Sticks and Carrots

                Ku Lon was not a happy camper. She glared at the Crystal of Chance, her one most beloved artifact.

                On the outside, it wasn't much to look at. Apparently a glass ball with twists of intertwined colored glass adding a little variety, it looked cheap and mildly tacky. However, it was invaluable to Ku Lon. Although its capabilities were limited, those same capabilities could be invaluable when taken properly.

                The Crystal of Chance, when used properly at the beginning of an endeavor, showed the knowledgeable viewer what might be. Ku Lon had reflected on all she had heard of the boy Xian Pu had decided to claim as her husband, and an impulse had lead her to consult the Crystal. This could become a pivotal event in her family, after all.

                Now she was glad she had. She wanted to vehemently deny that that… that… that clumsy crone could possibly be her! She had sat aside in shell-shocked disbelief as her possible future self attempted to snare a wild storm with nothing more than a butterfly net. She stared at the depths that Xian Pu sank to as the foolish girl ensnared more and more of herself in the hunt for her 'Airen' and ignored the fact that her efforts were turning her into the creature least likely to ensnare his interest.

                Ku Lon sat back and thought, hard. There was no question that this Saotome Ranma would be priceless, if she could persuade him to join the Amazons. To learn the Amiguriken in less than a week! And survive the Neko-ken…!

                Ku Lon knew that marriage to Xian Pu would probably be doomed before it started. Not only was the girl's curse anathema to her intended's greatest fear, Xian Pu's clingy nature and single-mindedness would almost certainly turn the shy and skittish youth farther and farther from her. He was also well on his way to being scared off of any emotional contact. Once bitten, thrice shy and all that. There was no denying either that Ranma would never submit to the stereotypical prejudices of the Amazons.

                There were other options. Popular opinion aside, men were not second-class citizens in the Amazon's eyes, although they filled a role commonly associated with such things. Many Amazon heroes had been male, after all, and the boy's curse made things even better. His very own stubborn nature would serve him well; he was strong, and not stupid. Education was ephemeral and secondary; he had the native intellect needed, although his many bad habits would take a strong, skilled, and above all patient hand to remove. If she offered him an honorable way into the Amazons that would not steal respect from him (as he would suffer if he was simply taken in as Xian Pu's Outsider husband), she stood a good chance of getting him.

                But how to start? Xian Pu had already laid a destructive groundwork and was digging herself in even deeper even now. How was Ku Lon to counteract that?

                Outside, she overheard Ba Thu gently guiding his daughter through the delicate first steps of befriending a shy little colt. As Xao La watched her child and mate affectionately from where she stood protectively a bit back, Ba Thu stopped the girl when she tried to run to the colt, and instead pressed a few carrot bits into her hand and urged her to make small, encouraging noises while offering the bits. It took time, but the colt finally sidled over, and soon the little girl was happily stroking the velvety neck as the colt curiously tried to find any more treats from his new friend.

                Ku Lon smiled a little. Young Zin Ku showed signs of her father's gift with animals as well as her mother's hot blood for combat. It had been a long time since such a combination was present in the tribe, and if the girl became one of the powerful War Beast Trainers, then it would be a fine day indeed.

                Meanwhile, a bit of Ba Thu's advice came drifting over. "…Never forget, little one, that there is not a single wild creature that will come to a stick. Offer them the carrot instead, and be patient…"

                Ku Lon suddenly sat up sharply. Of course! That had been her other self's greatest mistake. She had come and immediately begun pushing. She had charged at a wild creature and attempted to beat it into submission. Not only did it scare the poor thing away, but even had she succeeded, the results would not have been the prize she originally pursued.

                But if she came with a carrot and a gentle hand instead…

                If she held to her original plan as her other self had, she would arrive just in time to intercept the boy as his hot-tempered and intolerant fiancée once again failed to hear him out and sent him flying. Her original self had taken that as an opportunity to test him and to begin threats and pushing him. But… if she offered a patient ear first, explained herself, then tested him and offered him the learning that his soul craved… she could easily become a confidante, an adult who he could trust enough to turn to for advice.

                Maybe even a friend?

                Ku Lon smiled and prepared for her journey. A friend… that would be a nice result no matter WHAT happened.

(A.N. – Hmmm. I suppose the reason I'm writing this is that I actually like Ku Lon, and I think that if she was more open-minded, she'd have the best chance of becoming friends with Ranma. But she really screws up in the beginning with him, and I was just wondering what would have happened if she'd wised up and offered a carrot instead of a stick.

                Not my characters, but my idea. Read and review, onegai shimasu, and let me know if I should keep writing this.)