A Very Scary Bet, Fanfic.net version (revised) part 1a: A
different spin and charge by greggsharp,

metroanime@mindspring.com

http://metroanime.home.mindspring.com

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

Toltiir smirked at the reluctant incubus, who was still visibly shaken by the events he'd seen in one of the timelines visible through the scrying pool.

"Ranma...and..." Grey shuddered. Some things were just WRONG. He'd seen timelines where Ranma ended up with Akane(shudder), or Ukyou, or Kodachi, or Shampoo, or Hiroshi (shudder), or Nabiki, or Kasumi, or Kasumi AND Ukyou, or Tatewaki (shudder), or even Doctor Tofu (ick). This one... the incubus had a light green tint to his features that was not the result of lighting.

"You see," the little god of mischief explained, "it is not only where you put the change, but the spin and the charge you put on it. You also have to consider the timeline that you're altering. The way things turned out originally shows the way that world works and will have an effect on your change."

"I see," Grey managed. "Oh man, who's was THAT, anyway?" He wanted to avoid the person whose mind came up with something like that. Even the one where Ranma-chan married Happosai was less twisted and degrading than THAT one.

Toltiir ignored the question. He'd thought that it had been different at least. "Look at what happens when I make the very same change you did, but put the spin and vector like this."

----March 13, 1981-----

Nodoka had been called to the hospital to visit a sick friend when the news had come in. Soun Tendo, having one of his emotional collapses, had plowed his car into a set of gas pumps. The resulting fireball, well, while Soun was a trained martial artist and could absorb a lot of damage, there were limits.

Kimiko's dying wish was that Nodoka take in at least one of the daughters. She was trying for all three. By the time various relatives found out, the dying request had been recorded, and it was all over. None of the relatives really wanted the children enough for a lengthy court battle.

Nodoka used the resources available to her and tracked her errant husband down on his training trip. All arguments to the side, this had NOT been foreseen when she had signed the contract. She would have trouble making ends meet with all three children, therefore Genma had to come back and go back to work.

Work. Shigoto. Genma considered it an unlucky word, beginning with death and ending with a burglar. He had been a thief many times training under Happosai. It was a bad omen.

Genma looked at the three little girls and came up with one of those ideas that he would later regret. They were also heirs to the Anything Goes school, and one of them would be Ranma's wife
eventually. Nodoka would never go along with his ideas for training so...

---March 11, 1982-----

"He's beating those kids because he cheats," observed Nabiki calmly. It had taken her all of twelve seconds of observation from the shadows.

The Gambling King frowned. "What do you mean, calling me a CHEAT? Little girls should not make up stories about their elders."

"Oh?" Nabiki took in the looks of the parents and the children. "And what about those Jokers you've got stuffed up your sleeves?"

"You must be ..." The Gambling King looked down at where a thrown spatula had slit open one of his sleeves. Cards tumbled to the ground. His eyes tracked up to the brown haired girl who was smiling a cute little smile and winking at the shorter haired girl.

"Smarter than the average kid," Nabiki finished. "Now, we can do this one of two ways. Ucchan and Ranma here can beat you until you look like sushi. OR..."

"Or?" The Gambling King looked up. Why did he think that he'd like this option even less? Why did he have the sudden urge to say "I'd have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you darned kids..."

"That was a good throw, Kasumi!" Ranma smiled at his big sister.

"Hey!" Ukyou spoke up. "I coulda done that too, y'know!" It was HER technique, after all.

"Why do Ukyou and Ranma get to beat him up? I'm a martial artist too, you know!" Akane grumbled. Ukyou was a cute boy and he hadn't responded at all to Akane's overtures. Phooey.

An hour later, at their campsite, Genma wondered where all the money, extra clothes, and gambling equipment had come from, but perhaps wisely didn't inquire.

-----March 15,1982------

"So, Ranma," began Genma. "Which do you like better, Ucchan or okonomiyaki?" The yattai was a powerful lure, it would help him make ends meet for a little longer. It had become especially difficult with the extra girls around. If only he could find some way of getting rid of them!

"Uhm," Ranma began. Almost involuntarily, his eyes flicked over to the side.

"Ucchan is a good cook, isn't he?" Kasumi asked innocently. She liked Ucchan.

Ranma blinked. That's right. Ucchan made the okonomiyaki. "UCCHAN," Ranma said enthusiastically as he munched on another piece of the okonomiyaki.

Genma sighed and covered his eyes. Well, that's what he got for leaving the decision up to a child, particularly one that kept looking up to his "big sister" for advice.

Nabiki smiled and went back to practicing her dice rolling techniques.

-----September 3, 1982----

Genma sat back and watched Kasumi and Ukyou spar near the yattai. Sales had been brisk earlier that day, and now he had the money to go get something to drink. He turned slightly, watching Nabiki con some adults out of spare change. Genma turned slightly again and watched Ranma and Akane sparring.

Too many kids. He had to get rid of some of them, at least temporarily. He shuddered at the thought of dropping by his home. Nodoka would likely take some of the children back if he told her that they were simply too much for him to handle. She'd understand.

However, there was the bit about children who talked.

They said the darndest things. Particularly when you didn't want them to.

Maybe he could find other senseis to pawn them off on. After all, they already showed some skill in at least the basics.

Ukyou had been revealed to all as a girl. Her engagement to Ranma had also become common knowledge. That the Tendos were ALSO engaged to Ranma had likewise become shared knowledge. There were questions and recriminations, but now Genma faced another problem entirely.

All four of the young ladies considered Ranma to be their fiance, and all had come to a simple truce on the matter. That multiple marriages were technically illegal or at least objectionable
within the bounds of normal society didn't enter into their simple worldview.

That none of them really understood what an engagement or marriage actually meant was something that Genma meant to keep going as long as he could. Kasumi thought it had something to do with taking care of someone's house. Nabiki thought it had something to do with a financial merger. Akane thought it had something to do with being allowed to take over the dojo. Genma had no idea what Ukyou thought of the engagement other than she seemed to really like his son.

Whether Ranma returned as a man among men or not, Nodoka would kill him. Not good. Very, very, not good. If she found out about Kaori Daikokuji (fish and TWO pickles), or Biiko (two bags of
rice), or Kotono (protection from the temple guards), or Megumi (cancellation of a gambling debt), well, maybe he could get away before she got that sword unwrapped.(1)

Genma thought about this. He also noted that the various sparring partners seemed to help Ranma. Each of the various students had their own strengths and weaknesses that could be exploited and
Ranma had to adapt to each. Kasumi was a gentle creature, reluctant to strike even in retaliation. Ranma was reluctant to do more than poke her with a finger. The two sparring against each other were more tests of manueverability and agility than a battle. Genma found himself yelling at them both to stop dancing on more than one occasion.

(Unfortunately on one occasion, Ranma had pulled out a top hat and cane, Kasumi had pulled out a pair of dancing shoes, and the two had given a performance that had curious onlookers throwing money. Naturally, Genma suspected that Nabiki had had her hand in it.)

Spatula vs spatula against Ukyou seemed to bring a little more fight out. Having seen that, as soon as he felt Kasumi had more basic moves down, he'd train her with a variety of household
weapons. Genma looked with disdain upon weapon users when compared to the mastery of unarmed combat, but allowed that some people just weren't cut out for the elegant majesty of the Road
Of The Fist.

Nabiki was a smart and tricky fighter. Not as strong as Akane or as fast as Kasumi, she used terrain and taunts to keep her opponents off guard. When she struck, it was precise and with a
minimum of wasted effort. In some ways she was the most challenge for Ranma to fight, as he had to think about the tactics of the situation. She'd deliberately miss an opponent, only have it turn out she was merely setting them up. She was teaching herself tricks using some of the gambling equipment they'd gotten, as she felt spatulas were Ukyou's trademark and she wanted to establish her own identity. She'd gotten pretty good with them too.

Akane was the storm to Kasumi's wind and Nabiki's rain. Strength and fury and raw emotion contrasted to Kasumi's evasiveness and Nabiki's dominance of environment. Akane fought quickly, all out, and was easily the strongest of the four girls. She usually lost to her sisters, though. Kasumi would gently redirect the violence until Akane was spent. Nabiki would tease and dodge until Akane left herself open, then unleash her own devastating attack. Akane was a purist, though, no tricks or weapons use for her. Strength, endurance, and skill. She was almost ready for the Stonebreaker technique, perhaps the Iron Fist or Eagle Claw. Genma was certain that Akane would surpass her sisters eventually.

Ukyou was still heavily reliant on her weapons. Without them, she was becoming quite competent. With them, she was almost as good as Ranma now. Her obvious reluctance to go all out against Ranma was going to be a problem though. Against Akane, the match was much more even. They didn't seem to get along well for some reason. Ukyou got along well with Kasumi, fairly well with
Nabiki, and was often Ranma's shadow. Akane and Ukyou left alone usually ended up in a brawl. Maybe it was just that Akane didn't seem to care that much for okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki. He'd thought of the yattai as a disposable food source. He hated to admit it, but he had been wrong. (Not that he would ever admit it *aloud* anyway.) Nabiki had a talent for finding the best deals in supplies, Ukyou assaying their quality, and now both Kasumi and Ukyou were nearly matched in the art of the Japanese pizza. They weren't going to get rich, but they were eating regularly off the profits.

Nabiki running scams, gambling operations, and shaking down adults for loose change further increased their net income.

The real problem, Genma confessed to himself, was that control of the situation was slipping further and further out of his hands.

Genma sighed and headed for one of the vending machines that would take his change. There was one with a selection of cold and hot drinks that had sake nearby. Maybe he could think better in the morning, after all, it HAD been a tiring day.

And tomorrow he'd be ready for the training he'd always wanted to put Ranma through, a training that would make him invincible.

He needed it. Poor Ranma was getting henpecked.

---September 7, 1982----

Kasumi was the first to wonder where Genma had taken her little brother/fiance Ranma. She crept up, wondering what great secrets were to be displayed that Uncle Genma would only teach Ranma.
She'd had to patch Ranma up for the past three days and dealing with all the little cuts, scrapes, gouges, long sucking flesh wounds, claw marks, and bites had made Kasumi more than a little curious.

