Chapter Three

“No Need for Ninjas”

 

            Ranma sat at the top of the stairs in front of the Masaki shrine.  He looked down on the valley below and watched the mist come off the lake and the birds flying around the trees around it.  The scene was very serene, peaceful, and most especially beautiful.  Ranma leaned back on his arms and took in the peace.  He knew it wouldn’t last.

 

            He took one look into the sky.  “Three…Two…One…”

 

            KA-BOOM!!!

 

            He looked down at the Masaki house and the hole blasted in the kitchen wall.  “Just like clockwork.  You’d think after a week of intense training she’d learn something more than boiling water.  Or at the very least, how NOT to destroy a kitchen.”

 

            Tenchi walked up and sat down beside him.  “How can one girl be that bad at cooking?”

 

            Ranma shrugged.  “Beats me.  Actually I know two girls that are that bad.”

 

            Tenchi looked at him.  “Who?”

 

            “One of Akane’s friend’s, Tsukino Usagi, is about as bad as Akane when it comes to cooking.  Both of them got kicked out of an academy because they blew up the kitchen.”

 

            “Okay, I’ll revise my question.  How can TWO girls be that bad at cooking?”

 

            Ranma shrugged.  “Beats me.  So when is Sasami going to have lunch ready?”

 

            “Around half an hour after Washu regenerates the kitchen.  It’s a good thing you warned us about how bad she was so Washu could whip up a machine to fix the kitchen so fast.”

 

            Ranma nodded.  “Yup.  Who woulda thought that you could backup a kitchen?”

 

            Tenchi smiled.  “Or restore from a backup.  Washu is really amazing when it comes to gadgets.”

 

            “You think she could make something for dojos?”

 

            “She probably could.”

 

            “Of course I can, I’m the greatest genius in the UNIVERSE!!!”

 

            The two boys jumped and spun around in midair to look at the little red-haired girl standing behind them.  Tenchi landed in a crouch.  “Did you want something, Washu?”  Washu put her hands on her hips and glared at Tenchi.  Tenchi nervously chuckled.  “Oh sorry, Washu-Chan.”

 

            Her face brightened up.  “I’m actually here to collect Ranma for today’s tests.”

 

            Ranma started backing down the steps.  “I, uh, really, uh, don’t think we need to do that again.”

 

            Washu started walking after him, matching him step-per-step.   “It’s for scientific advancement.”

 

            Ranma quickened the pace.  “Are all those things really necessary?”

 

            “Of course!”

 

            “Even the probes?”

 

            “Yup!”

 

            A chill ran down Tenchi’s spine.  He hated the probes.  “Washu-Chan, why don’t you give Ranma a day off?  It’s been a week and you still haven’t figured his curse out yet.  Maybe if you took some time off you could figure it out.”

 

            Washu stopped and gave Tenchi a victory sign.  “Don’t worry!  I will figure this out.  I will never give up!”

 

            Ranma’s face tensed up.  “Well, I hear Akane calling me!”  He turned to fly away, only to be caught in an energy net.  “What the?”

 

            Washu was grinning from ear to ear.  “That’s only my new invention.  Guaranteed to keep anyone, anywhere, from anything.  This thing can even keep people from being yanked to other dimensions.”

 

            Ranma’s shoulders fell.  “Gee, what a nice thought.”

 

            Washu winked at him.  “Of course.  It was my thought.”  She turned to one of the bushes.   “Come along, time to go do some tests.”  She walked back toward the house and a little machine that looked like a fax machine with feet followed her.  It was dragging along the energy net with the pigtailed martial artist inside.

 

            Ranma just floated in the air in the lotus position while resting his elbow on his knee and his chin on his palm.  “The things I do for science, and I never even liked school!”

 

            Tenchi shook his head and watched Ranma being drug to his tests.  “Look at the bright side!  At least she isn’t looking to have your kid.”

 

            “Yet.”  Ranma muttered under his breath.  He knew his luck with women.

 

            Tenchi watched the unhappy martial artist being carted away. “Poor guy.  Know how he feels.”  He suddenly felt an extra pair of arms.  A quick look behind him confirmed his suspicions.  “Ryoko!”

 

            Ryoko was hugging him from behind and making purring noises as she nuzzled her nose into the back of Tenchi’s neck.  “Ten-Chi.”  She was keeping her voice low and seductive.  “It’s time for our daily quality time.”

