Disclaimer: I know that I have a disclaimer somewhere around here. Let me
see... nope, not here... Here? No... how about here? Oh well, I guess
you're going to have to take my word for it.
* *: Thoughts
<" ">: Chinese Language
Battle Lines are Drawn
"I'm afraid that we have no option, Elder. I certainly can't train the
girls here. It's too open and I don't think that Kodachi person is going to
give up attacking us." The blind martial artist gestured to the upstairs as
they sat down for a cup of tea.
Cologne reluctantly nodded. Last night's attack had only been a skirmish,
but Pepper could not afford to continually repair her establishment. As of
now, Lilac was sharing Shampoo's room as hers was boarded up for repairs
and clean up. Before belting the crazed gymnast out the window, the two had
caused quite a bit of damage to the room. Furthermore, their opponent in
the upcoming gymnastics competition seemed to be very determined to knock
her rivals out of the running and Ranma already sensed her unwanted amorous
designs on him.
The Amazons had been trying to find a place so that they could train in
peace, but that proved to be very difficult. The school gym was deemed
unsuitable as the male students had constantly pestered the girls whenever
they showed up in their leotards. The female half of Furinkan's student
population was no better, having seen Ranma's muscular form in a
tight-fitting T-shirt and shorts. Other places that they had tried were
some recreation centers and empty lots, but they too were unsuitable and
too open to defend against attack. Kodachi would have too easy a time of
getting at the girls and him!
That by itself made him shudder. To have her continually show up at their
doorstep gave him a serious case of the willies. No, they needed a place
that was suited for combat and was easier to defend against sneak attacks.
"I'll be contacting Nabiki Tendo at the end of school today to... accept
Cologne's eyes narrowed as she said, "I do not like this."
"You think I like it?" Ranma sighed as he stood up to prepare for school.
"But what else can we do? We have only four days left before we face off
against St. Hebereke on Saturday. I must begin training Shampoo and the
others immediately in the techniques of Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics.
We need someplace where Kodachi won't be able to interrupt in their
training. The Tendo Dojo seems to be our only option."
Cologne shook her head sadly as she replied, "Though I cannot argue with
your logic, I still do not like the idea of you going to where that fool
father and his equally stupid friend is. Therefore, to prevent them from
getting any ideas about forcing you to carry out that idiotic pledge of
theirs, I shall be accompanying you and the girls." She held up a hand and
said, "Do not worry about Pepper and her business. She has assured to me
that she will not need any of us for the week to help in running the
restaurant. I shall keep an eye on you to make certain that Genma and Soun
don't try any funny stuff."
Ranma nodded. "I was kind of hoping that you'd say that. I really don't
need any more headaches right now."
Unknown to him, a new headache was now just entering the outskirts of
Nerima. The individual was wearing a long, flowing robe of white and very
Later that morning...
"So you're accepting my offer?" Nabiki said with a bit of smugness. She and
Ranma were standing near the front of the school. Lilac, Shampoo and
Perfume were standing nearby as they watched the two discuss the plans to
use the dojo.
Ranma frowned a bit as he sensed the emotions of avarice in the girl before
him. However, he simply swallowed his pride. "Yes Miss Tendo. It seems that
circumstances that are beyond anyone's control has... persuaded me to
reconsider your generous offer."
Nabiki didn't like the expression he was giving her, but that was to be
expected. He wasn't like the simple dupes she had encountered in all of her
other business transactions. She would have to be very careful not to blow
such a golden opportunity. With him at the dojo, Nabiki could now get much
needed information about him and numerous opportunities for profit would be
available. Taking photos of those Amazons in skimpy leotards would also
equal a sizable amount of income. She was looking forward to the challenge.
"All right then. You and the girls can come to the dojo after school and
we'll discuss the arrangements."
Ranma nodded slowly as he turned to rejoin his sister Amazons. He didn't
like this arrangement and he knew that whatever price Nabiki would ask of
him, he may not be willing to pay it. He would have to be on his guard. He
then suddenly stopped as his sixth sense went off.
The three girls were immediately on alert when they saw Ranma tense up. It
was then that they heard a voice.
"LILAC OF THE AMAZONS! PREPARE TO DIE!!!"
Lilac brought out her tonfa in an instant and blocked the blow of Kodachi's
bokken as she dived in from out of nowhere. The two faced each other off,
catching the attention of the crowds. The students looked on with interest
as the two rivals glared at one another.
