Ranma 1/3: SOURCE OF PRIDE by Gregg Sharp. v 1.5
char by various sources. this was just an idea i got reading Mirrors Multiplied, with an Altiverse where Ranma had been thrown to the lions. i started wondering about that and what kind of changes just that act might have thrown in the timeline, especially with the press coverage from something so incredibly showbiz.
So i started this, planning on using it as the omake for Expansion Set-Gemini. The rest of this flowed out and was at 34k before i got to the part with the repercussions starting to show. Now look at it.
Much thanks to various pre-readers (too many to name)who have suggested a few tweaks and changes here and there.

So, yes, this was ANOTHER unintended fic, but seems to be amusing- which is all that was intended in the first place.

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"I don't understand," the Kasumi of Sword9 timeline said, almost frowning. "Why would Isis and Bast hate Mister Saotome? They certainly seem nice enough."

"Kasumi, you prefer to ignore the bad things about people." The demon nearby sighed. "I used to do the same thing myself, but it causes problems to remain longer than they need to. And that eventually causes more problems. Let me show you something. The scene is the same in almost every timeline with Ranma being raised by Genma."

Grey made a pass over the waters of Mimir's Well and a scene sprung to life.

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

"NO! FATHER! Not again, please not again!"

"Get in there, worthless boy! Stop whining like a girl." Genma finished tying his son up, applied a little fish paste, some fish oil, and threw the fish-cake festooned boy into the pit of starving cats. "You can't come out until you learn the Cat Fist!"

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

Kasumi turned a little green as the screaming and pleading turned frantic. She couldn't seem to blink as the scene continued with the boy getting gouged and scratched in the restless and hungry dark. After a few moments, Kasumi managed a very weak "Oh my."

"In three realities he tries different kinds of cats after the first attempt didn't work. In twelve he just varies the bait. In four he tries different types of pits and locations. In another six he tries entirely different animals on the idea that it might be something 'close to neko' that was copied wrong into that manual. (One of these actually has Ranma learning the dreaded nikkou ken and is a cheerful happy person.) In one he actually learns the Cat Fist and ends up relatively content, but that's very unusual. There's others, these are just the ones I've seen.

"In four, Ranma's permanently crippled in some fashion. In two, he's demonically possessed. In four more, he's just plain old killed. In five more he's pulled out of Genma's custody by either the police or other people drawn to the pit by Ranma's screams. In two more Ranma never does learn the Cat Fist or anything even close, having escaped (at least temporarily) from his crazy father to try and find a life somewhere else. One of those has him reuniting with his Ucchan when they're both eight. Six have similar outcomes to what you're familiar with, the Catfist only coming out when he's frightened into his other personality. There's another one where Ranma learns the Catfist and never comes out of his feral state, and a final one where a crippled Ranma makes his way to a Jusenkyo pool that cures his afflictions.

Grey sighed. "You realize part of his immaturity and overweening pride in those timelines comes from the Catfist training and similar hardships. After all, if he's not the best then all this was for nothing. You were well aware that he woke up screaming on more than one night from the memories of this incident alone."

Kasumi nodded, still staring at the scene.

"Isis and some of the other goddesses _really_ dislike Genma for treating his son like that. Bast and other feline types see that, plus all the dead kitty cats that resulted both from the training and from Ranma's learning the technique." Grey shrugged. "Not that I approve of Genma, but he does have his good moments. It's just that the bad ones stand out so bloody well."

"What happens in this one?"

"Hmmm? Oh, this is that Ukyou one. Looks like the Nekoken was at a different age here."

"Is it any happier?" Kasumi blinked and got a better look at the timeline.

----------1984-----------------

Ukyou leaned back against the wall, out of sight. She recognized Genma, and with little effort could picture that voice in the pit as belonging to Ranma. She closed her eyes. Revenge, yes, she wanted revenge. Revenge against Ranma for pretended friendship. Revenge against Ranma for leaving her behind.

"AAAAAaaaaaaa! My eyes! Stay away from my eyes!"

Ukyou shuddered and began curling up where she hid. She could see killing the two, or beating the royal snot out of them as revenge. "Dear kami, not like this." Ukyou cried as the screaming continued, her body shuddering as she pulled tighter to avoid hearing what was going on in a vacant lot a few yards away.

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

"Well, come along Ranma. We'll try the training again elsewhere." Genma swatted Ranma across the ground when the little boy flinched. "STUPID BOY! All you have is the Art. Live it, breathe it, it is your only friend and companion, your only hope of redemption."

"But Ucchan..."

Genma sighed and rolled his sleeves up. The boy needed to learn discipline again at the loving hands of his father. "Ranma. You remember Ukyou waving goodbye to you, don't you? Ukyou was saying goodbye because he didn't want to interfere with your training. You should respect the boy's wishes. Now, son, are you coming or are you going to disgrace Ukyou?"

"I..." Ranma hesitated, and was therefore lost. Genma's first blow slapped the boy into the pipes. He then carefully slammed punches and kicks into the boy until Ranma stopped fighting back.

"Ah, this is regrettable what you make me do, boy. If you simply accepted my authority, we wouldn't have these problems."

Ukyou ducked her head back down from the fence, tears again forming in her eyes. Vengeance against Ranma was quickly looking less like it was necessary. Anything she could do, Ukyou saw Ranma's father as having outdone her already. Genma was the only one she wanted revenge against right now.

What could she do, though? She wasn't any older than Ranma. Her mother was dead, her father given only a few months more, no relatives to speak of. There was no way she could fight Genma. How could she avenge herself?

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

"Okay, boy." Genma grinned down at the blanket containing his son. He was sure it would work this time. Third time's the charm, after all. He'd gotten bigger cats, a different bait, and found a really impressive location called the Pit Of The White Wyrm. Odd how all the cats had *really* fought being put in the pit, and they'd been quite noisy at first, but they were quiet now. All that remained was his son, already tied up with smelt and daintily garnished with some stolen caviar and sun-warmed fish oil. "Time for you to learn the Cat Fist!"

Genma lifted the blanket, and with a flourish, tossed the contents into the pit.

After a few moments the smile faded from Genma's face. No scream of anguish. No howling from the cats. No shrieking from his son. How odd.

A moped shot past from a few yards away, an object wrapped in a blanket tied into place at the rear. A strangely familiar looking child made a rude hand gesture as the vehicle sped away.

Genma blinked twice, his gaze focussing on the blanketed object as it became concealed by the meandering of the path through the trees. "But I haven't taught him the Cat Fist yet..."

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

"Don't worry about it, Ucchan," Ranma groaned a little and stretched out. "Pops and me tended to avoid the holy places, so this shrine ought to do fine tonight."

"Ranchan, you just don't get what that baka father of yours was putting you through, do you?" Ukyou shook her head. "But then, that's the only kinda parenting you've had, ain't it?"

Ranma shrugged, not sure what he could say. "I gotta go back to him, y'know. He *is* my Pop."

"Ranma he beat you, he threw you into a pit of starving cats, he defiled a shrine just to get you up to that 'Pit of the White Wyrm' thing, he lies and he cheats everyone whose path he crosses. AND he's a poor bargainer. That yattai cost a helluva lot more than the price of just one meal, even as much as he eats. Don't go back to him!"

Ranma looked at his friend again. "Well, yeah. But he means well."

"Did he also mean well by abandoning me?"

"Uhm. No?"

"Ya got that right at least." Ukyou sighed. "Now we just gotta figure out our next step. Besides, if we go back to him now, he'll just abandon me again."

"I s'pose," Ranma looked out into the night. "Still, we're only eight. What the hell we gonna do?"

"Attend school, learn the martial arts, and study the paths of honor," came a voice from the darkness. The shrine priest stepped forward from the shadows, almost seeming to teleport from nowhere to the two startled children. A faint smile tugged at his face, yup, he still had it.

-----------1985----------

"You really want to do this?" Ukyou thought the whole thing was silly. Just some old fashioned idea that Tenchi had read about then Ranma had gotten enthusiastic about.

One of her own spatulas was used to make a small cut on the hand.

Then they shook hands. Ukyou not only thought this was silly but gross, but put it down to them being boys. Then Tenchi read some of the old words from one of the scrolls that his grandpa kept hidden. They didn't make much sense, but seemed to fit somehow in that spooky old cave.

Ukyou didn't like that cave much. She always felt as if someone were watching her.

"Blood brothers," said Ranma with a gleam in his eye. NOW he had a brother. This was cool.

"and sister!" Ukyou put in, wiping her hand absent-mindedly. Maybe at least THIS would get the jackass to start taking her seriously.

-----------1986-----------------

Tenchi noted that his two friends had abruptly stopped talking and went into guard positions. He exchanged a glance with the fourth member of their quartet (which was referred to as the Kolkoz Elementary Junior Martial Arts Club by some critics). She shrugged in reply, clearly at a loss as well. "What's wrong? Ranma? Ukyou?"

"Ranma," a large man near the gate repeated, a satisfied look coming over him. "Finally."

"Father," acknowledged Ranma after a moment. He didn't relax. Ukyou, at his side as always, looked ready to launch herself at the bigger man.

"It's been two years, son. Time to go." Genma looked over the three. None of the four ten year olds (though one was just mature looking for her age) would be sufficient to challenge him. He had known that staking out the schools would eventually net him results. "You disappoint your father so. Showing fear from such a little thing."

"I ain't scared a nuthin'!" Ranma eyed his father and wished he had his sword with him.

"Boy," said Genma with a threatening tone to his voice. "Come along. NOW."

"I ain't abandonin' Ucchan."

Genma eyed the four children. Each had settled into a stance he well recognized. It was a loose martial arts stance of Anything Goes. For ten year olds, they showed remarkable promise. There was an immediate temptation here for Genma, the teacher who finds an exceptional student and wants to bring out that student's gifts. This was the promise gleaming in all four of these children.

Genma shook his head. He had enough trouble taking care of Ranma. The long and winding road, constantly on the move, on the run and living in the shadows was the only way he knew for sure that would make Ranma a true martial artist. Ranma had to live, breathe, and sleep the Art. Having friends or a home would only detract from that all consuming dedication.

Well, he'd tried to be reasonable. Once on the road, he could break the boy's will to his own once again. In order to make a sword, you had to beat all the impurities out, to beat and beat and beat it until the metal was pure. "Oy Toh Shoh!"

The four scattered as Genma went from threatening to a blur of motion. The last of the four fell thirty seconds after the fight had started. Genma was impressed that they had managed to last that long. The murmur of the crowd of students didn't concern him, after all, he was the father and he had the right to discipline his child.

Slinging the limp Ranma over his shoulder, he left the others. Genma was certain they'd forget all about this in a few months time. They were children after all.

More than one child watched fearfully as one of their number was carried off by the evil man who had appeared and attacked without warning.

One of the onlookers ran forward as one of the girls had come to his defense when HE had been facing some bullies. This despite the gulf (two years) in ages between them. "Mako-chan? Tenchi-san? Ukyou-san?"

"I'm OK, Keiichi." Makoto groaned anyway as she regained her feet.

Tenchi wiped blood from his face as he got up. "So Ranma's father is back."

"That was him," confirmed Ukyou.

"He's the one that tried to feed Ranchan to those cats?" Makoto glared in the direction the adult had apparently left in.

"He's tried to feed his son to some cats?" A girl who had run forward looked over the four for confirmation. "That's horrible!"

Four heads nodded in unison.

Nobody could remember later who actually said it. Everyone present just chimed in with agreement with the sentiment.

"Genma Saotome! I swear VENGEANCE upon you!"

Everyone remembered the lightning crackling dramatically. They also remembered the teachers taking the description of the evil man down. There would be a reckoning. Eventually.

------------Mimir's Well-------------

"Oh my."

The demon chuckled. "Oh, Genma has really put his foot in it in this timeline. Guess he was a little miffed about all the time he lost looking for his son."

"What's he doing there, two days later?" Kasumi9 pointed at a spot of different color along the thread.

The demon examined it. "#@#$#!! Even Genma wouldn't..."

"Oh my!"

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

"NO, I don't wanna!"

The sound of flesh striking flesh echoed in the room. "BOY! How many times do I have to tell you! A true martial artist is afraid of nothing if it will make him stronger!"

"But..."

Genma sighed. The boy was stubborn. Two years had seen the collapse of most of the control that Genma had over his son and Heir. No matter how much he beat on Ranma, the boy balked at the simple training exercise. He lashed out at the bound child again. "Accept that I know what is best for you, son! Ah my son, you must learn discipline and honor from my hands again. Would that I had not sired such an ungrateful and foolish boy. You act like a girl, all foolish and weak! Perhaps I should get you a dress."

"You..." The remainder of what Ranma was going to say was lost as his wind was driven out by a kick into the abdomen.

"DON'T raise your voice at me," said Genma regretfully. He truly regretted this, but Ranma had to be free of weaknesses such as compassion. A few more blows to head and stomach reduced Ranma's complaints to a weak groan.

Finally satisfied, Genma tied the meat into place. "I couldn't round up enough cats, but I figured that one big cat ought to be enough to replace a lot of smaller ones. And surely, if one large cat was good, several would be better. Go now, and learn the Cat Fist!"

Genma tossed his son to the lions.

-----------Mimir's Well-------------------

Kasumi9 had a faint green tint to her skin that was not the result of lighting.

Grey turned on hearing a low hiss and noted that Bast had snuck up, curious as a cat, and now was staring with teeth drawn at the images being displayed.

"Guess he's *really* concerned about that lost time, isn't he?"

The screams of a child being mauled by lions abruptly cut off.

There was silence for a few heartbeats. Kasumi9 couldn't even manage an "oh my."

"Well, at least the zookeepers arrived and got the paramedics." Grey said, breaking the silence.

"But hiss fatherrrr got away," growled Bast in her leonine form. She wasn't at all happy. Some of the lions were mauling each other now, and the indications were that after having tasted human flesh, they'd be put to sleep as a safety measure. "Parrrramedicsss not in time. Unlessss."

"Unless?" Grey blinked. "Bast, you wouldn't interfere in this timeline would you?"

"Yourrrr powerrr level not enough to light a match," Bast looked over the demon with obvious disdain. "Besidesss, he wasss hurrrt by lionsss. My jurrrisdiction."

"What are you doing?" Kasumi9 glanced between the timeline and Bast.

"Interrrferrring," Bast growled in reply. "Norrrmal timeline hass boy die frrrom wounds. Fatherrr not suffer until yearrrs laterrr. I fix this two waysss."

"A different sort of Catfist?" The demon wasn't expert at reading the streams of manna that Bast wove, but could make a guess. One small one set up for a bigger one later.

Bast merely grinned in reply.

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

The boy disappeared shortly after being released from ICU. Videocameras revealed that his father had come for him.

Officers Ogino and Miya exchanged a glance and entered another report into the "G-files." G for Genma Saotome, now positively identified as the suspect.

"How many charges of Breaking and Entering now?" Officer Koetsu Ogino looked heavenwards.

"Twenty-five." Officer Kanuka Miya consulted her notebook.

"Assault?"

"Thirty seven."

"Child Abuse?"

"Nine with witnesses, mainly what he's done to his son."

"Vandalism? Petty Theft?"

"Fifty nine, and I lost track around eighty six. Not counting rolling the drunks in the park or the smashed pachinko machine."

"You know, if the papers get ahold of this..."

Kanuka shook her head. "The press will scream at the mayor. The mayor will scream at the chief. The chief will scream at the sergeant. The sergeant will proceed to take it all out on us."

"I'm beginning to feel like that Zenigata fellow," confided Officer Ogino. "We're lagging a few steps behind a master thief, always arriving just *after* he's made his mark."

"He's hardly a *master* thief, but he *is* fast."

"Officers," an orderly held up a phone at the desk. "It's for you. There's been another sighting."

Ogino took the phone and mumbled into it briefly. Finally he nodded and talked to the doctor briefly.

Miya clucked at the expression on her partner's face. "That bad?"

"He apparently saw a paper. It's out. The press is calling for him to be caught and publicly tried. He was spotted in Yokohama, and it's thought he's on a Chinese freighter."

"Great," Miya's tone left no illusion as to what she thought of that. "What'd the doctor say?"

"With some of the internal organ damage done to the boy, he's going to need medication on a regular basis. Some exotic stuff, too."

"Oh, so." Miya scowled. "Well, in that case, we ought to add Manslaughter. The kid ain't gonna get that sort of thing on some Chinese ship."

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

Soun Tendo lowered his newspaper, twitching slightly. "He said he was taking his son Ranma on 'rigorous training' trips to learn the martial arts." His eye went to the headline again "Father Throws Son To Lions, Then Steals Him From Hospital" and he felt his eyes mist over. Why, he could remember the Master doing similar things to his two pupils. Just not lions.

Worse was the way this story seemed to have caught the imaginations and attention of the nation. Even a "Mothers Against Genma Saotome" group had formed and was calling for his public execution.

The tide of emotion erupted from Soun in spectacular fashion. "Genma! What about our promise to unite the schools by marrying one of my daughters to your son?!"

There was the sound of a dish breaking in the immediate silence. Soun looked up from his paper to see his three daughters staring in his direction. "Oh, ahem. Well, I..."

Nabiki, a precocious eleven-year-old, took another rice cracker from the stack and waited to hear from her father. "This is gonna be good."

"Get out your hip waders," completed ten year old Akane, remembering Nabiki's comment during that "Get Rich Quick" scheme their daddy had *almost* bought into.

