Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters below. Ranma ½ and Ah! My Goddess were created by people a lot more imaginative than me. I am also not making any money off of this. This is merely for entertainment purposes.

Note: This story takes place after the Jusendo incident. Ranma is about to enter his junior year of high school. This story starts towards the end of the summer break.

Pursuing a New Path

by ranmafan1


Ranma was not having a good day. Of course, the pigtailed martial artist could not remember the last time he did have a good day. Currently, he was sulking around the damaged areas of the Tendo Dojo. Large patches of holes scattered the floorboards and ceiling. The latest repairs that needed to be done were recently caused by another random attack by Ryoga, who spouted off the same ramblings about having seen hell because of him. 'Stupid pig-boy. Doesn't know when to shut up. Probably would blame me for the end of the world if it happened.' Akane saw the two fighting and naturally blamed everything on Ranma and subsequently malleted him through the roof of the dojo. The funny thing was that Ranma could have sworn he saw a glimmer of a smug smirk on both Ryoga and Akane's faces before launching through the roof. 'Stupid tomboy. Never listens to me.'

Things have not gotten better between the two of them after the failed wedding. Initially, the fiancée mess quieted done for about a month, which seemed to be when the whole group decided that it was enough time to pick up where they left off. Although in the back of his mind, Ranma thought that there was something strange about the fiancées' attitudes toward winning his affections, as if it were more for tradition than not.

It was days like this were Ranma would like to not have to hold back so much. Since the Jusendo incident, Ranma had not faced any opponents of such power again. However, he did get his good share of fiancées randomly showing up at the doorstep as well as the usual martial artist with some sort of crazy fighting style. Just in case an adversary like Saffron would show up again, Ranma had gone on frequent weekend training trips, including an extended one during last summer's vacation to try and duplicate various techniques he had seen during his time in Nerima up to that point.

He had been able to apply the Amaguriken principles to his lower body, went under the Breaking Point training, perfected the Splitting Cat Hairs trick, and duplicated the rest of the Saotome Forbidden Techniques. After these were accomplished, he created his own revisions of the techniques. They included a Breaking Point Wave (which basically simulated a minor and localized earthquake through manipulation of lines of breaking points), a Moko Takabisha Rapid Fire (Amaguriken with a rapid fire of smaller Moko Takabishas), Blade Barrage (Amaguriken with rapid fire of vacuum blades), using the thief's invisibility without a ki vacuum being present, and his most deadly attack, the Dragon's Teeth (a Hiryu Shoten Ha composed of vacuum blades). He shivered remembering how the forest he was practicing in was basically reduced to sawdust from the one time the technique was used. Realizing then and there how deadly the Yamasenken portions of the Saotome Forbidden Techniques could be, he created versions where the vacuum blades had less sharpness and acted more like brunt weapons.

But he never used these special techniques against the Nerima Wrecking Crew because some of them were simply too dangerous. They were going to be reserved for powerful enemies like Saffron. So during his day-to-day battles, he had to fake his skill level against opponents, making it look like he was only able to barely win. He suspected that Cologne and Happosai knew the truth about his skills, but for some reason, they never voiced their thoughts about it and acted as usual. And so life continued as normal, or as normal can be for one Ranma Saotome.

Ranma sighed as he picked up another piece of the broken roof off the floor. Of course, when he returned a few hours later, wet and female thanks to landing in the canal via Akane Mallet Air, the idiot fathers ranted and raved to him about not getting along with his fiancée, joining the two schools, and how Ranma must live up to his responsibilities to the Anything Goes School. 'Stupid oyaji for getting me into this mess.' After punting his father into the pond, the lousy panda ordered him to make repairs to the place. 'As if he has any right to boss me around after all the crap he created in my life.' Akane and Soun ganged up as well, telling him to do the same.

