Note: Based off of and continuation from "Return of the Fist" (RAAC:/pub/archive/anime-fan-works/Ranma/ranma.fotns.return-of-the-fist) by Anand Rao ) with permission and modification from the few issues of "Fist of the North Star" that Viz has released to the original, complete "Hokuto No Ken" series by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara and currently-being-released prequel "Souten No Ken" (Fist of the Blue Sky) series by Tetsuo Hara.
"It's easier to show you," Ranma Saotome had mentioned to his mother, Nodoka Saotome. Having said that, he had taken her into his arms, and taken her to the newly renamed 'Nerima Hokuto Clinic.' Daigoro Hajime trailed behind them as they took the 'Nerima Express.' What others would call jumping from rooftop to rooftop.
Upon arriving, Ranma set his mother down, she noted that Hajime-san was slightly winded and took some effort to keep up with her son, who looked as if he had mere leisurely walked from the next room over, instead of the several miles that had separated the Clinic from the Tendo-ke.
And then she looked at the Clinic, itself. While she had only passed it once or twice in her time in Nerima, Tofu-sensei had left long before she came to Nerima, but even so, even she could tell the difference.
The Nerima Hokuto Clinic was easily twice the size of its former state. The building, itself, had a more traditional look and feel, then the office building it was. There was a visible garden on the side that seemed to go all the way to the back of the building. In the time since its closure, the building had been run-down and neglected. But now, the building looked like new, and the ground well groomed. The sign that proclaimed its new name was clearly visible, the Hokuto Shichisei in the background seem to give a night-sky, comfortable feel, and one could almost make out the Dragon that was associated with the Hokuto, guarding the Clinic from evil spirits and giving its wisdom to those that came under its protection.
There were several people, mostly female, moving around the area, tending to the garden, sweeping the porch, and seemly moving around. The word was discreetly passed inside that Ranma was there, and a group of three women came over to talk with him.
Nodoka took a good look at them, she noted all were around the same age as her son, give or take a few years, all had respect in their steps for her son, and some of the young women seemed to sense how manly her son was. She smiled.
"Lord Ranma-sama," one of the women greeted him with a bow of respect. Nodoka noted the formal suffix of respect and title that the women used to greet her son.
Ranma acknowledged the bow with his own formally and introduced the group to his mother, "Mother, this is Shan Li, a Healer from the Joketsuzoku Amazons village that Cologne, Shampoo and Mousse are from. To Shan Li's right is Orange, a Healer from the Musk Dynasty. On Shan Li's left is Naoko Iseki."
Each in turn, bowed respectfully to Nodoka, and she to them.
"Is all in readiness?" Ranma asked the group.
Shan Li nodded, "Hai."
"Good job, everyone," Ranma said simply, yet his voice seem to carry over the entire grounds and inside the building for all to hear. And when they heard his voice, they all came out to stand with him. In all total, there were fifteen women and three men present, plus Ranma, Nodoka and Daigoro.
All were present to welcome Master Khan and his five Shaolin priests that came to bless the grounds and building. They performed the rituals and recited the blessing with a grace and beauty, few present had ever seen, and while moving efficiently and economically, still took over several hours to finish.
After its completion, Ranma invited the priests in for tea, which he personally made in the traditional manner and served to everyone. Each, sipped and enjoyed the tea and tea-cakes, in his or her own silence. Ranma noted that Master Khan had a thoughtful look upon his face, but remained silent, knowing that the Shaolin Master would only speak when he wished to.
Slowly, but surely, everyone but Ranma and Master Khan left the room. The five Shaolin priests returned to their Temple duties, the others went around making sure everything was in place, while Shan Li showed Nodoka and Daigoro their way around the clinic. Both men enjoyed the silence, and sipped their teas slowly.
"Where Hokuto goes, Chaos follows," Master Khan quoted the old proverb.
Ranma merely nodded his head acknowledging the proverb. It explained a bit of what happened when he and his father came to Nerima. And with Soun and Happosai already there...
"It is a bit strange though," Master Khan continued, more to himself then to Ranma, so he remained silent.
