A Ranma 1/2 episode done in the Anime Car Wars style. Expect characters to be quite out of character due to altered universe of the Anime Car Wars series.

This one shot is also the prologue to Fuel's Gold, in the same way that Omega Force is the epilogue of the whole Anime Car War series.

Just read and enjoy this little tale that is appropriately titled...


The Trouble with Engagements

It was a particularly rainy May afternoon in Baltimore, Maryland. The city streets were wet, slippery, and even flooded in some places. In fact, most of the seaside fortress city's fifty thousand residents, who were peering through their bullet proof windows, could not even see any further than their own front yards. Certainly no sane person would walk much less drive in such bad weather.

And yet, a certain marine blue Mitsubishi Lancer was slowly making its way to a two-story bungalow with a big yard and a martial arts training hall near the docks. The mid-size car was armed with two machine guns at its front, a Vulcan machine gun in its small roof's turret, and a smokescreen at its rear end.

Within the rain battered car is a small family composed of a bald-headed man behind the wheel, his beautiful wife riding shotgun, and a sixteen year old boy in the back seat. The male teen was also wondering why he and his parents were heading to their neighbors' house in such bad weather.

"Yo, Pop. How come we're headin' at Uncle Soun's house today when we can do so tomorrow?" The pony tailed teen asked as he had leaned in the middle of the two bucket seats.

"Well, Ranma. Today is a very important event for all of us," The forty-something man had answered to his impatient teenage son while keeping his eyes on the road. "You'll understand when we get there."

"Your father is right, dear." The woman had added with a barely suppressed giggle. " It would also give you chance to spar with Akane again. I know she's eager for a re-match since you went too easy on her when we had last visited them about two months ago."

"I had ta," Ranma Saotome replied with his face a little flustered at the stated fact. "Uncle Soun would 'ave my head on a silver platter if I went all out n' hurt her."

"Yeah, well. Soun's gone soft in his advancing age," Genma said with a malicious sneer as he had taken the left turn leading to the Tendou compound. "He should realize that his youngest daughter is a martial artist who like you has great potential in the Art."

"Genma Saotome, I'm surprised at you." Nodoka Saotome's tone had turned icy as she spoke up. "Neither Ranma nor Akane have trained in martial arts just to become powerful warriors. They have trained in the Art so that they could defend themselves from people with ill intentions."

"I'm sorry, dear," The bald headed Saotome patriarch said as he had retracted his earlier statement. "It's just that both Soun and I can see their potential as warriors."

Seeing Nodoka's and Ranma's confused expressions, he then added. "Sadly, in this day and age, a bullet reigns supreme in any fight. So much so that even the most powerful warrior, would not last long in a fight against someone armed with a gun."

Genma had wiped away his tears with his plain flesh colored shirt's right sleeve as silence had again filled the car with the exception of the raindrops splattering on the vehicle's laser proof roof, trunk lid and hood.

-oOo-

The Saotomes had arrived at the blue gate of the Tendou residence at around four o' clock in the afternoon. Genma then parked his car in front of the gate before honking the car's horn twice.

After being escorted to the two floored light green bungalow by the eldest daughter Kasumi Tendou, who had brought with her two large umbrellas, Genma and Nodoka had embraced their old friends.

Ranma, on the other hand, was talking with the three Tendou siblings. Kasumi had politely excused herself from the other three and returned to the kitchen to prepare the snacks and iced beverages.

"Hey, Ranma." Akane Tendou exclaimed with glee, pride evident in her voice and body language. "How 'bout that re-match? I've been practicing everyday since we last fought and Nabiki says that I'm gettin' better."

"You got it, Tomboy. Same rules as before, first one ta hit the mat loses and treats the winner with a triple scoop sundae of his or her choosing." Ranma had answered with his usual arrogant grin.

"Alright, let's head to the dojo. I hope you saved enough of your allowance since I'm gonna win this one," The sixteen year old girl with blackish-blue hair said as she had started to run towards the small training hall at the back of the house.