"Oh dear." Kasumi said, looking down at the plate she had dropped. She was only thirteen. Still, the princess had been engaged at age ten, so there *was* a precedent. How romantic!

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

Nodoka Saotome lowered the newspaper, now *knowing* why the police had been questioning her. Blinking, she began to think about manly and what Genma had done in trying to meet that standard. The article had glossed over the details of the wounds, though muscle and flesh had need to be grafted and resewn. The last paragraph, about the child needing medication, was quite fresh in her memory.

The associated article about "Martial Dad Leaves Trail Of Crimes" had also quite stuck in her mind. She wanted Genma to teach Ranma to be manly? What *was* Genma teaching Ranma? Peeping was one thing, and small theft might be needed, but what kind of manliness was Genma teaching her son?

Ranma's mother spent quite a length of time thinking about this, and considered the possibility that she had made an error of judgement.

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

The teachers read the article to their students. Some cried, others renewed their vows of vengeance, while still others weren't quite sure what to do.

One did. Ukyou Kuonji stood atop her desk and renewed her vow of vengeance. "GENMA SAOTOME! I WILL MAKE YOU PAY A THOUSANDFOLD FOR THIS!"

"Sit down, Miss Kuonji. You can have your dramatic spotlight later. It says here that Genma fled to China, so you can't go there yet."

"Yes, teacher." Ukyou nodded. She'd need to learn Chinese to track him down. And she'd need to prepare. Her martial arts skills would have to be much better. Genma would *pay* for this.

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

On a ship crossing the Sea Of Japan, Genma frowned. Ranma had gotten steadily sicker after leaving the hospital. He couldn't be faking this much. It was said that the lion would keep push his own cubs down a cliff to ensure that only the ones strong enough to climb back up would survive. Of course, that meant that some of the cubs didn't make it.

The conclusion was obvious. He had failed. Ranma wasn't strong enough to survive the rigours of training. Genma shook his head, then glanced over at some battlescarred old tomcat that was batting about an old Chinese pamphlet.

Taking it, Genma looked briefly at the pictures with Japanese titles. The main text was in Chinese, which he couldn't read. "Healing Springs?! Nichieju Village? It's perfect!"

--Mimir's Well-----------

"Uhm, Bast? Jusenkyo doesn't have a healing spring."

"Jusendo comes up in morrre than one place, yesss?" Bast blinked green eyes at her two bipedal colleagues. "Besides, sprrring drrry up perrriodically."

"The Amazons have a connection to you, don't they? Hence all the cat references." Grey looked from the goddess Kasumi to the catqueen and wondered at what they had been discussing privately.

Bast grinned and looked both smug and mysterious. This was something all cats could do quite well.

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

Genma took the weakly coughing ten year old and lifted him bodily and tossed him into the spring. The boy was stubborn though, and kept coming up. Genma lifted a pole to shove Ranma out into the waters again, knowing that he'd seen the Amazons come here periodically and leave looking refreshed. He'd checked, this had to be the healing spring.

A shriek let him know that he'd been spotted but it was just a little girl with purple hair. Unfortunately, Genma knew that meant that more Amazons would be coming at any moment.

"%Quickly! A stranger is drowning a child in the village water supply!%"

Genma fled, knowing he could come back for Ranma later. Maybe he ought to leave him in the hospital a little longer this time, though.

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

"Pneumonia, Lilac?"

"Some rather severe injuries on the boy." Lilac blinked owlishly at the group. "Actually, I'm surprised he's still alive. He shouldn't be."

"Well, I noticed the sutures. I take it there's infections?"

"Everywhere, Cologne, it's hard to find anything working as it should." Lilac sighed. "Besides the obvious injuries, from some kind of tiger maybe, he's gotten infected along the suture lines in several places. He was put back together by experts, but he's obviously not been in the cleanest of surroundings since he was operated on.

"That he's still alive is miracle enough. For him to recover is too much to ask. I'll do my best, but I don't want to mislead you on the odds."

The Elders nodded. The boy might have been an outsider male, but he was a child. And in the village, children were a precious resource.

"Do what you can," Cologne agreed. "If he dies, it's too bad. If he lives, though, then he's strong enough to be adopted into the tribe."

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

Nodoka turned back, regretfully. Two months had passed since she had read of her husband's exploits. One month to follow the suspect ship and end up in an odd Chinese village with her equally odd companion.

The reporter was simply pursuing her job. Hekiru Yamamoto, young reporter for a Tokyo Daily who had hoped to be at the reunion of mother and the mutilated son. ESPECIALLY she had wanted to be there when the mother met the father responsible for crippling her son. Pictures of THAT meeting would have made her a respectable sum.

Nodoka glanced back over the village again before getting on the bus. It had been a dead end, and it was her fervent hope that this was NOT an indication of how her son was faring.

Hekiru watched the woman board the bus before turning back. She wasn't going to let it go this easily. If she found either of the two, this could be the story that springboarded her career.

Now, where to check next?

----------1987-------------

"Operator."

"Yes, the number for a Nodoka Saotome please." Nabiki jotted the number down and called it, only to get no answer from the phone. Disappointed, Nabiki hung up.

"What are you doing, Nabiki?" Kasumi asked her twelve year old sister.

"I found out from Daddy that his pal's name is Genma Saotome. I checked some of his old papers..."

"Nabiki! You've been going through father's things?" Kasumi was shocked.

Nabiki made a face. "Anyway, Genma married Nodoka. There's a Nodoka Saotome in Juuban."

"This isn't right, Nabiki."

"So you aren't curious? One of us is supposed to marry this guy, after all."

Kasumi's mouth shut with a click. "You'll let me know what you find out?"

"No problem, sis."

----------1988---------------

"Ranma! What are you doing?"

Ranma blinked up at his adoptive sister. "Oh, hi, Shampoo. Uhm, well..."

"You've been watching the warriors learn Secret Techniques again, haven't you?" Shampoo rolled her eyes. Here was her brother, apprentice Healer, but doing the same crazy stunts he'd always pulled. Ignoring the Elders and trying to learn special fighting techniques much too soon. Maybe that was why they got along so well. "You *know* you're not supposed to exert yourself like that! Don't you remember what happened when you tried to master the Breaking Point?"

"Yeah," Ranma said slyly. "You caught me and then we snuck off and mastered the technique."

"Damn straight. So what is this one?"

"They call it 'Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire' and it's some sort of speed training..."

Unseen by the two children, a shadow moved away from the small fire and their little game. Cologne smiled. She had been afraid that something else would happen between the twelve year olds, but it was all martial arts and training.

Much safer than the alternative. It wouldn't do for Shampoo and a weak fighter like Ranma to *ahem* get too close. Brother and sister was fine, however.

Cologne smiled a little. Shampoo hadn't let up on the warrior training, but she had opened up a lot more since gaining a brother. Now she was even getting a few friends among the other children.

The Matriarch found herself well pleased that her great granddaughter was laughing and enjoying herself a lot more.

-----------1990---------

Nabiki, Kasumi, and Akane at long last met the woman Nabiki had been speaking infrequently with for a little over two years now. Nabiki had met her near their home last year, but this was not only the first time her sisters had met her, this was her home.

Other than that one meeting, they'd only talked on the phone- mainly when another 'Demon Dad' article showed up in the paper. Genma left a trail of debts, outraged shopkeepers, and hostile officials that the reporter still followed. Anything Goes indeed.

The most recent one had indicated that, even though the son was no longer with the father, that the father kept returning to one area in China as if looking for something. Invariably, he would return to another village, looking as if he had been in some great battle.

Nodoka Saotome took one look at the three charming young ladies and was ready to adopt the flock as her own on the spot. Maybe, if her son *was* alive, she could... If only the Japanese government wasn't so set against polygamy!

"So Mrs Saotome, is this a picture of Ranma when he was younger?" Nabiki pointed to a picture showing a young boy laughing as he played with fingerpaints.

"Yes," Nodoka hesitated but finally produced another set of photographs. "These are the most recent ones I have, they were taken by the doctors and police when Ranma was in that hospital."

The pictures were somewhat gruesome but the young ladies were courageous, with the hearts of samurai.

"EEEeeeewwwww," summed up fourteen year old Akane.

Okay, maybe they were still little girls.

"Here's one where he's not on an operating table," said Kasumi a few moments later, looking a little green herself.

Nabiki opened her eyes and tried to figure out what he'd look like without all the tubes stuck in him, and without suture lines, and with all the chunks put back into place. He might look halfway presentable, sort of. And he'd started out as such a cute kid! "Is he... " Nabiki stopped short of asking if the boy was still alive.

Nodoka either didn't notice, or pretended not to. They'd both read the article. The reporter herself had thought that maybe the Demon Dad was insane and looking for a dead son. OR the injuries came because he had settled on a lookalike and was trying to steal him away from his natural parents.

Kasumi looked over the photographs and wondered how Ranma could have survived. This was enough to firm her decision to study nursing.

Akane wondered anew at the kind of father that would do such an evil deed. She decided that if she ever ran into this Ranma, she'd have to be extra nice to him.

Nabiki wondered who paid for the whole thing and if Ranma still required expensive medications. He might be high maintenence.

There was a brief silence, broken only by Akane asking what this meant as far as the engagement went.

"When Nabiki mentioned the engagement, I was rather surprised." Nodoka said in a low voice. "I really do need to speak with your father regarding this." Maybe, if that nice member of the Diet...

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

Ranma's hand snuck out and pulled the box from the outer case. Lilac wouldn't mind if he took a look at this. Well, maybe she would, but Auntie Lilac had just given him a strange look everytime he brought up the Nice Lady or The Lion-Ghost.

They'd visited his dreams on occasion. Telling him of things that he could do, things that he needed to do, and things he must not do.

"If you take the path of Jusenkyo," had whispered the Nice Lady, "forever it will dominate your destiny."

This had been followed by the Lion Ghost whispering something about movie references.

Ranma stuck his tongue out between his teeth as he opened the box that the amulet was in. The Nice Lady and the Lion Ghost had argued (!) about this. Nice Lady said don't do this. Lion Ghost said that he should.

The final incentive had been when the Lion Ghost had said that with it, he wouldn't be a cripple anymore. To have both arms and legs, not a ragged stump for a left arm and the plastic foot-ankle piece that completed his right leg. To be whole again.

Such a simple thing, a carving in crystal of a cat. Though the eye seemed to slip over it, and what kinda cat was this anyway? Ranma couldn't look at it, due to the fear that threatened to overwhelm him with the memories. He did note that it looked like a lion one minute, or a housecat, or something else entirely. Ranma slipped the rawhide thong over his head and prayed.

Then the pain hit and Ranma screamed.

-----Mimir's Well--------

Kasumi-9 whimpered in sympathy and turned her eyes away from the scene.

Grey glared at Bast. "Why?"

"No pain, no gain." The lion grinned but didn't bother to look at the incubus or the probationary goddess. Newbies.

"That's *not* what I meant. I understand the Law Of Sacrifice."

The lion cocked her head slightly but still didn't look away from the scene. "Why? Why do *this* to him? Simple, there's a species of cat that's on the endangered lists that I'm rather fond of. Why the pain? Law Of Sacrifice, as you've said. Law Of Balance, too. Besides, I'm rather fond of this Ranma.

"Being crippled and dependent, he's become less proud. He's learned to cooperate with others. Through the pain and his medical studies, he's learned quite a bit about the burdens that others bear. Therefore he's learned sympathy and consideration. Through having experiences with two sisters and a brother, if only by name, he's learned much of himself.

"Leaving him crippled and twisted physically, if whole mentally, isn't amusing. THIS will be."

"Oh my!" Kasumi had glanced back at the pool and saw what had become of Ranma.

----1991------------

"NO, Mousse."

"Get out of my way, you...?!" Mousse blinked. "When did you get your arm back? No matter. I am ready for your speed this time. You will not keep me from being reunited with my Shampoo."

"She said NO. She meant it. C'mon Mousse, just try giving her some room. You can't possibly beat her, and that leaves winning her on HER terms."

"AND WHOSE FAULT IS IT THAT SHE'S LEARNED ALL THESE SPECIAL MANUEVERS!" Mousse roared to the heavens.(1) "It's YOU! You've taught her all those tricks. YOU are the one whose filled her silly head with those stupid notions from your homeland! YOU are the obstacle to my life with Shampoo."

"Excuse me," came a familiar voice. Shampoo stepped out of the doorframe. "Silly? Stupid? My brother is the only obstacle?"

"Shampoo!" Mousse started forward as the sight of the object of his obsession came before him.

"Kachuu Tenshin Amaguriken!" Shampoo's fists blurred forward.

Ranma winced, then waited for Shampoo to go back in before he addressed the heap lying on the ground. "Uhm, Mousse. Next time you want to insult my sister, DON'T yell. Especially don't yell outside her window. Better yet, don't insult her at all. She's much more clever than a lot of people give her credit for."

"She'll come to love me," Mousse mumbled into the dirt. "I know she will. I'm strong enough. She *will* be mine."

"Mousse, why not give it a rest at least for a while. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, y'know. She's not interested in you right now. Pursuing her like this only makes you an annoyance, not a suitor."

"She's just playing hard to get. I know deep down she loves me too. Like an outsider like you could ever understand OUR ways." Mousse pushed himself off the ground unsteadily. "For poisoning Shampoo's mind against me, I WILL have my revenge."

Shampoo eased away from the door. Ranma now looked handsome and exotic with the odd changes he'd undergone. He still had some problems with his endurance, but having both arms and legs and having filled out so much had definitely increased the amount of interest in him from a number of the warriors.

In a way it was a pity that he was her brother, Shampoo mused, as he was definitely a good healer and not a bad warrior at all.

Shampoo grinned a little as she considered some possibilities.

(1) (Hmmm. The Mousse That Roared. Sounds like a good fanfic title.)

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

Akane leapt forward, her bokken a fierce storm of blows.

Calm met her storm. Each motion circular, without fuss or waste.

Akane began to get flustered. "C'mon, Kasumi! Fight back!"

Nodoka watched two of her three students and sighed. It was always the same. Of the three, only Akane had the fighting potential and spirit. All three had the basics down. Only one had any gift with the sword. "BREAK!"

Nodoka Saotome changed partners so that Akane would get a little bit more of a workout. Kasumi was very good- at blocking. She had almost no skills as an attacker. Nodoka had found a friend to teach Kasumi aikido once a week, and had hopes that eventually Kasumi would make a decent fighter.

Nabiki wasn't very good at the sword, either. OR at hand to hand. She HAD turned out to be ambidextrous, and paired weapons was something she had some skill at. Given a pair of tonfa, hanbo, or gunsen - she could be devastating.

Nodoka watched dispassionately as Akane launched attack after attack which were all seamlessly deflected. Akane had learned from past sessions and had closed her defenses somewhat, and Nabiki's few counterstrikes failed to land.

Finally, Akane stopped, the bokken's tip less than an inch from Nabiki's breastbone.

"Winner Akane," Nodoka noted aloud. It was interesting how each of the three had responded to her training in different ways.

Akane, the most enthusiastic, had taken to the martial arts training quite well. Her cooking... well, it had improved. Especially the curry. Unless she started getting enthusiastic.

Kasumi was quite the opposite. In cooking and the traditional feminine skills, she had as much talent and potential as Akane did in the martial arts. Now she'd had to slack somewhat from her martial arts training as she went to nursing school. Akane had the fire of passion, whereas Kasumi tended to be like water and generally more calm and slow to anger.

Nabiki was middle-of-the-road in both departments. Clever and intelligent, and marked with considerable curiosity, she didn't have the clear mastery in a specific field but was doing quite well at the juku.

Nodoka allowed herself a little smile as she herded the little flock into the furo. If her son did indeed live, and the engagement did go through, how could he possibly choose?

Or maybe, if that inconspicuous line in that little and otherwise completely unrelated bill passed, he wouldn't have to.

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

"So, Keichi, you'll be going to Nekomi Tech? That's great."

"Yeah, I've always been fascinated with gadgetry and engines." Keichi shrugged. "Sorta my destiny, I guess."

Tenchi looked over at his old friend and raised an eyebrow. "You gonna get the chance to come out to the shrine any? Ukyou really likes you."

"Not as much as she does Ranma," replied Keichi with a sad smile. Why couldn't he have someone the way that Ukyou and Ranma had each other?

"Hey, you hear from Makoto?"

"Kino-san or Mizuhara-san?."

"Kino, of course. She's doing pretty well for living mainly on her own."

"She still call you sempai?"

"Yeah, don't know why though." Tenchi shook his head. "Anyway, she's started acting pretty mysterious. Can't reach her anymore by phone. Sometimes I'll get a little note with the latest 'Demon Dad' article, but that's about it. I wonder what she's up to."

"Probably all sorts of things." Keichi sighed and studied the poster of the latest idol adorning the train station wall. "She's two years younger than you, Tenchi. Four years younger than me. Just a kid."

"Don't let *her* hear you say that."

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

"You ready, Shampoo?"

Shampoo wrapped herself tighter around her brother and tried to ignore the feelings that being this close to him brought forth. She was *quite* aware during times like these that there was no blood relation.

Especially with Great Grandmother reversing her earlier stand against the two of them. Amazing what having a whole body and a few new tricks could do.

"I'm ready. Now remember, brother, when you start to tire - stop. Don't go getting all male-stubborn. This is partly to help your endurance."

"Yeah, I know. Thanks, sis." Ranma settled himself a little bit with Shampoo in the Fireman's Carry position. Taking a deep breath, he started to run.