Normally, contractors would do repairs to the dojo on a regular basis, but because of a recent increase on insurance premiums, money has been extremely tight for the residents. Since the fathers liked to sit around on their asses all day rather than re-opening the dojo and actually teaching students, the only money the group had to work with was the regular blackmail funds that Nabiki normally acquired. To compensate for this, Nabiki "kindly" suggested for Ranma to take-up a part-time job, and so the martial artist began to earn income from waitressing at the Nekohaten. 'Stupid old ghoul. A damn slave driver is what she is.' Which was true for Ranma's case since Cologne seemed to derive a twisted sense of pleasure for working her 'son-in-law' even more than Shampoo and Mousse combined. 'Getting her money's worth she says. Ha! More like she gets off on it.' At least with the summer almost over, he would not have to worry about waitressing for a while. Happosai was reported being seen in the Juuban district recently once he heard tales of superheroes posing around in short skirts. Ranma sure felt sorry for them, and would probably had gone to retrieve the old pervert had he not have problems of his own.

Naturally during the repairs forced upon him, the family decided to go on vacation to the beach while he had to do all of the fixing. 'It's not like I wanted to damage the place. Ryoga's the jerk who started it.' At least he got the weekend off from the Nekohaten, Cologne saying that they were going to join the Tendo's. 'That's weird, though. I thought this would've been the perfect time for Shampoo to spend time with her airen.' Ukyo was not around as well. Maybe when they heard of the Tendo's vacation, they assumed he would be going with them. Not willing to dwell too much on such a gift, the thought slipped his mind. With another sigh, Ranma dropped the wood and decided to order something out since the Nekohaten and Ucchan's were not open.

Walking outside the dojo and easily jumping over the koi pond, Ranma went into the Tendo home and towards the phone. Picking up the nearby phone book and scanning through it, he decided to call a local noodle shop, one that was not nearly as popular or as good as the Nekohaten, but had decent enough food. After dialing the appropriate number, Ranma waited for someone to answer. He did not have to wait long.

"Yeah, this is the Demon Grief Office. Don't go anywhere. Someone's coming over. Do it or you'll be sorry." The phone line went dead.

Ranma could only stare stupidly at the phone. "Okay, that was weird." He was about to redial the number when all of a sudden he felt a strong presence behind him, one that sent chills down his spine. Whirling around, Ranma dropped the phone and came face to face with…

A few minutes earlier in Nifelheim…

Mara, demoness class one, category one, unlimited of the Demon Grief Office, was not having a good day, with good being a relative term. Her latest scheme to bring misery upon a certain trio of goddesses and their mortal companion had failed. The plan was rather simple, having a lower level oni possess Keiichi and forcing him do all sorts of horrible things that he would later regret. She even took a long time in casting many spells to camouflage the creature's presence from the goddesses.

Everything was going fine. Keiichi was unnoticeably possessed, but the problem was that an oni can only bring out the dark impulses within a soul…and Keiichi did not have a particularly high level of evil desires in him. The mischievous limit to Keiichi seemed to impulsively and passionately kiss Belldandy, whom did not seem to mind at all, but actually quite happy for the initiative. Then the little brat had to go and hammer him for touching Belldandy. Of course, since her hammer was used for debugging, it had sufficient power to send the oni back to Nifelheim. The worst part of the ordeal was that Urd seemed to get it into her head that Keiichi's new attitude was resultant from her 'guidance.' The last thing Mara saw was Urd giving herself a pat on the back, literally, by splitting herself into her miniature forms.

As punishment for her latest failure, Hild had detained her to temporary desk duty. 'Imagine, me, the premier agent for Midgard, on desk duty. Damn Norns.' Things had been boring for the past couple of days, doing basically nothing but sitting around a damn phone. Earlier in the day, Hild sent her a message via computer, indicating that later she was to grant a demonic wish to one Ranma Saotome. So here she was, reading over the file of said person.

Even with being a high level demoness, Mara could not help but be a little impressed by the chaos that seemed to circulate around the man. 'Jusenkyo curse, Neko-ken training…defeat of Saffron!…So this is that guy. Hmm, seems like he needed the aid of a magical weapon and Saffron wasn't able to regulate his full abilities, but still…rather impressive.' Even if the self-proclaimed Phoenix god was actually a demi-god, his defeat by a mortal was some interesting news among the deities and demons.

"Boy, this kid has more chaos surrounding him than some class three's." Her musings were cut short by a ringing at the telephone. "Oh well, time to get to work." The blond demoness picked up the phone. "Yeah, this is the Demon Grief Office. Don't go anywhere. Someone's coming over. Do it or you'll be sorry." After hanging up the phone, Mara stood up and disappeared in a mist of black energy.