 

            Tenchi raised an eyebrow.  “We’ve never had a ‘daily quality time’.”

 

            Ryoko smiled her feral grin.  “All the more reason to start!”

 

            “Ryoko!  Get your hands off of Tenchi-Sama!”

 

            “Both of you stay away from him!”

 

            Tenchi’s head fell to his chest.  Not again.  How many times can they keep doing this?  “Can’t you guys take a day off from this, please?”

 

            Pan had Ryoko’s throat in one hand her other poised for a strike.  Ayeka was behind her pulling Pan’s head back by her hair.  All three of the girls froze in position and turned their heads to Tenchi.  “No.”  They all said matter-of-factly, and then resumed their fight.

 

            Tenchi shook his head and walked back over to where his grandpa was sitting on a log watching the festivities, complete with popcorn and soda.  He took a long drag on his straw.  “So, Tenchi.  Have you put any thought into which one you want to marry?”

 

            Tenchi shook his head.  “Not really.  I don’t want to hurt any of them, and plus I don’t want any of them hurting me.”

 

            Katsuhito shoveled a handful of popcorn into his mouth.  “Well, there’s always another alternative.”

 

            Tenchi looked at him with a desperate hope in his eyes.  “What?”

 

            The old man smiled.  “You could go to Jurai and marry them all.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have three women at once?”

 

            Tenchi cringed.  “Having three women…all fighting with each other…forever?  NO WAY!”

 

            Katsuhito shrugged and took another sip from his soda.  “It’s just a thought.”

 

            “Dirty old man.”

 

            “I’ve been called worse.  Why aren’t you training?”

 

            “Ranma’s been drug off to Washu’s lab again.  You know how long that will take.”

 

            The elder nodded his head.  “Well, then you can be working the fields.  You can’t just sit around all day.”

 

            Tenchi gave him a speculative glance.  “So what are you doing all day?”

 

            Katsuhito smiled.  “Why, watching the main event of course.”

 

            Tenchi rolled his eyes.  “Of course.”  He got up and walked down the steps of the shrine.  He was stopped suddenly as he felt the tip of a wooden blade being held to his throat.  He turned his eyes to see a boy with a blue gi shirt and a black hakama.

 

            “Excuse me, but do you happen to know if one Saotome Ranma is staying here?”

 

            “Uh, yeah.”

 

            “What of the virtuous Tendo Akane and the fiery pigtailed girl?”

 

            “Yup, they’re here too.”

 

            The boy threw up his hands and shouted to the heavens.  “At last, I’ve found them!  The foul sorcerer’s hold on the loves of my life will be shortly broken by me Kuno Tatewaki, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High!”  A bolt of lightening went off behind him.

           

            Tenchi sweatdropped.  “So, what do you plan on doing here?”

 

            Kuno struck a dramatic pose.  “I ‘plan’ to defeat the vile Saotome and take back the two loves of my life which he has hidden away from me for almost the entire past year.”  He put his hand over his eyes.  “Oh, the horror that has befallen virtuous Akane and my fiery pigtailed goddess!  The vile Saotome has no doubt taken their innocence by force, and it is up to I, blue thunder, to free them.  He may separate us by distance, but he cannot separate our hearts!”

 

            Tenchi was developing a permanent sweat drop.  “Uh, okay.”

 

            “Does that mean you’ve forgotten about me?” A hopeful voice came from the side.

 

            Kuno turned to see Pan standing aside, arms akimbo.  “Of course not, beauteous Pan.  I shall save you as well from the evil Saotome!  Embrace me, so that you may be free!”  He charged at her, arms outstretched.

 

            Pan opened up her palm and thrusted it toward Kuno.  The force from the air pressure sent him flying through a couple trees.  Hit struck the third and slid down the trunk.  Pan turned and smiled at Tenchi.  “That’s how you deal with that pompous airbag.  Now, that we were on the subject of dating.”  She grabbed his arm and started to drag him away.  “We better hurry!”

 

            “PAN!!!”  The shouts of Ryoko and Ayeka came from behind as well as several energy bolts.