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

"eeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeee!"

Lilac looked across the Amazon valley to see the trail of dust that marked Ranma attempting to run while carrying Shampoo. She clucked as she realized that Ranma was barely breaking 45kph. Less than half his usual speed.

"That's Ranma," noted Azure.

"Yes. That's my apprentice in the Healing Arts, though he's also learned quite a bit of the warrior's trade. The amulet transformed him into a werecheetah, and now acts as a control on his abilities. He spends a lot of time in his hybrid shape, refuses to go into the catlike form, and the rest of the time is in his human form. Other than a streak of blonde hair and having both arms and legs restored, his human form is unchanged."

Chun Li smiled as she noted the faint blush on cousin Azure's cheeks. So an exotic looking man had gotten to the younger Amazon. Well, Chun Li could remember a few guys in Hong Kong who'd caught her interest.

Not that Ryu and this guy had anything in common.

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

Mousse came running up, and gaped at the sight. There was Ranma and, and, Shampoo! Ranma was wheezing and his hair was all mussed up and he looked blonde! But it was definitely him as nobody else wore that clothing style.

Worse was when Shampoo picked herself off the ground, grinning like a maniac, leaves and dust in her hair which was also in disarray. Her...clothing was ripped! HIS clothing was ripped! Brother and sister - yeah, right! They must have been?! Could they?!

Mousse nearly fainted when Shampoo, laughing, swept Ranma up and twirled him around in a tight embrace. Then the filter of red snapped into place.

"Die, you FIEND!" Mousse ran forward and launched an attack.

Ranma ducked the bladed chain and countered. Unfortunately, Mousse's glasses were covered by dust or he would have noticed the fur on Ranma. Ranma found out what occurred when he did a "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" attack while in werecheetah hybrid form.

"Eeeewwww," said Shampoo five seconds later. "Good thing you're a healer."

-------Mimir's Well--------

"Hey, isn't that?" Grey pointed to a scene far away from Ranma's current location in the timeline.

Bast hissed.

Kasumi looked at the two and at the scene. "Isn't that Ryouga? But who's that talking to him?"

"We haven't met, have we? Ares, Greco-Roman sector." The figure in the timeline appeared before them. "I was *so* concerned about poor Ranma not getting a decent workout..."

"Meaning you didn't want to see a happy ending here," Grey managed.

Ares idly made a flicking motion and swatted the reluctant incubus into a wall. "True," he allowed a moment later. "Hate, fear, distrust, loathing, conflict, these are all my meat and drink. Besides, Bast, you interfered on the behalf of the Light- that gives me the right to intervene on behalf of the Dark."

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

Ryouga looked at the odd amulet that the man had given him and wondered what it was supposed to do. Just some amulet engraved on one side with the kanji for wolf, and on the other side was the kanji for man. Really odd looking.

The man had repeatedly said that his future happiness would be destroyed by a boy named Ranma Saotome. Looking the odd man in the eyes, Ryouga had become certain that the man was speaking the truth, and the only way for Ryouga to stop this Ranma was to use this amulet.

Strange, it seemed to warm up in his hands.

Ryouga screamed as the magic erupted.

--EYECATCH#1---------

Ranma zooms onto the screen. A storefront behind him has the "Ranma 1/3" logo. Freeze frame.
caption: "Ranma Saotome, werecheetah, zoomius supersonicus."
Unfreeze frame. Ranma zooms off the screen with a "starship entering warp" effect.
Ryouga runs onto the screen. Freeze frame.
caption: "Ryouga Hibiki, werewolf, losticus kluulus."
Unfreeze frame. Ryouga runs off the screen, angrily waving a fist at Ranma.
Large crowd of women run onto screen. Freeze frame.
caption: "Ranma hunters. Mostly human. Romanticus Mobicus."
Unfreeze frame. Crowd runs off. Logo on store falls over, revealing the "Source Of Pride" title.

-----1992-----------

"This is Hekiru Yamamoto." The reporter spoke into the phone with a sense of urgency. "I've found the father. Get this, the kid's still alive."

"You sure about that? How's the kid survived?"

"Well, at least the 'Demon Dad' thinks so. I found him here at this village in the foothills of the Bayankala Mountain range in Qinghai Province. Apparently he abandoned the kid when a bunch of locals got after him." Hekiru glanced about herself surreptiously. "I don't know how the kid's alive, but apparently he is. The locals confirmed this. Apparently there's some magical healing that took place, I thought it was an urban legend but there's people who actually have met him. Look, this guy's been trying to get in and sneak away his son again but apparently he hasn't been able to get in that close. He's going to try again tomorrow."

"And you'll help." It wasn't a question.

"A fellow Japanese, a photographer trying to get a few pictures of a Lost Society within China that somehow managed to maintain their own identity during the Communists attempts to suppress such? Oh yes, there's apparently one of those here too. We'll rescue the little boy, then I'll contact you as soon as I can. He comes back to Japan with his child, and we're ready with an exclusive of the police taking the 'Demon Dad' into custody."

"Sounds good." The editor's voice carried the smile and gleam in his eyes. "Did you call your answering machine and give another report?"

"Yeah, should be all ready to be transcribed. I've got the photos going by courier to Hong Kong, from there an overnight to you. Save a copy for me."

"Always, Yamamoto-san, always."

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

"She said no, Mousse. Leave my sister alone."

"Shampoo *will* be my bride. You? You're a freak and an outsider, less than a real man. You CERTAINLY aren't her brother. Why should I listen to *you*!"

Sixteen year old Ranma tried not to show how much the accusations hurt. Shampoo was even more like a sister than Ukyou. Shampoo had been a friend and rough-and-tumble playmate for several years now. Many in the village accepted him, even though he wasn't born here. Shampoo, Cologne, Azure, Tiger, Sugar, Lilac, Razor, and a few others. Many in the village did NOT accept him and continued to make their displeasure quite clear.

"Because Shampoo talks to me and I LISTEN! That's one of the things she has against you. You DON'T listen."

"You don't understand Shampoo OR our ways like I do, monster." Jealousy turned Mousse's features harsh. This unworthy boy spent so much time with Shampoo, having her friendship and sleeping in the same house. It was *so* unfair! "And what are you going to do about it if I don't leave Shampoo alone?"

"I'm telling you NICELY, idiot! Stop bugging my sister."

"Fist Of The White Swan!" Mousse replied, using one of his newest manuevers.

Ranma grunted and slid back a few feet from the blow. "Not bad, Mousse, but it takes more than one punch to finish me."

"There's an old line of Chinese Amazon wisdom that applies, I think. 'Obstacles are for killing.' Yes, that does seem appropriate." Mousse produced a spear that glinted silver in the light. "Now I end your miserable excuse for a life and at the same time reclaim Shampoo."

"She was never yours to begin with," growled Ranma in reply. "Last chance."

"DIE RANMA!"

"No." A lithe form landed in between Mousse and Ranma. "You will not do this, Mousse. If you are going to challenge Ranma, do it within the Law."

"You defend him, Azure? He's an outsider." Mousse stopped but readied a few throwing knives within the folds of his robe.

"He is NOT an outsider. He has been adopted into the tribe as Shampoo's brother. You may NOT attack him as you would an outsider." Azure privately added that he was too cute to be lost through Mousse's refusal to see that Ranma only thought of Shampoo as his sister.

A voice spoke from behind Mousse. "You throw those knives, Mousse, and *I* will challenge you. What do you think your odds would be then?"

Mousse stopped. Azure he could certainly defeat. Sugar was another thing entirely. And if Sugar was here, Spice was likely nearby. Someone had once said that Shampoo was among the best of the best. Sugar, Spice, Cinnamon, Kohi, and the giantess Dowel were also part of an elite fighting group within the Nichieju. Azure was the well-meaning but often fumblefingered buddy. For Mousse to go up against Sugar was the mouse trying to kill the serpent, difficult but not impossible. For Mousse to go up against Sugar AND Spice - he didn't think anyone would put odds on him.

"Then I declare a formal challenge," Mousse said after a moment. "Me versus Ranma to determine if he is allowed to be Shampoo's brother."

"The challenge rings are booked solid for a good month," Azure put in quickly.

"It doesn't matter," came yet another voice. Shampoo had heard, and Shampoo wasn't pleased. "I accept Ranma as my brother. Whether you win or lose against him is beside the point."

Mousse frowned but bulled ahead. "I know of a challenge ground that we can use. This *will* be settled and I will send this weak cripple out of the village."

"Where?" Azure was sure she wouldn't like the answer. She had plans for the Healer that she was sure Shampoo would approve of.

Knowing that his father had tried to drown him, Mousse hoped that water would yet prove to be Ranma's undoing. If not, he had enough weapons tipped with silver to do the job. "Jusenkyo."

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

"Dad!" Nabiki glanced up from the paper. "There's another Demon Dad article in the paper."

"Aaaaaa!" Soun cried just from the shame. Hadn't Genma risen above the Master's moral level at all? Who would learn Anything Goes martial arts with this kind of infamy attached to the school?

Akane, the sole student of his dojo (and even then she was being trained by Mrs Saotome), looked across the table with a blink. "What's going on this time?"

"She followed the trail of petty thefts to a village in China, doesn't say where. Says the Demon Dad has apparently been... oh dear. I wonder if Mrs Saotome has seen this?"

Soun twitched slightly. He didn't want to ask. He didn't want to know. Ignorance was bliss, if only in comparison to knowing.

"What he do now?" Akane wanted the lurid details.

"Not only has Ranma been engaged to twelve other girls, Mister Saotome has been doing 'Anything Goes' in the moral sense as well as the Art sense. Theft, sleeping around, whatever will get him sleeping indoors and keep him near where he can reclaim his son."

"Ranma's alive?!" Kasumi came out of the kitchen, a smile lighting her face. They had come to know *something* of this Ranma of late. The pictures relayed from this Masaki boy to Ranma's mother had shown a completely different side to their iinazuke than the little boy largely concealed by tubes and monitoring equipment. "I'll call Saotome-san and tell her to check the paper."

Soun twitched again, feebly.

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

"Tenchi! Tenchi!" Ukyou ran into the cave, knowing that Tenchi tended to hang around it. "Morisato-san just called. There's another 'Demon Dad' article in the paper."

An unseen spirit listened with interest to the two. SHE remembered the brash little boy who had been here a few years ago too. She wanted out of this damn cave more than ever.

"Does it say?"

"Not confirmed, but they think Ranchan's alive!"

Tenchi blinked at that, wondering how.

"So..."

"So I'M going."

"Does the article say where he is?"

"Nope, but Morisato's got a lead on where Ranchan's mother lives and I gotta bullet train pass to Tokyo. You know how long I've been planning." Ukyou had the determined gleam in her eyes that spoke of her vengeance upon one Genma Saotome. Though she had to leave enough of him that his wife could deal with him later.

"Does Grandpa know?"

"Not yet. With any luck, I can be in Azabu Juuban by the time he finds out." She had her pack, her bo staff, and her spatulas ready. "Morisato-san wants you to give him a call back when you read the article."

Tenchi nodded, no point in fighting Ukyou when she got THAT look in her eyes. "I'll call the others and let 'em know."

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

Cologne's eyes were slits. She was angry. No, angry didn't quite do it.

Three junior warriors took one look at the Matriarch's expression and nearly fled. One sergeant was actually hoping they would because then she could get out of the area while chasing them.

Lilac raised an eyebrow at her colleague's ruddy aura, but merely frowned herself.

THAT was enough to cause several rather tough older Amazons to remember duties elsewhere. Cologne angry was unusual and dangerous. For Lilac to show any signs of anger herself, why - the horn of Apocalypse must have sounded and the demonic hordes already on the way.

"They...went...where?" Cologne's voice was low but carried well.

"You *let* them?" Lilac's voice was the raspy whisper it always was. Nevertheless, to many present it carried more import than Cologne's anger. It was simply so unheard of for the Elder Healer to show such obvious signs of displeasure.

Azure winced. "Elders, I..."

Lilac's eyes unclenched a little. A touch of her usual humor began to filter into her voice. "No, *you* tried to stop them, didn't you?"

Azure stepped a little back, not sure how much Lilac knew.

"Oh yes, child, I know." Lilac made a dismissive wave. "Watching from the shadows as you have, cultivating a friendship with Shampoo despite that Shampoo had always viewed you as merely a weak warrior and therefore not worthy of associating with her."

"What?" Cologne's gaze fell upon the warrior, who flinched under it.

"She's got the hots for my apprentice." Lilac dismissed the muted whispering from two of the other Elders who felt that a proper Amazon shouldn't allow the weakness of feelings for a male to undermine their warrior hearts. Lilac was a bit more earthy than some of the others and didn't disapprove of the concept. Okay, she wanted to see Amazon kids in Ranma's future. "So, of course, she let us know as soon as she could out of concern for Ranma."

"Let them fight," councilled Kuraioh, Elder of Dark Magics, incidently Mousse's grandmother. "Mousse will slay the beast and our village need not suffer this outsider any longer."

"Let them fight," seconded Wind, Elder of Artisans. "The Amazons must be strong to survive. He is too strange, too different."

Lotion, Elder of the Lore Masters, kept her own council.

Cologne began to argue with the two dissenters, bringing two more Elders into the argument as she did, noting that Lilac and Azure had vanished. A thought caused her to stop the whole thing as unproductive.

"You can argue this however you want. Shampoo is my great-granddaughter, you idiots, and SHE is with them! Family takes precedence." With that, Cologne took her own leave from the Audience Hall.

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

"Coward! Come and face me!" Mousse leapt to the top of one of the poles, smirking down at the little monster. This would be over swiftly. To an obstacle to his love of Shampoo, there could be only one fate!

"Mousse, you idiot!" Sugar almost drew her sword. This place didn't feel at all right. "You could have just waited a month or two and had the challenge match on the log. Instead you get us all out here on a cold night."

"Afternoon," corrected Spice.

"Well, it's a cold breeze, at least." Sugar glared at Spice as if wanting to hear any further contradiction.

Ranma leapt to the top of his own pole, looking a little uncertain about this whole thing. For one thing, there was something really familiar about that fat guy in the trenchcoat and Hawaiian shirt.

Hekiru and Genma, two Japanese tourists, edged a little closer to the drama.

Shampoo was as tactful as ever and her comments indicated her complete disinterest in the fight. "Go, Ranma! Whip the Mousse! Rip his lungs out! Stamp him into the muck! Pop his spleen! Eviscerate, crush, kill, maim, destroy!"

Sugar began to look a little pale as Shampoo went into great detail about what Ranma should do to Mousse, using blunt instruments and definitely no anesthetic. "Please, Shampoo, I haven't eaten supper yet."

"I will kill you, Ranma, then Shampoo will be mine." Mousse drew twin curved blades from within his robes.

"She is my sister, Mousse. My bloodoath-sister if not by anything else. She doesn't want anything to do with you." Ranma grinned, showing enlarged canines. His curse was suppressed by the amulet, but it still showed a bit in the gold of his hair and the toothy grin.

"DIE!" Mousse launched himself.

Instead of leaping forward, Ranma waited where he was. Patience was something all veteran warriors and healers possessed.

Throwing knives tipped with silver shot out. Mousse was rather shocked when Ranma pulled a metal edged warfan out of his sleeves and blocked them.

"That's...Hidden Weapon Style," Mousse said upon landing on another pole. "How dare you use my own style against me?!" It had been bad enough the last time they had fought.

"I'm a Healer, Mousse. That doesn't mean I'm defenseless." Maybe when he had first come to the village, but he had learned a LOT before he had worn the amulet. Now that he had...

"I will not tolerate this insult!" Mousse launched himself again, once again producing the pair of swords and moving closer to his opponent.

Shampoo turned to Sugar and produced her bonbori, then a spear, then a nine-ring broadsword. Finally she produced from her right sleeve a tray with several sandwiches. "Handy technique, isn't it? Ranma's such a good brother to share so much with his dear sister, don't you think?"

"No rice?" Spice blinked at the sight but wondered why foreign food.

"Too difficult to keep it from spilling. Ranma introduced me to peanut butter sandwiches a few years ago, and they keep really well." Shampoo offered the odd food to her two friends as they watched the battle. "I send him out to pick me up some stuff you can't get around here. He heads over to Cloudgate Pass."

"That's an eight hour hike," noted Spice.

"Ranma does it in fifteen minutes," Shampoo said, taking a large wineskin out of her left sleeve. "He's gotten pretty good at running."

Sugar smiled betwen bites. "Almost makes me wish that I had a brother." SHAMPOO'S brother, she silently added, not thinking for a moment about a relationship between siblings.

"Katchu Tenshin Amaguriken," said Ranma in response to Mousse's attack. His fists lashed out with a cracking noise that had nothing to do with the force of impact, but rather the speed of sound being exceeded. Mousse made a short arc and landed in one of the pools below.

"That reminds me, Shampoo," one sixteen year old said to another. "Is Ranma handfasted yet? Engaged? Seeing someone?"

"No. Why do you ask, Sugar?" Shampoo looked slyly at the swordswoman, well knowing the answer.

"It just occurred to me that since his adoption into the tribe is contested, that maybe a less controversial way to bring an outsider into the tribe might soothe a few of those dissenters."

"It's possible," agreed Shampoo. "I think Azure's interested."

"Azure tends to walk into walls, ESPECIALLY when your brother's around." Sugar smirked slightly. "No, I think a REAL warrior is what your brother needs."

