With little else to do one Ranma Saotome steeled his nerves as he balanced herself atop a pointed rock beneath a torrential waterfall. Now twenty-three and considerably more in-control of both his Ki and emotions Ranma concentrated on sustaining the set of vacuum blades that split the crushing wall of water above his head. As easy as this sounds the amount of concentration it took to hold the blades in position and the constant energy and concentration necessary were astronomically high. Such is the life of a martial artist, or so he thought as he nudged a blade out wider to keep the mist far enough away from activating his curse.
With almost eight years with his wonderful condition of being one of two aqua-transsexuals on the planet Ranma was getting used to the idea that there really was no cure. Not that he would admit it to anyone but it had almost become an essential part of being 'himself'. Without the curse Ranma would cease to be Ranma. He would often justify it away with something combat related such as "I would lose the adaptability of having a form specialized for speed!" or "the psychological power a beautiful woman has over a male opponent is not to be underestimated!" etc etc etc. Deep down Ranma knew that the curse had become an integral part of his being and the near perfect balance of male and female Ki in his system reflected this mindset.
Ironically enough it was this acceptance of what he, and sometimes she, was was what had set him out into the wilds for a second time. After three years of constant, if sometimes entertaining, chaotic abuse Ranma had had enough. The failure of a wedding had simply pushed a little too hard and with the loss of, what at the time, had been a cure, Ranma left to do some serious soul searching in the form of voluntarily locking herself in female form. What he, she at this time, had found was true acceptance of the female aspect of herself. This was by no means a simple feat and was accomplished slowly over a period of just over a year. In this time she traveled all around central Asia picking up new and interesting techniques to add to her already formidable arsenal. These techniques were sought out and custom tailored to her female form: weapons training to compensate for her shorter reach and energy manipulation techniques focusing mainly upon redirecting and absorbing energy from the environment or opponent.
Pulling the blades closer together Ranma allowed the splashing water to hit his body and activate the curse. With a soft blue glow, Ranma cycled the energy of the falling water into vortexes in the large pool bellow the falls. As a female the technique came almost naturally and was much easier to control than in her male aspect. Sighing with the release of mental pressure Ranma continued into her ninth hour of intense Ki control.
The combination of world experience without the negative influence of her father, the concentration and control afforded by her new techniques and the final acceptance of her female aspect led to one changed Ranma Saotome returning to the Tendo compound at twenty years of age. The following months were the longest, most tiring months in the history of Ranma Saotome. With Ranma voluntarily being female the past two years had led her to pick up small mannerisms that carried over to her male side such as the rather embarrassing penchant to tuck lose hair behind her right ear or cock a hip if made to stand still for a certain period of time. These immediately began to grate on the nerves of one ex-fiancé to the extent that the Tendo home became unliveable. Ukyo's restaurant had become a chain in the greater Tokyo area and even enamoured as she was Ukyo was very rarely seen away from her business. Cologne made him sign a special contract that officially nulled the Kisses of death and marriage in favour of a war-time alliance treaty of all things. With the promise to aid the Amazons should war break out in the Bayankala Mountain range secured, they backed down not wanting to anger the God-Slayer. In fact, once Ranma moved out of the Tendo's and into an apartment of his own the only annoyance was Ryoga and the occasional Private investigator looking for one "Pig-Tailed Goddess". That had been almost three years ago.
With a final slow, deep breath, Ranma slowly stood from her seated position and directed the flow of water to set her down on the churning surface of the pool as she used her newfound Ki manipulation to spread her weight across the water and pad her way back to her jacket and slippers. On her way she stopped to top up a pair of canteens from stuff space by forcing tendrils of water up and into the waiting spouts. As she reached the shore she used a sharp blast of Ki to dry herself off and threw on her old black leather jacket over her signature red and black silks. The outfit had changed slightly and the red top was now much more form fitting and Ranma had taken to wearing chest bindings while in both forms as the added width in male form compensated for the added breasts in female form and kept her supported without loss of oxygen and minimum loss of masculinity. While the outfit had not changed greatly the body within it had grown slightly. Ranma would never be classified as tall as his male from was 5'8 with his female aspect only being 5'2. The slight increase in height over the years had been a major point for Ranma but it was a constant, if slight, blow to her pride that she was shorter than literally everyone she knew, baring a certain ninja who may or may not be a dwarf.
Looking up at the unfamiliar sky, Ranma's hand strayed to her throat and one of the recent, unwelcomed additions to her wardrobe in the form of a seamless metal band around her neck inlaid with a pair of translucent blue crystals set across from each other on either side of her neck. This collar was mirrored by a pair of heavy bracers and a pair of anklets all of which housed two of the translucent crystals. In addition to dropping her in the middle of nowhere, Pig-Boy had managed to clamp these things on her in the guise of training weights. Even with years of experience Ranma's thirst for self-improvement and training was still an all too exploitable weakness. With a small huff of annoyance Ranma set off in the direction of the smoke she had spotted earlier in the day from the top of the falls.
Having arrived just before Ranma's iridescent aura and decent from the falls, a soldier dressed in deep reds and browns lowered the cloth across its mouth as it slid its helmet from its head whispering a single word: "Valkyrur."