Horse of the Dead

I don't own Ranma (my god I am getting tired of saying that) nor do I own High school of the Dead. If I did it would have fucking continued rather than going on a 'hiatus' for four(?) years!

FYI this is two chapters in one.

This story was brought about by my honestly not finding any really good, lengthy High school of the Dead fanfictions. That is not to say there isn't any out there, there is one story whose name I can't remember that is a Takashi/Saeko pairing but it is set in a world without zombies, there's Banchou of the Dead, which looks great but is way too short and slooooooow to update if it isn't altogether dead by this point. The best one I've read is HoTD Bleach which has a Saeko/Ichigo pairing, with others maybe joining in. And no, I Don't like Naruto crosses, so won't mention them. Sometimes they can be good, but most of them aren't, and he's just been chosen as a Gary Stue. Also most stories take themselves too seriously, or are too short or boring or too full of OC's. In fact if anyone knows a good non-angsty HoTD story on another site please tell me about it.

This Ranma will not have been to Jusenkyou or met the Amazons so no super speed, some ki but not as much as later on, though some new moves with what he's got, lots of mobility and skill, he will be building up other skills in this first chapter, weapons use as well as a few other tricks. He will also be building up his ability to use the Umi-sen-ken the sneaky thief, the scroll of which he found (explained in this first chapter). Ranma will be 16 at the start, and be 17 and a bit when he starts interacting with the HotD crew.

Oh and there will be lemons in this story, they will happen and they will not be marked off as such as High School of the Dead was excellently perverted in both anime and manga forms. They will be full, all the way lemons unlike in DvC, where practicality everything else happened (I honestly didn't want them to take away from the story, relationships was only about the fourth most important part of that story, in this it will be the second most), they will be detailed, unlike in CS, and far more so than in WW. If you read this story you know you are a pervert, embrace the dark side, we have cookies and no rules that try to geld you.

prologue: Er, hi mom?

Ranma frowned angrily at his old man, tossing aside his small bag, which only had a single change of clothing in it and his wallet as he came through the door into the cheap, extremely shabby motel on the outskirts of Hong Kong. "God-damnit old man these street fights you keep setting me up for aren't worth anything training-wise, can't we get back to regular training yet?"

Ranma had been in street fights since he was around ten. It was an easy way for his father and him to make some money, especially since the idiots on the other side always underestimated him thanks to his age and size. That was no longer the case alas as Ranma, despite being a little short, looked what he was, an incredibly toned and tough martial artist. So they were only really worth a bit of pocket money on bad days, on good days a day's worth of food (a week's worth for someone not traveling with Genma).

He went on a little teasingly, "I mean, I know you're still sore about me winning our last two matches, but c'mon, you can't keep sulking in here and making me do all the work!"

Genma scowled at the reminder from where he was sitting in the single chair in the dinky, ill-lit room. "Quiet boy, you're sounding like a whiny girl! I'm still trying to hunt up a map showing the way to the training grounds I'm looking for, until I find them you'll just have to wait! And no, hunting it down is taking up all my time, so I can't train you. You'll just have to make do with the street fights."

In actuality Genma was a little worried about continuing to train his son. Ranma was now faster than he was, hit just as hard and was only slightly less durable. Oh, Genma had experience and guile on his side, but Ranma never fell for the same move twice (except when it came to food and other distractions), and his learning speed was if anything becoming faster as he grew up. In a match it truly was a tossup now who would win, and Genma couldn't afford to let the boy know that. That would ruin Genma's plans to control him.

He had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in a way, Ranma was a fantastic martial artist and the rest of his personality was utterly stunted, making him dependent on Genma for practically everything. That would make controlling him far easier once he forced the boy to do his duty and marry into the Tendo family. Their dojo would be a perfect place for Genma to spend his remaining life living of his son's labor. What he needed was one more training ground which he could use to his advantage to wipe the floor with Ranma for a few days, beating some more respect into him so he would obey without any complaint when he was told about his fiancé. Good as he was, Ranma hadn't yet learned that choosing the battlefield was almost as important as choosing to fight in the first place. The stories his old master had told of Jusenkyou sounded perfect, and Genma had been spending the last few days looking for a map to show him the way to it. And if the stranger stories about magic pools were true, well that could be another way to weaken the boy enough so he could be controlled.

Ranma growled a little but nodded. Unbeknownst to Genma however he was becoming more than a little irritated that his father had stopped training him. Maybe we're getting to the good stuff now, ki techniques and other stuff, and he just doesn't want to share because he's afraid I'll show him up, the lazy useless ass.

Ranma had come to the conclusion over the past few years that his father really wasn't much of a role model or even a human being, he was a liar, a cheat, a thief (though only of food, which Ranma himself would own up to), lazy and an asshole, but he was the only family Ranma had, and the idea of setting off on his own was unappealing.

Still he wasn't learning anymore with Genma so maybe… Hmm, I'll buy some of the good stuff and get the old man drunk, he always tells me to bring some stuff home anyway, and then I'll search his pack. If he has any techniques written down I'll start to work on them then surprise the hell out of him later when he tries to introduce me to them. And if not, well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Two days later he put his plan into action. As his father had instructed him, he brought home some of the local rot-gut, but he had spiked it with a large amount of even more powerful alcohol. The result was that after chugging down the lot while expanding on the mystery of Jusenkyou that his own master had passed on, Genma fell into a deep and rather noisy sleep. While he was busy snoring on the one bed in the room (Ranma had to sleep on the floor to 'toughen him up') Ranma opened his pack.

Beyond the disgusting bits such as half eaten food, flyers for all-you-can-eat restaurants, several ads for bars and whorehouses, he found only one tatty journal with lots of cuts and beer stains marring its surface. He set it aside for now, frowning slightly as he searched around. Then he discovered the very back of the backpack didn't match up depth-wise to the outside. Feeling around he was able to find a very cleverly hidden zipper at the very bottom. Making as little noise as possible he removed the rest of the junk and was thus able to open the secret pocket.

He found three letters there as well as several scrolls all mashed together. He set them all aside and, his curiosity getting the better of him, wondering who would be contacting his old man, began to look through the letters first. The first one alone was enough to nearly shock him into shouting aloud and waking his old man, but thankfully he had lost the ability to speak.


I realize the importance of martial arts training and tradition, how could I not coming from a samurai family, yet this trip of yours was only supposed to last a few years, not ten! I haven't seen my son since he was a toddler, and I desperately want to see him! Worse, it looks as if you are deliberately trying to keep us separate!

I was only able to send this to you by hiring a private investigator to hunt you down, and even then you had moved on by the time I arrived.

Thankfully he was willing to hunt you down and deliver this for me. I warn you Genma, I will not stand for this much longer, return with my son Ranma!

And the next time a creditor or a family with a supposed honor-debt shows up I will be forced to take action to retain some measure of my own honor.

What in the world were you thinking, selling off our son's hand so often!?

your wife, (for the present)

Nodoka Saotome

Ranma sat there for a minute, just trying to control his shock at the revelation: he had a mother! He never knew, oh sure he knew kids were supposed to have a mother, and he had often seen kids of all ages with their moms out and about, from playing with them on a swing to shopping though for some reason the guys never seemed to realize how lucky they were when they were shopping with their moms. Honestly he had always thought he was just some by-blow from a whore his father laid with and forgot to pull out of, or that his old man had swiped him from an orphanage, it wasn't like they looked all that alike. Nor did Genma make any secret of his trips to whorehouses.

Ranma himself failed to see what the big deal was. They were just girls after all, nothing really interesting, not like learning a new martial arts kata. And of course learning a kata didn't give you the itch, which Genma had caught several times when they passed through Korea a few years back.

Yet apparently he had a mother, a real mom, and she wanted to meet him! Wow, I wonder what she's like, and why the hell did my old man never mention her! But what's this about honor debts and selling off my hand? I've still got both of mine.

Eager for answers he looked at the other two letters. One of them he recognized as being in his old man's drunken handwriting and it indicated a promise to have his son wed a daughter or vice versa with someone named Tendo, who had also signed it. What the fuck! Choosing my wife for me without asking old man, well fuck that! Is that what my mom meant about hands, the fat tub of lard isn't one to stop using a good thing, though if he kept a copy of this one, it might be the only one he was really going to honor. Fucking dishonorable old bastard!

The next letter didn't have any more answers for him, but it was still welcome. It was a formal letter from a judge somewhere in Japan that had a copy of the divorce papers and court proceedings for said divorce of a Nodoka Miyamoto, who was returning to her old family's name, dated about four years ago. Genma had kept this just in case sometime in the future Nodoka contested ownership (yes that was how Genma thought of it) over Ranma, just in case he had to incapacitate the boy mentally further than he had already.

Ranma didn't know this, he was simply happy for this show of honor. Good for her! Ranma cheered internally, great job mom! He was happy about this for not only what it said about this Nodoka, but also because a germ of an idea had started to grow in his head.

The little cartoon made on one corner of the envelope however made his opinion of his old man sink even lower. The cartoon, a very badly drawn stick figure with glasses, with a stain of beer next to it, had a little blurb on the side of it, obviously judging from the messiness something his old man had written while drunk off his ass. Once he translated it from drunk-es it read:

Hah, stupid Nodoka, who cares! You already gave me an heir, what more do I need from you I can't get from whores! This way I have my cake and eat it too! Mmmmm cake….

What kind of man would marry someone just so they could get a son out of it? I wonder what mom would think if she saw that…

Next he looked at the journal, and nearly threw it out the window when he saw it was for the bane of his life, the neko-ken technique. Still he read through it, looking for a clue to a way to fight the madness the technique forced on him whenever he was near a cat and couldn't get away. He didn't find any, what he did notice however was that two pages were stuck together at the back. Once he unstuck them he read:

Only an idiot would attempt to try and use this technique as it is 99% fatal and guaranteed to cause mental trauma in the few survivors.

A stuck page, Ranma thought wonderingly, somewhere between a towering fury and sheer jaw dropping incredulity. A bloody stuck page is the reason I'm afraid of c-c-those furry little devils! Oh my god old man, I knew you were lazy and dishonorable, though I admittedly didn't know how much so, but this, this is just…

He decided then and there that he was going to leave his old man right now, this very night and get the hell out of dodge. Who knew what other disaster the old man could lead him into if he stayed with him? Swimming across the ocean would be easier without his old man around anyway, and he could be back in Japan and searching for his mom in two days. It would be nice to have a family member who I actually like and might respect, he mused. And if the old bastard shows up, well, my mom is sure to have words with him. With that thought he pushed everything into the bag, through it over his shoulder, made sure his old man was still out of it and left via the window.

Before leaving Hong Kong he stopped and made a phone call to the whorehouse his father had frequented the past few days, and in his best Chinese (not very good honestly, but he was decent at learning languages, he had to be with his old man taking him all around Asia and back again) told them that 'the fat foreigner with the bottomless stomach' was going to try and run out of town without paying his tab, which by this point was truly enormous. After that he hung up, hoping that the local bully boys would hold up his old man for him until he was well out of sight from shore. Not five minutes later he jumped down from a rooftop onto the wharves where, with a grimace on his face due to the junk already in the water, he dived in.

His plan worked far better than he thought it would. Genma was awoken by the door crashing open violently and several large toughs charging in. Despite his inebriated state this wasn't exactly a danger, what was a danger was the fact they had come armed with tranquilizers as well as guns. He still fought them off however and jumped out the window, wondering where the boy was but he assumed he would find the boy later. This plan was interrupted as outside the motel were several groups of policemen all also armed with tranquilizers and waiting for him. The whorehouse he frequented was owned by the local crime-lord, and he had an agreement with the police, no killing, few drugs and free nights for all the policemen and he got to call them in for the odd job. Genma barely had time to curse before he was in among them, and before he could fight his way out two darts smacked into him. They immediately began to effect him, but he still fought his way out, only to feel a large net descend on him. After that the police piled in with batons waving. The next he knew Genma woke up in a cell, wondering what the hell that had been about, and where the hell the boy was.

At that time Ranma was about fifty miles out from the port already and had just hit his stride. Japan here I come! Barring the odd stop for food, or as normal people would have called it the odd shark attack, Ranma made it back to Japan easily within about twenty hours.

Once there he camped out in some nearby woods to think of his next move and to look at the scrolls he had taken from his old man and what he found there angered him even further. Each of the scrolls held moves, some mid-air techniques, a few body strengthening exercises, others about getting more hang time in the air, all of which he had learned in the last few years taught by his father as part of the Saotome school, yet each of these scrolls had a different school's mark on them. He knew most of them too, they were all ones the two of them had stayed at earlier in their training trip. Places that opened their doors to two wandering martial artists, who gave them a roof over their heads and food for their bellies in return for nothing save to see Ranma sparring with a few of their students. "And my old man stole from them," he whispered.

That changes things, he thought grimly. I ain't about to search for my mom with this stuff hanging over me. The question is will my old man think to look for me if a try to backtrack our trail? Heh, not likely, and even if he did if he did stuff like this then we won't be welcome anywhere along our route. Then again I might not be either, but meh, I'll take my lumps. Now which school is the closest one from here? There did turn out to be one in the mountains of Kyushu province, the one whose scroll spoke about hang time, the ability to stay in the air for long periods of time. The Martial arts school in question was called the Soaring Falcon School. "As good a place to start as any I guess." He ignored the one scroll that was in his old man's handwriting for now, one problem at a time after all.

As Ranma hopped away through the trees, a lone wanderer finished asking questions about his quarry from a man in Hong Kong, not that he knew the name of the city of course. "And you say you saw a man with a pigtail and an old fat man come out of the water?"

The Chinese dockworker nodded, happy someone seemed to believe him even if it was some boy who had a very odd accent, as if he was trying to speak several of the local dialects at once. "Yeah, that's what I saw, they were arguing in Japanese I think, couldn't understand it, but they came from that direction anyway, as if they had some here or something!"

He laughed but the boy simply nodded. "And you say they went off into the city?"

"Yes, they were heading toward the poor portion of town." The boy nodded thanked him, and then turned around and headed away. And thus the eternal lost boy missed his target and lost the trail entirely.

It took him about a few days travel time martial artist style to reach anything he recognized. Once he did, he made his way through a small quiet town well into the mountains of Hokkaido, a part farming community, part hunting village, the kind of place which was hemorrhaging young ones to the cities and slowly dying out. Ranma recognized it from when he stayed here with his father at the Soaring Falcon School. Another ten minutes walk, which was up a long lane of rock stairs, and he found the school, still apparently open and busy, since two men in their twenties were standing outside with staffs crossed over the entrance. If the school was shrinking or having trouble staying open it wouldn't have people to spare for guard duty.

One of the men barked "Halt, who comes unannounced to the Soaring Eagle School?"

Ranma frowned he hadn't realized this group was so stuffy when he was younger. Oh well, if it means I can return the scroll, I can do formal. "The name is Ranma Saotome, and I am here to talk to your master over a matter of honor."

The men looked at one another, then one said, "Wait here, I will return with our master if he wishes to speak to you."

Not five minutes later he was back with an older man, spare of flesh, bald, with the eyes of a hunting bird of prey, and a harsh, angry scowl on his face. By his side there were gloves with long metal claws protruding from the wrists. His angry look faded only slightly when he saw Ranma standing there alone. "So, the prodigal student returns alone! Why are you back here boy, and where is your thieving father?"

"My old man's hopefully still in Hong Kong, but I'm here to return the scroll he stole from you." Ranma looked down, more than a little ashamed. Stealing food was one thing, stealing secret scrolls from another martial arts school went against everything he thought his old man had been teaching him about honor. "I found out about his thefts about a week and a half ago, and well, ya were the first place I could get to." With one hand he reached into his backpack and brought out the scroll in question, then handed it over. He probably should have bowed, but Ranma was never one to bow his head to anyone.

The master of the Soaring Falcon School, whose name was Ein Kotomaru, looked from the scroll in his hands to the young man that had brought it back. He remembered young Ranma from when he and his thieving father had stayed here for a time. He was a joy to teach, picking things up incredibly quickly and already at a skill level that he only saw in his oldest students. He was highly irreverent, a change from how he usually liked his students, but so full of life and good cheer that it more than made up for it. Nor had he shown any sign of being a thief himself. "Come inside boy, I mean, Ranma." He said his voice far more friendly now. "We should talk."

It turned out that that single scroll was one of three that Genma had stolen, but Ranma hadn't seen any sign of them. When Ein described the moves however, he became a little shamefaced and admitted to knowing them. Ein nodded, but told Ranma that simply returning the one scroll redeemed much, and the two made a deal. In return for room and board, as well as a few lessons from Ein, Ranma would teach the youngest students the two moves, which dealt with how to jump and use momentum while midair, something that Ein, being old and creaky found painful to teach.

Ranma agreed to this and over the next month taught the kids the moves, and even set up a little training area to teach acrobatics and midair spatial awareness. In return he received lessons in weapons use as well as lessons on how to read his opponent which would allow him to respond to any move they made, and could also be used to understand other people. He got along well with everyone though kept a certain distance from the older students, all of whom remembered the drubbing they had received from a younger Ranma. When a month passed Ranma left with not only a portion of his honor restored, but a letter of recommendation from Ein about his ability to teach and his personality.

His next two stops were much the same. Ranma himself was remembered kindly by the masters, but was only able to return one of many scrolls his father stole, and in return for room, board and lessons Ranma taught the moves and wrote them down by memory. Ranma was dismayed to find so much of the Aerial version of Anything Goes was based off thievery. Much of the original school, which was based off constant movement, adaptation and the use of ki in various ways (which Ranma hadn't figured out just yet), was original, but almost none of the toughness training and aerial attacks were. Still within two months Ranma had returned three of the four scrolls without much in the way of trouble. That changed with the fourth stop.

