The sun rose over the Japanese countryside casting a red shade to everything the light touched. The cherry blossoms were falling from the trees, lending a sweet smell to the air. The birds were singing their morning songs and all was well with the earth. The only other thing that could be heard was the impact of flesh on flesh.
“C’mon, Tenchi! You’ve got to be faster than that!”
Ranma and Tenchi were sparing on the section of Masaki Shrine dedicated to the training in Jurian Kenjutsu. It’s a piece of land with the trees and grass cleared away with several wooden pegs sticking out of the ground. The two combatants leapt from peg to peg while simultaneously trying hit each other, Tenchi with his bokken and Ranma with his fists. Of course the reality of the situation was Ranma was hitting and Tenchi was trying.
Ranma ducked under another blow from Tenchi’s wooden sword and landed an open hand strike to Tenchi’s knee, causing him to spin and catch his footing while Ranma came up behind him. “I can feel you’ve got a lot of power. Where is it?”
Tenchi was breathing hard while he was trying to catch up with the pigtailed martial artist. “It’s not like your power.” He made a quick turn, swinging his sword around in a wide arc at Ranma’s stomach level.
Ranma shot up in the air, flipped over using Tenchi’s head as a pivot, and landed behind the other black-haired boy. “How so?”
Tenchi stabbed backwards at Ranma, who easily sidestepped the blow. “I can’t call it up at any time. It has to be in dire need.”
Ranma hit Tenchi with a low leg sweep, sending the youngest Masaki flying off the pegs. “Well, you need to learn how to use it dependably. Otherwise it’s a useless power.”
Tenchi landed unceremoniously on his rump. He slowly got back to his feet. “It’s helped me out of a lot of jams. It’s not useless.”
Ranma put up a hand up and wrapped his fingers inward, motioning Tenchi to come back to the match. “You have to be able to use all your abilities to their fullest at any given moment. What would you do if you were hit suddenly, without warning?”
Tenchi stepped on a pair of pegs along the perimeter and dropped into a stance with the point of his bokken pointing to Ranma’s eyes. “What do you mean?”
Tenchi stared wide-eyed at what used to be the blade of his sword. “Ah, I see…” He tossed the handle aside while Ranma lowered his hand. “I’ll, uh, go get another sword.” Tenchi turned to leave.
Tenchi turned back around. “What?”
“Fight me without a sword.”
Tenchi big sweated. “Uh, I really need a sword.”
Ranma shook his head. “You need to learn how to fight without a weapon if you really want to be effective. You learn the moves without a sword. Then, when you have a sword, it’s just an extension of your body, and not a foreign object in your hands. It’ll also make you less dependent on the sword. C’mon and give it a whirl.”
“Yes, Tenchi, why don’t you?”
Tenchi jumped and turned to see his grandfather standing behind him. “Grandpa! I didn’t hear you!”
Katsuhito smiled at his young charge. “Ranma’s right. You’ve grown much too dependent on your sword. Ranma seems perfectly willing to help you with your unarmed martial arts.”
Tenchi rolled his eyes. “Perfectly willing to beat the crap out of me.”
Katsuhito smiled. “Like I ever treated you any different.” He emphasized his point by slapping Tenchi on the small of the back toward Ranma.
Tenchi stumbled a bit before getting his footing on the pegs. He dropped into a sloppy stance. “Okay.”
Ranma shook his head. He helped Tenchi get his hands into a reasonable position to defend himself. He stepped back and put his hands behind his back. “Try it now.”
“Kiai!” Tenchi lunged forward towards Ranma, who just stepped aside.
Ranma pushed Tenchi’s outstretched hand with a single finger. Tenchi stumbled forward. “Remember. You don’t have a sword. You can’t over commit like that. Don’t strike until I am within your reach. Try again.”
Tenchi jumped to another set of pegs and carefully stepped from peg to peg, circling Ranma.
