All Ranma characters belong in their original forms to Rumiko
Takahashi. All Magic Knight Rayearth/Rayearth characters belong in
their original forms to CLAMP.

This story begins at the start of the Ranma manga. The setup for
Hikaru and the other MKR characters is borrowed from the OVA, with
some details being taken from the TV series. Just take for granted
that things are pretty altered as far as the MKR and Rayearth side of
this crossover is concerned. You'll see as you read.

This is almost entirely set in the Ranmaverse.

On to the story:

Bridge to Cephiro: Day One
By Thermopyle (thermopyle@tds.net)
http://thermopyle.anifics.com/index.html/

#####

Ranma opened his eyes and light stabbed its way into his skull,
punching through the other side. "That...hurts." He noted that his
voice was female.

"Are you okay?" The stranger's voice was also a light soprano, but
still made his head throb.

He was lying down on a futon, and a girl knelt next time him, leaning
between him and the light. Her hair was red and a pigtail was visible
over her shoulder. Her eyes, too, were crimson, and she was wearing a
school uniform. She was cute, and about his age. She must be the new
fiancée his pop was trying to take him to meet.

His headache died slightly as she provided shade, his sensitive eyes
better able to adjust. But it was still there, strong as a martial
artist panda could inflict. "I ain't gonna marry you," he croaked.

The girl leaned back, a shocked expression on her face, and the light
and pain returned and stars blew themselves into smithereens, right up
close and personal. "Ow." It wasn't as bad as before, but the panda
was gonna get it.

Ranma sat straight up, clutching his head. His breasts tried to drag
his torso forward, snapping back and wobbling at the abrupt stop. He
still wasn't used to the weight, damn the things. "What the hell did
he hit me with? A sledgehammer?"

The girl's face popped in front of his again and she looked rather
outraged. "The panda? It was a street sign, actually. How bad does
your head hurt? We checked, you aren't bleeding or anything."

Ranma leaned back slightly. She sure was enthusiastic. "It's getting
better." He looked around the room and saw girl stuff. There was a
few kendo bokkens on display in the corner, though. He was alone with
his new fiancée in his new fiancée's room. Typical Pop, dumping him
in here right after they arrived.

He eyed the girl warily. "Where is everybody else?"

She blinked, looking confused for a minute, then smiled cheerfully.
"Oh, they're out celebrating. They'll be back in a few hours. You
want some Tylenol or something? I can go get it."

"No, that's fine. I'm not marrying you."

The girl grinned in response, then adopted a serious expression.
"Okay. We don't have to get married if you don't want to. Are you
sure you're okay?"

"Yeah," Ranma said suspiciously. She was cute, but way too easygoing.
It couldn't be that easy.

Ranma put his hands to the floor and levered himself up. The pain
escalated briefly and he teetered. The girl grabbed his shoulder and
he steadied out, then he moved away from her as the pain subsided.
Ranma picked up one of the bokkens, then looked over at her. They
were the same height. "You do kendo? You any good?"

The girl remained where she was, but seemed a bit flustered at having
a stranger in her room playing with weapons. "Yeah," she said. "My
brothers are better, but I did get a kendo scholarship. The school
wanted to start a club, enter some tournaments." A brief flash of
annoyance. "I'm going to a different school, though."

Ranma grunted and put the stick back. "I've never fought a kendoist
that was worth his bragging." Ranma saw that the girl looked a bit
mad at that and was about to speak, but he cut her off. "What's your
name, anyway?"

She reined it in. "Hikaru. Hikaru Shidou," she said, and bowed
slightly.

Ranma returned the gesture. "Ranma Saotome."

Hikaru waited until he finished, then said, "So you do kendo, then?
You don't seem to have a very high opinion of those who practice it."

"No, I practice the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts."

"That's not kendo?"

Ranma studied her, doubtful. Hikaru was the daughter of his Old Man's
training buddy? "No, it's a mix of different fighting styles,
primarily barehanded, though some weapon use is taught as well."

