A Ranma ½ story
by DB Sommer
Any and all C&C is appreciated. You can contact me at email@example.com
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
If you're interested in prereading, let me know.
Last revision: August 6, 2002
Preface: What's happened before: Akane got her hands on a wish and used it to wish her mother had never been in a car accident and was alive in the present. Well, her mother wasn't in an accident, and is with them in the present, there's only the slight complications that she's there at the ripe old age of seventeen…
Kachiko Tendou awoke with both a start and a splitting headache. 'Splitting' in the sense that she would gladly have split her head open and removed her brain if it would have brought any form of relief.
Summoning enough willpower to actualize moving rather than just conceptualizing it in her mind, Kachiko groggily rose from her bed and found herself confronted with the choice of exiting via the door or window. The window offered the option of quickly removing the headache by plummeting headfirst into the ground like a giant lawn dart. But the dream she had last night, the one in which she was told she had met a grisly demise at the age of thirty courtesy of a semi, made thinking of anything remotely related to dying distasteful. Perhaps the elaborate dream had been her subconscious warning her of what the future could hold should she not tread carefully, or at least not look both ways before crossing a street.
"Never again." That the words were whispered did nothing to decrease the needles of pain that reverberated in her skull. There had to be aspirin downstairs to relieve the headache, or barring that, some of the hair of the dog that bit her to take the edge off the ache.
Finally, she summoned enough energy to actually move her body out of the bed and stood up. Employing her razor-honed abilities of concentration, she managed the difficult task of coordinating the movement of her feet so that she could walk in, if not a straight line, at least a path that took her in the general direction of the door. She shuffled forward, making a mental note to beat out her rug later. It was lumpy and produced a sharp 'woof' of air when she stepped on it.
Further sounds of movement came from behind Kachiko, making her pause on her unexpectedly arduous journey to leave the room. "Please tell me that was a really large mouse I just stepped on." A lump rose in her throat, along with a hefty portion of bile from her stomach, as she turned and beheld a sight she most assuredly did not want to see.
Akane Tendou rose from where she had been sleeping on the floor and gave her mother a hesitant, "Hello."
There was one last chance. Kachiko stepped forward and raised her hand. She brought it forward and cradled Akane's chin softly. Her fingertips gently traced a path from chin to cheek, caressing the flesh so delicately it was like a touch of the wind rather than the hand of a human being.
The move struck a familiar chord within Akane. The gesture was identical to when she was a little girl and had hurt herself falling down a hill or scraping her knee trying to match her father's moves when he taught her martial arts. A surge of emotion roiled through her entire being, eliciting an affection she had not known in years. Water began to fill her eyes as she opened her mouth and found herself saying, "OW!"
Kachiko stopped pinching the cheek and slammed her fist into her palm. "#$%^! That proves this isn't a dream. That means that whole time travel crap really did happen."
Rubbing her reddened cheek, Akane snapped, "You're supposed to pinch yourself, not someone else, to prove if something is a dream!"
"Don't be ridiculous. That would hurt. This way is much better and just as conclusive."
"Exactly how does pinching me prove you aren't dreaming?"
"Your scream of pain would have awakened me if it was a dream," Kachiko explained.
Akane couldn't argue with the logic of that, largely in part because she was uncertain if any was actually involved.
Leaving her youngest daughter confused in the middle of the room, Kachiko headed for the door once again. She paused as she finally noticed the rather large, vaguely humanoid, shaped hole in the wall to the right of it. Curious, she opened the door and looked out in the hallway.
There — lying in a heap at the base of the wall opposite the hole — was Soun Tendou. It took Kachiko a moment to recall exactly what he was doing there, besides lying motionless. Twice during the night the elderly pervert had broken into her bedroom crying her name and attempted to molest her. Each time she had sent him away courtesy of the often used — and highly effective — 'Hentai-Crusher' backfist, able to render perverts immobile in a single assault while preventing them from laying a single lecherous digit on her pristine person. She did give the geriatric fossil credit; he had recovered from the first attack after only a couple of hours before launching an ill-fated second offensive.
A low moaning issued forth from the heap. Soun unfurled himself from the folded over position he was curled in and unsteadily rose to his feet. As his eyes locked onto the girl standing before him, he wailed, "Kachi-chan!" and rushed forward, arms wide open to embrace her.
The only thing he managed to embrace was her fist in his face as she spun in a circle to build up velocity and lashed out, summarily dispatching him once again. The force of the blow embedded him completely in the wall this time. Only a series of low moans indicated he was still alive.
"Resilient old perv," Kachiko commented as she walked past his twitching form. She continued heading downstairs, even as Akane's cry of, "Dad!" reached her ears. Kachiko sighed at that. If her father had been that perverted, there's no way she'd ever admit to their being related, even under threat of torture. And the girls' outrageous claim that she would ever marry such a dirty old man made Kachiko wonder just what drug they thought she was on that would have made her commit such a stupid act. It was inconceivable. And since it was inconceivable, she stopped thinking about it and instead concentrated on getting some breakfast. She hadn't eaten since lunch yesterday; the whole time travel thing and finding out she died pretty much ruining her appetite. Besides, she needed to take an aspirin or twelve to make the pounding in her skull cease.
Kasumi Tendou had been a busy girl. She had been up all night, not getting the least bit of sleep, as she pondered the dilemma that had been presented by yesterday's events. The young woman that had been delivered to their home did indeed resemble their mother in appearance, albeit a much younger version of Kachiko Tendou than anyone had ever imagined. But the time-lost girl's behavior was inconsistent with the memories Kasumi had of her. Actually, aside from the fact this youthful version of Kachiko was female and spoke Japanese, there was no similarity in behavior at all. Obviously something was wrong. There was the possibility it was merely disorientation from the time travel that had caused the erratic behavior, but even after she had been in the present for the majority of the day, Kachiko's conduct continued to remain bizarre. Almost deranged, in fact. There had to be some rational explanation for it.
And in a flash of insight it came to her. The answer was quite simple. After all, hadn't there been a point in Kasumi's own life where she had acted horribly out of character, perpetrating Loathsome, Terrible, and Unspeakable Acts upon her family and those around her? Of course, she hadn't been responsible for her actions, but she had still engaged in them all the same. And now her mother was displaying similar behaviors: tying up visitors, committing acts of violence on her husband, swearing like a sailor, and drinking like a full fledged alcoholic rather than in controlled quantities like she used to. The signs all pointed to one thing.
Kachiko Tendou had been possessed by an oni.
Kasumi felt thrilled at the knowledge that her mother would return to normal shortly. Of course Kasumi couldn't possibly try to bludgeon her mother in an attempt to exorcise the demon possessing her. At least not at first. But there were other alternatives. It had taken her the majority of the night consulting one of the numerous books Dr. Tofu had loaned her and getting the paper and inscriptions correct, but after much toil her project was successfully completed. Kasumi felt satisfied that what she held in her hand was identical to the pictures shown in the book. Now all that remained was to apply it to her mother, and then all would be well. Hopefully.
Although Kasumi was prepared for things reverting back to normal on their own. Hoping that was the case, she had spent what little time remained before her mother woke up to reverting the kitchen back to what it was in the days when Kachiko Tendou was still alive. Over the years, Kasumi had switched things around to suit her own personal needs and tendencies when cooking. But now she had decided to try to help her mother return to her old self through less drastic means if possible, and hoped that seeing the kitchen in its original form might jog memories on their own.