She was joined a moment later by her seven year old sister Nabiki, who'd apparently seen big sister Kasumi sneaking off. With the absence of two of their number keenly felt, Akane and
Ukyou had hidden the yattai and joined the other two just as Genma began tying something all over Ranma.

"What's going on?" Akane blinked at the scene before her. The six year old could see Uncle Genma tying something all over Ranma. "Is this the secret training?"

Nabiki held a finger over her lips and scowled at the little girl. "Shhhh. It's a secret. We're not s'pposed to know about it."

Ukyou and Kasumi nodded sagely at that.

After a moment, Nabiki frowned. "Something stinks."

"Fish," Akane whispered. "Smells like fish."

"No. Smells like cat crap." Ukyou had been raised in Kansai and knew the smell of fish quite well. The underlying smell was also familiar to her from her Aunt Beru's house. "Lots of cat crap."

Genma reached over and opened a trap door, and the smell of cats that had been cooped up for over a week became quite a bit stronger.

"Wow," Akane held her nose. "Must be a lotta kitties in there."

They could hear Ranma now, pleading with his father not to throw him in. He'd been good, he hadn't told anyone. There was the slap of flesh and they could also hear Genma berating Ranma for acting weak and soft, like a dumb girl. He shook the boy, threatening to make Ranma wear one of Kasumi's dresses.(2)

Akane suppressed a giggle. Weak and soft? All this time, and Unca Genma didn't know them very well, did he?

Kasumi frowned. She only had the two dresses, and she didn't want Ranma to ruin either of them.

Nabiki frowned. Weak, soft, and dumb? She'd have to make sure Ranma didn't take his father's words to heart. Fortunately, little brother had learned to listen to his big sisters.

Ukyou frowned too. She didn't want to see her Ranchan all cut up and bloody again. She hoped this training would be over soon. Her heart went out to her poor fiance.

"He's tied Ranma all up? He's...throwing Ranma in?" There was something about this which disturbed Kasumi greatly.

"That weird." Akane tried to figure out how Ranma could learn a martial arts move all tied up like that. Maybe it was an escape technique or some ninja trick...

Nabiki's jaw almost hit the bottom of the pipe she was in. "That not weird. It crazy!"

The yowling started as Genma slammed the lid back into place and moved off to where he had a nice bottle of sake warming in the ashes of a fire. Ranma started to scream.

Kasumi began to back away. "Oh no. oh no. oh no."

"What's wrong, Kasumi?" Akane looked up. Maybe her big sister knew what kind of technique this was.

"He's feeding Ranma to those cats!" Kasumi could scarcely believe it. That explained all the claw and bite marks, but it wasn't the sort of thing Kasumi had wanted to believe.

All four of the young girls were petrified by the evil ogre that must have taken over Uncle Genma. Usually he was mean, petty, obtuse, irritating, and harsh...but this!

"What're we gonna do?" Akane pulled back further into her pipe. She didn't want to be fed to cats! She didn't want to be fed to anything! She'd been begging Unca Genma to learn special techniques, but now...

"Maybe he'll just be satisfied with killing Ranma?" Nabiki said hopefully. She'd miss little brother...

"HEY!" Ukyou drew her spatula, finding Kasumi a heartbeat later drawing HER spatula. "That's OUR fiance he's feedin' to those dumb cats!"

"Hmmmph," Nabiki hmphed as she slipped out of the pipe. What was hers was hers and she was gonna keep it in the best condition she could!

"R-right." Akane swallowed. She was a martial artist and a martial artist defended the weak. Even if it was her annoying brother/fiance.

A moment later, four screaming young girls proceeded to try to beat the stuffings out of a man who had just been leaning back to enjoy some sake. Either the screams from the pit or the sake
seemed to have covered up much of the approach of the four.

However, Kasumi was only eight (though she'd be nine very soon). Nabiki a mere seven years old. Akane and Ukyou were all of six. Even though they handled themselves as if much older, they
weren't that effectual. Genma had never gotten around to teaching them teamwork.

They didn't realize that attacking together like this, to save Ranma from the evil ogre, that they were setting a precedent.

When the screaming abruptly stopped, so did the fight above the pit. Ukyou, dangling from where Genma had lifted her by the scruff of her shirt, immediately started crying about Ranma being
dead.

Akane started sniffling too, from her position of having one of Genma's ankles in a scissors lock. Not that she would show any sign of weakness like actually liking Ranma...

Nabiki and Kasumi started to cry too, Ranma had gotten eaten and now the ogre would be coming after them! They wanted to run, but they couldn't abandon their sisters!

Down in the dark, Something awoke and heard the crying. It responded. "Mrrrroooooooowwwwww!"

Genma looked up from where he was trying to untangle himself from the four girls when the trap door came flying off the hinges. It started to rain cats.

"Mrrrroowwwwwww!" The Cat moved out of the smelly dark hole, then looked around at its surroundings. Some of those watching could have sworn one of his ears twitched.

"Could it be? Have you learned the Cat Fist?" Genma started to analyze the odd pose the child had. Without thinking about it, he kicked Akane loose and tossed Ukyou to the side where she was out of the way. She'd taken worse falls during training anyway.

"Hisssssssss." Ranma leapt forward, eyes gleaming.

Genma landed a few feet away, having blocked and evaded.

"That wasn't that impressive," Genma said with a frown, he'd expected more out of a technique that was described as "invincible." He looked down, noticing the long cuts that had gone through the front of his gi and made shallow lines across his chest. "On second thought..."

There was a loud clang as Ukyou managed to rebound from her landing point, bounce off a wall, and bring her spatula into play. Genma went down at least for the moment.

"Ranma's acting like a cat?" Nabiki blinked as she watched her little brother/fiance. Uncle Genma had called this the 'cat fist?' "Cat fist means acting like a cat?"

Ranma hissed again as Genma began to rise. His currently feline mind perceived the large male as a threat. He prepared to slice, dice, and make okonomiyaki filling out of the threat.

"Here kitty kitty, nice kitty!" Kasumi smiled and knelt down. "Nice kitty!"

"Mrrrrrr?" Ranma noted that the Threat was staying over there. Warm lap provider was over here signalling that she wanted to commence grooming. Well, if she insisted.

The three other girls weren't particularly jealous, each wanted to be the next one to have kitty-Ranma in their lap. How nice, now they had a pet!

Kasumi started smoothing Ranma's hair as he snuggled into her lap. Ukyou followed Kasumi's example, as she usually did, stroking along the line of Ranma's spine. Ranma purred.

Genma blinked. "Well, so much for the 'invincible' cat fist." It had been quickly defeated by the dreaded Kasumi Charm Attack. He turned his attention back to the book. Maybe one of these other techniques...

Hmmm. Maybe the dreaded Scorned Woman Fury?

----January 3, 1983----

Genma immediately noticed that there was one body too many at the campsite. Which one it was, THAT was more difficult to tell. They'd all started wearing each other's clothing, well except for Kasumi who was still the biggest of the children. Ranma wouldn't wear the girl's clothes, of course, but the unisex or training clothes tended to make the rounds.

"What's going on here?" Genma started rubbing his temples. He was sure that this was why he had gone bald. Or maybe it was when he had stolen that ruby eye from that idol... No, it HAD to be trying to take care of all these kids!

"What do you mean, Uncle?" Nabiki looked up from her textbooks. "We're just studying."

Genma's eyes roved until he found an extra Akane. "All right, who are you, and why are you here?"

"She's here because she's running away from home, where she was whipped and beaten by her mother." Nabiki noted, turning another page of the Economics textbook. That it was a high school
textbook two years out of date was of little import, she found the subject fascinating.

"That's not any concern of ours!" Genma frowned. He would NOT budge on this. There were FAR too many children here as it was. Even with the yattai being a continuing source of income, and Nabiki shaking the crowds down for money and getting additional funds somehow. Even with the Meal Machine getting the occasional kickback from insurance companies and various clients for investigating pesky poltergeists and mischievous monsters.

There was only so far that he could tolerate these shennanigans!

"She brought money," Nabiki continued.

"I won't...how much money?" Genma shook his head. "Absolutely not. No. My word is final on this! NO MORE KIDS!"

------March 9, 1983-----

"Can I be engaged to Ranma too?" Kodachi inquired sweetly.

"Why me?" Genma asked of the heavens.

"Look, you want to avoid the authorities, we don't want 'Dachi to be hauled back in front of a mother who'd do THAT to her." Nabiki winked at Kodachi, she'd sell her a 'fiancee to Ranma' membership card later. (A surprisingly popular commodity that she'd begun mass producing.)

Ranma, oblivious as he was used to getting tag-teamed by the girls, was tonight's cook manning the yattai. Under the watchful eyes of Ukyou and Kasumi he was getting much better at the
various chores. Especially if he thought of it as martial arts training.

"Uncle Genma," purred Nabiki. As Ranma wasn't around she could act somewhat feline. "You should consider China."

"China?" Genma paused. It was said that there were secret martial arts techniques and styles in China that were unknown to those in Japan. Then there was Tibet, which had some pretty spiffy martial arts masters...

Nabiki had been one of those saying such things. "Yes, I'll bet we could do really well in China." She saw that their guardian was hooked, now she used her ace to reel him in. "Just look at this brochure..."

"Martial Arts Training Grounds, Secret, Mystic, and Cursed," Genma read off the label. The label and a few key points were in Japanese, the rest was in Chinese. He looked up, the thought of learning special secret techniques quite apparent on his face. "China, eh?"

---November 3, 1983-----

"That was NOT a nice thing to do, Akane!" Kasumi scolded her younger sister. "You know Ranma's scared of cats."

"But I wanted to show 'Dachi-chan." Akane looked down and scuffed the toe of her shoe in the dirt. "Besides, _I_ never got to have Ranma-kitty in MY lap."

"Now we've got to get him out of that tree," said Kasumi shaking her head, wondering what else could go wrong today. This was nearly as bad as the time Akane had gotten Ranma to go Neko and then spent a couple of hours teasing him with a squirt gun. It had taken HOURS to get Ranma to come out from under that house.

