Ranma 1/2: New Challenges
Trouble with a Capital `A'

Chapter 11





Ranma continued to dodge as Kenji pressed his attacks. The
ninja boy had gotten a lot better, Ranma was forced to admit, and was
going all out. Ranma was also still a bit sore from Akane's powerful ki
blast and he had no real desire to hurt Kenji, just stop him. If he
could only figure out what was making him act like this.

A hit! The pig-tailed martial artist took a blow to the side
and stumbled as Kenji got a few more vicious attacks in. Ranma recovered
and silently apologized for what he was about to do. He struck out with
a quick and powerful 7-hit combo that sent Kenji reeling. As he fell
back, the ninja let loose a spread of shuriken that forced Ranma to back
off.

Nearby, Akane was just coming to grips with what had been
happening. [I almost killed Ranma... Why? What was I thinking? What
happened to me? Last thing I remember was them putting something on
me...]

Instinctively she reached her hand up and pulled an object off
her forehead. It was some sort of small circlet with a now cracked and
broken gemstone set in the middle. [This is what they were using on me?
This is how they controlled me?] She looked up to see Ranma fighting
with Kenji. [Wait a minute, Kenji was with me when they...]

"Ranma!" she yelled. "There's something on his forehead that's
controlling him!" Ranma yelled back his thanks.

Zhao Len frowned; this was not going well. The Tendo girl had
somehow broken her mind control with Ranma's help and just announced how
to free the Soyokaze boy. She knew the ninja boy was good, but also knew
Ranma was better. It would just be a matter of time before the Saotome
kid focused his attentions on her.

Time to act.

She sent Akane to dreamland with a tap, then jostled Shampoo
out of her confused state. "Grab the Tendo girl and let's go. We'll
finish this another day. As long as we have her, Ranma will come to us
on our terms." Shampoo dimly nodded and scooped her rival up.

"Akane!" Ranma yelled and tried to go after her, only to be
blocked by Kenji. "I don't wanna hurt you `cause I know you ain't
yourself, but I gotta save Akane."

"Shut up," Kenji growled, drawing out his battle Bo.

Utilizing his incredible speed, Ranma charged forward with his
chestnut fist; only to be blown back by a wind blast before he
connected. He hit the ground and rolled as the staff came down, then
kicked out and knocked the weapon from his hands. Kenji replaced it with
his 14" wakizashu.

"'Niichan!"

Ranma glanced over to see a pair of figures running toward him.
The one who had called out was Yuri, the other was... Mousse?

"Shampoo!" he cried. [I'm sorry, but I can't let you do this!]
He sent out a few chains that wrapped around the retreating Amazon's
feet, tripping her up. Zhao Len turned and swore.

Ranma gritted his teeth as Kenji attacked at full speed with
the deadly weapon he was now using.





Tofu had watched the battle from a distance. At first it had
gone well, but now he was losing sight of his friends in the mad melee.
The part of him that was a doctor warred with the part that was a
martial artist. He knew he should only help save life and not cause
harm, but if he did nothing, then more life would possibly be lost. He
sighed and charged foreward.

Reaching the battle, he waded in, rapidly striking various
pressure points to disable arms, legs, or even send a few Amazons to
dream land. He worked as fast as he could in an effort to relieve the
pressure on the others.





All across the battle, things were definitely not going well.
No one was untouched and several were bleeding from gashes or limping
from injured limbs. Ukyo went down with a blow to the head and Konatsu
had to fight his way to her. Kuno's bokken was finally broken and he
drew his katana to cover the chef.

Sasuke tossed his last ninja stars, pulled out his sai, and
limped closer to fight alongside his master.




Soun was down on one knee, a large gash on his leg making
movement impossible. Genma had pulled out a few more of his forbidden
technques, but that didn't stop the fact that he was getting tired and
making mistakes; costly mistakes.

An arrow landed into his right arm and he felt his strength
wane.




Ryoga had lost sight of the two girls who were fighting with
him.

