TAKAHASHI SUBNODE: 4875168940-5014900-7901597-01






Chapter 1

Ranma stared in the mirror as she adjusted her shirt. Buttons still gave her problems but she'd be damned if she gave up her favorite clothes just because it was easier to wear a T-shirt.

Brushing her hair back she gazed at her face and the long scar that ran vertical over her left eye. Looking closer she scowled a bit noticing the color was off on the left eye. She'd complain the next time she was in for a check-up just to keep the doctors on their toes.

Satisfied with her appearance, she turned from the mirror and proceeded to do a simple kata in the middle of her sparse apartment. She lived on the sixth floor across from sgt. Sagura. It had been decided that the best way to acclimate to her new life was to interact with other people in normal everyday life. Since she wasn't ready to go back to the madhouse that was her life in Nerima, Mithril placed her in the same school Sosuke went to. She wasn't certain what reason Mithril had for assigning a bodyguard to Kaname Chidori but figured it wasn't her place to ask since she wouldn't have active duty until she had finished her physical therapy.

Finishing up her kata, Ranma frowned again at what she considered a poor performance. Sure it was heads above what any normal black belt could achieve, but Ranma knew there was no way in hell she'd survive an hour in Nerima with her current level of ability. Still she was improving daily and she was constantly being surprised at how well her limbs responded in just the short few weeks she'd had them.

Noticing the time Ranma sighed and grabbed her bag before opening the door and leaving her apartment.

Crossing the hall the door in front of her opened before she had a chance to knock.

Sosuke nodded to Ranma and pulled his door shut behind him. "I see you are ready to go as well Miss Saotome. Miss Chidori will be waiting for us downstairs."

"What's with the Miss? I told you to just call me Ranma. All right let's go. I really didn't want to go to the beach this weekend but the boss man said it would be good to get out of doors for a change."

They made their way to the elevators and Ranma pushed the down button.

"The Lieutenant Commander is a wise man. Going to the beach allows for recreation as well as potential training."

They got into the elevator and headed for the ground floor.

"Yeah, maybe you have a point. There might be someone I can spar against. I need to keep working on getting back to my previous level."

The elevator doors opened and they nearly bumped into Kanami as she seemed to be heading up.

"Geeze Sosuke, we're going to be late if we don't hurry! What took you so long?"

"My apologies Miss Chidori. I was just making sure Miss Saotome was ready to go before leaving."

Kaname stopped glaring at the poor sergeant and looked Ranma over. Ranma was mildly surprised that the girl didn't even flinch at seeing the raw scar on the red-head's face.

"So you're the girl Sosuke said was coming along. Are you a soldier in Mithril too?"

Ranma scratched the back of her neck nervously. "Not really. Not yet anyway. I'm kind of in training at the moment."

"Oh. Well I'm pleased to meet you. I'm sure we'll get along fine! Come on, we need to hurry if we're going to catch the train on time!" Kaname turned and led the two Mithril agents (one in training) out of the lobby and into the street.

It was a couple hours later that found Ranma sitting on the beach. She was wearing a bikini top with a white blouse unbuttoned over it and a pair of red shorts that reached her mid-thigh. She watched in morbid fascination as Sosuke nearly blew up their belongings with a booby trap to stop burglars. Kaname came and sat next to her after beating on the sergeant with a paper fan. She drew her legs up and rested her head on her knees.

"He didn't even notice." Kaname muttered as she fingered the strap on her new bikini.

"Notice what?" Ranma asked.

"Huh? Ah, nothing. Nevermind." She stammered, "So how long have you known Sosuke?"

Ranma leaned back on her arms and looked over to where Kyoko, Shinji, and Mizuki were putting a blindfold on Sosuke and handing him a bat. It looked like they were getting ready to crack open the watermelon but Sagura was walking the wrong way.

"Not too long, only a few weeks. I just moved into the apartment across from him two days ago. He's an interesting guy but he's too focused. I've seen guys like him who've been in the military too long. They forget how to deal with civilians..."

Anything else Ranma was prepared to say disappeared in a fine red mist as a second watermelon sitting between the two girls was blasted by shotgun fire. Ranma scowled as she wiped sticky juice off her face and picked seeds off her now pink blouse.

