A few things before the story gets started. Common convention is to take the Ranma manga as a single storyline. Time though does not pass between story arcs, and if it did, many things become broken. Such as how there are three new year festivals and Nabiki as well as Tatewaki are still in school. In simpler terms, the manga is a series of one shots that use the same characters. Some chapters don't even require Ranma and Genma ever meet the Tendo's. So for the purposes of this story I have gone through and gutted most of the chapters. To avoid any confusion, these are the changes that were made.
- Ranma timeline is a year after Jusenkyo.
- The first is that there is no Tendo engagement. Soun and Genma know each other and are friends, but Ranma has had minimal interaction with any of the Tendos outside of school.
- Ryoga and Ranma had several fights, losing interest in his rival, and without Akane there was a focus for him to torment Ranma, he more or less gives up his quest, having never learned that it was Ranma who cursed him.
- Without Ranma being volunteered for the rhythmic gymnastics tournament, Shampoo never found him, and Kodachi never gained an interest in him.
- Kuno does not like Ranma, but he only saw the pig tailed girl in passing, without ever getting into a fight.
- Some of the random stand alone chapters occurred.
- Happosai popped in at the Tendo's with different results that'll be dealt with in the story.
- Ukyo was in the process of transferring to Furinkan when Ranma was heading for Gotham. So they never met.
For the Batman Beyond timeline, the story picks up slightly before the beginning of the second season.
X x x x x x
Chapter 1 : Big Game Hunting
X x x x x x
"Don't you know it's dangerous for pretty girls like you to be out all alone?"
Ranma paused mid step, trying to reign in her smirk, and letting her backpack slip from her right shoulder to the ground. Fifteen minutes in Gotham city and she had already found some fun. Turning to face the male voice that had called out to her, she found herself facing a group of four guys dressed in wildly different, and eye catching clown suits.
"How bout you come with us? Show you a good time." The biggest one asked, his face painted with a big bright red smile.
"And if I said no?" Ranma asked as ignorantly as possible, having to raise a hand to cover her mouth to hide a smile.
"Well－ we can do this the fun way, or the fun way for us." A flabby guy shared a laugh with a short skinny one next to him.
"Ya know, I'm sorry I just can't do this. Can I just kick your ass and get it over with?" Dropping all pretense, she shrugged indifferently. The four guys shared confused looks before taking in what she had just said. "It's pretty good you guys are just mindless goons, you're not smart enough to be anything else." She poked at them.
Sidestepping the first clumsy grab at her, she struck the guy in the small of his back, sending him crashing face first into the wall. As the man groaned and slid to the ground, the rest of his joker friends seemed to have second thoughts. Gesturing with her hand for the next attempt, this time it was a punch, which she redirect across the man's body before twisting the elbow, and throwing him to land on the first attacker.
"Who's next?" She asked, glancing back at the two on the ground, and finding them slowly regaining their feet. Her eyes narrowed at a knife that was pulled out from the skinny ones pocket, and flicked open. He paid for it in the next instant, when she painfully wrenched it from his grasp, breaking several fingers in the process. The boy screamed and clutched as his hand when she released him. "Oops, was I too rough?"
"Get her!" The three non broken jokers attempted to jump her at the same time. Dropping down into a crouch, she swept out all three of their legs, causing them to fall clumsily to the ground.
"Boring." Cracking her knuckles, she glanced around at the three boys who were rising back to their feet. Two minutes later, she left the alley humming to herself. "And don't let me catch you doing whatever it was you were trying to do again." She said over her shoulder, earning a four person groan from the pile of boys.
X x x x x x
"Nice place." Ranma whistled, walking across some rocks through a traditional rock garden, the sand was freshly raked, and the few trees were neatly trimmed. The whole place was a two story structure spread out length wise to his position, done in shades of red, with large rectangular windows in the front showing the inside.
Traveling as a foreign exchange student, he would be in Gotham for an entire year, staying with a family called the Tan's. Who, if their houses location was any indication, were rather wealthy. Ringing the doorbell, he adjusted the strap of his pack, waiting patiently for someone to come to the door. Lights were on inside, and they knew that he was coming. He didn't have to wait long before a stout, but tall man, of Asian descent opened the door. Dressed in a collared white shirt, black dress pants, he looked like he had just gotten home from his job.
"You must be Ranma." The man greeted with a big smile, extending a hand to be shook. "I'm Clyde Tan, please come in, I'm sure it's been a long trek." (1)
"Thank you." Ranma shook the hand, and Mr. Tan stepped aside to let him in. Since there didn't seem to be a specific area for it, he removed his shoes to lay next to the door.
"How was the flight over?" Mr. Tan asked.
"Boring, and I had to sit through two really bad movies." He answered bluntly. "But the train was different, I've never been on one like it before." Ranma commented on the vertically running lifts to get people to and from the upper and lower layers of the city.
Gotham was a tiered city, without a restriction on the height of buildings, required transportation not only horizontally but vertically in order to move around the city. The home he would be staying in was actually part of a suburb built on the top of a group of buildings. The suburb was part of a residential block making up a city level. Included in the block was the school he would be attending, Hamilton Hill High School.
"I can see how Gotham will take some getting used to. I'm sure my daughter Dana will help you get up to speed." Clyde looked towards a large black couch facing the door, where a pretty girl his age with black hair and dark eyes was lounging in a pair of orange pajama pants, and a matching camisole top. "Dana get off that thing and at least say hello."
"Just－ a－ second." The girl rapidly typed on her laptop before finishing what she was doing and putting it aside to stand up. "Hi I'm Dana." She greeted.
"Ranma." He answered back.
"Dana, could you show Ranma to his room? I need to check on dinner."
Ranma followed the girl who was about the same height as his female form, up the steps to a walkway that ran along the length of the main room. At the last room she entered, tapping the lightswitch as she did. On the far wall was a large window looking out over the backyard. To the right was a queen sized bed, while to the left was a simple desk. Everything was done in shades of green.
"This is our guest room, sorry if it's kind of barren." Dana said with a shrug.
"More than I've ever had." He gleefully dropped off his pack on the bed, and sat down to bounce on the mattress. "Never slept on a bed before, always a futon."
"I'll show you around school tomorrow, you can meet some of my friends, show you to some of the hang out spots. You don't happen to like dancing do you?"
"I've never danced before." He answered.
"Even if you don't, they have good food and tunes. So what do you like to do in your free time?"
"Usually if I'm not watching the net, I'm practicing my martial arts."
"Oooh, martial arts, you any good?"
"Very." He smirked. "Had to beat up some idiots wearing clown costumes when I first showed up."
"Really? Wow, must have been the Jokers." Dana gave him an impressed but skeptical look.
"Jokers? Some kind of gang?"
"Yes, they're spread all over the city, mostly they just harass people, and steal their money. It's good you weren't hurt."
"Any other bad guys I should know about?" Flipping open the top on his pack, he started to pull out his clothing to arrange them on his bed. Grabbing his computer, he flipped the lid up, and turned it on to check to see if he had any mail.
"I usually try and avoid trouble, but anybody wearing brightly colored clothing, is probably a bad guy."
"Good to know." He had mail from Hiroshi, who once again demanded that he send pictures of any pretty girls he saw. 'I don't even have a camera you twip.' As expected, nothing from his old man, who would learn how to use a computer over his cold dead, panda furred body. Meaning Ranma would have to call to tell his old man.
