far she's come."

"Alright," Ikuko said. She looked at her daughter as she bowed.

(This is it.) Mika thought. She smiled and got into her usual fighting stance. (I am ready.) She sized her opponent up.

(Mika must be waiting until I make a move.) Sensei Endo thought. (Her last sensei taught her well. She'll study my tactic and use it against me. Well here goes nothing.) He swiftly ran towards Mika and threw a punch. Mika ducked under it and rolled out of the way of a second attack. He aimed a low kick and Mika swiftly jumped over it, landed, and she threw a fast punch followed by a slower punch that struck Endo in the shoulders. (Incredible.)

"Very well done," Sensei Endo proudly said.

"Thanks Sensei," Mika said. She ducked under an attack, Endo threw many more punches and kicks, all of which Mika dodged while all in the meantime she countered with her own attacks. A few minutes went by and Mika kept up this tactic of dodge and counter. (She's just weaving through my attacks. I knew she was good but I didn't expect her to be this good.) Sensei Endo thought. (I occasionally strike her; she just takes the blow and keeps going.)

Mika flipped up in the air, avoided an attack and kicked her opponent. Sensei Endo recoiled from the kick. (Alright.) Mika thought. (I think it is time to end this.) She dashed towards her opponent, sidestepped out of an attack and flipped upwards but Endo punched her squarely in her right shoulder and several bones snapped. She flinched from the pain and rolled out of the way from another punch, jumped in the air and unleashed several powerful left punches that struck Endo in the chest. The burly man fell into the ground and a moment later fell unconscious.

Mr. Oota ran up to the unconscious Endo and then he held up Mika's left hand. He smiled.

"Mika has won the match," Mr. Oota called. "Congratulations. Okay you are all dismissed." The students began to leave and Ikuko ran up to her daughter and hugged her much to her embarrassment.

"Mom," Mika said. She hugged her. Ikuko looked her daughter over and a horrified look appeared on her face.

"Oh Mika," Ikuko said worriedly. "Your left arm is bleeding and your right shoulder is broken. I knew you'd get hurt."

"I am alright momma," Mika said. "I can hardly feel the pain and I won the match." She grinned and looked at Mr. Oota.

"Mika," Mr. Oota said. "I'll let you and your mother know when Endo-sensei regains consciousness."

"In the meantime," Ikuko forcefully said. "Mika and I will be at the hospital." Mr. Oota bowed and Mika returned it and followed her mother out of the room

(I should talk to Mika's parents.) Doctor Ikeda thought. She walked out of her office and into the waiting room.

"Mrs. Tsukino," said Doctor Ikeda. "Can I have a word with you and your husband?" Ikuko looked at her, smiled, nodded, and followed her out of the room with her husband in tow.

"Is something wrong," Kenji asked.

"Wait just a moment," Doctor Ikeda said. She entered her office with the two parents. "Take a seat please." Ikuko and Kenji each sat down while the doctor sat at her seat and pulled out several documents. She pressed a button on her computer and an image appeared. "Now I've already treated your daughter's injuries when I discovered something quite interesting."

"And what is that?" Ikuko asked anxiously. She clicked a button and an image of Mika's right shoulder appeared on the screen in the back of the room.

"As you can see that is Mika's broken shoulder approximately two hours ago before we took her into surgery," Doctor Ikeda said, and she clicked her mouse again and another picture appeared. "Now this picture is an hour and a half later, but her injuries have healed immeasurably faster than normal."

"Do you have any idea why?" Kenji asked. He pointed his arm at the picture and he appeared concerned.

"Now I understand that Mika's a martial artist. Correct?" Doctor Ikeda asked. Mika's parents nodded. "Martial artists use their ki to naturally heal injuries faster than ordinary." She clicked her button and showed them an example of Mika's broken arm from the past. "Now a broken arm heals in roughly four to six weeks and additional time for rehabilitation." She clicked another button and another arm appeared. "This is Ranma Saotome's arm. His injury was similar to Mika's arm. They each healed faster than normal but what interests me is that Mika healed slightly faster than Ranma. They each use their ki to heal. Ranma's broken arm healed fully in two and a half weeks while Mika's healed in two weeks."

How long will Mika's shoulder need to fully recover?" Kenji asked.

