DISCLAIMER: "Ranma 1/2" and its associated characters and settings are the creation of Rumiko Takahashi and the property of Viz Media. I use them here strictly as an expression of my love for the series, and I do not do so with any expectation of profit.
"Adventures in Womanhood"
Mt. Quanjing, Bayankala mountain range, Qinghai province, China.
To those who didn't know any better, the valley below would look rather picturesque. More than a hundred natural springs dotted the landscape, each with a bamboo pole growing to triumphant heights from its center. Coupled with the light wisps of fog, the whole place had something of a mystical feel to it. Yes, all in all, quite a beautiful place to visit.
Too bad it was cursed.
The peace of the area is just now disrupted as three men approach the springs. One of them, a chubby Chinese man in a green Mao uniform, was the guide for this area. His companions were both Japanese, martial artists judging by the karate gi each wore. One was a heavy-set man in glasses, a white bandana covering up his complete lack of hair. The other was a boy in his mid-teens, his long black hair tied back into a simple ponytail.
The guide addresses his companions in broken, heavily accented Japanese. "Oh, sirs, we come to legendary training ground of cursed springs..." He brings a sign out from behind his back with the place's name written on it. "...Jusenkyo."
The man in glasses speaks. "I hope you're ready, Ranma."
The boy shrugs off his travel pack, setting it down on the ground. "Aw, this place ain't near as bad as I thought it'd be."
The guide looks at the two strangely. "You very strange ones, no? This place very dangerous. Nobody use now, this training ground, 'cause more than one hundred springs here, each with own tragic story."
The big man was in no mood to listen to folklore. "Ranma! Follow me!" He leaps towards the top of one of the bamboo poles."
"Right behind ya," comes Ranma's reply as he vaults to another pole. The two square off in their stances, the guide below starting to panic now.
"Sirs! What you doing? I no finish my tragic story!"
The two ignore him. "I won't go easy on you, Ranma!"
"Well, that's just the way I like it!" The two lunge at each other, rapidly exchanging blows in mid-air before each one lands on the pole his foe had just vacated.
The guide was reallypanicking now. "Please, sirs! Very bad you fall in spring!"
He may as well have been talking to a brick wall. They lunge at each other again, but this time Ranma gets the upper hand, landing a kick from above that knocks his erstwhile opponent into one of the springs below. Ranma springs off from the impact, landing on one of the poles as the big man splashes down. He seems to be taking a bit longer than expected to surface, however. "Pop? What's up? We done already?"
The waters swirl and bubble, then a form bursts from the waters. It was a panda, of all things, wearing the large man's karate gi and glasses. Ranma goes wide-eyed. "Wha...?" He stares, then turns to the guide, pointing at the panda. "What the hell is that?"
The guide produces another sign. "That one Shonmaoneechuan, Spring of Drowned Panda. The legend say giant panda drown in spring two thousand year ago. Now whoever fall in spring change permanently into panda!"
Ranma was understandably upset. "Hey, buddy, you never said anything about that to us!"
Just then, the transformed man, apparently so into the fight he didn't know he'd changed, attacks. Ranma only has time to yelp before a giant paw swats him off the pole. He splashes down into a spring.
The guide races over, stopping at the edge of the spring. "Oh, too bad. You fall in Nyanniichuan, Spring of Drowned Girl." A shortish, busty little red-haired girl wearing Ranma's karate gi and hairstyle surfaces. "The legend say a young girl drown there one thousand five hundred year ago." The girl - Ranma, apparently - notices her chest. She gropes herself to check, then her eyes widen. "Now whoever fall in spring change permanently into girl." Ranma closes her eyes and opens her gi top, then swallows and opens her eyes, looking down. Breasts. She screams, then stares at the guide in horror. "You see? You become girl."
Ryoga Hibiki was lost.
While this was hardly the newsflash of the century, it still annoyed the boy to no end. And somehow, he just knew it was all Ranma's fault.
'Damn you, Ranma, how dare you walk out on our man-to-man duel,' Ryoga thinks to himself as he pushes his way through the local plant life. He emerges on a cliff overlooking a valley, numerous springs dotting the landscape below. Just as he was wondering where he was, he hears a noise behind him. Turning, he is surprised to see a panda running out of the woods towards him. In a panic, the boy vaults straight up into the air, over the panda's head. Then a girl's voice is heard. "Get back here, old man! Get back here I said!" He looks, seeing a red-haired girl in a karate gi vaulting high into the air straight towards him. Being in mid-air already, he had no way to dodge. Her knee makes solid impact with his forehead, causing him to miss his landing. He lands on the edge of the cliff, flailing for balance, then the cliff edge crumbles, sending him tumbling towards the springs below.