"That's funny. That's exactly what I was supposed ta say," Ranma said aloud as he too had started to chase his laughing best friend of ten years.

"Hold it. Before you two have some fun. Let us first discuss an important matter between our families," Soun's deep voice had boomed from the living room.

Both Ranma and Akane had slowly turned around and walked back to the living room with deliberate slowness.

-oOo-

"Since everyone is now here, let us get straight to the point. I called this meeting to discuss the future of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts," The black haired patriarch said as he had risen temporarily from his place in the light gray couch. "Genma and I are not as spry as we used to be and we have to pass on the responsibilities of teaching to the next generation."

"Um, can I ask a question?" Ranma hesitantly said at the ominous undertone of Soun's voice as the latter had rarely spoke with such vigor and passion.

He was sitting next to the Tendou siblings in the longest sofa with his best friend on his right, followed by Nabiki and Kasumi. Both Genma and Nodoka were seated at the smaller couch seats to the teen's right with Kimiko sitting on her husband's left.

All heads had turned to the Tendou patriach in response.

"Of course, my dear boy. All of us are already involved in this meeting." The Tendou patriarch's face softened in his reply as he had known the black haired teen was beginning to fully understand the situation. He had also sat down since he had given the proverbial floor to Ranma.

"Uhh, umm. It would be nice fer the sisters and I ta help train your students, Uncle but aren't we a bit too young to assume all responsibilities for the school?" Ranma stuttered a bit as he had spoken quietly with his face directed to the floor.

Inwardly, the pony tailed teen was ashamed that he had asked such a stupid question in front of everyone no less.

"Actually, this is more for the school's future than its present. It doesn't have to be done right away but now is the best time to discuss it," was Soun's answer as he was proud of the young man's courage to ask a relevant question.

It had showed that Ranma was indeed thinking of his future rather his present, which he often did.

"Ranma, I'm just as surprised as you are but I'd rather know it right now than later." Nabiki Tendou said in defense of her father.

"I guess you're right, Nabs." The boy answered with a mischievous smile to the seventeen year old girl's consternation. Turning his head back to the forty something man with graying hair, he added quickly. "Ok, Uncle. Lay it on us."

"Alright then, Ranma, for the two schools of the Anything Goes of Martial Arts to be united thus making its future well secured, you have to marry one of my daughters." Soun had told the four teens with a straight face.

The other adults had also gone silent since they had also talked about this by themselves, a few weeks earlier.

As for the teens themselves, all three of the Tendou sisters were either shocked or incensed or in Ranma's case – both. The pony-tailed boy had turned around just as he had abruptly stood up.

He then headed for the dojo in the right side of the compound to let out all the rage he had felt in his heart.

Rebuking his father's friend in their own home is not a good idea or even honorable for that matter.

"Ranma, before you go, at least please choose one. You don't have to get married right away, just let us know to whom you are most comfortable with for the rest of your life." Soun said as he had also stood up but he had refrained from approaching the shaking teen for fear of being sucker punched.

His words did have an immediate effect since the pony-tailed teen had abruptly stopped walking.

"Uncle, please do not force me ta hate you. More than anything else, I would like to throttle you ta death before runnin' away but that would be dishonorable to our families as well as ta me. Ranma said evenly, his back still turned to everyone else. "Still, Akane is the one I would probably choose since she's my best friend in the whole wide world and…"

"I hate you, Father for letting me marry someone with even asking me." Akane said with tears beginning to form in her eyes as she too had stood up abruptly from her place beside the spot that Ranma had just vacated.

She then turned to the other adults who had looked uncomfortable for some reason before continuing. "I hate you; Mother for going along with this and that goes double for you, Uncle Genma and Auntie Nodoka."

"Finally, I hate you Ranma for thinking that I'm the best choice just because I was your best friend." Akane by then had reached her "friend" and gave him a powerful slap on his right cheek right after telling him off.

After the said act, the blue haired martial artist had turned on her white sock covered heel and ran away, tears freely flowing at her face.

