Author’s Notes: For those who are into the ‘Let’s Name The Amazons after Hygiene Products’ fetish, Jiejie and Xibao are not named like that. You’ll find out why later. Not to mention, Lin-Lin and Ran-Ran don’t follow that naming convention, so I see no reason to continue it. 

 

Timeline: The time setting for Ranma, as gets explained at one point in the story anyways, is after the Saffron/Failed wedding incidents. The Sailor Moon timeline is a bit flaky, due to most of my knowledge of it coming <as bad as this sounds> from other fanfics, but I’ve decided to set it after the last episode. It is for this reason that I have created my own ‘Evil Empire’ to use. That way I don’t step on any toes. <looks around and sees a toe… <STOMPSTOMPSTOMP>>

 

Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi is the greatest, but then again so is whoever did SM (My apologies for my poor memory). All Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon characters… as well as any other characters that belong to someone else belong to someone else, not me. I ain’t that good. Jiejie and Tian Huan are my own creations, as are Inago, Kaji, Sansai, and Fusei. And I apologize profusely for the Lovecraft quote. The man was a genius.

 

C&C: C&C is both welcome and desired greatly at dancingimp@yahoo.com. This is my first fanfiction work to make it past Chapter Half. Also, though I have certain things set in mind, I am willing to modify the story as it continues if it becomes necessary. If this story is located elsewhere, the original can be found at http://www.geocities.com/dancingimp. Thankies!

Big Thanks: To my prereaders/editors/mallet-wielders, James Thomas <who has written one of the best Dragonball Z/Ranma Half crossovers, http://www.provalue.net/users/heed452/fanfic>, and Greg Beauchamp. Thanks for the mallets to the head and red ink to the paper.

 

Chapter 1

“Oops.”

 

 

A world in the Negaverse

 

 

            A muddied human figure dragged itself across the blasted terrain. Cold, hate-filled eyes glared at the ruins around it as it pulled itself along. Craters and scorch marks pocketed the land as far as the being could see. “Kiematsu Rei… how long has it been since the accursed war that shattered the T’Kara Ri?” The voice was nothing like what a human throat should be able to produce. It sounded more like the beating of thousands of insectoid wings. Finding the stairs it was looking for, the figure walked down slowly. At the foot of the stairs, it found what had once been a hidden door, but was now blasted apart. Fearing the worst, the being stumbled into the room and saw its worst fears come true. The enormous statue it had been seeking was shattered into thousands of pieces. “Fusei, my lord… they have killed you.” Hate tore through the being, every limb shaking with pent-up rage. Slowly, a chuckle began to emerge. Soon it became a bloodchilling laugh. “But they do not realize the truth. That is not dead, which can eternal lie. And with strange eons, even death may die.” The horrible laugh echoed throughout the chamber, spilling out across the dead world.

 

 

 

Nerima district, around a year later

 

 

            Thunking sounds came from the guest room on the second floor of the Tendo home. A small gnome of a man wearing an old gi was rummaging through a chest that contained his second favorite collection. Various bathhouse toys clunked to the ground as he tossed them over his shoulders, mumbling to himself. The perverted founder of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts started to throw away one particular object, but something about it caught his attention. Looking closer, he saw that it was a scroll, an old one that he could only just remember picking up during his days at the Amazon village in China. He was about to toss it anyways when he heard something.

 

            “Read it,” a female voice seemed to whisper into his ear, or maybe his mind.

 

Happosai glanced around, but didn’t see anyone else and figured it was just his imagination. “It’s been a while since my last panty raid,” he mumbled to himself, “Must be time for another one.” He carefully opened the scroll and began reading the Chinese characters with only half of his attention. The rest was on imagining all the pretty young ladies whom he would be seeing that night.

 

            The scroll quickly got his full attention when he discovered that it’s purpose was to summon and bind a demon of the user’s choice. A wicked grin flashed across his features as he imagined just what kind of demon he would summon. “Oh boy! My own personal succubus to do as I please! Where do I begin?” His eyes devoured the symbols on the scroll as his grin widened. It was the last ingredient needed that shattered his mood. He would need a living victim of the Nyaanichuan to complete the spell. “Where am I going to find someone like that? Ranma moved out, and no one will tell me where he went? And he took Akane with him! How could he! How could he deprive his own master of the care and love of two gorgeous women! Well, I’ll just track him down. No one escapes from Happosai, Master of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts! No one!” He laughed in a frightening way while thunder rolled and lightning flashed. “But first, a night on the town!” He hopped out the window, scroll hidden safely inside his gi.