"Oh, and I hope you brought your swim trunks, we have a heated pool in the back, see." Dana pointed out the window.
"I can't really wear trunks anymore." He said absently.
"Speedo then?" Dana said suggestively.
"Actually it has to do with my water－ thing."
"Oh yea, we were wondering about that. Is it some kind of allergy?"
"You mind if I explain to you and your dad at the same time? It gets annoying explaining it repeatedly."
"You don't have to explain if you don't want to."
"Actually I have to, you'd find out either way." Closing up his computer, he wondered why Furinkan hadn't disclosed the information about his curse. He hadn't exactly been forth coming with it, but then again he didn't think that it would be an issue.
X x x x x x
'Well that was expected.' Ranma was laying on his new bed, staring up at the ceiling. While the Tan's had some misgivings about the origin and nature of his curse, they seemed to grudgingly accept it, and the need for discretion. After a year of living with the curse, he had learned long ago that attempting to hide it from people he was around in day to day life was impossible. That and always dousing himself with hot water attempting to keep it a secret got old fast.
"Hey Ranma." Dana knocked lightly on the door. "Sorry if I was a bit insensitive before."
"You haven't called me a freak or pervert, so you're already ahead of the game." He'd heard that enough from some girl called Akane at his last school when the curse had become known. Personally he thought it was just because he could swim, while she sunk like a stone. Then again, it probably hadn't been a great idea to rub that fact in her face at every opportunity, as well as a myriad of other insults for the foul tempered clumsy girl.
"Well I certainly don't think that, and I'm sure my dad will be fine when he gets to know you. He's real old fashioned. You've seen the garden in the front right?" Dana paused after her question. "So how much time do you spend as a girl?"
"Eh?" Raising himself up into a crosslegged position, that was the first time anyone had ever asked that. "Can't say that I've ever timed it."
"So－ what? You don't have a problem with changing bodies all the time?"
"Yea that bugs me, but after a month of having the curse, I was used to my girl form, but I still hate the switching."
"You've never seen a doctor about it?" Dana asked.
"You know any doctors who work with magic?" He laughed.
"Could be magic, could be something different. Haven't you heard about splicing?"
"Isn't that some thing with animals?" He asked, remembering that he had seen something like that on the news one day.
"Humans are animals."
"I fell into a mud hole out in the middle of nowhere, it's been happening there for thousands of years－ seems like magic to me." He answered sarcastically.
"Just throwing out ideas." She said defensively.
"It's alright, I've just heard it all before."
"Hmm, does this mean I have a new girl friend to hang around with?"
"No." He corrected.
"Gotcha, no fashion tips." Dana sighed. "Wish my life was half as interesting, I hate just asking questions."
"Well, what's exciting about your life?" Ranma asked, somewhat curious over what life in Gotham was like.
"Biggest thing I have going is my flaky boyfriend Terry and how he always has something to do for his boss."
"What's his job?"
"He's an errand boy for, get this, Bruce Wayne."
"Who's that?" He asked without a clue, but assuming he was an important figure.
"This really rich old guy, he vanished for a while but now he's always busy with something, and always taking up all of Terry's time."
"Don't know what to tell you." He said with a shrug.
"Sorry, just－ frustrating." Dana quickly checked the alarm clock next to the bed. "I better get to bed, don't want to be in a rush for the first day. Night."
X x x x x x
After getting his photo identification card, Ranma finally got into his homeroom. The locker he was assigned to keep his things in was different, and moving between every class would take some getting used to, as well as some more minor points of difference. His new school was very high tech and well funded, and looking at his class schedule the curriculum was designed to prepare students to enter college nearly a year ahead academically. A point the woman who had given him the information had said with pride.
When lunch hour rolled around, he was just swiping his ID card to open his locker when Dana showed up with a guy with her. "So we meet at last." The guy greeted, extending a hand to be shook. "Terry McGinnis."
"Ranma Saotome." He shook the guy's hand, remembering that this was Dana's boyfriend, and so he would probably be seeing a lot of him. Terry was several centimeters taller than himself, he had jet black hair, blue eyes, and athletic build. From the way he was standing he had some training on how to fight, or a great deal of experience.
"Better watch out Terry, keep being flaky, and Dana might go for this hunk." A pretty black girl with her hair colored pink joked, appearing at Dana's side while Ranma had been focused on Terry. "Maxine Gibson." She greeted. "But call me Max."
"Nice to meet you."
"Hey Howard!" Maxine called to an overweight short boy with black hair and thick glasses tinted bright green, as he hurried past their group.
"Hi guys." The pudgy boy replied. "Sorry gotta talk to Nelson." Ranma watched the boy rush up to a tall guy with brown hair, wearing a green and gold jacket. There were three other guys wearing the same kind of jacket, as well as several girls in cheerleader outfits with the same color scheme.
"Don't mind Howard." Terry rolled his eyes. "He's got a problem with wanting to be popular."
"So－ they are popular?" Ranma pointed towards the group who were ignoring the pudgy boy completely.
"If you consider jocks to be the height of popularity－ then yea." Max answered.
"Hmm." Ranma raised an eyebrow, debating if he wanted to show up the top dog, or stay out of trouble at school.
X x x x x x
School couldn't finish quickly enough. The teachers all seemed to repeat the same speech about class rules and expectations. Only exciting part was in physical education they let the class have the run of the gym. While there wasn't much to do besides play some basketball, it was still better than sitting at a desk. Now that school was done for the day, he was just exiting the glass doors at the front of the school, when one of the jocks he had seen earlier pushed roughly past him.
"Out of the way twip." The brown haired teen demanded roughly.
"That wasn't very nice." Ranma pushed back just as roughly, not expecting the retaliation, Ranma sent the boy falling on to his side. "Are all Americans as rude as you are?"
"You little piece of trash, who do you think you are?" Hastily regaining his feet, the teen made a clumsy grab at him.
"Ranma Saotome, you?" He answered, flicking the boy in the forehead with enough force to make him to stagger backwards.
"Nelson quit playing with the new kid and let's bail." Another jock demanded.
"You're just lucky I got places to be." The rude jock growled before storming off.
"Right." Ranma drawled.
"What's the rush?" Dana asked, exiting the school with Maxine and Terry with her.
"Just making some new friends." He answered, deciding that he wouldn't be staying low at this school.
"Do you have any homework?" She asked.
"Just a chapter of reading."
"Then let's go drop off our stuff and have some fun."
X x x x x x
"I'm almost getting dizzy from the height." Ranma was sitting in a train as it passed over a thousand foot drop to the street below. Tokyo had been rebuilt to be a tiered city as well, but not for the entire city, and definitely not to this level. He'd be fine if the floor didn't seem to keep dropping out into nothing. "So where to next?"
"Food?" Terry asked, sitting close to Dana.
"Rhino's Chili?" Dana suggested to Terry. "You ever have chili before?" She asked him.
"Maybe." He had to think about that. "If I have, I don't remember it."
"Well then you're in for a treat." Terry indicated as the train slowed to a stop at the next stop. "This is our stop then." Just as Ranma was getting off with Dana and Terry, the inevitable happened, some guy with his arm slung over a girl bumped into him and dumped a large cup filled with ice water all over his shirt.
"Whoops, sorry." The guy apologized. "Didn't see you there."