"Don't worry, Kodachi's gotta idea." Akane smiled and pointed at where Kodachi was getting ready to start throwing large objects.

Kasumi started running. It was a pity that those other girls, particularly the bookish one, couldn't have come with them. Someone responsible to keep a check on the littler ones. Either that girl Ami or that girl Makoto would have been able to keep Akane out of trouble. Well, mostly.

"Meoo-ouuuchhh!"

---------February 19, 1984-----

"Ooofff!" Ranma and someone else went down in a tangle.

"-Watch where you're going you stupid oaf!-" The little girl picked herself up, noting how tough the boy had been. Built much more solidly than Mousse, she guessed.

"-I sorry. Not mean I to get in way.-"

Shampoo hmmmphed and looked at the boy. "-You are coward then, to come bump into an Amazon and then go bowing and scraping when you find that it is I that you have tangled with?-"

"-What mean? I sorry. Not understand very goodly.-" Ranma had never gotten the hang of Mandarin beyond the simple phrases used when selling okonomiyaki.

"She called you a coward," said an old woman who was watching the events unfold with a smile.

"COWARD?!" The eight year old boy glowered at the purple haired girl. "You take that back, you dope!"

Cologne translated. "-He disagrees, and suggests that you retract that statement quickly.-"

"-Oh yeah? Make me, stupid boy!-" Shampoo was in the boy's face, certain that this mere male would flee with his tail between his legs. Just to start him off, she sent a punch towards
his stomach.

Ranma blocked and counterpunched, landing a solid blow to Shampoo's chin. After all that time sparring with Akane and the others, hitting violent girls was an option.

Shampoo's eyes widened then narrowed. How DARE he lay a hand on her! Stupid outsider food-seller boy!

Cologne watched as the two began to seriously go about the task of beating the other into a pulp. She allowed a smile to crease her ancient face as she noted the skill level that the boy was using. He was good, and Shampoo had very few challenges in her age range. A sort of rival might cause her to improve some of the holes she had in her repertoire.

That thought ended after Ranma pinned Shampoo to the ground.

"I win! You gotta take that back about me being a coward!"

"-Shampoo, can you get free?-"

Shampoo struggled briefly, thrashing around in the dust, then looked with wild eyes at her great-grandmother. "-No.-"

"-Then tell him he's not a coward. Then, when he lets you up, give him the Kiss of Marriage.-"

"-I've got to be fourteen to give the Kiss Of Marriage!-" Shampoo shook her head. "-I'm only
eight!-"

"-So it'll be a Kiss of Engagement, instead. At least this is something you can use to eventually get Mousse off your back.-"

Shampoo brightened considerably. Mousse could stop confessing how much he loved Shampoo, usually mistaking farm animals for her? "-Okay. I was wrong. Stranger male person is NOT a coward.-"

Cologne translated, then watched with bemusement as Shampoo gave the Kiss of Engagement (followed by the Hug Of Friendship) to Ranma. She was even more amused when Kasumi and Ukyou came and dragged Ranma off a few minutes later.

Nabiki sold Shampoo a bright shiny membership card.

------February 21, 1984----

"Shampoo try to remember. This is no good place. You no want to train here."

"Ready yourself for a pounding, boy!" Genma took his place on one pole. The kids' skill levels had been rapidly improving, this would be a good exercise for determining their basic manueverability levels. On level ground, in mud, on ice (Akane had insisted they go ice skating), now on poles, he would mercilessly test them for any weakness to be pounded out of them.

"Ready, when you are, old man!" Eight years old and full of himself, Ranma settled onto one of the poles.

"Heh, I'll get you this time, Nabiki!"

"In your dreams, 'Dachi!"

"Oh my. Are you ready, Ukyou-chan?"

"Of course, Kasumi-chan. I think that village down the road ought to be good for some business tomorrow and we can replenish supplies there..." Ukyou shrugged, martial arts were important but okonomiyaki made it all possible. As Nabiki said, it was important to keep an eye on the bottom line.

"Are you scared, bimbo?" Akane still wasn't completely sure what the word meant, but it was an insult and Uncle Genma had given plenty of advice on using words as weapons. Mainly that it should be done as often as possible.

"Bimbo? You mean poor? Shampoo Amazon princess! Shampoo show violent girl benefit of Amazon training!" Shampoo didn't want to get near these pools, but she had to think of the honor
of the Amazon tribe!

A leaf blew across the field. Eight people leapt from their poles to engage in mid-air battles and then land on another pole. At least that was how it started.

The Jusenkyo Guide watched and relaxed slightly. Maybe this would work out. They were all very, very, good. Several were getting close to the far end as they leapt, fought, and then landed on
the next set of poles.

"How dare you steal my bride!" Mousse wasn't wearing his glasses again. Not that this did much good. He shot off a barrage of chains to snag his Shampoo free of danger.

Timing and concentration were lost as Ranma found himself enveloped in chains in mid leap. "HEY!"

Like a row of dominos, the effects of this distraction spread. Leaps were mis-timed, blocks missed. Give 'em a break, they were only kids.

A series of splashes could be heard with a certain Jusenkyo Guide spinning a tale of woe.

"AAAAAAaaaa!" Nabiki collided with her opponent and the two became acquainted with different springs.

"Growf?!" An enraged panda leapt up from a spring but realized that there was something wrong with this picture. Very very wrong with this picture. The sight before him penetrated even the rage at having an unexpected bath.

"GraRRRRRRR!" Kodachi didn't think too highly of this development. She lashed her tail and snarled.

"Grunt!!!!"

"Kiiiii kiiiiii!"

Kasumi and Shampoo slammed into a patch of open ground after a crescent edged blade on the end of one of Mousse's chains sheared through a pole and the two collided in midair trying to avoid it.

The ground collapsed under them and Kasumi screamed briefly as the water started pouring up around her.

"ROARRRRRRRR!" Ranma glanced around. In the simpler worldview of an eight year old, this was all kinda neat. All sorts of animals everywhere, but... hey, that was 'Sumi and Shamchan and they weren't coming up!

Wings shifted slightly and Ranma dove into the pool.

"Ranchan?" A winged Ukyou settled next to the dragon as he pulled the two figures out.

"Grunnnnn," Ranma-ryu managed. "Aruuuu."

"They're not breathing. You get Kasumi, I'll get Shamchan."

"Hrunnn." Ranma spared a moment to give a funny look to Ukyou, not at ALL sure how she'd managed to understand him.

The Jusenkyo Guide scratched his head. There was something wrong with this picture.

"Hrunf!" A rhino exclaimed as she stared at a Chinese boy. Said Chinese boy was wiping his glasses.

"Grrrrrrrrrr," the black tiger said, looking quite annoyed.

"Kiyaaa kiyaa!" (Splash!) "Ack! I missed. Hey! I'm human again!"

"Uhm. Looks like the curses mix. Who were you?"

"What do you mean, Ukyou?"

"Hrunnn?!"

Mousse put his glasses back on. He lost them a moment later when a very young rhino ran over him, stopped, then ran over him again. A tiger pounced on him and tossed the boy over her shoulder.

The Guide brought the extra large kettle out. The rhino changed back into a Japanese girl who immediately started beating on the Chinese boy. The tiger was turned back into another Japanese girl who grabbed up a long ribbon and started wielding it like a whip on the very same Chinese boy. The dragon was turned back into a darkhaired Japanese boy.

Other things changed into other kids.

"Very sad, very terrible tragic story," the Guide said, changing a panda back into the leader of this expedition. "You want short or long version?"

"Uhm. Can it wait until we get away from the springs?"

----still April 21, 1984----

Genma groaned. He had been sure that this would be a great training ground, and had insisted they go to Jusenkyo.

Now he turned into a panda, Genma raised his tear-tracked eyes to the heavens. "Why?!"

Behind him, Ukyou was doing a handstand on the back of a running rhino.

"Oh, the horrors of one's loss of humanity!" Genma continued to cry at the heavens. "Of being trapped in a form not your own!"

Kasumi joyfully yelling "Giddyap Ranma!" and flying overhead aboard a dragon temporarily undermined the mood, but Genma rallied.

"How could the kami inflict such a tragedy on poor children!" Genma paled as he thought of returning home with a menagerie in tow. Nodoka finding a good recipe for panda. Kuonji-san might not be too unhappy with his daughter now having wings as she was otherwise unchanged...or panda okonomiyaki might be for sale.

"Race you, Shampoo," said one winged Shampoo to the other.

"To village and back, Nabiki? You on!"

"Of course if SOME of the kids hadn't gone back for their clothes..." grumbled Genma.

Ranma in his Kasumi form rode a unicorn past his father.

"But the horrors of the situation..." Genma pictured trying to explain how Ranma's cursed form could shapechange to human, but as the result of mixed curses he could only change into one form. A female one. That just happened to look and act like his eldest "sister" - except that Ranma was three years younger and seemed to be unchanged in physical strength.

A giggling Akane sped past, being carried around by an oversized black tiger cub.

"Why, someone tell me why!" Genma raised his fist to the uncaring sky.

"-Because you're an idiot,-" the returning Nabiki said without any trace of sarcasm. She said it in Mandarin as needlessly antagonizing their chaperone would only cause problems later.

Unfortunately, Genma _had_ learned the Mandarin word for idiot.

-------April 23, 1984-------

"Ni hao!" Nabiki bowed, Japanese fashion to the Elder. With the amount of lore she'd receive here, she could make quite a bit of money as a Chinese herbist back in Japan.

"Today we begin your training, young lady," Cologne watched the girl carefully. Yes, she had some promise there. Her cursed form may LOOK like a winged Shampoo, but the shorter hair
and tendency to be constantly eating something revealed her identity to those who paid attention to such things.

Of course, Mousse didn't have a clue.

"All right," Nabiki grinned confidently. "Let's see what youth and cunning can do against old age and tricky..."

Cologne grinned back. "We'll see about that, won't we?"