Patience was something that took him a long time to learn, and he had yet to master it. To point, Ranma asked, "What's strange?"
Master Khan remained silent for a moment, pondering if he should speak or not. He concentrated on the tea leaves in his cup, as if divining an answer. After several moments, he answered, "These grounds and all... It was almost if they were blessed already... before we came here."
A curious look appeared on Ranma face, but this time, he kept himself from inquiring. If Master Khan wished him to know, Master Khan would tell him.
"No matter," Master Khan finally remarked. He got up, as he was almost to the door, he added, "I wish you well, Master Ranma-san, and may the gods favor you in your Duties."
Ranma surprised, just stared after Master Khan.
It was a slow day at the Nekohanten, for which Cologne was thankful for. Last night, she had a bad dream, and had looked to the morning stars for assurance. She saw that the Hokuto Shichisei, her personal stars, were brighter then she ever had recalled seeing them in some time. A good omen, she felt. Yet, there was a uneasy in her that she could not explain.
When Ranma had decided to go back to China to train further in the legendary Hokuto Shin Ken, Shampoo had wished to return to their Village, for a little while anyway, and then seek out her wayward husband. But Cologne knew that would be a very bad decision to follow. She knew that Hokuto Shin Ken protected its secrets very jealously, as well as the fact that the boy took his training very seriously (It was a shame the boy was born of the wrong gender and not of the Village,she thought). To interfere in either, would be a diaster.
She, and she alone, understood that the boy was changing... Since the 'Saffron Incident,' as she thought of it, she knew that the boy had entered the realm of Warrior, leaving the world of simple Artist behind. She also knew that Time was on her side. It was obvious to her, that the others did not see the changes in the boy as she did. Nor did they ever understood him. Or that he was moving away from even the Tendo girl and the rest. It was only a matter of time, until the boy realized that he would not be able to fit into this backwards 'civilization,' and where his proper place would be.
She also knew that it was only a matter of Time until the boy returned. In the meantime, she had an opportunity to secure a possible secondary location for her people as well as give Shampoo some experience in dealing with backwards cultures that existed outside their world. That the various gangs had come to Nerima, six months after the boy's departure, were, for the most part, just nuisances, fit only for Shampoo to hone her martial arts skill that she had been neglecting in her pursuit of the boy.
The day had started off pretty well, Shampoo dealt swiftly with the three gangsters that had foolishly came to harass them and their business. Mousse had gotten the dining room ready for the early lunch crowd on time, and the customers gave good tips that morning. That the Nekohanten was one of the few restaurants that were open in Nerima, as well as the fact, that even Mousse could easily deal with the gangsters, kept the business coming. Many people had come to the Nekohanten simply for the 'safe haven' it 'provided,' assuming that one paid for the food and drink and did not loiter around.
It was during the beginning of the lunch-crowd when Cologne's senses noted that someone unusual entered the Nekohanten. Spying from the kitchen, she noted the stranger as she was seated by Mousse. Just went to show how backwards this place was as many of the foolish girls seem to take a (mysterious to her) interest in 'Mister Part-Timer.' Although, this stranger did not have the look of the locals, in fact, she seemed familiar. Her moments were economical of one that studied the Martial Arts for some time, and she had the feel of one that was used to truly fighting, not like those around here. Even after dealing, poorly but still dealing, with the local gangs, there was still a lack of understanding, she felt, among the locals as to what was truly going on.
It was not until Shampoo started to curse at the stranger, in Chinese, and attack her that Cologne finally placed her. She quickly went out into the dining room to stop the fighting before they broke anything valuable, by simply saying, "Enough," in Chinese. She noted that while Shampoo was slightly winded with a scowl expression on her face, while Yukiko, for that was who it was, merely had a small smirk on her face.