Doctor Ikeda put her hands on her desk, sighed, and then looked at the two. "I'd guess around four weeks, but it really is hard to guess how fast her ability to heal actually is," Doctor Ikeda objectively said. She stood up, walked over to Ikuko, and grimaced. "Under no circumstances should she be engaged in any physical activity until four weeks pass. At that time I'll see her again." Ikuko shook her head.

"I hope she'll listen," sighed Ikuko. "Mika is a very stubborn girl."

"If needed I'll talk to her," Doctor Ikeda said. Kenji looked at his wife and then the doctor.

"That'd be great," Kenji said.

"Mika," Sensei Endo said. "That was an incredible match." He smiled. "In regards to your performance I hand you this school's black belt and a certificate." He handed the two items to her. "But I am afraid there is some bad news."

"What kind of bad news?" Mika asked worriedly. She looked at him intently.

"In less than half a year you've risen through our ranks and beaten the master of this school. I must say it is very impressive, however I've taught you all I know." He put his arm on her left shoulder. "I am sorry to tell you that you'll have to find another school of martial arts." He smiled. "It is rare that a child your age arises to be this good at martial arts. Mrs. Tsukino you should be proud of your daughter."

"I am," Ikuko said. Mika bowed and he returned it. She walked out of the room followed by her mother.

"Mika," Sensei Endo said. Mika turned around and looked at him. "Don't let your victories go to your head, keep improving yourself."

"I will Endo-sensei," Mika said.

"Good," Sensei Endo proudly said. He smiled. "I know you will." Mika left the room. "Mrs. Tsukino?"

"Yes?" Ikuko replied.

"There is a school nearby," Sensei Endo said. "That trains children ages ten and older and on occasion younger children. I think that school will be ideal for Mika."

"Older children," Ikuko said. "But wouldn't it be dangerous for her?"

"In truth skill in martial arts does not get better with age but with how well an individual practices the art," Sensei Endo said. "Mika spends an incredible amount of time practicing and improving herself." He looked out towards the reception room. "The children may be older but many are no doubt not as experienced as she is, nevertheless at least for the time being she'll have someone closer to her current skill level to spar with."

"Thanks for your advice," Ikuko said. She bowed, he returned it, and she walked out of the room.

"Mika," Ikuko said. "You've been out of the cast for three days now." She looked at her daughter as the two walked to the new dojo. "Are you sure that you are ready to spar against another person?"

"Of course momma," Mika said, smiling. "I am happy to finally be out of that cast."

"Alright," Ikuko said. "Just be careful." She opened the door, mother and daughter walked into the dojo.

"Thanks momma," Mika said, grinning.

"You're welcome," replied Ikuko.

"All right class today we have a new student joining us," Sensei Mori said. "He pointed his hand at Mika, smiled, and looked at his class. "Her name is Mika."

"Hello…" Mika said.

"Sensei," interrupted an older boy. "You can't be serious. She is younger than anyone one of us and she is a girl." He walked over to Mika. "We all know that…"

"Then I challenge you to a match," Mika confidently said. Her opponent laughed, smirked, and then looked at his Sensei.

"Is she really serious?" He asked. Sensei Mori nodded.

"Yes she is Jiro," Sensei Mori said. "Okay take your positions and bow." Mika and Jiro took their spots. They each bowed and the spar started. Jiro ran towards his opponent and threw a punch that Mika easily avoided. He threw a second; Mika jumped over it, sidestepped away from another one, and punched her opponent in the stomach. Jiro flew straight into the ground. He looked at her and then at his Sensei. He scratched his head.

"Huh?" Jiro asked in confusion.

"While I didn't intend this to be a lesson to you all today," lectured Sensei Moro. "But I hoped you learned something anyways." He looked at Mika, Jiro, and then his class. "Take a seat you two. Never judge, and underestimate your opponent based on age, gender, and size. If you do you'll find that your challenger may easily out match you." He walked towards his class. "Now let's begin today's class."

Etsu ate her lunch, and read a book. She drooped back in her chair, and her black hair occasionally covered her eyes. Each time she brushed her hair away and continued to read. A boy with black hair walked over to her followed by a group of boys behind him. His smirk was unnoticed by Etsu, as she was lost in her own little world. Without any warning, the boy grabbed her book and laughed.

"Oh what do we have here?" Koki asked with a smirk. "The nerd is reading a book." His friends laughed. "What a surprise."

"Hey," cried Etsu. "Give it back." He held the book out of her reach. "Koki."