"This is true. But it is also true what Mousse says about that." Shampoo smirked and started off to go congratulate her brother on his victory. "He's not *really* related to me, is he?"

Sugar came to a complete stop and stared at Shampoo for a moment before deciding the formerly aloof Champion was kidding. Sugar tried to remember the always serious warrior who had been dedicated to being Champion and friendless (RinRin and RanRan being more like groupies) just a few years ago. "That Ranma really is amazing to get Shampoo to open up like that," Sugar mused with a smile. "Life is just full of surprises."

At that moment a hawk crawled out of the spring that Mousse had vanished into and chee'ed angrily at the sight of Shampoo supporting the wheezing Ranma. Going at supersonic speeds exhausted him rather quickly.

One of the two tourists began to loudly bang on the door to the Guide's hut, causing attention to be directed there by the young Amazons present. Which was when the larger of the two tourists made his move.

Flinging his diguise aside at the same time he charged forward, Genma attacked. He startled Shampoo enough to fling her aside and sent a wooden cudgel into his son's face. He ran THROUGH one of the pools, drenching himself as he headed across the Valley.

Sugar was about to give chase when she noticed Lilac, Cologne, Azure, and a half dozen other Amazons charging along.

"That's Ranma's father," yelled Azure, recognizing him from a day when a young boy had nearly been drowned in the town's water supply.

Hekiru continued to sneak off, mumbling a little something about "so-called brilliant plans" hatched by "overlarge fools" and how much she looked forward to seeing him taken into police custody. At least she'd be able to ditch the disguise and come back.

Ranma got over being startled and shifted. His father, feeling the weight in his arms increase, looked down.

Genma SCREAMED in sheer mortal terror.

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

Keiichi Morisato grumbled about being left alone to answer the phone, but this was part and parcel of being low man on the dorm room totem pole. His eyes widened as he saw the article. He had to call and tell Tenchi about this!

He dialed the number quickly. "Hello, Tenchi?!"

"This is the Goddess Helpline. I'll be there immediately for a consultation." Belldandy smiled. She had been planning this for years. She'd already made HER wish, which would modify HIS wish.

And she hadn't even had to make him give up smoking in *this* timeline.

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

"Another 'Demon Dad' article!" Nabiki said this fairly loud, rewarded with one long moan of anguish from her father and two requests for further information from her sisters.

"It's got pictures this time, too." Nabiki looked over the photos with a smirk. "According to this, the reporter got quite a welcome when she announced she was chasing after the Demon Dad to bring him to justice. This Ranma is in an Amazon village hidden in the Bayankala mountain range."

"Oh, she actually gives her location away this time?" Akane sat down with a cup of tea and looked over Nabiki's shoulder at the photographs. "Hmmm. Martial artist female warriors? Sounds like it could be fun."

Nabiki shrugged at her sister's idea of fun. "Anyway, dig this. This is a photograph Yamamoto-san took in the village showing Ranma and his 'Amazon sister' Shampoo."

"Oh, let me see," Kasumi said brightly. "Oh my, he looks a lot better now that he's off life-support."

"Kinda scarred up though." Nabiki frowned slightly. He'd never be an idol, that was for sure. Though those three parallel scars on his cheek gave him a certain air of character.

"His sister's named for a hair care product?" Akane snorted.

"Apparently the Demon Dad abandoned him there a few years ago so he could be healed, they adopted him into their tribe and he is a 'promising specialist in shiatsu and Chinese herbal medicine' according to one of their Elders." Nabiki paused as she considered marketability and possible financial developments.

"What's that say about a curse?" Akane pointed to a line of text.

"Apparently Ranma decided being whole was worth getting a curse. He's a ...werecheetah?"

"Yeah right," Akane started waving it off. "Waitaminnute, what if it's serious?"

"A real magic curse?" Nabiki smirked. "Come on, it's just something she added to make the story more interesting." Nabiki's smirk died as she saw the picture on the next page. They hadn't wasted any money on this. It was a color shot of Ranma in his wereform. Gee, was it warm in here all of a sudden?

"If it were true, this would be another thing to hold Mister Saotome accountable for." Kasumi sounded faintly disapproving but eyed the photo of the young boy and his sister. She hadn't seen the odd picture on the next page yet, nor the open stare that Nabiki was giving it.

"I'll call Mrs Saotome and make sure she sees this." Nabiki handed the article off to Akane. Besides she had to wipe drool off her chin.

She was rather surprised to hear Mrs Saotome had a guest. She was even more surprised to hear plane tickets being discussed.

Kasumi and Akane got to the next page and didn't blink for quite some time after that.

"Oh my," said Akane with feeling.

Kasumi merely nodded.

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

"Aw, c'mon, Grandpa. Curses?"

"Lycanthropes? Yes, they are real, though rarer than the movies would make you think. There's also ghosts and shinnentai and a number of other things the modern world scoffs at."

"Then... it's real?" Tenchi couldn't believe it. Then, did this mean that his old friend was now a cat? How... bizarre. Ukyou would *really* be upset.

"Don't go *there*, Tenchi." Tilting his head so that the light caught his glasses just *so*, Yosho regarded his grandson. "Instead, why don't we go visit an Amazon village..."

Tenchi waited until his grandfather had left before lifting up the set of keys he'd filched. He'd have to hurry, but at last he could find out what was in that cave!

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

"A wish?" Keichi blinked at the girl floating in midair. "For anything? Anything at all? I could be rich or be a race car driver or even... "

"Yes," said Belldandy with a smile that warmed the room, seeing the unspoken desire. Keiichi had seen the love and devotion that Ukyou had for her Ranma long ago, and like the others had also sworn that Genma would face justice for his crime. "But don't waste a wish on vengeance, Genma Saotome will face the repercussions of his actions."

"I could..." Keichi's eyes found the article lying on the floor. Ranma smiling with his Amazon sister. "I know. I never meet a nice girl like Ukyou around my own age. None of the girls my age are interested in me 'cause I'm so short."

"That isn't so important," answered Belldandy with complete sincerity. "It's not the size of the body that's important, it's the size of the heart."

Keichi looked at this person, not as a goddess, not as someone who came floating up out of mirrors. Kind, nice, beautiful, the kind of girl he never met. He had no idea where the impulse came from. "I just wish I had a girl like you, who was as devoted to me as Ukyou was to her Ranma."

Belldandy was careful not to smile as she granted the wish.

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

Nodoka led the way. This cargo plane wasn't exactly first class, but who else could get them into a remote region of China quickly and without questions asked?

"%Y'all strap in. We're going around most of China to avoid the air restrictions, then go in low over the mountains and into that Bayankala area.%" Ace smiled at the mostly young group and shrugged. He wished 'em luck, that 'Demon Dad' series was being translated into English and had caused quite a stir abroad.

Genma had done something the Japanese people really didn't like. He'd called attention to them, and made them all look bad by association. Embarrassing their nation was not something a Japanese took lightly. Losing business and money due to being linked to the Demon Dad had caused even mild-mannered assembly line workers to curse the name of Genma Saotome.

"He's American?" Akane wanted a chance to practice her English.

"Ace was made known to me by a friend. He is apparently one of the best pilots one can get to run special freight deliveries who operates mainly within the law." Nodoka didn't have a hair out of place.

"%I got your passports and such here, and the special Entry permits from a guy I know in Shanghai. I gotta drop you off, then I gotta make a stop in Tibet and unload some radio parts. Cause of the air restrictions, you'll have to make your way back to civilization on your own.%"

"%Not a problem,%" Nodoka assured the young man.

"Yo," said a girl wearing hiking clothes and looking over the others. "Name's Ukyou Kuonji. Ranma's mom tells me one of you three's engaged to Ranchan. I think we ought to have a little chat during this trip."

"Oh my."

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

"So, do you have it?"

"Found it. It's legit," Ami didn't look up from her computer, continuing to type at high speeds. "Your old sempai is in Qinghai province, Bayankala mountain range, about twenty five klicks from a village called Cloudgate Pass."

"Can we get there?" Makoto Kino frowned and looked to the west as if she could pierce the distance and walls between here and there by simple act of will.

"It would require a Sailor Teleport." Ami frowned slightly, remembering the large man who had pounded four children years ago. Even if she hadn't been one of those pummelled, it was clearly engraved in memory.

"Too dangerous. It's not like this Genma is from the Dark Kingdom, we can't risk it for personal business." Luna met the resulting glare from Makoto without a flinch. "You know I'm right."

"On the other hand, if and when he returns to Japan," Minako clenched a fist. "He'll be taking a trip down Yenzu river..."

"That's 'Senzu river', Minako." Artemis sighed.

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

Genma snuck back. Those damn Amazons had done something to his son. Something horrible. Maybe that hadn't even been his son after all. After all, it had changed shape.

Well, he'd find Ranma and get him back. He knew what to do about werewolves. Though that hadn't really looked like a wolf. More like some kind of leopard.

A thought stopped Genma in mid-sneak. Maybe this was the true power of the catfist?

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

"Yeah, uhm, okay." Keichi put the phone back on its cradle. "Tenchi and his grandpa are going to that Amazon village. Ukyou's already going there. The only one home is their father..."

"Yes?" Belldandy sat back and blinked.

"Yeah, I heard about that," Megumi stretched out. "Hey, think that when Ukyou and Ranma get back together they can show me some moves?"

"Yeah right," Keichi shook his head. One meeting with Ukyou Kuonji and Tenchi Masaki, and Megumi had added martial arts to her resume. Not that she was any good at it, she just had gotten enthusiastic about watching it. "Considering how much they were into that stuff, all you'd have to do is drop the hint."

"I just wish *we* could go to that village," Megumi said with a sigh. "Just imagine what it'd be like to be there when they're reunited."

"Hmmm," hmmmed Keichi, thinking of how romantic that could be and if Belldandy were with him...

"Hmmm," hmmmed Belldandy, thinking of how romantic that would be. And maybe if Keichi were with her...

"Ah-HA!" Urd chuckled as she watched from a distance. Perfect.

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

Hekiru was at once both in and out of her element.

In her element because this was HER story. She had spent many years tracking this all down and at last had found the boy she'd given up as dead long ago.

Out of her element because she was used to working alone. Out of her element because magic and the supernatural had taken her normal little story and thrown it into a reporter's No Man's Land. Even with the pictures, people were having trouble with this.

The lower class and the upper class ran into enough weirdness that they didn't have much trouble with it. The middle class, locked into their grey suburban drudgery, wondered what was going on.

Hekiru looked at the boy that kept turning into a hawk, at the healed Japanese boy, and wondered what had happened to her nice orderly world.

Hekiru also looked at the television crew, their equipment and monitors, and wondered if this was still *her* story. Yes, the newspaper she worked for was owned by a media group, and this television station was therefore an affiliate. Still, it was *her* baby.

Little did she know how much things were going to go completely insane.

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

"Tenchi?!" Ukyou blinked at the sight on the trail. "Mister Masaki? Uh-oh."

"Young lady, you *could* have told me." Tenchi's grandfather pushed his glasses firmly onto the bridge of his nose. "Consider yourself grounded as soon as we get back."

Tenchi merely perspired and prayed that the demon he'd awoken from that cave STAYED in that cave.

Ryoko, of course, was hiding nearby. She'd surprise Tenchi later.

"How nice," Akane said with a smirk. If Ukyou was grounded, then that meant her sisters had a clear shot at this Ranma guy. Mrs Saotome had never made a preference clear, and both Nabiki and Kasumi were interested in meeting this Ranma fellow. All SHE had to do was keep some of the riffraff away and this engagement stuff would just pass Akane by.

"Hmmm," Nabiki hmmmed. If Kasumi got Ranma, this new guy looked kinda cute AND didn't have major injuries (or curses). At least as far as she could tell.

"Oh dear." Kasumi unfurled her little parasol and looked around at all the people converging on the air strip. She could hardly wait to do a medical exam on Ranma. There was no telling what damages the lack of medications might have done to him over the years.

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

Megumi blinked as her brother was being drawn INTO the television screen and grabbed for him.

A moment later Belldandy re-entered the empty room with a tray of snacks, noted that a transport spell had been used, and began tracking her Keichi down.

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

Megumi fixed her brother with a glare, deciding to ignore the tanned girl with the platinum hair, the Amazon village, the startled camera crew, and the line of arriving burros.

"Okay, bro, you've got thirty seconds to explain what the hell is going on around here!"

"Uhm, well," Keichi stammered.

"Hmmmm. Maybe you can help me out here," purred Urd. "After all, I got you here where you wanted to be, so you can pay me back."

"I didn't ask for you to pull me through a TV SET!"

A chromed surface chose that moment to erupt in light. "Keichi! Are you allright? ...Urd?! I should have known!" Belldandy scowled.

"Well, Keichi, I'm waiting?"

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

Cologne's chopsticks broke.

Lilac glanced at that, then noted aloud that her teacup had just cracked.

With a clatter, one of the wall hangings became acquainted with the ground.

A crow, for no apparent reason, fell dead at the entry to the Audience Hall.

Cologne's eyes went to slits. "This means something."

"I think she's got something," Lotion agreed.

"This could be interesting," chorused Lilac.

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

"Goddesses?" Megumi said, feeling her jaw wanting to hit the ground. She'd abruptly been pulled aside by the bronze-skinned girl who'd figured that since this girl was Keichi's sister and she knew anyway...

"That's right, I'm Belldandy's big sister Urd. Now, if you can help me out by getting those two together..."

"My brother's girlfriend is some kinda goddess?"

"Yes, one of the three Norns. Urd, Belldandy, Skuld. Now back to the problem at hand."

"A goddess?! Keichi? Keichi couldn't get a date to save his life and he's living with a goddess?"

"Yes, yes, yes. Keichi and my sister the goddess. Norn of the Present, Belldandy. Actually they're in sort of the same boat since Sis hasn't gone out terribly often either." Urd noticed that Megumi Morisato hadn't blinked in several minutes.

"Keichi and a goddess..." Megumi's mind started to process this bizarre turn of events and work its way past the blockage. "Shacking up." Scandalous enough if it was a foreign exchange student, but dear kami- a megami?!

"That's the problem you see. The past is my specialty, and the future is Skuld's, but with all this chaos it's anyone's guess. Your brother is so indecisive and hesitant, I can't see the two getting together in the near future."

"Well, they've only known each other a day," Megumi finally started fitting things together. "That's right, they'd just gotten thrown out of the dorm yesterday. Wow, that means that I interrupted my brother's first attempt to kiss a goddess. Wow!"

"Yes, I KNOW!" Urd took a deep breath and let some of her frustration out that way. "Anyway, to get them together."

"You WANT to get them..." Megumi blushed. HER brother, and a goddess?!

"YES! Like I said, the past is my specialty and when I heard about this Ranma fellow I got curious about his past. When I explored HIS past I ran across this Keichi fellow, so I followed HIS past. And found...my sister."

"Your sister, in Keichi's past?" Megumi began to smile, beginning to go into shock.

"Yes. It turns out the two of them met prior to Keichi meeting this Ranma and a boy named Tenchi Masaki, a girl named Ukyou Kuonji, and a girl named Makoto Kino. ALL of whom have VERY interesting pasts. Bell has been watching Keichi from Heaven for years now. Probably planning for Keichi's wish. So Belldandy made a wish to modify Keichi's wish so that it would come out as a wish for HER."

Megumi blinked finally. "So they're fated lovers, cruelly seperated by destiny, but she's never forgotten him, and now the lovers have been at last reunited but my brother's clueless about the whole thing. It figures."

"That's..." Urd blinked this time. "Actually, that's pretty accurate."

"Hey, I read shojo manga all the time. So, it's forbidden for gods and mortals to cohabitate or something?"

"Uhm, not forbidden. It's just really frowned on. A lot of the male gods have quick flings and the like. This isn't a quickie though, I've seen that much."

"Right!" Megumi clenched a fist and fire glinted in her eye. "An ancient love between a goddess and a mortal, even if my brother is a bit of a weenie, seperated by cruel fate and given the chance to bloom because your sister had the guts to cross that barrier of forbidden love!"

Urd shook her head. "No, that's not quite it."

"Close enough."

Urd had to agree with that.

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

Ranma stopped and stared. There, riding a burro, parasol perched jauntily over one shoulder, was Nice Lady.

"%There's an awful lot of strangers in the village today.%" Shampoo noted. "%You suppose they're all here for the Tournament?%"

"%Shampoo, do you see that one with the odd umbrella? That's the Nice Lady, except she doesn't have the marks on the face.%"

Shampoo blinked and peered at the crowd. "%That's her? Are you sure?%"

"%Yeah. I mean she's even got the hair done the same way. And that one over there is...% UCCHAN?! TENCHI?!"

Shampoo braced herself against the wind caused by Ranma's quick departure.

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

Ukyou and Tenchi both looked up at hearing their names. They weren't quite ready for this.

Running at speeds you normally needed a bullet train for, Ranma grabbed up his Ucchan and circled the burro train three times before coming to a halt.

"R-R-RAnma?!" Ukyou blinked. Blonde? The scars she could see, but what was with the fur?

Ukyou and the others all took a moment to study Ranma's hybrid form. Wearing a set of Chinese clothes that had flaring sleeves and was tight almost everywhere else, the figure would likely have been unrecognizable without the photo. The clothing looked to be of cotton or something similar, and was a blue only a shade darker than his eyes. Blonde fur, spotted with black or streaked with white, very fine, gave him almost the look of some golden statue come to life. His ears were pointed and very feline-expressive, constantly twitching. His mane was tied back in a ponytail that reached his mid-back, spotted with dark areas, and his face had two streaks similar to a cheetah's facial markings. There was also a darker area of three slashmarks where the tissues underneath remained scarred.