She found herself frowning at the scene before her. Of what she recalled, Yukiko was a Joketsuzoku Amazon Warrior of the same generation as Shampoo, but of a family that did not follow all of the Old Ways, hence, so-called 'modern Names' they gave their children. In the tournament that had named Shampoo the Village Champion, Yukiko had only came in fifteenth place, last of her age group, and only barely able to defeat those younger then herself. A disgrace, to Amazon Tradition, but one that Yukiko and her family did not seem to share, much to her and the Council's annoyance. That she was here, in Nerima, was greatly puzzling...
Yukiko only gave a slightly insulting, small bow of acknowledgment towards Cologne, and handed her four scrolls, all bearing the Mark of the Council.
Cologne puzzlement grew. She could not think of any reason why the Council would send the young rebel to deliver scrolls to her. In fact, the only reason the Council would even acknowledge one such as she would be to banish her, never to send any correspondence to one such as her. It bordered on an insult to her station. Still, the Marks were legitimate, she could feel the ki that was used by the Council to seal them.
She read the first scroll. The first scroll was a simple Council degree that the boy was exempted from the Outsider Marriage Law. She knew after the boy had survived his encounter with the phoenix-god Saffron that such a degree was forthcoming. She was ashamed of the lack of Warrior spirit, but then she was the only true Warrior on the Council, so it was expected.
The second scroll came only as a mild shock, while it was not unheard of, it was still a very rare occurrence, when the Council would confer the status of Warrior upon a male. Having defeated both Saffron and Shin, it was only logical. Even if the only prior occurrence was in her great-grandmother's time. Unfortunately, it did remove her last ace she had in regards to the boy, since it allowed the boy to legally use the techniques she had taught him. She had hoped to use them to lure the boy into her grabs, if Shampoo failed to do so, and bind him to her Village.
The third scroll, she had to read over and over several times to make sure her eyes were not playing tricks on her. Such a thing was without precedence... That... That a mere boy was given and acknowledged as a... she could not even think the word... it was such a foreign concept to her... It was unheard of, period, in her entire History... there was never a... even the title 'Matriarch' was reserved only for full-out War-Time, or the founding of a new Tribe within the Nation... but to give the title to a boy... and accept a bunch of... bunch of rebellious, foolish children their own independent Tribe...
"Great-Grandmother," Shampoo's worried and nervous voice cut into her dark musing. Before she could reprimand her grand-daughter for her outburst, she felt a bit of a stinging sensation in her hand. Looking done, she noted that her ki had set the scroll on fire and she had burned herself like some novice warrior. The smirk on Yukiko's face just added to her annoyance. Assuming the Soul of Ice, she was able to clear her expression and control her emotion. Still, words failed her.
With humor at Cologne's outburst in her voice, Yukiko said, "I have done my duty to my Patriarch."
Shampoo could only stare at the spot that Yukiko had just left. She was very confused and a bit scared. She knew that Yukiko was not much of a Warrior, her great-grandmother and all would confirm that time and time again, but no Warrior would leave without their War-Mistress's permission. It just was not done. And then she used that weird word 'patriarch', which she was sure she never heard of before. It sounded foreign to her.
And then there was her great-grandmother... Her hand was on fire and for the first time, she could recall, ever, she saw her great-grandmother loss control of her ki and emotions.
Cologne calmed herself and thought over the scrolls once more in a more rational mind-set. Then she began to laugh... long and loud. The fool thought he had gotten away from her. She will show him his folly. Sure, it would be more difficult now, with other Amazons allowed onto the field, but she will, in the end, be the victor. It will be she, and she only, that will take the foolish boy into her tribe and learn the secrets of Hokuto Shin Ken.
All the foolish boy did was open the playing field. The foolish boy did not know he was 'protected' under the Outsider Laws, that only Shampoo would be involved. Hence, why she, herself, had only acted indirectly until now. Now, any Amazon, who wished to, could claim the boy for their husband.
It was too bad her child-rearing days were over...
Ukyou Kuonji was happy. All her work since Ranma had left was paying off handsomely. She knew that Ranma would be gone for some time and planned accordingly.
She set herself a few goals to accomplish while he was away. First, she went on a few of her own training trips, to prefect her family's Okonomiyaki Martial Arts School. During which, she scouted out some possible locations for expansion or relocation as she might need.