Back to the present…

With his life as weird as it was, Ranma had seen many strange things during the past few years in Nerima. It seemed to him that this was going to be another of those times. Standing in front of him was a beautiful blond woman wearing a tight leather outfit with a cape attached to it. The outfit did not leave anything to the imagination regarding her…assets. On her forehead there were two diagonal red slashes, accompanied by a pair of red triangles on each cheek under her red eyes. The woman radiated sexuality and a predatory nature that reminded Ranma too much of a cat. Had these been the only things Ranma could sense, he would merely have been uncomfortable and probably be blushing like crazy.

No, what made him wary of the woman in front of him was the dark aura she was radiating. He never felt such a strong power before! The energy wasn't ki, but something similar and yet so different from what Saffron used. However, she made Saffron seem like a baby! Hell, she could probably take on Saffron, Herb, Cologne, as well as Happosai all at the same time and still have power to spare! 'What the hell is she?…And what the hell does she want? One moment she's not here, the next minute she is…Oh crap! She had better not be another fiancée!' Although he wouldn't admit it, Ranma knew he could not defeat someone so powerful. 'I'm in deep shit, here!'

While Ranma was inspecting Mara, she was doing the same to him. She liked what she saw. 'I can see why he has all of those girls after him. Let's see. Looks. Nice lean build, not too much muscle, but just the right amount. Clothes. That red silk and black pant combination works well on him. Attitude. Hell, the kid's practically oozing confidence.' She almost sighed in regret. 'Business before pleasure.' "Hey, kiddo."

This seemed to snap Ranma out of his trance, and even then he could only respond dumbly. "Huh?" Shaking his head to clear it, he more intelligently asked her, "Who are you? What do you want?"

Mara smirked at the questions. "To the point, eh. Well, the name's Mara, demoness class one, category one, unlimited of the Demon Grief Office. It seems that you, Ranma Saotome, have been found worthy of a wish, any wish you want. No strings attached."

To say that Ranma was shocked at what was said would be like saying that Akane's cooking was just bad. "Wha..?"

Mara's grin widened, incidentally showing her somewhat notable fangs, at the dumbstruck expression on the pigtailed boy's face. "You heard right, kid. You get to wish for anything that your little heart desires, but only one wish."

Ranma could only blink. A moment later his eyes narrowed at his supposed benefactor. "Yeah right, lady. Thanks, but no thanks. I've had my fill with wishes and they're nothing but trouble."

If possible, the superior smirk on Mara's face became even more pronounced. "Oh, like that wishing sword business." At his bewildered look, she continued, "That's right. I read your file before I came here and I've got to say, you have had one hell of a life so far. I know about your Jusenkyo curse, the Neko-ken training you went through as a kid, and even that battle with Saffron you had."

Ranma was becoming increasingly unnerved by the casualness this Mara was describing the details of his life. "Just the same, I'd like it if you'd just go now. Thanks for the offer, but I'll, uh, pass."

Mara was getting slightly annoyed at the paranoia he was showing, but she could understand its justification. She was a demoness after all and tricking mortals into deals was part of their trademark. "Look, I don't have all day. If you don't really want the wish then just ask for something stupid like food. Personally, I have better things to do than just stand around and wait for some mortal to make a stupid wish. Hell, just wish that you don't want the wish for all I care."

This statement was slightly disconcerting for Ranma. It seemed as if she really didn't care whether he made a wish or not. He sort of expected the demoness in front of him to have a gleam in her eye when talking about the wish, the kind he has gotten used to over the years from being used so much, but he couldn't find any traces. 'Of course, she says she's a demoness, and, so, she just could be really good at hiding emotions like that.' "So, what's the catch? There's always a catch with stuff like this. Why am I getting a wish anyway?"

Rolling her eyes at 'Mr. Twenty Questions,' she decided to answer anyway. "For the last time, there is no catch. It isn't going to cost your soul or returning a favor or any of that crap." Chuckling a bit, she added, "Your actually getting the wish as a sort of reward."

Ranma blinked again. He seemed to be doing that a lot in the past few minutes. "Reward?…Reward for what?"