She wondered if perhaps that Genma was correct. Could this eight year old have the spirit of an Amazon? Or was that merely another con the old panda was trying to pull? Though Shampoo going with them meant she had a chance to get to know her husband-to-be better.

------June 28, 1984------

"It's a deal then," Genma smiled at the young man. Kasumi seemed to like him, so this white haired young practitioner of the healing arts would have an apprentice in something useful (and he'd break Kasumi's influence over Ranma at the same time!)

"Come child," said the man, who refused to give his name as anything but "the Healer Brother." She would later learn that his name was Toki.

"What kind of healing art is it that you practice, anyway, Mr. Brother?" Kasumi stared up at the muscular figure.

"It was originally an assassin's art, but it is also useful for healing as you will see. My own style within it is the Gentle Fist technique, and the name for the school is Hokuto Shin
Ken."

"Oh," said Kasumi, impressed. Great Bear God Fist style. It certainly sounded very impressive. Maybe it was possible for her to cure Ranma's Jusenkyo curse with such skills. Or at least Akane's curse. Her youngest sister wasn't too happy with turning into a rhinoceros.

And as a unicorn was her cursed form, there was just all sorts of things she might be able to learn to do!

--------July 14, 1984------

"I thought you said they can cure my Jusenkyo curse so that Ranma can tolerate my presence again. HEY!" A struggling Kodachi vanished into the depths of the temple.

"That the Northstar school is seeking to pass some few of its techniques on to an outsider is surprising," said the gray-haired general with a nod. "There can be only ONE practitioner of the school, after all."

"Yes, but he won't teach her all the techniques, after all," said Genma confidently. He reached to refill his wineglass. "Just enough to ensure that if the coming conflagration DOES occur, that not all the secrets will be lost. So instead of Hokuto Shin Ken, the rival of Kodachi will be learning ju-ken, or the gentle fist technique."

"An interesting thought, in which case her lifelong rival might benefit from training in one of the opposing schools," acknowledged the sensei. "I think that one will do best in the Southern Cross Waterfowl Fist techniques."

"No doubt," agreed Genma, having no idea what the other was talking about. "What of her Jusenkyo curse? CAN you cure it?"

"There is no cure for a Jusenkyo curse," the elder shrugged. It wasn't the first time he would be proven to be wrong. "Though they can be modified. If successful, she will only transform when she is angered beyond all reason."

-----August 3, 1984-------

"Shampoo not going to strange foreign land, stupid panda just try to sell off remaining students." Shampoo looked over at the girl next to her. "Ranma come back to village with Shampoo?"

"Maybe he wants to go back HOME," chided Akane. "After all, his memories of China can't be that pleasant with us getting cursed and all."

"So... Shampoo can make sure Ranma does get some pleasant memories!"

Ranma slumped against a tree. "Gee, trade me off like I was okonomiyaki, why don't you," she muttered. She kept it quiet though, having learned THAT lesson over the years. She was currently wearing her Kasumi form as her cooking skills seemed to improve slightly in that form.

"What do you mean pleasant memories!?" Akane got in Shampoo's face, blushing slightly as she filled in the blanks. "We're still only eight, y'know!"

"Shampoo turn nine this week. Airen turn nine last month. Shampoo also know how to be cute and nice to airen, unlike Akane!" Shampoo wasn't thinking of the same sort of games Akane was.

"WHAT was that? Would you care to repeat that?"

Ranma wondered if she could just sneak away this time or if it would precipitate the fight sequence.

"Ranchan?"

Too late, realized Ranma.

Genma returned to the camp a few hours later and grunted. The scene was of a long and difficult battle waged here. At least they weren't letting up in their training.

-------November 3, 1984------

"Why me?"

"Because, Akane, this style suits you pretty well." Genma gestured to the dojo behind him. "You know that the strength of the Anything Goes style is that it incorporates other styles into itself, emphasizing the strength of diversity."

"So have Ukyou, or Shampoo, or Ranma learn this stuff!" Akane turned her nose up. She was in one of her frequent "snarked off" phases, angry over Ranma hogging the granola bars on the trip up the mountain. Akane was _so_ damn tired of okonomiyaki.

"I'll learn it," Ranma said, having reverted to girl form again on the trip. She was beginning to get tired of the effort to find the hot water and switch back only to get tagged shortly thereafter. Maybe staying in one area she could at least keep some hot water handy.

Besides, with his cursed form, Fierce Dragon sounded like a perfect martial art.

"No, absolutely not," Genma said, panicking slightly. "Ranma is the heir of the Saotome half of the school, and should learn from me."

"If airen stay, then Shampoo stay!"

"Likewise. No way I'm gonna leave Ranchan to starve on this damn mountain."

"Shampoo make sure airen not starve, Ukyou and Violent Pervert Girl go find other masters to study under. Is no problem."

"HEY!" Akane glared at Shampoo. "Bimbo!"

"Tomboy!" Shampoo countered, rolling up her sleeves.

Ukyou started to lean on Ranma but glares from the two soon-to-be-combatants convinced her that this would not be tolerated.

Ranma was careful not to grumble too loud, but her expression said it all. She was tired of being a bone of contention, just an excuse for fights to break out. It wasn't like anyone here
actually cared about her. Only Kasumi really cared about her, and Kasumi cared about everybody. Well, maybe Ukyou. She could be really nice to him, then get all ticked off and shaking him about him not understanding something. She never did explain *what* he didn't understand.

Genma waited until Akane was laid out on the ground, then carried the girl off. She could learn the Fierce Dragon style, and would earn her keep here. It wasn't like she could man the yattai.

--------June 1, 1985------

"...so Shampoo go back to village," Shampoo nodded at the three other children. "Still have much to learn in Amazonian Wu Shu."

"Good bye, Shampoo, we'll miss you." Ukyou was both happy and sad at the same time. More time with Ranchan, but she got along a lot better with Shampoo when they weren't fighting over Ranma. Unlike with Akane, Ukyou didn't have to worry about the yattai catching fire or the customers getting food poisoning while Shampoo was working as cook.

"Wow, I'll write you, Shampoo," Ami said. Actually getting to participate in another of their adventures had given her a great appreciation for the Amazon. Watching Shampoo bounce off a bannister to catch the Hairy Hunchback of Himoto Hall in the head with a Circle Kick, it had been quite educational.

"Shampoo miss Mizuno-san. You come to Village be guest of Shampoo, show Ami many many Amazon wonders!" Shampoo had been a little surprised by some of the friends she'd made. Neither Kasumi nor this Ami were warriors like herself, but they were nice friends nonetheless.

"I'll miss you too, Shampoo." Ranma gave the Chinese girl a light squeeze. "It's gonna be strange without you around."

"Ship over there, Myou no maru, have connections to Amazon village," Shampoo confided. "You need get word to Shampoo, you find ship. Otherwise see Airen and Ukyou after sixteenth birthday. Then Shampoo win big tournament and come back for Airen."

"Hey, I won't let him go THAT easily!" Ukyou grinned. After all, she had time to win Ranma all by herself now.

"Neither will Shampoo," the Amazon declared with a similar grin. "Ukyou take very good care of Airen! Bie bie."

Genma, watching from a distance, smirked. One down, one to go. Ami was just another of those girls who would go home after adventuring once or twice. Surely she would have no influence on
his son, and would be forgotten about in short order.

Thunder rumbled.

----August 3, 1985----

Genma grinned. The yattai and Ukyou were back with Kuonji-san, to "complete her training in okonomiyaki style martial arts" because her "family school shouldn't be neglected." It had been a spark of brilliance on his part, Genma felt without a trace of modesty.

Ranma was still off sulking, as he had been for the past few days. He hadn't said a word in over a week, protesting the last of the girls leaving, no doubt. Well, he'd get over it.

"C'mon, Ranma, we've got to go." Genma walked over to the sulking boy. "Ranma!"

Genma stopped when he noticed that the clothes had filled out with a scarecrow. Come to think of it, he hadn't seen Ranma do a heck of a lot over the past week.

Rubbing his temples again, Genma decided to start at the Kuonji restaurant and work his trail backwards. He hadn't thought that Ranma had missed any of the girls THAT much.

If nothing else, maybe Kuonji-san had some aspirin.

-------December 24, 1985-----

Genma entered Nerima to find that his wife had indeed moved into the slightly larger Tendo household. She hadn't wanted to originally, but maintaining both had been too much effort.

Sneaking about, he was able to determine that Ranma was not here, nor was he at the locked up Saotome house in Juuban.

Genma scratched his head, and presented the very picture of a puzzled if not perplexed panda. Ranma was not here, not with the Kuonji family, not at the dojo of the Fierce Dragon school, and
Genma did not think it likely that Ranma would have gone back to China.

Where would a nine year old martial artist boy-that-turned-into-a-dragon-that-turned-into-a-girl be?

----Elsewhere------

"Hey, I just asked ya if ya knew where I could find the Tendo dojo," Ranma looked around. "NOW where are we?"

"Uhm, Okinawa?" Ryouga looked at the hot humid jungle around them.

"If thou had but listened to my directions, we would be there already, though it be but an abandoned building upon which horror stories are built."

"It's not abandoned," Ranma swatted at a few bugs that got too close. "My mother's living there now according to the neighbors at her old place."

"Ah, my goddess with a ponytail, then let us fly there that you may introduce me to thy mother!"

"Not the goddess. I'm a guy. I just...well, okay, I'm a girl at the moment. Let me find some hot water and I'll show you the curse." Ranma was uncomfortable with the attention. He was well aware that he had some of Kasumi's mannerisms in this form, and didn't like it.

"Stupid stick boy leave Ranma alone!"

"Are you sure that blow to the head..."

"No, Ryouga, I'm not making this up." Ranma stopped and pointed. "Pardon me, but are there little guys not wearing much of anything but warpaint commonly found in Okinawa? I musta
missed that class."

"Aiyaa. They smell worse than Musk Dynasty warriors. You think we offend thems?"

Kuno blocked and noted the arrow quivering in the wood of his bokken. "Methinks discretion be the wisest course in this matter."

"Translation," Ranma said, grabbing Ryouga's hand so he wouldn't get lost. She didn't notice Ryouga's blush that began when she did that. "He means run like your life depended on it, cause it might. On the count of three. One, two,..."

