another The Bet fic, you have been warned...
there were enough reactions to this snippet to flesh it out a bit...
email@example.com took this over, but it's been almost a year since i saw anything. Hence putting this slight revision up. The only thing i have seen is it's inclusion in Skysaber's Mirrors Multiplied. Arigato, Skysaber-san!
disclaimer: char tm R.Takahashi, Marvel comics, Gainax, & a lot of other people. only the fanfic treatment can be blamed on Metroanime@mindspring.com
SPRING OF DROWNED HERO?
The abandoned timeline was the result of a cheat, a cheat from a deity that had "dirty tricks" in his listed portfolio.
Would it really surprise anyone who knew either of the tricksters involved, if one of these timelines lasted just a bit longer than would be expected normally?
He was a Chinese villain, he was powerful, and he was more than a little schizoid. He had known of Jusenkyo, Phoenix Mountain, the Musk Dynasty, and even the Nichieju for quite some time. And while he might be a supervillain, he *was* capable of learning.
Why conquer the United States when there was an unexploited power base MUCH closer to home? His new advisor was proving his worth, and was quite easy to pay off.
The first stage was vengeance, but would also lay the groundwork for further actions. Seperation of some of his key opponents from their groups weakened those groups. Then, when his work here was done, he could strike out from an improved power base against those weakened groups.
The nature of Jusenkyo caused it to pull the unique to the region and thence into their depths, to drown them and form the template that would be part of the Jusenkyo curse. Even a duck could drown, given the nature of the magic of Jusenkyo.
The Hulk had been the first, the strongest of his many foes. Despite his rage and power, he had proven unable to escape the magic of Jusenkyo.
Others had followed, and now had perished the one that the Mandarin had most admired and also had hated. Admired because the individual had no superhuman powers as such, but would always find a way to win despite the odds. Hated because he was a symbol of a foreign power, a foreign power that had been party to the opium trade that had led to the Boxer Rebellion and thence to the falsely named People's Revolution.
The Mandarin had no problem with the concept of respecting an enemy. It was easy to underestimate this old soldier, but he'd win if you played that game. Only by keeping his new ally a secret and in reserve had he at last tricked the soldier into entering Jusenkyo.
Which to conquer first? The Musk were heavily depleted, though their leader was quite powerful by all accounts. The forces of Phoenix Mountain would be difficult to conquer but also the most rewarding when it was done. The Nichieju Amazons would fight him tooth and nail.
"You could ally yourself with the Musk," suggested the Mandarin's advisor. "They could be betrayed later and have the most reason to hate the Amazons. With both of their powerbases in your control, you could then turn your attention to those of the Mountain."
"You reason well," the Mandarin admitted. "Very well, and your reward will be great if you do as I direct."
Happosai tapped the explosive collar around his neck. "I don't suppose removing this will fall into that reward?"
"NO!" Ranma sailed away from the panda, heading down to a rendevous with a spring. Alternating sensations of hot and cold flashed through his body as he hit the bottom and looked up at the sparkling surface above him.
A sensation besides that of the hot/cold flaring penetrated. Something hard was lying beneath him. On an impulse, Ranma grabbed the object, and pried it loose from the surrounding mud. A moment later he broke the surface.
"A shield?" An odd circular design with a star in the center. He noted how incredibly light the object was and pushed a length of blonde hair away from his face.
Ranma froze for a moment then grabbed a strand of hair to examine it. Blonde?
"Oh, too bad sir, you fall in Spring Of... Drowned...Girl?" The Guide blinked. The pool was steaming? Sir was still a sir? The Guide looked over the figure stepping out of the pool and decided that he might want to take a dip later.
"Oyaji?" Ranma looked over at the panda. "What have you done NOW!?"
Genma in his panda form had worked up quite an appetite running away from Ranma. His son was a LOT faster, a better acrobat than ever, and had a longer reach. Genma, on the other hand, had a lot more experience running away and hiding. Upon seeing a burbling in one spring, he approached. Maybe it was something good to eat?
The water exploded upwards, revealing a green humanoid figure nine feet in height, and was composed largely of bulging muscles.
This huge figure looked at the panda, whose eyes had gone to the size of dinner plates upon seeing this mammoth figure appear out of nowhere.
"Ryouga....SMASH!" Ryouga's fist struck the ground where a panda had stood just a moment ago, causing a large number of bamboo poles to fall out of a large number of springs.
Pandas are not known for great speed. One was currently making a best effort to set a new speed record for the species.
Behind Genma, Ryouga looked at his green skin for a moment before howling his rage to the heavens. "RANMA! This your fault!"
Ryouga flexed his legs, leaping clear from the spring. Unfortunately (by his reckoning) this caused him to overshoot the panda by roughly four miles, at which point he was lost again.
"I don't understand this. Why is oyaji's curse so much different than mine? Cold water turns him into a panda, hot water turns him back to normal, while I can't change back." Ranma didn't mention the odd feelings and flashes of memories that weren't his own. He knew better than to expect sympathy or help from his father and his one talk with the Guide alone had revealed that the man knew very little about cures or why the Springs worked the way they did.
Not that it mattered. The Guide was not quite sure WHY this curse acted so differently, though he had noted that some of the pools only worked on ONE individual at a time. As long as someone was cursed and alive by these springs, they would not work that way on another. It was believed that the large green fellow who had jumped out of Jusenkyo was from one of the other pools like that.
"Sirs be very careful here. Today is fighting tournament. Is only time that outsiders allowed into village area since conquerer come many year ago."