Slowly looking down, Ranma sighed, and pulled the wet material away from her chest. "Forget about it." Moving around the pair, she found Terry looking at her with wide eyes, and Dana looking very nervous. "I'll explain it over food." Terry continued to stare. "If you don't stop looking at me like I grew a second head, I'm going to throw you in front of the next train."
Terry snapped out of his surprise quickly after that. "Oh I gotta hear this."
It was a short walk to Rhino's Chili, which in the dimming light was in a purple two story trapezoid building. After getting some food suggested by Dana, they found a booth with few people around. "Alright, here's the short version. It's a curse I picked up in China, I'm really a guy, but cold water turns me into a girl. Hot water turns me back."
"Like all the way?"
"Yes all the way." Rubbing at her temples, she supposed that was the best case scenario. "Don't tell people, I don't like lots of people to know."
"Your secret is safe with me." Terry answered, sounding sincere.
"I'll hold you to that." Drinking some soft drink through a straw, she probably wouldn't do anything besides be annoyed if it got out.
"So how does it work?" Terry asked before she could try her chili.
"I don't know－ magic. How should I know? My old man actually turns into a giant panda. Those things have been extinct for twenty years."
"No way, do you have any pictures?" Dana asked.
"I might have some on my laptop." Using a spoon she took a bite of the chili. "Pretty good." She remarked.
"Extra spicy is my flavor of choice." Dana added, happily eating her own.
"That's the second time you've said that." Terry pointed out.
"And I'll say it a few more times if I want." Dana replied jokingly.
They finished dinner with some more idle chit chat, Terry asked a few more questions about the curse, minor stuff that was really specific for some reason. Such as how often she could change, was there a time limit, did her personality change, and wanted to know more about Jusenkyo. Dana had planned out the night to finish with some time spent at a local dance club. On the way though, they encountered a group of eight clown costumed gang members.
"Hey it's that little bitch who beat up my crew yesterday." A skinny clown with his face painted to look sad, pointed at her with a cast on his hand.
"More Jokers?" Ranma asked both Terry and Dana.
"Take a hike guys." Terry stepped towards the group.
"Oh we will, but not after we pay that little dreg back." Another with a small conical hat and big red nose took a step forward, smacking a fist into the palm of his other hand.
"Fun, I needed to get some exercise today." Ranma stepped past Terry and checked to make sure her belt was tight on her pants. "I'll even let you throw the first punch."
"I'll handle this." Terry tried to move in front of her but she knocked him back with a hit to his chest.
"No way, these guys are mine." Smiling, she glanced between the group of boys looking for the first taker.
The first one she dropped by dodging his fist and planting a knee upwards into his stomach, driving all the air from his lungs. The next several tried to rush her at once, and weaving through their clumsy grabs, she was past them to take out two who had been trying to wait in the background. Back handing another upside the head, he crashed to the ground, tripping up another that she kicked face first into the ground by jumping on his head. No one else tried to attack her, choosing instead to run away as fast as they could.
"Yo Terry, do you know what I should do with these guys?" She asked the shocked boy to make herself look really casual about the whole display.
"I'll－ uh－ call the cops, they're always looking to bust the Jokers" Terry answered, slowly pulling out a cell phone.
X x x x x x
Later that Night
Wearing the batsuit minus the cowl, Terry approached Bruce Wayne, who was taking his medication while sitting at the computer in the batcave. Ace was curled up near the chair, paying him little mind besides a distrustful look.
"So what happened yesterday?" The elderly man asked.
"Oh nothing much, met the guy who's staying with Dana, and watched him trash a group of Jokers. Guess you heard the police call?"
"Your name came up." Bruce turned to the computer and hit a button to bring up the police report they had spent a half hour going over with the two patrolmen who had arrived to pick up the Jokers.
"I take it you did some research on Ranma?" Leaning over the computer, he watched the screen flip to an image of Ranma.
"I did, turns out he's the son of a petty thief and a woman who came into a modest inheritance when her parents died. He's been living in the prefecture of Nerima in Tokyo and attending Furinkan High School up until his transfer to Hamilton Hill High School. Since age two he's been living with his father. Participated in several martial arts competitions, winning all but one, and he lost due to a technicality. Grades are average, but enough for him to get into the exchange program."
"So why the interest? Hey wait a minute, you don't have a big file on all my friends do you?" He stared at Bruce, who simply stared back blankly. "You do, don't you."
"There's something of an irregularity." Bruce didn't answer his assertion. "The report from last night indicated Ranma was a woman, and school records from Furinkan have a strange dual record."
"Yea about that." Scratching the back of his head he tried to figure out a way to avoid breaking his promise. "Fine, Ranma has some strange 'curse' as he calls it, that makes him change gender."
"Nope, he was real secretive about it, but he needs cold water to turn into a girl, and hot to go back."
"Describe this other form." Bruce brought up a detailed file on Ranma and quickly added a new line.
"About the same height as Dana, black hair, dark blue eyes, and Asian I guess. They could be twins if they were separate people." Pulling on the cowl, he took a moment to adjust it to fit perfectly over his face. "When I get back from my patrol we're going to have a long talk about you and your paranoia."
X x x x x x
Textbook in hand, Ranma waited to see what was so important that a girl named Chelsea had to send notices to all the class for. He had immediately deleted the message, but Dana had mentioned the reason was that Chelsea was going to be spliced. Being slightly curious if the technology might be able to cure him, he had decided to see some results before checking it out. Dana came up with Terry at her side, the pair having lockers close together on the far end of the hall.
"You guys sticking around for the latest stunt?" Max asked as she joined them.
"Might as well, maybe she did something interesting for a change." Terry joked.
He had already become sort of an oddball at the school. Barely a week in and he already had a bit of a reputation for being mysterious. It hadn't taken him long to show up the more prominent jocks, and promptly declined the offers to join two sport teams. Chelsea Cunningham, a rich popular cheerleader who trailed after popular athletes like a small fish in a sharks wake, had started to focus on him because he wasn't charmed by whatever it was that made her so interesting to the rest of the males at the school.
There was a moderately sized group of guys and a couple girls were also waiting. The group hushed and parted as the short haired blonde Chelsea, who was wearing sunglasses, strutted through to stand on top of a bench in the center of the common room.
"Check it out." Slowly Chelsea pulled off the sunglasses instantly causing the group to start making cat calls. Dropping her glasses negligently, Chelsea spun around, and hopped off the bench to approach them. Her eyes had been altered into bright green cat eyes. Ranma shivered unconsciously, taken off guard by the sudden appearance of something cat like , Chelsea seeming to take this as some kind of positive reaction, with her smile growing wider. "Like what you see?"
"I can't believe it Chelsea, you really did get spliced!" Dana exclaimed, distracting Chelsea from him.
"Your dad must have threw a fit!" Max added.
"Isn't messing with your DNA a bit much, even for you?" Terry asked.
"Of course not." Chelsea protested, waving off any concerns. "It's perfectly safe."
"Then why is the city trying to shut it down?" Terry pushed.
"Lighten up Ter." Dana tapped Terry on the chest with a hand. "Adults are against practically everything we're into. You have to keep an open mind."
"Here's all the info." Chelsea pulled out a bunch of business cards from the front pocket of her skirt, and handed them out to all four of them. "If you want, I'd go with you." She said specifically to him, fluttering her eyes.
"Nah." He gulped, unnerved by the pair of cat eyes staring at him.
"You sure?" Chelsea took a small step forward. "We could make a date of it."
