Spring Of Drowned Hero
Chapter 3:
"The Shield Revealed"

DISCLAIMER: Ranma/Sailor Moon/Marvel Xover universe. All tm and c the original owners.

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The Yamasenken, Mountain Of A Thousand Fists, half of a devastatingly powerful martial arts system.

Ryu Kumon, though going by the name Ranma Saotome, was using these techniques without hint of mercy or sympathy, to their full effect.

The Hulk (aka Ryouga Hibiki) was getting *pissed!* Though now that he'd gotten a better look at this "Ranma Saotome" he'd come to the conclusion that this was probably *also* the wrong Ranma Saotome.

"Hold it right there!"

Kumon sent two vaccuum chi blades towards this new threat.

"AAAAAAAAAAA!"

Ryouga momentarily lost his rage in shock as he saw this boy send one of those attacks at a young girl in a red cheerleader costume. Who went down with a bloody wound.

It was odd, Ryouga realized, he could hear his heartbeat increasing in force and tempo - almost like a physical presence.

"Now, monster!" Ryu had tried chi blades, now he'd open the gates and steal the monster's heart. This would prove the Yamasenken was the most powerful martial arts school in the world.

The hand thumped against the Hulk's chest without penetrating it.

"You hurt cute girl! RYOUGA SMASH!"

"Too slow," said Ryu, leaping over the outstretched arm. "I..."

*GRAB*

Ryouga's other hand clutching one of Kumon's legs put an end to the dodging.

*SLAM!* Ryu found himself being introduced to the pavement rather roughly.

*WHAM!* Ryu Kumon was truly one of the toughest martial artists in Tokyo. One punch from an angry Hulk driving him nearly two feet deep into the pavement was not enough to kill him.

Ryouga looked down at where "Ranma Saotome" was lying in a small crater, quite obviously unconscious. He calmed as the picture relaxed him. He smiled and began to transform back to Ryouga. "I... I beat him. At last I have beaten you, Ranma Saotome."

"Uhm, excuse me?"

Ryouga blinked and looked to the side where an extremely cute (though young) girl in a green cheerleader's outfit stood. "Huh?"

"Can you help me get Rei-chan off the street before the police arrive?" The girl looked nervous but hopeful. While she liked green, the Hulk was a bit *too* much green.

"Oh, uh, sure." Ryouga scratched his head, looking embarassed. How could he refuse a cute girl anything anyway?

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Shampoo watched from nearby. Allies. Not her airen, but still these were potentially powerful allies.

She'd have to follow and watch, then introduce herself, at least as soon as she was sure that they didn't have ties to the Mandarin or his diminuitive henchman.

Hmmm. That one girl was pretty badly banged up. Looked like an opportunity to use some healing techniques.

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Akane Tendo was angry.

This was, obviously, nothing new. The target of her anger was fairly new, however.

"You call *this* martial arts training!?"

Genma considering ignoring the youngest Tendo. "An attack can come at any time and you must be prepared to defend yourself instantly."

"I'm supposed to be training to improve my martial arts skills," said Akane reasonably. This was taking some effort as her natural impulse was to beat on the sometimes panda. "Martial artist. NOT food-thief."

"If you want to eat, you should defend your food better." Genma smirked at this new student. Nice battle aura she had going. She should be attacking in three. Two.

"Oh yes, reminds me of training under the Master. Ah, those were the days, eh, Saotome?"

Akane stared at her father. "You mean he's SERIOUS?!"

"Akane, you must take the Art more seriously if you're going to be the Tendo Heir." Soun fixed his youngest with a reproving glance.

"I'm always serious about training," lied Genma.

"Stealing my food?!" Akane glared at the sometimes panda. "What about throws and punches, kicks and special attacks?"

"She's got a point, Oyaji," piped up Ranma from his position near Nabiki. "I don't think that kinda speed training will be effective with her. What element you think she is?"

"Element?" Nabiki looked up from her own fiercely guarded rice bowl, then looked down and tried to figure out if it was notably smaller than it had been.

"If you get outside that whole 'hard' versus 'soft' style argument, a lot of martial arts can be defined in element terms," explained Ranma. "The Saotome Ryuu is 'Air' - speed, agility, and avoidance. Like Air, you flow around your opponent's attacks. Mid-air combat is our school's specialty, y'know. Just an opinion, but Akane's style seems more the 'Earth' type."

"You may have something there," Soun admitted. "Endurance and strength as opposed to speed and agility."

Akane wasn't entirely sure about the element aspect, but was willing to go along with it if the training was less silly. Besides, she suspected that the whole thing was just an excuse so that Genma Saotome could stuff his face.

Genma nodded after a few moments. "Yes, maybe that's so. I'll begin working on an endurance and toughness technique tomorrow."

"Not the Oceanborn technique, is it?" Ranma shook his head. "What about the 'Teapot In A Tempest' technique?"

"Well, that *would* be easier than the 'Mountain Into A Molehill' technique, or the dreaded 'Roll Out The Barrel' technique." Genma admitted to himself that those two could draw complaints from the neighbors too.