 

 

 

Juuban district, a few days later

 

            A young man by the name of Ranma Saotome sat next to a tree in the park that was at the center of Juuban University’s campus. Many other students were there, relaxing, studying, or any of a myriad of things that normal students do. Ranma sighed as he flipped through one of the books for his classes, then closed it and tugged on the pigtail that his black hair was bound into. His mother had pushed him to get a college degree and Nabiki had backed her up, commenting that having a degree would make it easier to raise the prices on classes once he took over the dojo. She also recommended he take some management classes, because she had no intention of sticking around forever to take care of the books. So, here he was studying Physical Education with minor studies in Business.

 

            Putting the book down, he leaned back against the tree and stared up at the leaves. Spring was in full bloom, and the cherry blossoms were quite beautiful. As he gazed at the blossoms, he thought about how nice it was that he didn’t have to worry about surprise attacks from certain people. That had been one of the conditions for going to school. Nabiki had promised to keep anyone but family from being able to find out where he and two of his fiancées, Akane Tendo and Ukyo Kuonji, had gone off to. Akane had been miffed that Ranma included Ukyo in the deal but he pointed out that Ukyo was already going to go to Juuban University for her own education and it would be a bit difficult to hide from her. He also pointed out that Ukyo was his best friend, even if she wanted something else, and best friends look out for each other. In the end, Akane agreed. Ukyo, of course, completely misinterpreted the act and thought she was getting closer to claiming Ranma for herself.

 

            Ranma picked up a cherry blossom that had fallen onto the front of his white-and-gold-trim, Chinese-style shirt and looked at it without really seeing it. He was remembering all the times that he had been relaxing just like this when some disaster would appear, typically in the form of a purple-haired Chinese Amazon, her overprotective and near-blind Amazon suitor, a loudmouthed and self-righteous samurai-wannabe, a leotard clad psycho with a thing for roses and poisons, or an umbrella swinging lost boy. With these thoughts in mind, it was no wonder that he leapt straight into the branches of the tree he was leaning on when he felt someone tap his shoulder.

 

            “A bit jumpy today aren’t we, Ranma?” Akane stifled a giggle but couldn’t hide her smile. Ranma looked down and started to let loose with an insult, but the smile stopped him cold. Since leaving the madness that was Nerima, he had seen that smile more and more, and he found himself really liking it. The sundress she was wearing made the smile even brighter and it took him a moment to get his brain back in gear.

 

            “Nah, just thinkin’.”

 

            “Careful,” she teased, “Your brain may start smoking.”

 

            “Oh, ha-ha.” He dropped down, landing lightly next to her. “Ready to go to lunch? Ucchan’s wanting to try out some new recipe she’s learned.” He leaned close and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper, “It’s not okonomiyaki this time.”

 

            Akane let out a light-hearted gasp. “Is the world ending? Has Nabiki forsaken money? Has Kuno gotten a brain?”

 

            Ranma smirked and couldn’t help it this time. “Has Akane learned how to cook?” He didn’t even try to dodge as Akane’s rather heavy bookbag slammed into his head and planted him into the ground.

 

            “Jerk.”

 

            Ranma picked himself up and smiled at Akane. She hadn’t hit him anywhere near as hard as she used to. Maybe the months away from the craziness of Nerima were finally letting her get a handle on her anger. She was almost likeable now. He looked up as he heard his name called and spotted Ukyo walking towards them, wearing a lovely dress instead of her normal androgynous cooking/fighting outfit, with a tray in her hands and a young man walking next to her with another tray. “Looks like Mamorou got drafted again,” Ranma commented.

 

            Akane huffed at first, but let her irritation fade when she caught the scent of food coming from the trays that were being carried towards them. She really wished she could cook that well, but most of her attempts ended in hospital visits. Ranma, Akane, and Mamorou sat down at a table in the park as Ukyo served them some interesting looking food, which was identified as some Italian dish. Everyone dug in, Ranma eating a little slower than he used to since his father wasn’t here to steal his food. While everyone else had switched to the utensils Ukyo provided, Ranma just used chopsticks and his fingers.

 

            “How’re ya adjustin’ ta classes here at JU, Mamorou?” Ranma asked around a mouthful of food. Akane elbowed his ribs at his lack of manners. Ranma glared back.