Last he knew , Natsume was down and her sister was madly
fighting to protect her, her fire ki charged ribbon flashing around. His
umbrella and belt were gone and, surprisingly, he was out of bandannas.
He had taken hundreds of blows, yet he still continued on; the Hibiki
toughness and stubborness factor keeping him going.

Despair began to set in as he realized he may be the only one
standing and he might never see Akari again. An old feeling returned in
force as he felt the depression in his breast explode. [Akari, I'm
sorry...]

"FULL SHISHI HOUKODAN!"





The teacup in front of Akari wobbled and fell to the floor. As
it shattered, Katsunishki squealed loudly from where he was outside.
Akari suddenly and inexplicably became incredibly afraid, and began to
cry.

Nodoka tried to comfort the girl. "There, there, it's okay."

"No, it's not," Akari said throught sobs. "Something terrible's
happened to Ryoga, I know it!"

"You have to believe in him, Akari-chan. He will come back to
you."

Akari just continued to sob lightly into Nodoka's kimono.
[Ryoga, you better come back to me...]





Ranma blocked Kenji's wakizashu on his bracer and, with
chestnut fist speed, knocked the it loose. He then pummeled Kenji enough
to stun him, and reached for the headband ruby.

He screamed in pain as he touched it and the two were violently
thrown apart. Yuri rushed to her brother's side as he rose, but a look
form him created a strong wind blast that sent her hurtling several feet
away into an equipment rack.

[Chikuso!] Ranma thought. [I can't touch it! So now what?] He
looked down, spotted Kenji's discarded blade, and took a deep breath. [I
guess it's the only way. I gotta time this right.]

Kenji staggered to his feet and launched himself at Ranma who
threw himself to the ground and grabbed the weapon. Trusting his
instincts, he rolled and came to his feet, slashing upward with the
blade. For a second, the two stood frozen.

Then, a tiny trickle of blood flowed down Kenji's forehead and
face as the headband broke and dropped to the ground. Ranma dropped the
wakizashu and caught Kenji as he fell. He ripped off a piece of his
shirt sleeve and used it to dab on Kenji's head wound. He noted it
wasn't serious and only a minor cut, so he gently set the boy down and
stood up.

Shampoo was nearby, wrapped in chains and Mousse was
confronting Zhao Len. Nothing he did seemed to touch the old mummy as
she moved in and thrust with her staff. Mousse went flying backward to
collapse in a heap.

He didn't get up.

As Ranma prepared to face the old woman, a gigantic pillar of
light erupted into the sky. [Ryoga must be having a hard time,] he noted
absently as he advanced on the old woman.

"So, it is down to you and me, boy," she said. "I should tell
you I haven't lost a fight in a hundred years. So it's either marry
Shampoo as a full man, or I'll make you less of one."

Ranma grinned. "And you should know Cologne said the same thing
before I beat her. Twice. I've also taken on Saffron of Phoenix Mountain
and beat him. Ever hear of that?"

She frowned inwardly. She HAD heard of that from Shampoo, but
had never really believed it. Even she had heard the tales of Amazons
that confronted the King of Phoenix Mountain and never returned. She
knew her old master had gone to to confront Saffron when his power went
out of control, and died trying to stop him. And her master was much
stronger than her. If this boy had done the impossible, she was in
trouble indeed.

"Shampoo is your rightful bride by Amazon law, why do you fight
this?"

"By Amazon law, Akane defeated Shampoo and thereby claimed the
rights to marry me," Ramna retorted.

"Is this true, child?" Zhao Len asked the tied amazon.

"Shampoo no know of this," she stated. "I leave right after
great-grandmother pass away. No time for honor duel."

Ranma blinked. [Shampoo really doesn't remember it! That
means...] "You used that shiatsu shampoo technique on her didn't you.
You made her conviently forget the duel. You dishonored Shampoo by
making her go through with these actions."

"Shut up!" the old woman yelled. "You don't know what you're
talking about."

"No one use shampoo on Shampoo, Ranma. Why you say that?"