Ranma frowned, looking around as snow fell unheeded around him. All around Japan schools had just let out for the holidays but he couldn't care less, Ranma was a man on a mission. He had a hell of a time finding this place, mainly because he didn't remember practically anything about the area except for one particular house.

He remembered granny's house real well, but when he stopped in to say hi a new family was living there. They were friendly though and told him that the old woman and her husband had both passed away a few years back. Ranma paid his respects and left, but then ran into trouble finding the Beast Cry School. Eventually he was forced to ask someone. After several attempts he found someone that was willing to point him in the right direction and after about two hours walk he found the place.

It was an old but well-cared for temple, with a lot of land around it but well cared for walk-way leading to the school's wooden door, set into a traditional Japanese separating wall. Standing in front of it was a massive man, probably eight feet tall, with bulging muscles and a beard that looked almost alive and wearing a massive fur coat. He had been meditating (or napping, Ranma couldn't tell which) when Ranma came near but as the wind changed, he inhaled deeply, then his eyes popped open and he scrambled to his feet. "Thief," he roared, "You are a fool to come back here! You will never leave here alive!"

And with that, he charged forward, his huge hands coming out overhand in massive slaps, deceptively fast, and Ranma backed away quickly. "Hey, wait, I'm…" Suddenly tiny ki claws appeared on the man's fingertips, and Ranma shouted in surprise as he dodged the hand only for his clothing and a bit of skin below to be ripped by the claws. Ranma growled angrily at the injury and shot forward underneath his opponents range. A kick lifted him off the ground and a punch thudded into his chest with all the power Ranma could put into it. The man flew backward with an oof of pain, smashing into and through the door behind him leading into the temple grounds.

He rolled to his feet, seemingly only a little winded by the blow, while around him a dozen mixed men, boys and girls of all ages looked up from some kind of meditation practice in shock. Many of them growled like animals and stood up ready to attack this intruder. A stern voice however stopped all movement in the area. "Stop!" An old man, bent but still spry made his way forward leaning on a cane. He looked from Ranma to the giant who was still growling, clenching and unclenching his hands in rage. "What is the meaning of this Kuman?"

The giant growled his beard bristling like a living thing. "Master Roca, he smells like the thief, the one who stole from us, the one who disgraced my father and me when I was younger. I will never forget that smell!"

Roca looked back at the young boy standing in the doorway, looking ready to bolt or fight, it was obviously a tossup but he was also placing his backpack on the ground. Something in Ranma's face however caused the old man's expression to soften into something far too close to pity for Ranma's taste. "Get control of yourself of Kuman. Your anger is understandable but misplaced. Look at the boy, he is far too young to be the thief." Kuman growled again, but obeyed and his eyes widened, some of his anger disappearing. "No, I think this boy is the one he put through that training."

Kuman winced, and several of the other older men and women around winced as well. Roca moved forward and stood facing Ranma from a foot away. "Am I correct boy, did the man you travelled with put you through the cursed training, the neko-ken?"

Ranma scowled, not liking the pity in the older man's eyes, and he had to fight his ego and the indoctrination from his old man for a moment before answering by nodding his head, wondering why the man knew about it, surely it was never a real technique. "Yeah, my father, the old man, put me through that, that thing, with the furry little things."

Roca sighed sadly, and Kuman and the other men shook their heads. "Come with me boy, we must talk. Kuman I trust you will repair our door?" Kuman nodded, all of his earlier anger gone utterly, and he shuffled to his feet, grunting a little under his breath.

Ranma simply sighed and followed the man into the temple complex without a word. They came into a small worship area and Roca sat on a cushion at the far side of the room, motioning Ranma to sit down in front of him. Ranma did so and fished out the scroll he had taken from Genma. Roca glanced at it, and a thin prehensile claw of ki shot out from a finger to snag the scroll from one of its corners. Ranma gaped, never having thought someone could control his ki that far from his body.

Roca tossed the scroll into the air towards him and caught it easily in his other hand, then went back to looking at Ranma. Ranma met his eyes, but it was obviously very hard. Roca finally sighed and began to speak. "Your father was a complete idiot. Not only in what he stole from us that you have just returned, the body strengthening technique in this scroll, but also in taking and using the neko-ken journal. You see Ranma we, all those of us here form a small community who have for three hundred years studied the Beast Cry School, keeping its secrets. Never have we shared them with anyone not of the families that started the school. There were more of us once, some creatures were simply not meant to be totems, or certain families became impatient, wanting to learn the secrets faster and paid for it, but the basic premise is the use of several pressure points, mental suggestions, mediation and acclimatization to harness the power of animals. I trust you can tell what kind of animal Kuman has bonded with?"

"A bear," Ranma said shortly all this talk of animals and the furry demon-ken was bothering the hell out of him.

"Indeed. Don't worry about any of us thinking it your fault but your father put you through one of the oldest and least perfected techniques. It was undoubtedly effective, able to create incredibly powerful warriors from those that survived but they were berserkers, mindless and almost uncontrollable. There was a reason it was sealed in our deepest, most secure vaults." He added dryly.

Ranma nodded miserably, wondering what he should be saying, but not finding anything that would do any good.

Roca studied Ranma for a time in silence, taking in how he held himself, the shape he was in, the fact the slight cuts Kuman's ki claws made on his side had already scabbed over, indicating a high ki-assisted healing ability. "So you leave us with little choice, we cannot allow a potential berserker who has become such through teachings from our school go free. We must help you contain the beast within and for the first time teach our ways to an outsider."

"A-are ya sure you'll be able to?"

"It will be difficult both for you and for us but yes. Now, first we must give you a complete physical, and we will go from there." Roca was willing to help Ranma but he was not willing to explain all of their School's secrets to him, only the minimum needed to help him.

Roca got up and led the way to another room, where a man the same age as Kuman but looking so like Roca he had to be family looked up from where he was going over a checklist of some kind. After briefly explanation from Roca about what was needed the man introduced himself. "Well Ranma I must say I never expected to see you in person, the exploits of your father are well known to all of us here. My name is Teuchi, and I'm the doctor here. First we need to see if there was any long term damage, as well as analyze your ki pathways and see if there is any damage or discrepancies there."

Ranma frowned but nodded and after being told to he began to strip off including, after some prompting, his boxers. Teuchi chuckled and shook his head. "I'm a little jealous; you're going to make a girl very happy someday Ranma, heh, whoever chose your name was prophetic." Ranma looked at him blankly, wondering what that was about and Teuchi frowned a little, wondering how a teenager Ranma's age could miss that joke. "So, tell me about yourself."

During that discussion, Teuchi found out that Ranma had never attended school for very long, had never really spent any time around girls at all, and was largely ambivalent about them in general. Oh he knew where babies came from, he knew that some people were really interested in sex, his own father was after all, but he just didn't see the point. He frowned at that, wondering how the hell a boy his age had the sex drive of a seven year old, but during his examination, he found it, and it was all he could do not to let his inner animal out. He called Roca in and after a whispered discussion that had the older man pale with rage Teuchi addressed Ranma. "Ranma, what do you know about pressure points?"

Ranma shrugged. "Not much other than what they are, they ain't part of my, well my old man's school. I ain't seen anythin' about them in my travels either."

"Well they do more than most people know about. They regulate the body's functions, the ki in your body, and a lot more." Let me ask you a question, can you remember a time where your, where you felt stiff or uncomfortable down there?" Tuechi coughed not having been prepared to have this kind of discussion with his patient.

Ranma thought back. He had so many concussions while he was younger thanks to his old man not holding back much, but he still remembered a time when he was younger. "Er yeah, I think so, I was about ten or so I think, and I asked my old man about it. He told me to ignore it and he worked me really hard that day, why?"

"You see, there exists a pressure point called the Sublime Monk point, and it is only used for short amounts of time to deaden sexual interest and feelings." Ranma cocked his head, wondering where this was going and Teuchi went on. "The problem is it needs to be counteracted, or it will simply keep going, and that isn't healthy in the extreme. Your point has been depressed since that day to now."

Ranma frowned. He wasn't certain what the big deal was, but he realized these guys thought it was important. "er, so my old man screwed me over in some way right?"

Roca nodded. "Yes, and we will correct it after we get a handle on your other problem. We can't do both at the same time. Who knows what that would do?"

Ranma nodded rapidly, caring far more about getting rid of his fear of the furry demons than anything else.

Over the next six months Ranma's birthday came and went, but he was far too busy to care. The training he was subjected to, instead of counteracting the neko-ken training, made him come to terms and become one with it. Two out of every three hours of every day he would spend time in a small room watched by four of the older men and women as he, with a pressure point to counteract his fear hit, began to get comfortable with cats. This went on until he was able to be around them without instinctually trying to run, and then move on to becoming comfortable i]with a cat in his lap. One that stage was finished, the pressure point was withheld. This was the trickiest time for his training, and he nearly lost out to his fear once it came roaring back. Over several weeks however the fear died, and he began to embrace his animalistic side, becoming at home with the creatures of his totem.

Ranma came out of that training acting even more like an animal than most of the other students. It took time for him to reel in his tendencies to scratch things, chase everyone else away from his territory, wander off unexpectedly, rest in any hot sunbeams he came across, and nap several hours every day. However he did get a handle of it, though he would always be a fan of catnaps and high places, and still had an incredibly short attention span for anything that made him sit still other than sleeping. This would cause him a lot of trouble once he began to go at school. What he got out of it was massively heightened senses of smell, hearing and eyesight, a tendency to nap as often as he could, and ki claws the size of his thumb that he could call up any time he chose and a repertoire of attacks that used them both in close range.

That done they moved on to his other issue. Unfortunately part of the problem with using the Sublime Monk point was that it merely repressed your urges it did not get rid of them, and this caused a backlash after use making your urges far higher than normal and your self-control far worse. If they had let Ranma go around as normal, he would have lost control at the first sign of a girl. So after reversing the pressure point they locked him into a specially prepared room for holding those who lost control of their inner animal with a, to put it bluntly, a pile of porn and a book on human reproduction, the kind used in schools to describe the mechanics of things to seventh graders. They moved all the girls to the farthest section of the temple compound and allowed none to even come near the room. Kuman and several other male adults of the Beast Cry School stayed in the same building as added protection, and they passed in food from time to time.

Ranma remained in there for two weeks and when he emerged he was in control of himself, though barely. It would take him weeks to be able to look at a girl without blushing or staring or both. While the girls in the school got a kick out of it, and took to posing in interesting ways to get a response out of him, Ranma tried to bring this new part of his personality under control. This took over a month to do, and it interacted with his catlike tendencies, making his desire to be with a girl much stronger and harder to control at times.

By this point Roca was satisfied that Ranma was no longer a danger to those around him. He didn't tell him though, and kept hammering things like manners, math, history, common sense and general knowledge into his head. Only after he felt that Ranma could blend into society (not, Roca suspected, that Ranma would ever truly care about that) did he allow Ranma to live, with the well wishes of all of the school.

About a week after leaving the Beast Cry School, Ranma had finally found a hint as to where his mother could be. She had left a forwarding address with the Tokyo judge who had annulled her marriage to Genma, an old man who was very supportive of Ranma's search for his mother. Apparently she had moved in with her sister in Tokonosu City, a large city nearly halfway between Morioka and Tokyo. It took him another day to get there, and then a few hours of roof hopping (ignoring the looks of shock and incredulity from below) to find the address the judge in Tokyo gave him around midday.

The house was in a decent neighborhood, and was a good two story building, with a very small enclosing yard all around it. Ranma didn't see any other plants, though there might be a few in the backyard but other than the lack of plants it looked like a very nice house. Yet Ranma stood outside staring at the door as if it was the entrance to some dragon's den. After coming all this way he was having second thoughts of meeting his mother, and he was paralyzed with the fear that she would reject him. Still he remembered what the judge said, that she had been in tears about having not seen her son for so long. With that thought he worked up his courage and rang the doorbell.

After a moment the door was answered by a maroon haired woman in a yukata, one hand holding a broom as if he had interrupted her cleaning, deep brown eye and a kind, but guarded face. Even from where he was Ranma could tell she smelled like tea, jasmine and tangerines, and a long forgotten memory stirred, of a woman who patched up his bruises, gave him hugs and kisses and always smelled of jasmine and tangerines. He was brought out of his reverie when she asked, "Yes, can I help you?"

Ranma licked suddenly dry lips and said his voice a little hoarse, "Um, No-Nodoka Saotome?"

The expression on her face became even more guarded, though that seemed to fade as she noticed his pigtail and deep blue eyes. "I was a Saotome and my name is Nodoka, can I help you young man?"

"Um, well er, I, I'm Ranma Saotome, er, hi mom?" Ranma quavered, tears forming in his eyes yet not quite falling yet.

Nodoka's eyes widened, and one hand came up to cover her mouth as she took in more of Ranma's features, concentrating on the eyes, the chin and shape of the face before breathing out "Ranma, is that really you?"

Ranma nodded and before he could blink found himself in his mother's hug, a hug fit to crack weaker ribs as Nodoka sobbed in happiness. After realizing these were the mystical so-called good tears, Ranma hugged her back and the two stood there for several minutes. After a little while however, Nodoka pulled back, dragging Ranma inside with her. "Tell me everything Ranma, everything since your father took you away from me. Where is he now by the way?"

The two sat down in a small sitting room while they got control of themselves before Ranma answered. "Genma's hopefully still in Hong Kong, but honestly I don't know or care. Not after I found out about you, I just had ta come see ya, um and I found out some other things about what he'd been up to. Er, you might want to see this first…"

He slid the divorce papers he had taken from his father's pack over to her along with the envelope with the doodle and watched as Nodoka's eyes dilated then narrowed in fury, but that was all the emotion she let show and her voice was clam when she spoke. "I see, and what other things did you find about the idiot?"

From there Ranma described why he searched his father's pack, and that he found scrolls stolen from other martial arts schools, schools that had housed the two wanderers for a time. He then told a few stories about his father's teaching methods, which caused his mother's grip on her tea cup to nearly shatter it. Even if you took away the neko-ken training his teaching methods had more in common with child abuse than actual training. After that he described what he had been up to since leaving, and handed over the letters of recommendation he got from all the schools who had returned property to, and he told her about getting help making the neko-ken part of him, but did not go into details, keeping the Beast Cry School's secrets.

Nodoka looked at her son with pride and sadness. Sadness that he had to go through all that, sadness that he had grown into a man without her there, sadness that she had never been part of his childhood, yet proud he had grown into an honorable man, one who had tried to offset his father's dishonorable deeds. "I am proud of you my son, more proud than I can say, I just, I just wish I was part of why you turned out so well."

Ranma simply got up and hugged her and the two sat on the sofa trading stories for hours until her sister Kiriko and her husband came home, followed swiftly by their daughter. All three of the Miyamoto's were surprised and shocked that the mysterious Ranma, the baby boy Nodoka had thought lost and cried herself to sleep over so often had shown up out of the blue. Kiriko recognized one of the school's who gave him a recommendation. That plus how alike Ranma and Nodoka looked was enough for her, and she welcomed the boy in as another family member. Her husband followed her lead. He would wait a bit to see what kind of person Ranma was before becoming too close to him.

Kiriko's daughter Rei on the other hand was not so easy to convince. Rei had long, light-brown hair with bangs that came down to the tip of her nose and two strands sticking out above the rest of her hair like antenna. She shared her mother's reddish-brown eyes and had a slender figure with E cup breasts, and she had taken the time to change from her school uniform into jeans and a t-shirt before coming down to join the family gathering. Rei had been having a very bad time of it at school the past year and a bit and was going to have to redo this past year through no fault of her own, which made her leery of trusting anyone, let alone complete strangers. "How the hell do we know this is really Ranma? I mean he could be anyone. He could just have made himself look like her son. None of these recommendations even have a phone number to go with them for goodness sake, and he doesn't even have any identification!"

Ranma growled a little at her tone, but his mother's hand on his arm stopped him from an angry retort. He quieted down and let her answer for him. "While I may not have seen him since he was four, I know this is my son. Trust me a mother knows, but if you want to test him in some way, how would you go about it?"

Rei smirked, unimpressed by the lazy looking boy sitting there. He looked like he was in shape, but that didn't matter all that much. "This Ranma was supposed to be training to be some kind of major martial artist right? Well if he's a conman no way could he be that good, so let's test him to see if he's any good."

Ranma's eyes lit up, and suddenly Rei wasn't so certain any more. "Sure, all of ya at once or one after another?"

Kiriko's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Pretty confident aren't you? You sure you want to take us all on?"

Ranma shrugged. "Sure, no offense, but it'll get it over with faster and then mom and I can spend some more time together." Nodoka smiled at him warmly and Ranma grinned back at her shyly.

Rei frowned but nodded, "Fine, if he can beat all four of us then he must be this Ranma guy."

"Three," said Nodoka firmly, "I will officiate this match."

With that the family made their way to a nearby gym that had a dojo. Since both Kiriko and her husband were policemen, they were able to just walk in. Rei moved over and grabbed a training staff, and twirled it around. Nodoka frowned a little at that, but Ranma simply grinned a little wider and she nodded. Kiriko shrugged and got her own staff, while her husband grabbed a truncheon. He was a little worried about how this was going, but Ranma didn't seem at all concerned.

The three Miyamoto's ranged themselves on one side of the dojo facing Ranma, with Nodoka off to the side between them. Nodoka looked at each of them in turn, and while she only saw eagerness in the two youngsters, they all nodded their readiness. She raised a hand into the air. "This match will be until one side or the other is on the ground or admits defeat. Ready, go!"

The three family members moved forward like a trained unit, the two staff users on either side of the father, but were astonished when instead of backing up or trying to circle and take them one at a time, Ranma charged forward. The three reacted quickly, lashing out with their weapons. Yet hitting Ranma was like trying to hit smoke, he was moving wildly, dodging around and grinning a little as they tried to hit him but Ranma simply kept dodging.