 

            “Fairly well. I’m getting used to the changes in instructors and teaching styles, but it’s set me back a bit. I still can’t figure out how so many gas lines can explode at the same time. If I didn’t know better, I’d blame sabotage for the destruction of my old school.”

 

            Ukyo smiled. “If we were in Nerima, I’d blame Ranchan and whatever jackass tried to come after him, typically that Ryoga character.” She pointed a fork at Ranma as she continued, “You two always did cause a lot of property damage, Sugar.”

 

            Ranma rolled his eyes, “It wasn’t my fault! He was always attacking me!”

 

            Akane looked at him. “If you would quit teasing him, maybe he’d stop fighting you.”

 

            Mamorou saw the direction the conversation was headed and tried to redirect it. “How are your classes going, Akane-san?” Mamorou asked as he finished off his meal.

 

            She turned away from Ranma before he could respond. “Well, Chiba-san, believe it or not I think that those medical courses I’m taking for my minor are helping me with my cooking.” Ranma wisely chose to heap another portion of food rather than his foot into his mouth. Mamorou and Ukyo both chuckled. “And the Phys. Ed. courses are interesting as well.”

 

Ranma was in the same Physical Education classes as Akane, but he found them anything but interesting. He knew most of it already. The only thing about the business classes that made them tolerable was the fact that, at least for this semester, he shared them with Ukyo. She would help him to grasp any concepts he missed and would fling the occasional sharpened pencil at him when he was under threat of snoring.

 

            As Akane and Mamorou continued chatting about classes, with Ukyo making the occasional comment, Ranma thought of how he had met Mamorou. He had been awakened, as had most of the Juuban district, the night that a mysterious accident had caused several gas lines to explode underneath the Azuma Institute of Technology. The fires had destroyed over half of the campus before being brought under control. As a result, most of the students had to transfer to other colleges, Mamorou choosing to come to Juuban University to stay near his girlfriend. Ranma frowned some as he considered the fact that he had never met this mystery girl, but shrugged it off.

 

Mamorou had transferred to JU at about the same time that Ranma, Akane, and Ukyo had started classes. An incident with Principal Kuno had caused them to have problems getting their records sent to JU so they had come in a bit after the start of the semester. The four had met while being shown around and something seemed to click between them. Mamorou was a good fencer with a flair for poetry. At first the former Nerima residents were afraid that he was another Tatewaki Kuno, but his manners and courtesy, as well as his sense of humor, proved to be vastly different from the crazed samurai-wannabe. The four hit it off pretty good and Mamorou had even begun sparring with them whenever they had free time together.

 

            “What about your job, Ranma-Honey? Still makin’ the kids happy?” Ukyo asked.

 

            Ranma nodded. He had started performing martial arts displays at birthday parties in order to get some extra cash. Naturally, all the kids were thrilled with him. The only drawback to the job was the fact that rambunctious kids were often splashing him, so he had needed to incorporate his gender shifting into the act. While allowing him to increase his rates, it was getting rather annoying with the way some of the parents stared at him, especially the single parents.

 

“Whoops,” Mamorou said as he glanced at his watch. “I have to get to class. Thanks for the great food Ukyo-san. I’ll see you all later!”

 

Ukyo waved goodbye to him, then began collecting the dishes. “I have to get going too, Ranma-Honey. See you later. You too, Akane-chan.” She walked off, smiling pleasantly at the fact that no one had barged in during the meal to challenge Ranma to a fight.

 

Akane waited till Ukyo was out of hearing range, then placed her hand on Ranma’s shoulder. “I have something I need to do too, but I wanted to drop by your room tonight. I’ve got a surprise for you.”

 

Ranma dreaded the thought that the surprise just might be some of Akane’s home cooking, but he put on a brave face. “Sure. I’ll be home around six or so. See ya then?” Akane nodded and Ranma headed off to his next class.

 

“It’ll be the best cake you’ve ever had,” Akane whispered as he left.

 

Ranma didn’t hear her, but a shudder inexplicably ran down his spine.

 

 

 

            Happosai stepped back in the room and examined his work. The complicated series of patterns placed just inside the door looked just like the scroll showed. “Soon, Ranma my boy, you will know what it means to anger the Master!” He cackled, then abruptly stopped as he sensed a presence behind him. Whirling around he found Ranma kneeling at eye-level with him, an open window in the room revealing how he had gotten in.