"Listen, Shampoo, there is one easy way to know for sure," he
explained. "Have someone use the memory restoring shampoo on you. If I'm
right, the memories she made you forget will return. If they don't, then
I'm lying. And that's a bet I'm willing to make."

For a few moments there was silence as Shampoo thought about
this. Zhao Len's face twisted into a snarl as the younger Amazon
requested the treatment.

"No!" the elder Amazon shouted. "Don't you see, he's just trying
to confuse you!"

Shampoo's eyes narrowed. "Why Zhao Len so afraid? If he wrong,
then nothing change." Zhao Len glared at her. Shampoo may have been
single-minded most of the time, but she wasn't really stupid. "He no
wrong is he? You lie to Shampoo! You disgrace Amazon pride by forgetting
Amazon honor! You no belong on council, step down."

"I will not!" she stated. "And you can't remove me either.
You're not strong enough and only an Amazon can remove me."

Shampoo grinned like a chesire cat. "If what you say is true,
Ranma is still Shampoo's airen. That mean he Amazon and can challenge
you as Shampoo's champion. If he not airen, then you lie."

Zhao Len realized the predicament she was in. If she told the
truth, that she manipulated Shampoo's mind to force this turn of events,
she would be removed from her position and banished. If she continued to
lie and say that Ranma was still Shampoo's airen, then he could
challenge her. If he beat her, she would have to step down off the
council.

There was really only one choice she could make. "He IS your
husband!"

The young, purple-haired Amazon turned to Ranma. "Ranma, as
powerful and honorable warrior, you have defeated Shampoo in combat. She
now ask that you be her champion and fight Zhao Len. Will you do this?"

Ranma grinned. "I accept."

Shampoo turned back to Zhao Len. "I choose Ranma as champion.
If what he say is true, he no can be Amazon since Shampoo lose to Akane.
If what you say is true, you must now fight him. Lose, and you no on
Joketsuzoku council. What you say to this?"

"You can't do this!" she growled as Ranma took up a ready stance
to fight her. "Fine then! I will beat this whelp and show how wrong you
are!"

With a screech, she launched herself at Ranma as two horns
sounded in the distance.





All across the battle field, the fighting slowed and stopped as
the sound of the horns echoed throughout the forested battlefield. The
Amazons looked at each other with confusion, then obeyed the signal to
withdraw, collecting their wounded as they went.

The horns sounded a second time as Genma watched the life or
death battle he was fighting, end. Disbelief covered his face and
dominated his emotions, and for a few moments he did nothing. Then he
glanced at the weary band around him.

Somehow, during the course of the fight, most of the group had
moved to his position.





Ranma twisted out of the way of the elder Amazon's staff
thrust, then turned to meet her chestnut fist with his own. Zhao Len
gave a little better than she got as she managed to slip a few punches
through his defense. Warning bells went off in Ranma's head before he
leapt clear, just barely managing to avoid the Hiryuu Shoten Ha the old
woman was forming.

She stepped back, malice in her eyes. [He really does know
Amazon techniques! He can't be allowed to live outside the tribe.]

Ranma took the break in action to study his opponent. [She's as
good as Cologne, maybe even better. No, Cologne was better, she just
held back most of the time. Still, this ghoul is fast and powerful.
Gotta take the initiative.]

Taking a deep breath, he attacked.





Akane and Shampoo watched the battle with awe.

Both combatants were almost a blur, their punches, kicks, and
dodges moving at high speeds as they bounded around the open area.
Akane's heart rose as Ranma gained the upper hand, though it didn't
last. Zhao Len was getting in more hits and Ranma was already weakened
from Akane's ki blast.

Breaking from the latest close range exchange, the elder Amazon
began to glow. She cackled wildy as she let loose numerous bolts of ki
energy at Ranma.

The young martial artist was hard pressed to avoid the
withering attack. As soon as he touched down from a jump, several more
ki tendrils sought him out, giving him only a split second to dodge.

Akane rolled out of the way of an errant blast, then went to
help Shampoo who was still wrapped in chains. A mighty tora dokiken
punch solved that problem and the two girls got out of the way of the
escalating grudge match.





