Order of the Dragon
By Ozzallos

Pant.

Pant.

Pant.

The small boy ran through from ally to ally as the dusk shadows lengthened around him and the sun slowly sank into the horizon. It was still following him. He knew it. Could feel it. Mommy had told him there was no such thing as the boogie man. No monsters in the closet, or under the bed for that matter. They were all stories and he was safe. At eight year old, he shouldn't be worrying about such things anyway, she had admonished.

Mommy was wrong.

The little boy took a tumble and scrapped a knee on the way down, opening flesh into a bright red gash. Under normal circumstances, he would have cried. Maybe waited for an adult to help him up. But being chased by black wraith from your nightmares tends to help you grow up fast, and he picked himself up from the ground and continued running. The adults weren't any help in this matter, he reflected through saturated panic. They couldn't see it. It had found him on the playground and nobody else even knew it existed. Not the kids. Or adults. Or even his own parents. But he knew instinctively even as the fear invaded his brain that it was after him and him alone.

He cleared another ally and found the fading light on the street. A quick glance behind him revealed no movement from the shadows and a glimmer of hope pierced the fear leadend fear. Maybe, just maybe the boogieman had lost interest in him.

But it was cold.

So cold.

He was standing in the fading orange light and was still shivering. In that moment, he knew the monster hadn't lost interest. It was still hunting him. Even out in the open with plenty of witnesses, it would still have him. He looked around wildly, searching for his tormentor and found it less than thirty feet away, pearched atop a light pole, starring direcly at him. He took a step back, and realized a fundamental truth. It was waiting for those last rays of light before it would take him. He couldn't out run it. He couldn't hide. It would take him away and he would never see Mommy or Daddy again. The boy sank to his knees and began to cry. The black shadow waited patiently, indulging in the boy's fear.

Soon.

The light faded and the cloaked shadow knew. It was time. Time to feed. The wraith floated down as if blown by an inperceptable gust of wind down upon the boy. A boney finger reached out and it chattered with delight. Such a tasty morsel. The shadow settled around the boy and reached in. Now it was-

CRaaAACK!

The wraith's world was bathed in a brilliant blue as the bolt of confidence fueled ki slammed home, blowing the monster away from it's next meal with violent force. The roar of energy gave to a hellish scream and the boy looked up, starled to see the monster chittereing madly across the street. He was alive! The wraith picked itself off the concrete and readily oriented on the new threat. He looked along it's line of sight and found his savior, pulsing with radiant blue energy. The boy had just enough time to smile before the shadow lunged forward.

The battle was joined.


It had been a tough day for Nerima's premier martial artist, one Ranma Saotome. Who now walked atop a fencetop slightly worse for the wear; that wear being various scrapes, bruises and burn marks. What had contributed to the heir's disheveled condition?

His arch nemesis.

For most people, the arch nemesis is the boss or some office coworker. The messy neighbor who borrows tools that will never be seen again. Maybe even that telemarketer that calls at 3am in the morning to solicit vinal siding. Ranma Saotome, heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts had just such a nemesis.

No, it wasn't Ryoga Hibiki, whose legendary indurancy and inhuman strength could pulverize stone with a finger. Nor was it Mousse, master of the Hidden Weapons Art. Ranma had bested Prince Herb in combat and the Demi-God, Saffron, shortening the list even further. And while his fiancées would just as soon kill him as they were trying to marry them, the gulf of skill between he and they was simply too enormous to describe.

Who was this near invincible advesary that had bested the greatest martial artists of the generation at nearly every turn? Who was the one that no technique could touch, no matter how hard the Saotome trained? The answer was quite simple…

Ranma's appetite.

It was by far the most insidious opponent the young martial artist had ever faced, and it could not be stopped. Many had tried. And failed. To come between Ranma and his appetite was a folly of epic proportions and many a challenge had been lost by those not realizing this fact. For Ranma, the problem was slightly different…. His appetite had just betrayed him.

Again.