"I-I'm sorry, Akane. I'm sorry." The pony-tailed teen said in a whisper as he had fallen on his hands and knees, his tears streaming out of his eyes without his notice or approval. "I'm sorry."

All the women had given chase to the crying girl but had later returned to the living room empty handed.

This was because Akane had blindly run into the worsening weather outside after putting on her shoes and disappeared in the rain.

Ranma had felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into the crying face of Soun.

"Ranma, I do not ask forgiveness for what I have done earlier but please get my youngest daughter back here safe and sound." The elder marital artist and master of the Tendou branch of the Anything Goes style had said in between sobs.

Mrs. Tendou had given the slowly standing up pony-tailed teen a set of car keys.

"Go to the garage and take the black Trans-Am parked next to our own white Impala," She said through her consistent sobs. "Use it to bring my youngest daughter home."

Ranma had thanked the two concerned parents and ran off to the garage, the squeaks from his newly worn rubber shoes were barely heard above the cacophony of sobs and patters of the falling rain.

By the time the rest of the two families had reached the front doorway, the black Pontiac Trans-Am had roared out the nearly opened opened garage door and took off into slightly dark and wet city streets.

-oOo-

Akane simply ran as far as her cold feet could take her. She never cared where she would end up in this god forsaken weather.

She only knew that she had to run away from the people who had considered her as an item to be bartered. Her heart had ached badly since their betrayal.

She had actually thought that they had loved her especially her best friend- Ranma but they had only thought of her as a means to an end for the success of the schools' union.

'Damn them, damn them all!' were the words that repeated in her mind like a broken record.

She had finally felt her wet legs had given way after running into a well known park, a good five kilometers away from her home.

The blue blouse and pant combo that she had worn had stuck to her wet skin, while her light blue flat heeled shoes had somehow shrunk in the various puddles she had run through earlier.

Seeing the park's swings as they were lightly pushed by the wind, Akane had forced her way to one of the swing's steel seats and rested her head and right shoulder on one of its chains.

The blue haired girl's already drenched hands were further moistened by the rain and the drops of water that had made its way down the chain itself. Her tears had joined the raindrops from their starting positions at Akane's watery orbs.

The young woman was thinking of better times with her loved ones that she had ignored everything else around her.

As such Akane did not see the pair of LID headlights illuminating her back until she had noticed the said beams being reflected by the large puddle beneath her feet. She also did not hear the sound of a car screeching to a stop on the curb just five meters away from her.

Two damp blue Chuck Taylor sneakers had come to a stop in front of her, blotting out her watery reflection in the waves that the said footwear had made in the puddle.

A moistened and calloused hand had raised Akane's wet face just enough to see the worried visage of her pony-tailed best friend.

"Akane, I'm sorry fer choosing so early without even consulting ya." Ranma said with complete sincerity. "But remember this; if I was ta fall in love with someone, I'd rather 'ave that someone be none other than you."

The drenched pony tailed martial artist had wiped the tears from Akane's brown eyes with his free hand as he had retracted the other from her chin.

"Alright then, fight me. Fight me for real this time." Akane said with conviction as she had slowly stood up from her damp wooden seat.

Seeing the confused expression on her best friend's face, she continued. "If I lose, I'll accept the engagement with no compunctions whatsoever…but if I win, we will do everything in our power to overturn that specific provision in the school's rule book."

"If that is what you want, then let's do it. I won't hold back any longer with respect ta your wishes." Ranma answered as he had already gotten into his loose fighting stance but his face still showed his reservations about the whole matter.

"Although, I still wish we didn't even have to fight like this." he added quietly.

"This is the best way to settle this, Ranma." Akane replied as she had also gotten to her own battle stance as she waited for the unseen signal to start the match.

"Besides, I have to prove myself to you and to everyone else that I am not a fragile china doll that would break at your slightest touch." She added with a determined look.