 

            “Do you mind telling me what the hell you think you’re doing here?” Ranma glared.

 

            Happosai smiled, his hands behind his back and reaching for something he had hidden there. “Why Ranma, my boy, I just wanted to give you a surprise.”

 

            Ranma’s eyes narrowed. “Uh-huh. Sure. And what would that be?”

 

            Happosai’s response was cut off by a knock on the door. “Ranma, it’s me. Akane.”

 

            Happosai’s face almost seemed to glow as the door opened to reveal his lovely Akane. “Sweeto!” He started to jump for her as she opened the door. Ranma’s foot planted into the back of his head forced him back to the floor as Akane stopped, a look of shock and disgust on her face. “Rrraannnmmmaaaaa!” Happosai growled, his eyes seeming to glow with fire. “Catch,” he muttered as he tossed something towards Ranma. The boy caught it easily and looked at it, recognizing it as one of Happosai’s bombs. Ranma quickly tossed the bomb out the window.

 

            Using his moment of distraction, Happosai struck Ranma’s out-stretched hand with his pipe and flung him in the direction of the diagram on the floor. His plan went perfectly until the moment that Ranma impacted on Akane, who had stepped around the unusual addition to the dorm room floor and was moving to grab the demented gnome. She fell back and Happosai’s eyes widened as he yelled, “No!”

 

            It was too late. Akane landed in the center of the design on the floor and the arcane symbols erupted with eerie light. Ranma covered his eyes at the initial flash, but managed to look on as the diagram began working its magic on the girl in its clutches. Akane’s body was rigid at first, her eyes wide as elemental energies began racing through her form. Before Ranma’s eyes, Akane’s body began to warp and bend, her features melting and reforming. When the glow finally faded, the girl’s body collapsed to the floor.

 

            “AKANE!” Ranma screamed and started forward, only to be thrown through the window by Happosai.

 

            “She’s mine!” the demented gnome yelled as Ranma went out the second story window. He stepped forward and waited.

 

            Slowly, the girl in the diagram rose to her feet and it was instantly obvious that she was not Akane any more. She had shrunk to a little over four-and-a-half feet in height and appeared to be in her mid teens. The muscles that played under her skin as she moved were far more defined than Akane’s. The sundress fell a bit, revealing small, oddly shaped scars over her chest and a particularly nasty set that crossed her throat. Her breast size seemed to stay the same, though. Her hair was still black, but it was wilder looking and tinted an auburn color.  Her eyes were alien as well, with gray irises and a hard, sharp look. Those eyes quickly locked on Happosai as the perverted master smiled at her.

 

            “Now, my dear, put this on,” he said as he tossed something to the girl. She caught it easily and stared at the object, a lacey bra. With a flick of her wrist, she sent it flying straight back into the gnome’s face. “What’dja do that for? I’m your master! If you don’t do what I say, I’ll never let you out of that diagram. What do you think of that? Ready to put this on?” He dangled the bra again.

 

            The diagram flared for a moment as the girl tried to step forward, then died down as she breached the seal. Happosai’s eyes widened and he took a step back, but not before the girl grabbed him by the collar. She slowly lifted him upwards, an unreadable expression in the eyes that were scant inches away from his. She whispered menacingly in an odd dialect of Mandarin Chinese, “<Who are you?>”

 

            “<I’m your master, Happosai of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts. How did you get out of the seal? No demon summoned from it should be able to break it.>”

 

            The girl’s eyes narrowed dangerously as she brought him closer, her grey eyes seeming to fill his entire world as they shifted from the unreadable expression to one of anger. “<You. Are. Not. My. Master.>” she whispered. A harsh growl built itself in her throat as one hand slipped around Happosai’s throat and began to squeeze. “<Send me back or know pain.>”

 

            Happosai began to realize just how much Akane’s interference had cost him. The spell had gone wrong and instead of summoning and binding a demon to him, it had gated in a creature that either was too strong to bind or somehow wasn’t affected by the seal. “<Sure, I’ll send you back. Just hold this.>” He handed her an odd looking ball. She stared at it without understanding for a moment, and then it exploded. Happosai used the concussion to tear himself free and take off running. “<Ta ta, sweeto!>”

 

            The woman picked herself off the floor and looked around for her target, but he was long gone. Growling deep in her throat, she picked up what was left of the scroll, which had fallen from his hands when she grabbed the pervert. The diagram was destroyed, but the part that described the ritual was still legible. She made motions to store it in her outfit when she seemed to notice what she was wearing for the first time. She stared for a moment, finally settling for using the bra as a holster for the parchment just as Ranma finished climbing back in through the window.