"So now what? Stupid crazy girl no can wait until tournament to get beaten
Kodachi gave her opponent a look of disdain as she replied, "As if a
harridan peasant such as you could even think that she would stand a chance
against the Black Rose of St. Hebereke!"
"Bad enough you attack Lilac in dead of night! Now you try to cheat by
attacking in day!"
"Attack? Moi? Don't be silly! I'm only here to visit my darling Ranma."
Kodachi gave a swing at Lilac's head, but the red-haired Amazon simply
blocked the blow with one of her tonfa and then knocked the wooden sword
out of the gymnast's hands with the other. She followed through with a
sidekick, but Kodachi did a fancy backflip and then landed next to Ranma.
The look she gave him was one of adoration.
"Ranma dearest, shall pick up where we left off?"
Ranma frowned. His senses were already probing her aura and he didn't like
what he found. Kodachi had obviously fixated on him and was under the
impression that he was going to return her advances. He also detected a
form of mental trauma that had been building up over the years. A
psychological instability was apparent and there was just no way the Unseen
Light fighter could circumvent her misguided feelings toward him. No, he
was always direct and it would be best for everyone if he were to head off
this unwanted affection and obsession before it got out of hand. Better to
hurt her now and get it over with, than to have her follow some sick,
demented fantasy. Tact would not work with this kind of individual. He
would have to be blunt.
"No?" Kodachi said with surprise. She had been expecting her gallant
rescuer from last night to sweep her off her feet in a blaze of passion.
"No. We are not going to pick up anything, since there was nothing to start
with. I don't know where you got this idea that we have something, but it's
going to stop right here and now. I am NOT interested." Without another
word, Ranma turned around and walked away. For the most part, Ranma hated
to hurt people's feelings, but this had to be done.
Kodachi was in a bit of a shock at Ranma's blatant refusal, but she was
soon in denial, thinking that she may have not heard him right. After all,
who could turn down the rising and beautiful star of the gymnastics world?
"Ranma darling, wait!" She began running after him.
Lilac and her friends growled as they saw their hated rival chase after the
object of THEIR affections and prepared to do some serious bodily injuries
It was then that Kuno walked toward them, his mind oblivious to the events
that were occurring as he fantasized the image of his three Amazon flowers
in their leotards, leaping about gracefully as they bestowed their hidden
love for him. In his hands were three bouquets. He was jolted back to
reality as saw the obstacle to gaining his fierce warrior women walking
"Saotome..." Kuno growled as he prepared to unsheathe his bokken.
Ranma stopped and gave a tired sigh. "So what's you're problem Kuno?" He
then stiffened slightly as he felt Kodachi lovingly leaned against his back
and snuggled closely.
"Ranma..." Kodachi gave a happy sigh as she pressed her cheek against his
Ranma bowed his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Kami-sama, please
tell me that this isn't happening."
Kuno on the other hand, looked over the two with a serious tone. Then after
a moment, he nodded while pulling out a small victory fan. "Very well, you
may date with her."
Ranma's head snapped up. "Say what?!"
Kaodachi became ecstatic. "Ranma dear! We are now officially a couple!"
This did not set well with Shampoo, Lilac and Perfume as they charged in
and pulled Ranma out of Kodachi's grasp. They put themselves between Ranma
and the Black Rose while holding up their weapons.
"How dare you come between a woman and her one true love!?" Kodachi said as
she brought out her ribbon and took a stance.
"Stop stupid talking!" Shampoo replied.
"Ranma no belong to you!" Lilac affirmed.
"You want Ranma? You go through Amazons first!" Perfume added.
Ranma was getting quite put off at how the situation was beginning to
degenerate. "Girls, please... I can speak for myself."
Of course, no one was exactly listening at the moment.
"No worry Ranma! We take care of stupid, crazy girl!"
By now, Kodachi was smiling evilly as she saw their devotion toward her
intended. "Well, I can see what's happening now. You want him for yourself.
How very interesting!" She then whipped her ribbon forward. The three girls
leapt back to avoid it. The Black Rose then twirled her ribbon casually to
one side. "So how about it? The winner of the tournament gets Ranma
"What?!" Ranma couldn't believe that he was being offered up like some kind
"What are you talking about?"
"Is you crazy?"
"Ranma is no prize!"
Kuno was quick to pick up on this as he rushed to their sides and put his
arms around their shoulders. "But my loves! It is perfect! You need only
lose and the accursed Ranma shall be gone from your lives for good! Then we
Kuno was sprawled on the ground facefirst with three huge lumps on his
head. Kodachi took no notice of this as she said, "There will be no need
for the three of you to hold back. The beating that I will give to each of
you will be more than enough." She then twirled her ribbon about her,
causing a gale wind to be stirred up, along with a storm of black rose
petals as she addressed Ranma. "Ranma my darling... by Saturday, you will
be all mine. OHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOOHOHOHO!!!!" She then bounded off into the
distance, her insane laughter still echoing.