Now examining her nails as if this was something special about them, she replied. "Well, it was for all of that wonderful chaos that you brought into the world."

Ranma became indignant about this. "Hey! It's not like I wanted any of this crap that goes on in my life! It's all oyaji's fault and his stupid promises! Why isn't he getting this put on him?"

"Because not all of the chaos was due to his little pledges. They may have started situations, but it was your own fault for letting them go on as they did. You could have ended the whole mess long ago."

Ranma was not liking where this was going, not one bit. "What do you mean?"

Shrugging her shoulders indifferently, she continued. "Well, if you want to put it into simple terms, according to your Japanese honor codes, Genma's pledges have destroyed your family's honor. All you had to do was admit this to everyone and the whole thing would have been settled. Even the Amazons would refuse to marry with an honorless family."

Ranma could only momentarily gape at her for a moment until a hot rage took over him. He practically snarled out, "Take that back!" His knuckles cracked from balling them too tight.

Mara raised an eyebrow before responding, "For what, telling you the truth. Look kid, the simple matter is that your family's honor was ground into the dirt with Genma's multiple marriage pledges. The system gave you a wish since some small part of you realized this to be the truth, but because of your denial, everything went along as it did…That and your pride." 'Enough ego here for some small countries I'd think, not that it's a bad thing.'

The pigtailed martial artist continued to glare daggers at the woman in front of him, temporarily forgetting about the vast amount of power he felt within her. For several long moments, he continued to stare in silence, when suddenly his shoulders slumped in defeat. Ranma grudgingly admitted to himself the truth in her words. 'She's right. I knew our family's honor was basically worthless after finding out about these damn pledges. But that's been a large part of what I have been fighting for all along. On the road, that's basically all I have had, honor. My personal honor might be okay, but the family honor isn't. What am I going to do?'

The demoness rolled her eyes at the boy's apparent contemplation. "Hey kid, have you forgotten already? You've got a wish coming. Being the mess that your life is, it probably wouldn't fix everything, but," Mara shrugged her shoulders, "we'll see how it works out."

Ranma sighed in defeat. "You're right. One wish wouldn't fix anything. Hell a dozen of them probably wouldn't do the trick. What can I do, though? Any way I look at this, honor is going to be lost."

Indifferent to the situation, Mara shrugged and replied, "Well, forget about family honor then."

Ranma scowled at the woman. "What kind of answer is that!?!"

Unfazed by his anger, seeming even a little pleased by it, she continued, "The simple answer. Technically your family honor was crushed even when you were a baby and you seemed to have done alright for yourself considering how you grew up. What's going to be so different?" Mara snorted in disgust. "You mortals and your pathetic sense of honor. A bunch of non-sense if you ask me."

The answer doesn't seem to placate Ranma. "Well, I didn't ask you…Besides, why the hell would I ask you about honor? Demons like you don't understand or have to worry about things like responsibility."

Mara scowled at the boy's presumptions. "Look, kid, don't assume about things you don't comprehend. Yeah, demons spread all sorts of chaos throughout the world and it's pretty fun doing it, but this kind of power comes with a price too you know."

Ranma looked skeptically at the demoness. "Oh yeah, like what?"

As if she were about to state the obvious, Mara snorted and situated her hands on her hips. "Look even though we're demons, we still have rules to follow. We have our own laws and penalties for going against them. If we didn't have some sort of system, we'd never get anything accomplished. Unlike what you believe, demons can't simply go out and start massive waves of destruction and mayhem on a whim. In fact, there are big penalties for that kind of thing. Also there is the simple fact you seem to forget is that demons are universally hated for what they merely are, even if there are some gods who act a lot worse than some demons. There are a lot more races than human beings, kid, and they all despise us. Outside of ourselves, we may have an occasional friend or so from the heavens, but that's about it."

Surprised at the revelation and slightly ashamed, Ranma replied, "Oh, uh, sorry about that." He tentatively smiled and nervously scratched his pigtail.

After offering a small smile, she waved her right hand dismissively and replied, "Don't worry about it. It's not so bad," Mara chuckled a bit, "Like I said, spreading chaos is kind of fun…Heh, one benefit we have is possessing a lot more leeway in doing things than mortals or gods have. Hence, we've got a lot more ways out of problems like yours with pledges, promises, and whatnot."

