It was the middle of the night when Pan was awoken by tapping sound. It was faint and rhythmic. She lifted her head from her pillow to see if any of the other girls she was sharing the room with had heard, but they were all fast asleep on their futons. She doubted that any of the other girls could hear the sound at all. Thanks to her Grandfather’s Saiya-Jin heritage, she could hear and see further than any normal human being. Granted she couldn’t see as far as Goku, but what do you expect after two generations of breeding with a different race? She looked around to see where the sound was coming from. Her eyes fell on the open window across the room. Akane must have got warm earlier in the night like almost every night they had spent out here at the shrine. Pan always kidded her that was her temper that raised her body temperature so much.
The young Saiya-Jin shook her head and lifted out of her bed, the blankets falling from her body as she floated above her futon. She slowly glided across the room, careful not to wake any of the girls that she shared the room with. She reached for the open sliding windowpane, but didn’t close it when the sound became more audible from the open window. It sounded like someone was playing a song with only wood blocks for an instrument. She slid the window open enough for her to fly out, and floated toward the beat.
She slowly drifted through the air following the hypnotizing, primal rhythm. As she approached the sound, it went from a single beat to three distinct parts. It sounded like Riverdance without the stage full of Irishmen. She weaved in and out of the tree until she got nearer toward the beat.
She cleared a thick grove of trees and stopped behind one of the last lone trees looking into a clearing. She realized that she was in the clearing where Katsuhito and Tenchi practiced She slowly dropped to the ground toes first. She looked out into the clearing and suddenly had trouble standing upright. Her legs felt like they were made of jelly, and she had to put a hand on the tree trunk to steady herself from what she saw in the clearing.
In the middle of the bare earth where several small stakes were buried to where only about four inches were exposed. Atop those stakes danced something that made her mind go numb, it was a young man with a long black ponytail wearing only a white pair of loose pants and wooden sandals. His muscles rippled as he went through a more complex sword kata than she had ever seen Tenchi go through. The three parts of the primal song came from the stake swinging from a twine tied to a branch above the training area, and the man’s two feet.
She watched him for what seemed like hours as he danced through the intricate steps of the kata. The muscles in his arms flexed taut as he’d hit the swinging piece of wood with the blade and sometimes the hilt of the bokken in his hand, then suddenly he’d perform a freestanding leap and flip and change the wooden blade to his other hand and perform similar movements. The wooden sandals seemed to not touch the stakes buried in the ground. The only evidence of contact was the ‘clack-itty-clack’ that sounded from the clearing. Pan stood mesmerized as his well-defined chest swelled and contracted with his steady breathing. She looked to his attractive face. His eyes were closed in a look of perfect meditation.
Before she knew what was happening, her feet were carrying her toward the handsome man performing the dance. Her bare feet stepped across freshly fallen leaves, not making enough sound to be heard over the primitive song being played atop the practice pegs. She was mesmerized as he moved with a measure of grace that made Ranma’s movements look clumsy. Her spell was suddenly broken as her foot broke a dried twig in half.
Yosho, the crown prince of Jurai, had been restless this night, much like every night since his parents had left to return to the Juraian home world. His mother had laid down the law in no uncertain terms that he was to marry the girl that had been chasing after his grandson. He couldn’t possibly do that! She was young enough to be his great-great-great-great-(well you get the picture) granddaughter. He still had some feelings for his deceased wife. She had been very strong and beautiful, and she had won his heart in a most unexpected way. He had always seen himself as a free spirit, a wondering warrior on a foreign world. He was determined to enjoy his stay on his mother’s world of birth, learning more about swordsmanship and martial arts. Love was nowhere in the equation. Heck, one of the reasons he left Jurai was get out of a wedding with his half-sister Ayeka; then he had met his wife. She had come out of nowhere and stolen his heart and trapped him in ancient bonds of matrimony. Of course with as free-spirited as she was, the prison wasn’t that bad. She had been his greatest friend and sparring partner. She had died tragically birthing their only daughter. He didn’t know if his heart could take another tragedy like that. His wife’s death at a young age had broken his heart, but his daughter’s had been the nail in the coffin. He couldn’t love again; it would only hurt more when he lost again.
And so, with all these heavy thoughts on his mind, he had decided that a nice workout was what the doctor ordered. Maybe an hour or so of exertion was what he needed to bring sleep this night.
He had been moving through one of the more complex katas he knew. Of course he could do them all in his sleep, which he had practically been doing. He had nearly been asleep on his feet when he heard a sound of wood that didn’t belong in his rhythm of the dance of martial arts.