Ranma shook his head in disbelief. Now they HAD to win the tournament.
Kuno at this time staggered to his feet as he looked in the direction where
Kodachi had left. "Ah, a pity that with every noble family tree, there will
always be a seed of discord that will threatened to fell the mighty roots
and cause the leaves to wither." He then addressed the Amazons. "You would
do best to take care as you face off against Kodachi. My sister is quite
insane and will resort to any means to get what she wants. I love her
"Your sister?!" Ranma eeped.
"Indeed." Kuno affirmed while turning towards the girls of the Amazons.
"Take care my Amazon flowers, lest my sibling cause you undue misfortune
with her wicked ways. Unlike myself, she has not a foothold in reality."
*Yeah, right Kuno! Like you could claim to have any sense either! Damn!
When did my life become so complicated?*
Before long, the gossip had spread across the student population. Many of
the boys and girls were still talking about it as they left the school at
the end of the day. As a result, a certain somebody had overheard the match
between Kodachi and one group of Amazons, which included a lavender-haired
girl that was the main reason behind his obsession.
Later that day...
Ranma was feeling really depressed as he and the girls prepared to leave
the restaurant and head to the Tendo residence to begin their training. He
had not been talking to Shampoo and the others and his silence had been
making them nervous. Finally, as they were about to go though the front
door, Shampoo spoke up to him.
<"Ranma, we are really, really sorry about what happened today. We...">
The stern frown she got from her cousin made her become silent. She then
decided not to press her luck as she followed Lilac and Perfume out the
Ranma stood still for a few minutes before stepping forward. He then
stopped as he sensed Cologne hopping on her staff and then placing one of
her hands on his shoulder.
<"You shouldn't blame them for what happened. What's done is done. They
were only trying to protect you.">
Ranma took a deep breath, then sighed while nodding. <"I know, but I just
didn't like to be put out like some kind of prize. I could have handled
<"I'm sure you could have. However, they were right about one thing. You
are a prize. You are an irreplaceable treasure to our tribe and the thought
of losing you is something that we'd rather avoid. Your mother especially.
But you must understand, that Shampoo and the others care for you. We all
do. So why not just forget what has already happened and concentrate on the
main point. Get them ready for the tournament and show everyone that you
are just as good as people who can see. That is your goal, is it not?"> She
then gave him a warm smile. <"And besides, girls just can't help themselves
when they're around you. I don't blame them. If I was sixteen again, I'd
act the same way. You are quite the catch.">
Ranma took another sigh, then smiled while blushing. <"Thank you. I'll go
make things up with Shampoo and the others.">
At the Tendo home...
"What?! How could you, Nabiki?" Akane said as she just heard the news of
Ranma and the Amazons using the dojo as the training place for their
upcoming match against Kodachi. Genma and Soun were of course ecstatic at
the news as they began scheming to get Ranma and wedding plans. Kasumi had
become very silent when she heard that Ranma was coming. She had become
extremely nervous and was frequently seen staring off into space with a
forlorn look in her eyes.
"What do you mean, Akane? I simply offered them the use of our dojo to help
the school out, and besides, Daddy has already approved of it. Besides, I'd
have thought you'd be glad that Ranma is coming here to train. You're still
interested in learning his techniques, right?"
Akane was taken aback as that thought occurred to her. "Well, yeah, but..."
Her eyes narrowed as she gave her older sibling a look of suspicion. "What
are you up to, Nabiki? What are you getting out of all this?"
Nabiki took on a hurt expression. "Moi? How could you think that I have an
ulterior motive? Why I'm just doing my duty to our school and helping with
winning the tournament."
"Don't hand me that! How much are you getting?"
Nabiki shrugged as she replied, "I don't see why you're getting so upset
about all this. It's not like they're going to interfere with your training
and we've got plenty of room. Besides, this has pretty much nothing to do
with you. Or are you jealous because the gymnastics team asked the Amazons
instead of you, hmmm?"