The day had started off fairly well, with the notable exception that it was Akane who had decided to pack his lunch instead of Kasumi. All in all, this wasn't serious as the martial artist was adept at either dumping the remains she called food or, if she was to stand in witness to it's consumption, bear it down like a true martial artist. The latter he just had to get in the proper frame of mind to accomplish… Look at it as a martial arts test of endurance… And withstand the inevitable painful retribution the food would inflict upon him for having been so rude as to actually consume another sentient lifeform. Infact, it was probably the only thing labelled as food the martial artist would hesitate to consume outright, and this said a lot given the trials he face in the wilds of the Chinese Amazon rainforest.

And it all went wrong about lunchtime, with the words "Hey Ran-chan, you hungry?"

This was, of course, a calculated question on Ukyo's part. Of course he was hungry. Not only was he Ranma Saotome, but he was in possession Akane's baked goods. The fact that his appetite hadn't imploded upon itself, was quite frankly amazing. It was here that Ranma demonstrated another minor character flaw that was directly connected to his arch Nemisis, Appetite. It was called Restraint, or the total lack of. Few could have blamed him, however. Ukyo was a master of her trade and Ranma already scored a negative five hundred on Save vs. okanomiyaki rolls. In other words, the article of food was out over her hands and into his mouth before she could take her next breath.

Therefore, it was rather unfortunate that around the time he was saying, "MMmf… Thank rowlrowlrwol you mmmfmmrr Ucchcan!" A certain other fiancée had widnessed the entire sordid affair.

She was mad.

She glowed Red.

A bright Red, in fact.

Her name was synonymous with feminine violence and a certain line of cricket bats.

From there, it all went downhill. The mallet came out, as did Ukyo's combat spatula to counter it. The standoff between the fiancées inevitably drew Shampoo and her shadow Mousse like moths to the flame, and the fiancée wars began in earnest. Mousse, of course, had other things on his mind… Such as the impalement of a certain martial arts heir on the mass quantities of edged weapondry he launched downrange at the martial arist. All the commotion only served to attract upper classman Tatewake Kuno to the skirmish, adding yet another front to Ranma's Little Big Horn. All in all, it was merely a warm-up for his appointment with Hell's own tour guide.

"I've seen hell because of you, Ranma!"

And so it went. It wasn't nessisarily the participation in the fight that led to Ranma's now worn condition more than trying to break up the fight. Kuno and Mousse went down easily, the former aided by his sister's own involvement while the latter was simply a bumbling idiot. Ryoga eventually hauled off and got lost, while Happosai and his bombing run was a late add to the mix. All in all it had been a really tough day for the fence-born heir to the Anything Goes school of martial arts, that is to say, a thoroughly average day.

And it was about to get worse.

The cold chill came in sometime between the musings of "Why'd the tomboy have to hit him so hard?" and "stupid fiancées", causing Ranma to stop and take stock of his surroundings. If there was one thing the martial artist had by now- aside from a healthy immunity to food poisoning -was a finely honed sense of danger. After all, you didn't live to eighteen years of age in the company three fiancée-martial artists, two of which were proficient in the use of edge weapondry without knowing when the other proverbial shoe was about to drop. Likewise his numerous rivals, meddling parents, curses, spells, pressure points, assasins and the like. Long story short, Peter Parker and his spider sense had nothing on Ranma, and he paused as the orange sun sank deeper into the horizon.

Whatever it was, it was getting closer.

Ki reflexively flowed through the pig-tailed boys boy as another wave of chilling forboding rippled down his spine. Something was out there. Soemthing that had no business wandering the streets of-

A small child scampered out of the ally across the street and the martial artist paused as the kid whipped around wildly, searching for somebody. Or someone? The boy's eyes locked on to a nearby lightpole top and Ranma followed the boy's horrified gaze. There was nothing there? What could the boy possibly be… The hackles on the back of the martial artist's neck raised and the chill intensified. He could barely make it out and even then he was reaching well into his ki-enhanced senses to do it- A shadow. The boy knew it was there. He knew it was there, but it seemed as if nobody else did. In fact, the scant few people that were around seemed to be making a wide birth of the area, if not turning around entirely to avoid the immense feeling of foreboding doom. The shadow seemed to quiver with anticipation as the boy sank to his knees and began to cry. The last ray of dusk's light evaporated around him and the shadow flowed forth. There was no mistaking the intention and Ranma dropped into DEFCON one.