The sound of footsteps approaching from the upstairs made Kasumi tense up. They drew closer until Kachiko entered the kitchen.
"What's to eat around here?" she grumbled, yawning and scratching her breast.
Kasumi smiled blissfully and pointed to the arrangement of cooking materials that were openly displayed for the young girl's benefit. "I decided to wait until you showed up so we could cook together, just like we always used to do."
Kachiko gave the utensils and unprepared foods a flat stare. "Tell you what, you go ahead and whip something up, and I'll watch. Oh, and grab me some warm water and a cold beer before you get started. I'm thirsty."
"Don't you think it's a bit early for that?"
Kachiko considered the question as she sat down at the dining table. "You're probably right. Better just make it the beer."
Oh dear. The behavior was exactly what Kasumi had been afraid of. Her mother never passed up the opportunity to cook. Some of their happiest times together had been spent humming some tune while preparing a meal for the whole family to gather around and enjoy. But now she was continuing to act in decidedly non-motherly ways. It was time to take action, before her poor, confused mother did something she might truly regret.
Walking over to where her mother was seated, Kasumi bent low and stuck a piece of paper on the time-lost girl's forehead.
Kachiko stared cross-eyed at the piece of paper dangling in front of her eyes. "This is some sort of weird napkin, right?"
Shaking her head, Kasumi said, "No, it isn't. It's an ofuda to drive the oni out and make you feel better and more like yourself. Do you feel more like yourself?"
Kachiko considered that. "If I say no, what will you do next?"
Kasumi picked up a hammer she had nearby for just such a scenario. "I can hit you in the head and drive the oni out directly."
"I feel wonderfully normal! Your napkin did wonders!" Kachiko shouted gleefully.
"That's nice." Kasumi put the hammer back down.
Kachiko made certain to leave her unnatural smile right where it was. How wonderful. One of her 'daughters' was completely deranged. Best to humor the girl until Kachiko had a chance to call a psychiatric ward and have this 'Kasumi' institutionalized for her own good, as well as the time-lost girl's own peace of mind. Kachiko had to hand it to herself. Not a mother for a day, and she was already acting like a parent, protecting both herself and the other people living in her home from harm. Perhaps it would be wise to call the police to take care of the pervert that kept trying to fondle her as well.
Kachiko was still in the midst deciding how best to subdue Kasumi when a red and blue blur passed by the open sliding door leading to the outside.
Ranma shouted, "Nyaa! You can't touch me, Old Man."
A black and white blur raced past, taking a swipe at Ranma, who deftly evaded the blow.
Eyes widened in horror, Kachiko shouted, "Look out! It's an excessively violent panda! I'll protect you, Ranma!"
With one graceful leap she launched herself from the table, out the door, and into the air, directly aimed at the attacking panda. Her left foot remained coiled back until it was within striking distance of the large mammal, at which point she lashed forward with a kick, shouting, "Ailuropoda Melanoleuca Bloody Assault!"
The bottom of her foot connected with a resounding thud to the panda's jaw, knocking the animal to the ground and stunning it.
Ranma stopped leaping backward and said to the girl, "Ah, wait, that's not—"
Kachiko didn't pause for a second as she grabbed the fallen panda by the fur and heaved it over her shoulder using a body toss. The force of the throw, combined with the panda's mass, served to knock over one of the larger stones next to the koi pond as the furry mammal impacted solidly with it. The animal landed in the depression where the bottom of the rock had rested.
"That's not a real… Why is there an ofuda sticking to your head?" Ranma asked.
"It's so I don't get hit in the head with a hammer," Kachiko explained as finished things up by picking up the fallen boulder and driving it back into its former resting spot. Four paws, that could barely be seen poking out of the bottom, twitched slightly.
Kachiko dusted her hands off dramatically. "That takes care of that."
Now irate — at being ignored repeatedly rather than having his father ending up buried under a boulder — Ranma said, "If you'd listen to what I had to say, you could have saved yourself the hassle. That wasn't really a panda. That was my pop."
Kachiko's eyes widened in surprise. "You were raised by pandas? Oh you poor, poor boy." She began patting him on the head. "At least you weren't raised by badgers. They're irritable little things. Only slightly less annoying than weasels."
Ranma darted out of under her grasp. "I didn't say I was raised by pandas! That was really my father. A magic curse turns him into a panda."
Kachiko looked Ranma over with a more careful eye. "Now I see."
"You do?" Ranma was surprised she believed his story without any firsthand evidence or further elaboration. On the other hand, she had been magically transported through time, so maybe accepting the idea of magic curses was easy when compared to that.
Nodding her head, Kachiko said, "Yes. I see that thing must have been rabid and bit you and now you're suffering from delusions. Where's the bite? I'll suck the rabies out." She began examining him with her hands, fondling him in some very sensitive areas of his body.
"Quit it!" Ranma squirmed out of her reach, much to her disappointment.
At that moment Nabiki chose to enter the backyard, followed closely on her heels by Kasumi. "Why is Mr. Saotome buried under a boulder, dare I ask?"
Kachiko pointed at the boulder. "That horrible panda went feral and attacked Ranma."
"Pop's not feral, just stupid!" Ranma insisted.
Kachiko began wagging her finger at Ranma. "You can't be too careful around pandas, Ranma. They're incredibly dangerous. Now let me tell you why."
Clapping her hands in glee at the familiar posture, Kasumi said, "Oh, Mother's about to give a lecture. The magic ward must be working. She's starting to act normal." Kasumi sat down and made herself comfortable as her attention was raptly focused upon her mother.
It took a moment for Kachiko to recover from that one. She turned back to Ranma, "Where was I?"
"Dangerous pandas," Ranma provided.
"Ah, yes." Kachiko began wagging her finger again. "Pandas are incredibly dangerous. I can vouch for this from personal experience. Let me tell you a time several months ago… which was actually twenty years ago for you guys, when I found out just how terrible pandas really are. It all started on what was a typical morning. I was walking to school with Sakura. As was our wont on such days, we ended up embroiled in an intense discussion on matters of a deeply philosophical nature…
"…And I'm telling you Speed and Trixie were made for one another!"
"No way!" Kachiko protested. "Speed's desire to race superseded everything in his life, including women. They were together since the series began, but their relationship moved absolutely nowhere. Hell, the two never even kissed."
"The two of them were just taking things slowly," Sakura insisted.
"He had no interest in a relationship, at least with her," Kachiko scoffed. "And don't give me that Trixie wanted to 'take things slowly'. She would have parted her legs for him if he asked from the first episode on."
"Some woman aren't quite as loose with their affections as you."
"I'm not THAT loose. And I'm telling you, Trixie was just along for the ride, and I mean that in every sense of the word. If he had felt anything other than a passing interest in her, things would have progressed much more quickly. The only reason there were together at all was that there weren't any other alternatives. She was the only female regular in the series. If you had waved a couple of hot, willing gals under Speed's nose you'd have seen how committed to Trixie he was. Unless he suffered from FS. He seemed like he might be the type."
Sakura hesitated for a moment before saying, "I know I'm going to hate myself for asking, but I just have to know. What exactly is, 'FS'?"
"Fixation Syndrome. I came up with the term myself," Kachiko stated proudly.