 

            “Akane?!” he asked the odd teenager, but the strange girl before him just glared. He stepped forward and the girl dropped into a combat stance that looked vaguely familiar. He took up a loose stance as well just as the girl came at him with a lunge kick, faster than anyone he had fought before. He dodged to the side and with a slight push assisted her exit through the window.

 

            He moved quickly to the window and looked down, but saw nothing. His danger sense kicked in and he dove forward and out the window in time to avoid the lethal kick aimed at his neck from the wall above. The girl dropped to the ground a bit away from where he was standing now. Watching her stance, he began to note similarities between it and Shampoo’s. ‘Ah, hell. Just what I need…  Another crazed Amazon… and where the hell is Akane?’ He posed that question to the girl as he tried to avoid noticing the fact that the dress she was wearing was not made for someone of her size, and that her chest was rather well developed for someone so young.

 

            Ranma could barely here her as she whispered in old, broken Japanese, “No know Akane. Where Tian?”

 

            “I don’t know any Tian, I just want to know where is Akane!”

 

The girl’s eyes narrowed as she suddenly came running toward Ranma with what he took to be a jump kick, but she suddenly changed into an odd roll that ended with a sharp upward kick to his chin. Ranma managed to roll with most of the force, but his jaw still hurt like hell. Whoever she was, she was a lot better than Shampoo. He hopped over a leg sweep, bringing his foot down towards her knee and forcing her to dodge backwards.

 

            The girl nodded her head once, as if acknowledging his skill. “I Jiejie Fenfen. Warrior. Amazon. Guardian. Demon Killer,” she said in that same quiet whisper.

 

            ‘Gigi?’ Ranma thought to himself. “I’m Ranma Saotome, master of the Saotome school of Anything Goes Martial Ar-“ His introduction was cut short as the girl gave a sudden hiss.

 

            “You with evil troll? Send back.” She came at him again and again. For the next few minutes Ranma was hard pressed to do more than dodge or block her attacks, only occasionally getting an opportunity to counter. He didn’t take them, though, finding himself unable to hit a girl, especially one so young, even if they were trying to kill him. With a shout of “Kachuu Tenshin Amaguri Ken”, he finally resorted to the Chestnut fist in order to give himself some room.

 

            Jiejie Fenfen’s reaction was not what he expected. Her eyes seemed to burn even brighter with anger and she suddenly shifted stances. She dove towards him and at the last moment struck the ground with a toe. Ranma bounded back, surprised when suddenly the ground exploded. He didn’t know the Bakusai Tenketsu could be done that way. He dodged the initial blast, but the water line that was underneath the impact zone didn’t. True to form, the water roared into the air and Ranma was unable to avoid it. He lost a bit of his height and gained quite a bit in the chest region. Parts of his clothing loosened and other parts tightened as the Jusenkyou curse shifted his body to that of a red-headed girl.

 

            Ranma started to retaliate when Jiejie Fenfen surprised him yet again. He could have understood if she had continued to press her attack, ignoring the shift, or if she had been shocked by his transformation. What she didn’t understand was the look of abject terror that came to her opponent’s face, especially in her eyes. The silent scream that the girl mouthed further confused Ranma as the warrior staggered backwards across the lawn until her back came to a wall.

 

            He began advancing cautiously towards her, but she just continued moving along the wall, never taking her eyes off of him until she found herself blocked into a corner. When he charged forward, she suddenly dropped into a ball and began whimpering. ‘What the hell is wrong with her?’ he wondered to himself. ‘Is that what I look like around cats? What could I have done to scare her like that.’ He checked behind him but could see nothing other than a few students looking curiously in his direction.

 

            He walked carefully over to the huddling girl and put a hand on her shoulder. The moment he touched her, she fainted. Confused as hell, Ranma picked her up and leapt back into the dorm room. Placing her on the bed and closing the door, he sat in a chair and stared at her, trying to figure out what he should do next.

 

“Dammit. Akane’s gone, that old pervert is involved, and this lady goes from being a kick-ass fighter to a screaming, fainting wimp with no reason. Why does this crap always happen to me?”