Ranma matched his movements and smiled. Ranma was reminded of the events that had happened over a year ago. The fateful day that he and his pops were fighting on pegs much like these, except they were bamboo and much, much taller. Of course there was the small matter of cursed springs…
Ranma waited for Tenchi to come into range and gave him an opening to his head. Tenchi took the obvious bait. Ranma caught the punch and twisted Tenchi’s arm over, causing him to lean backward. The pigtailed martial artist let go and stepped back, leaving Tenchi to stumble around until he found his footing again. “Here. Let me show you some things.”
Ranma gave Tenchi a few tips about hand-to-hand combat strategy. Katsuhito smiled warmly from the sidelines. Tenchi had been slacking in his training lately as well as not minding his unarmed skills. Of course there hadn’t been anything interesting happening since Tenchi’s great-grandparents had dropped by. He thought about the need for a crown prince on Jurai. Tenchi would fit the bill perfectly, but would he want to go? Did Katsuhito want to go for that matter? How many more generations would Azusa have to wait before he had a successor?
Katsuhito came back to reality just as Ranma was handing Tenchi his tail end once again. Despite having suffered such a humiliating loss, the boy was laughing. Ranma was laughing as well. It was so nice to have good-natured sparring going on again. It reminded him of his own training at the royal palace of Jurai long ago. He stepped forward. “Would you spar with me?”
Ranma gave him a cocky smile. “Sure, old man. Why not? But don’t go complaining if you break a hip or somthin’.” He dropped to a stance and clenched his fist, cracking his knuckles. “Let’s go.”
Katsuhito let a playful smile come over his face. He leapt to the pegs and landed without a sound with his hands behind his back. “Yes. ‘Let’s go’.”
After a few minutes, neither one had moved. Tenchi was sitting cross-legged to the side, leaning on his arm. “So are you going to fight, or what?”
Katsuhito tilted his head. “Aren’t you going to try something, Ranma?”
Ranma stayed in his stance. “I’ve spent a lot of time around old martial artists. One thing I’ve learned is to never misjudge or underestimate them. Besides, you challenged me. You get the first up.” He gave Katsuhito his trademark cocky grin.
The crown prince of Jurai gave the Saotome heir his trademark cocky grin. The only difference was that his looked like a sedate, knowing smile. “Very well.” He stared with a high feint followed by a low sweep. Ranma leapt aside to avoid it altogether and came back with a jab to the ribs. Katsuhito moved just enough for the blow to graze him and captured Ranma’s arm. With a small twist of the hips, Ranma went flying.
Ranma caught himself in mid-air and came back at him. The two began to exchange high-speed blows. Tenchi’s jaw hit the ground. He never imagined A) That Ranma could fly, and B) that either of the combatants were that fast. A few of the instants, Tenchi completely lost sight of them. They sped up even faster, and, after a flurry of blows, Ranma crashed through one of the trees in the surrounding tree line.
Ranma got up, rubbing his head. “Not bad, old man. I actually felt that!” He got a huge smile on his face. “Let’s go again!” He jumped back onto the pegs. The two started a match faster than the last.
Tenchi could tell at the brief instances that he could see his grandfather’s face that he was having the time of his life. The match went on until the history repeated itself, complete with another tree being cut down by a flying martial artist.
“Is this a private party, or can anyone join?”
Tenchi turned and started as he saw Pan standing there in her white gi. “Let’s have a match, okay?”
Tenchi scratched the back of his head. “I’m really pretty tired already. Ranma and I had a pretty intense session already.”
Pan leaned toward him. “We could have an intense session too.”
Tenchi took a step backward. “I…uh…well…uh.”
Pan heard a laugh over her shoulder. “Don’t come on too strong. You’ll scare the poor boy.” She spun around to see Katsuhito standing over her shoulder. “Maybe you’d like to spar with me?”
Pan rolled her eyes and waved her hand dismissively. “Nah. Wouldn’t want you to throw out your back or something.” She turned toward Ranma. “Yo, Ranma! Up for another round?”