"I knew it," Sakura sighed.
Unaffected by the her friend's attitude, Kachiko continued in a tone more suited for a classroom than a walk to school. "Fixation Syndrome is a condition by which one member of the species, especially if she's had limited or no contact with members of the opposite sex, will fixate on the first available romantic interest that comes around and decides that he's the one she loves no matter what. Reason and reality take a hike since that person is so fixated on that one interest that she will ignore any other potential partners that come along afterwards, never mind if the other men are actually better suited to her as a romantic partner."
"That's not Fixation Syndrome, you idiot! It's called love at first sight!" Sakura spat in disgust.
"Ha! There is no such thing as love at first sight. It's lust at first sight. It's completely based on superficial physical attraction and nothing more. Oh, sometimes that initial lust will lead to love, which is why some people trick themselves into believing it was love all the time, but they're wrong. The first time you lay eyes on some hot guy and want to bear his children is always the same: it's purely desire. If you find out afterwards the guy's a major creep, you tell yourself correctly it was a fleeting attraction, not love. But if it does work out and you do fall for him then you tell yourself it was love the whole time. It's a convenient lie people tell themselves so they don't think they're shallow and that the initial contact they had with the person they love was based solely on the urge to get into their lover's underwear rather than any more noble reasons. True love only comes about after you get to know someone, and is impossible to determine with a single glance."
"No wonder you never have steady boyfriends with an approach to life like that." Sakura shook her head in pity. "I happen to believe in true love. There's someone out there that you are destined to meet and spend the rest of your life with and nothing will ever come between your feelings for one another, just like Speed and Trixie. It's called Fate, and there's nothing you can do to change it."
"I knew you'd say that."
Kachiko continued on, as though her friend had said nothing. "Fate is the excuse of the lazy and stupid. It's the ultimate cop out in any given situation. It implies there's no such thing as free will and that life is pointless, since it's going to play out as it will and you have no effect on it. Think about it. You couldn't possibly be blamed for anything, since it was always predetermined that what you did was always going to happen. Case in point."
And with that Kachiko shoved Sakura. The push, while not intended to hurt, did send Sakura reeling backward several feet away, arms spinning around like gyrating windmills as she tried to regain her balance. It was all in vain as she landed on her bottom with an audible thump.
The fallen girl quickly rose to her feet, the fires of anger in her eyes.
Kachiko waggled her finger in a warding gesture at Sakura, "Ah, ah, ah. Can't blame me. It was your fate to get knocked on your ass by me at that exact moment. There was no other possible outcome, after all." Kachiko placed her hands in her hips in obvious satisfaction at believing her point made.
At the same moment, an anvil smashed into the ground right where Sakura would have been had she continued on her course, shattering the concrete with a thunderous crash.
A voice called out from an open window high above in the building. "Tetsuo, I told you to throw the bucket of dirty water out, not the anvil."
Kachiko pointed an accusatory finger at the anvil. "This proves nothing! Do you hear me?! Absolutely nothing!"
Sakura returned to Kachiko's side, making certain to show her companion the oversized words she had written on a sheet of notebook paper. "Speed and Trixie: 2gether 4ever."
"Oh, just shut up," Kachiko grumbled as they resumed their walk to school.
They hadn't made it more than a couple of blocks when a car horn beeped behind them. Neither bothered to turn around as they recognized the owner of the vehicle solely by the sound of the horn.
"I so do not want to deal with this," Kachiko snarled as the limousine pulled up alongside them.
The motorized hum of the rear passenger window rolling down into the car reached the girls' ears. Reluctantly, they turned to see a handsome face with perfectly crafted brown hair stick out of the window and peer closely at them. "Well, if my eyes don't deceive me, I have the good fortune to behold two lovely visions of beauty: the vibrant Kachiko Tendou and the ever-sophisticated Sakura Daisho."
Voice dripping with venom, Kachiko grimly intoned. "Great. If it isn't the walking ego, and God's self-proclaimed gift to all things female, Icky Slutzenin."
"Ah, that's Ichiro Sanzenin," the youth corrected.
"Your nickname is more appropriate," Sakura pointed out with distaste.
"Do you have a reason for fouling our air with your breath, Icky?" Kachiko asked.
"Foul breath?" Ichiro popped a breath mint in his mouth. As he sucked on it, he said, "I have come to offer you a ride to school in my limousine."
Scrunching up her face, Kachiko said, "With all the action that's happened on that backseat? I don't think so, Slutzenin. I bet it's got stains all over it."
"I always use rubber sheets," he stated proudly.
Sakura looked past Ichiro and into the limo. "He's right. They're on there now."
"Now, I wonder why that would be," Kachiko said, her eyebrow twitching slightly.
"I assure you my intentions are innocent and noble," Ichiro said.
"That would be a first, and I somehow doubt you're starting to act non-lecherous solely for our benefit. Let's go, Sakura." Kachiko began walking away from the car.
Ichiro ordered the driver to follow. "Come now. It's a lovely day for a drive. It'll be much easier accepting a ride than walking like a commoner."
Kachiko stopped suddenly. She turned and examined the car more closely. "But how can you give us a ride when your tire's flat?"
"I'm afraid you're mistaken. My tires are just fine," Ichiro assured her.
Kachiko gave a swift kick to the nearest one. The sidewall detonated with a bang from the force of the blow.
Exiting the vehicle, Ichiro informed his driver, "Kaneda, I'll be walking the rest of the way to school escorted by these lovely women."
Kachiko said, "But how can you walk us to school when you have a broken leg?"
"I'm afraid you're mistaken. My legs are just fine," Ichiro assured her.
Sakura barely managed to hold Kachiko back and prevent her from repeating her previous action on Ichiro's limbs. After several moments of fast-talking, she successfully calmed Kachiko down to the point where she would not dispatch Ichiro out of hand. Once firmly settled, the trio began walking to school again, Kachiko certain to keep one coiled fist aimed in Ichiro's direction.
The rest of the journey passed without incident until the students arrived at the school. Once they passed through the gates welcoming them to Furinkan High, they paused and took in the unusual sight before them. In simplest terms, the front of the schoolyard appeared to have been converted into an archeological dig, complete with foreign laborers singing in perfect harmony with one another. Huge amounts of earth had been upturned and dozens of digging vehicles continued to burrow ever deeper into the ground.
"Looks like he's at it again," Sakura sighed.
Kachiko looked around until she spotted a familiar figure. He stood at the center of the site, wearing a familiar pith helmet, and giving orders to the laborers. The trio approached the youth as he ordered a crane to scoop out a section of earth nearby, before returning to some papers on a table set up next to him.
"Gosunkugi, what are you up to now?" Kachiko asked.
The sunken eyes of the emaciated figure turned their attention from the ancient scrolls. In a sad voice lacking any indication of hope, Gosunkugi said, "Hello, Kachi. Sakura. Icky."
Kachiko tapped her foot impatiently.
Gosunkugi picked up the cue. "I've recently uncovered conclusive evidence which indicates the ancient — but immortal and incredibly beautiful — demon Goddess' tomb is buried on the grounds of a school in the nearby area. I thought this might be it, so I'm excavating. Dig more to the left," he shouted weakly at some laborers.
"Gos, Gos, Gos," Kachiko sighed. "Haven't you learned by now that digging up the ground is no way to get a girlfriend?"