As Tofu treated the groups wounds, RanRan approached the group.
"Sister and I blow horns of withdrawal," she explained. "All Amazons in
battle must obey."

"So that's why they retreated," Soun said. "They almost had us."

"What about Ranma, Akane, Kenji and the others?" Konatsu asked.

"They fine, sister is watching. All in Ranma hands now,"

"Thy words be cryptic young warrioress," Kuno intoned. "Might ye
elaborate?"

"Not now, injuries first, then worry about others," she replied.
She stepped up to assist Tofu.

The group tried to ask several more questions, but RanRan would
say no more. She also prevented them from going to assist Ranma and the
others. They could only wait and hope their friends were alright.





Ranma was not alright.

Zhao Len continued the assualt of ki blasts, not letting up for
a second and he was getting tired. When he had time to return his own ki
attacks, she shot them down.

Ranma grimaced as another blast struck him and sent him
tumbling along the ground. He rolled to his feet and jumped again as the
ground where he was standing was vaporized. [Just how much energy has
she got? The air is thick with it. I haven't faced this much ki energy
since...] And then he had an idea.

"Alright, ya old ghoul, I've had enough of these games," Ranma
stated.

She laughed. "Games? If this is how well you do in a game, you
wouldn't survive a real fight."

Ranma dodged a few more blasts all the while working closer to
the elder Amazon. She fired again as he got close, but Ranma dodged to
the side and began to circle her, letting a blast of his own off every
now and again to keep her occupied.

Zhao Len grinned to herself. [The fool. Does he not think I
know what he's doing? Well, at least I'll be able to finish this once
and for all. I am running quite hot from all the ki energy I've
expended, so I'll have to focus my cool ki energy as he strikes.]

Ranma closed the circle and Zhao Len dropped her temperature a
split second before he struck.

"Hiryuu Shoten Ha!"

Ranma thrust his arm upward in an uppercut punch and the
dragon's whirlwind formed. However, it was not Zhao Len sucked up, but
Ranma. She made sure to drop her ki energy as soon he attacked, thereby
focusing the bottom of the tornado on him.

Akane froze, inhaling sharply while her insides twisted in
horror. She had already seen this happen once and she had nearly thought
she lost him; she didn't want to see it again. She tried to get up and
help him, but a firm hand on her shoulder stopped her. She looked up to
see Shampoo glancing sadly at her. Akane understood. This was an honor
battle. No one could interfere until it is over, no matter how much they
want to.

Akane closed her eyes. [Please Ranma, be okay,] she prayed.





As Ranma flew upwards, he felt it happening. The dragon's
vortex was absorbing all the ki energy that floated in the air. Ranma
concentrated his own ki energy and funneled it from the tornado to
himself. Look downward, he spotted his target. Zhao Len was unmoving,
using all her strength to avoid being sucked up inside as well.

He smiled, knowing she wouldn't be able to dodge this.

"Hiryuu Korin Dan!"

Ranma let loose all the energy he had collected in one huge
downward blast.

Zhao Len glanced up in horror when she heard the shout. At the
last second, she put up as much of a barrier as she could, but it was
too little, too late. She was able to angle the ki barrier enough that
when the blast hit, she was blown off to the side instead of straight
down into the ground. She rolled along in the dirt and collapsed in a
smoking heap.

With the energy from the twister gone, it dissipated and Ranma
dropped to the ground, exhausted. He hoped that blast had finished her,
since he didn't have much left. For a few moments, she didn't move.

Sensing it was over, the small group approached her.

From the ground, Zhao Len quickly regained conciousness, though
her strength was still lacking. [That boy! He manipulated the dragon's
whirlwind in a manner not possible. How?] She gritted her teeth. [He is
good, better than me and I don't have anything left.] Her eyes focused
on the patch of ground in front of her and she grinned at what she saw:
The headband and intact ruby from Kenji's forehead. [This will have to
do as a consolation prize.] She quickly hid it in her robes, than slowly
regained her feet to look at those surrounding her.