Kuno was already fifty yards away, sprinting down a trail.

"Oh HELL, come on!" Ranma started dragging Ryouga along behind her as arrows began flying around them. Maybe she ought to switch to dragon, except she might kill some of 'em. It was so hard to control the extreme mood swings of the dragon.

Especially with Shampoo cheering for the gratuitous violence scenes.

-------

Kasumi's fingers darted and danced across the shiatsu points, her expression screwed up in concentration. The twelve year old was a fast student, and Toki was well pleased with his apprentice.

"Stop, Kasumi."

Kasumi stopped, her last tap having missed the target area entirely. "Oh darn."

"Up until then, you were doing fine. THAT point, though, combined with the anesthetic point and the clear mind point would have given the target a bad case of niceness. Try again."

Kasumi nodded but fixed the combination strike in her mind. You never know when that might come in handy. She'd already learned several odd shiatsu attacks that way.

----

Akane smiled at her sempai. So _cute_! And unlike Ranma he didn't turn into anything.

The two elder students were similar in build if in nothing else. Ryu was the dedicated fighter. There wasn't much in his life beyond the Art. Akane had thought he was kind of mysterious and
attractive. Except that he'd taken one look at her cursed form and started laughing at her. Now she was convinced that he was a jerk.

Ken, though, Ken was special. He had a sense of humor, and had a smile that sent a little thrill along Akane's spine. He was serious, sometimes, irreverant at other times, and Ryu's near equal in the Fierce Dragon style. He was American too, which made him exotic and fascinating to
Akane. The way she felt about Ken Masters was a LOT different from the way she felt about her "brother" Ranma.

He'd described her cursed form of a rhino as "kinda neat." Especially as the size of the rhino wasn't terribly big, almost small pony size. Handy when they needed to knock over trees, too.

Now if she could just get him to notice her. He was only three years older, after all.

------

Nabiki wiped the smirk from her face. "Hey, I don't just sell these to ANYONE, you know."

Vanilla nodded, and met Nabiki's gaze with her own red eyes. Other than those eyes and her clothes, everything about Vanilla was pale as if all the color had been drawn from a normal amazon. Even her voice seemed to lack color and vibrancy. "Yes, I have heard that you have actually turned down some who wished to make this purchase."

The ten year old Japanese girl regarded the eight year old albino Amazon for a moment. "Can you meet the qualifications?"

Vanilla nodded and lifted the basket.

Nabiki took it, grinning as she saw the booty within. Vanilla was a fair warrior, a lousy tracker, and couldn't hold a tune if it had handles, but when precision and a deft hand were required, she was excellent. She'd turned out to be an excellent seamstress.

"You haven't told me why you wanted this," Nabiki said, handing Vanilla an official "fiancee of Ranma" membership card.

"I have heard the married women talk. Some talk of the joy that they have found, others talk of the carnal pleasures they enjoy, while others speak of how angry their mates make them." Vanilla blinked as she studied the card. "I...just want to feel _something._"

Cologne cleared her throat and entered the hut, causing Vanilla to excuse herself and go about her duties. "Nabiki, something I have suspected for a long time has just become a matter of concern, what do you consider an engagement to mean?"

"It's a financial arrangement where two or more pull together for the common good," Nabiki shrugged. "Uncle Genma explained the whole thing to me a long time ago. Usually it's just one guy and his wife, why?"

Cologne began to explain. She pulled out charts and slides and pictures, she explained what went where and why, she explained the legal ramifications, but skipped over the socio political history of the custom when she noticed something.

Nabiki hadn't blinked in over five minutes.

-----December 24,1985-------

"What wrong with you, Nabiki Tendo?" Yuan came running up beside the Japanese girl. "You look like you just lost money."

"Uhm, Yuan. I...really don't want to talk about this now." Nabiki thought a cold shower, and some time alone, THAT was what she really needed right now.

"What? You forget? Tonight big night!" The young male kept up with his sempai, grateful of a chance to be of use to one of the few females of the village who wasn't openly contemptuous of him.

"What, Gilligan's Island marathon on satellite?"

"You do forget. Tonight very important event. Nabiki must be there."

"Not tonight, Yuan," Nabiki moaned. "What is so important that you have to have me there?"

"Is visitor who expert on Jusenkyo curses. Is visitor YOU request, remember? Is Ancient Traveler."

"Oh yeah," Nabiki shook her head. "Kinda slipped my mind after Cologne's little pep talk. I'll be there, don't sweat it..."

Yuan stopped, puzzled. "I don't understand that girl at all sometimes." He shrugged a moment later, Nabiki was teaching him this "finance" stuff, but he planned on challenging her to combat eventually. And then as husband and wife he would have years to try and understand her.

----December 25, 1985----

He was ancient by the standards of many races, and he was known to quite a few of them as well. Some called him a meddler, others called him a friend, more referred to him by the name he usually gave.

He was the Doctor.

Opening the door to a police call box, he was greeted by the whine of servo-motors. "Any problems while I was gone, K-9?"

"Negative, Master." The robot answered from the vast depths within. "Were there any problems with the retrieval?"

"No, and that's strange. Not that I'm questioning my good fortune." He grinned as the little robot scooted past him into the clearing. "Large village, the Dalek Space/Time Oscillation Bomb obviously in a place of honor in a central hut, but there were no guards to be seen anywhere."

"Master," the roughly dog shaped robot interrupted. "I am registering several lifeforms approaching this area at high speed."

"What?" The Doctor looked up and held the door to the TARDIS open. "They must have discovered their idol missing. Quickly, K-9."

"Aaaaaaaaaaa," said a nine year old girl as she shot past the Doctor, pulling a similarly aged boy behind her. The Doctor idly noted that the boy's feet weren't anywhere near the ground from the speed the girl was managing.

Another girl shot past. "RANMA! Shampoo right here! You change to dragon we fly into battle, yes?"

"Massive number of lifeforms approaching at high speed, Master," K-9 said as he trundled back into the TARDIS. "Shall I use a wide beam STUN setting?"

"PONY TAILED GIRL!" A ten year old boy in what appeared to be a kendo outfit shot through the still open door of the TARDIS, managing to trip over K-9 and send both tumbling inside.

With a sigh, the Doctor entered, closed the door in the face of a large crowd of enraged tribesmen, and looked at where his K-9 unit had one of his ear-antennae bent again. "No, I think that won't be necessary at the moment. I..."

A sound that was a combination of a wheeze and a grind, terminating in a thump began to sound.

"Oh dear," said the Doctor. It was going to be one of THOSE days. "Pardon me, get away from those controls."

The assembled tribesmen blinked as the little phone booth sort of contraption vanished into thin air. After a few minutes debate, they decided to get back to the village.

They'd at least chased those evil foreign developers off.

----July 4, 1987----

Akane inhaled, centering her "wa" and clearing her mind. She swept her arms through the circular motions she had been taught.

It had taken her years. She was confident now that she was finally ready.

"HADOKEN!" The eleven year old thrust her hands forward, every move being flawless.

Nothing. The target sat, untouched.

Ken sighed and clapped a hand to the younger girl's shoulder. "I wouldn't worry about it. You've got the hurricane kick down, you've got the basics down, you've almost got the shoryuken. You'll master the hadoken eventually."

Akane nodded. She would get it eventually. She wanted it NOW, though. She wanted to keep up with Ken, not be some wimp...

She didn't realize how much she resembled Ryu in her singleminded pursuit of a technique.

--November 14, 1754-----

"Know that I, Tatewaki Kuno, known as the Blue Thunder, shall ever carry thy wondrous beauty in mine heart."

"C'mon, Kuno, the Doctor is leaving." Ranma bowed to the few who had shown up, gratified that with the rebuilding and harvest that ANYONE had shown up. She couldn't wait to get out of these clothes and into something that didn't scratch so much.

Shampoo grinned, waved bye-bye, shouldered the really really nice pair of swords she'd stolen from and killed the evil warlord with, and whistled a jaunty little tune as she went inside the TARDIS.

"Ah, but how can I bear to part from my adoring public?" Never mind that the adoring public were largely a group of kids and a cat. His skills with a sword were well appreciated in this era and THAT was a powerful inducement to linger. If he'd thought about it, he would have remembered the ancient Japanese adage "Bimbo hima nashi" (poor people have no leisure) and that these were just all the people who could spare time to see him off.

"You really want to stay here and end up dying before you were born?" Ranma shrugged. "Suit yourself."

"Thou speaketh the truth, fair maiden" Kuno bowed to the villagers, then entered the booth a little behind Ranma. Maybe they would meet Musashi next!

"Kuno," said Ranma as she stopped at one of the doors in the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) to look at the laggard samurai.

"Yes, my love?"

"Not fair. Not a maiden. Not your love. Keep it up and I'll kick you outside the TARDIS doors while we're in transit."

"Ah, but my goddess..."

"I'm not kidding, Kuno!"

The Doctor looked on as Ranma threw her extra floppy hat on, adjusted her scarf, and went off to check the library to see if there were any more martial arts books that she hadn't read yet.

"K-9?" The Doctor tugged unconciously at his own scarf. Ranma, especially in girl form, was picking up entirely too many of his own mannerisms.

"Yes, Master?"

"Keep an eye on her. Oh, and have you found Ryouga?"

"Systems indicate that Ryouga is still on Deck 354, currently subsection D, Room 12."

"Lost in the botany section again?"

"Affirmative."

The Doctor thought a moment. "The TARDIS incorporates many biological systems into its circuits."

"Affirmative, Master." The mechanical dog extended a sensor probe which chatted briefly with the TARDIS itself.

"I was just wondering if the navigational computer could have been built with his DNA as a component. Hmmm. Just a thought."

K-9 trundled off to the library. Young Master/Mistress needed him. The translation effect of the TARDIS could only go so far, after all. Likewise, after Ranma had discovered the Teaching Machine, someone had to be there to coax her out of it.

Data relayed from one of the nodes to K-9's sensor units. Ryouga was still lost in the botany bay. Tatewaki was following the young Master/Mistress. Shampoo was currently located on Deck 15. Simple course extrapolation indicated that she was going to the pool.