"Me? Jealous of them? Never!" Akane denied, although deep inside, she was a
bit annoyed. One of the gymnasts was a close friend of hers and she had
partly expected to be asked to replace them. Although she knew nothing
about Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics, it would have been nice to have
been offered and given a chance to prove to everyone how good she was. She
was also a bit annoyed at how much more attention the Amazons had been
getting ever since they had become the new gymnastics team. The focus on
them was causing more and more people to lose interest in her. With the
exception of Kuno, Akane was not given much more than a passing glance
nowadays. She was no longer the center of attention and though she'd never
admitted it, she had liked being in the spotlight.
"Well, if you think you can do just as good a job, then why don't you try
to join in the tournament?" Nabiki asked.
Akane was about to dismiss the idea, then thought about it. If she were
part of the team, then she would be able to learn some of Ranma's secrets.
The thought of showing up that arrogant, blind fighter made her smile.
Maybe then, he'd take her seriously as a martial artist! That was one of
the points about him that always irritated her. He considered her skills as
a fighter not worthy enough to be noticed. Well, this was an opportunity to
prove him wrong.
Her thoughts were interrupted as she heard a knock on the front door. Ranma
and the Amazons were here.
Kasumi swallowed hard as she steeled herself while approaching the door.
She silently prayed to Kami-sama to get her through this night. She stepped
up to the door and opened it.
As soon as she saw that handsome face and those sky-blue eyes, she almost
fainted. He was just as attractive as she remembered and emitted a feeling
of warmth that made her insides tingle.
Ranma had stiffened somewhat when his senses detected Kasumi's presence as
she approached the door. He still had unpleasant memories from the last
time they had spoken to each other. He had said many words to her out of
anger and had regretted hurting her. He had eventually came to understand
that it had not been her intention to betray him and he had said some
things that he had truly not meant. Taking a deep breath before the door
opened and gave the eldest Tendo daughter a polite bow.
"Good evening to you, Kasumi Tendo. It is very... nice to meet with you
"H-H-Hello again." The brown-haired girl stammered, then took a moment to
compose herself. "Nabiki is expecting you. Won't you come in?"
Ranma nodded as he led his party inside. He then gestured to the people
behind him. "May I introduce you to my cousin Shampoo, and our friends,
Perfume and Lilac. And this... is Cologne. She is one of the elders of our
"A pleasure." Cologne greeted as she walked into the house. Hopping on a
cane did not make a good first impression.
As Ranma and his party made their way toward the den, the blind fighter
suddenly stiffened as he detected the auras that belonged to two idiots.
"WAAAAAHHHHH! NOW THE HOUSES WILL BE JOINED!"
Soun was like an overflowing water-fountain as he dashed toward Ranma,
intent on crushing him in a bear hug of joy.
Genma gulped as he peeked in from around a corner and saw his friend laid
low on the floor with a huge lump on his head. His friend really should
learn more about restraint. They had spent the better part of the afternoon
scheming to snag the future of the Anything Goes, but as soon as Soun saw
Ranma, all of their carefully laid plans went out the window.
"Please, forgive my... impertinence." Cologne casually slung her staff over
"But of course, Kasumi said. After all, they were guests and her father had
not acted like the proper host, so it fell to her to show them around.
"Will you be joining us for dinner?"
Ranma shook his head. "Thank you, but no. We have all eaten before we came
here, and we'd rather start our training as soon as possible." Ranma and
Cologne had decided that they eat before coming here to avoid any
underhanded attempts at drugging him or the others. Soun may not resort to
such tactics, but the Unseen Light fighter knew that his father was capable
As he watched his son and the Amazons head toward the dojo, Genma gulped
again. This was going to be very tricky. Apparently, that aged woman was
some kind of chaperone and had very formidable skills. There was something
about her that put him on edge. It was a feeling that he had not felt in a
long time, not since the old days training under the (shudder) master. The
way she took out Soun in less than a second was proof of her skills.
Something about her put that ingrained self-preservation instincts as well
as absolute terror running down that wet ramen noodle he called a spine.
Only Happosai had made him feel this way, and this Cologne woman reminded
him too much of that ancient lecher.
When Ranma and the others were out of sight, Genma quietly crept over to
his fallen friend, who was still in la-la land.
Outside the dojo...
"So what's the deal?" Ranma asked as he and Nabiki stood outside the dojo.
The girls had already entered the structure with Cologne and were setting
up for an intense bout of training.
"Now why do you think I would be wanting something for letting you use our
dojo for a week?" Nabiki said innocently.
Ranma tilted his head to the side and said with a slightly sarcastic tone.
"Let's just say that you don't strike me as the type that would just let
anyone use your property without some kind of compensation. I've heard the
rumors about you, but I prefer to make judgments based on my own...
interpretations. Let's not beat around the bush shall we? What do you want
and how much?"