Sosuke looked on in outright fear as Kaname quietly and calmly stood up and began walking towards him. Ranma shook her head in wonder. 'It's actually happening to someone else for a change!'

Kaname stalked past Sagura to the groups collected bags when Sosuke said something Ranma couldn't quite make out. She chuckled to herself as Kaname grabbed the baseball bat the sergeant had discarded and made a homerun swing that had Sosuke skipping several times across the water before sinking into the ocean.

Kaname grabbed a shirt and headed for the showers up the beach. Ranma stood up and shook off bits of watermelon before following her to get cleaned up.

After a quick shower Kaname was drying off as she watched Ranma getting dressed nearby. She was jealous at first of Ranma's figure but then realized something was off. It seemed almost like there was some sort of flesh colored harness on her back and strange lines on her arms and legs where they met her shoulder and hips.

Ranma noticed the scrutiny and slipped her shorts on. "Sorry, I can't tell ya. It's classified right now."

Kaname nodded silently as Ranma put on a clean shirt and walked out of the shower room. Standing silently for a few moments in thought she began to get dressed as well. She'd seen enough anime and sci-fi movies over the years to know but she never thought she'd ever see a real android!

Ranma was standing outside waiting for her when she emerged. Looking down the beach she saw their group was goofing off while Shinji was trying to find the last watermelon blindfolded.

"So you wanna head back? You seemed pretty steamed at army boy down there."

Kaname frowned and fingered her bikini top under her shirt. "No thanks." Looking around she smiled, "Let's get some shaved iced. You do eat don't you?"

Ranma tilted her head and looked at Kaname funny. "Of course I eat. Why wouldn't I?"

Kaname laughed nervously. "Oh no reason! I just meant would you like to get something now? My treat!"

Ranma smirked. "A Saotome never says no to free food. Lead the way."

Soon the two girls were seated looking over the concrete water breakers eating their flavored ice confections.

"So how did you get the military nut assigned as your watchdog?" Ranma asked as she finished up the last of her snack.

"Apparently I have hidden knowledge stuck somewhere in my brain and bad people want to get it."

"Oh, you're like Tessa then." Ranma replied.

"The Captain?"

Ranma nodded, "I learned about the Whispereds when I entered the program. In fact Tessa designed most of the parts in my... oops, sorry, classified."

Kaname laughed. "It's ok, I have an idea of what it is anyway. Pretty detailed work, you can't even tell the difference from the real thing."

Ranma scratched her cheek nervously. "You really think so?"

They were interrupted by a shadow falling across their forms.

A bald heavyset Chinese man in a butler's uniform bowed down before Kaname. "Would you care to have some tea miss?" he said.

"Ah no thanks... I'll pass. Sorry could you ask someone else?" Kaname stammered.

Ranma looked the guy over. He was a large man but carried himself like a fighter. She stood up behind Kaname, ready to step in if the guy wouldn't back down.

"No! It has to be you!" the man exclaimed sending a shiver down both girl's spines, "If you don't come then I shall have to commit seppuku in apology to my master!"

"Your master?" Kaname and Ranma said in unison.

"Yes, my master. He would very much like to have tea with you. He lives in that house over there," the man said pointing towards a mansion on the cliff nearby.

Kaname looked at Ranma who just shrugged.

A while later the two were in a large greeting room in the mansion. Kaname was sitting nervously as Ranma wandered around the room looking at all the art and antiques. Ranma whistled in awe at a pricy looking vase she recognized as coming from ancient China.

"I guess it's true what they say, 'the rich really know how to live,'" Kaname chuckled awkwardly.

"Yeah, I've met a few of these guys before though. These rich guys think their god's gift to the world and just cause their rich they can do whatever they want and get whatever they want. Hopefully this one isn't as much of a pervert as the last one." Ranma said with a huff. "This place sure looks familiar..."

Just then the door opened and a younger boy of about thirteen or fourteen came in carrying a tea tray. Ranma turned to look at him and blanched.

"It's you. I knew this place looked familiar." Ranma sighed.

The tray clattered to the floor spilling hot water all over the floor. Ranma glared at the broken teapot as if it were mocking her.

"W-w-what are you doing here?" the boy stammered in shock.