This went on for a few minutes then he jumped into the air, actually balancing briefly on Kiriko's pole-arm before his fist flashed out, tapping her face. Ranma then leaped again, now just balancing from one staff to another, hitting out when he could. Five minutes like this and Nodoka began to laugh, holding up her hand again. "Enough, enough, I think we have seen enough to probe my son's prowess, yes?"

Kiriko touched her face gingerly, as well as her shoulder and chest, where Ranma's taps had landed. If he had hit her for even half of those, she would have been out for the count. Her husband and Rei were making their own checks and they all looked a little startled. This kid was a little older than Rei and he had beaten them so easily… "Uh, yeah, I think we saw enough. No way could a conman be that good. He's definitely a martial artist. And Rei, if you're so concerned, we can have a blood test run on him when he has a school physical."

Rei scowled, now having a new worry, a young boy her own age that much better than her living under her roof. But she had already pressed things and she could tell her parents were now also buying his story so she shut up, but decided to keep some pepper spray by her bed just in case.

The next morning, after spending the night on the family's spare futon spread out on the living room floor, Ranma was up and about at the crack of to exercise outside, then went to sleep, curling up like a cat in a warm sunbeam. Nodoka found him like that and swiftly got a camera to take a picture, he was so cute, which Kiriko agreed with. Her husband didn't comment, simply grabbing a quick breakfast and heading out the door. As a detective his hours were much more based on the specific job he was working on at any given time than his wife who was a traffic cop. When she saw him Rei simply snorted and said something about an animal acting like an animal.

About an hour after lunch Ranma answered the door to find two guys his own age standing there. One had brown hair in unkempt sort of cut and the other had combed back blonde hair. Both of them looked fit, though nowhere near as fit as Ranma. He looked at them with his head cocked to one side. "Yo, what can I do for you?"

Both of the boys looked at one another than the brown haired boy spoke. "Um, we're looking for Rei, we were all going out together today, I'm Takashi and this is Hizashi. Um, who are you?"

"Ranma, her cousin," Ranma answered, shrugging. "I'll go get her." After a moment he came back with Rei, who was frowning fiercely at him. She walked out without even saying goodbye and the trio of teens walked off.

Takashi looked at the girl who he hoped to ask out someday, one eyebrow raised in query. "So who was that?"

"His names Ranma, he's Auntie Nodoka's son apparently. He just showed up out of the blue yesterday, and everyone's welcoming him with open arms!"

"I take it you don't like him?" said the blond boy. Rei growled and nodded.

"Huh, why, he seemed like an alright guy to me. Really laid back and cool," Takashi said.

"Hmmph that's all you know. He just showed up out of the blue, no real identification, no real schooling or anything, and Auntie and my parents just welcome him in!" Rei vented.

"Well maybe they're just better judges of character than you," Said Takashi, meaning to tease her a little but as was so often the case lately Rei took it the wrong way.

"Oh yeah, well you keep thinking that right up until he breaks in and assaults me in my bed or something!" She walked off in a huff, dragging the blond boy with her leaving Takashi scrambling to keep up.

A red shirted streak passed by overhead, jumping from one roof to another and the three teens stopped and gaped. "Um… was that your cousin?"

Rei just growled a little and ignored this sign of further freakishness.

Ranma hung out with Rei and her friends a few times, but never really clicked with them. He spent most of his time hanging around his mother, getting to know her when she wasn't at work. Nodoka worked as an assistant instructor at a local self defense center, and Ranma came in a time or to help out, but wasn't interested in actually working there. He was a good teacher, but only really wanted to work with the advanced students anything else was too boring to keep his attention for long. Despite this he didn't make any friends the first week he lived with his new family, but that changed on a hot Thursday night.

It was around ten at night, and Ranma was roof hopping around the city, trying to get to know his new home, when he saw what looked like a robbery in progress. About two blocks away from his current position, he saw what looked like some kind of punk or gang banger dragging a young girl of around ten or so into an alleyway with one hand over her mouth and the other one around her waist. No one else was around, and it had all the earmarks of a well planned ambush.

Ranma growled a little, his teeth bared. If there was one thing he hated it was a bully, especially one who would prey on little kids. Stealthily he jumped away moving from rooftop to rooftop until he was just above the alleyway where the thug had taken the girl, and when he looked down he snarled in rage and jumped down swiftly. Rather than being a simple robbery, the punk had taped over the girl's mouth with what looked like duct tape and was now trying to do the same to her wrists with one hand while the other was busy ripping off her clothing. This sight so enraged Ranma he barely held back any strength when his fist flashed out in a blow that crunched into one of the man's shoulders sending him shooting away to crash head first into the side of the alley way knocking him out despite the pain of his utterly pulverized shoulder.

Ranma turned to the girl and shucked off his shirt and tossed it onto the girl, who whimpered a little and pulled it on. Once she had, Ranma moved a little closer, and gestured at the tape around her mouth, gently rubbing her head consolingly. She nodded and he reached out and gently pulled it off.

After the tape was off the girl began to cry in earnest, grabbing onto Ranma in a hug around his chest like she never wanted to let go. Ranma awkwardly hugged her back for a bit, keeping his eyes on the unconscious almost-rapist. If he moves he dies. After a moment the young girl got control of herself. "Thank you, thank you superman!"

"Superman? Am I wearing tights all of a sudden, my names Ranma, and I ain't super, just a martial artist. What's yer name?" As he spoke Ranma moved away grabbing up the duct tape and using it to tie the bastard's legs together with one hand while he let the young girl take command of his other one.


"That's a nice name. Did he take a wallet or anything from ya?" Hikaru shook her head and Ranma nodded. "In that case, let's get you to the police and this guy too, unless ya want to take a few shots before we go? It's safe, he won't wake up for a while." He gestured and after a moment the girl nodded and came forward. She kicked the man sharply in the ribs and then again in the man's crotch while Ranma laughed.

She turned and grinned a little wetly at him and Ranma nodded sharply. "Right, now that justice has been done, let's go." He knelled down, and motioned at his back. The young girl got onto his shoulders, whopping a little as Ranma stood up easily, not even noticing the extra weight. One hand rose to keep her legs in place, and he lifted the perv in the other. "Hang on tight okay?" the girl was about to ask why when Ranma leaped from a standing start two stories up to a overhanging stairwell, then from there onto a roof, causing Hikaru to nearly shriek in surprise.

Ranma had seen a police station ten blocks from here, and so headed straight there over the roofs. At first Hikaru held on for dear life, then she began to enjoy it and soon she was laughing and grabbing at his hair urging Ranma to go faster. Ranma grinned but stayed at the speed he was, though the trip passed quickly anyway. Hikaru looked down at her attacker and giggled as she realized his head was smacking against the roofs every time they jumped from one to the other, not hard enough to do much, but the 'bonk' sound raised her spirits even more.

Soon they arrived at the police station and Ranma, not even noticing the gaping stares of a few policemen who were outside as he jumped down from a roof into the parking lot and then quickly made his way inside.

Inside he found that this police station was already busy. A teenage girl with long purple hair flowing down her back to her rear with an amazing looking body who was spattered with someone else's blood at present and with a bokken in its carrying case lying next to her looked up as Ranma came in. The two looked at one another, then the girl's eyes traced first up to Hikaru still perched on Ranma's shoulders and then down to the perv he was dragging along. Her eyes widened in appreciation and her eyes flew up to meet Ranma's, who was looking back at her with interest wondering where the blood on her had come from.

This had only taken a second, and by the time the two were finished sizing one another up, the duty officer at the front desk had regained her equilibrium from seeing a shirtless man dragging another man along while carrying a young girl on his shoulders. "What in the…"

Ranma tossed the perv ahead of him to slide along the ground before reaching up to take Hikaru off his shoulders. "I'd like ta report an attempted assault by that ass-tard on this gal here." He placed Hikaru so she sat down next to the girl with the bokken and she immediately put an arm on her shoulders.

The duty officer shouted for help behind him and several more policemen, including two female officers, came out. Both of the women moved immediately to Hikaru, taking her away to be questioned and get some new clothing and for her parents to be called, while two of the other officers grabbed the man and dragged him away to be looked at as another began to take Ranma's statement. He was brief and to the point, giving all the details in a simple and unhurried manner which seemed to startle the officer.

After that Ranma was told to wait there and he simply nodded, sitting next to the girl with the bokken and the blood spatters. He looked at her and saw she was still looking at him. "So, what're you in for?" He gestured at the duty guard, who was now glaring at them both indiscriminately. "They don't seem too pleased with ya. Oh, the names Ranma Saotome, well for now anyway, what's yours?"

"Saeko Busujima," the girl replied. "And I am here because a man tried to assault me on my way home. I took offense, and the severity of my response is not to their liking. I am waiting here because they wish to talk to my father before allowing me to leave."

Ranma smirked, stretching his arms above his head and smirking wider in pleasure at how the now named Saeko's gaze slipped from his face to his chest. "What, did ya neuter 'em or something?"

"No, I crippled him in other ways." Saeko asked dryly. "Why ever did that spring to mind, was it what you did to your prisoner?"

"Nah, would have but I figured getting Hikaru back to her folks was more important. Of course if I see him around I might rectify that. But it sounds like ya did what ya should have done, who knows how many girls your perv attacked before ya."

Saeko made a noncommittal humming sound, not wanting to admit that she hadn't hurt the man so badly just because he attacked her but also because she enjoyed it. "I take it you are a martial artist?"

"Heh, yep, been on the road training practically my whole life. Mostly unarmed combat, but some armed too. Staffs, claws, some sword work. Been a little bored since I moved in with my mom and her relatives here though, the parents work all the time and the girl Rei doesn't much like me. Don't suppose you'd be interested in a spar or something?"

Saeko's smile widened slightly, though a corner of her mind was wondering where she knew the name Rei from as she replied, "That would be a distinct pleasure."

One of the policemen came over to talk to Ranma. "Mr. Saotome, your mother has been contacted and will be here shortly. First you have our thanks for stepping in and blocking what would have been an ugly event, but we're still going to have to issue you a citation due to excessive force, much like Ms Busujima here." The man shook his head. "That punk isn't going to ever be able to move his arm at the shoulder ever again, what the hell did you hit him with, and we're also looking at enough damage to the head that some brain trauma is almost certain."

"My fist," Ranma said dryly, "that's what I hit him with, it ain't my fault the perv was so flimsy. And ya can give me yer citation thing but don't think I'll care one way or another about it. If I had the time I'd a neutered that asshole then maybe crucified him."

He smirked as the policeman first paled in horror at the idea than reddened in anger at his tone while Saeko tried to keep a smile off her face. "Mr. Saotome you don't seem to understand. We can't allow vigilantes to do whatever they want this one time you did a good thing, but if you show up here again, if you go looking for trouble, then you will face fines, marks on your permanent record and even jail time."

Ranma shrugged nonchalantly then yawned widely. The man glared at him for a few more minutes then walked away in a huff. Saeko held it in until the man was out of hearing then let loose with a giggle. 'You really should have been more respectful to that officer," She chided lightly. "Are you always so argumentative?"

"I prefer antiauthoritarian." Ranma laughed then became serious. "I learned the hard way last year not to follow the voice of authority blindly."

Saeko paused, looking at him in speculation, wondering what the story behind that statement was.

Before the two could continue their conversation Kiriko barged in, followed swiftly by Nodoka. Kiriko had just picked Nodoka up from work in her police car when she got the call from the station that her nephew was there. After hearing the full story though, both women were relieved and proud, though Kiriko warned Ranma about going looking for trouble.

It was at this point that a tall somber man dressed in a dark business suit came in. After only a few moments talking to the duty officer he motioned Saeko to follow him. She turned back to Ranma and pressed a small card into his hand. "My family owns a dojo, so if you stop by around four or so I should be there if you wish to spar."

Ranma grinned at her. "Sure, I'll see ya tomorrow then?" Saeko smiled, then followed her father out of the police station.

Nodoka smiled a little evilly at her son, looking forward to teasing him in the future about his pretty new acquaintance. "So, did you make a new friend Ranma?" Ranma nodded, not picking up on her tone. After that the next to arrive were Hikaru's parents who tearfully thanked Ranma for saving their little girl. Ranma waved their praises away, and they left after Hikaru hugged her savior one last time.

Ranma was as good as his word and the next day, after having an argument with Rei about being a delinquent (as if he had meant to get into a fight, if that was what you could call it) he made his way to the address on the card Saeko gave him. He found her family's house/dojo on the outskirts of the town in a very well to do area, with both the dojo and the house enclosed by a stone wall. It looked very well cared for and very nice.

He knocked on the door and almost immediately it was answered by the man from the other night. "You must be Ranma." He said staring at the slightly shorter Ranma.

Ranma nodded. "Yes sir, I'm here for a spar with Saeko?"

The man continued to look at him, trying to analyze the boy's style, but coming up empty. He had none of the tells he had learned to spot, no calluses to indicate one weapon or another, his stance was loose and seemed unguarded, but he couldn't get anything out of it. "Follow me," he said finally, "I will be officiating this match." And making certain that my daughter doesn't take it too far, the glimpse into her darker side she had displayed last night was still bothering him, though not nearly as much as it had the policeman who called him in. A certain propensity for violence was a necessity for a martial artist, even more for a swordswoman or man, but it had to be controlled, regulated as much as possible. It remained to be seen if his daughter could do so.

They walked in silence to the dojo where they found Saeko waiting for them, a gi on and her bokken beside her, her eyes closed as she meditated. Ranma took a moment to look at her, and found the view even better than he thought it would be. Saeko was utterly gorgeous, easily more beautiful than any girl he had seen at the Beast Cry School, prettier even than his mom her sister or Rei. Her purple hair looked like a waterfall as it fell down her back, her face was without mark, and her body was simply amazing, with long legs, very firm looking D-cup breasts and a tight waist. I knew that uniform she wore last night hid a lot from view, but wow!

Her father coughed, bringing Saeko out of her trance causing Ranma to turn his eyes elsewhere. She looked up and smiled at seeing Ranma there. "I see you are as good as your word. Did you have any trouble finding the house?"

Ranma shook his head, smirking a little. "Nah, but you never told me your family was so well off, maybe I should call you Sae-hime hmm?"

"Only if you want me to rip off that which makes you a man," she replied, smiling sweetly despite her words.

Ranma grinned and her father motioned him over to grab a training weapon. He was surprised when Ranma showed no hesitation, grabbing a bokken similarly sized to the one Saeko used. The two teens dressed in the traditional protective gear then took their places in the center of the dojo facing one another.

Mr. Busujima looked between them then raised his hand. "This is not a formal match, simply a spar, and will only end if it becomes too serious or I deem it necessary, such as one or the other taking real harm. Understood? Then begin!"

Saeko wasted no time, bringing her bokken forward swiftly, only to find Ranma dodged aside rather than blocked her blow. He returned a thrust of his own, but she blocked it, wincing a little at the force of it. She reposted however, nearly clipping him, but he dodged again by a hairsbreadth. His return slash came in at stomach level and she was forced to dodge back herself, before rocketing in, trying to get a hit in before he could recover. But Ranma leaped over her head, twirling in midair, causing her father to gasp in admiration. She turned swiftly and blocked his thrust at her back, moving forward to press him hard.

This was how the bout went. Ranma was faster, stronger and had better reflexes. Saeko had skill and instinct, and she was soon able to match him in speed, though it made her muscles burn so much she knew she would be sore later. She was able to get in a few more hits than him, but he barely seemed to feel them, while his reposts came in with bruising force. Yet it was in endurance where she came up shortest. At the end of two hours Ranma still seemed good to go while she was sore and exhausted. Despite that however she was truly elated, having found someone other than her father who could push her to better herself.

Her father called the match when she lost her helmet after a particularly bruising swipe of Ranma's bokken, despite the fact Saeko was more than willing to continue. "Enough, I believe that is enough for one day, we don't want anyone truly hurt here."

Ranma nodded and backed away, removing his own helmet to show he had barely perspired at all during the fight. "Heh, that was a hell of a lot of fun."

"Indeed," Saeko smiled back. "It was most exhilarating, though I think once every other day would be my limit. Would you like to stay for dinner, I am most interested in how you came to be so good, and would love to hear about this training journey of yours."

Ranma looked over at Mr. Busujima, who nodded. "Sure, and maybe you can tell me about the city and the schools here. I think my mom is gonna sign me up for this coming year, and I want to know what to expect."

Saeko nodded then left to get a shower. Her father led Ranma back to the house then had to leave him in the family room to go and answer a phone call. Ranma looked around and spotted a nice sunbeam coming in, and the carpet was soft, so he did what came naturally.

When Saeko came down she found Ranma curled up like a cat in a sunbeam, his chest rising and falling with each breath. She giggled, he just looked so cute there, though she did wonder why he gave a catlike impression sometimes. She had noticed it in their match and seeing him like this only added to ti. After a moment's hesitation, and hearing her father still on the phone, she reached out and started to stroke the back of his neck. Ranma's eyes snapped open but he didn't move, just letting Saeko stroke his neck and the back of his head. A deep rumble began in his throat, and Saeko giggled in delight. "Did you just purr?"

Ranma backed away from her on all fours, pouting (he thought he was scowling) at her. "Guys don't purr, we rumble in manly manner! And don't you forget it."

"Hai, Hai, you big he-cat you. You must tell me more about why you act so much like a cat though."

Ranma scowled (pouted) again, but nodded all the same as her father came in. The trio spent the next few hours getting to know one another. While the Busujima's had never heard of most of the marital art styles Ranma had studied, the name Anything Goes was known to Busujima senior in relation to an old hermit by the name of Happosai, though there were so many odd tales associated with the name that he discounted most of them out of hand. His tale of the neko-ken (with no mention of the Beast's Cry School) was met with horror and disbelief until he showed them the tiny scars all over his back, so small that you had to look very close to actually see them. After the meal was over Ranma promised to stop by again, and the two teens parted firm friends, though both were interested in eventually making it more.