"It is if you're a necrophile," Ichiro pointed out.
Kachiko ignored the comment and went to a nearby sack that was resting against the table. It made jingling sounds as the plethora of odds and ends clinked and clacked within. "Look at what all this digging has got you." She began pulling items out of the sack and tossing them left and right. "Holy Grails. Arks of some convent. A crappy old spear that belonged to some putz named Longinus. Dead Sea scrolls. Necronomicons. Second editions, mind you. Lemurian Serpent Crowns. A philosopher's stone. Gos, you hate philosophy." She tossed the stone aside (the item turning the pile of earth it struck into gold) and pulled out something that caught her attention. "What's this computer keyboard doing in here?"
"I found it in a cave in Norway," Gosunkugi explained. "According to the ancient stone tablet that was found next to it, it's an ancient interface system for something called Yggdrasil, the World Tree, which is said to control the world. I haven't tried it yet since I don't know what it'll do. It's unwise to fool around with something that might control reality as we know it. "
"That's probably for the best," Kachiko agreed solemnly, then punched a key.
A stroke of lightning reached down from the heavens and struck Ichiro.
Kachiko pushed another.
A plague of locusts descended on the fried boy.
A third key was pushed.
Day became night.
Sakura smacked Kachiko in the back of the head. "Turn the sun back on."
Kachiko pushed a fourth key and light was restored. She stared at the keyboard, and an insane gleam filled her eyes. "Well now, it seems I have the power of God in my hands. MUAHA HA HA HA!"
Hesitantly, Gosunkugi said, "Actually, Ichiro has a metal plate in his skull, we've been having problems with locusts lately, and there was a solar eclipse scheduled for today."
The fires of megalomania died in Kachiko's eyes. She sighed and looked mournfully at the keyboard. "So much for omnipotence." She handed it back to Gosunkugi, who returned it to its proper place in his sack.
Sakura asked, "Exactly why is it you're on this insane quest to discover this ancient demon? Generally, people don't want to consort with them unless they're evil, and you're not."
"Skinny and scary looking, but not evil," Kachiko confirmed.
Gosunkugi said, "I've become convinced that this beautiful demon goddess is nothing of the kind, but is in fact an artificial life form created in a magnificent world in another dimension that traveled here to Japan in ancient times and was buried so that someone would wake her up in the future. If I'm right, then all I need to do to make her mine is find her, awaken her, and she'll be loyal to me and me alone. At the very least she'll owe me big for digging her out of the ground and reactivating her."
Sakura asked, "But why? And put that box down!"
Kachiko placed the sealed jewelry box, with the name 'Pandora' etched in gold on the top, back in Gosunkugi's sack. "It fell out," she explained and began whistling innocently.
Gosunkugi trembled slightly. "You don't understand. I have to do this. It's my last chance."
"Last chance for what?" Sakura asked.
"My last chance to get a date for the Senior Prom!" Gosunkugi wailed.
"Oh, gee, Gos, that's still a year away," Kachiko said in an exasperated tone. "Why are you so worried about it?"
"Because I already asked all the girls and was turned down," he sniffled.
Sakura scoffed at that. "Oh come on. Just because you got turned down by a few girls is no reason to panic."
"I didn't say a few girls. I said all of them."
Kachiko looked at him with a mounting suspicion in her eyes. "When you say, 'all the girls' you mean everyone in your classes?"
"You mean every girl in our grade?" Sakura asked with wide-eyed skepticism.
"No. I mean every girl in our high school. Every grade. They all turned me down," he sobbed.
Sakura laughed. It was that nervous little, 'oh god that's so pitiful even I feel sorry, but better you than me' laugh people gave. "That is… sort of bad."
Voice filled with hope, Kachiko said, "Did you try the eighth graders at the junior high? They'll be freshmen next year and—"
"Yes! They turned me down too," Gosunkugi sobbed.
Kachiko patted him on the shoulder sympathetically. "Boy, that is bad. I'd do anything to help."
Gosunkugi's sobbing was momentarily interrupted. "You'd go out with me?"
"Gos, when I say 'anything' I don't mean that literally. I mean it in the sense that I'll help you if it's not inconvenient for me and I have nothing better to do. But maybe Sakura would…" she let that trail off as, out of the corner of her eye, she caught Sakura ferociously shaking her head.
Gosunkugi's shoulders — which were called that due to the fact that was the place where his arms were attached to his body rather than from any actual broadness to them — slumped in abject defeat, which was only slightly lower than the usual slump they had. "Let's face facts. I should just kill myself and get it over with. The only way I'm going to get a date is if some girl that has a thing for skinny, pathetic, guys with no self-esteem suddenly appears out of nowhere and asks me out."
There was a tapping on Gosunkugi's shoulder. A voice so melodious voice it could have charmed snakes sang out, "Excuse please."
The quartet turned around. Before them was a vision that could have come straight out of a Scandinavian legend. The young woman standing there could have passed for a Valkyrie, save that she bore neither armor nor a flying horse, or gave any indication of nabbing someone and taking them to Valhalla. She possessed long, golden tresses that flowed backward in the air, despite the lack of wind. High cheekbones highlighted a painfully beautiful face that could have graced the cover of any magazine. She had long legs with firm muscle tone, and an ample bust that seemed to defy gravity. The only thing mundane about her was the school uniform she wore, but even that only enhanced her tremendous assets, and emphasized the aura of seduction about her.
"Almost makes you wanna become a lesbian, doesn't it?" Kachiko said to Sakura.
Her friend nodded in agreement and wiped at the slight bit of drool that had escaped her mouth.
"Hello, I am to be introducing myself. I am foreign exchange student from Sweden. My name is Ingrid Torson. I am to be new here and wish to make friends."
Ichiro was at her side in an instant. He held her hand affectionately in his. "I'll do better than that. I'll marry you right now."
Ingrid looked away from him and at the others. "This is a, how do you say…?"
"Lech?" Sakura offered.
The Nordic beauty considered that. "No."
"Jerk?" Gosunkugi said.
Again she shook her head.
Kachiko piped up. "A real !#&*^, that can !%^%, with his *&^%^?"
Ingrid said, "I am thinking my Japanese is not so good, since what I think you say cannot be done with that. Not even as double-jointed as I am, could I be doing it."
"How about 'pervert'?" Sakura ventured.
Ingrid's eyes lit up. "Yes. That is word I look for. Pervert. Is he?"
"Won the All-Japan Pervert Championship for Sleaziest Pick Up Line last year," Kachiko confirmed.
"Ah. Good." Ingrid drove her knee straight into the area between Ichiro's legs. He doubled over in agony and crumpled into a tiny, mewling heap on the ground.
A plague of locusts descended upon him.
Ingrid walked closer until she was standing next to Gosunkugi, easily violating what should have been his personal space. She was forced to look down at him, due to the fact that he only came up to about chest level on her. She turned a sultry stare upon him that seemed to ignite the air. "Forgive me for saying and being forward, but you are reminding me of my ex-boyfriend. I am hoping that we can be friends. Maybe close friends. Perhaps we go out to dinner and get to know one another better after school. I pay for everything, of course."
Shoulders suddenly firming up for the first time in his life, Gosunkugi turned away, an amused grin on his face. "Well, I don't know. I have so many women after me, I'm not sure if I can fit you — Urk!"