Ranma shrugged, "I came here with Kaname and her friends to the beach. Forgot this was your place to tell the truth."

The boy tried to collect his wits. "Miss Kaname was it? I apologize for my clumsiness. I'll be right back with more tea."

After the boy left Ranma gave a heavy sigh and sat down in a chair across from Kaname.

"You know this guy Ranma?" Kaname asked.

Ranma looked over at the closed door before answering. "Yeah, kind of. Ran into him last summer while training with my Pops. Let's just say he's not as weak and sickly as he'd let you believe. Otherwise he's not a bad kid, just weird."

Kaname wasn't sure how to take that and was busy chewing on the idea that an android could have a father when the boy came back out.

He placed the tea tray on the table between the chairs and began to pour. "I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't introduce myself earlier. My name is Masatami Hyouga."

"I thought it was Yotaro?" Ranma said as she got back up and began to pace restlessly around the room. It was obvious she was already bored.

"Ah my mother's nickname for me. She is no longer with us."

Ranma gulped nervously. "Ah, I'm sorry... I didn't mean anything."

"No need to apologize, she is quite happy touring Europe."

Ranma picked herself up off the floor cursing herself for falling for that old gag.

Yotaro turned back to Kaname with a sparkle in his eyes. "Would you like sugar Miss Kaname?" he asked offering a sugar cube for her tea.

"Oh, please and it's Chidori Kaname." Kaname accepted the cube and stirred her tea.

"Forgive me for being so forward Miss Chidori."

"Oh it's quite all right. My this is good tea!"

'I think I'm gonna be sick,' thought Ranma.

The wall mounted intercom beeped and the face of the butler guy from earlier appeared on the small screen.

"Young Master, we have an unauthorized person at the gate. He's asking to see a Kaname Chidori," the butler spoke. The picture changed to show Sosuke standing at the gates with a grim look on his face.

"Do you know this man Miss Chidori?" Yotaro asked.

Kaname frowned in thought for a second then looked to Ranma who just shrugged as if to say 'don't get me involved', before she spoke. "No, he's just some perverted stalker!"

Ranma face-palmed.

"You heard her, send him away!" Yotaro yelled.

Ranma looked over at Kaname. "Ya want me to go talk to him and tell him you're just having tea?"

Kaname shook her head. "I don't want him to know I'm here."

"You know better than that. I've only known the guy three weeks and know he's the kind of guy who will stop at nothing to fulfill his mission."

"There's no need to worry about that perverted stalker. No ordinary man could get into this mansion," Yotaro boasted.

"Heh, ordinary," Ranma chuckled as she walked out to the balcony overlooking the courtyard.

Kaname smiled nervously at Yotaro as she took another sip of her tea.

A few minutes passed as Kaname and Yotaro made small talk of inconsequential things while Ranma did her best to ignore things while she waited for the inevitable conclusion of the day's events. It didn't take long. The Butler guy came in and bowed in apology.

"Master, an intruder has been detected on the cliff. What would you like us to do?"

Yotaro smiled in anticipation. "Excellent! Samejima! Hyodo!"

Two other forms jumped into room and they all did a pose that made Ranma groan.

"Samejima the cook! Hyodo the gardener! Washio the chauffer! These guys are my bodyguards," Yotaro explained, "The were pros in the French Foreign Legion! So don't you worry Kaname."

Kaname had a sick smile on her face as Yotaro commanded his bodyguards to stop the mercenary sergeant.

"Giving him targets is like throwing meat to a starving dog you know. Where'd you get the power ranger rejects anyway?" Ranma asked as she came back into the room.

Yotaro looked angrily at Ranma. "After dealing with you and your panda, mother decided I needed to be protected."

"Panda?" Kaname gave Ranma a confused look.

"Long story." Anything else Ranma may have said was cut off by the sounds of gunfire and screams of the wounded.

It didn't take more than three minutes for Sosuke to burst into the room, Judo flip the boy who had tried to intercede in front of Kaname, grab the blue haired girl and leap off of the balcony and float back down to the beach with a large ballon. Ranma stood at the railing watching the two argue part of the way down before the feeling of nostalgia became to great and she turned away to keep from getting depressed again. Kaname reminded her a lot of... well it was best not to think about it right now.