From the middle of the leaves of the downed tree an arm raised with a hand with a thumbs up. “Same conditions as on Namek?”
Pan smiled. “You got it.”
Ranma drug himself out of the trees. “Round three.”
Tenchi stared slack jawed at the pigtailed martial artist. “How can you keep going like this? I’m beat after our session.”
Ranma shrugged. “This is nothing compared to my days when I was dead.”
Tenchi’s eyes went wide. “What?”
Katsuhito rubbed his chin. “The Dragonballs. Am I right?”
Ranma nodded his head. “How do you know about them?”
The proprietor of the Masaki shrine chuckled. “When you get to be my age you get to know a lot of things.”
Ranma shrugged. “Okay, whatever.” He dropped into a loose stance. “You ready to go Pan?”
Pan stepped onto a couple of the pegs and dropped into an offensive stance. “If you’re up to it.”
Ranma smiled and motioned for Pan to come at him. “Come get some.”
Pan charged forward with all her speed. Ranma blurred from sight before the blow could land. Then Pan blurred out as Ranma came back into view from above her. They traded a few more blows like that before shooting straight up into the air. They started moving faster than Tenchi could follow on the ground. His head jerked back and forth as he tried to follow the action, the action whose viewing was reduced to several small explosions of force as the two combatants collided.
Katsuhito watched with an approving smile on his face. They are both exceptional fighters, but it’s very obvious that Ranma is a much more skilled fighter, relying less on speed and power, and more on technique and strategy.
Tenchi was starting to get whiplash. “Are you following this, grandpa?”
Katsuhito chuckled. “Of course. I’ve seen this level of fighting before. Of course I haven’t seen it for many, many years. It was before you were born that the last epic battle occurred.”
Tenchi gave his grandfather a puzzled look. “Epic battle?”
Katsuhito nodded. “Before you were born there were several battles fought that decided the fate of the Earth. The last one occurred at the time of the 25th Tenkiachi Budoukai. The part of the battle I was able to see was a battle between two amazing fighters named Goku and Vegeta.”
Tenchi scratched his head. “But didn’t Mr. Satan win that one?” His grandfather nodded. “So why was this other fight so much better if neither one of them won the whole thing?”
Katsuhito laughed. “Don’t be fooled by the media. There are much stronger warriors than Mr. Satan in the world. In fact you’re more powerful now than he ever was.”
“But only when I use the lighthawk wings.” Tenchi sighed.
A knowing smile played across the elder’s lips. You are much more powerful without them, than he ever was. You would think with all the women around him he wouldn’t have confidence issues.
“It doesn’t matter how powerful you are to me, Tenchi…” Ryoko teleported in behind Tenchi and draped her arms around him from behind. She turned her index finger in small circles on his chest. “I like you just the way you are. What say we ditch these people and go for a real workout?” She purred the last question into his ear.
Tenchi stiffened and started to sweat. “I…I don’t think…”
Ryoko turned him around to face her. “Don’t think. Just do.” She leaned in toward him.
“Get away from Tenchi-Sama!” A bolt of Jurian energy lashed out and struck Ryoko, sending the cyan-haired space pirate flying. Ayeka charged in from the side, wearing her usual Jurian robes.
Ryoko smoothed out her pink and blue outfit. “Why don’t you go and play somewhere else, little princess? Tenchi and I were discussing adult matters.”
Ayeka clenched her fists at her side. “RYOKO!!! How many times have I told you to stay away from Tenchi-Sama?!”
Tenchi slapped a hand over his eyes and shook his head. The same thing happens every morning…
Ryoko walked over and grabbed Tenchi’s free arm. “C’mon, Tenchi. Let’s leave the little princess behind and do some ‘improper’ things!” Ryoko started to tug him away from the training ground.
Ayeka pulled Tenchi’s other arm free and hauled on it in the opposite direction. “Tenchi’s not going with you!”