"No." He said more forcefully.
"How disappointing." The girl huffed and headed off to disperse more of the small business cards.
"Better be careful Ranma, Chels can play pretty rough when she doesn't get what she wants." Dana warned playfully.
"I think I can handle some pushy girl." He answered, flipping the business card into a nearby trash bin, but adding to himself that he wished she would never look at him with those cat eyes again.
X x x x x x
After school, Ranma returned to the Tan's home with Dana, before sitting down at the couch in the living room to do the reading he had been assigned. There was also a lesson in his math class he would need to do. The reading was the first six chapters of a book that he would have to do a report on for next Wednesday.
The whole reason he had joined the exchange program was so that he could meet some of the big name troublemakers that were reported to live in Gotham. But so far all he had found were some pathetic thugs. He really wanted to have a duel with Batman, having seen footage of the crime fighter combating a large construction robot, and reading up on some of the conflicts that the original had decades ago. Too bad all he seemed to have time for was homework to keep his grades up.
He was just finishing up with the second chapter when there was a knock on the door. "I'll get it." He volunteered, bored with the book, Ranma found that it was Terry who had knocked.
"Can I talk to you for just a second?" Terry asked. "In private."
"Sure." Stepping out, he closed the door behind him. "What's up?"
"I got a friend who I do some－ investigations for. Helping out the police kind of thing, but off the books. I need some help with this one."
"What kind of help?" He asked, hoping that it'd be something interesting.
"I need to go down to the Chimera Institute and check them out, as soon as possible."
"So why do you need me?"
"I have to be free to observe what's going on, I can't really do that if they're talking to me. Basically I need you to pose as my girlfriend while I scope out the place."
Ranma gave Terry an annoyed look for several seconds. "No, take Dana if you want that."
"That was my first thought, but she can't take care of herself like you can."
"You're expecting trouble?" He quirked his mouth to one side, wondering if there were people who got spliced to be physically better without training.
"No, but if I have to take off quick, it'd be nice not having to worry about her."
"What's in it for me? You want me to pose as your girlfriend to do some investigation, you going to pay me?"
"I don't really have any money to pay you." Terry answered. "It's more of a favor for a friend kind of thing."
"Pass then, and if Dana ever got wind of it." He didn't finish his thought, Dana had already faltered a bit and treated him like a girl in cursed form. Getting caught posing as Terry's girlfriend by Terry's real girlfriend could make things complicated. "I take it you can't really tell anybody what you're doing then?"
"Right, since you don't want to help, if I ask Dana, are you going to tell her the reason? It'd be safer if she really had no idea what was going on."
"I won't tell her." He answered.
"Thanks a lot." Terry didn't sound that thankful, but went inside to ask Dana to be his unwitting accomplice.
"Hmm." Scratching his chin, he followed the other teen inside, but instead of listening to Terry ask Dana, he headed for the bathroom.
X x x x x x
'One more thing that Bruce will add to the file.' Terry hurried Dana out the door, the Chimera Institute would be really close to closing by the time they could get across town to their building. Now he knew that Ranma was more mercenary than himself, and he wouldn't be expecting help from the guy. While he knew he had to keep the secret of Batman, having someone with Ranma's abilities as backup would have been nice.
"I know the place is going to close but what's the rush Terry?" Dana asked as he put an arm around her shoulder.
"Just don't want to go all the way there for nothing." He answered, stopping when he noticed a figure standing in their way with her hands on her hips.
"What's up?" Dana asked, immediately noticing Ranma.
"He asked me to go with him to the Chimera Institute." Ranma crossed her arms. "Then he takes off."
"But." He started to protest.
"Terry why didn't you say you invited Ranma?" Dana looked up at him.
"Um－." He floundered for a response, realizing that this was not a good situation for him to be in.
"You're such an idiot sometimes Ter." Dana broke away from him to start talking with Ranma. "So how are you liking the book so far?"
"Really boring, just some girl talking about her family, and some crazy guy who lives nearby." Ranma and Dana fell in step towards the train station without another word about him, and Terry wisely chose not to say anything. Instead he focused on reasoning out why Ranma had changed her mind. Was she playing some kind of mind game? Terry didn't know Ranma enough to make a call on that, but it seemed possible that Ranma simply liked playing games. Mean, spiteful games that may finally cause him to brake up with Dana.
Unlike the train ride that prompted his investigation into the Chimera Institute, where he had to knock around a pair of spliced up thugs, this ride was uneventful. Other than some suspicious looks in his direction from Dana, who still hadn't figured out a possible reason for him asking Ranma out as a girl. Terry had come up with the excuse that he had simply wanted to include Ranma. The fact that Ranma had changed to female form was harder to explain away. He would just have to say that Ranma had come up with that idea on her own.
Moving down one level and switching to another train, they finally arrived at the Chimera Institute. The five story building sat at the corner of Fritz and June street, and was painted a dark blue green color. Chimera was printed in big black letters across the front of the building, the company logo, a silhouette of three nested lion heads in black and white, sat just beneath the name. The main entrance was a line of glass doors up a one story flight of steps recessed back into the building underneath the logo.
A small crowd of eight protesters camped out in folding chairs on the sidewalk. As soon as the group saw them approaching they were immediately on their feet trying to block their path. They were primarily white, well dressed, and only one of them was near their age, the rest were old enough to be their parents. "Keep God's power in God's hand!" "Kids not freaks!" "Keep your humanity!" They all started shouting and shoving signs in their faces in one big confusing jumble.
X x x x x x
"This city loves it's crazy people." Ranma commented while sticking out her tongue at the angry group after hopping up to the top of the steps outside of the building. She had dealt with people like that before back in Nerima when her curse had come out. They were few and far between, but they were often very vocal.
"Must be something in the water." Terry added, passing through the automatic glass door with Dana. Pulling her eyelid down and sticking her tongue out one more time, Ranma followed the duo inside. The floor inside was some kind of reflective green stone, with plants placed around the room. The ceiling was two stories up, if something wasn't a shade of green it was a dark red orange. To the left was a half circle reception desk, on the right was a large doorway into a room with several tall screens switching slowly through displays of various spliced people.
"Hello, welcome to the Chimera Institute." A dark skinned woman in her early twenties greeted all three of them. She was wearing a pair of tight black pants with high heeled shoes built into the bottom, and a bright orange tube top. Around her neck were several large gold chains, and dangling from her ears were large golden hoops. It was immediately noticeable that she had been spliced with some type of feline, from the shape of her nose, her slit eyes, and pitch black semi circles that wove there way around her arms and shoulders.
Hiding her nervousness when the woman's eyes quickly inspected her, Ranma could get past the feline features easily enough. Whatever type of cat the woman had been spliced with, had only a passing resemblance to the domestic variety. It was just unnerving to see a human who was at the same time something else.
"I take it you are interested in information on splicing?" The woman asked.
"Yup." Dana answered.
"This way please." Being led into the room to the right, they were directed to take a set on several chairs around a center console. Reaching up to the ceiling was a cylinder made up of display screens. "This is our showroom, we can simulate any possible splice, all that is required is a photograph to get started. So who would like to go first?"
"Ranma?" Terry suggested.
"Nah." She had enough of her body shifting that she didn't need to see it become part animal. Too bad she didn't have a picture of her father to have them splice him into a panda so she could send it to him.
"I guess I will." Dana volunteered.