The girl nodded. "So are you any good? I'd offer to spar if not for
your head injury. I'm better than everybody I know, except my
brothers and father."

"Yeah, I'm decent." Ranma grinned. "My head is fine now, if you want
to try it."

"Ah, I don't think that's a good idea." Hikaru laughed nervously.
"You did get hit pretty hard and you only just now got up. It's been
over an hour, you know, since that panda knocked you out."

"If you're afraid you can't take it, that's okay," Ranma said, puffing
his chest out slightly. "Don't blame it on me, though. I'm ready to
fight, right now."

Hikaru's smile was strained. "Well... are you thirsty? I can make us
some tea and a small snack, then if you still want to spar afterwards,
we can."

Ranma brightened. "Yeah, I'm hungry. Lets do that."


Ranma kneeled in front of the table, waiting impatiently for the tea
and crackers. Breakfast had been early that morning, his father
wanting to get back into Tokyo and to his friend's house, and they had
skipped lunch. It was midafternoon now and he was used to eating at
set times of every day. His stomach didn't like this whole missing
meals thing at all.

Hikaru entered from the kitchen, bearing a tray. The tea set was nice
but not overly formal, which was a relief. He'd almost been expecting
the girl to try to get into the whole engagement thing right away.
She seemed far too compliant, despite her easy agreement to call
everything off when he refused to marry her.

Ranma stuffed some of the crackers into his mouth, dropped a few cups
of the tea in to wash it down, then cleared his throat when he saw
Hikaru staring at him.

"Oh, sorry," she said. "I'm not used to seeing people eat like that.
It's... different." She took a sip of her own tea. "Is there someone
you need to call, do you need to let your parents know where you're
at? They might be getting worried, if they heard about you being
attacked by a panda. It was on the news before you woke up, but I
couldn't find any kind of ID or a phone number on you, to call and let
them know what had happened."

"What?" Ranma stared back at the girl, who looked as confused as he
felt. What was she talking about? "Isn't my Pop off celebrating with
the rest of your parents?"

Hikaru set her cup down and looked at him, seeming worried. "No, I
don't know where your father is. Are you sure you feel okay? Maybe
we should contact Dr. Tofu. You did get hit pretty hard."

"No, I'm fine," he said, irritably. "What do you mean you don't know
where my Pop is? He brought me here, right?"

She shook her head. "No, after the people from the animal clinic
tranquilized that crazy panda we checked you for injuries. Since you
seemed fine my father carried you here, then my parents and brothers
went to the after-tournament party. I decided to stay here to look
after you, Ranma," Hikaru added.

Oh. That explained things.

"So," he said slowly, "you have no idea who I am, you've never heard
of Genma Saotome, the animal clinic people hauled off the strange
panda, and I'm not your fiancée?"

Hikaru nodded. "Yes. Are you sure you're feeling okay? Or are you a
lesbian?"

"A WHAT?" Ranma shouted, and bits of cracker flew from his mouth.
"No, no! I'm not a lesbian!"

Hikaru looked comforted by that, but no less confused. "Then why do
you keep asking if I'm your fiancée?"

"Ah, well..." Ranma's hand went to the back of his head and he rubbed
nervously. "That's kinda hard to explain." The ground shook and his
teacup bounced off the table and into his lap, flipping upside down in
the process. Suddenly Ranma was taller than Hikaru was.

"Yeah, that's it," he said, his voice deeper, and Hikaru jumped to her
feet, a hand pointing at him and eyes wide in horror.

"How... how did you do that?" she stuttered.

"It's a curse," he said simply. "I turn into a girl when splashed
with cold water, and back when splashed with hot." Ranma ignored her
staring and gulped down another sip of the tea. It didn't go down
quite as easily with her looking at him like that. He didn't get up,
not wanting to scare her even more. "So, where did that panda get
taken off to?"

"Well, but, but..." Hikaru stepped back until she was against the
wall. "But you were a girl!"