He stopped abruptly, snapped his eyes open, and brought his blade around to where the sound had originated. Standing only ten paces in front of him was Pan. She was bare foot and wearing what he guessed was her usual bed clothes which consisted of a sky blue tank top, that left her shoulders, arms, midriff, and some of her cleavage exposed; and a pair of black spandex shorts that hugged her form like they were painted on. Her hair was completely free and fell like a lustrous raven waterfall off of her head.
She brought her hands up in front of her with the palms facing out. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to disturb you! I just heard the beat from my room and came to see what it was. I don’t mean you any harm.” Her voice was nervous and she was trying her best to keep her knees from knocking.
We’ll see how long that lasts after you find out who I am. Yosho thought. I had better think fast if I want to keep my head attached to my shoulders. “Don’t worry. You just surprised me. I’ll be on my way now.” He reached over for his shirt, but she was there with a hand on his arm in an instant.
“Wait! What’s your name?” She asked as her eyes gazed into his.
Yosho slowly drew back where he was standing with his arm out. Pan’s hand had slid down to hold his. He thought desperately for an answer that would save his life. He looked into her eyes and saw a slightly dazed quality in them. He smirked as an idea came to him. I hope this works… “I’m a dream. You’re dreaming away in your bed and any minute you’re going to wake up and this will all be a memory.”
A sly smile crept across her face and her eyes narrowed like a tigress on the hunt. “All a dream, huh? Then if this is a dream…” She slowly slid up to close the distance between them. “What if I don’t want to wake up?”
Yosho’s eyes went wide as he watched this girl, strike that, young woman sauntered toward him moving her hips in a way that showed that she was one hundred percent woman. He had watched her as she had gone around chasing after his grandson in her jeans and t-shirt. He had never seen her as more than a little girl that was playing in his yard. Now she was a woman who was pressing herself to his bare chest and putting her arms around his neck.
“If this is a dream,” she spoke in a low sultry voice. “Then I can do whatever I want.” She pulled his head down for a long passionate kiss.
Yosho’s arms reflexively went around her and he returned the kiss. The long kiss broke and several smaller ones took its place. About the time that Pan’s hand slipped down to grab his butt, he was snapped back to the reality of what he was doing.
His eyes went wide. His mind raced and he did the only thing he could think of in such short notice, he hit a shiatsu point for instant sleep. The young woman slumped in his arms and he caught her with ease. He moved his right arm down under her knees to scoop her up in his arms. He turned to take her back to the Masaki home.
After a few strides, Pan’s head nuzzled into his still bare chest. He looked at her face, so calm, so peaceful, so… He was reluctant to finish the thought. He shook his head and spoke in a low voice. “You’re bound and determined to make sure I don’t get any sleep tonight, aren’t you?”
Lucky for the first prince of Jurai almost everyone in the household was a heavy sleeper. He stealthily put Pan down on her futon (which was conveniently right next to the door), and walked out the door and headed out for his clean getaway. He was brought up short when he opened the door and heard a sipping sound behind him.
“So when are you planning to tell her?” Washu took another sip of her coffee.
Yosho rolled his eyes when that ‘almost everyone’ happened to be Washu. He turned to her. “So you know?”
“You can’t exactly hide your true form from a scientist of my caliber with a holographic illusion. I saw through it the first time I saw you. I’ve wondered why you always let Tenchi do all the fighting.” By the tone of her voice, she could have been talking about the weather, but Yosho knew there was a serious accusation there.
“Tenchi is a strong boy.” He turned to face the short redhead. “He had to realize that for himself. As long as I was there looking over his shoulder, he would never release his true potential. Of course after a while it was in the best interest of my sanity that I let him work out his own girl troubles.”
“And Doctor Clay?” Washu took another drink.
“He ran off before I could find out what happened. You do know he was sent by Tokimi, don’t you?” He crossed his arms across his chest.
“I know that, but how do you know that?” The redhead gave him an inquiring glance.
“Tsunami told me through my tree. She seems to think that Tokimi wants you and Tenchi for some reason. Is this true?” He lifted an eyebrow inquisitively.
Washu nodded her head. “She wants me for something I just don’t know what.” She tilted up the cup and finished the remaining liquid. “Well, I’m going to go back to bed.” She turned his back to him.
“Goodnight, Washu-Chan.” Yosho smiled as he turned his back and went toward the door again.
“A bit of advice,” Washu spoke over her shoulder. “Tell her soon. It’ll only hurt more if you keep a secret like this for long.”
Yosho nodded his head in acknowledgement and left the house to return to the shrine office, with a quick stop to pick up his shirt and bokken. Sleep wouldn’t be coming this night as he had more and more to think about.
A few minutes after Yosho had returned to his office, Pan stirred from her forced slumber and found herself sweating above her sheets. She beat her fist on the futon, hard enough to release frustration, but weak enough not to damage anything. “Damn!” She swore. “I always wake up at the good parts!”