He was taut and leanly muscular, graceful in his movements, and stood nearly 6'2" -towering over most of those present. His tail was of the same coloration as his mane. Slight fangs showed as he grinned. There was an aura of confidence, good-natured friendliness, and intelligence showing in those deep blue eyes.

Nabiki looked at the golden figure before her and licked her lips. She'd always been fond of gold, and those pants were *just* tight enough! She wondered if she would be too forward if she glomped him or should she just propose now and get the preliminaries over with?

Kasumi looked at the abused boy and wondered if she should give him a full exam now? She also remembered that this was a healer, as well as her iinazuke. She'd have to make sure she took good care of him, after all he'd been through. At least, this was what Kasumi was thinking. Her eyes, on the other hand, kept roaming over the pleasantly built male body and wondered if she could get the wedding scheduled soon.

Akane half turned away from this boy and tried not to stare out of the corner of her eye. Not that she was interested, mind you. As she'd loudly and frequently explain, she was *not* interested in a fiance/boyfriend or anything of the kind. Nope! Akane licked her lips as they suddenly seemed to have gotten dry.

Ukyou took inventory and was satisfied. He may look awfully feline, but this was *her* Ranchan! And he'd gotten so tall and buff! And was now a shiatsu and herbal medicine expert! She could fix okonomiyaki right outside his clinic! Maybe he could even get together with her and combine her skills with okonomiyaki and his herbal medicine to create herbal medicine okonomiyaki! But right now the important thing was to get acquainted with her Ranchan again.

Nodoka noted the tight pants, the way the girls looked at him, and the way Nabiki was drooling. Yup, her son had turned out manly.

"%Brother? Do you want to introduce me to your friends?%" Shampoo panted between every word having done her best to match speeds with her brother.

"%Oh, sorry, Shampoo. I've told you about Ucchan and Tenchi. That's Tenchi's grandfather, Katsuhiko.% Ucchan, Tenchi, Grandfather, this is my sister Shampoo."

"Ranma? You've got fur? Then it's true?" Tenchi looked over his old friend, now taller and much more muscular than himself.

"What's true?" Ranma blinked blue eyes at them all.

"You're a werecheetah?"

"Yeah."

"Hi, I'm Nabiki." A girl with short hair and glazed-over eyes came forward and shook Ranma's hand. "I'm your fiancee."

"EXCUSE ME!?" Shampoo, Kasumi, Ukyou, Akane and Azure (appearing out of nowhere) exclaimed.

Ranma just blinked and considered fainting.

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

"So I'm engaged to marry one of your daughters by an ancient arrangement between families. PLUS I'm engaged to marry Ukyou?" Ranma twitched a little.

"Shampoo also promise Azure, Sugar, Kohi, Ran Ran and Rin Rin that they have chance at you." Shampoo shook her head at this insanity. "Plus remember that Shampoo not really sister and great-grandmama would really like bring you into family for real."

Ranma nodded. THAT had been an idea that had developed after he'd regenerated the arm and leg. Lilac, his mentor in the Healing Arts, just wanted to see him settle down with a large number of kids. She had reminded him on more than one occasion that he could potentially take more than one wife.

Ranma glanced over at his mother, still trying to get used to the idea that he had one.

"According to the papers, you've also got a dozen other fiancees that your Dad arranged."

Tenchi nudged his blood brother. "Better you than me."

Tenchi's grandfather heard that and smirked at some private joke.

"But..." Ranma's eyes began to glaze over again.

"Son, don't worry about it." His mother, beaming proudly at the boy, checked some papers in her hand. "It will all work out."

"Hmmmph," hmmphed Akane. All boys were perverts anyway. Not that she wanted him. Nope. She hadn't paid any attention to that taut waist, well defined pectorals and butt. Not her! She had studiously avoided noticing that the scars on his face seemed to further define it rather than detract from it. She *especially* did not notice how cute and sexy his hybrid form was with the feline exotic looks. She wasn't a pervert, after all. Nope. Not interested at all in how those tight pants looked on him. Not evenly vaguely interested in how soft and silken his fur and mane looked, or wondered what it would feel like to run her fingers through it. Gee, it was *awfully* hot and steamy in this hut...

"And you said, you were..." Nabiki looked over at Tenchi.

"We're the Masaki Brothers," said Tenchi and Ranma in a well practiced unison.

"And I'm the Masaki Sister, I'm the Cute One." Ukyou chimed in a half beat later.

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

"Brit? Have you seen this?" Gina looked up at where her adoptive sister was writing a letter to her new boyfriend Stripe.

"The Tokyo Werewolf make another appearance?"

"No, this article about the 'Demon Dad' that says the boy's a werecheetah."

%ZOOOOOM! GRAB!%

"I'm not the last?" Brittany gasped at the implications. "Maybe this is some lost Chinese tribe of werecheetahs?"

"Well, it says here that..."

%ZOOOOM!% Brittany Diggers, werecheetah, was proving that she could leap to conclusions and run with a concept as well as anyone else.

Brianna smirked. A werecheetah, huh? She'd have to check him out.

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

"So, that's my proposal." Nodoka said her piece and let the argument rage on. She used the opportunity to watch her son and the girls around him.

Her son seemed confused by all the attention. No, that wasn't confusion. That was stunned shock. Apparently he hadn't realized that several of the Amazons had been petitioning his "sister" to be allowed to challenge him for the right to marry him. Finding that you had felt all your life to be a barely tolerated outsider, only to be upgraded to prime husband material was a bit of a shock.

Interesting. Akane was trying hard to look as if she weren't looking. Nabiki was being quite forward, and Nodoka would not be at all surprised if she attempted to seduce Ranma before they had gotten back to Japan. Kasumi kept mentioning that she wanted to do an exam, and Nodoka hadn't seen her look Ranma in the eyes yet. The places that Kasumi's eyes lingered spoke well of Ranma's appeal to the nursing student, and that said interest was not entirely medical in nature.

The Kuonji girl hovered protectively near Ranma's right. Sister? No, Kuonji-san was just absolutely dedicated to Ranma. One of those women who gave themselves utterly, Nodoka decided after a moment. Her son must be quite manly to have inspired such devotion.

The Chinese "sister" hovered similarly near Ranma's left, the two girls similar enough in appearance to be bookends at the moment. Those two were likely the reason Nabiki hadn't already tried to take possession of Ranma.

The other interested Amazons were currently arguing with the various Japanese. They had the most objection to the proposed plans.

Nodoka watched as Akane finally got up and motioned to Ranma to follow. Everyone else seemed caught up in the argument for a few moments, then noticing that the "prize" was being led outside, everyone objected to THAT.

"So, you're a martial artist?" Akane looked at the furry form next to her. "Why are you still in your hybrid form, anyway?"

"Oh, like I was trying to explain back there, I can't change back just yet. It's a lunar thing. Depending on the phase of the moon, a lycanthrope can only shift so many times in a day. It's a new moon now, so I can't change until the next phase." Ranma shrugged. "As for being a martial artist, yeah, though mainly I'm a Healer. It's pretty cool to be able fix things instead of just breaking 'em you know."

"Uhm, I guess." Akane frowned slightly. She wanted a good fight, her sisters or the boys at school didn't really count. She wanted to test her abilities against someone who was seriously good. This guy was mainly a healer by his own definition, so ought to be one of the worst fighters in the village. She could then work her way up by challenging a warrior. Maybe this guy's sister."So, you wanna fight?"

Ranma stopped and stared incredulously. He had no idea Japanese girls were so *forward*. How aggressive! And she was actually kind of cute. Nobody had indicated they were interested in HIM before today, though he had had his suspicions about Azure. "You're *challenging* me?"

There were startled gasps and the two turned to see that they had been followed. The Amazons were looking aghast. Kasumi motioned Shampoo to the side for a private word, however the whole group moved off. From their huddle, the Amazons continued to shoot nervous glances at the couple.

"What's wrong with Akane challenging Ranma?" Kasumi said quietly to Ranma's sister.

Unnoticed by the group, Akane appended her earlier statement to indicate that she just wanted to spar. Ranma visibly relaxed, THAT was different. Too bad, the idea that a cute girl wanted him, fur and all, was quite intriguing.

"She challenge him to fight. He no can back down. As outsider woman, if she beat him they is married by Amazon Law." Shampoo wasn't worried, having great confidence in her brother.

"WHAT?!" Ukyou, Kasumi, and Nabiki exclaimed.

Akane took her place in a circle drawn in the dirt, facing Ranma and settling into a basic Cat stance. "Don't worry, I'll take it easy on you."

"Akane?!" Kasumi was waving her hands and trying to get Akane's attention.

"I'm sorry, but you should go full out. You'll see why."

Akane smirked, the boy wasn't even standing right. "Pretty confident, aren't you? Don't underestimate me."

Shampoo walked up to the circle. "Brother?"

"Whenever you're ready." Ranma nodded, but never looked away from his opponent.

"Begin!" Shampoo cut the air with a gesture.

There was a moment as Akane waited for Ranma to move, then decided she would have to open. She ran across the circle and opted to begin with a punch to his jaw.

Ranma moved to the side. "Like I said, you need to fight seriously."

Akane frowned as she realized her punches and kicks weren't coming anywhere near the boy. He seemed to move just enough to get out of the way, moving fluidly and with appropriate cat-like grace. She backed off a little to give herself some open area. Was he reading her moves? "Why don't YOU attack ME for real?" Akane then decided to go for a fast legsweep.

Ranma seemed to hang in midair over the legsweep for a moment longer than he should be able to. "Are you sure?"

Akane blinked at the fist less than a centimeter from the bridge of her nose, her eyes crossing slightly for the instant it was there. She hadn't even seen him move. "I... see."

"Look, from what I see you've probably got the edge on Azure in HTH. She's probably better than you with her chosen weapon, which is tonfa."

Azure blinked and grinned. He had noticed HER! Could he know how she felt and was merely waiting for her to challenge him?

Akane tried a high kick. Ranma sighed and struck a pressure point. It was the gentlest way he could think to disable his opponent, and with the crowd present he had to think about the honor of his house.

Akane's eyes widened as her body seemed to go limp. She saw the ground rushing up at her, but felt strong arms grab and support her. Still as limp as an empty nightie, Akane felt herself being cradled gently in strong arms that easily lifted her up and carried her inside.

"You'll be OK. Just don't move around too much when you start regaining control. Some people get a little dizzy and the motor control doesn't all come back at once." Ranma's voice was warm and gentle and caring. Right now she was his patient, and as such he was in his familiar role as a Healer.

Akane could feel her heart thundering as she looked up into those concerned eyes, that gentle smile, the warmth from his arms still seeming to linger where he had carried her.

"So, that was an Anesthetic Pressure Point?" Kasumi asked as Ranma emerged from the hut.

"Yeah. You recognized it?"

"I recognized the effects." Kasumi resisted the sudden urge to run her fingers through the thick mane of hair. "When can I examine you? I'm a nurse. I mean I'm studying to be a nurse. I mean..."

Ranma's eyes widened. This outsider was blushing? Did this mean that it wasn't simply a family honor thing like his mother had indicated? Or was it a lack of confidence in her own abilities as a healer? That must be it. He was getting some doubts that this was the Nice Lady, but if the Nice Lady took this girl's shape, there must be a reason!

Well, he'd give his mother that chance she wanted. Leaving the village to learn something of modern medicine and get to know each of these girls was sounding like it JUST could turn out to be interesting.

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

The ship was not the best, just another fishing vessel that wasn't that picky about carrying passengers. This particular one had come recommended by Shampoo's great grandmother though, so maybe there was *something* special about it.

Six girls sat where they could overlook the deck and watch a boy trying to get acquainted with his mother.

"Shampoo sister to Ranma," said Shampoo with a certain degree of question in her voice, as if she were beginning to reconsider this position.

The other four girls nodded and hmmmed at that.

"Girl with spatula fetish also sister to Ranma?"

"The name's Ukyou." Ukyou grumbled. "He's my bond-brother. He's also my fiancee."

"You confused by being both brother and sister and also neither."

"Same with you, huh sugar?"

"Is same," Shampoo admitted. "Brother good friend many years. Share many secrets, train hard, have good sparring partner. Brother good healer, good cook, good with hands. Tell many stories about good friend Ucchan..."

Ukyou immediately brightened. "He talked about me! What did he say?"

"You rescue him, you good friend, you good sister."

Ukyou immediately sulked upon hearing that last word. "Well heck."

"Is not bad being sister." Shampoo paused as she considered. "So this make Ukyou Shampoo sister, yes?"

"I s'pose." Ukyou looked a little uncertain about having a barbarian princess as a sister. The idea occurred to her that she could have an exclusive right to sell okonomiyaki in Amazon lands with the tribal champion as her sister. "Sounds about right. Are you really a princess?"

"Yes, Shampoo is princess," answered Azure for Shampoo. "Or at least very close. She being groomed to be future Matriarch." Unspoken was the concept that as a future Matriarch, Shampoo would have to marry a strong warrior, not a Healer like Ranma.

Shampoo had heard it enough that Azure didn't have to say it. "Great grandmama want Shampoo marry Ranma, say is no blood relation but Ranma very strong fighter, very skilled Healer, can be good asset for tribe."

"Ranma's teacher as Healer, is Lilac. Lilac no care who marry Ranma, just want to see Ranma marry." Azure rolled her eyes. Who could figure the old Healer? Cologne at least managed to have some dignity, but Lilac tended to be rather... earthy.

"So, you two are really his sisters. In *his* eyes, if nothing else?" Nabiki smirked. Two competitors down.

"That so," Shampoo reluctantly agreed.

"Way too true," seconded Ukyou, sounding thoroughly disgruntled.

"Ah," said Kasumi with a polite smile.

"That's too bad," said Akane with a grin that she failed to keep from her face.

Azure frowned and considered that she might have some competition.

"Just as well," suggested Ukyou, her sarcasm plain. "It's not like he has anything to offer."

"Other than he's an expert at shiatsu and Chinese herbal medicine," appended Nabiki with an idea of how useful and lucrative that could be.

"Other than he skilled warrior who can run faster than wind," added Azure.

"Other than he have very kind heart, very responsible, very concerned with honor." Shampoo shrugged. He was certainly a lot better than Mousse.

"Other than he's quite cute." Kasumi blinked. "Why are you staring at me like that?"

Akane shook her head at the unexpected idea that KASUMI would find someone like this Ranma attractive. Wasn't he too young for her? "Besides, he probably sheds."

"Nope," Shampoo disagreed. "He use special shampoo, ancient secret formula of Chinese Amazons. Formula 68."

Azure flinched but recovered. "Was bad, thought you say 69 for a moment."

"THAT would be bad," Shampoo shuddered at the thought.

Everyone WANTED to know what Formula 69 did, but instead Kasumi asked the safer question. "What is Formula 68?"

"Ah, is special formula used by Chinese Amazon Hairdressers."

Ukyou and Nabiki exchanged a glance and simultaneously mouthed "Chinese Amazon Hairdressers?" but didn't vocalize it.

"Was adapted from ancient style - Cosmetology Martial Arts," Azure nodded. "Is style I learn some but is very limited."

"Azure no good at ANY style martial arts," confided Shampoo to Ukyou quietly. "All she have going for her is she very strong."

"Formula 68 very special shampoo. Leave hair feel like silk. Ranma only one I know who use all over."

Azure found herself being glared at by everyone else.

"How you know?"

"I ask. Ranma say so."

"Oh my." There was a brief moment where everyone stopped the conversation as Ranma removed his shirt and shifted into his hybrid form.

"Aiyaa."

"What were we talking about?" Nabiki was the first to get her mind working again.

"Were we talking?" Kasumi looked down at where her hands had somehow ripped the shirt she had been mending into thousands of little pieces. "How did that happen?"

"What?!" Akane pulled her eyes away from the young boy demonstrating a VERY high speed kata on the main deck. "Huh? Kasumi, what happened to my shirt?"

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

Ranma looked over this place that would be part of his morning routine. He'd stay at his mother's house for one week and commute here before going to the Tendo place, and from there to school with two of the Tendo sisters. Next week he'd actually be staying here. The week after he'd be spending time at Ucchan's place, a restaurant she was in the process of opening. Then he could go visit with some of his new friends over at that Nekomi Tech, then there was (ahem) various others.

Kasumi came out to greet him. "Hi Ranma? Did you have a nice trip?"

"Yeah, think this is gonna be rough on the shoes though." Ranma shrugged.

"You RAN all the way?" Nabiki blinked as she emerged from the house with her sister.

"Yeah. Don't worry, I've got an inhalator." Ranma held up one of his newest and most prized possessions. No more steaming herbal mixes to fix in order to deal with his shortness of breath. Instant relief.

The door to the Tendo house opened again. Soun stepped out, saw the young boy that all three of his daughters were smiling at and reacted with dignity and quiet reserve.

"WAAAAAHHH! AT LAST OUR HOUSES CAN BE JOINED!"

Ranma, rather than sit still and be grabbed by some hysterical fountain, had jumped.

Kasumi blinked, amazed at how light Ranma was in her arms. She'd carried baskets of wet laundry that had weighed more than he did. She blushed delicately but didn't move to put him down. His muscles felt so firm and tight and warm...

And got a bit heavier as his hair darkened and he seemed to compact himself slightly.