"Only for a bit," he insisted. "I was a guy earlier today. Now where
is my Pop?"

"Your Pop?" Hikaru sank down to her knees, still staring at him,
thought she seemed to be recovering slightly. "The panda?" she
guessed.

"Yeah."

"Well, they tranquilized him... My mom asked what they were going to
do about it and they said they'd try to find where it came from, see
if it had rabies or something like that to make it attack people. It,
he, might get put to sleep."

Ranma coughed up a few crackers, spraying small dry bits of the stuff
across the table. "Put to sleep!?"

"Yes. Panda's are endangered but they wouldn't let one go around
attacking people." Hikaru was leaning forward now, studying him
intently. "You really are the same person," she said, "you look like
your own brother. Or sister, whichever."

"Brother!" Wait, was that right?

Ranma stood and Hikaru did the same, seeming less wary now. She still
stared at him, though.

"Where is the clinic?" Ranma asked.


They walked down the sidewalk, squished next to each other by its
narrowness and the telephone poles and fences that ran along each
side. Hikaru had insisted on walking him, he didn't know why. Maybe
she wanted to see his Pop, the trained circus panda, turn into a bald
and ugly old man. He'd like watching it if not for his own curse. It
was still funny even with that, really.

"So do you really have a fiancée?" Hikaru asked.

"That's what my Pop said. We were fighting over it when he knocked me
out." He still couldn't believe the old bastard was trying to stick
him with some girl he didn't know. She'd probably be some ugly chick
who liked pokemon.

Ranma was looking ahead, trying to see the clinic, but he still caught
Hikaru's gestured affirmative from the edge of his vision. "My
brothers were saying something about you marrying another girl when we
carried you back to my house after I got the animal control people. I
didn't believe it, though. They talk about that stuff all the time."

"What?" Ranma turned to see that Hikaru's hair and skin tone was the
same. "Oh. Nope. Not like that. So if your family is full of a
bunch of hot-shot kendoists, how come none of 'em tried attacking the
panda?"

Hikaru shrugged. "You were winning. Why would they?"

"Oh. Yeah, I was. Pop is sneaky, though." He really shouldn't have
taken the whole playing-possum act as being real. His father was
gonna be bugging him about that one for weeks.

A few more steps, then, "How did you get cursed? You and your
father?"

"Um. My old man dragged me off to this training ground in China,
without knowing anything about them. It was a buncha springs with
bamboo poles sticking out of them, and you jump around on the tops as
you fight. I knocked him in, he came out as a panda and smacked me
into the spring of drowned girl. Then I chased him around a bit and
we came back to Japan." Ranma frowned. "I should really just leave
him where he's at."

"You can't do that," Hikaru insisted. "He's your father, you have to
be nice to him even if he isn't nice to you."

Ranma rolled his eyes. "Right. Well, if you're coming along then
you'll meet him in a bit. Then you can say whether you still believe
that."

"I'm sure I will." She smiled at him, then grabbed his hand, hard.
"Let's go faster!" With a jerk to make him speed up, she started
skipping, bouncing up and down cheerfully as she careened down the
sidewalk, refusing to let go.

"Hey! Quit that! Quit!"


The animal shelter wasn't too far away, and when they arrived fifteen
minutes later Hikaru was still refusing to let go of his hand or quit
hopping around like a deranged and drunken bunny. She hopped her last
hop and came to an abrupt finish. "Here we are," she said.

He had just enough time to see that the sign said 'ANIMAL CONTROL' in
big red letters, and then Hikaru walked right through the door, still
dragging him along, a smile still upon her face.

The building was made of white-painted bricks, the floor a smooth
concrete. It made Ranma think of some of the men's locker rooms he'd
been in, when they were empty, with puddles of uncomfortable water
stagnating on the grey slab, walls radiating coldness, and an
oppressive feeling of being naked. A pleasant place to work. His
father was probably enjoying his stay.