The martial artists had been exposed to any number of ghosts, demons and immortal beings and this one registered like none he had ever seen before. One thing he knew instinctively was that it was evil and Ranma smiled. After a long, hard day of fiancées and rivals, Ranma needed something to unleash his frustration upon. A evil shadowy whisp that eats little children would do just fine.

"Moko Takabisha!"

The blue ki shot flashed in and hammered the shadow with a bright flash of light, sending it tumbling across the street hard. The boy looked up incredulously, surprised at the fact that he was as yet untouched. He looked from his stunned tormentor his savior and broke into a smile.

Ranma gave him a nod. The smile disappeared as the unspoken communication flashed between them. I'll take it from here. The little boy nodded with wide eyes and scampered off as the shadow recovered, focusing it's attention on it's attacker. A wave of terror blasted like artic air through Ranma and for the briefest of moments, Ranma feared. A slight tremble took his body before his displine reasserted itself, clamping down on the errant emotions with the Soul of Ice technique. The shadow hissed and Ranma smiled once more. Didn't like that, didja?

Ranma's tactical mindset was up and running at full speed now and it instantly associated the cold, depressive air as an effect generated by the monster, probably used to incapacitate it's victim. Oh yeah, he was a huge fan of the old Ghoul's technique these days, Ranma mused and watched as the shadow learch forward, retaking the offensive. A boney claw flew towards him and Ranma was airborn in a high leap that easily cleared the attack, but the wraith was not dissuaded and abruptly altered course, flowing skyward and following the martial artist through his leap.

Damn! Ranma twisted around and let another glowing blue bolt loose and the beast took a glancing blow instead of the full blast as it cut left at the last possible moment. The pig-tailed boy landed on the sidewalk and the shadow floated down to his level, wary of taking yet another blue bolt of confidence while Ranma himself revised his tactical options. He was as much a master of aerial combat as one could be, but unless he was willing to loose a Hiyru Shoten Ha in the middle Nerima, he was gonna have to concede the high ground to the lethal wisp, or at least be damn careful when before deciding to go airborne. Not that it was emitting any perceptible hot emotional energy anyway to fuel the technique. Whatever it was, It was registering as a ki blackout.

The shadow recovered and was on Ranma once more. The martial artist danced around the beast as he avoided its grasp and trade blows in an improvised ki firefight. Few things pressed Ranma's speed these days beyond the old ghoul and perverted master, but this thing was one of them and Ranma was running out of ideas. Blasting the thing with Moko Takabisha's was becoming a temporary measure at best. While they seemed to stun the monster well enough, it wouldn't put it down. The single salvo of vacume blades Ranma intended to eviscerate the thing with seem to only encourage its aggression as well, while his primary martial arts WMD was out of commission. Ranma dodged another grasp. He could go hand to hand, but somehow going hand to hand with a monster he could hardly didn't seem like the best of ideas. Another dodge and he traded away yet another ki blast. The creature dodged easily this time.

He couldn't keep this up. Even his ki expenditure had a limit and the monster was pushing it. Not only that, but the fading dusk glow was working to its advantage, making the creature much harder to perceive. It was either Hand to hand or withdraw, allowing it wander after another victim. Ranma shook his head. Hand to hand it is then, he decided. He'd limit contact at first to see what happened, then open a can of whoop-ass if that went well. The shadow flow in once more and Ranma sidestepped it easily, directing his formidable Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken into what could loosely be termed its midsection.

What was supposed to be a technique of upwards three hundred punches per second martial arts doom as his first punch touched and a wave of icey doom flowed past the soul of ice, breaching his mental control entirely. Ranma tumbled past his target and into the waiting concrete as every bit positive emotion and self confidence was sucked away by the chittereing shadow, now hovering above him. The pig tailed martial artist fought for concentration, only to have his worst fears visited upon him. His minds eye darkened and terror coarsed through him. There were very few things that Ranma Saotome, Heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts was truly afraid of and the shadow rapidly progressed through the top ten, leaving the young man a cowering shell on the sidewalk.