"Uhm, that's just our father." Akane frowned slightly, putting down the feelings of jealousy with difficulty. "So that's your human form, is it?"

Nabiki was quite openly jealous. Damn, if she'd just been a little closer! "I think you can put him down now, Kasumi."

Soun Tendo stopped where he was as what he was seeing began to penetrate. Kasumi's blush was getting progressively deeper, her eyes were glazing over, and she was looking for all the world as if...

Soun's eyes flicked over to his other two daughters. Uh huh. This put an entirely different spin on the whole thing. "So, son, which of my daughters are you going to marry?"

"That wasn't the agreement, Daddy. Ranma's mom said he'd have to choose, but you gotta admit that Ranma's dad is kinda persona non grata. So she's using a mother's rights and says that all the arrangements are of equal value." Nabiki grumbled a little. She'd snatch Ranma up in a heartbeat if she thought she could. His human form was really cute, his hybrid form was sexy and exotic. Nabiki appended that. His hybrid form was GORGEOUS. Maybe she could formally challenge him in his human form, he wouldn't have that incredible speed, would he? Then, by the Laws of the Amazons, he'd have to marry her. Nabiki smirked as she started to work out details.

Akane nodded. Sure that she could beat the others if it came down to it. Sure, she was voted "most likely to be stuck playing male roles" but she'd recently become the most popular girl in school. OR, if Kasumi and Ranma hit it off, Akane thought she'd have a clear shot at Doctor Tofu. Tofu or Ranma, Ranma or Tofu. She must have them both! Akane blinked and shook her head. Maybe she was spending too much time around Kuno.

After a few more minutes of introductions, and Kasumi reluctantly setting Ranma down, three of the participants started towards school.

After a few moments, Nabiki noted the rawhide cord showing on Ranma's neck and her curiosity was engaged. "Say, Ranma, is that the amulet?"

"Yeah," Ranma fished out the odd item to show the two.

Akane hmmmed. "Why can't I look at it straight? It's like..."

"Magic," replied Ranma with a shrug. "Nobody can look straight at it. I don't know why."

Nabiki tried to study it herself. The crystal didn't seem to be of a specific type of cat so much as a general type of cattiness. "So what's it do?"

"Nothing, to anyone else. To me, it helps me control certain problems with being a lycanthrope."

"Problems?" Akane frowned again in thought. "What kind of problems."

"Well, the..." Ranma stopped. He wasn't sure he wanted to tell them about the Cat Ghost or the Nice Lady. Especially if that Kasumi actually WAS the Nice Lady somehow. "Er, for one thing, one of the Loremasters I met said that the curse of lycanthropy could be spread by a bite."

"Turning someone into a werecheetah? Like yourself? That doesn't sound that bad." Akane could see a lot of uses for being able to run and move at great speeds.

"Nah, if that were all, I would'a given it to Shampoo by now. She's asked me enough. No, if a true werecreature bites someone and spreads the lycanthropy, the infected person is a little weaker than the original..."

"Still..." Akane said.

"And worse, they 'become the thrall of the true lycanthrope' and almost mindless beasts when not under that influence." Ranma shuddered.

"Thrall?"

"Slaves," said Nabiki with her own shudder. The mindlessness part really bothered her and her own fantasy of being the superfast and exotic werecheetah was discarded. At least until a way of removing that problem could be found. "Pack alpha kind of thing, I guess."

"It also seems to enhance my endurance a bit, especially while running." Ranma stopped at the sight of the school. "Uhm, is that crowd of people with weapons normal for around here?"

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

Ryouga wandered. It was his usual wandering, but now he had a mission. Ranma Saotome was out there, and would destroy his happiness unless Ryouga struck first.

A little voice protested that Ryouga wasn't really happy now. That blind rage wasn't completely out-of-character, but that he didn't even know this Ranma. How was someone he didn't know going to keep Ryouga from finding any happiness in his life?

Especially now that he had this hybrid form, neither wolf nor man, but a form of Power. Claws that could shred tree trunks, strength and endurance beyond what he had ever possessed before, senses so acute that he could actually track a deer through the forest. Jaws so powerful that he could kill that deer with a snap and a twist of his neck.

As usual, the little voice fell silent under the waves of rage and hunger of the werewolf. Soon, he would find Ranma, and then he could be happy.

-----Mimir's Well---------

Grey pried himself out of the wall and glared at Ares. Considering the rough power levels of the two, that was about all that could be done. After a moment, he had a thought, and quickly left.

The goddess Kasumi frowned. She hadn't thought the demon a coward, but there it was.

Bast, having much more power than the other two, growled and bared teeth at the wargod.

Ares flicked a booger at the cat goddess to show how concerned he was. "This is Neutral Ground, pussy. You can't attack me openly without risking serious repercussions."

Bast's tail lashed but she held her ground. She hated it when little martinets like this upset her own games.

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

Shampoo and Ukyou arrived at the school grounds to join Nabiki and Ranma as they watched Akane pounding boys into the ground.

"Is some sort of Amazon challenge?" Shampoo inquired of Nabiki, "or can anyone join in?"

"This is MY fight!" Akane punched, dodged, weaved, threw, kicked, and otherwise decimated her opponents.

Ukyou merely shook her head and commented that this *never* happened in Okayama.

As the foursome prepared to go inside the school itself, a thrown rose never made it to Akane.

"Oops, Shampoo not mean to interfere in Akane's fight. Just see missle weapon being thrown and use appropriate countermeasure. Sorry."

Kuno's eyes crossed as he noted the rose had been perfectly intercepted by a throwing dagger. Said dagger was now quivering in the surface of the tree less than a foot away from the chest of the mighty Blue Thunder. "Who are you to interfere in my courtship of Akane Tendo?"

Ranma and Shampoo exchanged a smirk and a nod. Ukyou gave a delighted chuckle and joined them a moment later.

"Where heroes fight against overwhelming odds, I will be there!" Ranma went into a sentai pose.

"Where evil rears its ugly head, I shall battle!" Shampoo produced her bonbori and likewise posed.

"Where injustice rules, I shall oppose it!" Ukyou unslung her big spatula and posed like the other two.

"Uhm, guys?" Akane sweatdropped. "What're you doing?"

"Intro scene from a story I'm rather fond of," Ranma said with a "spoilsport" look at Akane. "Something I dreamed of over at Tenchi's place. I am Ranma Saotome, Healer of Nichieju."

"I Shampoo, Warrior of Nichieju!"

"I'm Ukyou Kuonji, owner of Ucchan's Okonomiyaki. Grand Opening in two days. Lunch specials are... Err..." Ukyou trailed off as she realized the other two were now staring at her. "Sorry."

"By the Light Of Jurai, WE SHALL PUNISH YOU!"

Lightning crackled. By odd coincidence it struck Kuno.

"Well, come on." Ranma shrugged and went inside. Geez, he'd hoped to shift to hybrid and make it look like some of those neat tricks he had dreamed of while sleeping in the branches of that big tree out on the lake. He could'a called it 'Fist Of The Lighthawk' or something...

He missed that. Sleeping in that tree, he had had some of the most intense and detailed dreams of his life. He'd seen stories of glory and honor and ancient tradition, almost as if he had been there. And of some woman-ship-tree named Tsunami who reminded him of the Nice Lady somehow.

"That no happen before." Shampoo shrugged and followed Ranma.

"Well at least we'll get to class on time, right Akane?"

"Yeah."

It started to rain on Tatewaki Kuno a few moments later.

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

Ukyou watched as the group of odd gaijin spoke with Ranma and his mother. It wasn't fair, she'd just wanted to have some time with Ranma and his mother herself when in comes this newest group. Not fair at all.

One of the girls was a werecheetah herself, taller and more muscular even than Ranma's hybrid form. At least she didn't speak Japanese. There was also a girl with glasses who DID speak Japanese, though not fluently. A third girl was much the same as the second, except that she had a curious streak on her face similar to a werecheetah's stripe.

The father, though, spoke Japanese quite well and seemed to have an aura of dignity about him. What a pity that this wasn't her Ranchan's real father, it would have been much better for everyone around.

"...so once we found the village of Nichieju, we were able to get your forwarding address from Elder Cologne. Of course, once we did, we found that press coverage of both you and your father was continuing."

"Yeah," Ranma winced at the idea that his name and his father's were inextricably linked in the minds of millions of Japanese. Family honor indicated that he was at least partly to atone for his father's actions...

"So this is the amulet?" The elderly man waited for Ranma's nod before examining it. "Hmmm. Sacred to Bast, the Egyptian cat-goddess, I think. Fairly powerful. It keeps you from spreading the curse of lycanthropy among other things, I see."

"Curse?" Ukyou asked, then blinked as the man described the effects of secondary lycanthropy. "Thralls?!"

"Well," the man smiled at the group. "Here's my card. My name is Theodore Diggers, and I'd like to examine that further later. As for now, I'm afraid my daughters were rather hoping you were unattatched but I've explained the situation."

Ukyou nodded rapidly. Less competition was a good thing. ESPECIALLY as Ranchan still couldn't seem to think of her as anything other than his "Japanese sister." (As opposed to his equally frustrated "Chinese sister.")

-------Mimir's Well------------

"Oh," said Kasumi9, ignoring Ares for the moment. "So what is Ranma's life like in this reality?"

"Ah," purred Bast. "Let's see, three days later."

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

MUSIC: Pastorale from William Tell
Dawn in the Tokyo suburbs, quiet, peaceful, hardly a sound to be heard.
MUSIC: Overture from William Tell (you know the part)
A small cloud of dust is raised and the screen freezes as a young werecheetah in a blue Chinese pants/demi-robe combo runs by.
Caption: Name: Ranma Saotome
Race: Werecheetah
(Maximus Velocitus)

Screen unfreezes. %ZIP, ZOOM, ZING!%

Cut to scene of another boy, this one in a white outfit similar in design to the earlier blue one. He is pushing down the spring of an ENORMOUS mouse trap that is lying across an intersection.
freeze scene as the caption appears

Name: Mousse
Race: Human/Hawk (Jusenkyo curse)
(Gadgeticus Absurdicus)

Unfreeze scene as Mousse continues to strain to push the bar into place.

Cut to scene of a heavyset man, this one has a noose lying open on the street. Freeze screen

Name: Genma Saotome
Race: Human (Jusenkyo cursed)
(Parenticus Loco Extremis)

Unfreeze scene as Genma goes to hide behind some trashcans.

Cut to scene of a boy with a bandana, checking his watch and looking down the road. He grins, and light glints along one fang. Freeze scene.

Name: Ryouga Hibiki
Race: Werewolf
(Lostia Extremis Fenris)

Unfreeze scene and pan away, sufficient that we can see that while everyone else is in Tokyo, Ryouga is waiting for Ranma to pass by a road in Sapporo.

Cut to scene of Ranma passing a yard. A huge crowd of girls scream and jump up and down, holding up a huge "We (heart symbol) Ranma!" sign.

Ranma twitches slightly, sweatdrops, but continues running.

ZIP! ZOOM! ZING!

Genma hauls back on the rope as Ranma passes, then runs out to see what he's caught. As the police officer begins to untie the noose, Genma starts running after the blur that is his wayward son.

Mousse finally gets the bar into position as Ranma goes shooting through the intersection. Mousse looks at the trigger, then down at his feet at the bar, then up at the heavens. At this point Genma stomps on the trigger as he runs by. Mousse becomes airborne.

The police officer notes that the bar nearly crushed him, decides that the fat man had tried to lure him into a trap, and calls it in on his radio. Another crime is linked to the vile Genma Saotome as the dispatcher takes down the information.

Cut to scene of Ryouga, still watching down the road for Ranma to show up.

Cut to scene of Ranma, making a ninety degree turn and inertia defying stop as he enters the Tendo yard. "Hi, Kasumi, am I in time for breakfast?"

"Why yes, Ranma-kun. How was your morning run?"

"Oh, usual stuff. Mousse and Pop tried to catch me, etc. So how's it going with you?"

"As with yourself," Kasumi smiled back at the feline-looking houseguest, "pretty typical weekday."

------Mimir's Well--------

"Too happy," said Ares with a frown. "If you two can advise him in dreams, then I can advise MY player in this drama as well."

Kasumi9 frowned.

Bast fantasized about making a few cuts here and there, and NOT in a timestream.

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

Ryouga shifted to hybrid form and grinned.

Akane did not look at ALL reassured. "You won't get away with this!"

Ryouga grabbed Akane and bit down, almost gently, on the juncture of shoulder and neck. A thin trail of drool briefly linked the rapidly angering girl from her tormentor. "First you, then your sisters, then the Amazons. Don't worry, out of all my thralls you'll be my favorite pet. Then I'll have the pleasure of seeing Ranma Saotome ripped apart by his own girlfriends." Just as the Kind Old Man had said in a vision. THEN Ryouga could settle down with this girl whose anger so often mimicked his own. Perfect.

Akane felt her knees going weak and decided to make one last gesture of defiance. She should never have gotten angry with her sisters and gone stalking off on her own. She had KNOWN that the werewolf had been around.

Ryouga looked up, spotted another one of the girls fleeing, and gave chase. This would be easy.

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

Shampoo reached the gate and ran into the Tendo household.

"Werewolf after Shampoo! He bite Akane, say make her his thrall, then come after others. Wants *us* to be ones to kill Ranma!"

"No way, I ain't gonna let him do that." Ranma growled and went to hybrid form.

Nabiki frowned and exchanged a glance with Ukyou. A spatula cut through a rawhide thong a moment later.

"WHAT YOU DO THAT FOR?!"

"It's quite simple, Ranma. The werewolf has just involved all of us as targets. In retrospect, it's quite obvious now that he was stalking Akane. If he does so, then it is only a matter of time before he gets at least one more of us. Worse, if we wait, then we've got to fight Akane as well."

"Please, Ranchan. Besides, if YOU do this, you can always get Doctor Diggers to remove it later, right?"

Ranma blinked, being surrounding by girls who were giving him that pleading tearful look. Even years spent among the Amazons had not strengthened him against that sort of attack. "I have a feeling I'm going to regret this."

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

Akane growled as she approached the compound, sniffing low to the ground as she picked up her prey's scent. The Master had commanded, and his Gift would be shared with her sisters.

Such strength in this form, such speed. She'd thought leaping to the roof of the dojo had been a big deal not long ago. Now she could easily leap the height and length of the dojo! Once her sisters came to understand the nature of the Gift, and the power it brought them, they would find subservience to their Master a small price.

There they were. Her sisters, apparently not suspecting where their sister had been for the past day. Akane's grin showed fangs. She scented the Master, still following Akane. If only the Master didn't get lost as often as he did. Akane kept having to track him down and lead him back.

Akane leapt, covering the length of the yard in a single bound, ready to send the two girls into unconsciousness with a single blow to each.

Her mouth shut with a click as other scents reached her. "MASTER! IT'S A TRAP!"

%CLONG!%

Shampoo leapt over the wall as she continued to run by, bonbori extended, at roughly 75kph.

The fact that the Amazon had fuzzy ears, blonde hair, and a tail did not go unnoticed.

"CURSE YOU, SAOTOME! How dare you treat women like that!" Ryouga snarled at how both of Akane's sisters were getting up now, gettier furrier as they did so.

Nabiki purred a little as she regarded her sister and the werewolf that had enslaved her. "Keeping you on a tight leash, isn't he, sis? Well, we can fix that."

"Idiots," Ryouga growled as Akane hurried to his side. "You can't break her of being my thrall by having Ranma bite her. All Ranma's done with this is make it a little more difficult."

"There is a problem in that some of us can't handle silver at the moment," Kasumi said with a smile that showed off the gleam of her enlarged canines. Somehow on her it failed to look threatening.

The silver chain wrapped around Akane's legs, causing flames to erupt from the point of impact. She shrieked.

Ryouga ran around the outside of dojo, and got lost somehow.

"Akane calm down, we'll take the chain off soon as you're tied up."

"Ranma know how to heal silver burns, you not worry."

"How long before Dr Digger arrives?"

"He said he'd be over as soon as he wrapped up some stuff at his end."

Looking over where Akane was cursing and spitting and struggling, Shampoo flicked back some of her newly blonde hair and considered something. "Ranma, how come Akane slave to werewolf, but we not change inside?"

"I dunno, Shampoo. I'm just grateful for it."

"Maybe because the werewolf doesn't seem to be in control that much himself?" As she spoke,Ukyou edged away from Azure, who seemed to be a little nervous as the only untransformed. At least that was everyone's impression from the way she was fidgeting with that silver chain.

"Or maybe..." Nabiki thought about it, coming up with a number of possibilities that she immediately discarded. Still there was one possibility that she kept coming back to. How to test it?

"You have an idea, Nabiki?" Kasumi knew her own sister that well at least. Especially with Nabiki's tail lashing back and forth like that.

"Uhm, Ranma? Do you mind keeping an eye on Akane? I think we girls need to have a quick talk."

Ranma blinked but shrugged after a moment. "Don't go too far, we're still expecting Dr Diggers to show up and see if he could remove this."

"Ok." Nabiki grinned to herself. Perfect. She motioned the others to follow her.

"What is it, Nabiki?"

"Do you feel any different about Ranma, sis?"

The werecheetah chewed her lip as she considered the question. "No, I don't think so."

"Shampoo not feel different about Ranma either."

"Same here, sugar."

"No change in way Sugar feel."