Ranma's blue eyes scanned the crowds. "I hope they've got some bigger clothes I can buy. My regular clothes are way too damn tight."
"Growf?!" The panda made a beeline for a certain table.
Ranma started towards the pile of food but then shook his head. No, that was too much like stealing. It wouldn't be right for him to do that. Besides, those looked like food booths over there.
The girls fighting on the log finished, and Ranma finished analyzing the fighting styles involved. He frowned as he realized that he had done so far more quickly than he had before he had fallen into that spring. What kind of monster was he becoming?
"HEY YOU! Why do you let your panda eat the prize!" Shampoo stalked up and looked over the stranger. She wasn't NEARLY as angry as she was acting though. The thought running through her head was that she was being denied one feast but had a MUCH tastier one in her sights. And it would last longer too. She licked her lips as she studied the form before her. Oh YEAH.
Ranma blinked as the Guide translated. A surge of the old confident Ranma bubbled up from the confusion. With a glare at his father, he challenged the girl. What he couldn't understand was why this girl immediately did a cartwheel and sounded so happy about it.
Shampoo smirked as she got to her end of the log. This male would be defeated, and she would have him...work off...the debt to her. After the past few days, she felt she DESERVED a reward, and here the Heavens had provided. A pity he was too big and muscular to be fast, as if he had been a true martial artist, this could have been amusing.
It didn't quite work out that way.
Shampoo ran forward, twin maces held ready. Ranma ducked, spun, and an Amazon girl went flying.
"Great grandma?" Shampoo was wondering why the Elder was performing the Splitting Cat Hairs technique. Then she realized the entire village was doing it. "Oh, I really don't feel too good right now."
"Lie down and listen, Shampoo. The 'Master' and his pet have arrived, so this is mainly for their benefit." Cologne stepped back and raised her voice, which caused Shampoo to wince with every word. "My great-granddaughter has been defeated by an outsider male who has fled the village. In accordance with ancient Amazon Law, Shampoo will now pursue that male and give him the Kiss Of Marriage so that he can be inducted into the tribe. All is in accordance with the ancient laws as allowed us by the Mandarin."
Happosai turned his attention to his Master, the Master who allowed him to...indulge many of his tastes. Happosai no longer wore the collar. It wasn't necessary anymore. "Are you sure about this?"
Forgetting the lesson learned long ago, the Mandarin nodded. "It is Phoenix Mountain and its secrets that concern me. Besides, it is only one Amazon, and it is only one man. Let them have their hope, the more amusing when it is crushed."
"So, oyaji, this is the place?" Ranma settled his new clothes around himself and still tried to get used to his new height and mass. It was alarming that he *still* seemed to be increasing in size. He had passed 6'0" and had more than doubled his mass since being cursed. "Tendo Anything Goes dojo, to challenge the dojo use rear entry and ring bell?"
[This is the place.] A sign popped up. [We can rest here.] Genma silently added that until Ranma stopped acting so weird, or could get rid of this bizarre curse, he couldn't go face Nodoka, or...gulp...the katana.
"Well, let's go then." Ranma stopped. "Oyaji, if I find out that this 'honor pledge' was you and your buddy sitting in a bar one night..."
[No, nothing like that!] The panda tried to hide that he was sweating. When had Ranma gotten observant?!
Marller was walking the streets of Dis, a large city in Hel. She wasn't expecting the snowball that knocked her over.
Nabiki walked out the door, took a long look at this powerfully built blonde gaijin and decided that her father was MUCH more well travelled than she had thought.
"Hi there! Are you Ranma?" Nabiki grinned and looked down shyly. She heard American men liked that sort of thing. She was very glad that she was wearing a kimono that flattered her to the extent that this one did. Not that the traditionally minded Kasumi or the (are you sure you're not lesbian) Akane would be interested in this guy. That meant HER. Nabiki Tendo, most feared woman in Furinkan (other than Junko) who had a reputation as mercenary. (Junko, on the other hand, had a reputation that REALLY scared people.)
Nabiki blushed a little. She'd repeatedly gotten interested in guys, only to find they were after Akane, wanted to borrow money, or were just after her homework. In each case she'd had her revenge by then bleeding their finances dry. Nobody wanted her, and she'd envisaged a cold (but profitable) future for herself as a single businesswoman. Now Salvation had arrived, and he was a HUNK!
Nabiki suppressed the urge to climb to the peak of the roof, pull a megaphone out of nowhere and start proclaiming that at last Springtime had come for Nabiki Tendo. Too cliche, also a bit premature.
"Yes, may I come in?" Ranma blinked. Why was this girl turning all red and staring at the ground? Why was she grinning like that? Hmmm. Girls. One of those Great Mysteries that Pop had refused to speak of, other than to declaim them as weak and often mean. And to talk about the duties of the martial artist to protect them, but mainly he focussed on how weak though vindictive they could be.
"Oh...my." Kasumi stopped at the doorway. Though young, this Ranma wore an aura about him. Confident, strong, mature beyond his years. There was also a confused, frightened, look that briefly surfaced. Sure, he was a gaijin, but Kasumi had read about them. She'd have to determine which stories were true. Some couldn't be true, as he *could* apparently speak Japanese quite well.
"Saotome?" Soun looked around. There was just this gaijin weightlifter (too muscular to be a proper martial artist) and a panda. Where was his old buddy Genma?
"How depressing, a ...boy?" Akane stuck her head out the door, and immediately went into the "bird frozen by the gaze of the snake" impression. "Dad, you didn't tell me you knew any Americans." He had to be an American, he was tall, blonde and blue-eyed. All Americans were tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. Well, except for some of their movie stars.(1)
"I'm Ranma Saotome," Ranma repeated. "May I come in?"