They went to the counter and waited while several people talked to the
receptionist. They all talked at once and seemed to do better at
confusing the woman than figuring out whatever their problems were.
Ranma couldn't tell what was going on.

After a little while everything was figured out and the group headed
in different directions, some people following an orderly that showed
up to guide them away, some leaving, and some sitting down in the
small plastic chairs the room provided. Ranma and Hikaru stepped
forward.

"Can I help you?" asked the heavyset woman, who really wanted them to
go away.

"Uh, yeah," Ranma said. "I'm here to get my panda." He gestured to
Hikaru with his free hand. "She said you picked him up earlier."

"*I* didn't pick anything up, so don't blame me," was her sharp
response. She picked up a phone and dialed four numbers, then chewed
the ear off of whoever was on the other end. She hung up, then turned
to the orderly, who had returned. "Take them to where that panda is.
Dr. Fukima is there, waiting."

"Right," said the orderly, who lead them off impatiently. The man
took quick steps and Ranma was almost afraid that Hikaru would start
skipping again in order keep up. She didn't, though.

A few turns down a few identical hallways later and they came to a
room with a huge cage. Inside a layer of hay a quarter of a foot deep
covered the floor, and in the middle of the cage was his pop, knocked
out and on his back in a dead man pose.

The orderly left without a word and an older man who was almost as
short as Hikaru introduced himself. "I'm Dr. Fukima," he said, and
bowed.

Ranma gave his own response, and then Hikaru did hers, a bit
distracted by his pop. He guessed that was why she listed her blood
type, interests, and hobbies, anyway, all said quickly while squeezing
his hand even harder. Maybe she'd never seen a panda so close before?

"So," Dr. Fukima began, sitting down on the stool he'd been positioned
on when they entered, "who are you? I was told that some people were
here to pick the panda up, a wonderful thing, I must say, because
we've had a couple of reporters by asking what we were going to do
about it, but I wasn't expecting a couple of high school kids."

Hikaru finally let go of his hand and walked up to the cage, ignoring
the doctor completely. "Wow! He's really big!"

Fukima looked over at her with annoyance, then turned back to Ranma.
"Do you even have some kind of ownership papers for this panda? I
can't release him unless you do. The panda also needs to be picked up
with an approved transportation method, you can't just walk him out of
here on a leash, you know. Pandas aren't allowed on the streets like
the common dog or cat, there are all kinds of rules about this."

"Uh, no, I don't got any of that," Ranma said, following Hikaru over
to the cage. She latched onto his hand again. "Is he alive? He
doesn't look like it."

"Of course he's alive!" The man sounded affronted now. "Look, I'm
going to have to ask you to leave. You're obviously not qualified to
be back here looking at the panda, let alone taking it anywhere."

Ranma blinked at him, then opened the door to the cage. Hikaru let go
of his hand again when he entered and approached the unconscious old
fool.

"Hey, wake up," he said, and kicked the panda lightly in the head.

"Don't do that! Get out of there at once!" Fukima insisted. "That
panda has been tranquilized heavily and will not be waking any time
soon! Now you must leave, before I call security!"

"Er, Ranma, I think maybe we should go get some hot water," said
Hikaru, looking a bit nervously at the doctor.

He grunted in response, and bent over. One arm slid under the panda's
back as he heaved it upwards slightly to make room, and then the other
curled around its stomach. Ranma stood, heavily, and lifted the panda
up onto one shoulder. "Okay, let's go."

Hikaru and Dr. Fukima both stared, open-mouthed, as he stepped out of
the cage. Both of them just watched him walk past until he got to the
door, which the orderly had closed behind him. The panda was too big
for him to stand close enough to the door to reach the handle easily.

Ranma looked back at the girl. "Hikaru, could you...?"

Her jaws snapped shut with a loud click, and she winced. "Oh.
Right!" She jumped forward and practically smashed the door open in
her haste, then quickly stepped out into the hallway. Hikaru kept
looking up and down the corridor as he maneuvered himself out of the
room, the panda's bulk almost too big to fit through the opening.
What was her problem?