Then it got to number one and all hell broke loose.

The shadow itself could have cared less what occupied the number one spot in Ranma's mental nightmares, as its only concern was feeding off everything positive eminating from the young man. But it should have. The number one slot was occupied by slitted glowing eyes and they weren't happy at having been disturbed. Ranma's conscious withdrew from the eyes in terror and they moved into the vacuum created by the retreat. Neko Ranma assumed control of the boy's body and that meant it was time.

Play time.

The cat boy looked up at it's source of angst and, like Ranma, had to reach into the ki spectrum to even perceive the damn thing, but perceive it did. The cat hissed and phantom blue blades formed along its knuckles. Neko-Ranma knew a threat when it saw one and while it had no idea what it was facing, it intrinsically knew what it represented. Evil. The wraith didn't have a clue as the ki claws arced in, cutting into its shadowy folds. The scream was a high pitched scraping of a chalk board and Neko Ranma instinctively jumped away, wincing with the sound. For its part, the shadowy demon had no idea what had just occurred. One moment it had been happily feeding and the next everything positive in its prey evaporated, leaving behind a predator totally and absolutely confident in its superority… One that could actually hurt it. Black vapor oozed from the wound and the monster's hunger was forgotton. Now it was time for the food to die. The shadow streaked in and Neko Ranma was already on the move, maintining hand-to hand range without being plucked out of the air by a decaying claw.

To anybody watching it looked as if the martial artist had gone insane, shadow boxing with an invisible foe along the sidewalk, deflecting off nearby walls and the like. Such sillyness was generally overlook in Nerima, and it was assumed that despite all appearances, the martial artist was doing something useful with his time. He was doing something useful and only one frightened little boy peering from around the corner knew exactly what that was.

Saving his life.

Cat and demon were in the air now and over a construction fence, slashing at one another as they weaved through scaffolding and unfinished structures, allowing Neko-Ranma the terrain he needed to engage the floating evil on an equal footing. Even so, the cat knew it was loosing the advantage. Unlike a real cat, Ranma's eyesight was being handicapped by human eyes and the wraith was becoming harder to track in the fading dusk. Even so, Neko-Ranma had aquitted itself well, landing three solid strikes to the wraith's one as they danced deeper into the construction site. The cat-boy gave the red blistering along it's arm a couple of quick licks, favoring the shadow's grazing attack.

Another swipe and Neko Ranma lost track of his opponent. His head darted around, searching. The icy waves were still out there and so was shadow, but it was all but invisible now. Threat flashed at the cat from it's right and Ranma was on the move again, but not fast enough to avoid another blister producing strike to the leg, one the cat proptly returned in kind with a slash to the chest. Another blurring attack and Neko Ranma found itself stunned, pinned against the scaffolding and immobilized. The cat snapped back into the real world only seconds later to find it's arms held in a icy grip. It struggled but the burning grip held firm as the shadow leaned in closer, revealing it's rotting skull for the first time. A purple snake's tongue licked it's lips and Neko-Ranma instinctively knew that if those bony teeth touched his lips, he was dead.

This was, in fact, the wraiths goal now- to suck the very soul from the boy's lips. That single act would heal its wounds and revitalize so it could return to its appointed rounds. The cat hissed and the shadow leaned closer and licked the struggling cat-boy's lips. Just a few more inches. Neko-Ranma's right arm came free just as the lips made contact, and the scaoffling around the pair shredded under the ki claw assault, but it was too late. The structure collapsed around them and his body went ridged with paralysis, the shadow wraith's icey tendrils closing in around the boy's soul. Piping and supports continued to fall, and with them, tools, paint and a single bucket of cold water, splashing through the wraith and processing the martial artist's transformation from a he to a she.