"Certainly," Kasumi bowed slightly and stepped to the side, unblocking the door. She'd have to tell him to leave the shoes at the entry, though he spoke Japanese well there was no telling how many customs he hadn't learned of.
Akane came out and began trying to remember something of her English classes. What would she have to tell this boy so that he didn't commit too many faux pas?
Nabiki latched herself onto an arm. He was tall, muscular, and since he was American that meant he didn't have any of those traditional Japanese ideas as to what a wife/girlfriend was allowed to do. Having decided that she wanted this, Nabiki then proceeded to secure, mark, and defend her property. "Gee, Daddy, you know this doesn't seem like a bad idea after all."
Akane decided to practice her English on the stranger. He spoke Japanese without a trace of an accent, but she could see where having someone to practice on would give her English test scores a boost. Besides, an American couldn't possibly understand all the Japanese customs. She'd have to help steer him away from some of those problems. She remembered some of the sample dialogues. They should be OK. "What kind of credit cards do you accept?"
"Dinner will be ready shortly," Kasumi said as Ranma passed her, a slight blush coming to her cheeks as she noticed the way the slightly tight pants rode on the younger boy. She was nineteen, after all, and not above noticing a well-tuned male form. Though American men were supposedly all idiotic sex-crazed maniacs with power tool fixations. She'd have to hide the power tools.
"-The pencil is yellow.-"
Nabiki was busy getting in the way of Akane, who kept trying to throw a few English phrases in Ranma's direction. Akane hated boys, why was she trying to talk to HER Ranma? She didn't want this to be ANOTHER boy she was interested in to end up being part of her sister's fan club.
"I trip you had a hope nice, Mister Ranma." Akane had given up on the "sample dialogues" as she couldn't think of one that had a practical use. "Home you shoes before enter doorway remove."
Ranma wondered what the girl in the yellow gi was talking about. The words were familiar but the sentences didn't make any sense. "Huh?"
"Maybe I should ask him to spar," Akane mused in Japanese. If he had spent years training in the art, he might be pretty good at it. This would be a much more serious test of her skills than the schoolyard brawl.
"Maybe you shouldn't," shot back Nabiki, leading Ranma inside. "I'm sure Ranma would welcome the chance to relax a little." Nabiki thought about toweling off those broad shoulders, running her hands along the obviously firm musculature, and smiled. Then she started thinking about introducing the American to Japanese bathing customs. It would only be proper for his fiancee to scrub his back, right?
Soun frowned and ignored the bizarre sound of Nabiki giggling. "How did Genma...why that sly dog." Soun looked over at the panda. "He married Nodoka, but had a child by some American? Why that..."
The panda was shaking his head wildly and pulled out a sign. [That's not it!]
"He always was popular with the ladies, that Genma. So he's branched out to foreigners..."
[You've got the wrong idea!] The panda spun the sign around. [Well, I AM rather popular with the ladies, aren't I?]
"And he's gotten braver, considering that his wife has that katana. Kind of admirable at his age."
[Well, I wouldn't do anything like that very often.] The panda seemed to be thinking about something. [Though I do remember there was a time...]
Soun continued to ignore the signs and entered his home, closing the door behind him. The panda waited a few minutes, then decided to go around back. He really wanted to find some hot water.
"So, Ranma, I don't understand all this about your curse, but it doesn't seem so bad. Certainly not like your father's curse, at least." Soun smiled. Nabiki had all but grafted herself to his arm. While Akane still protested the whole concept of an arranged marriage, Kasumi was getting the formal tea set out.
Nor did the Tendo patriarch miss the way Kasumi's gaze lingered over the boy's tight clothing. It was quite obvious that Ranma's clothes would need letting out, and there was Kasumi already measuring up the boy for a new pair of pants. How efficient of her!
"I am a little concerned, however. You seem more like a weightlifter than a regular martial artist, and (ahem) I must confess that I hadn't expected Genma's son to be... blonde."
Akane pounced on the opportunity. This boy had been practicing martial arts all his life? All the better for a sparring partner. No way he could be in her class, of course. "Say, Ranma, I'm sure Dad's concerns about your martial arts will be satisfied by a little match."
"A little match? Well, I suppose some friendly sparring wouldn't be so bad." Ranma glanced to the short-haired girl holding onto his arm. If he'd encountered hostility, he'd have been prepared to return it, but this was... a little freaky but certainly not hostile. It was kinda nice, actually.
Nabiki glared at her sister. She was comfortable. If she'd been a cat, she'd have been purring. Right in the middle of her fantasy about being a fashion photographer, directing her husband/subject through a number of poses (and getting additional enjoyment from the feeling of control) when her sister has to go butting in.
Genma shrugged and turned back to his sake. Just the thought of coming back home and trying to pass Ranma off to Nodoka, was enough for Genma to reach for the bottle. Never mind using those little boxes or a shallow dish, this was a "go straight to the damn bottle" mood. Nodoka would NEVER believe this was her son. She *might* accept that this was Genma's son, but would likely come to the same conclusion that Soun had. Born "on the wrong side of the sheets" they called it.
The problem, Genma reflected, was that he didn't know *what* Nodoka's reaction to the concept would be. Almost any other woman would be major league PO'ed. Nodoka had some weird ideas about manliness, and could simply see an "affair with issue" as further proof of Genma's own manliness. Therefore, she'd scold him but secretly be proud of him. Or, she could become really ticked. So, Genma took another long pull from the bottle, and tried to figure out whether or not to push for the marriage now.