Kachiko grabbed the fidgeting youth by the collar and roughly pulled him aside. She whispered in his ear, "I swear to god if you try to play hard to get with the blonde bombshell that just came onto you for one second longer, I will rip off your !#$% and feed it to Ichiro." She released her hold, but continued burning holes in him with her stare.
"I'd be more than happy to go out with you," Gosunkugi informed Ingrid.
"I think I am to be liking this country very much," she said in obvious delight…
"…and so, the moral of the story is, don't mistake coincidence for fate. That Ingrid girl showing up and coming onto Gosunkugi and pulling him out of his suicidal depression isn't an indication of true love. It took lots of time spent together, going through hardships and getting to know one another before true love blossomed and they were married." Kachiko finished her story with flourish of her hand.
"And how long did that take?" Nabiki asked.
"Err, the end of the week," Kachiko said as though the words had to be pulled out one at a time. "But it proves nothing, I tell you. Absolutely nothing! It was luck!"
Ranma said, "What about the panda?"
"What panda?" Kachiko asked.
"The one that the story was supposed to be about. You remember." In a higher voice that was eerily similar to Kachiko's he said, "'Yes, pandas are incredibly dangerous. I can vouch for this from personal experience. Let me tell you a time last month'—"
"Right! Pandas! I was just getting to that part. I was just pausing the story and catching my breath," Kachiko insisted, convincing only Kasumi, who continued listening raptly.
Kachiko began again, "Anyway, the panda incident happened right after Ingrid showed up…"
"Effendi, I have found something," one of the foreign laborers shouted to Gosunkugi.
The group of students walked over to the pit where the laborer had been digging. From the bottom of the neck-high pit, the man held up a pale green metal box. It was plain in appearance, save for the series of spirit wards taped across where the lid and sealing it shut. The laborer reached up and handed his discovery to the nearest person: Kachiko.
"There seems to be an inscription on the lid." Kachiko traced the intricate lines of the engraving with her finger.
Ichiro's head darted up and he looked towards the school gates. "Did you guys hear something?"
Everyone else's attention was riveted to the box. Gosunkugi peered over Kachiko's shoulder and deciphered the ancient symbols. "It says, 'Whomsoever dares to release the insanely powerful, immortal Arch-Demon Pandamonious will have their bodies and souls ripped to shreds in an eternal hell of torment and suffering'."
"It sounds like thunder." Ichiro looked fearful now.
"What do you suppose that could mean?" Kachiko asked.
"The sounds are getting louder and coming closer together."
"It means don't open the box or something terrible will happen to you when you release the demon that's being held inside," Sakura snapped.
"It's definitely drawing near."
Kachiko scoffed. "Nah. These ancient guys never came out and said stuff. They always left things in vague curses so that if anything bad happened to you you'd blame it on a curse instead of just plain bad luck."
"I'll be fleeing… I mean, heading to class now. Bye-bye."
"That's not vague; it's very specific about what's going to happen if you open the box," Sakura insisted.
Ichiro ceased whining about the now incredibly loud sounds because he was already gone.
Kachiko smirked confidently. "Which means the real curse is buried somewhere in the phrasing so that you don't realize it's there. It's camouflage. I'm telling you."
Before Sakura could launch into a proper retort, the source of the loud booms finally made its presence known as the school gates were ripped from their fittings in the wall and hurled far away. "Kachiko Tendou, the day of your doom has finally arrived!"
Everyone looked away from the box.
"Oh, hey, Wakaba! What's shaking?" Kachiko gave a casual wave of her hand.
"Your doom, stupid! Pay attention when I proclaim the day of your reckoning!" The girl shouted.
"Who is this?" Ingrid asked of the basically average-looking girl in a school uniform that was bellowing at Kachiko.
Sakura explained, "A deranged psychotic determined to kill and humiliate — probably in that order — Kachiko, whom she considers her eternal nemesis since the day they were born. Oh yes, she'll also be our classmate."
Kachiko waved dismissively at Sakura and said to Ingrid, "Pay her no mind. Sakura always takes things way too seriously. That's just Wacky Wakaba. She's harmless. She's a buddy of mine that likes pulling pranks."
"And she is always to be coming to school riding the back of pandas of colossal proportions?"
"No, that's a new one," Kachiko admitted as she saw that her longtime friend was indeed perched on the back of a titanic-sized panda. The creature had to be fifteen feet long and weigh close to six tons. Massive muscles lined its bulky form, and unnaturally long claws were extended from its paws, digging deep into the ground and razing earth and stone alike.
Kachiko shouted, "Hey, Wakaba! Where'd you get that big-ass panda?"
Posturing proudly, Wakaba declared, "I had my insane, genius uncle create him using genetic reengineering to produce the ultimate killing machine. It possesses not only the awesome strength of a bear, but the claws of a hunting cat, the reflexes of a mongoose, and the viciousness of a wolverine. It will be your downfall, Kachiko Tendou! WAAA HA HA HA!"
"The disturbed laugh means it's time to go," Sakura informed Ingrid as she led the new student away by the hand. Gosunkugi and the foreign laborers evacuated the area as well, content to allow Kachiko to handle matters.
"So you want me to test out how tough your little bio-weapon is, huh? Good thinking. I'll put it through its paces!" Kachiko boasted haughtily.
"I don't want you to test anything! I want you to die!" Wakaba shouted an order to the mammoth panda to attack.
The beast moved with a speed that belied its form and closed the distance between itself and the target in the span of less than a heartbeat. It brought one giant claw downward in an arc towards Kachiko. She danced backward, the claw only glancing off the box still in her hands…
…And by merest chance, shearing off the spirit wards sealing it.
The lid flew open and a vortex of spectral energies poured forth from the opening. It spouted upward like a geyser, dancing in the air for a moment, before shifting from shooting upward to arcing left, like a snake made of light. The energy streamed forward and struck the panda full in the face. Rather than cascading off it, or driving the beast back, the energy instead seemed to enter the animal itself.
Within a handful of moments the entire fountain of energy had found a home in the panda. Upon closer inspection, Kachiko could see the eyes of the beast had now taken on an unearthly golden hue, and the pupils had become vertical slits filled with malice and hate.
"Attack her!" Wakaba insisted.
The animal turned its head in a one hundred and eighty degree circle, as though its neck was mounted on a swivel. It turned that baleful glare fully upon the girl that was perched on his back. In a voice that made the very air itself shake, it bellowed, "NONE MAY COMMAND THE ELDER DEMON OF PANDAS, THE ALL MIGHTY PANDAMONIOUS, SAVE FOR THE GREATEST LORD OF HATE HIMSELF!"
"It says 'Arch-Demon', not 'Elder Demon', on the box," Kachiko pointed out.
The great beast reared up on its hind legs, nearly throwing off its rider, and roared, "THOSE IDIOTS! NOT ONLY DO THEY HAVE THE AUDACITY TO IMPRISON ME, BUT THEY GOT MY RANK WRONG AS WELL! I'D MAKE THEM PAY, IF THEY WEREN'T ALREADY DEAD!"
Unperturbed by the change in her animal, and holding onto its fur for dear life, Wakaba ordered, "I care nothing for your rank! I order you to dispatch the hateful little bitch post-haste!"