A few weeks after meeting Saeko, Nodoka had finally been able to schedule a time to have her son tested at the same high school Rei went to. She had noticed how antagonistic the two were towards one another, but hoped they would get over it soon, and it was the closest high school to them.

Fujimi Academy was a large campus with multiple buildings in a fenced and gated area set on a little hill on the outskirts of the town, with the soccer and track fields to one side of the actual school buildings, with a parking lot used for buses and delivery trucks at the back. The main building and the secondary buildings were four stories tall and connected to each other by walkways on the 2nd and 4th floors, making it look almost like a single large building. In addition to the main building where most classes are held, there was a separate dorm building, and a massive gym building with several indoor sectioned off areas, such as the main gym area, changing rooms, a kendo/karate dojo and a meditation room. The secondary building that was connected to the main one was designed for special classes such as chemistry and the other sciences, wood working, arts and crafts. There was even an observatory on the roof for the astrology club that Ranma could see as he made his way toward the teacher waiting by the gate entrance for him.

The tests would be given at the school by the History teacher, Kyoko Hayashi. When Ranma saw her he had to fight down the urge to ask what the hell they fed the women around here, as nearly every woman and teen he saw lately were hot as hell. Kyoko was one such example, with reddish-brown hair, stern eyes, a decent figure and a truly magnificent chest that made his mother's or her sister's seem small.

She in turn was surprised that the young man, who had, she had been told had been on the road all his life, was so good looking. She had expected him to look wild, uncouth and either like a bumpkin or a punk, but instead he was dressed in simple but good Chinese shirt and pants, was clean shaven, and had decently cared for hair, even if that little pigtail was rather silly looking. It didn't hurt that he moved like some kind of giant cat or that he was possibly the fittest young man she had ever seen. Not that that mattered much of course, she would never be so unprofessional as to flirt let alone anything more with a student. Looking was alright though. "Ranma Saotome?"

"Yes, miss." Ranma replied, having been told by his mother to be on his best behavior.

"Good, please come with me Mr. Saotome." With that Kyoko led Ranma from the gate entrance into the school, and was surprised he didn't even look at the girls track team as they passed him on a run around the school, though the girls certainly took notice of him. Kyoko had to agree, there was something compelling about Ranma, some kind of inner energy that drew the eye.

After entering the building she took him to her classroom brushing by Mr. Shido, another teacher, as they passed. Kyoko grimaced, hoping the man wouldn't say anything, but thankfully he seemed more interested in Ranma, who simply stared back blandly as they passed one another. For some reason Kyoko pictured a mongoose and a king cobra staring at one another, but then shook the feeling off.

Once in her classroom she began to test Ranma on his knowledge with a series of tests, with little breaks in between while she read over his school file. This didn't take nearly as long as it should have simply because Ranma had barely two years of schooling strung together. He had never stayed in a single school for long, the longest consecutive run was a two month stint at a middle school for troubled teens near Sapporo. Strangely enough with all of that his grades when he was at school weren't bad and he didn't have even a single dark mark on his record. She wasn't so foolish to think that was because he was as clean as the driven snow, all it meant was he wasn't caught or didn't start anything. Beside each separate portion of the record however the previous schools had put 'martial artist, extreme' whatever that meant. Still if he was in as good a shape as he looked because of that the sports teams would be salivating for the chance to recruit him.

By this time Ranma had finished the first test and handed it over to be graded and stood up, moving around to get the kinks out of his back, bending and stretching. The ordeal, as Ranma thought of it, came to an end over three hours later, and Ranma grimaced as his stomach reminded him who was boss in their relationship. Kyoko chuckled at the sound and let him go off to grab something to eat while she graded his remaining tests. When at last she finished, she rubbed her forehead in consternation.

Ranma's tests scores were all over the place. Barely freshman math and writing skills, though his ability to analyze the writings given in the test was excellent, it was his sentence structure and grammar that were abominable, as well as handwriting and spelling. Yet he had scored a perfect on the foreign language test. English was a hard language to learn but a necessary one and with Ranma's apparent knowledge of it he could probably teach the course. He had left a note at the end saying that he could also speak a couple Asiatic languages fluently. His history score was very high too. She was interested to see how well he would do on the senior test in that course, and his geography and science sections were definitely at a passing level, though she had no idea why he put little laugh symbols next to the physics answers.

She couldn't in good conscious let him into the junior year though, he would be well out of his depth in math and writing skills and those were two of the most important classes. Still, there might be a way. Takagi Saya has indicated a desire to skip a year and her own scores in math and writing would let her, but her grasp of foreign languages and history would hold her back, so if they helped one another…. Decision made, she went to have a talk with the principal. He was a pretty laid back man, and was more interested in raising the schools athletics to a higher level, which alas contributed to the teacher's workload and why Shido was able to run his classroom as he did, though she discounted most of the rumors about him out of hand. After getting his okay to both parts of the plan, she opened a copy of the school directory and then called the Takagi household. After dealing with the young girl's admittedly scary father, she got in contact with the girl herself, and set up a meeting for the day after.

Ranma returned soon thereafter and she smiled at him. "Well Mr. Saotome, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that while you scored very high in several classes, including my own I'm happy to report, your math and writing skills are not up to the junior grade level, they are in fact barely freshman level." As Ranma wilted a little she smiled and went on, "However we have come up with a way to allow you admittance at that level. Another student, a sophomore has asked for the chance to test ahead. Normally we would not allow that, thinking that keeping her with her age group more beneficial in the long term, but she truly is a genius, and she has already proven to have a grasp of all the required knowledge outside history and languages.

"So you want us to exchange lessons?"

Kyoko nodded. "that is it exactly Mr. Saotome. I have arranged a meeting tomorrow with her, if you two can get along you have two months to pull your grades up. If you can't do it, then I'm afraid I'll have to put you in the sophomore class."

Ranma grinned. "that's about all I can ask for sensei, thanks a lot!" Kyoko smiled in dismissal and Ranma raced off, but to her shock and horror he didn't head to the door but to one of her classroom windows. Before she could do anything he opened the window and jumped out. She raced forward with a cry, expecting to see his broken body below, wondering why in the hell he had suicide after being told good news, only to see Ranma land easily on his feet and race off, apparently none the worse for wear. As she watched open mouthed he reached the outer wall faster than any sprinter she had even seen and without even pausing jumped first to the top of the wall and then up onto a rooftop and away.

In a daze Kyoko moved back to her desk, looking at Ranma's record again. 'Martial artist, extreme,' indeed! She chuckled, "No wonder he thought the physics questions were funny, if he can seemingly ignore their rules at will." She laughed again, shaking her head and wondering what he had been through to get so good. The first parent teacher conference at the end of the first quarter was looking more and more interesting.

Saya Takagi was a young woman who knew exactly how smart she was and had very little in the way of patience with idiocy of any kind. This often made her come off as stubborn, standoffish and arrogant but she really didn't care how other people viewed her. She had a few good friends, one of them being Takashi, who had been her friend since their childhood, though she wasn't as close to him as Rei was, much to her secret irritation sometimes. Despite being in the same grade as her friend they weren't in the same class (she was in the A group and he was in the C group), so she wanted to skip grades so that she could be challenged at least a little bit in class. The problem was she had no ear for languages and detested history, she thought it was useless information. How much of that was in reaction to her father trying to push her to be interested in it, was unknown. The idea of exchanging lessons was an interesting one and as long as the boy she was tutoring wasn't a complete idiot or spent all his time trying to hit on her she was fine with it.

Ranma's impression was of a pink-haired short bombshell with a haughty expression, big glasses, orange eyes and big breasts that almost made him stare despite the fact she was wearing a conservative blouse and skirt. After a quick glance though Ranma beat down his inner tom and concentrated on her face. "Yo, you Saya?"

"That's Takagi-sama to you meathead!" Saya snapped, not liking the boy's familiarity. Despite this she couldn't help but give him a once over. His Chinese silk shirt clung to his lean frame, he stood confidently, something she liked as she never liked it when people looked wishy-washy or subservient around her, and his deep blue eyes were really nice.

"Whatever Pinky, I don't give out sama's to anyone." Ranma scoffed. "You want to start the tutoring, or should I go first?"

Saya growled a little. "Don't call me that you dumb jock! And you should start with history, I have a copy of the test, teach me something and prove this isn't a waste of my time or else you're on your own."

"Heh fine," Ranma chuckled, enjoying her attitude for some reason. He liked straightforward people, and the newly christened Pinky seemed as straightforward and blunt as it was possible to be. Who cared if they got off on the wrong foot, he thought they'd be able to move beyond that easily enough. "Let's start off with the Meiji Revolution and the economy at the time, then connect that to why Japan decided ta invade the mainland…"

Over the next hour and a half Ranma taught her some history lessons, trying to make them interesting to her, and she took notes, interrupting him with several insightful questions that he answered easily, impressing Saya with his knowledge of the subject.

When they switched off however, Saya proved she didn't really have the patience to be a good teacher. "God how can you not do this, it's just a simple algorithm, just solve for X! How hard can it be? Damn you really are a meathead."

"Pretty darn hard," Ranma retorted, "especially for someone who hasn't even had a complete year of schooling! Be glad I can get this stuff as good as I can Pinky."

"What did I tell you about that name? And what do you mean you never had a full year of school? Did you join a gang early or something?"

"Hah, nah, my old man sort of stole me away from my mom for a martial arts training trip, and we never stayed in one place long, mostly because he was always runnin' away from the cops for one reason or another. He was a bit of a thieving asshole, emphasis on the asshole."

"Humph, well at least you have a better excuse than most retards, meathead," Saya scoffed. Ranma's eyebrow rose, realizing that Saya didn't really believe him about that, but she went on before he could say anything. "Still, here's how you do this…" After explaining this in a calmer manner, Ranma got it and the two went on, with Saya providing math problems and going over the math rules.

After another hour the two decided they could work together, and decided to set a time from ten to three for their meetings every day until they were both up to speed. Ranma nodded happily as Saya stood up having very vocally informed him of her desire to head home and take a nap. "I think we're done then, but you didn't look like you believed me about my being a martial artist, is that true?"

Saya looked over at him while the two exited the classroom and walked out of the school building, her lips quirking into a smirk. "Look, I like the fact you've got a good imagination that was a really original excuse. But no, in this day and age that kind of thing would be impossible."

"Oh really?" Ranma asked a challenging grin in his eyes as he stepped close to the shorter girl. "What if I could prove it to ya?"

Saya flushed a little at their close proximity, but for some reason didn't get angry at him getting into her personal space. "Well, er I guess that would depend. I'm not really into watching any of those sweaty kinds of things."

Ranma grinned, and they had just walked out of the school too, perfect timing. "None of that, all ya'll have ta do is hold on." Saya squeeked in surprise as she suddenly found herself held princess style and Ranma leaped up from a standing start up onto a nearby roof and away.

Saya recovered quickly and began to smack him on the chest and head, which had about as much an effect as throwing so many snowballs. "P-put me down you dumb jock, help rape!"

"Put ya down," Ranma said gaily, jumping from one rooftop to another, "Ya sure ya want me ta do that?"

Saya looked around and eeped as she realized she was in the air, with Ranma leaping along as easily from roof to roof as on the ground. She looked around, her eyes wide and wondering, her world view taking a severe hit. Still the view was great, and the wind on her face was really nice. Her tongue however soon recovered her normal vitriol. "Huh, alright, I believe you, and I'll admit this is pretty cool, but grab me like that again and I'll rip of that silly ponytail of yours."

"Heh fine, now which way is yer home?" Saya looked around and pointed off in a direction and Ranma swiftly turned, jumping away in that direction. Saya gripped him around the shoulders, pressing herself into him yet still looking around with interest, though she knew this also pressed her large F sized breasts into his chest, something her body was very aware of. Ranma didn't seem to notice, but his grip on her changed slightly, his hand underneath her sliding just enough so that it barely touched her rear with his pinky, and the other hand just barely brushing the underside of her breasts.

This and feeling his hard chest against her breasts had her a little hot and bothered by the time they arrived, jumping over the tall protective wall around her family's mansion, something that had Ranma look around in surprise. Saya's family were even better off than Saeko's, a sharp contrast to the simple home the Miyamoto family lived in. Ranma put her down on her own two feet and smirked at her a little. "Have fun Pinky?"

Around her guards were racing toward them and her father, who was just about to leave for a business meeting was moving toward them as well. Saya didn't notice this as she ignored her flushed face and kicked Ranma in the shin. As he winced she started to hop around with her foot throbbing, but she ignored that. "I told you not to call me that you, you, meathead!"

Ranma shook his head. "You keep callin' me names, Pinky you will remain." Then his smile turned a little more gentle and he reached out to ruffle her hair. "Thanks fer agreein' ta tutor me Saya-chan, I'll see yah tomorrow kay?"

Saya flushed and batted his hand away mumbling, "Feelings mutual baka."

The first guards came began to shout at him to halt Ranma turned and jumped away with the same ease he had arrived with. The guards, all tough, professional men who had protected her family since she was a child, gaped in shock.

Her father too stared in surprise. "I haven't seen a martial artist of that skill level in years. I wonder what training he has gone through to get that good?"

Saya shrugged, looking away to hide her flustered face, wondering where this new acquaintance would take her.

Rei and Ranma's relationship had started rocky and stayed that way. Rei didn't like how wild and free Ranma was, nor how he was so much better than her at martial arts. She felt intimidated by him and made no bones about how she felt his catlike aspects were freakish.

Ranma in turn didn't much care for Rei. She was standoffish with him and way too needy she wanted to be the center of attention wherever she was. He also didn't like how she seemed to take her friend Takashi for granted. This got worse later in the summer when, a week before school started up, she and Hizashi started dating. This sickened not only Ranma, but Saya as well, who wasn't very happy at all about how Takashi started moping. The two of them had been friends since kindergarten, and she had a bit of a crush on him for years, but he only had eyes for Rei due to 'some stupid childish pinky promise'. Thankfully her crush on him had faded over the summer.

Still, Ranma's lessons with Saya and spars with Saeko went well for them and allowed him to hang out with them instead of at home. His friendship with Saeko slowly changed over time, becoming more flirty and touchy feely, with the two of them going out of their way (when her father wasn't around) to flirt with one another as Ranma taught Saeko some speed enhancing katas. After a month she was almost good enough to start roof-hopping, but her sense of balance wasn't quite there yet.

His friendship with the prickly Saya on the other hand did not become more touchy feely. Saya didn't become any more friendly after their first meeting, but trading jibes and barbs with her was fun for both of them, and she usually stopped making them when he was teaching her English or history. She in turn was astonished at how fast he picked up what she taught him, she liked how he treated her like her own person and wasn't intimidated at all by her family (actually Ranma didn't know anything about them, though he wouldn't have been intimidated even if he had) and began to see him as a real friend, though that wasn't enough to make her go easy on him.

In his free time Ranma studied the one scroll that his father had written in his own hand, and after translating it from his horrible handwriting was very surprised and more than a little impressed at what his father had come up with. The Umi-Sen-Ken was one of the, if not the, deadliest technique Ranma had ever heard of. The ability to completely mask your presence with a bit of concentration was amazing. He knew however that it would take him months to work up enough ki control to use it.

About two weeks before the school year began both of them took their tests again, and both were put in the junior B class, much to the delight of Nodoka and the chagrin of Rei.

Ranma walked slowly (normally) alongside the happy couple, Takashi having made the correct decision to walk to school on his own, if he even decided to show up at all for the first day. Ranma couldn't blame him at all, being around Hizashi and Rei was irritating for him it must have been torture for Takashi given his obvious (though admittedly only obvious to Ranma thanks to his sense of smell) feelings for Rei.

The girl in question was looking across at him from Hizashi's other side as they walked up to the gate. "Now just remember that here you don't know me. I don't want you hanging out with me or in any way making people think we're friends."

Ranma simply gave her the finger. "Don't worry cousin, I wouldn'y want to hang out with yer bitchy ass anyway. I already got a few friends of my own." With that he walked off living her gaping at him in anger. As he walked through the gates Ranma spied Saeko talking to some of her kouhai from the kendo club. He smirked and moved over to talk to his friend.

He touched Saeko lightly on the shoulder, getting her to turn and stare at him in surprise. "Ranma, what are you doing here?" Behind her the younger girls looked at the new boy with interest, wondering what her connection with their captain was.

"I applied here as a junior and was able ta get in. Remind me ta introduce ya to Saya Takagi, the one who tutored me so I could raise my grades enough ta be accepted."

Saeko smiled happily, touching his hand lightly, which was all the public affection she would allow especially in front of her gossip crazy kouhai. "I'm glad. Can I expect you to make an appearance at my kendo club for a bit of sparring after school?"

Ranma grinned, letting a bit of his teeth show. "Wouldn't miss it."

The rest of the day was filled with the inauguration ceremony, which showed Ranma falling asleep next to Saya, who found herself torn between a desire to scratch the catlike boy's head, and wanting to smack him upside the head. The two later learned they shared a class, and although Saya groaned irritably at this, she was secretly pleased to have her new friend with her.

Kyoko turned out to be their homeroom teacher and immediately after calling role she brought Ranma to task on his attire. "Saotome-san, is there a reason you are not in you school uniform?"

Ranma, who had taken a seat by the window in a sunbeam, yawned. "Because I don't want ta wear 'em they're uncomfortable and I don't like how they restrict my movement."

Kyoko frowned moving to stand right in front of him. "Saotome-san, I realize you are not used to going to school, but there are rules here. I expect to see you in your uniform after lunch, are we clear?"