*Smart boy.* Nabiki was impressed and a little intimidated at the same
time. Even though she knew that Ranma was blind, the way he regarded her
meant that he had a lot of insight and didn't make decisions on just
hearsay. He was very thoughtful, and Nabiki had to phrase this just right.
"Well... there are some things."
*I knew it.* "And...?"
"Well, I've noticed that you have some considerable talent in several
fields and it would be a shame to let those abilities go to waste. I'd like
to... expand on those talents. My family doesn't have much in terms of
regular income and I... have to engage in several... shall we say, business
arrangements to pay the bills. It's not something I'm particularly proud
of, and I'd much rather engage in something more... agreeable."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, my father may own the dojo, but he hasn't taught any students since
my mother died. As you may have noticed, he's not exactly suited to being
Ranma nodded. The way his senses were reading her father, Soun was not
likely seem to be like a martial artist who could teach others. With very
little discipline and far less control over his emotions, Nabiki's father
would not be a choice candidate for a sensei. He could also feel the
residual ki impressions of the dojo and it was clear that only Akane used
it on a regular basis. "So what are you proposing?"
"Well, I have a few ideas that may be able to generate better income for
this family and perhaps help you at the same time. For example, your
musical skill with that flute is a moneymaker all by itself. There a lot of
people out there who would pay much for you to play some more. What I'm
asking that in return for the use of our dojo, you agree to use your
talents in some ventures of mine. I give you my word that I won't put you
into any situation that will make you feel uncomfortable or hurt you. I
know all about that pledge that your father and mine made, I promise that I
will not mention it or try to press you into it. I also would like to know
more about you."
"And how is this going to help me?"
"Well, you are trying to prove to the school and everyone else that your...
condition doesn't mean anything, right? I can help you with that too. I
have a few connections and I do command a lot of respect at Furinkan. I'm
giving you a straight deal. You help me out, and I'll help you out. Deal?"
She held out her hand.
Ranma considered the girl in front of him. His senses began probing her
inside out and especially paid close attention to her aura. He could detect
a sharp intelligence and coupled with a craftiness that made him very wary.
Twice the Tendos had already burned him. He didn't want a third strike.
However, his master Koga had taught him never to judge an individual by the
actions of those close to him or her. He could detect a level of sincerity
in Nabiki that was genuine and decided that it was worth it to at least
give this girl the benefit of the doubt.
"Deal." Ranma said reluctantly as he held out his hand and grasped hers.
Nabiki felt a warmth coursing through her as she felt his strong hand clasp
her more slender one. For some reason, she felt a certain something that
she had never felt before. There was something about Ranma that made her
not want to see him hurt and his smile made any hardship seem worthwhile.
A few minutes later, Ranma began reviewing the rules of Martial Arts
Rhythmic Gymnastics to the girls as Cologne stood on guard outside of the
"Okay, here's how it goes. Basically, it's like the annual tournaments back
home, except for one main difference. Unarmed attacks are forbidden. That
means that punching and kicking is not allowed. It is considered a foul to
attack without some kind of tool. You can win either by knock out,
submission or forcing your opponent out of the ring."
"Is no problem." Lilac shrugged as she and her sister Amazons sat before
their trainer in their leotards. The red-haired beauty was in a bright
green outfit that had a plunging neckline and rides up a bit in the rear.
"We already know how to fight with weapons." Shampoo remarked. She was
wearing a flattering pink suit with lavender highlights.
"This too, too easy." Perfume said. She was in a skimpy white leotard that
had a Chinese dragon design embroidered in gold thread on one side of her
"Don't be so sure." Ranma warned. "From what I've been able to discern from
our encounters with Kodachi, she'll do anything to win. She seems to
specialize in dirty maneuvers and hidden weapons. She's not the same
caliber as Mousse, or me but you'd best be on your guard against any
unexpected surprises. On that note, I think that I'm going to try and
increase your sense of awareness and build up on your danger senses. We're
also going to train with these." Ranma gestured to the various clubs,
ribbons, hoops and balls that were laid out on the floor.
Shampoo picked up a pair of clubs and frowned a bit. These were far lighter
than her usual bonbori and she wondered how such flimsy instruments could
Perfume took one look at a ribbon and suppressed an urge to laugh. Ranma
was expecting her to fight with this?