The panda focused its evil stare upon Kachiko. "OF COURSE I INTEND TO KILL HER!" The head swiveled back to Wakaba. "HOWEVER, I THINK I'LL DISPATCH YOU FIRST!"
It swatted Wakaba off its back as casually as a horse swatting a fly with its tail. The force of the blow sent her body sailing through the air until it impacted with the wall of the school somewhere around the second story. As her flattened form slowly slid back to the ground, she quietly murmured, "Damn you… Tendou. This is all… your fault," before sliding the rest of the way to unconsciousness.
Kachiko's demeanor suddenly became more serious. "You bastard! You hurt my buddy Wakaba! She never did anything to anybody! But now you've gone too far, and you're going to pay!"
Cracking her knuckles in dramatic fashion, Kachiko launched a powerful kick at the beast even as it reared one powerful paw back, intent on slicing the…
"…Beautiful and vivacious girl in half. It was a tremendous battle that lasted well past third period. It raged across the width and breadth of Tokyo. Singers sang the tale of the conflict between the force from Hell as it strove against the flesh and sinew of mortal woman. The battle encompassed such a tremendous scope that it is legendary even to this day."
"I never heard of it," Ranma pointed out.
"Me neither," Akane said.
"Perhaps you're misremembering something," Kasumi offered.
"No! I did fight the creature, and it was a tremendous battle. It was incredibly dangerous. I'd say that its worst weapon was definitely its breath."
"It could breathe fire?" Ranma asked.
"No, it was just really, really bad. Smelled like a bunch of rotting feces or something. But I tricked it into a water tower filled with mouthwash to neutralize the odor. I was really on top of my game that day."
Nabiki said, "Since you're alive I assume you won. What happened to the demon?"
Kachiko gave her 'demented hyena' smile. "We drove it out of the body it was possessing by using a spirit ward and locked it up again. I took possession of the prison box and hid it in a safe place that no one would ever discover in a million years."
Nabiki pondered that. "Let me guess. You buried it under a rock in our backyard."
Kachiko's jaw dropped until it was almost low enough to hit the ground. "How did you know?" she gasped.
One of the large rocks in the yard exploded in spectacular fashion, sending shards of granite shrapnel all around. From the smoky ruins left behind, a formerly beaten and buried panda emerged. The eyes of the beast had taken on an unearthly golden hue, and the pupils had become vertical slits fill of malice and hate. "FREE AT LAST!"
"This is not my fault!" Kachiko blurted out.
"Of course it's your fault! You threw a panda right into the spot where the you buried the panda demon!" Akane shouted.
"That happened over twenty years ago! You can't expect me to remember the exact location of every single demon I've sealed away and buried over the last twenty years."
"It was only a couple of months ago to you," Nabiki pointed out.
"Stop quibbling over minor details!" Kachiko snapped.
The panda stalked menacingly out of the hole. Kasumi found herself the first one in its intended path of destruction.
She looked up at the beast and said, "Why, Mr. Saotome, you're wearing tinted contact lenses."
"I AM NOT! THESE ARE MY NORMAL EYES, AT LEAST WHEN I AM POSSESSING A PANDA!"
Kasumi gained a thoughtful gleam to her eye. "Have you ever considered green ones instead? I think they would make you look very attractive."
"FOOLISH MORTAL, YOU DARE TO IMPLY THAT MY APPEARANCE… SAY, I WOULD LOOK BETTER WITH GREEN EYES, WOULDN'T I?!"
"I think so," Kasumi said.
Ranma gathered around with Akane and Kachiko. "Quick, while Kasumi's distracting it with inane banter, how do we get that thing out of Pop?"
Kachiko wrung her hands in worry. "We used a spirit ward to drive it out of Wakaba's pet, but that won't do us any good. Where can we find a ward at this time of day? The situation's hopeless, I tell you! Hopeless!"
Sighing, Akane removed the piece of paper between Kachiko's eyes and walked over to where the Pandamonious was deeply embroiled in conversation with Kasumi.
"PROFESSIONAL GROOMERS, YOU SAY?"
"They can do wonders for your hair. I've discussed it with Mr. Saotome sometimes, but he thinks it's too feminine. He doesn't like it when men act feminine. I think it has something to do with his wife."
"I DISAGREE. THERE'S NO REASON ONE CAN'T LOOK GOOD WHILE ENGAGING IN ACTS OF MASSIVE SLAUGHTER AND RAMPANT DESTRUCTION. AND IT IS NOT FEMININE."
Akane kept the spirit ward hidden behind her, and tapped Pandamonious on the back.
The demon swiveled its head around, face full of hatred directed at the one who dared interrupt its schemes concerning the destruction of the human race, as well as improving his style. "WHAT DO YOU WANT?!"
Clearing her throat, Akane said, "I wanted to know what your first step is in taking over the planet."
"OH, WELL, THAT'S EASY. FIRST I EXTERMINATE HUMANITY. THEN—"
"Excuse me, I have a hearing problem. Could you bend down closer?"
Openly delighted in someone exhibiting a desire to know his plans for Armageddon, Pandamonious leaned closer. "I SAID—"
Akane attached the spirit ward to its head.
The demon stared at the sheet of paper dangling from its brow. "OH CRAP! NOT AGAINNNnnnn!"
The demon found itself forced out of the body of its host and into the box it had been trapped in for all but three hours and three minutes of its last thousand years of existence. Akane quickly relocated the seal from Genma's brow to the closed box.
Everyone gathered around the box.
"What do we do with it now?" Ranma asked.
"I know, I know." Kachiko jumped up and down excitedly. "We'll take it somewhere so desolate that no one will ever find it."
"Like where?" Akane asked.
"How about the interior of China?"
Nabiki rolled her eyes. "Oh, it'll never find a panda to possess there."
Ranma said, "We'll drop it off with the Old Ghoul. She'll know the best way to either get rid of it or seal it away forever."
Akane went inside the house to store the box in a safe place until they had a chance to give it to Cologne.
"Is there anything else buried in the yard we should know about?" Ranma asked Kachiko.
"No. Well, there's the remains of a vampire buried under the back porch. But you don't have to worry about that, just so long as you don't remove the stake from its rib cage. That's the only thing keeping it from regenerating and, you know, going on a bloodsucking rampage."
Genma, who had finally recovered, held up a sign. *Being possessed made me hungry. Let's eat.*
Ranma's stomach growled in approval. "Good idea."
*And then we can exterminate humanity.*
Everyone looked skeptically at Genma.
He blushed. *Oops. Looks like there was some residual thoughts left over from being possessed.*
The talk of eating stirred Kasumi from her reverie. "Oh dear. I was so wrapped up in mother's tale that I forgot to prepare breakfast. I'll get right on it."
"I want to do some things inside first anyway," Kachiko said, fingering her dirty clothing. She hadn't bathed in over a day or changed her clothing, and something had to be done about that. She entered the house as well.
*Looks like we've got time to finish our training after all.* Genma signed, and proceeded to take a swipe at Ranma.
Ranma darted out of the way. "You're a real wimp, Pop, if you can get possessed by a demon so easily."
*You'll pay for that one, boy. I won't include you in my schemes for world domination,* Genma signed and went after Ranma again.
It was fifteen minutes later that a sweaty Ranma, now in her cursed form, made her way to the bathroom. Her father had given her a real tussle for a change. He seemed faster and stronger than before, which made Ranma wonder if being possessed by the demon had given the old man an extra boost of energy. If so, it would make the morning workouts more interesting then they had been for a while.