"So stop stealing my food!" Akane announced as she noticed that her rice bowl was conspicuous in its lack of rice, reaching without looking for a blunt object to bounce off the Saotome patriarch's head.

Nabiki frowned as she watched *her* rice bowl get bounced off Genma Saotome's head. Naturally this dislodged a lot of rice. "Well, I guess I ought to go to school *since my breakfast is on the floor now.*"

Naturally everyone missed the load of sarcasm in her tone. Nabiki wondered why she bothered. Then she found Ranma, who had been sitting next to the rice cooker, handing her a replacement bowl.

Ranma idly wondered why Kasumi had fixed him these "pancake" things, though they were kinda like okonomiyaki. At least she'd put the rice cooker next to him so he could add rice. He was Japanese, it just somehow didn't seem right to have breakfast that didn't have rice or fish in it.

"You're right," admitted Genma after a few minutes of blocking Akane's attempts to grab his rice bowl. "I'll start collecting the materials for the 'Teapot' training."

"It's not as lame as this food stealing stuff, is it?" Akane frowned and reached out (again without looking) and grabbed a bowl of rice.

Nabiki *fumed* as her new rice bowl was commandeered. "I don't know, Akane. You seem to be learning the technique."

"The 'Teapot In A Tempest' technique," said Soun, his eyes focussed off into the distance. "Ah, I remember it well. But isn't Akane too delicate and fragile for such training?"

THAT got Akane over her reluctance. "Dad?! Okay, I'll do it!"

Genma merely nodded. He could get an empty oil barrel easily enough, and the rope would be fairly easy too. The wooden rollers and pulleys slightly more difficult but still do-able. It was the taffy pulling machine and big rocks that might truly be difficult to procure.

Soun was mainly concerned with how well Nabiki and Ranma were getting along and would have leapt over the table to hug both of them in joy except for worrying about the potential demise of his youngest daughter.

"Come on, Ranma, I want to talk to you on the way to school." Nabiki got up off her seat-pillow and glared briefly at Akane (who didn't notice) and her father (who *did* notice and stopped his rush forward to begin pushing for immediate marriage.)

Kasumi merely began cleaning up and wondered if last night's talk had been remembered by Nabiki. She also handed Ranma the carrycase. Considering the Hulk had shown up yesterday, it wasn't that hard to believe that the shield might be required.

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"So what did you want to talk to me about, Nabiki?" Ranma put his hands behind his head and stretched. It was odd, this calm that was his usual modus operandi since falling in Jusenkyo. Still it was kind of nice, he seemed to be able to avoid some problems that way.

Nabiki scowled. Kasumi had spoken long about personal honor and duty last night. She'd never actually come out and said it, but it was obvious to Nabiki that Kasumi had somehow found out about the pictures. "Ranma, about our relationship..."

Ranma was silent as they walked along for a few minutes, then glanced down. "What about it?"

"What do you think about this engagement?"

"It's a matter of family honor, according to Oyaji. I'm still not sure about how accurate that is." Ranma shrugged and let his arms drop down, still carrying the artist's attache and his backpack.

Nabiki went from frowning to scowling. This was not how she wanted this conversation to go. Unfortunately she wasn't entirely sure *how* she wanted this conversation to go. How to phrase whether or not he even considered her seriously as a fiancee. Did he want this engagement or not? "Ranma... do you think I'm cute?" Nabiki blinked, wondering where *that* had come from.

Ranma considered. "Sometimes."

"What?!" Nabiki went from startled back to frowning. "What does that mean?"

"Well, when you're being nice, you can be pretty cute," said Ranma, trying to analyze it himself.

Nabiki let out a deep breath that she hadn't been aware she'd been holding. "So, do you even know what being a fiance entails..."

"Sempai!" Ryonami came running up. "Regarding our newest business deal?"

"Excuse me, Ranma, business stuff," said Nabiki, dismissing the question of big blonde hunks and arranged marriages for the moment.

Ranma shrugged and leapt over the wall. Fine, he knew when he wasn't wanted.

"Okay, spill it, Ryonami." Nabiki turned a cold eye towards her flunkie.

"The naked pictures of Ranma aren't selling that well..."

"I know that." Nabiki said impatiently.

Ryonami took a deep breath. "Anyway, Kujaku's been by."

Nabiki winced heavily. Doing business as usual whenever the Yakuza were present was not a good deal. Yes, he was a prissy little effeminate with pretensions of nobility. However he was also Yakuza and they did *not* like competition. "Fine. He saw them?"

"Yeah, he, uhm, saw the pictures." Ryonami fidgeted. "He, uh, kinda wanted a cut of the proceeds since it was in his territory."

Nabiki let out a deep breath. "Fine. It's not like we're talking a lot of money here."

"Yeah," Ryonami was immediately relieved. "You know I don't like dealing with them."

"Get used to it if you want to keep gambling," advised Nabiki walking past her flunkie and entering Furinkan's front gate. "It's a nasty world out there and..."

Leaning up against the wall, Ranma handed Nabiki her lunch and walked off without a single glance at her.

"Uhm, sempai?"

"Ryonami, get me some aspirin would you? I feel a headache coming on."

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Ranma sat at his desk and ignored the usual whisperings. He'd been willing to go along with this on the basis of honor.