"Me neither. Now try this question," Nabiki became aware of the way her tail was lashing about and made an effort to calm it down. "How do you feel about your rivals?"

"I not..." Sugar paused as she thought it out.

"Oh my."

"Aiyaa."

"No way."

"Theory, mind you, just theory. We're all part of the same tribe now, so certain ...complications... might be suppressed. Like jealousy, possessiveness, etc." Nabiki found a mirror and spent a moment admiring her new exotic looks. "Still, this thrall stuff might be subtler in our case because Ranma doesn't actually want slaves."

"Is so. He always have trouble with way some males treated in village. He make enemy of two Elders that way." Shampoo remembered that. He'd also made enemies of a few amazons, but very few wanted to cross his sister. Besides, Healers were allowed a few eccentricities.

"So how we find out?" Sugar checked her warclaws. That werewolf might find his way back. "You clever girl, you figure out test?"

"He just told us not to go very far."

"So, if we can leave the house," Kasumi said with a nod, "then we haven't really been affected."

The sound of Akane growling and snapping increased in volume.

"Akane psycho-bitch," said Sugar. "Not nearly same."

"When Doctor Diggers gets here, he'll cure us and her." Nabiki squared her shoulders, and marched off to the front gate. Yes, she would just leave for a short time, no problem.

"Why Nabiki standing at gate? Shampoo thought that Nabiki go for walk, prove she have free will."

Nabiki lowered her foot and considered the gate. "Yeah, I just don't want to miss Doctor Diggers showing up." It didn't seem that important anyway, just a temporary affliction.

"Wait second," Shampoo said. %ZIP!%

%ZIP!% "Ranma say is okay. We go run around neighborhood, get chance to run like he do!"

Nabiki stumbled as she went outside her own front gate. "Hmmm."

"Shampoo thought so," Shampoo smirked, looking even more feline. "Race Nabiki, is okay?"

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

"Do you *have* to remove it?" Kasumi asked politely (of course) of the archimage.

"Well, I..."

"*PLEASE*," Shampoo turned her cute pout up to level seven. "Shampoo really like powerup!"

"But you can't transform on your own," Ranma pointed out. "As this isn't true lycanthropy but the curse, you'll be stuck in hybrid form. At least have it downgraded to tertiary levels so you only change during the full moon."

"Put a sock in it, Ranma," Nabiki waved a furry finger at him. "You could use our help anyway!"

"Nabiki, you just disagreed with Ranma." Kasumi pointed out. "There goes your 'thrall' theory."

Nabiki brightened at that, then frowned as she considered the possibility that he wanted her to disagree with him, in which case...

"Change Akane back." Kasumi considered her sister slavering and growling and thrashing in the backyard. "If you could just remove HER curse, then that would be sufficient."

Doctor Diggers sighed and exchanged a weary glance with Ranma. The truth was, that with the number of werecheetahs as limited as they were... "Well, at least let me put an enchantment on you that will keep you from accidently spreading any further cases of lycanthropy."

------Mimir's Well---------

Ares looked at the scene and was ready to make another change when he heard a throat clearing. He dismissed the demon's return as inconsequential.

Thor, standing behind the demon and fingering his hammer, was another story.

Raideen, leaning against a pillar and staring coldly at the Greek god of conquest, was at least as concerning.

Ares' own hated opponent, Athena, smirked at the wargod as if *daring* him.

"So, how's this turn out, anyway?" Grey stepped past the wargod. He didn't ignore the threat mouthed at him by Ares, but didn't acknowledge it either.

"Thissss look like it majorrr point herrre," growled Bast, just waiting for an excuse to rip into Ares. She'd manipulated the timestream twice, Ares had done the same though even less subtly than she had, so technically they were even now. "Fourrr monthsss laterrr."

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

Tenchi had come in with the news. Ranma had been visiting the Tendos in Nerima as part of that deal with his mother when Genma Saotome (the infamous Demon Dad) had used a silver-plated chain weapon to kidnap his son. Apparently he had come up with the novel idea of cooperating with the two others also trying to capture/kill the young werecheetah. Then the Demon Dad had betrayed the other two, of course.

Ayeka paused as if considering something. "Lord Tenchi, do I understand correctly and this 'Ranma' is your sworn bond-brother?"

"Uhm, yeah."

"Tenchi's descended from the royal line. That makes Ranma a Knight as far as Jurai law is concerned," added Sasami. "Therefore he's a citizen of Jurai."

Ryoko grinned, a thoroughly feral looking expression. She sensed an alliance. "So?"

"In this case, I must concur with Ryoko!" Ayeka posed dramatically. "ALL SHIPS MOVE OUT! For an affront even against minor nobility, Genma Saotome must be PUNISHED!"

"Now you're talking!" Ryoko enthusiastically turned to the cabbit. "Ryo-oh-ki! Let's go! He's in Nerima!"

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

Ami came running in. "HE'S HERE!"

Rei hadn't been sleeping well. Visions of disasters kept cropping up in her dreams and some fat man she didn't know seemed to play a central role in them. "Who's here?"

"Genma Saotome!" Ami held the newspaper up, showing a picture of the reknowned "Demon Dad."

Rei spat a stream of tea up that managed to tag her princess. "THAT'S HIM!"

"NOW can we go get him? I'm sure he's Dark Kingdom somehow!" Makoto was ready, if they didn't back her up on this she would do it herself.

"He's the one. Somehow, he's responsible for destroying a good section of Tokyo!" Rei gasped as she finally could breathe again.

"Then we MUST stop him," Minako said. "For love and justice! VENUS CRYSTAL STAR POWER! MAKE UP!"

"JUPITER CRYSTAL STAR POWER! MAKE UP!"

"MERCURY CRYSTAL STAR POWER!" Time to put the nightmares to rest, Ami thought with a shudder. "MAKE UP!"

"I'm pretty sure he's not Dark Kingdom," offered Luna, trying to head this off. It would have been easier to stop a train.

"You mean we can finally beat on an evil threat that doesn't beat us into the ground for the first few minutes?" Usagi blinked. "MOON CRYSTAL STAR POWER! MAKE UP!"

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

"AKANE! NABIKI! KASUMI!" Soun cried to the heavens. For this to happen on his very doorstep! Was Genma *trying* to drag the Tendo family name through the muck as well as his own?

"Don't worry, Dad," Akane growled. "I'll save Ranma!" The image of herself, the martial arts champion, returning home in triumph was a heady one. She could just picture Ranma's gratitude as she saved him! If he was so nice to her normally, just think... Akane got a now-familiar vacant gaze in her eyes as she pictured exactly HOW grateful he might be. Who knows, maybe he'd even bite her.

"Yeah right, Akane, no I'll be the one to save Ranma!" Nabiki readied her ton-fa nightsticks. This would be a tough battle but she had her motivation. When Shampoo had brought the news of Ranma's abduction, Azure had made it all a personal bet that whoever rescued Ranma got first dibs on him. With the new martial arts techniques she'd picked up from Azure and Sugar, she was sure to be the one to rescue her Ranma.

"I'm very sorry," Kasumi shrugged into her backpack and made sure she had her specially built running shoes on. Her tail twitching back and forth revealed her agitation in a way her calm expression didn't."*I* will be the one to save Ranma."

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

"%For honor, for love, for our adopted brother in the tribe!%" Shampoo raised a bonbori above her head. "%TRACK HIM DOWN LIKE THE RABID BEAST HE IS! RESCUE OUR BROTHER AND PUNISH HIS ABDUCTER!%"

"%YEAH!%" An even dozen weapons were thrust aloft by a dozen Amazons, each planning on being the one that rescued their brother from the foul clutches of the evil Genma. "%CRUSH HIM! POUND HIM! SMASH THE BEAST!%"

More than half wanted the promised first dibs.

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

Ukyou ran through the night. Out there somewhere was her Ranchan. Alone. Alone with his father.

"Oh, Ranchan! Be strong! I'll save you and get my vengeance on that damn father of yours!"

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

"Calling all cars! Calling all cars! Genma Saotome has been spotted in Nerima! Keep a lookout for him. He is considered very dangerous!"

One policewoman looked at the other in their patrolcar. "Miyuki?"

"I'm on it! If I use the nitro we can be there in five minutes!"

The two stared as a furry okonomiyaki chef passed them.

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

"Two mokkori?"

"If you can get Genma Saotome, I might go to three."

Ryo Saeba's eyes half closed in pleasure at the thought. "City Hunter will bring in this vile beast, have no fear!"

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

A scene was replayed with minor variations in newsrooms, police stations, SDF Headquarters, the Diet, and various other organizations.

"Genma Saotome's been spotted in Nerima Japan. He's kidnapped his son again!"

Everything stopped. "The 'Demon Dad'?!"

"Yeah."

There was a moment of silence before chaos erupted. Phone calls made, forces mobilized, alarms going off.

After all, there would be a great deal of good publicity for whoever finally stopped the Demon Dad.

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

"All units attention, Genma Saotome was spotted in the Furinkan Ward of Nerima. Reward of 200,000 yen has been collected by the Mothers Against Martial Artist Dads."(formerly Mothers Against Genma Saotome, but MA MAD was voted in last year as the name change.) Dispatch paused. "Ucchan's Okonomiyaki has also thrown in two free lunch passes. Now, MOVE OUT!"

The sentai group moved out, glad they weren't going after Godzilla or something WAY out of their league for once.

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

The crowd of young girls weren't alike because of some dress code, there were fukus and pantsuits, cheongsams and kimonos, cheerleader outfits and jogging sweats. They weren't alike because of some hair color or style, some had hair reaching down to their ankles, others had a rather boyish looking hairstyle, the majority were somewhere in between. While most were black of hair color, there were also browns, streaked, two redheads, a girl with lavender hair, and other hues present. No, they were all alike because of purpose and one other thing.

Each and every one of them was carrying a weapon or something which could be used as a weapon. Even if it was a simple broom, gymnastic ribbon, baseball bat, shinnai, or hammer, each of them had a favored weapon clutched in her tender young hands.

"TO NERIMA!"

The crowd of girls cheered.

"DESTROY GENMA!"

Another rousing cheer, even more loud.

"RESCUE RANMA!"

The cheer this time was enough to shatter windows in nearby buildings.

"KILL THE GENMA! CRUSH THE GENMA! DESTROY THE DEMON DAD!"

There was a brief pause among the members of the "Ranma Saotome Fan Club" as the members of the "Mothers Against Martial Arts Dads" went by. The two groups merged, for now united in their purpose.

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

"Gina?!"

"I'm way ahead of you, Brit. We can be there in no time."

"You're not leaving ME behind are you?"

"You know they won't let you bring half of your usual weapons, Brianna."

"But, other than Brittany, he's the last werecheetah alive!"

"Jetta's leading a bunch of her people to track him down now. And you KNOW what good trackers the werewolves are!"

"But if they get there first, there won't be anything left for me to shoot!"

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

"Jigen? Goemon?"

Jigen checked his handgun, frowned slightly, and wondered if maybe he should go for the Glock instead of his old Ruger.

Goemon just raised an eyebrow.

Arsene Lupin III watched the screaming news anchor for a moment more before switching off the television. "We gotta get this guy. Some people in the press are linking my name to his, and he's bringing MY reputation down as a result."

"Yeah," agreed Jigen.

"It doesn't help when all a thief has to do is leave some evidence that it was the Demon Dad, and the press immediately adds it to his list. HELL, the guy's committed more robberies than *I* ever have!"

"But, Lupin, you've always done the high profile, high profit cases. You go after challenges. Genma's just a thief of opportunity." Fujiko smirked at her sometimes-rival.

"Hell, look at this. Nobody believes that *I* did that job in Sapporo. *Everyone* thinks it was the Demon Dad. He's more infamous than I am, and I don't like that." Lupin shook his head. "And I'd NEVER stoop to some of this crap."

"So, we go to Nerima, leave him tied up for the police, with a note that states that Lupin wouldn't associate with this bungler on a Bet." Fujiko shrugged, doing interesting things to the tight shirt she was wearing.

"Sounds like a plan."

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

Japanese factory workers, taxi drivers, tourism industry officials, and hundreds of thousands of others heard the rallying cry.

Some countries and industries had used the news of the Demon Dad to stir anti-Japanese sentiment over the years. After all, no real effort had been made by the police to punish this Genma Saotome. Never mind that they couldn't even FIND Genma Saotome.

The Japanese people, as a whole, did not like being linked to bad news. They especially did not care for the idea of suffering any sort of economic setback as a result of such things. That Genma Saotome was not responsible for the economic bubble bursting was ignored. He *was* blamed for it in one rather popular editorial, and as a result the common opinion was that the economic prosperity of a few years back had been destroyed by the actions of one man.

The Demon Dad, Genma Saotome.

And with news of his crossdressing disguise, the most reviled man in Japan.

The Japanese didn't like being portrayed as a nation of crossdressers either.

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

Genma made a noise as he saw some of what was going on, televised live from Nerima. Alien warships jockeying with military aircraft, police helicopters, Sailor Senshi, and all manner of news choppers. All with one mission in life.

"WHERE IS THAT RAT BASTARD GENMA SAOTOME?!"

The noise Genma made was halfway between a squeak and a whine. He made the same noise several times. He also twitched a lot.

All he'd wanted was to make Ranma the best martial artist in the world. Something that he could be proud of. Something to justify all that he'd been through. Ranma being the best would be his Source Of Pride.

That wasn't so bad, was it?

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

Three years later: EPILOGUE #1

Nodoka smiled as she watched the children at play.

That some were furry and had tails was only to be expected.

Nodoka had no idea what one called a family of werecheetahs. A similar group of lions would be called a pride.

Nodoka looked over the kits and their mothers, and realized that Ranma was a considerable Source Of Pride. For her as well.

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

EPILOGUE 2:

The short little man came to a tumbling stop on the pavement next to a little dog. A little dog?

"Ah, senor, you cannot glomp *that* girl."

Happosai disagreed.

"Ah, but senor, that one is Kasumi Saotome, she fastest housewife in all Japan!"

Happosai rubbed his hands together. A challenge! He walked out into the street, preparing to give chase.

%BEEPBEEP%%ZIP,ZOOM,ZING!%

The little Mexican dog regarded the little man with shoe prints running over his body. "And *that* one, senor, was Nabiki Tendo. She fastest stock broker in ALL Japan!"

%ZOOM THUMP THUMP ZOOM!%

"Shampoo. Fastest Amazon in all Japan."

%spaceship entering warp effect%

"Ukyou Kuonji. Fastest okonomiyaki chef in entire world!" The chihuahua cocked his head and blinked at the sight of the slightly flattened pervert. "Give entirely new meaning to 'fast food', yes?"

WARNING- EVA SPOILER AHEAD!
EPILOGUE 3: by taalismn@tiac.net Talis D. Merrill

"Okay. let me get this straight....in addition to neglecting your son and emotionally blackmailing him to do your bidding, setting up the Children to be maimed or otherwise bumped off, ruining their parents and their lives, cloning your dead wife and treating Rei like a disposable diaper.... you manage to be unfaithful to your dead wife all the while claiming you want her back ...and in the end you mean to get rid of us ALL just so you can upload all of humanity into some sort of cosmic conga-line?"

In the wake of Misato's accusation, Gendo glared at the people around him, wondering just who had blabbed...

Ritsuko just shrugged her shoulders but just looked as innocent as an intellectually inclined psychotic can.

Kaji stared back, not betraying anything...

Kozo Fuyutsuki pursed his lips, though whether in disapproval or consternation, it was impossible to tell...

Somewhere below, if anyone had cared to listen, one might have heard the Magi's electronic humming interrupted by "daisy...daisy..give me your answer true...".

"All so this nut can get his jollies proving he was right and hosing off some bunch of old guys equally bent on world domination while playing god himself?"

(Actually, that's a pretty accurate summation) Gendo thought, not that he'd actually confirm it...

"And we put the fate of Humanity in this guy's hands!?"

"Yeah, the guy who strung Ritsuko along..sticking her with the bill, a scorned, manipulated, and cast aside woman with a psycho-complex!"

"HEY!!!Where do you get off calling me a...er...ah... it's not like that at all!...I mean...besides...er...." Ritsuko hemmed and hawed desperately as eveyone's eyes started swivelling towards her.

"You know...for a parent, you have got to have the award for Worst Father in the history of parenthood!"

"My parenting skills are not at question here, Major, but your obediance to my auth...." Gendo started up, shifting into his familiar (and favorite) "And what the hell are you going to do about it, huh?" pose.

"Ah...actually that goes to the 'Demon Dad' of 1992..." muttered Aoba.

"Uh?" Several heads turned at the side-remark.

"The 'Demon Dad of Nerima' you mean? I think I heard about that," Ritsuko said, desperately happy to find another subject besides her own emerging rep as "Gendo's lapdog'.

"Duh... how could I forget.. Geez, they made us watch the video tapes of the Event at least once a year in school!" sighed Aoba.

Gendo twitched...he'd heard of that, but hadn't actually done anything, having spent most of his younger years in a cave (or in this case, various university research libraries)... still, one couldn't avoid hearing of the nearly international eruption that had been the Demon Dad March.

"kill genma..." Fuyutsuki whispered it, but everyone heard and turned to look at him in wonder. He noticed, and looked up, and they could see he was smiling slightly,. "Saotome Genma... The Demon Dad...Kill Genma...it was...the rallying cry...of a simpler time...when evil was human, and the country united against it.....it was grand that day was...marching in the streets, everyone unified in purpose," he volunteered, growing a little misty eyed and nostalgic of that time when a younger man had set aside his work to join the crowds in that moment of divine madness....