Kasumi sighed as the others filed out. So much for doing this properly. She started putting away the tea things, since one question would typically lead to another. To do it properly, the tea ceremony took a bit of time anyway.
Ranma got to the dojo and quickly stretched himself loose. He found Nabiki's obvious attraction to be nice if a bit unsettling. Now this girl was facing him as if she wanted to prove something.
Ranma moved around her punches, listening to the "little voice" within. It was a new thing, but the advice had been mainly good so far, so he listened. It told him that this Akane had talent but little skill, as if she were largely self-taught. When her face began to slide towards anger, the voice advised him on a way to defuse a potential hazard with his sister-in-law.
As Akane lost her temper at this boy who was dodging everything she threw at him, he moved. Akane jumped over the legsweep, recognizing it as a feint a moment too late.
The real attack was Ranma's forearm, shoving down as Ranma rotated and shifted. Akane saw the floor approaching, knowing that Ranma's weight was largely shifted onto her and that she would hit the wooden slats with a considerable impact. She eeeped involuntarily.
Ranma shifted his weight again slightly as he felt Akane tense. Now she impacted the floor softly, and he merely pinned her with his hand in the collar of her gi.
"Good enough," allowed Soun, ignoring the little "rising sun" fans that Nabiki was waving around in victory. He was a little unhappy about Akane being tossed around like that, but it was a suitable test.
Nabiki was happy. Her fiance could fight. Not only that, but Akane had been defeated so any chance of her sister getting interested in this guy had been defused. Akane was very prideful and anyone showing her up would be resented. Victory!
Ranma held a hand out for Akane. "You've got a lot of talent, Akane. Though whoever's training you has left a few holes."
"What does THAT crack mean?" Akane glared up at the boy. Stupid gaijin! Didn't he know he wasn't supposed to be able to move that mass of his around that quickly?
"Well, since I'm going to be engaged to your sister, and you've got talent, how about I take over your training so we can patch those holes in your defense?"
Akane lost her anger as if a switch had been thrown. This boy was admitting she had talent? And he was offering to further her training? And he wasn't going to be a lech and start hitting on her? And he was offering to further her training? He agreed that she had talent, and that he wanted to improve her skills? "Training?! You're offering to train me further in Anything Goes?"
"Well, yeah." Ranma tugged his ponytail in an unconscious gesture. "What you think, oyaji? You're the training expert after yanking me around for ten years. What to start her with, blocks or control?"
Genma was so startled he almost dropped the bottle. His son, deferring to his greater experience in something? The poor boy's curse was obviously making him... Well, maybe this wasn't so bad after all. Genma pulled himself together as he noted everyone looking at him. "Errr. Endurance was actually what I was thinking would be the first priority. Possibly agility after that."
Akane's eyes were shining. Ranma was clearly a better martial artist than she was, and here she was about to get additional training to become an even BETTER martial artist herself! Her father had neglected her training for years, leaving Akane to try and master the Art on her own. Now she could get Master level training. Ah, bliss!
Akane blinked as she caught Nabiki glaring at her. What was Nabiki's problem, anyway?
Happosai chuckled and ran his hands through his current haul of silky darlings.
That half blind youth, Mousse, was the perfect one to keep an eye on that Shampoo girl. She would fail to bring back a husband, and once suitably "broken" would marry Mousse or anyone else they chose for her.
To make Shampoo his own, Mousse would do anything. Once Shampoo had been sufficiently humbled and made pliant, the girl would be a perfect reward for service to the Mandarin. Then Shampoo's continued well being would be a yoke to keep the young man in line. Mousse's skills with Hidden Weapons made him an excellent smuggler-agent.
Happosai leaned back. Yes, service for the Mandarin carried risks and benefits aplenty. Many of the Mandarin's agents, like Dowel and Cabinet, had the shiny new energy weapons. Who needed chi attacks when the simple tug of a finger unleashed bolts of energy that ran hotter than any conventional flame? Continuing to be of service to the Mandarin saw similar rewards. If one was no longer of use to the Mandarin, then one might share the fate of the Musk.
The Musk had largely been slaughtered when the Mandarin had at last decided to betray them.
The Musk Dynasty was now a scattered handful of refugees, with a few who had turned on their brethren now also minions of the Mandarin. There were others, slaves or worse.
Happosai smirked. Some of the battle was still going on, but the idea had proven so delicious that others of the Musk had been similarly transformed and their minds would be unraveled. The Mandarin was clever, and had recruited several *very* talented allies. Those that couldn't be bribed, could be coerced, or they could be fitted with variations of the explosive collar. The mindwipe device was one of those crafted by someone "recruited" by such methods.
Happosai fingered a particular pair of panties and his smirk slipped into a slight frown. Parts of this still caused him some distress, but it was just *so* much fun. And after years of suffering for the Art, here he was enjoying the jackpot. That couldn't be bad, could it?
And his vengeance against Cologne would soon be complete. She would see her great-granddaughter transformed into a meek little wife, then undergo a similar transformation herself.
After all, it was Spring Of Drowned *Young* Girl.
Ranma sat down, relaxing in the furo and tried to just let go of his current load of worries. His father would start training Akane, then (after Ranma had settled in at school) Ranma could start actually training the girl himself. So much had changed, though, maybe he should wait until things had settled down before he took over the training. More was strange than just school.
The "little voice" had gotten stronger. It had started out as a whisper. Now when it "spoke" it seemed as if there was someone speaking directly to him except there were no words. Usually just pictures and concepts. It was odd, but if he mentioned it to Pops or anyone they'd just think he was nuts.