Ranma looked up at her and sighed. "Fine I guess." This was only the start of the trouble Ranma caused his teachers. In the next class he fell asleep in a sunbeam, and began to smack back the eraser his teacher through at him while still sleeping. Saya however was able to wake him up with a smack to the back of his head. Then later he used the history text to hide a snack in Kyoko's class, though she let it go as he was still able to answer any question she threw at him from the text.

However the teacher who most had problems with Ranma was Shido, who taught classic literature. Shido was always on the lookout for interesting tools that he could use to further his own ends, and he had noted Ranma's physical talents, though he had no idea how talent the young man really was. Nodoka had put her foot down on roof-hopping after several of the neighbors complained that he was damaging their roof tiles, and so only Kyoko knew how good he really was. Shido merely saw him as a normal karate user, though as he hadn't been able to influence one of those as yet he hoped to do so with Ranma.

After class was over, Shido called Ranma (who had knocked off for another nap at the back, only this time Saya didn't bother waking him) to wait. "Saotome-kun, I notice you don't seem to have any enthusiasm for my class. That's no good, this course and the skills I impart are the most important for your life after school. If you have any questions or if I can help instill some wisdom from the works we study, that is why I as your teacher am here."

Rei had never shared any of her issues with Shido with her cousin, nor had her father mentioned his issue with Shido the elder with his wife or her sister. Indeed he wouldn't have shared it with his daughter if Shido hadn't held her back at the behest of his father to intimidate him. So it wasn't anything along those lines that made Ranma distrust and even hate Shido from first sight. No, it was his cat-given instincts that warned him of the man. He smelled like a snake, poison and danger all in one. Even though Ranma could tell he wasn't any physical threat, nor did his lessons from Master Ein tell him why he felt this way, he knew he wanted nothing to do with the man. So he responded in his usual blunt and insulting way. "Shido-sensei, you smell like shit." After breathing in deeply and making a show of being disgusted Ranma walked off, leaving a Shido trembling with barely suppressed rage at this cavalier brush-off. That was the first and last time Ranma would be seen in his class.

He held his anger in until the classroom door closed behind Ranma then he turned and slammed his hand against his desk hard, again and again until he could control himself. Being so easily dismissed and thwarted, as if he didn't matter at all, was something that punched all his buttons.

Unbeknownst to either man this exchange had been witnessed by a sophomore who had come up early to ask Shido a question from some work she had turned in last year. Yuuki Miku had also come up to check out the new hotty, but then again a lot of girls had done the same. When she witnessed their confrontation, she realized that Ranma was even cooler than he looked, and that there might be a reason to keep away from Shido-sensei. His show of anger and the face she had seen looking into the classroom through the door's window, a mix of rage, scorn and contempt, made her very wary of him. Yuuki might give off the air of a sex bomb, and she sort of was one (she liked sex, but it wasn't like she was easy or anything, she just loved causing reactions to all and sundry) but that didn't mean she was stupid.

Immediately after class ended Ranma ran through the halls dodging everyone around him and ignoring the random teachers shouting at him to not run in the halls as he made his way toward the kendo dojo that was next to the gym. He found Saeko already there, and just coming out from the changing area. She smirked a little at him and shook her head. "I'm sorry Ranma-kun" she had initially tried to call him by his last name but he would pinch her cheeks every time and she had since learned not to bother, "But we can only have a brief warm up spar now, I will have to work out with my team for a time before we can truly go at it."

"Che," Ranma frowned. "Ah well, I guess I'll just take a nap or something." He reached over and began to twirl a bokken in one hand, then brining it forward in a slash Saeko brought her own bokken up to block quickly. "Or perhaps you could use this time to start your first night's homework?" Saeko asked.

"Now why would I do that?" Ranma asked, blocking her riposte swiftly and countering as Saeko shook her head in amusement. Ranma was extremely bright, but no real drive in anything but martial arts and it took his mother ordering him to do his school work. Indeed Saeko thought his lazy nature outside of sparring and practicing would probably drive the teachers insane soon.

They began to exchange blows in the center of the ring inscribed on the mats on the floor, continuing until Saeko's kendo team came out and joined them. After they were all there, Saeko signaled a stop and the two disengaged, bowing to one another.

Ranma moved off to the side and laid out in a sunbeam against the wall, but before he could nod off a female voice he had never heard before spoke from the entrance to the gym. "There you are Saotome-kun!"

He looked up as a blond woman wearing a very short tight skirt and a doctor's overcoat over a blouse and with the biggest breasts he had ever seen walking toward him, hands on her hips. They look at least a size, maybe two larger than even Kyoko sensei! "Um, yeah, er, why are ya looking for me?"

"Hai! I'm Shizuka Marikawa, the nurse here and while you've been accepted here, you haven't had full physical in a long time, so we need to get that done and add it to your records."

Ranma's forehead crinkled. "Um sensei, I'm a martial artist. Ain't been sick a day in my life, and any injuries I get, well they heal real quick. And I had a physical a few months ago, there wasn't anything wrong with me."

"Nevertheless I want to take a look at you. Now come on, I want to get this done so I can go home." She reached down and tried to pull him along, but this had about as much an effect as trying to make a mountain move by pushing on it.

Ranma looked over at Saeko for help and saw she and the other kendoists had stopped and were giggling a little at his expense. Saeko chuckled a little then made a shooing motion and mouthed the word 'later' at him. She was amused however that something most boys would kill to do, I.E. get close to Shizuka-sensei, who despite her ditzy nature was a true beauty, seemed to just irritate Ranma.

Ranma growled a little having wanted to take a nap, but stood up, making Shizuka back up at his sudden movement. "Come on, let's get this over with."

Something that would have surprised most of the students and even some of the faculty was that Shizuka actually took her job as a nurse seriously. She swiftly went through the physical, then looked down at her findings and shook her head. "Well Saotome-kun"

"Ranma" he interrupted her, scratching at his pigtail in embarrassment. "I ain't much for formality, and I'm only a Saotome until we get all the paperwork done to add me ta the Miyamoto clan register."

Shizuka nodded, giggling a little at how cute the boy looked. "Well Ranma-kun, you're in the peak of health. Heck, you'd be hard pressed to find an Olympic athlete in as good a shape. The only other person I've seen with numbers even close to this is Busujima-san." Ranma nodded and yawned like a cat stretching in place, making Shizuka have an idea which she acted upon immediately.

She reached out and scratched at the back of his neck then watched in delight as his eyes slitted shut and a deep rumble started to emanate from his chest. She giggled, scratching down his back and then up to his hairline and the rumble increased as he arched his back under her scratching. "Hehehe, did you just purr, oh that's so cute!"

Ranma tried to frown and get away, but his body betrayed him and he slumped back into a puddle as she continued her ministrations. "Guys don't purr," he protested (for the second time since arriving in this city), "We rumble in a manly manner."

"Hai, Hai kitty-kun, you're so manly." Shizuka giggled and then kept scratching at his back. This went on for a time until she got a call from the athletics field to come and look at an injured student. Ranma took the chance to make his escape and went back to the dojo. The team was still practicing so he went back to his original spot and curled up in the sunbeam again, quickly falling asleep.

He was woken up by a gentle hand touching his hair and he woke up quickly, looking up to see Saeko looking down at him, a smile on her face. "I'm done with the others now, do you still wish to spar?"

Ranma jumped to his feet lightly, looking around and noticing that most of the girls had already left, leaving only a few juniors, one he vaguely recognized from his class. They were still working through some katas together, but it was obvious they didn't need Saeko looking over their shoulder.

He nodded grinning a little and moved over to grab a bokken before turning to face Saeko in the center of the ring. "You know, this will be the first time we've sparred without your father around to referee."

Saeko's smile widened slightly, and an eager light began to glimmer in her eyes. "So it will. Will you be wearing armor, and what are the rules?"

"No, and no rules," Ranma answered simply, "Anything goes until one of us is disarmed, on the ground, or submits."

Saeko didn't bother answering charging forward and sweeping her bokken around in an arc faster than any of the girls around her could follow. Ranma however could and blocked it, riposting swiftly but she recovered and blocked his blow, staggering back a little under the power, but a thrust caught him in the chest and he grunted a little under the impact but that was all and he kept coming. The two continued, and Ranma landed several glancing blows on her, though she landed a few of her own they were few and far between. She sensed that Ranma was holding back, but how much she couldn't tell. Yet despite this the fight was the best she ever had, and she could feel her body responding, her panties soon becoming drenched.

The girls had long left, their worries waved off by Saeko at different times during the match, when suddenly a blow from Ranma smashed in shattering her kendo protective armor as well as his own blade. Her blade however came around in an arc, smashing into his shoulder. He reached out and grabbed it with the speed of a striking snake before she could recover from the lunge, and pulled her towards him. She attempted to kick out, but Ranma jumped over it, touching her forehead with the palm of his hand and pushing her off balance just enough for her to stumble backwards onto her back.

They ended up with Saeko on the ground and Ranma straddling her stomach looking down at her. "I think I win, though I will be feeling this tomorrow. You hit even harder than a few or the masters I've sparred with." Indeed, she was better than most of the martial artists he had met on his journey, though her skills weren't nearly as diverse. He wouldn't put her up against a master like Ein or an advanced journeyman like Kuman, but by this point she could have given anyone else he had met on his journey a run for their money.

Saeko looked up at him, her body on fire barely under control as her chest heaved. She tried to move a little, but found his weight pressed down on her, not hurting but not allowing her to get away either. "So you do, and thank you for the compliment. Now, what are you going to do with your prisoner?"

Ranma looked down at her, his own body responding to the musty smell in the air. He moved gently down her body then leaned down to her neck, raking his teeth over her skin causing her to let out a gasp. "What do you want me to do to you?" He buried his nose into her neck, smelling the delicious smell of her sweat and lilac perfume. His hands began to touch her side and she suddenly flinched as he touched one of the bruises from the match. That caused him to pull away and move off her quickly. "Sorry about that."

Saeko gasped at the sudden lack of weight on her and pushed herself up to her knees. "It's, it's quite alright. We, we should probably wait until I'm healed up for any kind of strenuous activity." She glanced down at herself, ignoring her now hardened nipples under her gi and checking out the rest of her body for injuries. She frowned, knowing that once the adrenaline wore off she would be immensely sore, and would probably remain so for a while.

Ranma looked at her remembering the battle, for no way could that have been called a spar, and he remembered a certain look in her eyes. It was a face he had seen in the mirror once or twice and in several martial artists during his travels. "You know," he said slowly, "I once heard that to be a true martial artist you had ta in some way like pain, both inflicting and feeling it." Saeko suddenly stopped moving, looking over at him warily. But rather than the condemnation or the disgust she had expected there was only understanding showing on his face as he went on. "The trick of course is ta always focus it. If ya can't harness it ta something else, like the defense of someone or yerself, or maybe just being the best at yer art, then ya become a danger to others. If ya do, like you do, or like I do, then we become simply better martial artists, better defenders of those who don't have that bit o' darkness in 'em."

Saeko nodded, wondering how he had seen her enjoyment of causing pain, but they had sparred often enough so maybe it wasn't that big a mystery. "And you have this bit of darkness in you as well? I haven't seen any sight of it." She realized she had just admitted to her own inner sadism, but the understanding in Ranma's face had completely disarmed her.

"Yah ever see cats playing with mice and rats?" he asked whimsically, though his blue eyes were dark, and his smile a little vicious. "Cat's don't have any empathy for their opponents or prey. And me, well I think that if anyone tries to cause pain, well I think they deserve ta have some returned to them. That gives me an outlet." He was telling the truth here, though he probably would not have been able to put it into words without his time with Teuchi, who had explained how their animal aspects could change them. Maybe if he didn't have his cat-like way of viewing the world he wouldn't, but even then he would still have his love of combat, and with that would almost certainly come a desire to inflict pain. "People may call us barbarians, but so called civilized people need people like us around ta protect 'em from other barbarians."

Saeko nodded, realizing the boy in front of her was even more like her than she had thought, thus making him even more perfect for her. "I can see that. But now alas I need to go change and head home before my father calls to see what is holding me up." She walked over and hugged him tightly, pressing a kiss into his neck before moving away. "Thank you Ranma, both for the spar and for the talk. We will have to do this again soon, as soon as I am healed in fact." With that she turned and walked away, swinging her hips enticingly and delighting in the heated growl she heard from Ranma behind her.

Ranma stood there a moment willing his body to stop reacting to the teasing swordswoman, then shook his head with a chuckle and walked out of the dojo. A moment later, with the dusk all around him, he jumped from the ground up to the rooftops and made his way home.

The first two weeks of school passed pretty much uneventfully. Ranma learned the lessons he wanted to, slept through the others and never showed up for Shido's lessons again. While he ignored or talked back to most of the other teachers however, Kyoko found she and the other female teachers were able to get him to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Unlike with most boys however he responded to the female voice of authority rather than their bodies, so he became her and Shizuka's chosen gofer. When Kyoko demanded he sign up for some sports, he signed up for every one of them but track, the team Shido was advisor for. He easily showed up everyone else on every team he joined, making him feel a little bad, but the principal was ecstatic about it, already envisioning his school bringing home every sports trophy they could for the next two years.

Ranma only really made friends with Yuuki, who had come to him and asked him bluntly what his problem with Shido was, and a boy named Kohta, who he protected from a few bullies by the simple expedient of lifting the pair of bullies up by their necks and shaking them like rag dolls. Kohta and he had a few long talks about self-defense and the world at large mainly about the military side of things, and Ranma found Kohta a mine of information.

Yuuki on the other hand was a mine of information about the school and the town. The only thing that marred their friendship was the fact Yuuki kept on flirting with him. He found her attractive, but her in your face sexuality was a little too strong for his tastes, and he was already town between his interest in Saeko and a growing interest in Saya so never took her up on her offers.

He also made somewhat friends with Takashi over a shared love of high places, but he wasn't nearly as close to him as to Saya or the others. Takashi's moping about Rei and the way he still hung out with her and Hizashi irritated Ranma no end, and his relationship with his cousin was frosty at best. Saya became an even closer friend despite her prickly attitude, and his relationship with Saeko proceeded apace.

These normal days however were soon interrupted in a sudden and final manner.

Chapter 1 Having fun?

Ranma growled as he worked on repairing a statue near the soccer field. It's a good excuse to skip class but just because it was me who hit the baseball that shattered it's arm don't mean I should be the only one doing this! Blame that asshole pitcher for trying to scare me with a speedball past my face rather than the curve ball he was supposed ta be working on! That incident had happened yesterday, and this afternoon Hayashi-sensei had ordered him to repair it as he left the classroom intending to go with Saya and try one more time to get Takashi out of his funk. Ranma had found he couldn't disobey any of the female teachers, much like he couldn't disobey his own mother. This was a natural response to not growing up with a mother to provide a female voice of authority, and it didn't help matters that he was most definitely a mama's boy, and they all knew it somehow.

Suddenly something caught his attention and he looked up from his work, frowning as his sixth sense began to tingle, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up and he began to growl deep in his throat looking around for whatever had disturbed him. He noticed some kind of commotion over at the entrance to the school and made his way over there as fast as he could while in the distance alarms began to sound over in the city.

Unfortunately as he would soon discover it wasn't just the main entrance where trouble had arisen. Indeed a few smokers would soon learn that smoking wouldn't be the thing that killed them, it would merely put them in a place to meet what would.

Kyoko shook her head looking at the man acting so strangely on the other side of the gate. He moved like a strange mix between a sleepwalker and someone who was on drugs, but he kept on banging against the gate, and the noise had caused the four teachers who were patrolling the school after the lunch period ended for students skipping class. "I don't like the look of him guys, I think we should call the police and get him removed."

"Oh don't worry about it Kyoko-chan, I'll get rid of him easy enough." Teshima was the school's gym teacher, and had been irritated lately by how much of his thunder had been stolen by the new junior Saotome. Teshima was used to being the biggest and most physically imposing person in the school, stronger and tougher than any of the kids or other students. Ranma however was simply in another realm entirely in terms of strength and skill, and this had stolen much of his thunder. Now people knew he wasn't the toughest guy around and more than that Kyoko and Shizuka, the best looking of the female teachers by a very wide margin, had latched onto Ranma as a gofer and he had taken over the jobs Teshima had done before to give him time to flirt with them.

Now seeing a way to get some of his thunder back he strode forward followed by Kyoko and two other teachers. "Hey you, this is a school here, we don't give handouts to damned drifters or crazy bastards so just shove off!" The man continued to groan and moan, his hands gripping the gate and shaking it slightly. "Hey did you hear me?!" There was no response and Teshima scowled then reached through the gate, grabbing the other man by his shirt and slamming his head into the gate. "There, how's that bastard! Now push off if ya don-arrgghh!" His words cut off by a scream as the man suddenly grabbed his arm and pulled him forward and chomping with all his might into Teshima's arm. "AHHH, get him off get off!" Teshima flailed wildly, and was able to push the crazy man's away enough to release him. Teshima fell back on the ground, grabbing his arm and screaming.

The other two teachers grabbed him and forced him to stay still as they looked at the wound. Kyoko was just about to join them knowing a bit of emergency first aid, when a voice behind her, a voice she had grown to know very well but in a tone of sharp command she had never heard in it before made her jump backward in shock. "Get away from him sensei!"

Ranma had run up to them from where he had been repairing the stone statue of the schools founder he had broken with an errant baseball. His face was a lot more serious than Kyoko had ever seen matching his tone. For some reason the thought of a hunting lion came to her as he ran forward but she shook it off as he spoke again. "All of you get back from Teshima, that other guy looks rabid almost, and that can be passed along by biting so"

Almost as soon as he said this Teshima stopped screaming. The teachers holding onto him relaxed, but then Teshima reached over and latched onto one of them with his teeth, ripping out a chunk of flesh in a welter of blood.