 

            Akane came out of the house in time to see Pan dragging Tenchi across the field with the two aliens close behind.  She sweatdropped and thanked her lucky stars that Shampoo, Ukyou, and Kodachi had not been superpowered.  She sighed and looked around for Ranma.

 

            “Miau!”

 

            Akane turned to see Ryo-Oki sitting beside her.  She smiled and scratched behind her ears.  “Do you know where Ranma is?”

 

            The cabbit nodded enthusiastically and began to lead her away.

 

            “Hold right there!  I’ll save you from the vile demon, virtuous Akane!”

 

            Akane froze in place.  It can’t be.  Not here, not now.  She turned to see Kuno standing there in his usual garb.  Why can’t he just leave us alone?  “Go away, Kuno.”

 

            “Ah, I see how you have missed me these past months.  I also see that thy beauty has not diminished in the least.”  He brought his sword up.  “Where is the vile Saotome, so that I might smite him down?”

 

            Akane shook her head.  She felt a very large headache coming on.  “Kuno, you couldn’t beat him before, and you certainly can’t beat him now.  Just go away and leave all of us alone.”

 

            He struck a dramatic pose.  “NEVER!  Not while you, the pigtailed goddess, and Pan are still under his power!  I will chase the foul sorcerer to far ends of the earth if need be!  Besides, I have brought allies to aid me.  Sasuke!  Tanaka!  Come forth!”

 

            Out of the concealment of the shadows of nearby bushes popped two figures.  One was the diminutive ninja, Sasuke, Kuno’s personal servant.  The other was dressed in the same garb as Sasuke, but was much taller and had a large Katana in the folds of his belt.  Sasuke stepped forward and bowed to Kuno.  “We are here to serve!  My kinsman is the mightiest ninja in the land.   He will deal with Saotome without even breaking a sweat.

 

            Tanaka bowed slightly, but did not take his eyes off of anyone present.

 

            Inside Washu’s subspace lab, Ranma was strapped to another operating table and stripped down to his boxers.  Man, if Akane saw me now, I’d never feel the end of it.  Suddenly he sneezed and simultaneously got a migraine.  Oh great, Kuno’s here.  “Hey Washu!  I need to go!”

 

            Washu was sitting on an energy chair typing on a computer in mid-air.  She was wearing a rather bulky helmet with large screens where her eyes should be.  “Why?  What could be more important than science?”

 

            “An old nuisance decided to drop by.  I need to deal with it.”  Ranma strained at the table restraints.

 

            Washu shrugged.  “Okay, just come right back when you’re finished.”  She snapped her fingers and the restraints released.

 

            “Thanks!”  Ranma flew off to the portal.

 

            Washu looked at her watch.  Any second now…

 

            Ranma came back.  “Uh, where’s my pants?”

 

            Outside things had slowly degraded.  Akane had about a millimeter left on her fuse and it was burning quickly.  “I said, GET OUT OF HERE!”  She fired a small Ki blast at Kuno.  Not enough to hurt him, but enough to send him flying.

 

            Tanaka intercepted the blast with his sword and sent the Ki ball flying to the side.  “Even though he loves you, you are not allowed to harm him.”  He brought his katana forward.  “The honor blade of our clan will show you that none may oppose my will.”  The blade almost seemed to glow.

 

            “Nice sword you got there, buddy.  Bet it comes in handy when you need a midnight snack.”

 

            Tanaka turned to see a boy dress in a Chinese style red shirt and black kung-fu pants.  “You must be the sorcerer Saotome.”

 

            Ranma smirked.  “And you must work for Kuno.”

 

            The ninja brought the sword back and brought it to a position where it was chambered in his shoulder and pointed straight up.  “My name is Tanaka.  Remember it, for it is the name of your destroyer.”  He charge forward and swung the sword in a wide arc.

 

            Ranma ducked and rolled away from the blow.  He came back to his feet and leapt at the back of his assailant.   Tanaka turned and swatted him away with the flat of his blade.  He made a quick slashing motion, and then came back to a ready posture.

 

            Ranma dropped into his stance just as the front of his shirt flopped open.  He had a large cut in his shirt from his shoulder to his hip.  “What the?”

 

            Tanaka smiled.  “Fool.  The honor blade will deal with you.  It hungers for your soul!”  He came back in for another blow.