Whooh. His old man's cursed form was pretty heavy. There oughtta be
some hot water around here someplace, to help lighten the load. He
started walking back the way he thought they'd come from, keeping an
eye out for restrooms along the way.

Ranma heard Hikaru yell "Bye, Dr. Fukima! Nice meeting you!" and then
a quick patter of feet later she was walking beside him again, the
wide corridors granting enough room even with the large bear he was
carrying around.

"Um, are there any bathrooms on that side?" he asked, turning slightly
to his right, where the panda blocked his view of everything. "I
wanna dump some hot water on this guy."

"Yeah, there's one up ahead, we passed it on the way over here. You
can't do that, though! Your father could die!"

Ranma looked left and the panda swung around in that direction until
he caught it. Damn thing was heavy. "Why's that?"

"Well, if he's sedated, and there's enough drugs in him to knock out a
panda, changing him back could kill him!"

Ranma frowned, guessing she would be looking for it. "You sure? If I
just hit him with some hot water and kick him a few times, he'll
probably wake right up."

"Well, no, not really." Now she sounded unsure. Jeez, she wasn't the
one carrying around an 800-pound panda. What was her problem?

"Well, look," he said impatiently, "I gotta do SOMETHING with him. I
can't just keep walking around with a panda on my back."

Hikaru's footsteps stopped. "Turn right here."

"Which way?"

"Right."

"Gotcha." The turned and made their way down another hallway, and
Ranma hoped she knew where they were going. That doctor guy had
seemed pretty surprised and hadn't said anything about Ranma taking
off with his pop, but the man might still recover in time to call
security. It'd be hard to get past them, restricted as his movement
was.

"We'll go back to my house and wait for him to wake up," Hikaru
announced abruptly.

"What?" Ranma turned and the panda's head thumped against the brick
wall. It twitched slightly and almost knocked him down. "Dammit.
Never mind. Why? I don't think your folks will want a panda stinking
up the place."

"Well, you said you were going to your father's friend's house, right?
And that you don't have a home of your own? Where else can you go?"

"A park, where I can dump his heavy ass in a pond and watch him
drown," Ranma replied immediately.

"But you can't do that!"

"Why not? If I'm willing to do something like that, it's because I
got it from him."

"You can't! He'll die!" Suddenly Hikaru jumped directly in front of
him, looking furious. He stopped, and she poked him in the chest.
"You WILL bring him to my house and let him wake up on his own!"

Ranma stepped back slightly. Damn fingernails. "Okay, okay. We'll
go to your place and wait 'till my pop wakes up. But if your parents
get home before then, you get to explain what some strange boy and his
panda are doing there."

"Of course I will!" Hikaru turned around and lead the way again. Was
this the right direction?


Hikaru wasn't skipping this time, but they were still getting stares
as they walked to her house. Probably the people looking all wondered
about the crazy girl who'd gone bouncing down the sidewalk earlier.
Couldn't be because of the panda on his shoulder, of course not. It's
not like pandas were rare or anything, right?

They arrived at the Shidou home and instead of going through the
house, Hikaru lead him through fence door on the side, directly into
the back yard. Within was a rock garden encompassing most of the
yard, a pond and well-groomed grass pathways making up the rest of it.
At the edge opposite the house was a large dojo.

Ranma dumped his pop on the ground beside the pond, careful to place
him in a spot where the rocks wasn't all artsy looking. Just a bunch
of hard, round stones. Genma didn't wake up, so he shrugged. Oh
well.

Hikaru either hadn't noticed or didn't care, instead staring at the
panda again. "What's he look like when he's a man?" she asked.

"Um. He looks bald. Wears glasses, too. He's a guy, I dunno. Wanna
splash him with hot water and find out?"

She shook her head sharply. "No. We have to let him wake up on his
own."