"Oh this?" mocked Koki. "You want your little book back?" Etsu nodded, and the boy threw it and it smacked into a wall and fell onto the floor. "Go and get it." Etsu stood up, but Koki pushed her back down. "I didn't say you could get up." His friends laughed once more.

"Let me go," cried Etsu.

"No," refused Koki. "It's time I teach nerds like you to respect me." He readied a punch but an arm grabbed his arm and held it.

"Leave her alone," Mika forcefully said. She let go of his arm and glared at Koki. All of his friends backed off.

"Mika," Etsu said with a smile. She looked at her friend. "Thanks."

"No problem," Mika said. She looked at Koki, smirked, and helped Etsu up. She stood in-between her friend and her bully. "Now I am warning you. Leave my friend be or else."

"Or else what?" Koki asked. "You are just a girl. You can't hurt me."

"I am a martial artist and I will protect my friend, myself, and those unable to protect themselves," Mika said. She waved her hand. "Now back off."

"She really is a martial artist," Koki's friend said. "Let's leave them alone."

"She's just bluffing," Koki unworriedly said. "We'll see who is stronger." He threw a punch; Mika sidestepped it, and threw a punch that struck Koki's left arm. His arm snapped and broke. He fell onto the ground, and passed out.

"Let's go," huffed Mika. She followed her friend, who picked up her book.

"Um right," Etsu said, smiling. "Thanks Mika." She looked behind her and saw Koki unconscious on the floor and the whole room looking at him.

"No problem," Mika said.

"Now Mrs. Tsukino," Principal Tamura said. "Your nine-year old daughter knocked out a boy, and broke his arm on school property." He waved his arm. "I have no choice but to suspend her for a week."

"I'll lecture her tonight about it," Ikuko said. She looked outside and then at the principal.

"Be sure that you do," Principal Tamura said. "The next time I'll have to punish her more severely." A door opened up and in walked Secretary Ando. "Why did you interrupt my meeting?"

"I am sorry sir," Secretary Ando apologetically said. She walked over to the principal and handed him several documents. "One of our teachers and several students reported that Mika didn't start the fight. Koki was bullying her friend and he even attempted to strike them. Mika was acting in self-defense." Principal Tamura glanced over them, smiled, and looked at his secretary.

"Thanks," Principal Tamura said. "You're excused." He waved her out.

"Yes sir," Secretary Ando said. She left the room, and Principal Tamura looked at the documents.

"Mrs. Tsukino," Principal Tamura finally said. "I am sorry."

"Huh?" Ikuko asked.

"It's clear," Principal Tamura said, "that Mika was acting in self-defense." He looked at Ikuko, smiled, and stood up. "I understand that she's a martial artist?" Ikuko nodded, paused, and glanced outside. "I'd clearly be sending the wrong message if I suspended her. Martial artists believe in protecting those who are unable to."

"Thanks," Ikuko said. "I feel relieved that she didn't start the fight." She glanced outside and saw several children playing.

"I promise the school will handle the situation and Koki will be punished for his actions," Principal Tamura said. He sat back down. "Now if you'll excuse me I have another parent to talk to." Ikuko nodded, bowed, and left the room.

Ten-year old Ranma walked into the dojo followed by his father. They saw Mika in the middle of a kata. Mika sensed their approach, stopped her kata, smiled, turned and faced them. She bowed.

"Hello Ranma, Sensei," Mika said.

"Hello," Ranma said, smiling.

"I am glad that you still train Mika," Genma said. (Now I will show her why martial arts are not for girls.) Genma thought. He walked over to her. (Once Ranma defeats her then I will convince her, that training will be a lost cause.) "It has been over four years since you two have spared. I think it would be an excellent opportunity to test your skills."

"Alright," Mika said.

"Sounds good to me," agreed Ranma. They bowed once in position and the spar began.

(They've been at it for over half an hour.) Genma thought. (Mika wasn't supposed to be this good. Have I underestimated her?) He watched the two spar. Ranma rolled out the way of a kick, and threw a punch. Mika jumped over it and the two continued to weave in and out of each other's attacks. (No it can't be?) Genma thought on. (There is no way she can be this good.)

Mika threw a punch, and it struck Ranma in the stomach and the young boy struck the ground and unconsciousness overtook him. Mika walked over to him and sat down.