Above, the two combatants were headed full tilt at one another, when Pan put on the brakes and held up her palm in the universal, ‘stop’. “Hold on a sec, Ranma. I need to take care of something.” She turned and shot toward the ground.
Ranma looked confused and looked where she was heading. “Ah crap!” He shot down after her. “Stop! You’ll kill’em Pan!”
Pan ignored him and swooped down and snatched Tenchi from both the girls’ grasps. She turned and fired a Ki bolt between where the two girls were standing. Ayeka brought up her shield, while Ryoko shot up into the air after Pan. She fired a blast of her own that struck Pan in the hand, causing her to drop Tenchi.
The fight continued as Ranma flew in, caught Tenchi, and took him away from the battle and put him down beside Katsuhito. He turned to go and put a stop to the nonsense, but the elder restrained him. Ranma turned to him. “Why’re you stopping me? We’ve got to stop this!”
Katsuhito shook his head. “Take some advice from an old man. The only meaningful things you can bring to a catfight are popcorn and a soda. It’s safer if we just let them fight.”
Ranma rolled his eyes. “Safer for us you mean.”
The proprietor nodded. “Exactly.”
Ranma thought a second. “Y’know…a lot of the injuries in my life could have been avoided if someone had told me that a long time ago.”
Katsuhito smiled. “Wisdom comes with age and experience. So just sit back and enjoy.”
About that time Akane walked up behind Ranma. She was shocked to see the girls going back and forth, hurling punches and energy blasts. She took a step forward, but Ranma restrained her. She turned to her fiancé. “What are you doing? We have to stop this?”
Ranma smiled. “We can’t.”
“Ranma no Baka!” WHAM! Akane put her hammer away and stormed off back toward the house.
Ranma stood back up and rubbed his head. He turned to Katsuhito. “Any sage-like advice for that?!”
Katsuhito scratched his chin in a thoughtful posture. “There is an old saying: Keep your words tender and sweet for tomorrow you may have to eat them.”
Ranma cocked an eye. “Okay.”
“Also: Tis better that I keep my mouth shut and have people think me a fool, then me to open my mouth and remove all doubt.”
“So what are you trying to say?”
Tenchi put a hand on Ranma’s shoulder. “I think he’s trying to say you should think about what you are going to say, or else don’t say anything at all. Right, grandpa?” The elder nodded. “Come on, Ranma. Sasami should have breakfast ready by now. Her food is always delicious!”
Ranma patted his stomach. “Now you’re talking! I guess if you’ve seen one catfight, you’ve seen them all.” The two boys started walking toward the house.
Katsuhito followed behind them. “Besides, I need my popcorn and soda…”
Back at the clearing, completely oblivious to the outside world, the three girls were panting hard and facing each other in a triangle. Pan crouched with her hands to her side. “Ready to give up?” She powered up a Kamehameha between her palms.
Ryoko held up her right hand and gathers ambient energy into a red glowing ball in front of her. “Not even, little girl!”
Ayeka brought her wooden pegs around her and charged up for a blast. “I’ll show you both! Tenchi-Sama is mine!”
Ranma and the others were halfway up the hill to the house when the valley behind them exploded in a brilliant globe of energy. Ranma and Tenchi stopped and covered their eyes, while Katsuhito kept on walking like it happened everyday (only because it usually did).
Later the girls were all taking a bath in the huge semi-sphere that floated above the Masaki shrine. Most of the girls were lounging in the bath enjoying themselves, but Ayeka, Ryoko, and Pan were all trying to wash themselves while trying to avoid the burnt and bruised sections of skin. Pan’s arm ached as she tried to wash her back. She finally gave up after the third try. “Akane, can you wash my back for me?”
Akane had almost fallen asleep from the relaxation that the bath was giving her. “Sure thing. Turn around.” Pan turned and leaned forward to allow more access to her back. Akane looked her over. “You got pretty burned out there.” She looked a little closer. “What’s this scar down here?”