The next morning, Pan didn’t fully awaken until she found herself carving a ditch through the Earth with her back. She shook her head awake to see Ranma hovering above her. He dropped down and gave her a hand up. “You okay?”
“Sorry”, she brushed some of the dirt from her white training gi. “I must have been distracted.”
Ranma looked closely at her. “You’ve been spaced out all morning. What’s up?”
She shook her head. “Nothing. Just had a weird dream last night.” She shook her head and took up her fighting stance. “One more time.”
The pigtailed martial artist shook his head. “Not today. It’s time for you to train with Shampoo and me with Tenchi and the old man.”
The young Saiya-Jin looked over where Shampoo was stretching out in a form-fitting lavender Amazon training outfit. Pan sighed. “You’re right. I’ll get some coffee or something when we get done.” She looked around the field. “Where is that old geezer anyway?”
Ranma shrugged. “Probably still in bed or something.”
About that time, Tenchi strode up, dragging Ryoko by one arm and Ayeka by the other. They both were going between yelling at each other and pleading to Tenchi to be rid of the other. The ponytailed boy just sweatdropped as he dragged them to the field.
“Well, I guess we could chalk that up as extra weight training, eh Pan?” Ranma turned to Pan to see her not even looking at Tenchi. She had spaced out again. “Hey, don’t you want to get Tenchi away from those girls?”
The young Saiya-Jin looked over at the scene and shook her head. “I don’t feel like it anymore. I’m tired of fighting losing battles.” She walked over to Shampoo, leaving a confused Ranma scratching his head.
Tenchi came up to Ranma and they traineduntil Sasami called them for breakfast. After everyone broke up from their training, Sasami approached Pan. The young Saiya-Jin was wiping the sweat from her face with a towel when the young Jurian princess came and stood in front of her. “Can you go look for Grandpa? I haven’t seen him all morning.”
Pan glared slightly at the little girl before rolling her eyes and discarding the towel. “Sure, I guess so.” She leapt up into the air and tried to sense where the elder Masaki was. She picked up a weak sense of him from the sacred tree of the shrine. Her aura flared up as she blazed through the air toward him.
When she approached, she saw him sitting cross-legged in front of the tree. She dropped down a few feet behind him. “Hey, old man! It’s time to eat!”
There was no answer.
She started to take a few steps toward him. “Did you hear me? I said it’s time to eat.”
Still no response.
Starting to get a little concerned, she stepped up and shook his shoulder. “Hey, you okay?”
He fell over on the ground.
“Ack!” Pan exclaimed as she quickly checked to make sure he wasn’t hurt. She brought her head close to listen to see if he was breathing. That was when she heard the snoring.
Pan’s expression narrowed as her aura turned red. “Stupid old man!” She reared back and kicked him into the tree. His body went flying and rammed into the side of the gigantic oak.
Katsuhito awoke on impact. He rolled over and saw Pan standing over him glaring. She didn’t find out already did she? He looked down at himself to make sure his disguise was still in place. Nope, still there. “Good morning, dear. What brings you about?”
“It’s breakfast time gramps. Now get off your rump and move it.” She turned and strode toward the trees. “And never call me dear again or I’ll make sure you never stop screaming.”
“Grrr!” She growled as her shoulders hunched up. Still slightly bristled she thrust her arms down and stuck her nose in the air and paced off.
Katsuhito picked himself up off the ground. Lucky for me that she kicked me at my own tree. Otherwise I could have been seriously hurt. It’s only blind luck that I had decided to raise the illusion again before going to sleep. He took one more look where Pan had disappeared through the trees. “I guess that’s the difference between night and day.” He smirked and strolled on to the Masaki home.
After breakfast, the sound of an approaching helicopter brought the residents out onto the front lawn.
Tenchi shielded his eyes from the sun with his hand as he looked to the horizon. “What do you think it is?”
Ranma stepped up beside him. “I don’t know, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
The chopper stopped above the shrine and small objects began to float slowly to the ground. Ayeka reached down and picked one up. She examined it closely and spoke in an inquisitive voice. “A black rose pedal?”
Ranma and Akane’s eyes went wide as they turned toward each other. “Oh no.”
“OH, HO! HO! HO! HO! HO! HO!” The blood curdling laugh froze most the people on the laugh.
Ayeka looked around at the people cringing in place. “What’s wrong with you?”
“That laugh…” Tenchi trailed off.
“It sounds like a proper laugh what’s wrong with that?”
“It sounds like yours, except less annoying!”
“Shut up, Ryoko!”