The Doctor inspected the readings at the main control pillar. It looked like the next of the Dalek Space/Time Bombs would have ended up...

-------

Tatewaki Kuno was bored. Books and machines, that was all that was here in this vast Library within the TARDIS. Nothing to hold the attention of the samurai, particularly now that he had experienced firsthand an adventure in the era of the samurai.

He was still carrying the daisho he'd picked up there, taken from a samurai who'd fallen in service to his Lord, whose last whispered plea had been for someone to save his Master.

Kuno had. Well, the ponytailed girl and that Doctor person had assisted him. Even that confused Chinese girl had been of use. But as a result, Kuno proudly wore a true samurai's swords. All this at the bare age of ten!

The samurai's gaze found itself lingering on the odd device that his pony-tailed goddess had entered. Much like a coffin, it had accepted her slight form and enclosed it. Now, supposedly, the device gently nudged her mind and imparted to her great secrets of times long gone and times yet to come.

"K-9," came the Doctor's voice over the intercom. "Come to the control room, please, I could use your help with these coordinates."

"A-ffirmative. Master." The dog-shaped device trundled off again.

Kuno repressed a shudder. The dog-thing was so unnatural that he was rapidly developing an aversion to coming anywhere near it. On the other hand, Kuno smiled as he realized that he was alone with the girl who haunted his dreams. For all her claims of being a guy, Kuno knew better.

How horrifying, to be a girl that not only changed into a guy when splashed with hot water, but to have a curse that confused her mind so much that she regarded her male cursed form as normal and the female as the curse. What a shame. Kuno had sworn that he would free his pony-tailed goddess of this delusion.

The foreign woman wasn't helping, but she had been cured of her own curse by that odd malfunctioning "transmat" device, and this no doubt confused her.

The device used cartridges the size of a hardback book, which fit into slots in the lid of the device. Kuno read the one that was in the device now, which was simply "Martial Arts Special Techniques: Volumn II (Bootleg Copy)."

Kuno approved, sort of. It was that fire in the soul of young Ranma-chan that attracted him to her. Kuno's eye fell upon the racks of other cartridges then over to the other three empty slots in the machine.

It would be dishonorable for a samurai to take advantage of a maiden's inattention. Yet, would it not also be part of bushido to assist another warrior with the... shortcomings of her training?

Kuno looked over the various cartridges. Ah, just the thing. Clearly his fiery temptress did not know how to dress or act in proper feminine fashion. And here was another. Did not the pony-tailed girl often complain about her not understanding the various machines that they had encountered? Why, and here was one dealing with various traditional feminine skills such as cooking!

Not, Kuno thought, that such was needed. His Ranma had proven herself to be exceptional at all manner of traditional feminine pursuits!

Noting that all four slots were now filled, Kuno stepped back and nodded. She would thank him
for his insight and understanding. No doubt her own pride kept her from using the machine to rectify her own shortcomings in these areas.

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

A click and a light flashing off indicated that the first cartridge had finished. Kuno looked up from where he had been dusting his sword. Already? Hours had passed while he had been silently contemplating the happiness he would share with the pony-tailed girl.

Kuno pulled out the first cartridge and thought for a moment. Looking over the cartridges, he noted that some were flagged in red, others with yellow borders, and two were still wrapped in some flimsy clear packing material.

Kuno replaced the first cartridge with one of the yellow ones. Certainly the pony-tailed girl seemed to enjoy martial arts training. There was a typo on the label though, as it read "Marital Arts Training Vol III:Advanced Techniques."

Kuno shrugged. There had to be something else to do around here. He thought he'd reset the device so it would start at the beginning again, though the labels were quite confusing. Obviously not made in Japan.

K-9 returned, eight hours later (bringing Ryouga had taken much longer than it normally would have taken the little robot to manuever through the corridors.)

The robot immediately noticed the odd choices, but a moment of processing indicated that the Master/Mistress was now of an age where curiosity of such things would be expected.

---October 9, 1990----

A fourteen year old girl swept her hands through a set of motions.

"Draw strength from the earth," advised Ryu.

"Let it flow THROUGH you," added Ken. "Don't try to control it so much as gently direct it."

"HADOKEN!" Akane thrust her hands forward. The fireball slammed into the target.

Akane held the pose for a moment before she started shaking her hands. "Ouch ow owie, hot hot hot."

"You tried to force it," accused Ken.

"Overconfident," judged Ryu.

"Oh YEAH, you can talk!" Akane yelled at her fellow Japanese student, still wincing at the burns. "Mister 'It Only Took Me A Week To Learn The Hurricane Kick' thinks _I_ am overconfident?"

"You mastered the manuever yourself," said Ryu with a shrug. "It just took you a little longer to avoid the dizzy spells immediately afterwards."

"You've got the hadoken," said Ken gently to the little girl. "Now all you have to do is master it the way you do any other manuever."

"It's odd, though," Ryu said thoughtfully. "When me or Ken do the manuever, it's just a ki blast. We don't usually set the target on fire." Ken and Akane looked at each other, then looked towards the target which was still smouldering.

Akane blinked, then began to grin. "So I learned a new manuever BEFORE you two! Hah! Eat my dust!"

Ryu nudged Ken as his sparring partner walked closer. "Gracious winner, isn't she?"

"Ah, she's just used to being in our shadow. Give her a chance at the spotlight for once." Ken looked up to where Akane was now laughing maniacally. "Just in case though, let's cook her dinner to celebrate."

"I don't wanna cook," Ryu glanced up at his friend. "Oh, right. Better us than her."

"Just in time, too. Tomorrow she's supposed to go back and live in some place called Nerima..."

----October 10, 1987----

A phone booth-sized blue box briefly appeared in the street. A door opened, and a moment later a figure flew out of the doorway to impact upon one of the walls.

A young girl stood in the doorway, dusting her hands off. "Kuno! You do this to Ranma, you get hurt very very bad. Next time I give you enema with own bokken!"

"Kuno!" Ryouga came running out of the booth to stand in front of the kendoist. "How dare you take advantage of a helpless sweet girl like Ranma!"

Ranma stared at the two, then quietly closed the door. It would not be proper to slam it. Shampoo paused for a moment, then shrugged. No need to concern herself with those two.

"Pony-tailed girl," mumbled Kuno.

"How dare you..." Ryouga's head snapped up. That odd wheeze-thump noise sounded awfully familiar. He turned around to see the booth fading away. "No... but I..."

Realizing he was alone on the street with a dazed kendoist, Ryouga tried to figure out his next move. He brightened. All he had to do was find the Tendo Dojo! He could meet Ranma's mother, and eventually Ranma would show up and he'd apologize to her!

Nodoka Saotome came out of the house a few minutes later and wondered why there was an impact crater on the compound wall.

-----October 10, 1990-----

or...three years later.

Nodoka invited the latest arrival inside, half-bowing and directing her to the low table. Four girls had shown up so far, having served their apprenticeships.

She inspected the girls over the tea cup, giving all of them a chance to recover from the chill.

They'd come in slowly, each unsure of what to expect. One had immediately started appraising everything. The only bad point had come when they were deciding who got what room.

The girls were all somewhat nervous about each other. Nodoka decided they'd fidgeted enough.

"So, would you please introduce yourselves?"

The eldest, a seventeen year old girl who radiated a calm confidance, stood up first and bowed. "I am Kasumi Tendo, practitioner of the Ju-ken style of Hokuto Shin Ken."

The second oldest got up, a little bit less confidently, and eyed the group before bowing to Mrs Saotome. "I am Nabiki Tendo, huntress and artisan of the Nichieju." She tugged on her braid in an unconscious gesture.

The other two looked at each other and then one stood up. "Akane Tendo, uhm, Fierce Dragon School and, er, Anything Goes Martial Arts."

The last girl waited for Akane to sit before she stood. "Ukyou Kuonji's the name, okonomiyaki's the game. I'm the best there is at the art of okonomiyaki, with the exception of my dad. Spring of Drowned Bird People's my curse, but it cuts down on the bus fare."

Nodoka nodded. "Now, perhaps you can explain something to me? Two years ago someone came by to tell me that HE was Ranma's boyfriend and that they'd had a lover's tiff. Then ANOTHER boy came up and said essentially the same thing, but denied that the first boy was a boyfriend. Oh, and that he hadn't had a chance to talk to my DAUGHTER about their relationship."

Nodoka's smile looked strained. It had been strained for a long time now. "Tell me, girls, exactly what do you know about the person who left my care as my son?"

----An observatory on a foreign world------

"AAH!" The Doctor started falling from the metal latticework, where he would land in nice soft grass but after a fall of about 900ft. The grass wouldn't be nearly soft enough.

The Master's grin faltered as the Doctor only fell about ten feet before landing on the back of an enraged dragon.

"Ranma, NO! Don't kill him!" The Doctor managed to grunt out. Even though he was evil, the Master was still a Time Lord and killing him would be wrong. Eating him would be *really* wrong.

The energy discharge built up in the dragon's mouth and destroyed nearly twelve feet of the metal structure that the Master had been standing on a moment ago.

"Well, Doctor, it looks like you've won this round, but there'll be another time...(urk)" The Master turned to retreat but found something in his way.

"Shampoo no think so." Shampoo withdrew her sword and watched the Master go to his knees. He fumbled with a small device from his pocket. Her sword moved again, a razor sharp katana forged by a master swordsmith of Old Japan. When it met flesh the sword didn't slow.

"Does stupid Master know what he has done? Remember last time we meet? Remember how you use mind control device on Shampoo? Remember how you had me beat and humiliate airen? Airen who save Shampoo's life THREE TIMES now?"

The Master looked down to where his weapon and one of his hands were still falling. "I..."

"Airen try to get over it, but Shampoo see his eyes. Shampoo under mind control do very thorough job. AIREN FEAR SHAMPOO! He never be comfortable around Shampoo again, always see image of me hurting him and enjoying it! You use Shampoo because she 'barbarian', because she capable of killing unlike airen and Doctor." Shampoo held her sword ready. "Give one reason why Shampoo not remove you from food chain!"