"It over, Zhao Len," Shampoo stated. "You defeated in a fair
honor duel. Step down."

Zhao Len grimaced. [I have no choice, but I will have my
revenge at another time.] "Very well, I admit defeat. You are better
than I thought, Ranma. It's a pity we won't be able to add your
bloodline to the noble Joketsuzoku."

Shampoo shook her head, fighting to hold back her tears. She
turned to face the Amazon warriors that had gathered in the past few
minutes. "Hear me gathered warriors, for I am Shan Pu of the
Joketsuzoku, chosen heir of Khu Lon. Zhao Len has been removed from the
council by right of combat. We now return to China and leave these
people in peace. They have proven to be good warriors who have no
quarrel with us."

Next she turned to Ranma. "Take friends and go now, Shampoo
have much to do. Will see you later, Ranma." She winked at him and Ranma
blinked back.

Akane frowned. [I hope she really has given up on him.] She
hooked her arm around Ranma's and went to retrieve Kenji who was still
lying unconcious, though Yuri was at his side and tending him. Ranma
picked him up and the quartet turned to leave.

As they approached the ring of Amazons, the gathered warriors
parted, allowing them to leave. Ranma almost thought he saw looks of
respect from several of them, though he received venomous looks from the
ones who had witnessed his defeat of Zhao Len.

Then they were leaving the camp and heading into the forest,
only to be greeted by RanRan. She guided them out of the forest and back
to the vans where the rest of the group was. Well, only one van was
there and only part of the group.

Tofu explained that the more injured had already left to get
treated namely: Genma, Soun, Ryoga, Natsume, and Sasuke. Ryoga was the
worst off; he was badly hurt and out cold. Tofu tried to do what he
could, but he would still be out for awhile.

Wearily, the remaining people boarded the last van as Tofu
drove them out.







Dear Diary,

The last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet, ever since the
Amazon incident. Of course, quiet meaning no major battles or conflicts;
just the normal everyday Nerima events.

First, Shampoo, Mousse, and the rest of the Amazons left again,
but she sent him a letter a week later saying her memories had been
restored and was honor bound to give Ranma up for good. With Shampoo
gone, the last of Ranma's suitors are dealt with.

Oh, the other big news, Ranma actually proposed and gave me a
ring! I knew we'd probably end up married eventually, but now I have
definite proof that we'll be husband and wife someday. My hope is that
we'll get married at the end of the school year, which is about 6 months
away. That way, we'd have several weeks for our honeymoon. But it's up
to Ranma, that's what I told him. I won't try and force him; it was
tried and failed miserably, even though it wasn't totally my idea.

Ryoga was out of it for quite awhile after the Amazon battle.
He severely depleted his ki reserves and had to spend several days
recuperating. Akari never left his side; she sure is a devoted and
caring girl, and I'm glad Ryoga has someone like that in his life. He
always seemed so nice, but deep down I knew he was lonely and depressed.
That's why I always tried to be nice to him.

Kuno is dating Nabiki now. Hands up, all those who saw that
coming? I still can't figure out if she's serious about him, or just
stringing him along to get free meals and gifts out of him. I do hope
it's the former, but with my sister... well, I don't want to think about
it. Plus, Tatewaki actually seems pretty decent now. Oh, he still spouts
poetry and laments my engagement to Ranma, but he's not nearly the
annoyance he used to be. By the way, the Kuno mansion has been rebuilt
(to Nabiki's specifications) and he's moved back there along with
Sasuke. Kodachi is still in a mental health ward and it doesn't look
good for her. Some sort of split personality problem.

Oh, Dr. Tofu and Kasumi are going out regularly now. There have
been signs that Tofu is getting ready to propose and it's almost
guaranteed oneechan will say yes. They'll probably get married soon
afterward and then dear, sweet Kasumi will be gone.

We'll all miss her, but we are getting two new family members:
Natsume and Kurumi!