In the midst of the shower of rose pedals, a rope dropped down from the helicopter followed closely by the Black Rose herself, Kuno Kodachi. She slid gracefully down holding the rope only by her left arm and leg while her other arm was extended outward and her other leg was bent at the knee to where her foot touched her other knee. She spiraled down until she touched the ground with her left leg. She came to a free stand and took a small bow for her grand entrance. She looked up and immediately came eye to eye with Ranma. “Oh Ranma-Sama! At long last I’ve found you!” She leapt toward him, but stopped in mid-air when Shampoo and Akane quickly blocked her path, standing in between her and Ranma with their arms crossed.
“What crazy girl want?” Shampoo asked bluntly.
Kodachi brought a hand to her mouth and tittered her trademark laugh. “You fools think you can stand between me and my love? You forget that I am The Black Rose of St. Hebereke high school? I’ll show you commoners. OH, HO! HO! HO!”
“Is it demented Christmas time already?” Washu asked as she strode out with her arms crossed behind her head.
Kodachi turned on the small redhead and narrowed her eyes. “Are you by any chance related to the redheaded pigtailed girl?”
The greatest scientist in the universe cocked her head and glanced at Ranma and then back toward The Black Rose. “No, not that I know of. Why do you ask?”
“Because you have the same color hair as my most hated enemy.” She turned back to Ranma. “Which, when I get rid of that harridan, I will be free to take my Ranma-Sama!”
Ranma glared at the raven-haired woman from behind his two former fiancés. “What are you doing here Kodachi?”
The raising star of the Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics world strode up with her hands clasped over her breasts in a pleading gesture. “I’ve come to beg your help, Ranma-Sama.”
He looked back at her with a questioning glance. “What do you need my help for?”, he asked as Washu crept up behind Kodachi.
“I need your help to rid the proud Kuno estate of one…Ouch!” She yelped as she reached back to her head as Washu plucked a hair from her head.
The little redhead looked at the hair a bit. “Interesting.”
“How dare you!” Kodachi reached out to wring Washu’s neck, but found herself strangling a doll replica of the scientist.
Washu was standing off to the side feeding the hair into a small palm-sized device. “You ever think about going into rehab? I mean there are some serious chemical imbalances in your system…”
“Washu, that’s enough.” Katsuhito chided her. “I believe that something is distressing this woman. “ He turned to Kodachi. “What seems to be the problem miss?”
Kodachi smiled at the older man. “I see there is someone around her that know how to show proper respect to a noble in this rural district.” Pan muttered something under her breath. “Anyway, this is a great time of peril for the Kuno estate. I am in dire need of aid from my beloved!”
The elder man looked down at her. “You still haven’t stated what the problem is.”
“It’s that vile woman that has taken residence in our estate! She’s a living terror! Wherever she goes, disaster follows her like a humanoid typhoon!” Kodachi was almost in tears. “The distinguished Kuno estate will be destroyed if she is allowed to remain!”
Ranma cocked his head. “Who?”
“Mihoshi.” Tenchi, Ayeka, Ryoko, Washu, and Katsuhito all stated in unison.
“That’s the name of that accursed menace.” Kodachi clenched her fists. “I’ve tried to expel her from the grounds several times, but my fool brother is so taken with her that he refuses to believe that she could be the cause of the structural damage to our manor.”
Pan smirked. “Yeah, Kuno always did have a problem accepting reality.”
Katsuhito put his hand to his chin and nodded. “I think it’s time we retrieved Mihoshi. She has been neglecting her Galaxy Police work.”
“How do you know?” Pan asked.
“Her ship is still under repair in Washu’s lab from the last time she crashed coming home from her last patrol.” He turned to Ranma. “Besides, it’s been awhile since you all visited your parents.”
Ranma and Akane gave him withering looks. “There’s a reason for that.” The youngest Tendo deadpanned.
“I’d like to see where you two come from.” Tenchi commented from the side.
Ryoko teleported in behind him, draping an arm over his shoulder. “Hey! Wherever Tenchi goes, I go.”
“I’d love to see your home Akane.” Ayeka graciously bowed to her, glaring at Ryoko from to the side.
Akane turned to Ranma. “You know that if we show up together, our dad’s will force us back into our engagement, don’t you?”
“I know that.” He responded. “Any ideas?”
“I’ll stay here and keep working on my cooking with Sasami. That will keep their protests down.” She turned to Katsuhito. “Are you going?”
He nodded his head. “A trip would be great. It’ll be a nice vacation.”
Pan cracked her knuckles. “Yeah, I guess visiting Kuno could be therapeutic. Besides, someone has to keep the old pervert in line.”
“Then you’ll all help me!” Kodachi clapped her hands together. “I’ll make sure you are all suitably fed for the aid you render to the Kuno estate.” And maybe make sure that I capture Ranma-Sama while he’s in my home!