"Genma...Gendo" Compared Ritsuko.

"Kill Genma...Kill Gendo" Nobody was certain who said it first, but it seemed to echo in the room...

"Kill Gendo?"

"Kill Gendo"

"Wow"

"What a concept! Kill Gendo!"

"Elegant"

Gendo didn't like where this conversation was leading...

"Kill Gendo"

"Kill Gendo? Kill Gendo!"

"Kill GendoKill GendoKill GendoKill GendoKill GendoKill GendoKill GendoKill Gendo..."

Ikari Gendo looked left and right..something was definitely not right here, and his grasp and control of the situation seemed to be lacking.

When he saw Fuyutsuki slapping a heavy fire axe in his hand like a nightstick, he took the hint.

Gendo bolted from the room and the gathering posse amidst the now familiar cry. "KILL GENDO! KILL GENDO!!!"

He fled from Central Dogma, his mind racing as fast as his feet...Maybe, just maybe, all was not lost...If he could get Rei, then get to Terminal Dogma, he just might be able to carry out the HIP after all!

It was a frantic race to Ayanami Rei's apartment, darting from shadow to shadow, trying to ignore the gathering rumble around him....as if of a lynch mob gathering or some great beast awakening. The glimpses of other NERV personnel now were a warning to him...he'd approached a security guard earlier, in an effort to get him to arrest the senior NERV staff for treason or at least slow their advance with his own life, only to discover that particular guard had joined the Pod People. Gendo had apparently cut him off on the highway some days earlier, and the man still held a grudge.

But at last he reached Rei's apartment, leaping up the stairs several at a time, then grabbing for the door, throwing it open, and darting inside, mustering every iota of authority he could bring to his commanding voice. "REI! It is time! We mus-"

Rei stood there in the center of her room, characteristically stockstill...but uncharacteristically dressed. Not her usual school uniform, but a long immaculate, and very elegant kimono of sea greens and midnight blues. She gazed down at the intricate garment, seemingly stunned, or perhaps enraptured.

She also wasn't alone...

Gendo gagged at the other person at the room...took in the elegant, sedate, and modest clothing, the well-groomed mane of hair, the sleek fur covering shapely arms and legs, the triangular ears, the gently waving tail. The jaws that bite, the claws that catch.

"Gendo-san! Why didn't you tell me Yui had a daughter? " Saotome Kasumi turned around with those gentle, but piercing predator eyes, affixing Gendo.

All Gendo could do was stare... He really, REALLY, wished now he'd paid more attention when his late wife had talked about her old friends from school....Yui had mentioned she had known some of the Saotomes in college....but to have one of them HERE, NOW, was too much!

Right at that moment, Gendo could only think back to what he'd remembered from those videotapes... the flashing claws, the flying blonde hair, the teeth. Those sleekly muscular legs that could outrun almost anything on the road. Those slender feminine arms that could rip a car door off its hinges.

A shout from outside tipped Gendo off to the fact that his time was, or had, just run out. With a last frantic gape, he whirled and darted from the room, just ahead of a pounding of feet and chorus of "KILL GENDO!!!"

Misato stuck her head inside the apartment, and grinned at seeing who was there. "Auntie Kasumi!"

"Misato-Chan!"

"Sorry, Auntie, love to talk, but I got things to do first! See you later!" With a wave, Misato rejoined the pursuit. "KILL GENDO!!!DESTROY THE BEAST!!!"

"Oh, Misato-chan, just like your mother...so busy...so responsible." Kasumi sighed happily. then turned back to where Rei was quizzically examining herself in a mirror, tugging at the kimono and adjusting it, like she'd just discovered clothing. "So beautiful...your mother would be proud...but we must simply find you some accessories for that..." Clearly, Gendo hadn't been taking care of the poor girl...just look at her wardrobe. Well, it wasn't too late to undo the damage. How fortunate she'd come by Tokyo-3 hoping to look in on her late friend's son, and to discover her daughter!

Outside there came a heavy thumping sound and a gurgling scream as Fate caught up with Gendo.

notes from Talis regarding Epilogue 3------------

Okay...so the latter half is probably unnecessary, but I have a thing for albino clones(Zentraedi), feel Rei should be considered Shinji's sister, and really needs a happy second childhood to set the world right...plus one of my favorite pictures of Rei shows her in a dark blue kimono against the full moon. Something I could see Kasumi finding for a friend's neglected daughter she just happened to come across.

I am a sap...



==================================

definitely an unintended story. something was irresistable about several concepts here which might have been better off being written out seperately:
1) Ranma growing up as a member of Amazon society.
2) The thrown-to-the-lions-as-part-of-the-Catfist training.
3) The idea that the majority of problems in Ranma 1/2 comes back to "Pride As Motivation" and the crippling effect this has on the characters. Ranma in the canon is a one-dimensional jerk. Akane in the canon is sometimes nice but mean, jealous, and prone to rages that would get her the next cell to Kodachi. Genma has sacrificed Ranma's development as a sop to his own pride - which hangs on Ranma becoming the Best Martial Artist. Nabiki causes the problems to fester like a overripe wound because of her own pride in her intellectual edge. Etc.
4) Ranma the werecheetah (really fast), Ryouga the werewolf (really strong/ludicrous amounts of endurance), Mousse pulling gadgets out of his robes, etc. With Ranma and Ryouga both having the lycanthropic healing factor.




OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE...

Island Omake

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip,
the mate a little ninja man,
the skipper Ko-Da-Chi,
five passengers set sail one day,
on a three hour tour.

A three hour tour.
%thunder crashes%

The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed,
if not for the stubborness of the crew,
the ship would not be lost.

the ship would not be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this
uncharted magic isle,

With Ranma...
Kodachi too... %crazed noblewoman laugh%
Two Amazons,
Nabiki and
Kasumi-chan.

Here on Kodachi's Isle!

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

Everyone stood around looking at the boat. Or, it might be more fair to say, they were looking at what was left of the boat.

"Oh dear," Kasumi said as roughly half of the Kuno family yacht slid down in a rain of broken boards and plastic.

"It even worse than time Crazy Stick Boy crash us on island where Toma try to get new wife."

"There's certainly less left of the boat, that's for sure, sugar."

"Akane! YOU DUMMY!"

"Why yell at Akane, Ranma?"

"Because she went off on the liferaft with Sasuke and RYOUGA! Ryouga's navigating. Do you have any idea where they'll end up?"

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

Meanwhile, with the rescue expedition:
"This sucks," Akane was being unusually blunt, but didn't really care at this point.

"Don't worry, Akane, we'll find civilization soon. I always do!"

"I don't know about this. Are there *supposed* to be penguins in Hokkaido?"

"Don't say *another word*, Sasuke. I'm wearing a bathing suit and a shirt. I'm in the Antarctic. Why? Because *you* leaned back against the surface of the raft with a pocket full of shuriken. Because Ryouga here insisted that the compass was lying."

"It was! They always do. I'm sure it's all Ranma's fault. Somehow."

"Mistress Akane, did you paint your toenails blue or should I worry?"

"Sasuke. Exactly *where* in this outfit do you think I would carry nail polish?"

"The same place your sister Nabiki carries her wallet? The same place that Miss Shampoo carries her bonbori and sword? The same place that..." %WHAM% "...you carry that hammer."

"Look, see, I promised we'd find civilization. See!" Ryouga pointed.

"Somehow a blinking pink neon sign proclaiming 'Evil Overlord's Secret Laboratory' doesn't exactly fill me with confidence." Akane wasn't sure whether she wanted to be angry at Ranma for being lost overboard, hopeful that Ranma would hurry up and rescue her, upset that her own plans to be the rescuer instead of the rescuee were not going terribly well, or just wonder what the heck had happened to P-chan.

"C'mon, Akane, it's not like you to be so negative."

Akane merely glared at her tormentor, shivering violently, and headed for the Gothic looking old house. It at least looked warm. The organ music indicated someone was probably home.

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

Meanwhile, back at the lagoon:

Nabiki lazed back in the sun and enjoyed the radiant heat, the cool breeze from the ocean, and the sounds of Ranma in a panic. Occasionally the patented Crazed Noblewoman Laugh or shout of "airen" would form a punctuation.

"So let me get this straight," Ukyou said after a moment. "Kodachi was planning on this? She sacrificed her yacht just so she could deposit a few rivals on an uncharted desert island, then she and Ranchan could use the little lifeboat to go get help? Except that help would never arrive?"

"Yeah." Nabiki turned over, letting herself bake a little more evenly. "I figured out the details when I noticed that only the equipment remaining on the boat had been sabotaged. The lifeboat was completely undamaged. Everything I thought to check was deliberately set up to deposit a few rivals out of the way."

"Except that both she and Ranma were knocked out during the storm, and by the time they came to the rescue party was already underway." Ukyou rubbed her head, sure she was going to get a headache.

"A fair summation," agreed Cologne. "Adding that Miss Kuno got some additional hangers-on when given the chance to escape July Heat in Tokyo."

"Oh my," Kasumi agreed.

"So we're stuck here. On a deserted island. With Ranchan..." Ukyou thought that if it weren't for certain other people here, and the lack of okonomiyaki fixings, this setup could have promise.

"First order of business is to procure the necessities of life. Fresh water, food, shelter."

"Would you like some tea?"

Everyone stared at Kasumi, who had produced an icechest and a jar of sun tea from apparently nowhere.

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

"Bwee! Bweee! Bweeeee!"

"Hahahahahaha. Ha. Hmmm. Well, back to the drawing board."

"What did you do?" Sasuke looked on in horror.

"P-chan? Where did you come from?"

The crazed-looking scientist (well, he was wearing a labcoat) looked at his rifle in disgust. "This was SUPPOSED to fire a blast of curse energy at a target. Transforming them in a heartbeat into buxom oversexed mostly brainless young girls. All part of plan #343 in How To Conquer The World. If nothing else I could have sold it to Happosai. Instead it just turned your companion into a cute little piglet. Feh."

"Can you at least turn the heat up a little? It's freezing in here!" Akane pulled the blankets around her a little tighter.

"Oh. Sure. No problem. Hey, I might be a diabolical mad scientist out to rule the world, but I'm not *heartless.* I'll have a warm bath ready for you soon. No point in my prisoners getting frostbite." Doctor Gabe moved a control that raised the temperature in the cell to the mid-80s. The bath was set for a nice comfortable 110. It was unfortunate that the absent-minded mad scientist hadn't noticed that both controls were in Celsius whereas the rest of the house was set for Farenheit.

"Thank you," said Akane and Sasuke quite sincerely. At least he wasn't some prince trying to marry Akane.

"Bwee," managed P-chan.

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

"Ranma-sama! We must leave now!"

"Good idea. How are we gonna do this?"

Kodachi stopped. "Oh dear." The boat was still disintegrating. Without looking, she knew it would be. After all, she'd been the one to set it up that way.

"So, will Crazy Girl tell why try trap on island. Shampoo can *build* boat if need."

"You don't understand, harridan, this island is..." Kodachi noted that Ranma and the Amazon had been joined by a chef and the Elder. She hesitated.

"Hey guys, you wouldn't believe the fog that's rolling in," Nabiki stepped into the clearing.

"AAAAHHHH!" Hesitation was replaced with panic. "Go NOW. We have to leave NOW!"

"A fog?" Ukyou wondered aloud. Why was Kodachi panicking at the mention of a fog?

"Yeah, it was getting steadily thicker for the past half hour or so. Odd thing, it hasn't come on shore. Think it might be some kinda cold water current or something."

Kodachi slumped to the ground with a moan of despair.

"This is one of *those* islands, isn't it?" Cologne said with apparent calm.

"We are riding the back of the turtle..." Kodachi said in a weak voice. "We'll reappear near Japan... in about fifteen years."

Everyone was rather surprised to see Nabiki jumping up and down on the gymnast after the initial shock wore off.

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

P-chan leapt into the boiling hot water, emerging a moment later with a giggle and a lot more jiggle.

Akane saw the overendowed girl in the tub and at first assumed that Doctor Gabe had captured someone else. Then she saw the leer on this other girl's face and wondered if she could request a different cell.

Sasuke got a nosebleed and fainted.

As Akane was the only person conscious, and Ryouga-chan was feeling *very* affectionate, we'll turn our eyes away from the screaming, splashing, chasing, and giggling. Suffice to say that Akane didn't get a hot bath or any sleep, and Ryouga-chan didn't quite manage to catch Akane at any point. Akane did, indeed, finally collapse from exhaustion. This left Ryouga-chan quite despondent.

Sasuke woke up, made like a ninja, and hid during all this.

When Akane finally awoke, the chasing, screaming, splashing, and mad giggling began again.

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

"Look, this is a resource, just like any other. We can all share it, but we can't all have our own, there's only this one available on the island. However we decide this we can all wind up with a little bit of the whole thing or not have any for the next fifteen years. Except for the one lucky one. Now, *I* think that the one lucky one wouldn't be so lucky as we'd all be trying to steal it from her, and would all resent her for having what we want so badly. So I suggest we put it to a vote. Do we determine one lucky winner or do we decide to come to some sort of compromise?"

Ranma emerged from behind a bush, screaming. "What makes you think I'd put up with..."

All the girls looked at him and he slunk away.

"Okay," Nabiki resumed her spiel. "That's it, the only down comforter on the island. Who gets it?"

Ukyo raised a hand. "You know. The same logic *does* apply to Ranma-honey as well."

"We'll get to him in a minute. First, who gets the blanket?"

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

Meanwhile, back at Doctor Gabe's Antarctic Hidden Base:
"AAAAAAAHHHHH"

"Akane-chan, wait! Wait for me!" %giggle%

"AAAAAAAHHHHH!"

Doctor Gabe blinked at the sight. Maybe his gun worked but had a delayed effect? Only one way to find out. He carefully took aim at the ninja who was trying very hard to pretend he was just a lamp in the corner and fired.

"Akane-chan! Akane-chan!"

"Mistress Akane!"

"AAAAAAAHHHHH!"

Doctor Gabe blinked. It worked? One of his devices actually worked as planned? Yes! He could now begin conquering the world! By using his diabolical invention, he could transform half the world into buxom nymphomaniac bimbos. The other half would be too busy running or engaged in other activities for there to be any resistance. "VICTORY...WILL...BE...MINE!"

"Akane-chan! Akane-chan!"

"Mistress Akane!" *giggle*

"AAAAAAAHHHHH!" *Splash!* "Yeowtch! HOT!"

"I'll kiss it and make it better!"

"STAY AWAY!"

"Then let *me*...."

"STAY AWAY!"

Doctor Gabe considered. If he went to New York City, he could hit the UN building. It would require building a cannon or bomb version of his rifle, but it might work. No, too many heroes. Hmmm. A major field test of the improved version should be someplace where the change wouldn't give anyone any warning.

Ah, perfect. He'd start his plans to conquer the world in one of the wards of Tokyo. Azabu Juuban, perhaps, or Nerima. Crowded suburbs, access to communication centers and equipment, plenty of transportation if things turned dicey.

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

Morning on the island:

"Why such strange stuff wash up in lagoon?"

"Because, child, this island is not only a physical island, but an island in the stream of time and space. Literally anything could wash up on these shores."

"There must be 10,000 socks here!" Nabiki stared at the piles of drying socks. "And none of them match."

"What this stuff?"

"It's a box for Manga No Mori. Looks like one of their shipments ended up here." Nabiki eagerly ripped open the box. At last, something to READ! "I don't recognize the author, though. Takahashi?"

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


Now this is the tale of the castways,
they're here for a long, long time,
they'll have to make the best of things,
it's an uphill climb.

The Amazon
and the Elder too,
will do their very best,
to make the others comfortable,
in their tropic island nest.

No phone,
no lights,
no kendoists,
not a single luxury,
like Robinson Crusoe,
as primitive as can be.

So join us here each week my friends,
you're sure to get a smile,
from many stranded castways,
here on "Kodachi's Isle."

EPILOGUE:

Akane heard the voices coming up the walk and ran to the door. "Ranma, is that you? Where have you been the past ten months, you... you..." Akane watched Ukyou walking in with a baby and twitched. She didn't have any trouble noting a resemblence. "Idiot..." This last word was more breathed than said.

"You slept with Ukyou?! Ranma! You..." Akane's eyes bugged out slightly more as Shampoo entered, cooing at an infant that looked like... "AND Shampoo?!"

"Oh, hi, Akane!" Nabiki walked in with her own child, quickly joined by Kasumi who was leading a little boy in. "Just so you know, more time has passed for us than for you. Enchanted island kind of thing. Good thing there was a Fountain of Youth there too."

"Kasumi? Who's the kid?" Akane seemed to hear Nabiki's voice echoing within her head. Time? What? It had only been...

Kasumi smiled down. "It's my little Kakaru. Ranma's and my son."

Akane blinked and her eyes fastened on the baby in Nabiki's arms. "Err..."

"Kinnosuke. Ranma and me. Yes. Akane."

"Eeep," Akane eeped, feeling rather faint.

Kodachi walked in, smiling and obviously pregnant.

"RANMAAAAA!"

"Oh hi, Akane." Ranma walked in, looking older and more worn. "We're back."

"ALL OF THEM?!"

"Hey, I was faithful to you for twelve years," Ranma shrugged. "After that, well, heck what WERE we supposed to do on a desert island after all that time?"

Akane would have gotten angry, but she opted for fainting instead.