A brown maple leaf, which had broken off from its branch due to the intense weight of the raindrops that had collected in its surface, had reached the muddied ground when both combatants had leaped at each other.

-oOo-

Akane had started the duel with a flurry of punches coupled with a mid side kick as her finisher to her combination attack as soon as she had gotten within striking range.

Ranma had known from fighting his best friend many times in the past that it was this combo that had felled many of her other opponents in the mat whenever there was a martial arts competition nearby.

The fact that his best friend had started the battle with this combo meant that she was deadly serious in her intent to win.

Even then, Ranma had blocked as much as he could while dodging others that were too hard to block.

The pony tailed martial artist was too busy dodging and blocking punches that the kick had gotten through his defenses and made him cough just to regain his breathing.

After Ranma had recovered, he had fought back hard. He had finally tagged the girl with a sweep kick from under her legs, followed by a punch at her midsection to knock the wind out of her.

The pony tailed martial artist then waited for Akane to say "I give up" but it did not happen.

Instead, the blue haired girl had stood up shakily from the grass while holding her stomach and making deep breaths to make sure her lungs were getting the needed oxygen.

As soon as Akane had regained her breathing, she smirked and said. "Not bad, but I'm not gonna give up that easily."

She then charged at her opponent with her right fist sailing from her running form. Ranma had anticipated the punch only to feel pain in his right cheek after a last minute jumping roundhouse kick had gotten through his defense.

"Heh," The pony tailed boy said as he had clutched his aching cheek while standing up from where he had fallen sideways in the mud. "I almost forgot our style's Anything Goes. Alright, let's rock and roll."

Ranma had faked a side kick on Akane's left side that she had blocked easily only with her own leg only to jump with other foot and scoring a kick on her exposed right as soon as his right foot had returned to the ground.

"Copy cat," The blue haired practitioner of Anything Goes martial arts said with smug grin as she had ignored the pain from her aching side while slowly standing up herself.

She then danced her way to her opponent's location with feet and legs flying in Ranma's direction while her opponent was still straightening himself up from his own prone position.

It was amazing that Akane was able to do that attack while keeping still her balance the whole time through the wet grasses and the muddy soil beneath them.

Ranma had simply thought that his best friend had been practicing such moves in the gym after school lets out since the varnished floors were usually polished after the last gym class.

The pony tailed teen had dodged some of the side and axe kicks before feeling a fist embed itself on his stomach.

He had immediately crumpled to the ground at the intensity of the thrown punch as his breath was released prematurely.

It was only when Ranma had gone down that Akane had forced herself to stop and withdraw her arm in the middle of a jerky right hook only to only to cross both of her arms above her budding chest instead.

"Give up?"

"Nope."

Ranma had slowly stood up, had gotten himself in a loose fighting stance and the fight was on again.

The battle had continued until both martial artists had remained where they had stood near the swings.

It was by that time that both Ranma and Akane were waiting for the other to make the first move while their soaked chests had moved up and down the whole time.

Ranma's eyes were on his best friend's orbs the whole time so he did not even notice how much the wet blouse had stuck on her body. The same could be said for Akane as well.

The whole fifteen minute fight was short but brutal with both teens panting from the quick and incessant exchange of blows.

This fact was made obvious when their sweat and blood had mixed in with the raindrops and some dirt that had pasted themselves on their exposed skin and wet clothes.

Both of them had one wet arm across their respective chests as they felt the pain from their opponent's hard hitting body blows, as only a few strikes were directed at the head.

The teens were also barely standing since some low kicks were directed at their damp legs.

Thankfully for Ranma, his best friend did not even aim for his weak spot that is found between his legs since that one would still be felt the following morning.

Soon both teens had fallen down to the muddy ground, already hurt and exhausted from the whole battle.

The black car's headlights still provided them with the needed illumination as it did for the whole fifteen minute match.

"Ranma, I guess this fight's a draw so what do we do now?" Akane asked as she had regained a bit of her strength after the brief rest.