He grunted. "Sounds boring. How many dojos are there around here,
anyway? I know Pop was taking me to one, said his friend owned a
dojo. Probably the same school, since they trained together."

Hikaru poked his father in the forehead. No response. "He was
probably taking you to the Tendous'. They live a little ways from
here, near the school that I go to." Hikaru moved away from the panda
and sat down on a bench near the pond. "There are three sisters,
Akane and Nabiki both go to school with me. Kasumi is older, I think
she's nineteen. You'll probably end up engaged to Nabiki, since Akane
hates boys."

Ranma sat on his father's stomach. Just the right height, and
cushioned, too. "I ain't gonna be engaged to nobody. When my pop
wakes up I'll beat the idea out of him."

Hikaru grinned. "I believe you. You're very strong, being able to
pick up your father like that."

"Well, yeah, I'm the best!"

Hikaru was quiet after that, and he turned to look at her. "What?"

"Want to prove it?"

Ranma stared at her. "You challenging me? Even knowing I can carry a
panda for a fifteen minute walk?"

"Yes," she said. Her face was serious now, not covered with the
perpetual happiness that had seemed permanently etched on.

"Why? You'll lose, ya know."

"The school I'm going to only has a male kendo club," she said slowly.
"I don't have anybody except for my brothers and father to spar with,
and my father's students really aren't good enough for me to bother.
Even if you don't do kendo, you will still be a better challenge then
most of the people I know."

Ranma smirked. "Well, I'm good enough. Okay. Don't say I didn't
warn ya, though."

Hikaru smiled back, and stood. "I'll remember you said that... when
you lose!"

"Oh, ha-ha."

Ranma stood and started to walk to the dojo. Hikaru surprised him by
heading back towards the house. "I'm going to go get changed," she
said. "Feel free to look around. See how many trophies I've got!"
she called before heading inside.

Heh.

The dojo was large and well built, yet very simple. The stained
floors were shiny, the wood well-polished and smooth. A number of
plaques adorned the far wall, and when he moved closer to inspect them
he saw that they proclaimed various victories or placements in kendo
tournaments. They were sorted by name, the smallest section belonging
to Hikaru. Most of hers said she was the big winner.

In each corner of that wall was a stand with trophies, with labels
boasting the same thing. Maybe she would put up a good fight. She
was awfully small, though. Then again, so was his girl form.

"Intimidated yet?" Hikaru asked as she stepped into the dojo. She was
dressed in a simple skirt and short, no longer in her school uniform,
forgoing the usual protective getup that kendoist used when fighting
each other. Made sense, since he wasn't going to be hitting her with
some stick, and it made things fair.

"Your brothers win a lot more tournaments," he goaded her. "Are you
sure you're any good?"

She grinned. "We'll see. Are you ready?"

Ranma nodded. "Yup," he said, walking to the center of the room,
facing Hikaru.

Hikaru stepped forward as well, stopping a short distance away from
him. "How do you want to do this? I've never sparred with somebody
who wasn't a kendoist before, so it feels a bit awkward." She
blushed.

Ranma shrugged. "It's just like any other sparring. You attack, and
I'll take away your stick so you can't fight anymore."

She looked a bit annoyed at that, but Ranma just settled into place,
his hands behind his back as he waited patiently. "Anytime you're
ready, begin."

Hikaru took up an offensive stance. "Okay. I won't hurt you."
Mischievous grin. "Not much, anyway."

"So try it." Ranma studied the girl, waiting for her to begin.

The edge of the blade almost caught him in the side, but he jumped
backwards just in time. "Hey, you're pretty fast." That had barely
missed.

"You, too." Hikaru had a huge grin on her face, probably thinking it
was gonna be that easy. She attacked again.

Ranma bent backwards and the blade past over him at chest-height,
nearly brushing against the buttons of his shirt. Damn things stood
out like targets, they did.

Ranma was again several feet away by the time the swing ended.
"Close."