Well, he'd just been dishonored by his fiancee.

He considered it a fairly serious breach, and all the talk this morning had just been laid bare as just that - talk. Clearly this engagement was untenable and he'd have to switch to one of the other sisters.

Akane? No, he was going to be her sensei and clearly that made any sort of relationship a wrong move.

Kasumi? He hadn't thought she'd be interested but she *had* spent all that time watching him yesterday. Though wasn't there something Akane had said about someone interested in Kasumi? He'd have to ask about that.

Ranma's hand caught a piece of chalk on course for his forehead and idly tossed it back to the teacher. Looked like he'd run out of time to ponder in class.

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Ryouga got his best pondering time done while school was in session.

This was Japan so senior high school was *not* mandatory. There were a lot of Mom & Pop businesses that required the child to work and those children often did not go through senior high. Ryouga had somehow managed to get through Junior High (aka Middle School) but Senior High had never been a priority.

Stuck in an impenetrable wilderness (a stand of trees not far from a Tokyo golf course) Ryouga put a kettle on the fire in preparation for a nice cup of tea.

His search for Ranma Saotome had hit a wall. If that last guy *had* been Ranma, then he had finished the feud. Otherwise Ranma had gone to Jusenkyo and never returned.

Ryouga looked at his reflection in the copper pot. "It not easy being green." He wasn't sure who had said that but obviously they'd known darn well.

Changing back had been easy a few times but seemed to have a certain calmness needed. His stomach was upset, and so he hadn't changed back. Of course, that's why he was fixing the tea.

The image in the kettle essayed a weak grin. Heck, if he met up with Ranma now, how would Saotome even recognize him? He was tall and green and mean after Jusenkyo.

...after Jusenkyo.

Waitaminute.

Ryouga calmed as this took extra concentration, triggering his transformation back to human.

After Jusenkyo? After Jusenkyo maybe RANMA didn't look like Ranma. There was the one whose butt he'd kicked, but then there had been that *other* Ranma. The blond guy.

Ryouga switched back to the Hulk as anger began to flame within him. That gaijin Ranma had tricked him! He would hunt him down and crush the little cheat!

After tea of course. His stomach was still upset.

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Making her way to a tree for lunch, Nabiki let her flunkies handle business this time.

Nabiki grumbled. Stupid Yakuza. Stupid fiance. Stupid Akane. Nobody had any clue. Had to eat lunch by herself. Well at least she had her business.

"500 yen on this breaking up Nabiki and her fiance!"

"1000 yen on her being disowned by her family!"

"200 yen that her father requires her to commit seppuku."

"500 yen that Nabiki Tendo ends up being that Yakuza guy's playtoy."

Nabiki glared at Ryonami taking bets on her boss' misery like this. She was so proud of her protege.

The middle Tendo knew all she'd need to do was say a couple of things, fake a couple of tears, and this would all blow over.

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"So what is going on between Ranma and Nabiki?" Akane was curious. Actually she was more than curious, a few comments from Yuka and Sayuri, and a look at the brooding upset Ranma had been getting her curiosity going for quite some time.

Yuka handed her a booklet after looking around to make sure that nobody was nearby.

Akane was puzzled until she flipped it open. "What the?! That pervert!"

"Well, she *is* your sister, Akane," said Sayuri.

"Huh?" Akane blinked, confused.

"Nabiki took those pictures without Ranma knowing. It's all over the school, Akane."

"Oh?" Akane puzzled over this. Well, it was Nabiki so maybe it was a money thing.

Sayuri decided to spell it out as Akane clearly didn't get it. "Nabiki dishonored her fiance by selling naked pictures of him all over the school, apparently because he was spending too much time with you."

Akane blinked some more. "But... he's my sensei. Why wouldn't he spend time with me?"

"Uh oh, here comes you-know-who." Yuka nudged Sayuri, looking past Akane.

Ranma walked up to Akane. "Akane, I need to ask you some questions."

"I'm your student, it wouldn't be proper," responded Akane.

"Huh?" Now it was Ranma's turn to blink a lot. "No! About Kasumi."

"Kasumi's already got someone," replied Akane.

"Doctor Tofu," said Sayuri with a giggle.

Ranma and Akane just looked at the two for a moment.

"Oh, right, come on, my friend, let's get a couple of bets in," said Yuka as she guided her friend away.

"You're out, Kasumi's out, Nabiki has just disqualified herself." Ranma shrugged. "Looks like training you is the only reason to stay on."

"You're not exactly upset," noted Akane.

"Oh, I *am* upset. My fiancee has sold nude pictures of me around the school at least. Who knows how far these have gotten."

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And this is as far as i'm going to go with this.

The idea of Akane being a sidekick superhero-in-training, eventually becoming a hero herself, was just something i'd considered.

Nabiki having to overcome her own bad habits and grow as a person?

However there are too many parallels with DB Sommers' "Avenging" (though with that story's blatantly pro-Akane bias there would be some divergences) for me to really consider continuing this. If i go back and do the "Ranma superhero" - i'd be more likely to explore the possibilities from a DC or Image (or Antarctic) crossover route.