The reaction was nothing short of spectacular as the Juysenkyo curse reacted with the soul sucking magic, enveloping both shadow and red headed girl in a fierce red glow. Crimson lightning cascaded of the remaing structure and the beast howled with pain while Ranma's back arched under God's defibulator. The lightning tore the shadow apart, throwing it into the air before vaporizing it outright. Sparkles floated to the ground around the redhead, who was still sizzling with power. Slowly, the red glow faded and the construction site was quiet once more.

It took the little boy who had come with in an inch of his own life another five minutes to work up the nerve to investigate the site of the climatic finale, and when he did, he didn't find the martial arts hero he was expecting. Instead he found a redheaded girl in oversized and thoroughly charred clothing, looking down at herself disgust. The girl couldn't have been a few more years older than himself, and she stepped out of the devastated zone of debris to find the boy simply gawking at her.

She sighed, staring at her tiny hands. "I hate my life."


The Matriarche of the Joketsuzoku Amazon sat pearched atop her granrled staff on the Tendo property wall, overlooking one eleven year old martial arts prodigy run through a kata no eleven year old had any right knowing. Well, no eleven year old save this one, she amended with an amused smile. Cologne measured his movement with the experience of a master and nodded to herself. Ranma Saotmome might have had seven years of age sucked from him, but it obviously did nothing to diminish his skill. Maybe lost a bit of power and endurance for his trouble, she throrized, but he was still probably one of the most lethal martial artists on the planet.

And now he's mine, she thought with satisfaction.

The situation was obvious as soon as Shampoo had rushed home with the news. Ranma had somehow managed to de-age himself once again and was more than likely in desperate need of a cure, which she just happened to be in possession of right this very moment. It had taken her three days to find and it would be an offer that the martial artist wouldn't be able to refuse. Aging mushrooms for his hand in marriage to Shampoo. No marriage, no mushrooms and Ranma gets to repeat puberty all over again, this time with a curse.

The thought made Cologne smile evilly.

Of course, he'd resist at first. Maybe even go a few weeks trying to find his own cure, but eventually he'd fold. The boy in the yard below stopped his kata and looked directly at the Elder, who smiled back. He simply waited with a frown and she hopped on down, smiling some more. Ironically, they were near the same height now.

"So son in-law, what trouble did you get yourself into this time?" Cologne smirked and Ranma rolled his eyes.

"Beats the hell outta me." He shrugged as if that sort of thing happened to him every day. The Elder checked that thought. On second thought, it almost did. "Suppose you're here to make a deal?"

"Very astute, Son in-law." Cologne nodded, the smirk still inhabiting her face. Victory was all but assured. "The deal is a simple one. Your hand in marriage for the cure."

Ranma arched an eyebrow. "Is that what's in the bag?"

Cologne untied the small pouch at her belt, hefting its weight in her hand as if it were a bag of gold coins. "Indeed it is."

"The cure wouldn't happen to be mushrooms would it?" He probed and her smile widened.

"But of course." It was all the Elder could do to keep her calm deamenor. This was it. Complete and final victory. Once she had the Saotome's word, he would ride his honor to hell before breaking it and that meant her legacy was-

"Think I'll pass." Ranma replied with a thoroughly bored look. Cologne blinked in shock. Did he just say… ?

"But the mushrooms…"

"Don't work worth a damn this time, ya old mummy." Ranma shook his head at the Elder's perplexed look, taking some delight in turning her victory to ruin. "Kas-chan had some left over. Let 'em grow under the kitchen sink. Think I ate five of the nasty things before giving up." Cologne twitched. Ranma almost felt sorry for her. "Aw, don't feel too bad. I'll find a cure soon enough and Shampoo can go back to chasin' me like normal and stuff."

She was about to unleash a stinging rebuke into the child when another small boy ran through the double gates of grounds, paused, and instantly found them. A smile broke out across the kid's face, who appeared to be no more than seven or eight in Cologne's estimation.

"Ranma! Ranma! Ranma!" the boy exclaimed and ran over to them, panting. "You didn't start without me, didja?"

Cologne gave the eleven year old pig-tailed boy a searching look and Ranma shook his head. "Nope, just gettin warmed up."