His height and mass were considerably increased. His skin was paler, his hair had turned blonde, and those eyes staring out from a vaguely familiar face were a shade of blue that didn't look at all familiar on a Japanese face.
His speed had slowed slightly, but Ranma was certain he could bring it back up again when he got used to the extra mass. Strength was up. Sense of balance increased. His spatial acuity increased. That wasn't as strange as what was going on inside the head though.
Ranma conceded that he'd never been exactly dumb. Pulled out of school more often than not, his attendance had been mainly conspicuous by absence. Nonetheless, he'd been able to keep the grades up a bit higher than abyssmal. Lotsa people *thought* he was dumb because his education had been kinda haphazard. There were a lot of gaps, and his father had always largely dismissed the value of a traditional Japanese education.
Thing was, he noticed a lot more things going on around him now. He felt less dull somehow, as if he'd worn blinders all his life and they'd gradually come off over the past week. He noticed things like the way Nabiki had clung to his arm. He'd noticed the way that Nabiki kept trying to insert herself between her younger sister and himself. He didn't understand it, he merely noted it.
The eldest had smiled a lot but seemed nervous. She'd also gone around hiding tools. Ranma had absolutely NO idea what to make out of that. When he'd noticed an electric screwdriver had been left out, she'd rushed over and grabbed it before he could get anywhere near it. Weird.
The door opening ended Ranma's musing.
Akane looked in, her towel covering everything, and blinked. There was a few moments of silence, while Ranma wondered what the heck was going on. Had he forgotten to put the sign out? What was she staring at? She seemed to be staring right at... Ranma sunk as deep as the water would allow.
Akane blinked as line-of-sight was interrupted. She stepped back, sliding the door closed behind her. She blinked again. Akane let out a deep breath.
Akane focussed again. Nabiki looked upset. Nabiki looked quite upset. Nabiki was pointing at the "Occupied" sign. "Uhm..."
"Don't 'uhm' me, Akane. You HATE boys, remember? They're all jerks and evil and mean and insensitive. Right?"
"Uhm. Yeah," Akane agreed. Why that lech! He'd... Well, actually he'd been averting his eyes most of the time. And looked acutely embarrassed. Hmm. "Sure. He's just another pervert, a boy."
Nabiki's frown intensified when she caught the lack of confidence. She nodded though, feeling this was about as far as she'd be able to get tonight.
"HEY!" Akane exclaimed, noticing something. "What are you doing with your bath things if you knew Ranma was in there?"
Nabiki had the grace to look embarassed.
Dawn at the Tendo residence. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Well, Kasumi was already up. And then there was the panda sneaking into Akane's room.
"Huh?" Splash! "AAAAAAHHH! COLD!"
Nabiki grumbled a bit, pulled the pillow over her head, and tried to ignore the sounds of Akane's new training regimen.
"Mister Saotome?! Urrrrr. I'm gonna get you for THWAK, Splash! HEY!"
Kasumi looked outside where Akane had just been slapped back into the pond by a sign wielded by a panda. "So energetic."
Ranma called down from the window. "He's trying to tell you to be on guard, and that an attack could come at any time. A martial artist needs to be ready instantly."
Akane sloshed herself out of the pond and glared at the panda.
[I thought I was going to be training a martial artist.] The panda flipped the sign around, part of the Genma Saotome school of motivation. Get them sufficiently ticked and they'll follow you to the Gates Of Hell. [You're too soft for my training. Go back to sleep.]
Akane blinked. Her pajama bottoms, weighted down by water, chose that moment to obey gravity's call. They hit the stones with exactly the sort of squelching noise you would expect from such an event.
"This is the part where you try to catch and hit him," Ranma called down helpfully.
"AAAARRRGGHHH!" Akane launched herself, five feet of feminine fury ready to explode on contact.
Genma leapt to the roof, then to another. From his vantage point he waved another sign. [Too slow. Too clumsy. Too wimpy.] Signed flipped. [Just a girl, after all.]
"W-wimpy?" Akane twitched. Her anger went into second gear. "Hmmmph. You call this training? Pretty stupid if you ask me."
"Maybe. But it's effective." Ranma tossed down a pajama bottom. "Here. I'll make sure the bath is hot. You'll need it later."
Akane stared at the pants for a moment before slipping them on. A *boy* was being thoughtful? Wasn't staring at her panties or something perverted. Too weird.
Akane's gaze tracked upward to where a bored-looking panda was waiting, waving around a sign that read [Maybe a training trip to Jusenkyo? Toss you into Spring Of Drowned Sloth?]
Akane smiled, tightened the drawstring, dusted her hands off lightly. Then screamed in rage and went to find a ladder. Why? Well, because she realized that this was expected of her and part of the training. Go with the flow. No pain, no gain. Nobody said it had to be *her* pain, though.
Nabiki rubbed sleep from her eyes and frowned some more. It was a perfectly normal morning expression for her. Nabiki was many things, but a morning person was not included in that list. What she was feeling was typical, though it didn't start so early.
Nabiki passed a happily humming Ranma as he prepared for school. Yeah, getting him a uniform that actually fit might be rather more difficult than getting him into school on short notice.
Nabiki passed a happily humming Kasumi as the older girl was laying out breakfast. Nabiki could see where having people happily humming this early in the morning was going to get old REALLY fast. Then Nabiki stopped and looked at *what* Kasumi had laid out on the table. "Uhm, Kasumi, what's that?"
Kasumi blinked. "Oh, well I suspected Ranma might like a little taste of home. I hope I got it right."