Pan turned her head. “Where?”
Akane poked the scar at the small of Pan’s back. “This one.”
“Oh. That was my tail.”
Everyone looked at her. “YOUR TAIL?”
Ryoko leaned back against the side of the large bath. “So she has a tail. Big deal.” Her own tail poked out of the water and waved back and forth.
Mihoshi walked over and looked at it, tripping into the water and then picking herself up. “That had to have hurt! How long ago did you lose it?”
“It was amputated when I was born.” Pan said nonchalantly.
Ryoko’s tail stiffened up. “Why would you let your parents cut your tail off? What kind of parents would do that to their kid?”
Pan chuckled. “The kind that don’t want King Kong to visit every time the moon is full.”
“Huh?” Everyone was really confused at this point.
“Well, we Saiya-Jin have this problem. Whenever we look at a full moon we transform into a giant ape and rampage all over the countryside. My dad was the last one to do it, and he toppled a few mountains in his wake.” Pan started washing her hair. “Akane, you going to wash my back?”
Akane was still shocked from the statements that her friend had just spoken. “S-Sure.” She started carefully washing Pan’s back. “Do you really turn into an ape?”
“Only when I have a tail, but my parents made sure it would grow back. So you guys don’t have anything to worry about.”
Ryoko stroked her still stiff tail, trying to calm down. “It’s all right. I’ll never cut you off.” The tail looked unconvinced.
A storm was furiously beating against a small village on the eastern seaboard of China. The trees were bending over almost to the ground. Some people were screaming and running for cover. Others were trying to board up their houses from the deadly weather. Amidst all the chaos, the clouds began to swirl overhead. Red lightning arced outward while a black hole formed in the center. A large figure fell from the center. He dropped to the ground and landed in a three-point stance. He skin was dark and his ears were pointed. He watched the people flee from his imposing visage. He laughed a dark laugh as they ran in terror. He lifted a hand and let loose a huge Ki bolt, killing several of the villagers. He laughed some more. “Earth. I’ve finally made it back to Earth. Now they will all pay for what they did to me and my star!” He walked confidently inland, leaving a swath of destruction in his wake.
The winds calmed down, and the surviving villagers came out of their hiding places. They began to breath a sigh of relief when the storm started once again. They fled in panic at the thought of an even more terrible monster coming from the mouth of the storm.
The sky opened up once more and three figures dropped gracefully to the ground. The first one stepped forward and took a look around. He was a boy about fourteen with a long black hair trailing down his back done in an elaborate braid. He was dressed in an orange pullover gi and black pants that laced around the waste and ankles. “He came through here all right. There’s no mistaking it. We got to find him before he consumes this world, wherever we are.”
The second closed his eyes and concentrated. He was around the same age as the first boy, but he was green with antennae and pointed ears. He was dressed in a black muscle shirt with blue billowing pants. “We’re back on Earth, but it’s the past. He has managed to get enough power to time travel. We have to be very careful.”
The first boy turned to the Nemekian. “How can you be sure?”
The green man opened his eyes and looked at him. “I can feel my presence here, still joined with another. We’ll need more information to find out exactly where we are. He may have reached his goal.”
The third was a girl around thirteen years old with long black hair hanging loosely down her back. She immediately latched onto the first boy’s arm. She wore a red sleeveless shirt that was drawn tight around her shoulders and a tan skirt that went down to just above her knees. It was obvious that she was wearing a pair of black shorts under the skirt that reached down to the same length as the skirt. “I’m scared, Hatsumi. How can we stop him if he’s reached his goal?”
“I don’t know, Ryeka. I don’t know, but I don’t give up easily. I’m going to stop that monster if it’s the last thing I do.”
The Nemekian snorted. “It just might be if we keep going at the rate we’ve been going.”
The boy glared at the green man. “Make one mistake and you’re branded for life. How could I know that he could open a time portal?”
The alien smiled. “Just be careful. I want to live to see adulthood again.”