"Alright, just smile at the camera at the bottom of the screen." Reaching forward, the woman pushed several keys on a keyboard, while Dana posed for the picture. There was a brief grid of red lines that appeared over Dana's upper body before her image was displayed on the screen in front of them. "Did you have anything in mind?"
"Not really." Dana answered.
"Something simple?" Pressing several buttons, the cat spliced woman made the image quickly shift, making Dana appear to have long pointed ears.
"What's that supposed to be?"
"For the fantasy crowd, it's only a minor difference, with a small combination of horse to produce the ear shape mimicking an elf."
"I'm not really into that stuff." Dana said after several seconds of deliberation.
The cat woman hit several more keys and the image of Dana morphed to have an almost completely cat face. Seeing that Dana wasn't interested in that, the image was changed again to have Dana with dark skin, two small horns sweeping back from either side of her forehead, black eyes with her pupils changed to a orange color.
"How many different things do you have?" Ranma asked as the screen morphed to show Dana with a normal face save two black slashes running down from the center of each eye.
"Currently we have over one hundred preset designs." A tall man with pale skin informed them as he walked casually through the doorway. He was wearing a completely black suit, with a skinny build except for his broad shoulders. He was spliced with some unknown creature, his eyes were a golden color, and his fingers had barely noticeable claws."Of course we can custom design nearly any result." The woman who had been helping them bowed her head and left them with the man.
"I'm Dr. Able Cuvier, the creator of splicing." He introduced himself smoothly, reaching forward to quickly type in something. Dana's image morphed to look like a cross of human and rabbit. "You're wise to come in now, if my critics like the ones camped out in front of my door had their way, splicing will go the way of the dinosaurs. Not that I don't plan to fight them tooth and nail."
"Why is that?" Terry asked.
"Progress always faces opposition. Splicing allows even the most physically unfit to be superior than an Olympic athlete. It's open to everyone, everyone has the possibility, everyone can be something special, equality is a hard thing for many people to understand." Cuvier glanced over at her. "Of course some things simply can't be created. I do hope you're interested in splicing."
"Not really" Ranma answered.
"That's too bad, forgive me if I am being far too forward, but I would like to ask you to become one of the faces that represent my company."
"Huh?" She asked.
"To be honest, to counter the recent slander campaign against splicing. My detractors love to focus on the more extreme and societal fringe results of splicing. So I wanted to show the more normal side."
"That's fine, but why me?"
"You're pretty but in an approachable way, casual even. It's not often that I see a young woman without make up, and those clothes." Cuvier chuckled to himself.
"What's wrong with my clothes?" Ranma looked down at herself, sure they didn't really fit, even on her real form they were baggier than the current style tended towards.
"Yo! We need to see the Doctor, right now!" A rough male voice demanded as a large black teenager muscled his way through the entrance. Dressed in skintight red pants and tank top with a black vest and gloves, he also had two forward curving horns sprouting from his temples, and beard coming down from center of his chin. With him was a tall skinny teen with snake like skin, wearing a green tank top and black pants.
Cuvier reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card that he handed to her. "If you're interested in modeling for me, the shoot will be this Saturday, and I'll be willing to pay you thirty credits an hour. Give me a call when you've thought it over. If you'll excuse me." The man finished with a slight bow of his head.
"I'll think about it." Ranma answered as Cuvier quickly left without another word to take the two teens into a back room.
"Wow Ranma, looks like your－ you know, has paid off." Dana congratulated her, but she noticed Terry silently vanish out the door while Dana was distracted.
"I don't know, I wasn't really looking to get spliced." Scratching at her cheek, the striped woman returned to take Cuvier's place.
"Hey Ter, do you think－ where'd he go?" Dana had turned to look for her boyfriend but found him gone.
"I dunno." She answered with a shrug, pocketing the business card. "What's it feel like to be spliced?" Ranma asked the cat woman.
"I'm afraid I can't answer that, it's something you have to experience for yourself." The woman answered. "Would you like to see some of the options?"
"Nah, I'll have to think about it."
X x x x x x
Dr. Able Cuvier listened patiently as one of his followers explained how they had been in a fight on a train, and that they weren't up to the level he had promised. Rolling his eyes, he lamented the need to recruit from the dregs of society. Ramrod, the new name that he had given the boy, was already three times as strong as a normal human could be. While the other King Cobra, was quicker but still significantly stronger. Neither of them should have had any trouble with throwing a normal human around like a rag doll.
"I'm sorry if you are dissatisfied with the gifts that I have bestowed upon you." He said calmly. "But I simply can't account for your own incompetence!" He shouted, striking Ramrod across the face and sending him sliding across the floor, King Cobra cringed away also expecting to be struck. "You are both stronger and faster than any human, if you're so pathetic that the two of you can't handle one, then I may no longer have a use for you."
"But Doc." They both protested.
"No excuses." He snapped. "Get out of my institute, I told you two imbeciles to never come here when you can be seen by the public." Snorting in disgust, he was happy Tigress was trustworthy enough to be seen as one of the public faces of his corporation. Once splicing was past this initial hurdle, he would no longer have to rely on thugs.
X x x x x x
Later that Night
"I got the data you wanted." Terry handed over the thumb drive with the information to Bruce. "Dana's going to hate me for a while for disappearing."
"She'll get over it." Bruce hooked the drive up to his computer, loading up the information.
"Thanks for the support. I'll be sure to tell her that you needed me for something right away." Leaning on the console, he watched some of the data scrolling by. "So what did you need this so badly for? Cuvier's operation maybe creepy but he wasn't trying to force people into splicing, and aside from the two goons it seemed legit."
"I have an antidote saved from years ago to another form of splicing. But I need to cross reference to see if there's a connection, and to create my own antidote."
"Why? I got that too."
"Details." Bruce answered simply.
"You've told me that before." He said and put on his mask. "I'll be out on patrol if you need me－ after I call and apologize to Dana."
X x x x x x
"No Terry, I don't care that Mr. Wayne needed you for something. Whatever it was, wasn't important enough to leave without saying a word." Dana clicked off her phone and threw it on the table next to the couch before sitting down. "Sorry you had to hear that." She apologized to Ranma who was playing with Dr. Cuvier's business card. His answer was just a simple grunt.
"So are you going to be a model?" She asked, trying to be happy that her new friend was able to simply get such an opportunity. Though she was a bit put off that someone who was really a boy was more desirable than her, especially while wearing baggy ill fitting male clothing.
"I'm not sure on the splicing part, but it's a lot of money for basically nothing." Ranma pointed out, balancing Dr. Cuvier's business card on the tip of his index finger.
"If you're not comfortable with it, maybe it's not for you."
"Supposed to be fully reversible right? Their site even says that it only takes about ten minutes each way."
"Hey, you could do it and tell me what it's like." She wasn't about to trust that tiger lady on splicing, it was her job to sell it after all, and it might be neat to try it out. Splicing was also nearly two hundred credits, with the reversal being just as expensive.
"If you're going to expect me to be some kind of guinea pig, what's the answer to number eight?"
X x x x x x
"You're right on time." Dr. Cuvier said happily, standing next to the reception desk at the portrait studio Ranma had been told to go to. It was seven thirty in the morning, and she would be here most of the day.
Allowing herself to be led into the building by the spliced doctor, she remained slightly apprehensive about what was about to happen. She had seen the results of splicing on people, and it was nothing compared to what Jusenkyo did to a person. Though some people did take the treatment too far, so much so that they might as well turn into the real animal.