Lilac was also thinking the same thing as she looked at an innocent-looking
Ranma sensed his pupils' reluctance and disbelief. "Just because they don't
look dangerous, doesn't mean that they aren't. Remember Kodachi and her
The three girls were silent as they recalled their encounter with the Black
Rose. The insane sister of Kuno had used that flimsy strip of silk like a
whip and it reacted like a living snake.
"With the right amount of ki control, anything can become a deadly weapon."
To demonstrate his point, the blind boy picked up a ribbon and then began
focusing his ki into it. Remembering back to when Kodachi used her ribbon,
he gave the instrument a gentle twirl and flicked his wrist sharply, making
the end lash out like a bullwhip. There was a sharp cracking sound and the
girls flinched as the pink strip of fabric shot forward and snapped between
In an instant, they felt a sharp wind rush by them and then noticed that a
few strands of their hair had been neatly sheared off their temples and
wafted down to the floor. Their eyes widened a bit in awe as Ranma casually
relaxed his hand and let the ki flow out of the ribbon, making it a
harmless strip again.
"Never underestimate your opponent by appearances alone." Ranma stressed.
"Fortunately, since I'm blind, I don't have that problem. You girls are
going to learn to only LOOK with the eyes and SEE with the heart and mind.
If you can do that, then you'll do fine against St. Hebereke."
"So now we start?" Lilac asked.
Ranma nodded as he gestured for his trainees to get up and take stances. As
he did so, he suddenly picked up the familiar ki energies of Genma and Soun
lurking nearby the dojo. He suddenly tensed up, then relaxed a few moments
later and smiled as he detected Cologne's ki approaching them from behind.
A couple of light thwacks were heard and Ranma knew that he would not be
disturbed by the less-than-dynamic duo this night.
It was then that he detected another ki energy approaching the front of the
dojo and recognized it. Since Cologne was making no effort to stop her,
Ranma decided that she wasn't any threat and motioned for the girls to
begin with their exercises.
Akane entered the dojo, dressed in her usual yellow gi and stopped at the
front door as she saw the Amazons move with a speed and grace that made her
own moves seem slow and choppy. Shampoo was going through a kata with a
pair of clubs, trying to get a feel for the lighter weapons. Every now and
then, she would toss them up in the air and do a fancy backflip or spin
before deftly catching them. Perfume was slowly twirling her ribbon about
in graceful arcs, gradually building up speed while at the same time
sidestepping and twisting about to avoid being tangled up in it. Lilac was
currently practicing her evasion techniques as she held up a hoop and used
it to block each of Ranma's strikes as he stabbed with his staff.
However, they all stopped when they noticed Akane.
Outside the dojo...
Cologne smiled with satisfaction as she tied up the two unconscious dopes
that had attempted to snare the prize of the Amazons. She had expected that
they would try something stupid, judging from their past actions.
Fortunately, she had foiled their plan before it even got off the ground.
"This time Tendo, TRY to control yourself until AFTER we get the boy!"
Genma whispered as they crouched behind a tree at the back of the dojo.
"I'm sorry Saotome, but when I saw my future son-in-law, I..."
"Never mind that now, Tendo. Now do you understand the plan?"
Soun nodded as he held up a homemade fusebomb. "Akane is heading toward the
dojo now, and she'll most certainly challenge Ranma to a match. When they
begin, I throw this into the dojo."
"Right. That'll be my cue to rush in, knock out my son, and get out before
the smoke clears. When they see that Ranma is defeated, they'll think that
Akane had beaten him. According to their laws, he'll have to marry her!"
"Brilliant Saotome! The schools will be united!" Soun declared as his eyes
welled with tears.
"Yes, we shall ensure the happiness of our children and secure the future
of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts!" *And my early retirement
living in luxury will be assured! *
"Operation Smokescreen!" The two chorused together while taking a pose.
"Nothing can stop us now!" Genma said with glee.
"I don't think so."
Both men stiffened at the sound of a very forceful and menacing voice
behind them. For a brief moment, they thought it was their dreaded master,
but then realized that the voice was a bit higher pitched. The last thing
they saw when they turned around was the sight of a wooden cane as it
blurred forward and smacked them both between the eyes.
End of flashback...
For an experienced matriarch of the Amazons, it had been child's play for
Cologne to sneak up behind the two conspirators without being detected.
There were only two people whom she could never approach without being
sensed: Ranma and his late master Koga. She had listened in on Genma and
Soun's plan and had been no more than a foot behind them! After knocking
the two out and making sure that they wouldn't be able to try anything
else, she sat down on the ground and began to contemplate.