"Um…" The boy looked at Ranma with wide eyes. "Uh… Ra-kun... Some of my friends…" Ranma looked beyond the boy to the gates that were still slightly ajar. Three faces poked out from behind them, two boys and one girl.

Ranma desperately fought to conceal his reaction. At this rate, Kiro would have the entire damn neighborhood over. Still, he couldn't help but to admire the kid's enthusiasim. "Alright, alright. No more though."

Kiro's eyes lit up and he waved his friends over, who covered the distance as fast as their legs could carry them. Cologne stared at the scene with incredulity as she was instantly surrounded by yet more small children.

"This is the boy I was telling you about!" Kiro proclaimed, introducing Ranma. The new kids inspected him thoroughly.

"He's a real live demon hunter?"
"I thought you said he was taller!"
"He doesn't look like a girl."

Ranma found Cologne staring at him now and he produced a weak smile. "Eh, heh… Yeah." The pig-tailed boy turned back to the kids. "No, I ain't no demon-hunter, I was taller and if you want to see the girl, you have to have some cold water."

The girl frowned. "I didn't bring any cold water."

"Tough luck then." Ranma stated without sympathy. "But you're all just in time to watch my kata." The girl's frown lit back up into a smile.

The first boy turned to Cologne. "Who's THAT?"

"Looks like a mummy!" The second boy answered and Cologne nearly burned him down with a menacing glare. The glare turned back on Ranma, who withstood it imperviously.

"I'll deal with you later, Son in-law." She delivered the threat in an ominous tone, before hopping back to and over the Tendo wall. The kids watched as she disappeared over the wall with wide eyes.

"WHOA!"

"Cool!"

"Scary!"

"That's ain't nothin'" Kiro smiled, motioning to Ranma. "Watch what Ra-kun can do!"

Ranma smiled. "That's right. You ain't seen nothin' yet."


Ranma Saotome plopped down at the breakfast table painfully aware that all eyes were on his person. It didn't help that the heir of the Anything Goes School of Martial arts had been inhabiting the body of an eleven year old or had just fought off yet another super natural thingamajig.

"So Saotome," Nabiki led off with the characteristic twinkle in her eyes. "Did you ask mom before your little friends could come over?"

Ranma was about to sneer a response, but was instantly prempted by his mother sitting across the table from him. "That's right, Ranma. You should always ask before bringing friends over."

The pigtailed boy blinked. "I'm eighteen, Mom."

"And I'll not have you talking to strangers either," Nodoka Saotome continued as if her son, one of the world's preeminent martial artists hadn't spoke.

"And don't forget to come home when the lights come on." Nabiki added, to which his mother nodded as well. Ranma was now shooting daggers into the middle Tendo.

"Lay off, Nabiki." Akane frowned beside her sister, surprising both martial artist and ice queen. "Can't you see Ranma is-"

"Dammit, Boy!" Genma growled, leaning across the table. "I can't believe you let a little demon beat you like that! Oh, after all my sacrifice!"

"Yeah?" Ranma stood up, his ire sufficiently fuelled. "What was the last thing you stood up to?" Genma never got a chance to reply as his friend began sobbing about the injustices of the world and how the schools would never be joined. Ranma shook his head in disgust, picking up his plate. "Think I'll eat outside today."

The young martial artist's glare swept across the table, only to be broken by a few words from Kasumi. "You're a growing boy, Ranma. Make sure to finish everything on your plate."

Nabiki looked at her sister's oblivious smile. "Since when has that ever been a problem, Sis?"

Thoroughly defeated, Ranma slid the patio door open and stepped back out into the warm spring air, Akane close behind to his surprise. Ranma looked at her skeptically, but shrugged, inviting her to take a seat on the wooden porch next to him. Even after the third day, the youngest Tendo couldn't help but to stare. Of course she had seen Ranma de-aged by mushrooms before, but somehow it had opened her eyes to just how much chaos visited her off again-on again fiancée on a regular basis. I mean, who gets de-aged twice in a lifetime, she wondered to herself. She didn't even want to revisit any of the other events that plagued Ranma's life on a regular basis, let alone those of the last two and a half years.