"Now the treatment will only take five minutes to be complete, again it's completely painless, the most you'll feel is a bit of numbness or shifting. Just a small injection, and that's it." The doctor explained, leading Ranma to a small dressing room. "I hope you don't mind, but since I wasn't able to learn what type of splicing you would like done when you came in the other day, I had to use my own discretion."
"Long as I don't look like an idiot." She said with a shrug, removing her jacket to hang on a peg sticking out from the wall.
"I believe that would be an impossibility." Cuvier indicated that she should sit down in a tall folding chair in front of a large vanity table. "If you would please give me your arm, I'll give you the injection."
Extending her left arm, Ranma rolled up the sleeve of her shirt, and let the man wipe an area down with a disinfectant. Next, he opened up a plastic container, and pulled out an injection gun filled with a bright red liquid. With a soft hiss the small vial of liquid was pumped into her arm. Rubbing at the spot where the liquid had passed through her skin, she already felt sort of tingly.
"There, all done." Pulling out the empty vial, Cuvier threw it in the trash, and returned the injection gun to the case. "I'll be waiting with the photographer, a woman will be in to apply your makeup in a minute."
"Kay." Leaning back on the chair, Ranma watched the white skinned man leave. 'Hmm, he didn't tell me what he spliced me with.' No sooner had she wondered the animal, than she nearly fell out of the chair as a sudden spasm than ran through her body. Several seconds later, the alterations seemed to be completed, and she took stock of her changed face in the mirror.
'Guess it's not done.' She amended, watching her hair turn shades of white and gray starting at the roots to the tips.
Like the tiger spliced girl who Ranma had met at the Chimera building, Ranma's face had shifted, her nose flattening along the bridge, and semi melding with her upper lip, where a false cleft ran from the center of her nose to her upper lip. Her eyes had changed to a golden color with a slight hint of their original blue around the iris. Their shape had also been altered, becoming more of a true almond shape, with the skin pigment being darker around them, coming to points at the far outside, and curving downwards on the inside.
Prodding her new nose with her fingers, she found that the nails on her hands had lengthened, becoming thick white claws. Feeling a shiver run down her back, she twisted around on the seat to look at her back in the mirror, and found that there were dark skin pigment spots running down the back of her neck. Pulling off her shirt and stripping down to her white tanktop, she found that they grew into bigger irregularly shaped spots and rings as they ran down her back. Along the outside of her arms they faded into nothing just past her elbows.
Examining herself further in the mirror, to take in the entire set of changes, she finally realized something. "That jackass turned me into some kind of cat!" She growled.
A knock on the door alerted her to a woman in her thirties entering. This took Ranma's mind off the unfortunate additions to her person. "Hi, I'm Shelly." The woman greeted warmly before noticing Ranma's cross look, and closing the door. "Is something wrong?"
"Let's just get this over with." Getting angry at this woman wouldn't solve anything, and she had nothing to do with the animal Cuvier had spliced her with.
Crisis seemingly past, the woman went over to a rack of clothing running the far side of the room, and pulled out some white jeans with the shoes built into the bottom, and a darker blue capri top. "Casual to start, the top has a built in bra, and here are some panties that won't show since the pants are very low rise. Is this your first time modeling?"
"Okay, you get changed while I get my cosmetics setup." Shelly handed Ranma the clothes before starting to dig through the mess of make up on the vanity.
'Think about the credits, I can deal with this, and when it's over I'll be changed right back.' Taking several deep breaths, Ranma quickly stripped out of her clothes, and was just beginning to pull up the pants when there was a wrenching sensation from the bottom of her spine, and a long thickly furred tail quickly shot out. Staring blankly at the new appendage, she seriously considered killing Cuvier. 'After he pays me of course, with some added credits for this humiliation.'
"Oh good, I was thinking that we had made a mistake by putting a tail hole in the dresses." Shelly noted in an overly happy voice as Ranma finished putting on the top with an angry huff. "Alright, back on the chair." Hopping up on the chair, Ranma sat down on her tail before shifting and letting it dangle out through the back.
Shelly grabbed several hair accessories and pinned Ranma's bangs back out of her face. Raising several colored pieces of paper, she made a big show of placing them next to Ranma's skin. "Let's see here, this? No, too dark. How about this? Perfect."
"What are you doing?" Ranma asked, wondering why she was applying so much makeup, and having trouble ignoring the tail.
"Since you'll be out under bright lights you'll start to sweat, just want to make sure you don't look greasy." Quickly finishing with the base layer, Shelly's hands rapidly applied some more cosmetics, and went to work pulling out Ranma's pigtail and turning brushing it out to cascade over her shoulders. Fifteen minutes later, she was done, and Ranma now looked like a very cute cat girl. Which caused Ranma to shiver involuntarily.
"Something wrong? I think you turned out really beautiful."
"I don't like cats."
"Domestic cats or just cats in general?"
"In general." She answered, though only house cats caused her scream and run reflex. Thankfully whatever type of cat she had been spliced with was one of the big cat varieties.
" Well you'll be back to normal by the end of the day like the last model we had a shoot for. Have you seen the commercial? The girl with the long white hair to the floor?"
"She was spliced right before the shoot as well, afterwards it was reversed, and she walked out like like her DNA hadn't been played with."
"Really now." That set Ranma's mind on ease, even if that had been the plan before.
"One last thing, open up and say ah." Shelly grabbed a spray bottle. "Need to whiten up your teeth."
"What's wrong with my teeth?" Smiling at herself in the mirror, she found that her canines were larger and more pointed.
"Just want to make sure you look your best." Opening up her mouth, Ranma waited patiently for the woman to spray her teeth with a foul tasting whitener. "Hold off on drinking anything for fifteen minutes and I won't have to do that again."
"Yuck." She spat.
"We should get into the studio." Shelly quickly grabbed one of Ranma's shoulder straps, and made a minor adjustment. "They should be finishing up with the other model."
"What other model?" Ranma asked, following the woman, noticing that smells and sounds were more distinct and noticeable than before. The tail was impossible not to notice, it was heavy, moved constantly, and its movement was constantly throwing her off balance. It was also longer than her legs, meaning she had to purposely keep the bottom curled upwards or the tip would drag. Even though she had obviously never had a tail before, she had no trouble controlling it. 'Weird.'
"You'll be alternating with a male model, and I believe you are lined up to have a couple shoots together." Shelly explained.
Entering into another room, the ceiling, floor, and the far three walls were all painted a bright non reflective green. Cuvier was talking to a woman holding a camera, and there was a guy her age who was spliced with some type of canine, probably a wolf or husky based on his hair color, and some coloration on his arms. Unlike her, he lacked a tail, but had very canine like ears peeking out the top of his hair.
"Absolutely stunning." Cuvier complimented her. "I dare say you should refuse the reversal serum. Snow leopard suits you very well."
"A warning about the tail would have been nice." She crossed her arms, and the new appendage lashed back and forth several times, nearly throwing her off balance.
"Please accept my most sincerest apologies, if I knew that it would upset you, I would have said something."
"Yea, well I want something extra for this, I really don't like cats."
"What did you have in mind?" Cuvier seemed put off at her request.
"Ten extra credits an hour."
"Five." Cuvier countered and she thought it over in her head.
