Fighting Blind

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

Chapter 10

Part 2

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.

Which meant...

"I'll be contacting Nabiki Tendo at the end of school today to... accept

her offer."

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

thick-lensed glasses.

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 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

to her.

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

toward him.

"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

muscled back.

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

of prize.

"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.">

<"You're welcome.">

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.


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

her shoulder.

"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

of such.

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

an instructor."

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

be effective.

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! *

"It's Soun's..."

"And Genma's..."

"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

offer but..."

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.

Clunk. Clunk.

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

for that."

"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



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

my condition."

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

roof edge.

"I figured you'd try something like this." Ranma said.


To be continued�

Author's Notes

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.