*So, they know about our tribe's marriage laws, do they? I suspected as
much. * The Elder had considered the possibility after she had noticed that
Ranma's Book of Tribal Law was missing. She had not seen it since that
night when Genma and his friend had broke into Pepper's Place to kidnap the
boy. She had later assumed that Genma had taken it. Ranma had been so
preoccupied with his current problems that he had not noticed his book was
missing until later. Not that he needed it, since he had memorized every
one of village laws.
Cologne shook her head and sighed. She would have to keep an extra-careful
watch over the boy. She swore by all of her ancestors that Genma would
never get his greedy hands on Ranma. Furthermore, she would rather not face
Jasmine and tell her that she had lost her son to that panda. Though it
would have solved all their problems if she were to finish him off here and
now, she didn't want to get involved with Japan's legal systems.
Inside the dojo, Ranma had found his voice after Akane had said that she
wanted to join the gymnastics team and train with them for the upcoming
match against St. Hebereke.
"You to join the team? What for?" Ranma couldn't understand why she wanted
to get involved.
Akane became a little irritated as she replied; "It's called Martial Arts
Rhythmic Gymnastics, right? I'm a martial artist too! I can do just as well
as the others! C'mon, let me train with you."
"We no need anyone else." Perfume said as she mentally assessed Akane's
current level of skill, which hadn't improved very much since the last time
they saw her.
"You not know about gymnastics." Lilac added.
"We'll do all right on our own." Shampoo assured.
Ranma nodded as he tried to put it in a way that didn't sound offensive.
"As you can see, we're fine right now and I think we can handle anything
Kodachi throws at us. We really don't need another member. Thanks for the
Of course, Akane saw this gentle turndown as a slight to her skills and
said angrily, "So you don't think I'm good enough to join? Is that it?"
Ranma held up a hand defensively, as he said, "Hey, now don't take this the
wrong way. I'm sure that with enough practice and time, you can get the
hang of Rhythmic Gymnastics, but time is really limited. We've already had
extensive acrobatic training before we even came here and we can't stop now
to train you in the basics and... darn, that didn't come out right. What I
meant to say is..."
"Oh, so you think I can't handle it? Is that it?" Akane's temper began to
rise a few more notches. "Fine, I'll show you! Just watch me!"
The youngest member of the Tendo clan stomped up to the middle of the dojo
where some equipment was laying and picked up a pair of clubs. She then
leapt up and did a pirouette in the air with one leg extended. At the same
time, she tossed the two clubs into the air. She landed on her feet with
her arms extended and smiled in triumph as she waited for the clubs to land
perfectly in her hands.
The clubs she had tossed up landed five feet away on either side of her.
"Lilac think you should catch clubs, yes?"
"Who asked you?" Akane then bent down and picked up the handle of a ribbon.
*Maybe I should try the ribbon. *
Less than two seconds later, she was standing with one arm above her head
with the ribbon hopelessly tangled around her body.
"Perfume not know that getting tangled in ribbon part of tournament."
"Oh shut up!" Akane fumed as she worked to get her out of the mess. A
minute later, she tried rolling through a hoop. She ended up breaking it
when she overextended a leg and her ankle got caught up in it.
"Are you supposed to break the hoop?" Shampoo asked.
"ARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!" Akane screamed as she began stomping her feet, and
cursing the implements that seemed to mock her.
Ranma shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. Gymnastics were
supposed to be graceful and refined, but Akane had all the grace and
refinement of a drunken gorilla. She was a klutz, plain and simple.
"Akane Tendo, we thank you for your offer, but I think we can do without
Akane gave Ranma a glare after hearing this. How dare he just dismiss her
so casually? Here she was, lending them HER dojo to train and they just
brush her off? All right, technically it was her father's dojo, but she was
the heir to her family's school!
"I just need is a little practice, that's all!" Akane said angrily.
"Correction, you need a LOT of practice. Perhaps with more time, you can
become better, but we simply don't have that luxury. We've got a little
more than three days left. From you've demonstrated so far, you lack
patience, discipline and that temper of yours is just making everything
worse. You expect to get it right on the first try? I don't think so. We
need teamwork to beat Kodachi and I'm afraid that you are just not suited
"I can do it!" Akane protested, her anger nearing the boiling point from
Ranma's comments. "Since when are you such an expert?"
Ranma remained firm. "You are only fooling yourself if you think you can
achieve Shampoo, Lilac, or Perfume's level in so little time, let alone
become good enough to stand up against Kodachi, and she fights dirty. The
answer is no."