Checking for an occupied sign and seeing none, Ranma began undoing the buttons of her shirt as she opened the door to the bath. She was having trouble with the top one, and had her attention focused on it as she entered the bath and closed the door behind her. She took two steps in and finished undoing the annoying button, when she finally looked up.
In the middle of the room there was a completely naked Kachiko Tendou, sitting on a stool, completely naked and in the process of cleaning her completely naked body off with a bucket of water. She had lathered some soap on her form. Ranma would have liked to have said the bubbles covered up the normally hidden parts, but that would have been too easy. Instead, all of the most interesting parts of her body were quite free of everything save a sheen of water that only served to display all of the girl's attributes in an even more erotic manner. And except for the hips, Ranma could positively certify that Kachiko was built a lot like Akane.
"Ack!" Ranma gasped, and slapped a hand across her eyes. It wasn't going to save her, but at least she wouldn't have to see the blow coming.
Instead of the expected attack, she heard Kachiko say, "Who the hell are you?"
"I'm sorry," Ranma blurted out. One of these days apologizing was going to work and make everything better. It wasn't going to happen today, of course, but someday.
"Great. Another daughter no one thought to tell me about," Kachiko said in a tired voice, "Well, get in here and help me wash my back."
In Ranma's mind, the offer was translated into, "Well, get in here and enjoy certain death at everyone's hands if you even consider for a moment doing what I suggest."
"Can't! I need to leave!" Ranma blurted out and blindly fumbled for the door behind her.
Kachiko let out a snort of derision. Drawing her arm back, she slid the bar of soap she had been using across the floor. Ranma's foot came down on it just as her fingers caressed the door handle. She slipped on the soap, and managed to somersault in the air, landing hard on her back
Lying still for a moment and intent on catching her breath, Ranma took a moment before opening her eyes and immediately wishing she hadn't.
Kachiko Tendou had elected to stand directly over Ranma's fallen form, one leg on each side of her prone body and providing the redhead with a perfect view she most certainly did not want to have.
Keeping her eyes closed, Ranma spun onto her stomach and tried crawling away. "I really need to get out of here!"
Her crawling didn't last long, as she found her forward motion arrested by a hand firmly grasping her by her pigtail.
"That's enough of that," Kachiko warned. "I told you to wash my back."
"Noooo!" Ranma wailed as she tried to scramble away, but the hold on her pigtail was too firm, and the strength behind it impressive as she found herself dragged further into the bath.
Akane came back from securing the box in a place that was relatively safe in her room. None of the family would mess with it, and she had made certain there were no panties or bras around to draw Happosai near the dangerous object. After breakfast she and Ranma would drop the box off with Cologne and maybe ask the old woman if she had any experience with wishing. Akane was especially concerned with the possible repercussions of a young Kachiko Tendou's appearance in the present. No negative side effects had happened yet, and maybe none would, other than the fact the young girl was not what Akane had intended when she wished to have her mother alive and at her side. Honestly, this girl bore no resemblance to any of the memories Akane, or even Kasumi had of the woman that had raised them. This Kachiko was a total stranger that only had the same name as the woman who brought the Tendou girls into this world, and it was incredibly distressing. Akane had come so close to one of her heart's greatest desires, but seeing the version of her mother that resided in her memories seemed impossibly far away.
Lost in deep thought, Akane was passing by the bathroom door and almost missed the voice from within crying out, "Noooo, stop! Stop it, please!"
Akane cringed. Not again. Ranma could not possibly have been stupid enough to make the exact same blundering mistake twice in his life. There was a perfectly rational explanation for his wailing. And she was going to discover it as she forced herself to open the door to the bath. It took a moment to steady the trembling in her hand enough to grip the handle and slide the door open.
The sounds were louder, but Akane couldn't see anything. It took another moment for her to realize that she had closed her eyes. She forced them open, taking in a deep breath of air that was reflexive rather than intentional. Her body was operating on automatic with the familiar scenario, even if her hopes lay in other directions.
And then she saw it. The scene was even worse than she had expected. Ranma was pinned up with her front against the wall by a naked Kachiko Tendou, who was rubbing her back up and down against Ranma's own. The muscles of Kachiko's legs were tensed as they were firmly braced against the floor, effectively pinning Ranma. The smaller girl was pressed so firmly into the wall that she couldn't gain any significant leverage with which to push off, or do anything other than wiggle like a worm skewered on the end of a hook.
The deep breath served its purpose by allowing Akane to shout really loudly, "Ranma! What are you doing with my mother?!"
Ranma cried out, "Help, Akane! She's trying to use me like a giant washcloth!"
Kachiko stopped moving up and down, and looked to Akane. "Let me tell you something. This one is definitely the most ungrateful of the lot of you. She won't even help wash her mother's back."
Akane growled, "Mom, that's not one of your daughters. That's Ranma. And why is he in here when you're naked?"
Kachiko gave her youngest daughter a skeptical expression. Sighing, she said, "Akane, in case you didn't notice, Ranma is a boy, a very nice looking one, and this is a girl. There are significant differences between the two sexes. Now, as your mother, allow me to give you a demonstration highlighting the differences between men and women."
Lightning fast she switched from keeping Ranma pinned against the wall to letting her go. The unexpected release of tension caught Ranma off guard, which enabled Kachiko to grab the redhead by the body and spin her around so that she was facing Akane. All the while Kachiko kept a firm grip on Ranma from behind.
Kachiko clutched Ranma's breasts and squeezed firmly, but not painfully. To Akane, she said, "You'll note these raised areas on the chest are not deformed pectoral muscles, but breasts."
"Ah, don't do that," Ranma moaned, Kachiko's fingertips grasping her at just the right spot to produce just the wrong reaction.
"Very responsive breasts," Kachiko confirmed, and squeezed again.
The scene had now become so horrible that all Akane could do was stand there and gurgle incoherently as the veins began popping up one at a time across her forehead.
Ranma tried running forward. She escaped the clutch around her front, but Kachiko's leg thrust itself between the redhead's, causing her to fall into her stomach. Before she could even try to get back up, Kachiko was keeping her prone on the floor by straddling the backs of her hamstrings.
Kachiko said, "Now, let's go for lower anatomical differences."
"Noooo!" Ranma squirmed as hard as she could to evade the pair of hands that deftly began to undo the drawstring of her pants.
Akane managed to make it to the pointing stage when Nabiki poked her head into the room.
The middle Tendou daughter took the scene in and gave a sad shake of her head. "My, Ranma. This has got to be a record for you. In under an hour you have my mother naked on top of you and trying to strip you right in front of Akane."
Kachiko had gotten as far as the boxers before she stopped and scowled at Nabiki. "Why does everyone insist on calling this girl Ranma?"
"Because it is Ranma, Mother." Nabiki moved past her near catatonic sister and into the bath. "Ranma and his father visited a cursed spring in China and came away, at no charge, with a couple of ancient curses. Cold water turns Mr. Saotome into the panda you saw earlier. It also turns Ranma into the redhead you have pinned under your nude body. Hot water reverses the effect and turns them back into their original forms."
"That's impossible," Kachiko scoffed.
Nabiki raised in eyebrow at that. "You can accept magical wishes, time travel, and Panda Demons, but the idea of someone changing their physical form because of a magic curse is impossible for you to accept?"