They plan to fill in the chores Kasumi used to do. They're both
pretty good cooks and Kurumi especially is all too eager to help around
the house. They were planning on challenging us and taking the dojo
away, but Nabiki helped talk them into a better solution.

Daddy adopted them into the family as Tendos instead, and
they'll help run the dojo with us. This way, they gain a real family as
well as a dojo, and we gain extra help. They'll stay in Happosai's old
room which has been cleaned and sterilized. They didn't know exactly
what jiji did with his spare time, but they do kinda look up to him
since it turned out it was Happosai and not Soun who met them all those
years ago. They're happy with it.

What next? Oh yeah! Konatsu's back as well! He's dressing more
like a guy, though still with feminine touches, and he's moved back in
with Ukyo. With so many people staying there now, we all got together
for a few days to expand the place and add a second floor. Costs were
low, since we didn't need things like hammers or saws. There are
advantages to being a martial artist! Now there's more restaurant space
and enough rooms for five people. According to Ukyo, business is getting
better, and I've never seen her happier!

Okay, now for the more interesting stuff. During a group picnic
at a park, a food fight got started. I don't know who, but it was
probably Ranma's fault. No wait, I promised myself I wouldn't
automatically blame him anymore without proof. Anyways, it was all fun
and games until Selah got creamed by a pie and had a pot of water dumped
on her.

Ranma and I happened to be near her at the time, unfortunately.

The next thing we knew, a geyser of water erupted underneath us
and sent us flying off into the distance. I wished I could've still been
violent enough to wipe the smirk off Ranma's face as we flew; he was
used to this, I wasn't.

Anyways, Ranma grabbed me in mid-air and tried to use his body
as a cushion when we crashed through the roof of some building. What
happened next was totally unexpected.

When I awoke, I felt strange. When I saw my body in my arms, I
screamed. Toshi and Miyo spent the next hour trying to calm Ranma and I
down; well, mainly me. Ranma accepted the situation after 10 minutes.

Apparently, due a magical accident, Ariko and Hikaru had
switched bodies awhile ago and we interrupted a ceremony Toshi was doing
to put them back in the right bodies. They turned out fine, but me and
Ranma switched bodies. Toshi said he could put us back, but not until
midnight. Meaning: WE were stuck like that for 8 hours. Needless to say,
I spent most of the time in Ranma's girl form. I freaked out whenever I
became a man, so I guess I can understand Ranma better now. Heh, the way
I look at it, I had the great female body and he was the tomboy!

Well, that's about it. Between the Kodachi episode, the
training trip, Amazons, and body switching, it's been an interesting
summer vacation. School starts again tomorrow, wish me luck!

Akane





In the still waters of the viewing pool, the caretaker and his
lady watched the youngest Tendo close her diary and go to bed.

"She is such a strong girl," the caretaker remarked. "With all
that she has been through lately, I'm surprised she is still sane."

The lady in blue smiled gently. "That's just part of the Tendo
heritage." The smile disappeared. "No, what I'm worried about is what
the Rogues are up to. Through their interference, the wizard sects have
dwindled to almost nothing and unrest is formenting in the Joketsuzoku.
They were able to use some of it to direct a group of Amazons to atttack
Ranma and Akane."

"What can we do about it?" the caretaker asked.

"Unfortunately, nothing. As I said before, we can only
concentrate on our side. Though it worries me the way they are dividing
our strength before the battle comes."

"It was clever of you, the way you managed to get those two
orphan girls to return, as well as the male Kunoichi."

The lady smiled. "I have a few ideas in progress. They haven't
won yet."



----------------------------------------------------

Author's notes:
Story Arc #4 done! Whoopee!

Thank you to all those that read this, and especially thanks to all you
Ranma fanfiction writers out there!

And a very, very, very, special thanks to Takahashi-Megami-sama!

Up next: Minor Disturbances

All CC&F (comments, criticism, and flames) can be directed here:
oddball22@hotmail.com

If you're reading this elsewhere, you can find the rest of my fanfiction
here:
www.geocities.com/kaiphantom2000

Kaiphantom (Brad in real life)