Nabiki twitched a little. A little plate of hamburgers and french fries had been set aside. Everyone else got the traditional miso soup/rice combination. Ranma had what looked like a Happy Meal. Oh dear.
Not all prejudice, reflected Nabiki, was couched in hate.
"Akane Tendo, I love you, this is for you!"
Ranma frowned. The words were a declaration of affection. The actions were most definitely not. "Excuse me, Nabiki."
Nabiki watched, frowning again, as Ranma rode to the rescue.
"HEY! This is *my* Spinning Back Kick fight!"
"Does that mean you Crescent Kick actually *like* Block/Disarm fighting Spinning Piledriver all these guys? It's Forearm Smash some kinda Tiger Paw extra training you've Shoulder Throw come up Flying Wedgie with?"
"Hey! It's *my* Legsweep business! This wasn't Axe Kick *my* idea!"
"Then *don't* Flying Roundhouse Kick refuse help when Tumble/Rising Uppercut you're outnumbered. You'll just Monkey's Paw alienate potential Drop Kick allies Block/Counterpunch/Right Cross unnecessarily."
"You..." Akane blinked. There were boys lying in all directions. The only one still moving was whimpering and trying to adjust his sumo belt where it had almost been pulled to the level of his ears. "Where's the rest of them?"
Ranma made a brief gesture to one of the trees.
"Oh." Akane frowned but was glad that Ranma hadn't done any of this during their sparring yesterday.
"Ah, Akane Tendo, how I..." WHAM!
"Oops. Sorry. I saw him move out of the trees and getting ready to throw something. Uhm, he wasn't anyone important was he?"
Nabiki looked down at the boy, noting Kuno's crossed eyes and the slight indentation which covered most of his face. The indentation caused by a single punch. "Good grief, Kuno-baby. You're *really* pathetic today."
"Well, c'mon. Show me where the Nurse's office is, I'll drop this guy off, then we need to get to class." Ranma sighed and shouldered the guy. Figures it would be a friend of Nabiki's. He was really batting a thousand this morning...
"Leave him there, Saotome. You don't want to hurt his pride more than you have," Akane smirked. She wouldn't be late for class, and from the look of things, it would rain on the Shooting Star in just a few moments. Not that she would enjoy looking out from her classroom and seeing the rain drench any of those boys who usually assaulted her in the morning. No, nothing like that.
"Did you see that, Daisuke?"
"See some gaijin come in, fight briefly alongside Akane, then lay out Kuno with one punch? Or do you refer to the fact that upon hitting the ground, our school champion still slid three feet back from the force of impact? Or, perchance, did you mean that the ones that Akane hit have gotten up and rushed to their classes, while the ones that the gaijin hit are still lying there?"
"Hmmm. Hadn't noticed that last bit myself. He moved like a ghost. 'Phantom rough on roughnecks?' The rain is beginning to revive 'em though. Hattori of the Sumo Club is still curled up in a ball, though."
"Never saw a flying tumble wedgie/throw like that. Looks like it hurt."
"Oh knock it off," Akane grumbled as she took her seat. "I didn't want that baka's help!"
"So you *do* know him," Yuka noted. "A foreigner. How exciting!"
"He's just staying with us," Akane made a dismissing gesture. "His dad and my dad knew each other a while back."
"Oh wow, I didn't know your dad knew any foreigners. I thought he was pretty traditional in things like that." Sayuri smirked.
Akane shrugged but remained silent as the teacher was now walking in with the "newbie." "Well, class, we have a new student today. Having just spent some time in China, so let's give him a big 'ni hao' welcome."
"Oh yeah, he *really* looks Chinese." Yuka's stage whisper brought a set of giggles.
"Hi, I'm Ranma Saotome, pleased to meet'cha." Ranma bowed slightly.
"Geez, a *gaijin*. Just when I thought Furinkan couldn't sink any lower."
Ranma glared but didn't say anything. This damn curse made him look un-Japanese. The nail that sticks out gets pounded down.
The teacher made his opinion of the unnecessary disruption known. "Mister Suzuhara. Do you *want* to stand in the hall?" That worthy got up from his desk. "If it means I don't have to share the room with some unclean foreigner, yes."
"Sit down, Suzuhara. Whatever it looks like, I'm Japanese. Got it?"
"Ai no ko?" The girl who spoke up immediately covered her face, not able to believe she had said that. It wasn't a polite term, referring to a half-Japanese in a society where racial purity and bloodlines were considered important concerns.
Ranma grumbled and sat down. Nobody would believe him anyway.
Ranma 1/2: SoDVSS in background. Pair runs across screen, vanishing on the other side. Immediately goes to next group.
right to left: Mousse chases Shampoo left to right: Kodachi chases Mousse right to left: Kuno chases Akane left to right: Ranma chased by Akane, Nabiki, Kasumi, Shampoo, Ukyou, Mecha, a fair number of Marvel Supervillains.
left to right: Ryouga lumbers in, stops mid stage, and shrugs. Finally he bows to the audience.
Akane shrugs into a "streetfighter" costume and strikes a pose. Shampoo does the same thing a moment later. Ukyou flips a mask into place and grips her spatula. Nabiki and Kasumi look at the three posing. Nabiki looks acutely embarrassed while Kasumi merely smiles and bows at the audience.
Kasumi checked the backpacks. She was going to have to do an extra load of laundry today and wanted to get started. Had to get the spare futons out of storage, after all.
And if they'd been camping, the two Saotomes no doubt had dirty clothes that needed to be cleaned. Certainly a whiff of Mister Saotome's gi had proven the need for laundry to be done ASAP!