 

            “No more mister nice guy.”  Ranma growled.  He raised his hand and let loose a Ki blast.  Tanaka knocked it away and used the motion to swing at Ranma again.  Ranma disappeared from sight and the ninja caught nothing but air.  Ranma appeared behind him and grabbed the ninja’s shoulder.  His grab was met with a blade coming at his stomach.  He barely managed to step aside and avoid getting gored.  “What’s with this guy?”  As he had paused to think, another slash came for his throat.  He kicked out and rolled back to his feet.  “Time to finish this. HAH!”  Ranma’s aura flared up, and condensed it down to a form of Ki armor.  The sword came around again, but stopped when it hit Ranma’s arm.  Ranma just looked down at the sword that has stopped millimeters from his skin.  “Play time’s over.  Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken!”

 

            Ranma lashed out with the chestnut fist, only to be met at every strike with the ninja’s blade.  Tanaka changed tactics and shifted around, using the blade like a crowbar and throwing Ranma aside.  Ranma landed it easily, only to have one of his legs swept out from under him.  He fell on his back with the ninja’s sword stuck at his throat.

 

            Tanaka smiled.  “Now you die.”  He pulled the sword up for the final over hand blow.

 

            Ranma closed his eyes and concentrated on strengthening his aura.  He waited for the coming blow.  After a few seconds and no strike, he heard snoring.  He blinked a couple times and looked at Tanaka.  He was asleep in final strike position.

 

            “Damn!”  Sasuke swore.  “I thought he was over that.”

 

            Akane looked at the dwarf ninja.  “Over what?”

 

            “His narcolepsy.  Every time he gets overly excited he falls asleep.”

 

            Everyone facefaulted. 

 

            Ranma got up and dusted himself off.  He snorted.  “Great, a narcoleptic ninja.  Time to wake up, buddy.”  He put his open palm against the sleeping ninja’s chest and angled it upward.  “Sayonara sucker.”  He launched a Ki blast into the ninja, sending him flying into the distance.  “Now to deal with one more annoyance.”  He turned to face Kuno and cracked his knuckles.  “I’m going to enjoy this.”

 

            Kuno brought his Bokken ready.  “The vengeance of heaven is quick, but sure.  I will smite thee down …URK!”

 

            Kuno’s speech was brought to an abrupt end as he was run over by Tenchi fleeing from his three admirers.  “Uh, sorry.”  He got up and started to run again.

 

            The Kendoist got up with an annoyed look on his face.  “Hold there, cretin!”  Tenchi stopped and pointed to himself.  Kuno nodded.  “It is very rude to knock down a member of nobility and not apologize properly!”

 

            Tenchi scratched his head.  “Uh, how do you do that?”  He had apologized to Ayeka all the time.  He never usually had to do anything more than say he’s sorry.

 

            Kuno stood up proud.  “You have to kneel, bow, and beg for my forgiveness.”

 

            Tenchi got a ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ look on his face.  “Um, I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.”

 

            Kuno was enraged.  “YOU DARE QUESTION BLUE THUNDER?!?!?!”  He pulled his bokken toward Tenchi.  “EN GARDE!”

 

            Kuno began striking wildly at the youngest Masaki.  “Tenchi!”  Tenchi looked to his left and his grandfather tossed him a bokken.  Tenchi grabbed the wooden blade out of mid-air.

 

            Kuno stopped and brought the tip of his blade forward.  “So you wish to duel the kendo champion of Furinkan High?”

 

            Tenchi stood in a wide stance with his sword held forward.  “You go it.”

 

            Ayeka put her hands to her cheeks.  “Oh my!  We have to help Tenchi-Sama!”

 

            “He’ll be fine.”  Ryoko and Pan said at the same time.  They gave annoyed glances at each other.

 

            Pan shrugged and walked over to Katsuhito.  “Share some of that popcorn, old man.  I know you got some on you.”  Katsuhito smiled and let her take a handful out of his bag.

 

            Meanwhile Tenchi had leapt in for a strike.  Kuno blocked and tried to force Tenchi back off of his feet.  Tenchi leapt back and went for a blow to Kuno’s knees.  Kuno stepped aside and blocked the blow.  The two fought back and forth a little while before finally coming to a rest in ready positions across from each other.

 

            Kuno harrumphed.  “I’ll admit you are good with a blade, but now it’s time for me to unleash my most deadly techniques.”