 

            He snuck into the dorm’s bathroom and got a glass of warm water, then tossed it over his head, shifting back to being a guy. When he came back to his room, the diagram had vanished. It was only then that he noticed the cake sitting on the table where Akane had put it just before…

 

            “Damn you, you little freak. What have you done this time?” he cursed. Now he had to figure out what to do. The girl had fought with an Amazon style and technique. “Cologne… even she wouldn’t consider helping Happosai, so I doubt she was behind this… but she might know something about what can be done.”  He grabbed a glass of water and dumped it over his head as he, now she, went to the unconscious girl. It would be less weird, he reasoned, if a girl was carrying another girl over the rooftops than if a guy was carrying a girl. With that thought in mind, he picked her up and began the trek back to Nerima and the Nekohanten.

 

 

           

Nerima district, a few hours later

 

            The dinner crowd was just slowing down. Shampoo moved efficiently, cleaning tables and getting the dining area ready for closing. The purple-haired Amazon did not bounce like she normally did. She had lost that liveliness a month after Ranma disappeared with his other two fiancées, leaving her behind. Mousse had tried to be consoling, but came off as overbearing as usual and she had to smash him over the head with her serving trays far too often. Her great-grandmother Cologne just watched her carefully and made sure she didn’t slack in her training. However, after a couple of months without Ranma, even Cologne’s attempts at motivation were beginning to fail. So it was no wonder that when a female Ranma came in carrying a strange girl over her shoulder, Shampoo ignored all the details and just tackled her airen with her new and improved Amazon Glomp.

 

            “Hi, Shampoo. The old ghoul around?” Ranma asked as she tried to unsuccessfully pry the purple-haired Amazon off of him.

 

            “Son-in-law, is that you?” came the old voice that set Ranma’s nerves on end. Oddly enough, Ranma had actually come to miss the people in Nerima, despite the threat of attacks, poisoning, or near-lethal training techniques. The old woman came pogoing out on her staff, her long white hair trailing behind her. He stood still as she poured a kettle of hot water over his head, changing him back to a boy, much to a very happy Shampoo’s delight.

 

            “Heya, Cologne. I gotta problem.”

 

            The Amazon Elder noticed the unconscious girl over Ranma’s shoulder. “And is this the problem?” she asked while pointing. “Or have you gotten a new fiancée.”

 

            “Gods, I hope not,” he muttered. “Three is more than plenty.” He placed her on a table as Cologne ordered Mousse to close the restaurant. “This crazy lady attacked me after Happosai apparently summoned her using some weird magical circle thingy. Akane got caught in it and then this lady appeared. Now Akane’s gone, Happosai’s run off, and I have no idea why she fainted.”

 

            “You say she was summoned? Can you describe the spell?” When Ranma shook his head, and successfully pried Shampoo off, Cologne hmmed. “Why did you bring her here, Son-in-law?” Shampoo moved over to examine the girl as if she had just noticed her.

 

            “Well, she used an Amazon fighting stance. She got pretty ticked off when I used the Kachuu Tenshin Amaguri Ken on her, and then she used the Bakusai Tenketsu on me. Didn’t know it could be done with a toe.”

 

            Cologne’s eyes narrowed. She knew every Amazon in the village, and this girl was not one she recognized. The facts that she knew two of the Amazon techniques and was fighting with an Amazon style were disconcerting. “Did she say her name?” she asked as she inspected the girl closer. There were few Amazons with hair as short as this one’s.

 

            “Yeah. It was Gigi or something. She kept talking in a whisper and her accent’s pretty bad. One thing that gets me is that she didn’t say anything when she used the Bakusai Tenketsu.”

 

            “That is odd, Son-in-law. Few Amazons have reached the level of skill required to ignore the verbal focus of a technique… and that name is unfamiliar to me.” Cologne hopped back up on top of the table to examine the girl more closely. She noted her physique and nodded slightly. She also gave the scars a good looking over before she noticed the scroll hidden within the girl’s cleavage and opened it. Her hands began to shake with barely controlled rage as she read the document. “That old fool… he stole this scroll from us and used it to summon something. But that should have been impossible. The scroll should only work with a victim of the Nyaanichuan. The ritual calls for the sacrifice of someone cursed by the pool of drowned girl. It shouldn’t have worked with just a normal girl entering it…”

 

            Ranma tried to understand that as well, then suddenly remembered something. “When we were at Phoenix Mountain, those bird-brained idiots threw her into an uncursed pool and nearly drowned her in order to make a new pool. Could that have done it?”