A fast set of strikes drove him towards one of the walls and Ranma was
forced to roll forward, to the side of Hikaru as she attacked. When
Hikaru swung around to adjust to his new position she was had to jump
back to avoid being kicked in the chest. Ranma let her extend her
bokken again, this time in defense and with the wall at her back. She
didn't look quite as confident now, but she was still determined.
"Too fast for ya?" he asked.

She smiled. "We'll see."

This time it was Ranma who attacked, shooting forwards as quickly as
he could. The tip of the opposing bokken lunged at him and Ranma
twitched the side slightly, pushing a hand at the flat of the blade to
shove it away as his other fist shot in at Hikaru's stomach.

His hand missed, the bokken dropped and caught him in the side just as
his fist hit Hikaru lightly in the abdomen.

Ranma stared at her, and she just grinned back.

"You're pretty fast," she said, "but I am, too."

Hikaru looked up suddenly, her eyes widening, and Ranma kicked
backwards in response. His foot smashed into a furry belly, which was
knocked away. Ranma turned to see that his father was awake and
completely enraged.

[Ranma!] the panda's sign read. Flip. [How dare you attack your
fiancée!] Flip. [You are no man!] Flip. Flip. [You are no man!]

Ranma looked back at Hikaru, who was staring. "Um, Pop, she ain't my
fiancée."

[It's a matter of honor, son, and] flip [you must uphold the pledge!]

"She's not my fiancée, you moron! We aren't at your friend's house!"

Genma looked confused, and pointed a blank sign at Hikaru. [Then who
is this?] said the sign in his other paw.

Hikaru stepped forward, around Ranma, and bowed slightly. "My name is
Hikaru Shidou, Mr. Saotome. It's nice to meet you."

"Yeah, Pop, she's Hikaru. Where the hell do you get off engaging me
to some girl when you don't even know what she looks like, anyway?"

[Shut up, boy, it's a mater of honor!] Flip. [What the girl looks
like doesn't matter.] The panda looked around. [What are we doing
here?]

"Oh," said Hikaru, "after the animal control people took you away me
and my family brought Ranma here. When he woke up the two of us went
and got you, then brought you back. Ranma didn't know where else to
go," she added, disapprovingly.

"Er, right. Pop, bad news. Those people at the pound..." Ranma
looked at his father with all the sadness he could muster. He hoped
it was enough. "The pound has a procedure they carry out on overly
aggressive animals. We didn't get there in time."

[...] Genma looked down, trying to see past his furry stomach. [NO!]

"Ranma!" Hikaru scolded. "Don't tell him that!" She turned back to
Genma. "Don't worry, Mr. Saotome, I'm sure they didn't take anything
from you, nobody said anything about it." She hesitated. "We did
leave in a hurry, though..."

[NO!] Genma turned around and ran out of the dojo, a loud mewing,
panicked sound escaping his massive jaws.

Hikaru frowned at him, and Ranma grinned back.

"Why didn't he just, um, check?" she asked, her face red.

"Pop hasn't really figured out how not to use his claws yet. Checking
could have REALLY done the job." Ranma followed his father outside,
wondering what the old man was up to.

"That was really mean," she said, also coming along. "How would you
like it if he did that to you?"

"He DID do that to me, only it wasn't just pretend. What do ya think
it's like, turning into a girl all the time?" Moron deserved every
bit of mental anguish he got.

They stepped inside the house. The kitchen was on the left and open
to the dining room, which is where the sliding glass door they entered
lead. Genma was in front of the stove, a teapot already heating over
a red eye.

Hikaru turned around quickly when Genma dumped the water on himself,
blushing once again. Ranma wondered if she'd just been traumatized
for life.

Genma immediately looked down, his hands dipping along to make sure.
"It's alive! It's alive!" he cheered.

"Couldn't you have picked a more private place for that, Pop?"

His father turned around, and Ranma winced, averting his own eyes.
Damn. "Get some clothes on, old man!"