Ranma, brought out of her rage by the realization that she'd hit something, turns her head to look. "Huh?" Then she spots the boy falling. Her eyes widening, reflex takes over. Shifting in mid-air, she springboards off the first bamboo pole she comes to, firing herself on an intercept course for the falling boy's body. She tackles him in mid-air, the force sufficient to send them both sprawling in a heap onto dry ground, the red-head ending up on top of him.
Ryoga lays there in a daze, wondering just what had hit him. "Oog...what hit me...?" Ranma gets off of him, sitting next to him with a look of worry on her face.
"Hey, you okay? Sorry 'bout that. I didn't see you back there."
"I'm...fine," replies Ryoga as he sits up. "I would've been fine, you know. The water was gonna break my fall."
"I know. That's why I had to tackle you to the ground instead." She sighs a bit. "The water here...it's cursed. If you fall in, you...change."
Ryoga blinks at her. "Change?"
She smiles humorlessly. "For starters, before I came here, I was a boy."
He stares at her. 'Is she delusional...? No...she seems to have her mind all there...but she couldn't be telling the truth, could she?' He decides to introduce himself. "Well, er...thank you, I guess. Um...who're you anyway? I'm Ryoga Hibiki."
Ranma blinks, staring at him. "Ryoga...? Oh, boy. Talk about coincidences." She chuckles. "I'm Ranma Saotome. Good to see ya again, man."
Ryoga's eyes widen. "Ranma...?" He stares incredulously at her as she just nods. "But you...you can't be...I mean you're a..."
"I said this place changes you," she replies simply.
It was impossible. He had to check. "What...was the last thing we said to each other?"
She looks over at him. "...We agreed to have a duel in the vacant lot behind your house. Because I kept gettin' the last piece of bread at lunch." She pauses. "I waited three days for you to show up. Then Pop knocked me out an' dragged me off to China."
"..." That proved it. The only one who could possibly have known about that was Ranma, because they'd made the agreement in private. Then the realization crashes in on him on just what sort of fate she'd saved him from. "Then...that panda was...?"
Ryoga breathes out. "...Wow. I...I don't know what to say." He rubs the back of his head with a hand. "...I guess it'd be silly to keep pressing on about that bread feud. Fate apparently decided to punish you a heck of a lot worse than I ever could."
Ranma snorts. "Real funny."
He chuckles slightly. "I guess what I'm saying is..." He offers her his hand. "Truce?"
She eyes his hand speculatively for a minute, then smirks, grasping it in a firm shake. "Truce." She stands up, helping Ryoga to his feet as she rises. "I think you should get outta here. No tellin' what spring you might fall into if you wander around here too much."
Ryoga nods. "Right. Um...I guess I'll be seeing you around, then, Ranma. Bye." He turns, then walks begins heading for the southern coast. Which was a pity, since he'd meant to head east.
Some time later, with panda and girl now calmed down, they assembled with their guide in his shack. Ranma voices the thought on both their minds. "Is there any way for us to change back to normal?"
The guide sadly shakes his head. "I sorry, sirs, but change is permanent. Not even other spring change you now. That why nobody use this place now."
She sighs, then turns to glare at the panda. "Legendary training ground, you said. Opportunity of a lifetime, you said. It'll make a real man outta you, you said. Bah!"
The panda sheepishly holds up a sign. [I said I was sorry.]
Ranma snorts, then looks back to the guide. "So what d'you suggest I do now?"
The guide considers. "If honored customer want, this one suggest you visit Amazon womans of Joketsuzoku. They very skilled, very strong warrior womans. They help you learn about new body."
Ranma considers, then turns to the panda. "How about you, Pop?"
The panda holds up a sign. [I believe I'll stay with the guide here.] Flip. [I've lost my humanity for good, after all.] Flip. [And it's not like I know how to care for a panda's body.] Flip. [Go and make me proud, Boy. Er, Girl.]
Ranma chuckles, shaking her head. "Alright." She steps over to her pack and picks it up, slipping her arms through the shoulder straps. "...See ya, Pop."
[Get going before you start blubbering like a girl, Boy.]
End Chapter 1.
Author's Notes: Okay, so this is my first foray into the world of fanfiction. C&C is welcome, flaming is not. Please be gentle, it's my first time. *wink*