"Well, we can both agree with the engagement but still act the same as we did before." Ranma said as he had looked at his best friend's direction. " I mean, we still haveta come ta terms with our feelings fer each other and that takes time."

"You're right. So how about we take the car home. I think I'm gettin' the chills," The girl said as she had slowly stood up.

"I don't blame you, runnin' away without an umbrella and all." The pony tailed boy had said while standing up.

Seeing the sudden stiffness of the girl's wet body and the clenching of her small fists, Ranma had raised his hands in mock surrender as he had gotten up.

He had slowly neared the simmering girl before quickly adding. "There's a spare body armor set at the back seat. I'll jus' turn around while ya change."

Both teens had approached the parked vehicle carefully lest they slip in the muddy ground or wet concrete.

Upon arriving at the black car's right, the young woman had opened the gunner side door and moved the seat so that she could enter the rear passenger area.

She had slowly taken off her wet dress and underwear before putting on the red body armor. As promised, Ranma was looking at the sand box a few meters away from him and had even reminisced about their shared childhood for a while.

"Hey, there's a second body armor set here so how about you doing the same. Don't worry, I won't peek." Akane told her best friend as she had neatly folded her clothes and placed them in the floorboards.

The girl had slowly emerged to the still falling rain as Ranma had entered through the driver side.

After returning outside with only his blue armor covering his whole soaked body, Ranma had replaced the driver seat to its former position.

The pony tailed teen then told his best friend to enter the car through the gunner (shotgun) side.

As both martial artists sat on their respective seats, Akane had laid her head on Ranma's right shoulder.

With a triumphant grin, the pony tailed martial artist had turned the ignition and led the newly started black car back to the Tendou compound.


Extra:

As the Hauberk Custom had arrived at the Tendou compound, a group of people had surrounded it despite the heavy rainfall outside.

The women had already prepared their different colored umbrellas to shelter themselves and the occupants of the car once the latter two had exited it.

"Akane, you shouldn't have run away like that. What if a pervert suddenly accosted you? What if you have gotten sick?" Kimiko had told her youngest daughter as the latter had emerged from the black car. "What actually happened to you two?"

"I know, Mom and I'm really sorry." Akane replied with her head bowed. "As for what just happened, I actually challenged Ranma to a serious fight and it had ended in a draw."

"I'm ready ta accept any punishment for doing so but it was the only way that we had ta settle everything between us," Ranma added also with his head bowed. " We both accept our engagement on our honor as martial artists."

The adults had led the two drenched teens back to the living room before Soun had spoken again, his tone betraying both his pent up anxiety and joy at the young man's words.

Before he did speak, the older women had scurried to the kitchen and bedroom to pick up the ice and necessary medicine.

"Actually, the engagement itself is not as binding as you would have thought. Either of you can break it if the need arises, although we fervently hope that you would not." Soun said as he had fanned himself with his left hand before he had continued to the amusement of his younger audience. "In fact, the only thing that is really tangible in this agreement is the dowry."

"What dowry?" both drenched and wounded teens had asked him in loud voices.

"Ouch, remind me to be always five feet away from you when you both shout like that." Soun said as he had rubbed his still ringing ears.

"Anyway, the dowry is the car you just drove Ranma." He continued. "It's a one of kind vehicle with a prototype autopilot/gunnery system installed in its vehicular computer. It also possesses some advanced electronic countermeasures along its fearsome mixed armament."

"Ok, so let me guess. My rents and I now own the car, since I've heard that dowries are usually given to the groom's family, right?" Ranma said as he had continued to dry his hair with a red towel.

"Not this time, Ranma. Actually, it is you and Akane who are the new owners of the Hauberk Custom. Take car of her, alright?"

"We will, Uncle. We will."


Consider this to be first swan fan fiction as I will quit writing here as soon as I could post my final fan fiction in yet another category sometime next year. I could still revise my older fan fictions but no more posting of any new story.

If I am going to get any reviews for these three unrelated stories, kindly add this phrase to it - "Adios, Mother Fucker".

Thank you.