(Damn it.) Genma thought as he left the dojo. (How could my son lose the fight?) He walked and he angrily snapped a branch outside. (Someway somehow, I will make sure that Ranma will beat her.) He pulled out the Nekoken manual and began to read it. (Okay so I need to dig a pit and acquire several dozen cats.)

"Boy," Genma said. "I am highly disappointed in you." Genma looked at his son and glared at him.

"What's wrong Pop?" Ranma curiously asked and looked up from his bed. He looked at his father and for the first time felt a chill run down his back. (Am I cold?) Ranma thought. (What is going on?)

"We spent four years on the road and a total of eight years training in martial arts," Genma angrily said. He walked up to Ranma. "I taught you that girls are weak." He grabbed Ranma's head and dragged the young martial artist to the window in the room. "Now look boy." Genma and Ranma looked out the window and saw the Tsukino house. "What do you see?"

"Um Mika's house," Ranma tentatively answered. He struggled to break free.

"No boy," roared Genma. He released his son and punched him in the head and Ranma sprawled onto the ground. "Listen boy. That is where a girl lives. The only things girls and woman are for is breeding, cooking, cleaning, and raising children." He grabbed Ranma and picked the boy up. He held is hand firmly on the pigtailed martial artist and forced him to look at the neighbor's house. "You lost to a girl Ranma." He held his grip tighter and his voice grew louder. "A girl and that is unacceptable." He let Ranma go and the boy fell to the floor. "Oh the dishonor you brought to the Saotome family." He grabbed his child by the face and forced him to look him in the eye. "Now Ranma what are you?" Are you a weak silly little girl or are you a boy?"

"A boy Pop," whispered Ranma.

"What?" Genma asked. "Speak louder like a man. I can't hear you boy."

"I am a man," shouted Ranma. Genma picked Ranma up, slung him on his shoulder, and he walked out of the room.

"Good," Genma said. "That's the attitude I want to hear."

"Where are you taking me Pop?" Ranma asked. His head bobbed up and down as Genma carried him down the stairs.

"Ha Ha Ha," laughed Genma. "You'll see boy. I have arranged a special training regime for you." Genma opened a door and walked outside. The wind blew across the two martial artists faces'. "In two months you'll re-challenge Mika and finally put little Miss Princess in her place." He threw Ranma down. "And when she loses the match we'll educate her that martial arts is a man's world." Ranma sat up and saw a pit. He stood up, looked down, and saw pitch darkness, and countless numbers of eyes stared up at him.

"What is this pit for?" Ranma asked. He backed up a step when he saw the infinite eyes blink at him.

"That pit is your training boy," easily explained Genma. He grabbed Ranma and tied him up with rope and the black-haired martial artist struggled. "It is no use Ranma. Save your strength for the pit itself." He turned around grabbed several fish and tied Ranma with them.

"What are you doing Pop," exclaimed Ranma. He felt the slimy fish liquid filter into his skin and through his clothes.

Genma tied more rope onto him and began to lower him into the pit. Ranma saw only darkness as he descended. "Now boy," Genma said. "You'll learn the ultimate martial arts skill. The Nekoken." He continued to lower his son, and grinned. "You should thank me that I've gone out of my way to help you learn a new skill." Ranma's back impacted into the bottom of the pit. He looked around and saw darkness. After what seemed forever, Ranma saw multiple pairs of eyes staring at him.

"Meow," a sound rang out. (Am I surrounded by cats?) Ranma thought. He saw several cats move closer towards him. A cat swung his paw and…

Mika awoke and saw Ranma's face. She sat up, smiled, and looked at him. "Well," Mika said, "we've spared twice now since you've come back and we are still evenly matched. Congratulations on your victory." Ranma scratched the back of his head, and smiled. (I won today.) Ranma thought. He looked at his sparring partner and studied her. (Pops can't be right can he? Mika is not weak. Sure I beat her today but she won yesterday.)

"The two matches were really close," Ranma said. "I had fun."

"So did I," Mika happily said. "Want to do a kata with me?"

"Sure," Ranma said. (Pops can't be right can he? Mika is not weak. Sure, I beat her today but she won yesterday.) He sat up, grabbed Mika's hand, helped her up, and the two began their kata. (Surely Pop must be wrong? Right?). The two's kata turned into a more fluidic moment. (I am so confused now. What is the actual truth?)

Ranma struggled to stand. (It's been eight days since he started the training regimen.) Ranma thought. He held up his left arm in a stretch and the blood from his multiple small wounds ran down his arms.