Ranma sighed. "Leeway with pledges. I sure have a lot of them to uphold. If I had some of that with mine, I could probably straighten everything out. Man, I wish I had that kind of life."

Mara's twin slashes flared and a dark energy seemed to seep out of the ground and surrounded her. Ranma yelped and became nervous as the same type of mist suddenly encircled him. Suddenly, pain unimaginable filled his being, his very soul. It felt as if he was being torn apart and put back together. As suddenly as the dark mist appeared, it extinguished. Mara simply said, "Wish granted."

After the shock wears off from the previous pain, Ranma felt different somehow, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. He looked down at himself and noticed that although his pants were the same, his red silk shirt was not and was replaced by a shear black one. "What the hell happened to me!?!"

Mara seemed surprised herself for a few moment. She blinked incredulously at him, or more specifically, at one part of him. After recovering from her own shock, the demoness merely moved a hand to her mouth and chuckled evilly. She eyed him up and down. "That's exactly what happened." A sinister grin formed on her face. She pointed a finger at a nearby mirror. "Have a look for yourself."

Her words made him extremely nervous, but reluctantly he went over the mirror. When looking at his reflection, Ranma was shocked to find twin red slashes on his forehead, similar to those that Mara possessed, along with a red triangle under each eye, which now seemed to be a mixture of the previous blue-gray ones and blood red. After looking further up, Ranma was further stunned in noticing the drastic changes in his hair color. Where before it was a jet black, now it possessed streaks of crimson red intermingled with it, the same red as his girl form. He was only able to screech out, "W-what…?!?" His mouth opened wide at his exclamation, which subsequently showed how he had fangs as well.

Finding this unexpected turn of events quite amusing, Mara chuckled again and clasped a hand on his shoulder. She examined themselves both in the mirror and simply stated, "Welcome to the family, kid."

Ranma jumped around and gained some distance between himself and Mara. "W-what do you mean?"

She smirked in response. "Don't you get it yet, kid? Your wish has been granted. You wished for, and I quote, 'that kind of life.' The system processed that wish so that to get that kind of life, you had to be that kind of person." She dramatically paused. "So now, you are now a demon."

Ranma was by now slack-jawed and could only gawk at the blond. After a few moments of letting the information settling in, he managed to get out of his stupor. "Y-you have got to be kidding me! I can't be a demon!"

Mara simply shrugged her shoulders. "Well, that's the way the system saw your wish as. The demon marks," She pointed to her slashes for emphasis, "are proof enough."

Ranma stomped up to Mara and shouted, "Well, undo it then! I don't want to be a demon! I'm a martial artist and martial artists are supposed to protect! I can't do that as a demon."

Mara seemed surprised for a moment, but then tapped her finger thoughtfully to her chin. "Hmm, that should have actually done it. Only the client could break the contract and your words sounded like it." She shrugged her shoulders. "I guess we'll have to talk to the boss about it."

Hearing this, Ranma's anger dropped and he suddenly got very nervous. "What do you mean, like the, uh, devil or something."

Unable to contain herself, Mara broke out into laughter. After a few moments, she continued, "Something like that. The devil is just some legend created by humans a long time ago. No, I'm talking about Dai Makaichou Hild, or H, as we call her."

Ranma blinked. "Her?"

Remembering his personality profile, Mara smirked. "Oh, yeah. Keep in mind I read your file, kid, and I recall that you've got this thing about thinking woman being weaker than men." Her smirk turns cruel and Ranma shivered from it. "Well, I'll tell you this much. You don't stand a chance, in well, hell against me. So, if you show that kind of attitude in front of her, well, you get the drift…"

Ranma gulped and squeaked out. "Okay…but do we really have to go to…"

Before he could protest, Mara grabbed Ranma's shoulder and the two disappear, leaving only black mist behind.

End Prologue.

Author's Notes: Okay, so having Ranma getting a wish and screwing it up is not the most original of ideas. Before anyone can ask, Ranma is not a reincarnated demon. There is a different explanation as to why the contract could not be revoked. Also, I would not wait anytime soon for the goddesses' appearances. Other things will be happening beforehand. What will they be? Well, I guess you'll have to wait and see.