"You're one of the heroes, you could never..."

Shampoo kicked out. "Airen and Doctor go behind building now. Shampoo not stupid and wait for you to come back and attack again and again until you kill us."

Shampoo sighed as she watched the figure spiral down into the meeting with the ground. Her airen and the Doctor were no dummies. They would figure out what she had done. On the other hand, picking a thermal grenade out of her pocket and dropping it, it never hurt to be sure.

She would have to endure a stern lecture from both the Doctor and her airen. (Unless airen was in Kasumi mode, in which case she would just give her The Look.) Shampoo shivered a little bit. Maybe she ought to get some hot water, just in case.

She could act meek and repetant and airen would wind down after awhile. The Doctor would too. Against The Look, Shampoo shuddered at the memory of the last time that had been used against her. The Look that said oh so clearly how disappointed and sad her airen was at her. The Look that wordlessly asked such things as "how can I ever trust you again" and "do you know how hurt I am that you would do such a thing" was a devastating weapon to Shampoo.

It had only taken a few moments of The Look the last time to get Shampoo to swear off any attempt to use magic/potions to influence her airen's thinking. The Look had proven capable of reducing a proud and capable Amazon warrior to a weeping and repetant wreck.

Shampoo REALLY hoped that airen wasn't in Kasumi mode when they started.

--------------June 9, 106 PA-----------------------

"There ya go, how's that?" Ranma stepped back from the table.

K-9 flexed his mechanical legs. "Diagnostics indicate all systems within assigned parameters. Correction: slight dysfunction in right rear extensor."

"A bit stiff, eh?" Ranma frowned and reached for a tool. "Hang on, it may be a faulty nerve connection. Hmmmm. How's it now?"

"Fully operational, Master."

"Oh, it was nothing really," Ranma grinned. "Just putting together a major upgrade using cyborg parts and keeping as much of the original systems as possible."

"This unit will be able to traverse a much greater range of environments and be of much greater use in a variety of situations." K-9 clicked a few times as he looked over his covering of fake fur and flesh, broken only by the mechanical "vest" that was actually an extension of his cyborg body and an odd gem between the eyes.

"Yup!" Ranma nodded happily. "Taser device in the bite, stun ray unchanged, laser for fine and distance work, but the real nice bit'll be the sonic beam."

"I was meaning to ask you about that," the Doctor said in a dry tone. "Really, don't you think all those weapons are a bit much?"

"Just wait'll the Daleks menace again," Ranma shrugged. "The sonic beam is meant for them or Cybermen, it'll just stun pure organics. Against those with refractory coating or really thick armor..."

"Yes, yes, I understand." The Doctor waved it off. "I'm quite concerned with your fascination with combat, though."

"I understand your viewpoint, Doctor, and share it to some extent." Ranma began putting away his tools. "Experience says though, you can't always solve things peacefully. Besides, compared to Shampoo..."

"Making use of that Teaching Machine a lot, are we?" The Gallifreyan time traveller looked over the tools that Ranma had. "Isn't that MY sonic screwdriver?" His point about Shampoo was well taken, though the Doctor was quite curious as to what would happen if Shampoo met Leela.

Was the universe ready for such a thing?

"Yes, now that Kuno isn't around to load me up with perverted datafiles. And no, I picked one up out of storage. Handy little thing."

The Doctor nodded, the device was exceedingly handy to have around. "Well, this was the last of the twelve Dalek Bombs. Are you ready to return to your own space/time?"

Ranma didn't look up for a moment, when he did, his expression was sad. "I guess so, Doctor. It's been fun, and we've done a LOT of good. Hell, we've saved peoples lives! I've even learned a lotta things...but I miss my family. Ucchan, 'Sumi, 'Biki, 'Dachi, even Akane, Ami, Kiima, Mako-chan... I still gotta marry one of 'em, but even with everything in that machine or with all we've seen I still don't see a solution to THAT tangle."

"No, and you managed to get yourself engaged on three other worlds and two alternate timelines," the Doctor pointed out with a smirk. "At least you've learned not to speak as freely as you have in the past."

Ranma shrugged. "Well, they ain't got access to a TARDIS, so I don't know how any of 'em can track me down, anyways. 'Cept maybe for Kiima and Saffron, but I don't think they could find me."

-----October 10, 1990------

"So..." Nodoka sipped her tea, her eyes half-lidded as she thought.

"Pardon me, Mrs Saotome," Kasumi inquired politely, "but why do you require that Ranma be a 'man among men' as you put it? I remember him as a skilled fighter, a fair student, and a pleasant brother, but..."

"I think what my dear sister is trying to ask," Nabiki started as Kasumi trailed off uncertainly. "If you wanted your son to be a 'man among men' (whatever THAT means) why did you entrust his care to your husband?"

Nodoka considered the four girls and pulled a sheet of paper out of the sleeve of her kimono.

Kasumi took it, read it, turned pale and handed it to Nabiki. Akane snatched the paper away from her sister and started puzzling out the kanji scribbled on the document while the remaining two girls read over her shoulders.

"WHAT?!" Ukyou started reading again, sure that she had misread something.

"Pardon me?" Nabiki looked up at Nodoka with a flat gaze. "And what, may one inquire, is the standard for being a 'man among men'?"

Akane looked up with a nauseous expression. The handprint at the bottom...how young was Ranma when he agreed to this?

"Seppuku? For not being manly enough?" Ukyou's eyes widened as she remembered. "Oh my kami, the curse!" Ukyou oofed as Akane sent an elbow driving into her midsection.

"I already know about that." Nodoka sighed. "Mister Hibiki explained to me that my daughter was under a curse so that she turned into a boy when splashed with hot water. More, that this curse apparently caused my daughter to think she was actually my son. It was one of the few things that he and Mister Kuno were able to agree on."

"Oh my."

"No! The curses don't work like that. Not at all!" Nabiki shook her head. She didn't want little brother to die. There were bets still riding on which girl would eventually win. Ukyou was a clear favorite at 2:1 odds, with Shampoo and herself coming in just a little later.

"Oh, so he's manly despite being a girl some of the time?"

"Well..." Nabiki wasn't sure if this woman was one of those who could detect lies or not. "He's... quite... strong."

"We were able to keep up with some of the schoolwork while on the road," Kasumi volunteered. Mostly that had been her doing. "We were able to study at odd times during the training."

"He's very polite," Ukyou put in, not adding that this would be on the rare occasions when he wasn't putting his foot in his mouth.

"And when we were bathing he didn't even look at us," Akane put in, neglecting to mention that was because of the pounding he had gotten when he did look.

The four girls shrunk back a little as a tear formed and trickled its way down Nodoka's cheek. "I... see. So dearest has failed and my son is not manly."

"Huh?" Four girls stared at the woman across from them and wondered exactly what the subtitles were running, since they quite obviously weren't having the same conversation.

"Well, thank you. We shall continue this conversation later." Nodoka rose to go busy herself in the kitchen.

Ukyou blinked. "So, to be a 'man among men' he can't be polite?"

"Look at who she married," Nabiki managed after a moment. "If that's her definition of manly..."

"Oh my. Poor Ranma." Kasumi sighed, she had been SO looking forward to seeing her little brother again. "He ISN'T very much like his father, is he?"

"I wonder what Ken's doing now?" Akane mused. She hoped that she didn't have to get Mrs Saotome's approval to date Ken (providing he could be persuaded to see her as something besides a little girl.) It didn't sound like he would be 'manly' enough for her.

Nabiki mentally revised the odds of Akane being Ranma's choice. It sounded like she already had a boyfriend.

----March 10, 1992------

The tournament continued. Vanilla combined her Amazonian Wu Shu with Anything Goes, because the latter went with everything.

Dowel was the strongest, biggest, meanest, most powerful (physically) woman of the village.

Dowel fought with passion and impressive strength. Vanilla countered with efficiency and coolly thinking out each step and motion. Earth vs water. Hardly anyone thought Dowel would win.

As Dowel was launched from the Challenge Log, the majority was proven correct.

An Elder's voice raised up in a call for a halt and silence fell upon the cheering assembly. Most of whom had been cheering because the feast was the next event scheduled.

The noise was a mixture of a wheeze and a grind, terminating in a thump. It repeated, slightly louder with each repetition.

Cologne grinned as a blue rectangular shape began to form near the edge of the crowd. She pogoed over to the door area, waiting.

Two figures came out, and Cologne raised an eyebrow. "So, Doctor, you've finally been landed by some girl? Huang Xi would have been SO disappointed after you didn't choose her."

"But I never defeated her in combat..."

"That game of chess, back in, oh my, must have been 1859. Where does time fly?"

Ranma grinned, enjoying the sight of the Doctor being hit with this sort of thing. After all, it happened to Ranma all the time.

"This isn't my child, anyway. He mentioned Amazons, so I thought..."

Cologne looked over the figure dressed in such close approximation of the Doctor, including the extraordinarily long scarf.

"Well, the girl you dropped off on your last visit is doing well." Cologne inclined her head towards where Vanilla was approaching.

"That looks like the girl in the healing capsule, Doctor." The shorter version of the Doctor noted aloud. "But we haven't visited the Amazons."

"Must be sometime in my future, their past," the Doctor raised both eyebrows. "One of the odd things about time travel that crops up every so often."

The pale girl looked over Ranma briefly and seemed to recognize something. "(Stranger male, YOU I challenge!)"

"Huh?!" Ranma dodged as the girl's foot was now occupying the space his head had a moment ago.

"(Show me what sort of techniques you've picked up, travelling with the Time Lord!)" Vanilla spun low into a footsweep.

Ranma seemed to hang momentarily in the air. "(Well...okay.)" He bounced lightly, went into a tumble and landed on top of the TARDIS. "(Behold a technique so baffling that even the Cybermen were confused by it! Doctor-fu Special Attack!)"

"Not THAT again," said the Doctor with a groan.

Vanilla found herself blinded as the end of Ranma's scarf wrapped itself around her head.