"Ranma! How dare you tell your poor father such horrible lies!"
Genma rushed forward to attack, totally nude.

"Aw, man!" Ranma ran back outside, waited till his father was near,
then cannonballed into the pond, turning the man back into a panda.
Ranma bobbed to the surface, breasts first and shorter. "Dammit, Pop!
Don't do that!" He pushed himself to the edge of the pond, where his
father waited, ready to attack.

[Prepare to meet your maker, boy!] Flip. [Can you smell what the
panda is cooking?]

"You moron!" Ranma jumped out of the water, clearing the last few
feet completely and landing in the rocks, ten feet away from the sign-
wielding herbivore. "I can't believe you, saying something that
stupid! I told you to quit watching that nonsense!"

They jumped at each other and Ranma was hard-pressed to dodge Genma's
attacks, the panda with the signs having much greater range. His
father's speed dropped in that form, though, and Ranma's increased
slightly, evening things out for the most part. Ranma was still
unable to do much damage, though, the panda's heavy hide and thick
bones making him almost invulnerable. He'd learned not to try hitting
his pop in the head, since the blows went completely unnoticed.

Ranma jumped forward and threw the rocks he'd picked up at the bottom
of the pond. His father blocked with a sign, preventing them from
hitting him in the eyes. Ranma used that to his advantage, kicking
the sign as hard as he could, smashing it into his father's protruding
nose. A definite weakness. The panda fell back, stunned, and Ranma
snatched the sign and began wailing on his father with it, not
allowing a recovery. Blow after blow drove Genma towards the pond
until, with a final strike, his father toppled over, his footing
unstable, a tidal wave washing over the rock garden and knocking
stones in all directions. The panda floated to the surface, belly up.

"Ha! Take that, ya bastard!" Ranma chucked the sign at his father's
head and it bounced off, floating next to the waterlogged animal.
[Can you smell what the panda is cooking?]

"Um, Ranma?"

"Yeah?" He turned to see that Hikaru was staring at him nervously.
Behind her was a woman who could only be her mother, a grown-up
version of Hikaru, the woman's hair unbound and falling down her
shoulders whereas Hikaru's was braided. Three boys, each older than
the other, were also present. One of them was staring at her chest,
the others carefully weren't. An older man he guessed to be the
father was on his knees beside Hikaru, looking around in horror.
Ranma noticed suddenly that the formerly neatly organized rocks were
scattered all over the place, sections of the garden flooded from when
he and Genma had landed in the pond.

"HI!" Ranma said cheerfully. Too bad. If this was where his father
had been planning on bringing him, that plan woulda been busted for
sure. Smile, smile.


Hikaru's father wasn't anywhere near as stunned as Hikaru and that
doctor guy had been to see Ranma pick up a panda. The man didn't even
seem to notice, except that his target had gotten bigger. Ranma
dodged frantically, the bokken everywhere as he tried to escape, the
kendoist flailing at him in incoherent rage. Only the lack of control
kept Ranma from getting smacked around, with the burden on his weaker,
feminine shoulders, and even that left him running ragged.

One of Hikaru's brothers tried to restrain their father and got
knocked aside for his troubles, but it gave Ranma the chance to take
off. He was through the fence gate before the man could recover,
tossing a hurried wave in Hikaru's direction as he ran out and into
the street. He kept going, even though it sounded like Hikaru's dad
had gained a bit more resistance in his pursuit.

Fifteen minutes later he came to a halt, panting, and dropped his
father to the ground. Genma hit the pavement without waking and Ranma
collapsed onto a bench, lying on his back, the bench just long enough
for his diminutive frame. He'd thought carrying around a panda while
in his guy form was bad, but doing it in his girl from while running
just about killed him!

He stared up at the sky, his chest movements slowly becoming more
regular as he regained his breath. Okay. Doing better. So where did
he go now?

[Foolish boy!] flashed before his eyes, impacted on his face, and
everything was gone.

#####

End of Day One.