 

            Tenchi shrugged.

 

            Pan shook her head.  She elbowed Katsuhito.  “Shouldn’t Tenchi be better than that?”

 

            The old man nodded.  He cleared his throat, getting Tenchi’s attention.  “Stop going easy on him, Tenchi.”

 

            Tenchi looked at him.  “You sure?”  His grandfather nodded.  “Okay.”

 

            Kuno’s expression went from righteous anger to bloodthirsty fury.  “YOU DARE TO PRESUME THAT I AM A PITIFUL FIGHTER?  YOU THINK SO LITTLE OF MY SKILL WITH THE BLADE?”

 

            Tenchi shook his head.  “No, I just felt sorry for you because you’re an idiot.”

 

            Kuno brought his sword back.  “FEEL MY WRATH!!!  STRIKE!  STRIKE!  STRIKE!  STRIKE!”  Kuno went into his famous final assault.

 

            Tenchi held his ground as the trees around him began to take damage from the air pressure of the mad kendoist’s assaults.  Tenchi bided his time until Kuno was within striking distance.  Tenchi simply stepped aside and let Kuno go past.  He then launched into his own assault.  After a few quick jabs and slashes he stepped back.  “Had enough?”

 

            Kuno bought his sword up again.  “Never, uhhhh….”  He passed out.

 

            Tenchi smiled and rested his wooden blade on his shoulder.  “At least there’s someone around here I can beat.”

 

            Ranma smiled and clapped.  “Good job, Tenchi.  I would have been more impressed if you had done it unarmed.”

 

            Tenchi scratched the back of his head.  “Maybe after I’ve trained a bit more.”

 

            Katsuhito smiled.  “Let’s all go inside.   Sasami should have supper ready for us.”

 

            Pan looked at the empty bag of popcorn she had stolen from Katsuhito.  She shrugged and chunked it over her shoulder.  “Hey, a Saiya-Jin’s always hungry.”

 

            They all laughed and headed for the house.

 

            “Are you all right?”

 

            Everyone turned to see Mihoshi standing over Kuno.  Kuno blinked a couple times and looked at the woman standing over him.  “Oh what vision of beauty dost come into my view.  Tis the goddess herself, Aphrodite; hair like the golden wheat fields, skin as bronze as the finest statue.”

 

            She giggled.  “You say silly things!  I’m Mihoshi!”

 

            Kuno was immediately to his feet.  He presented her with a full bouquet of roses.  “Take this as a minor token of my affection.”

 

            Mihoshi took the roses and inhaled deeply.  “These smell great!”

 

            Kuno took her hand.  “You must date with me!”

 

            “Okay!” She accepted with a side-to-side motion of her head.

 

            Ranma’s stomach was starting to churn.  “I’ve got to put a stop to this.”  He took a step forward and was halted by Ryoko’s arm.  He gave her a questioning glance.

 

            Ryoko smiled an evil grin.  “You hate him don’t you?”

 

            Ranma shrugged.  “Yeah, why?”

 

            Ryoko’s smiled broadened.  “Trust me.  This will the best torture you could ever come up with.”

 

            Ranma turned to her.  “Aren’t you worried about her?”

 

            “Heh.”  She chuckled.  “If I were you, I’d worry more about that stick-wielding idiot than Mihoshi.  She’ll be back in a week, after she gets kicked out for destroying his house.”

 

            The pigtailed martial artist took a second to think about the horrors that he had faced in Kuno’s mansion.  “I can live with that.”

 

            About this time, Kuno was leading Mihoshi away.  Sasuke came up beside him and tugged at his sleeve.  “What about your other loves, master?”

 

            Kuno waved his hand in a dismissive gesture.  “Why settle for mere women when you can have the mighty Aphrodite?”

 

            Sasuke sweatdropped.

 

            Ranma laughed.  “Who would a thunk it?  All Kuno needed was a date and he’d leave us alone.”  He put his arm around Akane.  “Eh, ‘mere woman’?”

 

            Akane raised an eyebrow in an annoyed expression.  “Yes, who would have thought, ‘mere woman’?”

 

            Pan absently toyed with a ball of Ki in her hands.  “I think he still deserves something for that comment.”

 

            Ryoko laughed.  “Don’t worry.  He’s about to get all the punishment in the world.”