As she pulled the odd circular object out of a satchel, Kasumi spent a moment in puzzlement before she turned it over.
"oh my..." The straps were old and worn, the metal seemed especially light in her hands, there was some dirt and grit clinging to it. All of which paled beside the fact that she *recognized* it.
"Oh dear. Oh my." Kasumi sat down before the Shield and regarded it, her head cocked slightly to the side. Kami were said to reside in the unique, and in objects which had seen much history. If so, this was a definite contender for having a kami.
She'd only seen the man once, her mother had taken her shopping that day, when this giant of a man walked by, flanked by reporters. He had been on "private business" that day, according to those same reporters.
He hadn't been much of a giant in stature, something over six feet in height, but this overwhelming feeling of presence had made him seem over twice as big.
Kasumi had been impressed as her mother pointed out the man in the funny costume. Her mother had gone on about all the things that Captain America had done. Then when the news had come on, later, Kasumi had watched as the man had gone on to speak. Still what he had said was that he was on "private business" and the reporters had never found out what. It was something relating to the Reconstruction, but what that had been was mainly speculation. One had even speculated that the Captain had been in Japan during the Reconstruction, quietly helping behind the scenes. That he might even have family...
Kasumi froze, the implications slamming into her as hard as Akane's brickbreaking punch. Idle speculation from years ago + Ranma's presence here spun itself into a tale that made perfect sense.
Captain America HAD been in Japan during the turbulent times when the Home Islands had rebuilt themselves from WWII. Then, as foreign presence became less tolerated, he left. Leaving behind a family. (She could see it now, leaving behind his family so that they wouldn't be targets!) Now that the Captain had disappeared last year, his *grandson* (no doubt some Japanese woman's inherent nobility had captured his heart, just like in a romance novel!) had come forward with his inherited shield!
Kasumi rocked back as she stared at the Shield, though she wasn't seeing it at the moment. Nabiki (!) was engaged to Ranma. To the grandson of a world renknowned hero? To a multiply decorated warrior whose exploits often exemplified the very gallant and noble heart of bushido? "Oh MY."
Kasumi blinked again and quickly began cleaning and polishing the Shield. In a way, it fit entirely too well. The American code of bushido was obviously different, as a shield was more a symbol of protection than the sword of the samurai. Yes, and that meant that Akane was entirely wrong for this Ranma also. Nabiki would never understand the selflessness that Mother had spoken of, regarding the Captain's exploits. Akane had a poor temper, and was a bit of a violent maniac. That left...
"Oh... my." Kasumi smiled a little and packed the Shield away. Well, it wasn't too late to have things switched around, was it? Hmmm.
The class hadn't been too bad. Despite all the expectations about a foreigner not being able to handle the Japanese course load, Ranma had gone through the same thing before during his periodic re-immersions into school. The required kanji were a little more complex, the math a little more needlessly difficult, the teachers a bit more cranky and stern. Gym, however, was a chance to unwind from being scrunched up at a too-small desk.
And, unfortunately, he drew a crowd. Uneven bar, rings, horse, no matter what he tried, he surprised the various watchers by moving with a speed and precision that weren't expected of such a large individual. Now afterwards, at lunch, he had an even bigger crowd.
Ranma shrugged and wondered if he would *ever* figure out women. That was the majority of the crowd. As one could expect, this was sitting even less happily with the various boys in the cafeteria.
Nabiki snapped pictures frantically. Poking that hole in the boys shower room had netted her pictures that would put her in the black FIRMLY. (Nabiki swallowed at that word and tried to get the accompanying image out of her head.) Preorders on the photos were HUGE. (Again Nabiki struggled to get certain images out of her head. Likewise she tried to avoid phrases dealing with big, massive, and a fair number of other words.) Oh yeah, and those photos proved he was a natural blonde. Heh heh.
Nabiki had already gone through three rolls of film. A few shots here, a few shots there, a few shots THERE. Yes, a nice pictorial and info spread on the newcomer. LOTS of girls were curious about all the rumors and stories about foreigners. After flirting with Akane like that, Ranma DESERVED any problems that occurred from this. Nabiki grinned and thought about all the money she could make off of this. Delightful. Then, Nabiki reflected, once Ranma knew not to take her for granted, she would relent and once again be the supportive fiancee. As always, Nabiki thought to herself, a perfect plan. If she had shared this plan to anyone else, they would have pointed out it made as much sense as some of her father's plans.
Ranma suppressed a chill, not knowing what this feeling of doom was from. Maybe from that guy he'd seen earlier that morning, rushing forward with a bokken over his head.
"FOUL FOREIGN FIEND WHO INFESTS OUR HALLOWED GROUNDS!"
"Sorry about this morning, guy. Thought you were one of the guys attacking Akane." Ranma went back to sipping his juice. Everyone talked ABOUT him, but so far nobody had actually tried talking TO the big foreigner.
Kuno picked himself up and pulled another bokken out of nowhere. Careful examination would reveal Sasuke under the table with a small bundle of bokkens, roses, and other supplies. "FOREIGN DEVIL, HOW DARE YOU ENGAGE YOURSELF TO AKANE TENDO!"
"Uhm, there's a few flaws in your reasoning there, guy."
"YOU WILL ADDRESS ME AS SEMPAI!"
"If you can't make sense, can you at least stop yelling?"
"FIRST YOU SEEK TO DILUTE THE NOBLE TENDO BLOODLINE, THEN ?!"
"Saotome special manuever. Forcefeeding Fist. I asked you nicely, turn the volume down."
"Gak, gurk, urk."