Akane gave Ranma a cold glare. She had thought to become a bit friendlier
and offer her skills. She had been secretly hoping to learn some of the
Unseen Light techniques but this arrogant boy was brushing her off. She
then turned her chin up and stalked out of the dojo. "Fine then! Who needs
your stupid training anyway? I hope Kodachi beats the entire lot of you!
Let's see how happy you'll be when you have to date her!" She bit back her
tears at being rejected as she left the dojo.
Ranma sighed as he shook his head and turned back to the other Amazons.
"Don't you think you were a bit hard on her?"
Ranma stiffened a bit at the sound of Kasumi's voice. Though he had already
detected her presence as she approached the dojo, he was still a bit
nervous at confronting her. She was now at the front door and was holding a
tray of tea things for the guests. Ranma could feel the sadness in her aura
as she faced him and could tell that she was feeling regret over the hurt
she had unintentionally caused. He didn't want to face this person who had
betrayed him, yet he couldn't really bring himself to despise her. She
reminded him a lot about his Amazon mother and he wasn't one to keep
holding a grudge. Still, they did need to get some things settled between
"Ranma?" Shampoo asked.
"Keep practicing with the equipment and then we'll spar. I'll only be a few
His cousin and her friends nodded as they went back to their exercises.
Ranma gestured for Kasumi to follow him outside. She nodded at the silent
message and set the tray down to follow him.
In the backyard, near the koi pond, Akane was pounding the living daylights
out of a training dummy, which had a distinctive, black ponytail near the
"BAKA! BAKA! BAKA!"
Akane was more than mad, she was infuriated. How dare Ranma just disregard
her like that? She was a martial artist too, damn it! So she needed some
more practice, but that didn't mean that he had to shoot her down like
that! Him and that know-it-all attitude of his! Well, she'd show him! He'll
learn to take her more seriously! She'd show them all that Akane Tendo is
not some joke!
At the back of the dojo, Ranma stood with his arms crossed as he and Kasumi
began to talk.
"Akane is really a good person, and I think you shouldn't treat her so
"Oh? And how do you think I should treat her?" Ranma said with a firm tone.
"Apparently, she can't take criticism very well, nor consider the
consequences of her actions. And speaking of thinking of the consequences
of one's actions, I do recall requesting that you do not tell anyone about
Kasumi bowed her head in shame as she replied quietly, "Yes, you have every
right to hate me for telling Akane. That was unforgivable on my part."
"Oh I don't really hate you� but, to say that I'm a bit ANNOYED would be an
"I swear, I meant you no harm, but I thought�"
Ranma cut her off. "That's the problem, Kasumi Tendo, you DIDN'T think!
Like your sister, you failed to realize the consequences and only saw the
problem on the surface. Though I can understand you for your error in
judgment, I WON'T forget about it, nor forgive."
"I� don't expect you to. I never wanted to hurt you, but I will atone for
my mistake. I promise you that."
"Do not make promises that you cannot keep." Ranma said with a hard edge.
"Your family has already caused me a great deal of pain and I have no wish
to receive more headaches."
"Please�" Kasumi pleaded. "Don't judge us all because of a few mistakes. I
don't want things to be this way between your family and mine. I want to
start over and perhaps get to know you better. At the very least, you can
at give me the chance to make up for what I did to you. I swear to you on
my mother's grave that I will make up for it, if you would just give me the
Ranma was very silent as he probed her aura and inner being. There was no
mistaking the sincerity in her words. She really did want to smooth things
over with him. To swear on her mother's grave and really mean it, only
strengthened the promise she was offering now. She was telling the truth
and Ranma could not deny it.
"Kasumi Tendo, I bear no malice toward you, though you had broken your
promise to me. Apology� accepted."
Kasumi allowed herself a small smile. It wasn't much, but it was a start.
Some time later�
From her bedroom window, Nabiki was looking through her camera's telephoto
lens at the Amazons as they exercised in the dojo. She had already snapped
several shots as the curvaceous females bounced around in their
tight-fitting leotards. Kuno would pay top yen for photos such as these.
She leaned forward a bit more to get a better angle when a very muscular
chest suddenly blocked her view.
Nabiki looked up in surprise and saw Ranma hanging upside down from the
"I figured you'd try something like this." Ranma said.
To be continued�
Well, Kasumi may be on the road back to fixing her relationship with our
blind martial artist. As for Nabiki, she's going to have to be very careful
not to spoil her chances with him as well and she just may have to change
some of her ways. Stay tuned for part three of this chapter as Ranma and
Nabiki have a long discussion over the deal they made.