Kachiko shrugged. "You have to draw the line somewhere."
"I'm really Ranma," the redhead stated firmly.
Kachiko rose up off Ranma. The redhead breathed a sigh of relief and started to go for her pants.
Kachiko took the opportunity to grab Ranma by the seat of her boxers, lift her off the ground, and toss the redhead into the furo full of warm water she had run earlier. Ranma had only one chance to cry out before splashing into the water, changing as his head slammed into the bottom of the tub. He floated, stunned to the surface of the tub.
Kachiko went to the furo and pulled back the now black head of hair. She peered closely into Ranma's glazed over eyes. "Yep, same semi-vacant stare as before. That's Ranma, all right." She pondered the situation. "Hmm. On one hand, he did get a free show and saw me naked. I had no intention of doing so at this time. I don't just flash anyone a look at the goods." She plunged his head deep into the water and held it there.
That snapped Akane out of his stupor. "Hey, he'll drown if you do that."
"Yes, that's what happens when you hold a person's head underwater and they don't have gills. He doesn't have gills, does he?"
"None that we're aware of," Nabiki said.
Kachiko continued keeping the weakly struggling Ranma underwater. "On the other hand, I inadvertently offered him a free grope, and he refused. He even covered his eyes rather than look at me." She raised his waterlogged head out of the water.
Ranma gurgled out a steady stream of water out, just like a fountain.
Kachiko continued pondering things. "But by refusing to touch me, he insulted me by implying my body wasn't worth touching." She plunged his head back in the water.
Akane wanted to protest, but what her mother was saying made sense.
"Is he gay?" Kachiko asked, pulling his head out of the water again.
Nabiki said, "I've considered it a possibility for a while now. Repressed homosexuality, rather than overt."
"Ranma is not gay," Akane insisted.
Kachiko put the head back in the water. "I'm at something of an impasse here. On some levels he clearly needs to be punished, on others I don't think so. He's making things a bit confusing."
"I know some people that might agree with you there," Nabiki said pointedly to Akane.
Kachiko raised Ranma's head out of the water again. Seeing he was unconscious, she made sure he was still breathing properly. Suddenly the perfect resolution to the matter came to her. "I've got it! I know how to even things up."
"How?" Akane asked.
"Since he saw me naked, I should therefore get to see him naked, too."
"I'll get the camera." Nabiki quickly left the room.
"You can't strip Ranma," Akane insisted as her mother slung Ranma's body over the side of the tub and proceeded to remove his shirt.
"Sure I can. He's unconscious. That's the best time to do it, since he can't protest or escape," she said slyly.
"I'm telling you it's wrong." Akane grabbed the boxers her mother was trying to remove from Ranma's bottom.
"He's seen my packaging, now I get to see his. Fair is fair." Kachiko tried pulling harder.
"You can't strip unconscious men. It's perverted." Akane kept trying to pull the boxers up while Kachiko pulled down.
"Only if you get caught," Kachiko began to really tug. "Aren't you at least a little bit curious?"
"Ah ha! You've already seen him naked."
Akane stopped pulling for a moment. "It was an accident."
"We'll call this a convenient accident as well."
Both girls gave a mighty tug. The material, as durable as it was, finally gave way with a tearing of threads, and both girls went sprawling backward.
It was also at that moment Nabiki entered the bathroom and snapped a picture.
Everyone looked at the unconscious Ranma, slumped in a sitting position next to the bath.
Nabiki shot the unconscious youth a disdainful look. "Bah. Why did I even bother?" she pulled the back out of the camera and exposed the film.
Kachiko stared at the scene as well. "Hmm. Not much to write home about."
Horrified at the results of the tug of war, Akane grabbed a towel to cover Ranma's privates, but sneaked a second glance. "It isn't?" she asked.
That made Kachiko tear her eyes away from the object in question. "Can't you tell?"
"It's not like I have anything to compare it to." She blushed slightly.
"What, no expeditions to sneak into the men's locker room after a baseball game to check out the 'field equipment'?"
"Of course not! That would be perverted."
"No, no, no. That's not perverted. It's just showing a healthy interest in members of the opposite sex. There's a world of difference between that and perversion. We'll have to make a day of it and hit a locker room and I'll show you what I mean."
"Not a chance. I'm not peeper. And don't pick on Ranma just because he's not, err… big."
Kachiko held her hands up defensively. "I didn't say I was going to do that. Believe me, I know there's more to a person than the size of their equipment. Case in point." Kachiko fondled her breasts, which, while not unnoticeable, would not be mistaken for a pair of watermelons either.
Akane shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah. I'm the same way. I mean, they aren't bad, but, well, let's say there are several other girls I know that are built a bit bigger than me and it makes me feel, well, you know…"
"Uncomfortable. I know what you mean. We're a lot alike." She took Akane aside. "You want to know something? I didn't want to say it out loud, but your sisters must have gotten their racks from your dad's side of the family, because they sure didn't get it from mine." Kachiko grabbed a bathrobe and put it on. "That reminds me; I don't have any extra clothing, so I'm going to borrow some of yours."
"Sure. I can loan you some of mine, since we're about the same size." Akane was in somewhat better spirits. It was almost as though she and her mother were bonding, which made her feel very odd. She was silent as she considered the matter.
Akane and her mother exited the room, leaving a naked Ranma lying next to the tub. Silence reigned for only a few moments as Ranma woke with a start, shouting out, "I didn't see anything, especially that distinctive mole on the inside of your…" he trailed off as he realized he had been dreaming. The last thing he remembered was… too much of what had actually happened before unconsciousness had blissfully taken matters into its own hands. Looking around, he assessed his current situation.
He was lying naked next to the furo. His underwear was torn to shreds. His head hurt. It felt like someone had drowned, then resuscitated him.
"Heh, sure got away with one that time." Ranma smirked as he eased himself into the still tepid waters of the tub. He rested his head back against the side and put a hand towel over his eyes so he could relax and enjoy his warm soak.
Then the sounds from the interior of the house began penetrating his shroud of peace.
"Ow! I'm telling you, I am not possessed by a demon. And I swear if you hit me in the head with that hammer again, I'll literally nail your hide to the wall!"
Ranma let out a tired sigh and wondered if it would be best to ask Pop if wanted to go on a little 'training journey' for a while. Like another ten years. Perhaps things would have settled down by then.
"WAAAAH! Kachi-chan! You've come back to me!"
"Ah! Not him again!" *WHAM* "Oh, gross! He got blood on me this time!"
No, that was being optimistic. Maybe fifteen would do. Or maybe his descendants would wish him into the future at a young age so he wouldn't have to deal with any of this. Now there was an idea. He'd have to remember to hammer that concept into his children's heads at an early age, the way his father had insisted on martial arts being a way of life when Ranma himself was but a boy…
To be continued.
Author's notes: Here ends the latest chapter. And I do believe something of an 'Oops!' was involved. Some ideas came to me as I wrote, so I decided to give a little more of the ah, unique way the world appears through the eyes of Kachiko, as well as getting her 'acclimated' to the climate of the Tendou household twenty years after. Although we did get a few looks at the reactions of a few of the girls, as well as Kachiko's discovery of Ranma's curse. More on this next time.
Special thanks to:
for looking this over.
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