"Now boy," Genma said. "Come at me with all you have." He charged at his son. "Show me all that you have. After ten minutes in the pit you should be ready to spar again." Genma threw a punch, and Ranma jumped over it. He blocked another attack with his bloodstained arm. Blood dripped off the boy's hands and splatters of blood hit the floor. The force of the attack knocked Ranma back, and the boy regained his balance by shifting his feet. Genma dashed once more, he kicked Ranma, and the young martial artist flew in the air and crashed into the wall with a thud. "No No No." Genma shouted. "You must concentrate always. Your enemy is not going to care if you are bleeding he will come at you with all he has." Ranma stood up, and got into his stance. "Now again. Come at me."

At the kitchen table, Ranma and Genma sat next to each other and ate. Although each plate had a large amount of servings Ranma's food, was noticeably less. The two were eating at such a fast pace that, one could swear that a magician sat in a corner busily casting vanish spells on the food. The two's chopsticks bounded on their own plates and on the other plate stealing food from the other while simultaneously defending their own food.

(Good.) Genma thought. (The boy is responding well to the increasing pressure that I've placed on him these last fifteen days. I've stolen less food tonight then yesterday.) His chopsticks bounded over onto Ranma's plate and stole more food. Ranma glared at his father and continued to protect and steal food whenever he saw an opportunity.

"You are doing better," said Genma. He stood up. "Never forget that your training never stops, not while you sleep, eat, and walk. You must always be on the lookout."

"Okay Pop," Ranma said.

Ranma shook from his pain, blood ran from his multiple wounds. He struggled to stand and his stomach rumbled. (So hungry.) Ranma thought. (I need to eat.) He looked down at the pit of cats and cringed. Genma tied the weakened boy with rope. (I must not pass out even though I feel like shit.)

"Pop," Ranma said. "Can't I eat first?"

"No," Genma replied. "We'll eat after this." He began to tie fish onto his son.

"Please Pop," begged Ranma. "I haven't eaten in two days and it is almost supper. We've been sparing almost nonstop for hours."

"After the Nekoken boy," growled Genma. He tied more rope onto Ranma and began to lower him into the pit.

"Can I have a five minute break first," argued Ranma. "This is the twenty-eighth consecutive day since you've started the Nekoken training. Please."

"No. A martial artist's life is fraught with peril," deflected Genma. Ranma smashed into the ground and he trembled in fear. Many cats surrounded the martial artist.

"Hiss," a cat said. He scratched the young martial artist and a fresh wound on Ranma's left arm bled. More and more cats attacked him and dozens of fresh and new wounds emerged.

"Pop," Ranma weakly said moments later. He looked up. "Please let me out of here."

"You still have five minutes left," Genma shouted. He looked down and grinned. "You'll be fine."

Ranma looked at each cat, and his eyes dimmed. Darkness began to overtake him. He felt dizzy as his life force slowly began to fade from him. (Is this it?) Ranma thought. (Am I dying?) Tears flowed down his face. (No, I mustn't cry.) He thought proudly. (Boys don't cry.) Ranma looked fearfully at the cats, blackness overtook the young martial artist and his head slumped to the side, and his eyes shut.

"Alright Ranma," Genma said. "It has been seven minutes. I'm lifting you up now." He lifted up his son and he saw all the fresh wounds and Ranma's eyes closed.

"Hey boy," Genma said and he touched him. "Wake up. It's time to eat." He shook the deceased boy. "This isn't the time to be playing a joke." Genma looked down at the pit, and then he looked at his son. "No it can't be?" He touched Ranma's neck and felt no pulse. He touched his son and again found no pulse. "He died?" Genma threw the body on the floor. He stared at his dead son for a while. "What a weak son to die to a couple of cats." He finally said. "What a waste." He walked and left the room. "I spent all that time training him and nothing to show for it." He left the house and began to walk. (Now what am I going to do?) Genma thought.

Mika left her school and began to walk home. (I can't wait to come home and spar with Ranma. Maybe I can invite him over to my new class?) Mika thought.

"Hey Mika," Etsu called out. She ran over to her friend. "Want to come over today?" Mika shook her head.

"I already have plans," Mika apologetically said. "Sorry."

"Alright," Etsu said. "How about tomorrow?"

"Sure," Mika happily said. "I'd be delighted." Etsu smiled, put her hand on her friends shoulder.