The two ate in silence for a moment before Akane led off. "How can you stand it?"

Ranma thought about it for another moment, cocking his head. "Stuff like this always happens to me. Get cursed, find a cure, lose it, rinse, repeat." The boy shrugged. "Just life, I guess."

Akane could only nod dumbly. It literally has been life for him since day one. And somehow, he wasn't resentful. Oh sure, Ranma had been righteously pissed three nights ago when he stumbled home with a scrapped up Kiro in tow, but it was never something that lasted. If anyone had a right to the smoldering fury over their lot in life, it was Ranma Saotome she realized for perhaps the first time since they met.

"If you keep makin' that face it'll freeze like that." Akane blinked, jolted out of her introspective with Ranma's words. She looked down at him to find his plate empty and blue eyes on her.

"Baka."

"That's the tomboy I know." Ranma smiled with the retorted and rocked upright. Akane scwolled, but just couldn't hold it under such an obvious attempt to break her mood. The pigtailed boy began to walk across the court yard and Akane followed. "It ain't so bad. 'Least I get a break from Shamps and Uuchan. Hell, even the curse is behaving itself."

Akane frowned at the mention of the other girls, but held her piece, instead focusing on the crytic curse reference. "What do you mean, quiet?"

"Don't know how to explain it," Ranma elaborated as they continued their walk around the yard. "The girl-type is noisy. It's harder to concentrate."

Akane processed this new information curiously. "You… never mentioned that before."

"No reason to." Ranma shrugged. "I've gotten pretty good at ignoring it, but some days are worse than others."

"And now it's quiet?"

Ranma nodded. "Didn't realize just how annoying it was until all this happened. Now it's weird. Almost feels like this body in that respect."

"You're not…?" Akane ventured and Ranma flashed her an annoyed look.

"Of course not." He replied quickly. "It's still different feelin', even if these haven't grown out yet." Akane didn't miss Ranma's jab at his own chest and the meaning was crystal clear. Even Akane couldn't help but to notice them the last time Ranma had been thrown into the koi pond two days ago. What had once been a prominent display of womanhood no matter what Ranma wore had regressed to mere lumps on her chest. It was a fact that Akane herself couldn't help but to be secretly pleased with. "At least my balance is about even between the two bodies now."

Akane couldn't help but to snort now. Leave it Ranma to transform an insane situation into a discussion on martial arts. She smiled down at the boy. "At least it can't get much worse, right?" Ranma cast her a dry look. "Ok, right."

"That's just inviting somebody to come along and kidnap you, y'know?" Ranma voaice was filled with mirth, an emotion reflected by the smile on his face. It died away as his head swivled over in the direction of the front gates. It was only a moment later that a balding man poked his head inside.

"Hallooooo?"

"Damn, didn't expect 'em to come for you so soon." Ranma mumbled and Akane nudged him in the ribs to shut him up.

Bartholemew Franks and Jeffery Snimples

Author's Notes;

Ranma vs Dementors - Dementors are said to feed off positive emotion, leaving a void of despair in the victim as a result. One of the only known defenses versus a Dementor is a Patronous Charm, which summons a manifestation of good will to protect the summonor, normally an ethereal animal of some sort. Ranma's ki MT attack is a manifestation of absolute confidence and power, which is why I have it as stunning Dementors. When Neko-Ranma is exposed as a result of the Dementor's attack, I script it as being something of a pseudo-Patronous. Since it is Ranma's fear manifest, the Dementor can't feed on Ranma. I'm also assuming that the cat is a full of confidence in itself, since it is in effect Ranma's ultimate fighting form. While it can't drive away the dementor outright, it can fight and hurt it. Likewise, Dementor's kiss still works because Ranma has a soul, unlike a true Partonous.


Crapspace notes-

This one never really had a plot, which is one of the main reasons it's here. The other reason is that, like Foxcat in some ways, it's horribly and utterly derivitive. I was thinking about dipping my toe into the HP fandom, but this was the wrong way to do it.