Ranma didn't even hesitate at all, simply rocketing forward, his punch catching the former gym teacher in the side of his head and crushing it utterly. The now headless body fell back to the ground and Ranma lashed out at the other teacher, who had already succumbed to whatever madness this was, and bitten the shell shocked third teacher. Ranma ki claws lashed out, slicing both of them to shreds.

Kyoko gaped in horror at the sudden shocking violence but Ranma looked out through the gates down the street, and saw more shambling figures like the man who was still banging against the gate. And that gate ain't the only way into the school, he thought grimly. Not good, and if people start to panic…

Kyoko began to tremble in place as the blood and violence got to her as well as seeing the madman who had started this still trying to get in. "Wh-what in the world is going on! Th-this can't be real, yes, this is some kind of dream, some nightmare brought about by one microwave meal too many, y-yes, I'll close my eyes and I'll wake up in my bed in my apartment."

Ranma moved over to her and spanked her hard on the ass, a part of him enjoying the sight of her squeaking and bouncing in place, but his mind was on more important matters. "That feel real to you? Get it together Kyoko-sensei, and follow me!"

Ranma turned away, pulling out his cell and texting Saya to stay where she was and hide if need be. She responded with a stream of 'WTF?' and 'what are you on about you retard?' but Ranma simply reiterated his orders and that she would figure it out soon.

Kyoko wordlessly nodded, realizing that Ranma had already saved her life once, and realizing that whatever was going on Ranma might be her best chance at surviving it. She followed as he rushed away to the gym but he didn't enter the gym instead moving around it to the shed on the other side.

He broke in easily enough, then grabbed two hammers from a box of tools and twirled them, getting a feel for them. "Not my preferred style but it will have to do." He then thrust them both into his belt and led Kyoko off.

At this point the principal came on the speaker system asking the students to remain calm and obey the teachers and to evacuate the school in an orderly fashion, but this call for calm was interrupted as someone broke into his office and attacked him. His dying cries sparked the panic Ranma had feared and he cursed, immediately leading Kyoko to the back of the school, looking up at the building. "Kyoko, is that the teacher's lounge up there on the third floor?" The teacher's lounge had one entrance and a working bathroom with water and a small kitchenette and also held the teachers private items, including their car keys.

Kyoko looked up and nodded. "Yes that looks like it, but how are we going to get up there and why can't we just run? Surely if we find some police or something we'll be safe?"

"I ain't leaving any of my friends behind," Ranma said grimly. He knew Saeko could take care of herself, and maybe Kohta if he got something like a gun to use, but the others would be helpless, hence why he had ordered Saya to stay where she was. And he didn't even want to think what his mom would do to him if he didn't try to protect Rei!

He kneeled down and motioned to his back. "Get on, we're taking the Ranma express™!" He grinned, enjoying this a little. This was certainly more fun than being in class! Kyoko reluctantly grabbed him around his shoulders, pressing her chest into his back, causing him to blush a little but then he leaped and she had to bite down hard not to scream in surprise. Ranma reached out at the apogee of his leap, grabbing onto the ledge of the third story window. His legs hit the side of the building and he jumped up a little further, grabbing the side of the window frame. The two of them looked inside, but as it was a time for classes there were no teachers present in the lounge. The door too was shut, and seeing that Ranma smashed the window with his bare hand before jumping to the floor inside. He moved over to a desk and turned around, letting Kyoko slide off his back onto it. With that he moved over and swiftly looked out the window in the door, seeing a lot of chaos and confusion as students ran around everywhere with over a dozen of the rabid zombies in sight chasing after them. "Shit. Where the hell did so many of these zombie fuckers come from?"

Kyoko shook her head in despair. "Probably from the other entrances, and I know there was a delivery coming in today for the cafeteria."

Ranma simply growled but nodded. "Alright, here's what you do, first you lock this door when I leave okay?" Hell, I'd lock it myself if I could figure out where on the outside Saya and my classroom was. "Then ya stay by the kitchen door, if ya hear anyone try to break in yah lock yerself in there. If push comes ta shove there's got to be knives or something in there to use in a pinch."

Kyoko visibly gulped and made to protest him leaving her but his blue eyes hardened and she looked away, nodding convulsively. Ranma wasn't about to stay safe with her if even one of his friends were out there, she could see that in his face. It reminded her of her ex-boyfriend who had been in the SAT when they were going out a few years ago. "All, all right Ranma, I'll stay here, just, just don't leave me here please?" That came out a lot closer to desperate than she could have hoped, but in this environment she truly was dependent on him for her survival.

"No worries Kyoko, I'll be back for sure." With that he slipped out the door and Kyoko moved forward instantly to lock it behind him. Then she moved back to the desk nearest the kitchen, sat down, put her head into her arms and began to sob uncontrollably, the violence she had seen at the gate and the screaming she was still hearing getting to her as she broke down entirely.

Ranma moved swiftly through the school, slaying any zombie that came within arm's reach but otherwise concentrating on moving through as quickly as he could, lashing out beyond that only when he could save a student and then moving on as the students ran on, too panicked to even thank him. As the junior grade classrooms were on this level of the main building he was able to find his classroom quickly and moved inside then closed the door behind him. He looked around but evidently everyone in here had already tried to run for it, but there were still a few places that Saya could have hidden to wait for him. "Saya, you in here?"

A rustle from a strange pile of desks at the front of the classroom answered. "It's about time you got here meat-head! What the fuck is going on!?" Saya pushed aside a desk she had used to hide the little space underneath the teachers desk, just big enough for her to hide in, uncomfortably it was true due to her chest but still, she had been hidden well enough.

When the principal's announcement had come on it had caused a massive and immediate panic, with everyone running, pushing and shoving in an attempt to first get out of the classroom and then out of the school, but her hiding had saved her from the press of bodies.

Ranma reached down and hauled her to her feet into a fierce hug. "I'm so damn happy you're alright Saya-chan!" He pulled back grinning at her flushed face, "And happy ya followed my suggestion. As ta what's going on, it looks like one of those old zombie flicks come ta life."

Saya looked away trying to fight down her blush at the sudden contact, trying not to notice that Ranma had yet to let go of her, his hands coming to rest on her waist. "Hmph, it was simply common sense. This way I miss the rush, and it was easy for you to find me if you survived long enough to do it. Don't underestimate my genius IQ, baka!"

Ranma laughed a little and pulled her into another tight hug, feeling her breasts mash against his chest in a very pleasant manner before pulling away. "Alright, let's make our way over to the teacher's lounge. Kyoko-sensei is there already, I saved her out by the main entrance. I'll drop you off there and start looking for the others."

"And if they're already dead or turned?" Saya asked frowning angrily at the idea he would just leave her there no matter how safe the place was.

"Then I'll give 'em mercy and come back quicker." Ranma said grimly. "Now come on."

Saya was still frowning but she followed him willingly. After a moment of watching him kill any zombie that came within range however she grabbed him and pulled him close so that she could whisper in his ear. "Stop that," she hissed. "You don't have to kill all of them, they're mindless, only reacting to outside stimuli. We need to learn more about these things, figure out what they react to."

Ranma looked at her then smiled. "That's the brainy girl we all know and love. What do you want me to do?"

Saya blushed even further at his appreciative gaze and his use of the word 'love'. "Let's make our way over to that dead body over there then I want you to take off its shoes."

The body in question had been a zombie before a blow from one of Ranma's hammers had liquefied its head, and she wondered how much damage a person could take before turning and if the others stopped eating you once you did. She shuddered at the morbid thought then nodded as Ranma stood up with the two shoes in his hand. "Alright let's move forward as slowly as we can, then I'll want you to throw one of those shoes at one of them."

Ranma nodded and the two began to move back the way he had come down the hallway and up the stairs. They encountered a pack of zombies at the far end of the hall milling around one of the classrooms and they stopped and Saya nodded. "Hit one of them with one of the shoes." Almost as soon as she said it the shoe left Ranma's hand and slapped into the centermost zombie which went down in a heap. The other zombies turned and made their way toward it, but then stopped, going back to moving around aimlessly.

Hmm, so they are in some way able to tell what noise is another zombie and what is prey? How? "Alright, hit one of the lockers along the opposite wall." Ranma did so, and the clang caused by this brought the attention of the entire group of zombies to that area. They all turned and moved forward, smashing into the locker mindlessly. Saya nodded in satisfaction. "Alright, we can go now."

Ranma nodded and the duo made their way around the mindless zombies, then cautiously up the stairs to the next floor. "So, they respond to sound?"

Saya nodded, relieved that Ranma had understood her experiments. "Yeah, and it seems they lack any kind of sight or else they would've known not to attack the locker back there. On the other hand, their sense of hearing might be heightened to make up for that lack. In fact I'd bet on it." More the things knew somehow when one of their fellows was the one making the noise, which was a really disturbing thought to her. They also seemed to speed up quite a lot when they thought prey was near, moving faster than most humans at that point and she knew they were also far stronger.

Ranma nodded and slowly eased open the door leading onto the third floor of the building. Seeing only a few zombies at the other end he waved Saya forward then led the way down the hallway toward the teacher's lounge. They bypassed the few zombies that they saw easily, and when they arrived knocked as quietly as possible on the door. Even that little noise however attracted a few to the zombies, but Ranma dispatched them easily. "Kyoko-sensei, open up, it's us," He whispered urgently, and a moment later the door opened just enough for the two of them to squeeze inside (and for Saya that was not a figure of speech).

The two women looked at one another and exchanged a quick if heartfelt hug. Ranma nodded at Kyoko and gave each woman one of his hammers, then made his way over to the open window, figuring it would be easier to get back to the tool shed that way. "Lock the door, I'll be back soon." Saya opened her mouth to protest but Ranma was already gone, leaping down to the ground below though changing his target having just spotted a familiar purple head in the distance.

The two women looked at one another again, shrugged and moved back to where Kyoko had been sitting after locking the door. Kyoko wordlessly handed Saya a glass of water and a piece of chocolate and the younger girl took them both gratefully, then sat down on a desk, frowning as she ran scenarios through her head trying to figure out where this zombie plague had come from and what was going to happen in the future before turning on the TV that was suspended from the ceiling in one of the lounge's corners with the volume low.

Saeko was having fun, she probably shouldn't be, especially not given the situation, but she was. She had never before found herself in such an enemy rich environment after all, and no one would say anything, look at her strangely or judge her harshly for cutting down as many of these zombielike creatures as she could.

Saeko had been in the meditation hall that abutted the kendo dojo when the principal's aborted announcement rang out through the loudspeakers. Once she heard that however she had grabbed up one of the club's bokken and gone in search of either her teammates or anyone else she could find. By the time she entered the main school building the initial rush of panic and attacks had passed and she was faced with a few groups of zombies wandering around aimlessly and no people. The zombie infestations had spread insanely quickly in the crowded confines of the school aided by the initial rush of panic that had hundreds of students fighting one another and the zombies in the halls to get away. Several corridors were simply abattoirs full of the things, some still feeding on their victims.

Knowing that Ranma could handle himself she endeavored to make her way over to where she knew where their homeroom was. Along the way she stopped in at Shizuka's office, assuming that a nurse would be a helpful thing to have along in this current crisis.

When she arrived she had been forced to give mercy to an infected sophomore who had tried to protect Shizuka but been infected, something that while necessary did not give her any pleasure. She had found lately that instead of being simple sadism, simply enjoying causing pain, she enjoyed the fight more, causing pain was just a part of that. Having to kill someone before they turned into a zombie was not in any way something she had enjoyed.

Now she and the large breasted nurse were making their way from the second building into the main building by moving through the hallway to a roofed walkway connecting the two buildings on the ground level.

Shizuka was not having nearly as much fun as her new guardian having come to work in her normal ensemble of high heels and a very short, tight skirt that constricted her movement. Yet despite this she had enough energy to ask

"Why aren't you killing any of them, with someone of your skill it should be easy?"

Saeko shook her head as she once more used her bokken to prod a zombie out of their way. They moved on before she spoke in a low tone, "I would have to stop moving to get enough of a swing to make certain of killing one of these things, and that would slow us down."

Actually, she reflected that isn't the case so much any longer. She could kill them with while on the move mostly as thanks to training with Ranma since he had shown up she was stronger, faster, and even more precise than she had been before. She could kill them with even a partial swing, easy to do while on the move. Yet it was true that killing them would have slowed them down no matter how much fun it would be for Saeko. Shizuka would not have liked it at all anyway, and Saeko wasn't willing to risk her just to sate her own bloodlust.

They were about halfway along the outer walkway when a voice hissed "Saeko-chan!" from above them making them both look up at the roof. Ranma's head poked out from the side of the roof at them smiling happily when he saw the two of them. He flipped down and landed lightly on his feet coming forward and throwing an arm around the swordswoman's shoulders, whispering, "hey Saeko-chan, having fun?"

His eyes glinted with humor and Saeko could tell that he was enjoying himself too regardless of the savage and terrifying nature of what was going on around them. So instead of taking umbrage she simply shook her head and said "you are incorrigible you know that."

Her smile and the look in her eyes however answered his question and Ranma simply chuckled before turning to look at Shizuka. "How are you holding up Shizuka-sensei?"

Shizuka shrugged, a little disturbed by how much blood there was splattered across Ranma. Indeed he was covered from fingertips to elbows in splashes of blood and from his feet up to his knees and several splashes on his shirt from the zombies he had slain. Saeko had noticed this as well and simply smiled taking this as even more proof that Ranma was quite a bit like her, he had his own darkness telling him to fight, letting him enjoy it. Yet at the same time she knew it wasn't the total of his personality and that reassured her greatly about her own circumstances as well as how compatible they could be in the future.

"As well as I could be expected after all this, kitty-kun" Shizuka said, swiftly getting over her shock and hugging him happily for a moment before pulling back, her face more serious than was her wont. "I, I'm not enjoying this at all, but I won't fall apart if that's what you're worried about."

Ranma nodded. "Well let's get you over to the teacher's lounge, I saved Kyoko-sensei and she and Saya-chan are hiding there 'cause it has a lot of things we could use if this shit is happening everywhere in the city." He looked over at Saeko and asked, "will you want to stay with them or come search around with me for the others?"

Saeko actually thought about it, weighing staying to protect the three non-combatants in a place of safety or going with Ranma on his search and then nodded. "I will search with you I think. If the door is closed and they make no noise they won't attract any of the zombies and I will be of much more use guarding your back than hiding with them." And, she thought to herself, looking to Ranma's eyes, this will give me an even better chance to let loose a bit.

Ranma understood that part of the message without her needing to say it out loud and he simply smirked a little before leading the way over to the back of the school where he jumped up with Shizuka in his arms to deposit her in the teacher's lounge.

Saeko frowned a little at the sight. She hadn't quite worked her way up to roof hopping yet, and now she was regretting that lack in her repertoire since if this infestation was occurring everywhere in the city the ability to travel by rooftop would be incredibly useful. A moment later however Ranma returned, jumping down to land lightly next to her. He grasped her tightly around the waist pulling her body against him, her breasts pressing tight against his hard chest and stealing a quick kiss before jumping up with her in his arms. Or perhaps it isn't so bad I can't rooftop she thought chuckling a little.

The four girls nodded to one another for a moment, then Saeko and Ranma made their way out the door and off to search for his other friends in the main building.

Searching the classrooms as quietly as they could they discovered that Kohta and Yuuki were not in the classroom they should have been if they had stayed put, which might be good of bad. Not wanting to simply wander around aimlessly looking for them Saeko motioned Ranma in and as soon as the door was closed to cover the noise asked "where do you think they would go?"

Ranma scratched at his pigtail thoughtfully as he thought. "I think if Kohta was in charge they would make their way either to the teachers' lounge or the woodcraft classroom." Saeko looked at him in question and he answered her unspoken query before she could say it. "He'd be searching for something he could use as a weapon, and he once mentioned how a nail gun could be turned into a gun."

He smirked a little at that. One of his first real conversations with Kohta had been about what he could use as a weapon if push came to shove and the bullies took it a step further than picking on him and pushing him around to full on assault. Kohta's own reply had actually cheered the gun otaku up quite a lot as he realized that if he wanted to he could cause quite a bit of damage with some handy items found easily around the school. Ranma had simply smirked at him knowing that a bit of backbone was all the kid really needed. "If even half of what Kohta said about himself is true, he'll be alright once he has a gun or somethin' like one in his hands, trust me."

Ranma motioned to the door and opened it bowing Saeko out in a courtly manner and she giggled a little, trying to muffle the noise as they moved on. It's strange that the two of us are so at home during this chaos. Barbarians indeed, she mused laughing a little to herself as she remembered the conversation they had a few weeks ago in the dojo. It seems that there is a need for barbarians now.

They slowly made their way to the nearest walkway then across to the secondary building and up the stairs, trying to not get into any fights they could get around. Once they opened the door leading onto the third floor they heard the sound of a nail gun going off down the hall.

The two looked at one another and sped forward, no longer trying to move around her silently, simply killing all of the zombies in their way and moving as quickly as possible.

They soon found Kohta and Yuuki trying to make their way down the hallway. In front of them was about five or six zombies, with one already on the ground with a nail through his head.

The two martial artists waited no time in rushing forward and falling upon the zombies from behind. Kohta and Yuuki looked on in astonishment as the two of them slaughtered the zombies swiftly and efficiently. Even more than Saeko Ranma got a few strange looks as he wielded just his hands having dropped off his hammers with Saya and the others. But his fists and legs were more than enough for this, and the last zombie went down with a kick to the head that sent the head thudding (more squishing really) off down the hallway like a soccer ball. As the zombie's body collapsed he turned to Kohta and asked "you two all right?"