"See you," Etsu said.

"Bye," Mika said. Etsu smiled at her friend, hugged her. Mika returned the hug and the two departed.

Genma hid behind a tree and watched Mika and her friend talk. (What a weak boy.) Genma thought. (The last eight years have almost been a waste. If I hadn't trained Mika in martial arts all would be lost.)

[But girls are weak.] Another aspect of Genma's mind thought. Genma watched the blond-haired girl's hair sway in the wind. [You are better off finding a real heir.]

(That would mean eight more years of training a new heir.) Genma's mind argued back. He scratched his head. (Nodoka will kill me for sure.) He laid down on the grass.

[That's true.] The other part of Genma's mind thought. [We should just leave town.] Etsu smiled at her friend, hugged her. Mika returned the hug and the two departed.

"La La La," hummed Mika.

(And train who?) Genma thought. (Mika knows martial arts.) He sat up. (It would be a waste to re-train a new heir.)

[Just admit it Saotome.] Argued the other part of Genma's mind. [You are rather fond of the girl despite all the times you tried to peg her down.] Genma grimaced. [She is after all as good as your son possibly better since she is not dead.]

(I will admit to no such thing.) Genma thought. He looked up at the sky. (I am not fond of her but she is good. I will make her an incredibly powerful martial artist.)

[Then it is settled.] Fired back the other part of Genma's mind. [I'd rather have an heir and martial artist who is a girl then none at all.] He stood up.

(Agreed.) Genma thought to himself in total agreement. (An heir is much more desirable than no heir.) Genma walked towards Mika.

"Hey Sensei," Mika said when she saw him. She saw Genma's glazed look and a cold shiver went down her back. (Why is he acting all weird like?) Mika thought. She backed up a step and Genma walked closer.

"Mika," Genma coldly said. "I've decided to take you on a martial arts training trip."

"I can't go," Mika quickly said. "I have a home here." (I don't like this one bit.) Mika thought. "Where's Ranma?" Genma sneered at her.

"Oh he's around," lied Genma. "Now come along Mika. We are leaving tonight."

"No," Mika worriedly said. She ran.

Ranma's eyes opened and he looked around at the pit. (Am I alive?) Ranma thought. He looked around and saw his own bloody corpse tied with rope and fish. (I'm dead.) He looked around the room, then down at his corpse, and saw his ethereal white hands. (I'll never see this place again. I am now a spirit.)

His soul began to float upwards. (Whoa. What is going on?) Ranma thought. His ethereal form floated upwards and he saw his house, Mika's house, the street, and all the houses. He drifted even higher and eventually he saw Mika on the ground. She was looking up in fear. (Damn Pops. I can't allow him to harm her like he did me.) He floated even higher. (I must find some way to help her.) His body stopped floating, and he flew towards Mika. (Hang on Mika.)

"Please leave me alone," Mika called out. "You are scaring me."

"Now now," Genma replied. "You always wanted to go on a martial arts training trip." He laughed. "Now is your chance."

"I won't go," Mika said. She jumped up, swallowed her fear, and threw a punch. Genma avoided it, and he threw a punch. Mika ducked under it but a fast strike struck her head and the attack knocked her onto the street. Genma ambled towards her and smirked.

"Now the real training begins girl," Genma said, matter-of-factly. (What is going to happen to me?) Mika thought, Genma punched her, and she blacked out. Genma flung her over his shoulder, and walked off.

(No Mika.) Ranma thought. (I have to help her but what can I do?) He flew towards her. (I am dead.) He saw her face. (What can I do?)

{Ranma.} A mysterious voice said inside his head. {You can help Mika Tsukino by entering your spirit into her.}

{Who are you?} Ranma asked the voice.

{I am a guardian spirit. You may call me Queen Serenity.} Queen Serenity said inside his head. {I know you'll find some way to protect her from your father. You just have to believe in yourself. Good luck.}

{I will find a way to protect her.} Ranma told the voice.

{I know.} Queen Serenity voice said inside Ranma's head. Ranma's ethereal form entered Mika and she glowed a soft white.

"Huh?" Genma asked. He looked at Mika's white body and then it stopped. "It must have been my imagination." He dashed onwards with the young girl on his shoulder. (Now to prepare for the training trip.) Genma thought. (We'll be leaving tonight.) He smirked.

(I will protect you Mika.) Ranma thought. (I promise.)