X x x x x x
"When is the last time you took a bath?" Ranma crinkled her nose while sitting next to the other model, Jake, trying to look like they were studying together. Now dressed in a thick pale pink turtle neck sweater dress to mid thigh, her tail went through a hole in the back, helping to keep the hem from riding up. Every so often the pair of fake glasses she was wearing would slide down her changed nose, and she would have to fix them back up into place. Sitting with her legs crossed, hip to hip with Jake, her patience was growing thin with the other teen.
"This morning." Jake answered as several more camera flashes went off.
The previous ad campaign had emphasized that splicers were different than normal people, this one was the opposite. She had gleamed the information from listening to Cuvier talk to various people. It was easy to listen in when she could pick up a conversation from across a noisy room. She was the eye candy female, while Jake was supposed to be some kind of popular jock. Unfortunately, she did not get along at all with Jake. He seemed to have grown up the son of a wealthy bureaucrat, he was doing this to get back at Daddy. Which was the opposite of herself, the son, currently daughter, of a poor martial artist who was a petty thief most of the time.
"Well you smell like wet dog." She sniped, and shifted her position in response to some directions.
"Children." Dr. Cuvier warning lightly from the side. "Please try and stay focused."
"That's all I need for this set." The photographer informed Cuvier.
"I think a break for lunch would be good then." Cuvier looked pleased with the progress so far.
Almost vanishing from her position, she deposited the fake glasses she had been wearing in the waiting hands of a girl keeping track of props, and appeared at a table with several trays of finger food. Gathering up a plate full of food, she stalked off happily munching on some kind of sandwich. No sooner had she sat down, than Dr. Cuvier approached her. 'What's he want now?'
"How are you enjoying being spliced?" He asked, implying that it was the greatest thing ever.
"About that, why is it that I don't feel uncomfortable like this? I'd think that the tail would take some getting used to." She asked after swallowing a big bite of bread, cheese, and sliced deli meat.
"Part of the formula helps to alter your mental image of yourself. Obviously even if someone wants to have a splicing procedure done, it would still take months, possibly years before they would view the additions as their own." Nodding her semi-understanding, Ranma hoped that Cuvier would leave her alone, he didn't rank very high in her favorite people list. Anyone who made her part cat was rather instantly shot to the bottom.
"And when you reverse it I'm going to be back to normal right?" She asked, noticing that he wasn't leaving.
"Of course, unless you decide to remain spliced. My business should be expanding soon. How about it? Would you like a more steady source of income?"
"Think on it." Finally Cuvier headed off to go do something in another room.
'Creepy.' Ranma shrugged and went back to eating her food.
X x x x x x
"My feet are killing me." Kicking off the too small shoes, she cursed the inventor of high heels, and then added on Jusenkyo for giving her the opportunity to wear such wonderful footwear.
"One must suffer for beauty." Shelly joked, gathering up her materials.
"Suffering I can take, but this is just ridiculous." Kicking the two sizes too small shoes for good measure, she started to strip out of the strapless black dress she had been wearing.
"Then it's a good thing that you're done for the day." Shelly paused to inspect a applicator, before deciding whatever flaw was fine, and putting it in her case. "Just take off your make up like you would normally before bed. Have a nice evening, it's been fun working with you."
"Bye." Ranma waved as the woman left, almost as quickly as she threw off the shoes, she was back in the clothes she had arrived in. Exiting the dressing room, she set about tracking down Cuvier for the reversal injection. She found him waiting at the entrance talking to Jake who was still in the tuxedo he had been wearing for their 'prom' shoot. "Fix me." She demanded.
"I would love to give you the serum to return you to your birth form, but the vials I brought have gone bad. We'll have to return to my lab and do it there. Unless you want to remain like Jake here." Cuvier put a hand on the male teen's shoulder. "He was just informing me that he wishes to remain spliced."
"So what's the fastest way to your lab?" Ranma didn't even have to think about it.
"I need to make a quick call, give me five minutes, and I'll drive you there personally."
"Alright." She agreed and Cuvier immediately pulled out a cell phone to call someone.
Cuvier seemed to drag his feet with everything, and Ranma was getting very agitated by the act. His comments during the photo shoot hadn't helped her mood towards him either. For some reason he was really interested in her remaining spliced. Pulling into Cuvier's private parking spot in the back of the Chimera Institute, Ranma followed him inside to be met by the tiger spliced black girl.
"Ah Tigress, how were things while I was away?" Cuvier asked.
"Busy Doctor." She answered. "I have a list of appointments for you to look over."
"Later, I must attend to Miss Saotome at the moment. Do you have what I called about earlier?"
"Yes Doctor." Tigress quickly went over to one of the nearby display tables and picked up a small silver case before opening it at Cuvier.
"Thank you my dear." Cuvier pulled out an injector and loaded a vial of serum. "If you would be so kind as to roll up your sleeve?" He asked and Ranma did, ready to end her time being spliced. Cuvier quickly disinfected the area, and injected her with the liquid. "There we go."
"So when am I going to get paid?" Ranma asked.
"Oh don't worry about that, Cobra, Ramrod." Cuvier snapped his fingers, and the two males from the other day quickly appeared. "Take her to the cage."
"Right away Doc." The bull boy answered, reaching out to try and grab her arms.
"What's going on?" She demanded, slipping away from his grasp before her entire body refused to work, and she fell to the ground like a rag doll.
"I really would have preferred that you come work for me, truly I would." Cuvier explained while she was picked up, and slung over the black boy's shoulder. "But it would be terribly bad press if the news caught wind that my advertising used subjects who did not remain spliced themselves. I don't know why I am explaining this, soon enough you won't have the mental facilities to understand what I'm saying." Being unable to move, Ranma could only watch her arms as they sprouted fur that matched the kind on her tail.
"In a hour or so you'll be a snow leopard for real, and I'll be selling you to the highest bidder. A great many hunters simply love to hunt endangered species, and they'll pay an exorbitant amount in order to do so." Cuvier patted her on the head and gave her a detached smile. "Goodbye."
X x x x x x
Slipping in through a window on the third story, Terry in the Batman suit, silently closed the pane of glass behind him. He had seen Cuvier's car pull into the back of the building, and he would be finding the man to get some answers about his past. The door to the room slid open silently and he moved down the hall.
"Anything suspicious so far?" Bruce Wayne asked.
"I'm just getting in now." He answered. "What's the rush? Ranma's been sort of keeping an eye on Cuvier all day."
"No rush, just making sure you're on task."
"Right." He drawled, pausing at the top of the steps down to the second floor after hearing voices. "Someone else is still here."
Downstairs he found Cuvier and three of his minions, the bull guy he had fought with on the train had an increasingly furry catgirl slung over his shoulder. Terry quickly recognized the girl as Ranma due to her clothes. "Looks like we'll need that formula pretty quick."
"Cause it looks like Ranma's going to need it." Watching, Terry saw the big guy leave the group to go through a door marked 'Employees Only.'
"When he gets back, I want you three to go take care of our D.A. Young, and make it look like an accident. I can't have the police tracing the death of my biggest opponent back to me." Cuvier informed the two other teens who had remained.
"We got another problem, Cuvier's sending his goon squad to slag Young." He informed Bruce.
"Worry about your friend first, I'll call Barbra and warn her."