"That was so cool Ranma-san!" The gun nut exclaimed, running forward and grabbing Ranma's shoulders and shaking him. "How did you learn how to do that? How cool was that, are you some kind of ninja or something or some kind of super secret government super warrior!"

Yuuki rolled her eyes and slapped him upside the back of the head. "Stop that," she ordered. Despite how she treated him though her opinion of Kohta had changed drastically since this all began. The two of them had been in their classroom when the principal's announcement went out over the loud speaker and before anyone else had reacted Hirano had grabbed her and pulled her out of the room and into an unused bathroom. He held a hand over her mouth to keep her from shouting at him, though after the panic outside began she realized that hiding there was a good idea. After that they had made their way to the woodcraft workshop and he had armed himself with the nail gun. After that his confidence had risen even further, and Yuuki now looked at him as someone she could count on.

Kohta had developed a bit of a crush on Yuuki after talking to her and Ranma a few times in the past two weeks and that plus their friendship with Ranma was why he had gone out of his way to save her. The looks of admiration she had been shooting him occasionally were payment in full in his opinion.

"Were fine," Yuuki replied to Rama's question looking between him and Saeko. Saeko merely nodded at the other girl and she nodded back. While they were acquainted with one another through Ranma the two of them didn't move in the same circles.

"Either of you know where Rei or Takashi are? We haven't seen any sign of them, either alive or…" he trailed off gesturing wordlessly at the zombies.

Kohta looked a little concerned. "Takashi came in shouting something to Rei, then he and Hizashi went off with her somewhere about five minutes before all of this began."

"If he was on the roof when all this began he probably saw what was happening out at the gates, though why he'd save Rei after the way she's been treating him is beyond me," Ranma muttered. Saeko elbowed him sharply and he sighed nodding more in resignation than agreement, knowing that his mother would skin him if he let Rei get hurt. "I wonder where they went off to?"

"Are we going to start searching for them now or should we drop these two off first?" Saeko asked, then told the other two about Saya, Shizuka and Kyoko.

Ranma frowned thinking and looking over at Yuuki, knowing that she couldn't really add anything to their combat potential at the moment. He wasn't unhappy that she was with them, she was a friend after all (though Ranma wasn't as close to her as he was to Saya and Saeko) but he was a realist, and the best she could do would be to rearm Kohta's weapons for him. She didn't have any combat experience or martial arts training, so in the current chaos would be a liability if they ran into any zombies. "Let's drop them off back at the teacher's lounge. Kohta can provide them with a better defense and the two of us can keep searching."

The others nodded, Kohta looking a little proud at being told he would be protecting all these hot girls. They followed him back to the staircase leading up to the fourth floor, thinking there would be fewer zombies in the upper levels as the students had all tried to escape by heading downward where they ran into the massive chaos in the hallways and the zombies.

He was proven correct in this assumption as they only saw a handful of zombies as they traversed the fourth floor of the specialty building and then used the walkway to head over to the main building.

They had made it down to the third floor and were making their way towards the teacher's lounge when they heard a scream from in front of them. Kohta, Saeko and Ranma all looked at one another, nodded and rushed forward, with Yuuki following behind quickly with a worried expression on her face. She really wasn't a warrior, but she knew staying with this group was far and away better than trying to go off on her own.

They came to the open area right in front of the teacher's lounge to find that four students had been hunted down there by a large group of zombies which was piling towards them from several directions and had just lost two of their members, hence the screams. The two remaining students had backed away quickly, wielding makeshift weapons but obviously not knowing at all how to use them.

On the other side coming along another hallway came Takashi and Rei. Ranma looked over at them then back to the zombies and shouted "I'll take center!" and shot forward, leaping over the astonished heads of the four students caught in the center of the open area to land in front of them, his leg flashing out and slamming into the nearest zombie throwing it back into many of its fellows before charging forward, his ki claws briefly appearing as he sliced a few zombies into pieces.

As swiftly as he moved Saeko moved just as fast shouting "I'll take right!" Her bokken flashed out crushing the head of one zombie before coming back and slamming into another's chest, sending it into one of its fellows before she moved swiftly crushing their heads with two sharp blows of her bokken. She came back to rest looking over at the others to find that Rei had charged forward along with Takashi taking the left side wielding a makeshift spear that had once been a broom handle with the ease of long practice. Saeko hummed appreciatively of her skill then turned back to business.

With the four close combat members keeping the zombies away and Kohta providing long-range support (mostly to Takashi admittedly as he did not have as much skill in hand to hand combat as the other three) the couple was able to back away from the zombies towards the teacher's lounge, where they were met with Yuuki who pointed wordlessly at the other hallways. If any more zombies came from the directions the fighters had originally come from they would need to shout a warning. The other students nodded and watched for any movement but thankfully this did not happen and no more zombies appeared to menace them.

A moment later Ranma slew the last zombie in sight, and the now eight strong group retreated to the doorway to the teacher's lounge. A moment later it was opened by Shizuka who quickly looked at them all checking for injuries and then waved them inside hugging each teen in turn as they passed through the doorway.

As soon as the door was closed Ranma walked over to the teacher's kitchen area to wipe off the blood as the others introduced themselves. Saya scoffed, not seeing the point to this and followed him. Ranma smiled at her and asked "Did ya or the others think of checking the news ta see how far this shit has spread?"

Saeko growled gesturing angrily at the TV that was on back in the main lunge area. "Did you think I wouldn't think of that you numb skull! Whatever this is, it's going on worldwide! They're trying not to cause a panic, but I would say this epidemic spread everywhere at once. Whole nations aren't communicating with any other nation, most governments are just gone and the local news is all about the chaos going on! It's a fucking pandemic!"

"Pandemic?" Rei asked hesitantly. She looked a little shell shocked, her face looked as if she had been weeping at some point, and Ranma wondered why that was.

He glanced over at Takashi, and saw a glimmer of the same emotion there. It occurred to him then that Rei's boyfriend Hizashi was missing from the trio who according to Kohta had left the classroom at the beginning of all this. He frowned a little at that and then looked over at Takashi, raising an eyebrow and gesturing mouthing the words "where's Hizashi?', not wanting to ask Rei and maybe set her off. Takashi caught his glance and shook his head sadly at the silent question.

Ranma frowned a little. He hadn't really gotten along with the blonde but he had been a nice guy stuck in the middle of a situation not of his own making and sort of following along with Rei, always in her shadow and hanging on her every word but that seemed what she wanted. And judging by the look in Takashi's eyes I'm not the only one that had to give out mercy today. He had done so several times, once to two girls who had been caught on one of the outer stairwells and bitten before he could rescue them, and several times when he found single students who had locked themselves in classrooms after being bitten, not realizing that they were already dead.

Rei nodded as Saya finished her explanation and turned back to watch in horror at the news. Saya muttered "see it's a pandemic, its going on everywhere!"

The two students whose names Ranma didn't know muttered to themselves at that but he ignored them, looking over at the pink-haired girl. Of them all he knew that Saya was the most intelligent, so he asked "So what do you think will happen, Pinky?"

Saya growled a little at the nickname then kicked Takashi when he made the mistake of chuckling at it. Takashi began to hop around on one foot grabbing his leg in his hands as Saya frowned looking up at the TV screen shaking her head. "This is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better, if it's going on everywhere so everything is going to be overwhelmed, all the utilities and everything else. The whole city is going to shut down, hell probably the whole country!"

"But the police and the Army will do something won't they" Rei asked almost desperately.

Kohta nodded fervently while at his side Yuuki looked on, her face creased in concern. "The Army should definitely already have been called in on this. The SDF might not be as large as most nations armies, but they have a great reaction time to natural disasters and some of the best equipment in the world."

"Idiot," Saya scoffed, "Look at the news. Where would they be sent to exactly? This problems happening everywhere! More, you know how many people are in a city even of this size let alone someplace like Tokyo? There is one policeman for every five hundred people in Japan, how the hell are they going to handle something like this! Even if the army, and they might have their own infestations to deal with, sends troops here if this is happening everywhere in the city it would take a battalion at least to restore order, and even then how do you keep it? Even one of these things could cause the epidemic to spring up again. You'd have to create a safe zone first, and I doubt there's any kind of central authority anymore to do so after something like this!"

Kyoko looked up from fiddling absentmindedly with her glasses, her face grim. "That means you see the rise of local bully boys who for various reasons can create such a safe zone. Law and order goes away quickly, and that kind of thing would hasten that."

Ranma and Saeko looked at one another, then shrugged. Ranma then looked around at the others. "So, what are our short term goals, any ideas?"

Takashi spoke up quickly. "I think we all need to get out of here and find our families."

Saya frowned but nodded and the others all agreed, even the pair that Ranma didn't know. Ranma nodded. "That's a plan I suppose, though if we do I think we should head ta Rei's and my place first." At the others look he answered "My mom and I got some real weapons there." He looked over at Kohta and grinned. "Sorry dude, not your kind of weapons, though Rei's parents are both policemen so they might have something I don't know about."

Everyone nodded at that and Saya gestured at a desk piled high with stuff. "We collected a lot of food stuffs, mostly energy bars and drinks, and a few confiscated knives. There was also a handgun of some sort, that one of the teacher's had in his desk" a short fat blur passed her to rummage in the pile and she blinked behind her glasses in surprise at how fast Kohta could move when motivated but then she shook her head. "It should only be used in an emergency thought fatso, we found out the zombies react to sound. The more you shoot that gun the more you'll attract them."

Ranma grinned and clapped Kohta on the shoulder as he found the handgun, some small pistol but it had a full clip so Kohta was happy. "You heard the lady my friend. Still that leaves how we're getting out of here. I don't think going by foot would be a good idea, and I can't carry all of ya on the Ranma Express™." Saya and Saeko both laughed at that, having been carried like that a few times while Kyoko shook her head in amusement. The others save Takashi and Rei looked perplexed.

Shizuka held up her car keys. "Well, we could go in my car."

"Could your car hold all of us?" asked Saeko skeptically.

Shizuka thought of her little Beetle and pouted, "Not at all."

Rei looked out of the window at the parking lot at the back of the school. "What about one of the school buses? Most of them are still here."

Saya nodded. "That could work, though we would still have to get to them first."

Ranma frowned then moved over to the open window. "I'll be back in a second, just poppin' out ta look around."

The two strangers and even Shizuka, Kohta and Yuuki blinked in shock as he jumped from the window up to the next level and then onto the roof. Once there he had a good view of the school and beyond that the city. He frowned as he saw several smoke trails against the afternoon sky over the city then frowned a little more at the number of zombies moving around the school grounds. It looked as if a lot of students had gotten out onto the grounds, but had been caught and infected there or already infected before they escaped to the grounds. He Jumped down, grabbed the top of the windowsill and swung in, causing exclamations of surprise and one shout of "So Cool!" from Kohta.

Ranma moved over to lean against a desk by Saeko and Saya. "Alright, there are a lot of zombies around out there, but most of them are congregated near the parking lot, the back entrance and between the main building and the gym. If we can get one of the buses up to the front entrance though there aren't nearly as many zombies on that side. We'll rest here for a few hours and then I'll take Shizuka-sensei with me ta the buses and we'll drive it around to the main entrance. Saeko, you and the rest'll need ta move through the school and join up with us there." The others looked at one another, and one by one nodded. It was risky, but it was the only way they would be getting out of here.

Ranma moved over to rest against the wall under the windows in a nice sunbeam and closed his eyes. Saya and Saeko looked at one another almost challengingly, but before either could move Shizuka slumped down next to kitty-chan and put her head on his shoulder, her eyes closing. Ranma's eyes opened and he looked at her then at the others before he shrugged and leaned back, a nap was more important than anything else at this point.

Saya and Saeko both growled a little, then moved off to lean against the wall beside Ranma's other side. The others spread out talking in whispers or trying to rest as best they could.

Ranma rested for two hours before Kohta roused him by first shaking Saeko awake and getting her to do it (Kohta had seen what happened to people who interrupted Ranma's naps) and Ranma opened his eyes and stood up in one easy movement, a hand pushing Shizuka back against the wall so she did fall as her pillow moved out from under her. He glanced outside and then at the others. They all looked a little better than they did before, a few looked shell shocked, but they all looked determined and ready. He nodded. "Alright, when Shizuka and I leave, give us fifteen minutes then start making your way out." Takashi nodded, but Ranma was looking at Saeko as he went on. "Remember not to get into any pitched fights, keep quiet and sneak your way out as much as possible, okay?" Saeko nodded seriously, and the others all nodded in turn. "Great, Shizuka-sensei, let's go."

"Aww, I wanted to rest some more." Shizuka pouted, then got to her feet, her tits wobbling and grabbing every guys attention bar Ranma, who was taking one of his hammers back from Saya, who had grabbed a power drill from Yuuki as her new emergency weapon. Ranma turned back and kneeled down his back to Shizuka then he paused as Kyoko spoke up. "Um, Shizuka, remember you can't scream or anything when we do this. Do you want some tape over your mouth just in case?"

Shizuka frowned, but looking out the window pouted and nodded. She knew herself well enough to know that she would either scream in joy or fear, especially since she had nearly done so on the way up, only the shock of it keeping her from rupturing Ranma's eardrums. Kyoko smiled sympathetically and came forward and placed a piece of duct tape over her friends mouth then suddenly hugged her, the strangeness of the situation they found themselves in making her more emotional than she usually was. "Good luck, keep safe the both of you." Ranma merely nodded and Shizuka waved as she got on his back.

Without another word Ranma turned and leaped out the window, and almost immediately the need for the duct tape became apparent as even with it on he could hear Shizuka screaming as they plummeted down for a few seconds. She stopped as they landed, Ranma taking the jolt easily on his legs before shooting off along the wall towards the school parking area. Behind them the others looked at one another and began to move around making last minute preparations.

He made his way to their destination easily enough, weaving through clumps of zombies and cars with ease to the farthest bus, figuring that starting it up would create a lot of noise and hoping that using the one farthest away would allow them to get away without attracting too much more attention. He forced open the door and deposited Shizuka in the driver's seat. "Wait here for a bit, I'm going to clear out some of the closer zombies to give us some time to get going so they can't swarm us." Shizuka nodded, her hand already up to remove the tape but he turned and hopped out of the bus before she could say anything.

Ranma stalked through the parking lot, killing every zombie he found with ruthless dispatch, his teeth bared in sharks grin. One blow from his hammer, fist of foot was enough to dispatch a zombie and even when they turned and attacked him, the small clumps of them were no threat to him. Within ten minutes he had cleared a space around the bus, and he turned and made his way back. As soon as he stepped in he nodded. "Start it up Sensei, and let's go!"

Shizuka nodded looking a little pale, and it was only then that he realized he was once more covered in zombie blood. He shrugged that off for now though, knowing that there were more important matters at hand. The bus's engine shuddered awake and Shizuka began to move it out of the parking lot.

At the noise nearly every zombie in sight began to make their way toward the bus and Ranma cursed. I underestimated their hearing damn, ah well, we're moving now, we should be able to outrun this group and meet up with the others at the front easily enough.

He was proven correct as the bus left most of the zombies behind it, but as they turned around the school to head to the front and meet up with the others, Ranma growled in aggravation, seeing them running and fighting their way through a gathering horde. Evidently something had gone wrong.

Something indeed had gone wrong. The group had made their way down to the first floor near the school's main entrance easily enough, but there they ran into far more zombies than they had expected. They weren't doing anything, but they were spread out and everywhere in the entrance area. Takashi had the bright idea of trying to sneak past them, volunteering to go first, an act that raised his status a little in Saeko's eyes as well as the others. He snuck forward easily enough and grabbed a shoe from near the door, left there by some fleeing student no doubt, and hurled it down the hall. The noise it made hitting a downed locker made all the zombies in hearing range turn and make for the source of the noise. He opened the door silently and gestured the others to get a move on.

The trouble began when Takuzo, the boy they had saved along with his girlfriend Naomi outside the teacher's lounge, banged his makeshift spear on the staircases' iron railing causing an even louder noise to echo around the entrance area. Takashi had shouted run at the top of his lungs and everyone bolted for the door.

Ranma growled angrily and jumped off the bus, heading for the group rushing toward safety. "Keep the engine running and the door open!" He shouted behind him, and then he was in among a group of zombies trying to cut off the group ahead of him. They had turned at his shout, but even that did not save them, and Ranma moved among them like a lion among sheep, slaying them all easily. "Kohta run to the bus and give us covering fire from there!"

Saeko had turned aside and taken up position to guard the groups flank, and she smiled as she saw Ranma open a path for them before lashing out, slaying one zombie and then destroying another's ability to walk. Rei did the same a few feet behind her and the two of them urged the others on.

Kohta obeyed Ranma's order instantly, running as fast as he could, with Yuuki pulling him along to add to his speed as much as she could, knowing she couldn't help in a situation like this. The two soon reached the bus and Kohta quickly began to shoot from the windows while Yuuki opened up the emergency exit set into the top of the bus and lowering the ladder. "Come on, this'll give you a higher position to shoot from! What else do you need me to do?!"

Kohta scrambled over and made his way up the ladder, shooting almost as soon as he got in position to take out a zombie reaching for Takashi from behind. "Just get my some more nails when I tell you! They're in my bag!" Yuuki nodded, throwing down the bag she had been carrying which was full of energy bars and other snacks form the teacher's lounge to rummage in Kohta's for the nails.

At the back of the group Saya, Takuzo and Naomi were bringing up the rear when Takuzo gasped as one of the zombies grabbed onto the towel around his neck, pulling him to a stop for a moment, just enough for another to lunge in and bite him on the arm. Takuzo screamed in pain and knocked the thing lose but the damage had already been done, and he grimly turned and set himself, ready to sell his life dearly before the sickness took him.