"Yo, I'm gonna take off now. Don't let it get to you. Kaname and that guy have a love / hate thing goin' on. It's best to just sit back and watch from the sidelines. Later!"

Ranma left the stunned boy sitting on the floor as she headed out the front door.

'Soon. As soon as I can get these damn limbs to work right I'll fix things Akane. I swear.'

"It was very nice to meet you Ranma. I understand you'll be attending school with us once the break is over?" Kaname said as they walked towards their apartment complexes with Sosuke trailing behind nursing a bump on his head.

Ranma shrugged, "Yeah, Mithril wants me to finish up my high school education before going to active duty. I guess I don't blame them, with as much technology as they use, you damn near need a degree just to shoot a gun."

They stopped at the corner where they would part ways. "Well then, I'll see you around then. We'll have to go hang out and do some girl stuff sometime."

Ranma winced. "Uh, yeah. Girl stuff. Well gotta go. See ya later!" Ranma took off leaving Kaname and Sosuke alone on the street corner.

"Ranma is certainly different. Sometimes it's like talking to a guy you know?" Kaname commented as the girl disappeared into her apartment complex.

Sosuke seemed to become more serious than usual as she spoke up. "Ranma was seriously injured a while ago and she still hasn't completely healed. I can't go into the details but the reports I read said she almost died. Mithril is helping her in exchange for her participation in some tests in the technology department. Anything more I can't tell you since it's classified."

"So she's not an android?"

"What makes you think she was an android?" Sosuke asked.

"Well, she had weird cuts around her arms and legs connected to some sort of harness. I saw her when we were in the shower at the beach."

"I'm sorry that's classified. Besides, Ranma doesn't want anyone to know if she can help it."

"Oh. Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow Sosuke."

"Goodnight Miss Chidori."

Ranma closed the door to her apartment and locked the door behind her. Dealing with people and crowds after her injuries was tiring. Constantly looking over her shoulder to see if Ryouga had stumbled onto her didn't do much for her nerves either.

Shrugging out of her clothes she tossed them into the hamper by the bathroom before going in and filling the furo. The thought of a nice hot bath before bed sounded good right now.

Once the furo was full Ranma gave a mental command and the flesh colored harness came undone in the front across her collar bone, under her breasts, and across her hips. Pulling back, the arms peeled away at the shoulder while the hands gripped Ranma by her waist. Lifting her out of the harness and off of the legs, the whole assembly knelt down and set Ranma slowly in the water of the tub. The harness closed back up, stood and grabbed a bottle of shampoo. The two arms began to lather up Ranma's hair as she relaxed in the hot water.

The scars where her arms and legs used to be were still red and tender but had healed enough for Ranma to no longer be in the hospital. She still couldn't get over the level of technology needed to put together a harness with artificial limbs like the one she was washing her hair with. Tessa had told her it was a Lambda driver built in with micro circuitry and artificial muscles. The system ran off of her ki reserves and barely caused a drain on her. The control chip they put in her head had bothered her at first but she was getting used to it. She was even able to feel limited touch through the silicon neural net built into the skin. It wasn't perfect but it was better than being a human torso in a hospital bed for the rest of her life.

Finishing up her bath, she had the harness pick her up and dry her off. Then she went into the main room and sat herself down on the only chair while her harness set up the futon. Lying down she had the harness turn off the lights then sit down near the head of the bed and go into sleep mode. She soon followed.

Author(s) Rants:

Kinda creepy I know. There's some fetishest out there whose probably jacking off to this right now. I know, why amputate a perfectly good character. Bad enough I stuck Ranma as a girl. I know a lot of you guys hate that. Well so does this Ranma. you're not going to see one of those 'oh well I stuck as girl so I guess I'll start wearing dresses and dating boys tee hee' stories. This is a Ranma, who while she doesn't show it is bitter, cynical, angsty and probably a little crazy. Stuck in the wrong body, having the very thing you treasured most taken away, and not even being able to tell the person you care about what's going on for fear of being attacked and unable to defend yourself. Yeah this Ranma has issues and she doesn't even read comics. This will become more apparent as the story progresses. Especially once the Nerima people start to come back into the picture.