"Oh, choking, huh? Hang on. I know how to fix this."
"Uhm, Ranma, that's not how you do it."
"Oh, yeah, Akane, I guess you're right. He's not choking anymore, but I don't think that shade of blue is too healthy. I've had some problems judging my strength since I got this curse. Infirmary again?"
a darkly lit street, three girls back into the circle of light surrounding a streetlamp. "Where have all the good men gone, And where are all the gods?"
various Yakuza and unsavory types swarming towards Kasumi and Nabiki, Akane bravely stands in front of them, ready to protect them with her life. "Where's the street-wise Hercules, To fight the rising odds?"
Close up, Kasumi seems to pray. "Isn't there a white knight, Upon his wild steed?"
Weapons are being drawn as the crowd surrounds the three. "Late at night I toss and turn, And dream of what I need."
The Shield comes crashing in, slams into one of the toughs, then flashes back to its wielder. Lightning crashes. "I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero Till the end of the night!"
Akane is holding off a few while the majority turn on the newcomer. Bodies start flying. "He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's got to be fresh from the fight!"
The Shield flashes across the screen again, and the scene changes. Now is shown Ranma using the Shield to block a Dark Kingdom attack with the Senshi behind him. Sailor Venus is holding up a sign [I saw him first!] "I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero Till the morning light, He's gotta be sure, And he's gotta be soon, And he's gotta be larger than life, Larger than life!"
The Shield flashes across the screen again, and the scene changes. Ranma is sitting atop a roof, looking out across Nerima at night.Character images appear in the background. Soun & Genma, Akane (both wearing her Tigermask and not), Nodoka, Kasumi, Nabiki, Kuno, Ryouga (Hulked out and not). Sequence ends with Shampoo on the street, looking up at Ranma. "Somewhere after Midnight, In my wildest fantasy, Somewhere just beyond my reach, There's someone reaching back for me, Racing on the thunder, And rising with the heat, It's gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet."
The Shield flashes across the screen again, and the scene changes. Montage sequence. Mandarin is laughing in the background. Kiima and Phoenix Mountain in secondary layer. Robot soldiers, Yakuza, Doc Ock, various assorted supervillains, etc move across foreground. "I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero, Til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight. I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero, Til the morning light. He's gotta be sure, And he's gotta be soon, And he's gotta be larger than life, Larger than life. "
Holding out for a hero, tm by Bonnie Tyler it seemed appro for this fic. perhaps also for Mirrors Mult.
So, here we go.
Captain America, as stated, wins against all the odds, even in impossible situations. So Ranma has merged with Steve Rogers to some extent. The hints are in there that the two are slowly fusing together.
The concept that some of the springs only work on one individual at a time is based on the power of Tarou's cursed form and that of Rouge's cursed form. Otherwise the Musk might have used the first to increase their power in the wars against the Nichieju, while the amazons could have replied by using the latter. So after the Hulkinichuan has cursed Ryouga it goes back to being Spring Of Drowned Piglet. Likewise Spring Of Drowned Virtuous Supersoldier becomes Spring Of Drowned Girl again.
Nabiki has staked a claim. Kasumi is interested. Akane isn't angry at Ranma and as long as he isn't engaged to her, she doesn't have much problem with him. All three are going to be a little put off by the idea that this is a curse. As the merger continues and lil' Ranma grows up, i think Akane would get rather more interested as time goes on.
Kuno comes down with the Japanese prejudice against "filthy gaijin invading the school" for Ranma, and the idea of him "sullying the purity of pure Japanese" by being engaged to ANY of the Tendos is anathema to Kuno. Ranma's protests about his really being Japanese are quite obviously lies, at least as far as Kuno's concerned.
Ranma seems to pick up English skills VERY easily, but starts having problems in History class.
Shampoo comes to Nerima. How much is safe for her to reveal? The reaction of Soun and Genma to her mentioning the name of the Mandarin's flunky will certainly give her pause.
Ryouga shows up. No P-chan. No merger. Ryouga merely hulks out in his cursed form. MAJOR property devaluation in his presence. The pig template was completely overriden. Akane pities Ryouga, but doesn't cuddle up with him. (Somehow the image of Akane sleeping with "H-chan" doesn't work too well.)
Various American heroes come calling as the Hulk reappears. Somewhere down the line, Ranma uses that fancy shield of his and it gets recognized. Most assume that he's the son of the now-vanished Captain America.
The Mandarin has two allies, which he has under his control. One developed the robot soldiers, the other is Happosai. (No, I'm not saying who the inventor type is.) He's mainly concentrating on holding onto his new powerbase and trying to bring Phoenix Mountain under his control. Eventually he begins building Sentinels.
The new springs? Left to the imagination of you, the reader. The threats that Mandarin would go after would be the ones most likely to interfere, so favored villains could be in there too.
Plotline? Freeing the amazons, defeating the Mandarin and his agents, all of which are gradually introduced. How far is Mousse willing to go if he is promised Shampoo by the Mandarin?
Power level? Well, Ranma gradually ends up as a mix of himself and Captain America. He'll find himself "remembering" skills and developing "new" techniques that the original had. Divergent, ne?
(1) i actually ran into this attitude. *sigh* because self is NOT tall, blonde, or blue eyed, then obviously i must not be American...pfeh! Actually had one person trying to practice their Greek on me. Of course, i've heard asians at anime conventions have perfect strangers coming up at jabbering at them in Japanese, whether they're Chinese-Americans or whatever... As for the Mandarin's big mistake, come on, they ALWAYS do the "one _______ won't matter." }