"Right." Activating the camouflage system in his suit, Terry faded from sight. Making his way past the two waiting spliced teens, he waited for the third to come back through the door before he slipped in. Nearly falling when the floor suddenly dropped out on him, he found the unlit room was really a set of stairs. Adjusting his vision mode to better see in the dark, he descended the steps to the bottom. Once there, he took in the small room with a loading bay door on the far side, and a group of four cages along the right wall.
There was only one occupied cage, and he could see Ranma trying to move around, but ending up falling back to the cage bottom. Obviously whatever formula Cuvier had used on his currently female friend was playing havoc with her coordination, keeping her immobilized. "Take it easy." He whispered to the girl, Ranma's already changed eyes quickly tracking to him, glowing to his night vision. "I'm going to get you out of here."
He didn't have time to break the lock before something struck him from behind. Falling awkwardly, he was temporarily blinded when the bright overhead lights suddenly turned on. Fumbling to change his vision mode, he was hit several more times, this time by someone more heavily muscled, who used their fists. Finally being able to see, he dodged a charge by the bull spliced teen, letting him slam his head through the wall. Pausing, he quickly analyzed the situation, finding that Cuvier, and all three of his minions were in the small room. Reaching into his belt he quickly pulled out several smoke pellets secretly.
"I was wondering when you'd come sniffing around Batman, I have something I made up specifically for you." Cuvier seemed amused at his arrival. "Take him."
"I don't think so." Throwing the smoke pellets into the middle of the room, they exploded, quickly blanketing the entire area in a thick green smoke that irritated the eyes.
X x x x x x
"Open the loading door!" Cuvier yelled, fumbling to find the button to raise said door. One of his followers found the button, and the door to the outside slid open to let the smoke slowly clear. Coughing, he looked around for any sign of Batman. He found no one but his followers, and the girl he had injected with the pure snow leopard serum had been removed from her cage.
Clenching his teeth in anger, his three followers backed away in fright before he got himself under control. "Kill Young before Batman can get in the way." He ordered, smashing the now empty cage for emphasis of his displeasure.
X x x x x x
"I'm out of Cuvier's petting zoo with Ranma." Terry communicated to Bruce as he quickly shot through the sky in the Batmobile. "How's the Commish doing?"
"Barbra moved him to a safe house till morning."
"Phew, one less thing to worry about." Glancing backwards, he noticed that Ranma was nearly completely changed. "Other than the big cat that's trapped in the car with me."
"What was that? And why does your friend need the reversal serum."
"I'm not sure why, but Cuvier gave Ranma a jumbo dose of his stuff, and well－ she's not exactly looking at me in a nice curl up in someones lap and purr way."
"Save the jokes for later and just get back here. You need to go after Cuvier."
"Yea yea, you're not the one about to be a scratching post." He increased the vehicles speed, hoping to get back to the mansion before Ranma was no longer immobilized. The Batmobile was purely a one person vehicle, Ranma was laying in the space behind the seat, and if she decided to get up and start something it wouldn't be in Terry's best interests.
Swinging into the Batcave, he brought the vehicle to a stop near Bruce who was leaning heavily on his cane, with Ace at his side, while he carried an injector in his free hand. Opening up the door, he quickly gathered Ranma up in his arms, and got out of the vehicle.
"You weren't exaggerating." Bruce commented, quickly injecting Ranma with what would hopefully reverse the transformation. In response, Ranma gave off a high pitched snarl and was able to snap at Bruce with her jaws. "You're welcome." Bruce said directly at Ranma, who was now trying to free herself from his grasp. Ace growled at Ranma, who gave off a quick hiss at the dog before intensifying her efforts to escape.
"Shouldn't you give her a sedative or something?" Terry's question was answered when Ranma suddenly went limp in his arms. "Oh."
"Put him on the table next to the computer." Bruce instructed while hobbling over to the computer. "You have things to do remember?"
"I know." He did as instructed, already seeing that things were slowly and jerkily changing on Ranma. 'Least Ranma stayed about the same size, this would have been even more awkward if she was going to be naked.' He thought, heading off for the Batmobile, pleased that Ranma's clothing had remained intact.
X x x x x x
Ranma slowly opened her eyes, finding herself laying in a strange dark cave, cracking her back as she rose to a sitting position, she saw in front of her a huge computer system with an old man sitting at the only chair in front of it. He had his back to her, working on something on the screen. A sudden flash of memory made her quickly grab the side of her head, and examine her body. Sighing in happiness, there was no tail, no fur, no claws, and her face had returned to normal.
"There was a complication." The old man swiveled his chair to look at her, he was wearing a black suit, and had on a ridiculous hat and goggles in some attempt to keep his identity a secret. "My antigen was not able to return your hair and eye color."
"My hair?" Looking up, Ranma saw that her bangs were still the same mix of gray and white. Without a mirror she couldn't check her eye color.
"I'm also unsure on how it will affect your gender changing."
"How do you know about that?" She asked, the only people who would know did not include this guy.
"It's my job to know." At the man's side was a cane that he used to point towards a thermos next to her. Ranma finally noticed a large black Great Dane laying at the old man's feet. "Change."
"You're expecting a lot of trust out of me." She asked, staring at the thermos, her eyes catching sight of a display case behind her with five sections each with a different size and gender mannequin wearing costumes. The far left was the original Batman uniform, then Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, and the last was empty. 'Is this guy?'
"I'm also the one that stopped you from spending the rest of your days hunting mountain goats."
Figuring that he had a decent point, she opened up the thermos to find hot water, she casually dumped over her head. Everything seemed to be right with his birth form, save the altered hair color. "Better than nothin." He admitted.
"I'm going to inject you with a sedative, you'll wake up in your bed." The goggle wearing man slowly stood up from the chair, leaning heavily on his cane, dog following protectively at his side.
"You better think again if you think I'm going to let anyone near me with a needle again." Hopping off the table, he stretched. "Just had a few problems with that, you understand?"
"I wasn't asking." Grabbing an injector gun like Cuvier had used, the old man approached him.
"And I said no thanks." Taking a small leap back, he wondered where the exit to the cave was. Best he could see was a lighted set of steps behind him. "Don't worry I'm not one to go around telling secrets. Thanks for changing me back, later." Waving, he took off to run up the steps. Just as he reached the top, a heavy metal door slammed in place blocking his path.
"That's just rude." Ranma pressed his palm against the steel, visually inspecting how it was constructed. Two halves, split horizontally, running on rails in the wall. Taking a step back, he clenched his fist. His first punch hit right at the seam between the two halves, knocking the door off of it's track. "Slag it that hurts!" He hopped around clutching his hand. Kicking the door, the slabs of steel were blown off their tracks, and clattered loudly as they crash to the ground.
"Sorry about your door!" Ranma yelled back down the hall. Checking the time on a big clock that was blocking the steps down into the cave, he found that it was almost two in the morning. 'I've been out of it for six hours? Man, I know I'm going to have to listen to Mr. Tan for staying out so late.'
X x x x x x
(1) – First name came from the voice actor, Clyde Kusatsu, since none was given in the show.
(2) – Bane derived steroid that instantly increases physical abilities, applied by a patch.
Ranma's lack of freakout on the cat part comes mainly by him being freaked out over domestic cats. That's his phobia. Cat-like, or big cats don't induce the same level of fear. He even puts tiger in the name of the ki attack he came up with. On top of that, in this stories timeline, he didn't have the extra exposure to cats he did in the neko-ken introduction, so his scream and run reflex hasn't been put on a hair trigger.