Saya grimaced but ran on, only stopping when she noticed that Naomi had stopped. She ran back and grabbed the other girls arm dragging her along. "Run you idiot, right now you need to save yourself, that's the most important thing!"

Naomi, her eyes dead, tears streaming down her face, shook out of her grip shaking her head wordlessly before running back to her boyfriend. Saya gaped in astonishment at this sign of idiocy, but Kyoko grabbed her arm and pulled her along. "Come on!"

Saya nodded and ran beside her, shaking her head. "I don't get it, why the hell did she do that?"

Kyoko shook her head, her face drawn and sad. "I can understand it, if you lost the one person among this chaos that made life still worth fighting for, I can understand not wanting to keep going."

Saya scoffed, but turned away not arguing the point though she still thought it was stupid. The two of them passed where Rei and Takashi were standing, racing between them and hurrying on.

Ranma growled as he saw the two students, hell he didn't even know their names and right now he was thankful for that, go down under a mass of zombies. More and more zombies were coming out of the woodwork, around the side of the buildings, from the gym and the rest of the school attracted by the sound of combat and he snarled. "Keep going! Takashi, Rei take over in close defense around to the bus!" He moved forward again as Rei and Takashi passed him, his cousin glaring a little at being ordered around. The two of them and Kohta pushed back another rush of zombies that came up at the bus from the side while Ranma joined Saeko guarding Kyoko and Saya as they raced forward.

One of the zombies that had been knocked down by Takashi suddenly rose up from the ground, reaching for Saya as she pushed herself to catch up to the other two. With a shriek that attracted a lot of other zombies to her Saya fell back, barely avoiding the lunging jaws and falling to her knees. "G-get away, get away!" She raised her power drill turning it on and thrusting it forward into the zombies mouth, up and into its skull. "Get AWAY!" The drills spun and drilled through the zombie's head, blood and gore going everywhere and splattering her face and glasses. The zombie stopped moving as whatever was driving it failed at last, but it still would have fallen on top of her if Ranma hadn't appeared and smashed it to the side with a kick that sent it flying in the air and away.

Saya looked up in shock as the zombie disappeared from view, but her mind had shut down, and she began to tremble in place as how close she came to a fate worse than death registered. Wasting no time Ranma reached down and picked her up easily, then ran as fast as he could to the bus, putting her in a chair in the front then racing out again to rejoin Saeko.

Saeko sent him a look between swings and Ranma shrugged. "She'll be okay eventually, right now we can't do anything to help her, we got bigger fish to fry." The two fell back towards the bus as Kyoko ran up its steps into the bus, plopping down in a seat behind Shizuka.

Ranma waved at Takashi and Rei to get on the bus and Saeko and Ranma had just jumped aboard in turn when suddenly Takashi shouted, "Wait! There's another group of survivors coming towards us from the school!"

The others all looked and Rei growled while Ranma merely ground his teeth at the sight of Shido (or as Ranma called him Shido-shit) coming toward him with about eleven students following him, all of them students from his homeroom. Rei turned to Shizuka and said "Leave them, get us out of here!"

Takashi gaped at her in shock. "We can't just leave them to those things!"

"You have no idea what that man is like!" Rei shouted back.

Saeko, who didn't know anything of Rei's issues with Shido or even that Ranma had a particular problem with Shido, shook her head. "We shouldn't just leave them here. That would be too cruel a punishment regardless of who it was."

Ranma growled. He didn't really know why Rei had a problem with Shido-shit, but ever since he first saw the man all his senses were telling him to stay as far away from him as possible. Still the students with him hadn't done anything as far as Ranma knew. He wouldn't leave them to their fate just to leave Shido-shit with them. "Turn the bus around and aim us at the exit!" he ordered and then jumped out. "We'll all stay around the bus and keep guard, if they reach us fine, but stay close, all of ya."

Takashi nodded and followed behind them but Rei grabbed his arm glaring into his face. "you'll regret this," she ground out "I promise you!"

Takashi looked at her wondering what the hell had got into the girl before shaking her arm off and following the others out of the bus.

Ranma ran forward, slamming into a zombie and sending it skidding backwards into one of its fellows before bringing his hammer around to slam into another's head splattering everywhere. Saeko charged forward as well and the two of them with cover fire from Kohta cleared an area around the bus as it turned to face the exit.

They kept this area clear of zombies as the teacher and his group ran forward. Shido had been following behind chivying the students in front of him, not because he felt that the back was a safe place, but felt that he wanted of me shield in front of him. He frowned as he saw how hard-pressed the fighters around the bus were, then back across his shoulder, seeing hundreds of zombies boiling out of the school buildings, the nearest barely ten feet behind him. A distraction was needed to ensure his survival, but what?

One of the students was running next to him and thinking quickly Shido subtly tripped him. As he ran on the student grabbed his leg and said "help Sensei!"

Shido simply sneered and kicked him in the head, forcing him to let go of Shido's leg. As he ran forward the zombies fell on the downed student, taking enough of their attention of Shido and his followers to enter the zone around the bus that Saotome and Busujima were keeping clear of zombies in a show of martial prowess that made Shido smile covetously.

Luckily for him, none of the fighters around the bus had seen what had happened, too busy with the zombies around the bus. Even Shizuka and the others hadn't seen it. Soon Shido's group was on board.

Once they were on the bus one Shido's followers a trouble maker named Tsunoda shouted "get us out of here!"

But Shizuka refused to move commenting "they saved your life and we're not leaving them just because you're on board! You'd never have reached us without them out there to protect you!"

Kyoko and the others all nodded and Kohta clambered down from the roof space, his nail gun moving around warningly. Even Yuuki nodded, and Tsunoda sneered a little but backed off. Soon after this little confrontation Takashi entered the bus, followed swiftly by Saeko and Ranma last of all. The moment he was on board he shouted "go!"

"There's a lot of those things in front of us though!" Shizuka exclaimed

"Run them down!" Ranma ordered.

Shizuka gaped a little then shook her head and said to herself "they're not human anymore, they're not human anymore, they're not human anymore!" and with that final repetition she gunned it. With that the bus shot forward splattering several zombies and bursting out of the still closed gates onto the road outside of the school.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as they left the last of the zombies behind them and began to barrel down the road towards the city center. Ranma stretched a little sharing a smile with Saeko and then nodded at Kohta and the others, taking a moment to pat mess with Shizuka's hair a bit, causing her to giggle at how their positions had reversed. He noticed that the groups had separated, with his friends in the front of the bus and Shido-shit and his followers at the back with several seats between the two groups, which suited Ranma just fine. All his instincts were still telling him that Shido-shit was trouble, so the more distance between his friends and the slimy assholes followers the better, even if Ranma couldn't have left them behind.

His gaze moved over to Saya at that point and he knew that he had something else to do first. He looked over at Saeko, who nodded at his look and moved in, sliding past Saya to take a seat on her outer side, then Ranma sat on her other side, bumping his shoulder against the almost comatose girl. "Hey, how ya holding up Pinky?"

Saya roused out of her stupor enough to glare at him and yell "Ha, who do you think I am, remember I'm a fucking genius you, you dumb jock! I can handle this, I…I…" she trialed off as she caught her reflection in the window opposite and saw the blood spattered across her front, face and even her glasses. "Oh, oh no, I need to clean up, mama will be mad at me for getting dirty…" She trialed off again as Ranma put an arm around her, pulling her into a hug.

After a moment she broke down and began to sob uncontrollably into his shoulder. Saeko put her own arms around the sobbing girl, and the two of them spent the next few minutes getting her to settle down again. Around them however other issues were occurring.

The group at the back began to complain, yelling at Shizuka for her driving into the city rather than going to the dorms or someplace close and forting up. One of them even complained "Yeah, if this is happening all over maybe we should have stayed at the school! We could have found someplace to hide there until this all blows over!"

Yuuki scoffed, leaning back and not at all inadvertently shoving her chest forward, arresting the speakers attention as well as most of the boys on the us, even Shido looked though that made her nearly shiver in disgust. Still, better that than causing trouble. "What makes you think this will just blow over? We saw the news in the teacher's lounge, this pandemic?" she looked over at Kohta who nodded, shamelessly staring at her chest but she didn't mind, "This pandemic is everywhere!"

"You should still have waited and asked us where we wanted to go! Where the hell are we even going?!" Tsunoda shouted, adding his voice to the complaints.

Kyoko stood up, glaring at the trouble maker with her best teacher's glare. "Sit down Tsunoda-san. Now is not the time to fall out amongst ourselves. For your information we are heading to a place that may have weapons and maybe a place to fort up. Does that suffice as a short term goal?"

Tsunoda growled and backed away a little then stopped as he caught Takashi looking at him. "The fuck do you want, you want to fight or something?"

Takashi glared right back but it was Yuuki who answered, looking down at her nails. "That's not him, that's your testosterone talking. Amazing that you have any really, considering some of the rumors I've heard from your ex-girlfriend."

Tsunoda turned and glared at her then ignored what she said simply pointing back at Takashi. "I can't fucking stand this guy! Always acting like he's all that!"

Saya had by this time recovered and that allowed Ranma to look around at what was happening. Deciding to nip this in the bud he reached over to the empty chair on the other side of the bus and with a little grunt of effort he ripped it out of its moorings. The squeal of tortured metal halted all the conversations and every eye on the bus turned to him as he stood up, holding the chair easily in the air, most of them looking astonished at the amount of strength Ranma so negligently showed. He looked at the irritating blond and said "shut up, sit down, and be quiet or I will throw this at you and squash you!"

Tsunoda was about to scoff and bluster but wavered when Ranma lifted the chair up as if to hurl it and he backed away quickly to join the rest of the group at the back of the bus.

Shido strode forward clapping. "Well done Ranma-kun, an excellent method of conflict resolution." Shido said, trying to butter the boy up. He knew now that Ranma was an even more valuable tool than he had first appeared. "Now, I must ask who among you is the leader?"

That was as far as he got before Ranma made to throw the chair at him too. "And you shut up too Shido-shit. This ain't school anymore, you being a teacher didn't matter ta me before, it matters even less now." The students at the back of the bus protested this treatment of their savior (he had kept them hidden and safe during the initial panic), but Ranma ignored them. He slammed the chair down onto its side in the center of the walkway down the bus. "This is the line. None of you people cross comin' this way and none of us'll cross going back. I'm going to have a nap, if I do not get a nap I become cranky. You would not like me when I am cranky. Am I understood? After my nap we can talk about lettin' you and yer groupies off somewhere." His wild blue eyes glared around and everyone nodded with various emotions showing on their faces.

Saeko looked at him with admiration and a bit of arousal at how strong he was, imagining him showing that strength in other ways. Saya simply smiled while Rei muttered something about him being a showoff. Kohta grinned at him as did Takashi. Kyoko simply shook her head and Yuuki looked at him speculatively, her arms crossed under her chest and her thoughts strangely following Saeko's.

Shizuka simply smiled, glad that all the yelling had stopped. She flinched as she looked out of the driver's window up into the air, seeing a zombie biting into the leg of someone who was desperately trying to hang onto the side of a helicopter that had just risen in the air.

Shido however tried to talk his way out of it. He knew that if he could talk Ranma into following his vision, then he could carve out his own little empire somewhere amongst this chaos. "But surely Ranma-kun you really wouldn't threaten a teacher? I never took you for a…."

He stopped talking as Ranma made to lift up the chair again and the teacher backed away swiftly, real fear in his eyes as Ranma's eyes darkened, his teeth bared. "Go back ta yer little groupies Shido-shit, none of us up here are lisenin'." Shido made to open his mouth again but Ranma lifted up the chair and he flinched back, moving away to join his followers who were looking between the pigtailed martial artist and him with concern.

Ranma growled a little more then sat down and was about to lay down when Saeko sat down next to him. He looked at her askance and she merely smiled, gesturing at her lap. Ranma smiled and lay down, his head on her lap and closed his eyes yawning widely. Saeko chuckled and began to run her hand over his hair and neck, causing him to purr. Most of the others looked on at this a little freaked out by the noise he was making, though Saya frowned at this display of affection for an entirely different reason. Shizuka too looked back at them pouting a little. She enjoyed scratching Ranma and feeling him purr, and was a little miffed that she couldn't because she was so busy driving the bus.

Ranma's friends followed his example and rested, while at the back of the bus Shido began to speak to his group in low tones, convincing, coercing and preaching, beginning to warp their minds even more than he already had.

The bus continued on like this, running into more and more trouble. Fires were everywhere along the road, with many crashed cars and zombies moving around in clumps at the nearest noise then moving on.

Rei was the only one who didn't rest, looking back at Shido, listening and frowning more and more as he continued to brainwash his group, then around at the others sitting around her, none of whom seemed to be listening. Kohta and Yuuki had both fallen asleep soon after Ranma, and Saeko was leaning back with her eyes closed, a smile on her face as her hands continued to move through Ranma's hair. Kyoko was murmuring quietly to Saya and Shizuka, working out a route they could follow, but coming up blank on a way forward that would avoid places where the zombies could have congregated.

Eventually Rei lost her temper, stood up and strode to the front, clamping a hand on Shizuka's shoulder. "Let me off!"

Takashi woke up out of a light nap to gape at her, standing up and moving to take her arm. "Rei, what…"

She shook his grip off angrily, snarling, "I warned you, I can't stand Shido! If he and his group are going to stay aboard, I'm not! I'll make my own way back home!"

By this time everyone but Ranma was awake, and even he was stirring as he began to wake up. Kyoko tried to be the voice of reason. "Now just wait a moment Miyamoto-san that makes no sense. If you can just put up with it for a little while, we might come to a place where we can drop them off."

Rei growled. "I can't sit here and be this near to that man while he's spouting his crap!" She hit the door release button and bolted out of the bus. Shido noticed this and smiled a little shaking his head and now putting a bit about unity into his sermon to his followers.

Takashi made to follow her immediately but Saya grabbed his arm. "Wait, we need a place to meet up. She needs to get away, but that's just an awful idea long term. Can you meet us at the police station right on the other side of the bridges?" Takashi nodded and Ran out to catch up with Rei.

At the same moment however Ranma came fully awake, looking out the window next to him and seeing a city bus barreling towards them. He turned to Shizuka and shouted "Get us moving Now! Backwards or forwards I don't care!"

Shizuka gaped at him then, as the way forward was blocked by traffic pushed the bus into reverse and pulled back quickly, so suddenly she threw Saya and Shido, both of whom had been standing, to the ground. The bus continued past them, full of zombies attacking the few remaining people inside including the driver who was being bitten as they watched it go past them. A second later it slammed into a building on the other side of the street, exploding and sending fire everywhere. This fire cut off Rei and Takashi from their friends. Indeed it was only because Takashi dove and grabbed her and pushing her behind a nearby car, that both of them survived it.

Saya opened her window and shouted out "Remember, the police station on the other side of the bridge!"

Takashi nodded, shouting back "We'll meet you there!" before turning and pulling Rei away from the fire and noise which was sure to attract more zombies.

Ranma groaned as the bus began moving again. "So, why did those two run off? If they couldn't keep it in their pants I swear…" Saya shook her head and explained what had happened while he was asleep.

Ranma looked back at Shido, who had stood up again and begun to speak to his followers. Wordlessly he hefted his hammer and threw it. The hammer zoomed past Shido's head to slam into the back of the bus, sticking by its back tines in the metal there. "Hey Shido-shit, you've lost your talking privileges. Sit down and shut up or the next one I throw I'll aim ta hit ya." Shido flinched away and his followers muttered angrily, but Ranma's eyes swept over them and none of them dared meet his eyes.

Ranma nodded and turned back to his friends, all of whom were smirking a little at how he solved that issue. "See how easy that is. So basically instead of trying to shut him up, Rei decided to just go off by her own? And Takashi, like an idiot, followed her?"

Yuuki smirked a little, she and Rei had never gotten along. "That's about the size of it yes."

Kyoko frowned, thinking that Takashi's devotion to Rei was romantic, in a sappy sort of way. Yet at the same time she knew that their leaving the group had been the height of idiocy.

Ranma groaned, wondering what his mother and aunt would say if he met up with them without Rei. I envision pain in my future. "My cousin is a complete idiot. And so is Takashi." None of the others disagreed with that sentiment.

End chapter

And there you have the first chapter of this new story. I will not continue it however after this point unless my Lion of Light muse leaves me entirely. I hope to continue that story until the tournament arc is finished, but honestly RL and my own enjoyment might work against that, so don't expect the updates to be as regular as they have been up to this point. I apologize for all of you who are reading that story, but that is just the way it is.

I realize the two week break portion is very weak, but I needed to speed up the time and introduce Ranma's relationships with a few of the other characters, but didn't want to dwell on them. I also know that some of my sentences come out very awkwardly, so if another writer spots the ones I'm talking about and has a suggestion I'll take it under advisement.

Questions for any reviewers:

Catlike aspects? Too much, not enough?

Should I bring in other Ranma characters or simply show what happened to them in cameos interspersed throughout? I'm wondering if I should put in some odd pairings using them and see what people think.

Suggestions on how to make all the characters speak/sound like they do in the original would be helpful. I know Saeko speaks very formally I'm not certain I pulled it off.

Where in relation to the ocean is the city this story starts off in, are there any clues pointing to its location? I didn't find any evidence it was a real city so it doesn't really matter but if there are clues like that I want to know about them.

What kind of weapon should Ranma start to wield fulltime going forward? Not a sword or polearm please, think unusual weapons and give me examples.

Who should Yuuki, Kyoko and Rika hook up with? I am debating having Rika be with Ranma, I might just keep it Ranma/Saeko/Saya. Shizuka will be with Takashi and Rei (maybe, if I don't kill her off in a humiliating and funny manner-_-) while Kohta will be definitely paired with that police girl from the mall arc. Hell, I think I'll make a poll about it after I pick up this story full time.