"(Feel the terror of the well-made English crochet work as it keeps you pinned. And now for the final attack of the Doctor-fu style!)"

"You really shouldn't do this, you know." The Doctor shook his head, looking at the ground.

"(Special Attack:) K-9 Stun Her."

A sonic beam rippled the air slightly from within the TARDIS. Vanilla collapsed.

There was scattered applause from the assembled Amazons. Ranma bowed.

Shampoo stepped out of the TARDIS, wearing an odd body armor. "Great Grandmother!"

"So this is where you've been, eh?" Cologne's eyes crinkled in amusement. "I should have known. No doubt you trailed your future husband in secret, then joined up with him when he encountered the Doctor here."

"Yes, Great Grandmama!" Shampoo nodded happily. "Shampoo learn many things. Shampoo seek out new life, and new civilizations, kicking major butt where no Amazon ever go before!"

"Good, Shampoo, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed yourself."

Vanilla dusted herself off, gave an unreadable look to Ranma, then approached the First Prize in order to announce the commencement of the Feast.

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

"Don't tell me that Looney Tunes was serious?" Ukyou stopped and stared at the crowd in front of Furinkan High School.

"Was he trying to do some Amazon challenge, you suppose?" Nabiki smirked, eyeing the crowd before her. Nope, no challenge.

Akane covered her eyes and grumbled. "Look. If we stop and try to reason our way through this crap, we'll be late, right?"

"Right," Ukyou looked at the clock.

"Maybe," conceded Nabiki.

"So, if we show 'em what we're really capable of, maybe they'll NOT try this tomorrow." Akane silently condemned herself as an optimist.

"Worth a shot, I suppose." Ukyou drew her big spatula.

"I guess," Nabiki flicked her hands out, now filled with playing cards.

"Akane Tendo, I love you, this is for you!"

"Ukyou Kuonji, I shall defeat all obstacles to our love!"

"Akane!" "Ukyou!"

Nabiki blinked, still in her attack stance. They were all ganging up on Ukyou and Akane? They were all ganging up on Akane and Ukyou...They were ALL ganging up on Ukyou and Akane!!! They were... ignoring... her?!

"How dare you!" Various card-shuriken began to slam into boys. "What's the matter with you wieners! What're you trying to say, that my sister and the pizza chef are hot stuff and I'm NOT!!!"

"Oh, what fair dawn brings these goddesses..."

"HADOKEN!"

"FLOUR BOMB!"

"BLACKJACK!"

Burned, covered in white flour, and with his bokken cut in two places by flying cards, Kuno watched the two goddesses (and some unnamed third girl) run into the school. They merely played hard to get, he knew.

Someday, though, he would be reunited with his pony tailed goddess, and then he could have all of his goddesses together. For was he not Tatewaki Kuno, the samurai who had saved an entire village and the life of a minor noble! How could he deny any of them the manliness that was Tatewaki Kuno!

"Ah, pony-tailed goddess, how I miss you."

------

Ranma sneezed, then nodded in apology to the watching girls. Amazons, they had trained all their life in the arts of combat. They were used to weak and stupid males. They were all relatively sure that they weren't looking at someone who fit the first two categories.

"So, son-in-law, do you think you can do it?" Cologne sat back and watched the Doctor's protege at work.

"Just keep cold water away from me, and I'll be fine." Ranma fiddled with the old tractor engine, humming a little tune he'd picked up adventuring in that odd city with the giant robots that ran on extension cords.

"What does cold water have to do with your talents?" Cologne looked to the Time Lord for an explanation.

"Ranma...had an accident with a device that directly stimulates memory, a Teaching Machine that was experimental in 2796. They hadn't gotten all the bugs out, but it GENERALLY works as they intended."

"An 'accident'? I'm not sure I could call it that," Ranma grumbled as he began to replace parts on the old tractor.

"I don't honestly think that Tatewaki intended to do that to you." The Doctor shrugged and turned back to Cologne. "One of his friends put him through a closed loop cycle and switched tapes during a learning session. This had the effect of some behavior modification, as well as causing him some...mental problems. He's mainly over the worst of it."

"Meaning that I became obsessive about learning, about machines, and that I've got some reflexive behavior that can be pretty embarrassing." Ranma started to hook the wiring back up. "It's especially bad when I'm a girl. I'm still me, it's just..."

"That the cursed form personality elements have been emphasized," the Doctor finished. "It can be quite bizarre watching him turn into a girl and then start worrying about what she's wearing and whether it's appropriate for the situation. He's quite talented as a mechanic, electronics, robotics, and the like. She's a gourmet cook who abhors violence. His dragon form remains as prone to excesses as ever. I was still hoping we could find a cure."

"That does sound like it could cause a few problems," agreed Cologne.

"If I ever catch that Kuno!" Ranma slapped the hatch down. "It should work fine now, just be sure to strain the alcohol before you fill the tank."

"It's a gas engine," began one of the amazons.

"Not anymore. Just use a high grade of alcohol," Ranma nodded. "Minor adjustment while I was doing it. Figured you could get alcohol up here a lot easier than gas. The problem with the engine was that one of your rods had come apart. I just used a molecular coldweld to fix it. Heck, anybody could'a done that!"

"You see," the Doctor said to Cologne.

She nodded. Ranma was a fair fighter, but he offered something beyond simple strength to the village. A strong fighter was always welcome. "So, how good is he, actually?"

"Actually?" The Doctor smirked and looked over at where K-9 was inspecting some stairways, enjoying the freedom of having four legs. "I've seen him cobble together a missile defense system out of an old PC, a flashlight, an old VW beetle, and a roll of duct tape."

"It only worked for five minutes," said Ranma, waving it off. "It only had to deal with four missiles." He knew he should have tried to get more duct tape.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow at Cologne. Cologne met his eyebrow and raised him another.

"A missile defense system out of spare parts?" Cologne grinned. Shampoo HAD to be the one to bring this prize into the tribe. Strong fighters would ALWAYS be welcome. Smart fighters were also sought after. Smart strong fighters, though, such fighters were to be dragged kicking and screaming into the tribe if it came down to such measures. She might have to marry him off to more than one Amazon just to be sure there would be a fair number of children...

Unnoticed by the Doctor, two Amazons descended from one Huang Xi were in the process of sneaking aboard the TARDIS. They would honor their ancestor and succeed where she had failed. Ling Ling and Lung Lung gave each other a high five as they moved deeper into the odd craft.

Completely ignoring the chill of some dire fate upon him, the Doctor continued telling Cologne of the adventures he'd had since last visiting the Amazons.

"Ranma, why you keep looking at sky?" Vanilla tried to edge closer to her fiance, having heard how skittish he could get. Slowly, she cautioned herself, he was used to how Akane and some of the others bullied him. Nabiki had sold her a lot of the details, after it had turned out that her blurry memories of a boy/girl saving her from some tube device were about the fiance that Nabiki had sold her. Best to keep it light and friendly for now.

"Oh, me and the Doctor kinda visited Phoenix Mountain a few years back. We were in a sorta hurry so we didn't stop here, though we'd planned on it. Well, this girl..."

Vanilla raised an eyebrow slightly. "You not going to tell me you ended up engaged to one of the Bird People?"

"Well..."

Vanilla sighed. "Who is? Is not boy is it?"

"No. Her name is Kiima," Ranma reluctantly answered. "I'm really hoping they forget that crap about my girl side marrying their prince. I REALLY hope they forget about that."

Vanilla merely looked vaguely puzzled. Shampoo winked and nodded, remembering how many problems Ranma tended to attract.

"Oh, there is one thing I need to mention to you fiancees," the Doctor looked from Vanilla to Shampoo. Cologne followed as she was their Elder.

"His male personality is very intellectually oriented, he seems to have at least partly fixated on (ahem) me as a role model following the accident. His female side, on the other hand..."

"Is good housekeeper," said Shampoo with a nod. "Doubt that TARDIS has ever been that clean before. But has mainly gotten fixed now. Well, mostly."

"Short term memory is the same. Skills are different, reactions are different," the Doctor shook his head as he looked back towards where the boy was checking over a small radio. "One more thing, we were on a Juraian space station in the future, where the Daleks were taking over..."

------flashback-------

"We have a video feed!"

The Doctor looked over at the monitor that the tech had gotten working. "Oh dear. He must have gotten splashed."

A female Ranma ran past the monitor, screaming something about couldn't we just give peace a chance?

"EX-TERMINATE! EX-TERMINATE! EX-TERMINATE!" Dozens of Daleks rolled past the video monitor.

A low growl was heard from off-camera, followed by a bone-rattlingly deep roar. Dalek blasters began firing somewhere nearby.

Another sound, crackling and thunder, reverberated in the space station. There was the sound of something exploding, followed by several sounds that were vaguely reminiscent of the sort of thing you'd hear if one were to stick several aluminum cans inside an industrial strength blender and set for "puree."

More Daleks (or were they the same ones?) rolled by, going in the opposite direction. "E-VACUATE! E-VACUATE! E-VACUATE!"

"That's odd," the tech glanced down at his instruments. "I'm detecting odd power fluctuations from the control room."

The station shuddered. It shuddered again, fire alarms and various klaxons wailing.

"Hull breech in bulkhead 32, fires in 33 and 31, power losses to 30 through 9. Did the Daleks detonate a bomb?" The Tech stared up at the now lifeless monitor.

------end flashback--------

"The exterior hull looked like it had a bad case of acne, pimples everywhere. The Daleks have exceedingly thick armor, and are almost invulnerable to normal weapons, yet there were pieces of Dalek strewn everywhere." The Doctor shuddered as he remembered the carnage. It had been awful.

Cologne looked thoughtful. "So when he's in his cursed woman form, she is a gentle creature but an extreme emotion such as being cornered can bring about the transformation to dragon."

Shampoo looked curiously at Cologne. "This is so. The dragonform is wild and largely uncontrollable, subject to extremes of emotion. Normally he just turns into his oldest sister when he goes into his cursed form. When he wants to or needs to, he takes the dragonform. His personality changes also, depending on what shape he's in at the time."

"That is a scary thought," agreed Vanilla. "A very scary thought."