After a year or so, she managed to secure a shop for a new Ucchan's, but it was on the other side of Tokyo, all the way in the Juuban Ward. Seeing how she could not be in two different places at the same time, she had trained Konatsu Kenzan in her Okonomiyaki Martial Arts School. After a few months, he had mastered enough that she felt comfortable enough to allow him to run her original shop so she could concentrate on the new shop.
Having graduated from High School had freed up a lot of her time, and allowed her to expand and truly plan out her new shop in Juuban. She had desired to have a true restaurant, dedicated to Okonomiyaki, where a family could go and enjoy themselves in peace and quiet. Ucchan's in Nerima could only handle a few customers at a time, which was fine while she was in school and her time and energy limited, but she had always wanted more. And she found that in Juuban.
Ucchan's in Juuban took over a year, setting up the place to her liking, finding and training a staff to run it with her, and getting the shop off the ground. She even managed to talk her father into helping her, and in doing so, got reacquainted with her father, after their long estrangement. It was slow and awkward at first, but with time and success of the restaurant, they had gotten over the difficulties of the past.
She received reports from Konatsu, on a regular schedule, about what was known of Ranma and what was happening with the Nerima Wrecking Crew. She was a bit embarrassed that she and the others had been called that. And of course, by the time those stories reached Juuban they were blown completely out of proportion. Those stories made it sound like their lives was some type of manga or something. After several months of such stories, she gave up listening to any more, just reading whatever Konatsu sent her.
So she did not give it much mind when the stories of gang violence and such started in Nerima. That was until she returned once to check on Konatsu.
Fortunately, her decision to train more, saved her.
She had tried to get the Nerima Wrecking Crew back together, but without Ranma there, it was not possible. The Amazons were uninterested in the affairs of the Nerima, Ryouga was out looking for Ranma (and have not been seen since), Kodachi was said to searching as well for Ranma, while Tatewaki was off to college, and Akane...
Akane Tendo was a shock. She did not know the specifics, no one did. But still...
It was only then that she realized that the troubles of Nerima were so great.
But she knew that when her Ranchan came back, he would set things back to the way things were.
In the meantime, she would spend more time with her father and making her shop in Juuban more successful then the one in Nerima.
Yukiko hummed a tune she had heard as she walked towards the Nerima Hokuto Clinic. She had enjoyed herself at the Nekohanten. People like the self-righteous Cologne that lived in the Past and cared only for themselves irrated her. It was people like them that caused the Communists and the others to see the Joketsuzoku Amazons as threats, especially with their out-dated Husband Hunts and alienating any that came to the Village. They thought themselves invinciable and supreme, unable to accept that they were primitive and dying. The Communists, in truth, needed only wait three generations before the Joketsuzoku Amazons would die out on its own. But no Elder would accept that... to speak of such things, just caused 'problems.' Of course with Cologne 'out of the way,' so to speak, some progress had been made back at the Village.
The Council saw the wisdom in not opposing either the Hokuto or Nanto, for they would not survive the encounter with either. Unfortunately, the Council, still, had to 'play' their games, and hopefully, not bring ruination upon them all.
Either way, she was through with all that non-sense.
Under her Patriarch, she and her fellow 'rebels' could revitalize the Amazon Nation, restore it to its original form: equality for all, regardless of gender or occupation; return to Nature and harmony; and helping one simply because it was the humane thing to do.
Life was good.
And having a very handsome hunk of a Patriarch was just an extra bonus.
Yukiko's smile let everyone know at the Nerima Hokuto Clinic that Cologne had received the scrolls from the Amazon Council. Many got a chuckle out of Cologne's lost of control like a First-Year Warrior over what the scrolls contained.
Ranma asked her, "The scrolls were deliveried, Yukiko-chan?"
"Hai, Lord Ranma-sama," was her replied. "As expected, she did not like them."
"Like them or not," Ranma remarked. "As long as she stands by the Amazon Council's treaty, we will have one less problem to do with."
Many of the former Amazons nodded their headed in agreement.
End of Part 4