 

            Cologne thought that over. “It may have been enough to trigger the spell, but not enough to control it. Which would explain why she is not bound to Happy’s will.”

 

            “How do ya know that?”

 

            “Simple. If she was bound to his will, she wouldn’t be here right now, would she?”

 

            Ranma shook his head, understanding. “Now that one minor mystery is solved, how do we go about getting Akane back?”

 

            Cologne looked at her ‘son-in-law’. He still refused to acknowledge the fact that he and Shampoo were married by Amazon law. She was quite sure that Akane was the primary reason for this. With Akane at least temporarily gone, Shampoo’s chances increased. But she was getting old, and she was starting to get tired of the lies. “I don’t know for sure if we can get her back. Since the spell was corrupted, there is no telling if it’s reversible or not. The original version of the ritual calls for the death of the sacrifice as the demon uses their body for its own. With the corruption, it could have simply swapped their bodies and minds, placed their souls into one body, or any of a number of other possibilities. Our only option is to find a banishing spell. One specifically attuned to this ritual would be best.”

 

            Everyone jumped as the girl in question suddenly shot up and landed on the opposite side of one of the tables. She looked around to see several people dressed in Amazon clothes and she let a small smile creep onto her face. The smile changed to a frown when she spotted Ranma, then it changed to a look of fear as she remembered the last moments of the fight. She scrambled away from the table with a whimpering noise, trying to get away. Something that sounded like “gooey” was the only recognizable word that emerged from her.

 

            “Huh?” Ranma blinked, looking at Cologne.

 

            Cologne ignored him for a moment. “<Calm yourself, child.>,” she spoke soothingly to the girl in Mandarin Chinese.

 

            The girl kept backing up, moving towards the kitchen area. When her hand touched a sharp chef’s knife, she grasped it. Instantly the look in her eyes changed from fear to fury as she dove forwards, whispering something that sounded like “Kabashira Ken”. Suddenly there seemed to be hundreds of knives heading straight for Ranma as he dodged and deflected the attacks. His arms showed dozens of cuts as the girl backed off for a moment, then moved her hands in an odd way that seemed almost snake-like. “Demon die,” she whispered. He sensed a huge buildup in ki as suddenly her arms began moving forward. The attack suddenly stopped.

 

Cologne’s staff slowly moved away from the paralysis pressure point it had struck. “<Child, if you are truly of the Amazon tribe, then know that I am Cologne, Elder and Matriarch. You will not attack this man again unless I so order it. Do you understand?>” The girl managed a weak nod and Cologne struck the counterpoint, freeing her from the paralysis.

 

            The warrior glared at Ranma, but made no move to attack. She pointed at him, and whispered something in Mandarin that Ranma couldn’t follow.

 

            “<Why do you think he is a demon, child?>” Cologne asked.

 

Ranma wondered why the girl kept speaking so quietly, and then he remembered the scars. He started to look closer at the damage to her neck, but a hateful glare from the girl stopped him. She continued whispering to Cologne.

 

            Ranma glanced over at Shampoo and Mousse as a small squeak escaped from the purple-haired Amazon and the bespectacled man dropped the tray he was carrying. He looked confusedly at Cologne, whose eyes had gone wide, then narrowed.

 

            “<That is quite the claim, child. Jiejie Fenfen has not been heard from for over a thousand years.>” More whispers followed this statement. “<If you are who you say you are, how was the demon Gui Huo killed?>”

 

            Shampoo answered before the other could speak, “<Great-grandmother, I know how Gui Huo was killed. The warrior known as Jiejie Fenfen killed the demon with a magical blade fifteen hundred years ago.>”

 

            “<You only know part of the story, child.>” Cologne turned back to the silent Amazon. “<Woman-who-claims-to-be-Jiejie Fenfen, tell me now what was the name of the sword. Know that if you answer wrong, I will kill you for trying to desecrate the name of an honored Amazon and for having knowledge of Amazon techniques.>”

 

            “<Mournblade,>” was the whispered response.

 

            Cologne gazed carefully into the girl’s eyes, then nodded her head. “<Welcome back, Jiejie Fenfen. You are recognized as a member of the Amazons of Joketsuzoku. There is one thing you need to know, this man,>“ she pointed at a thoroughly confused looking Ranma, “<is the husband by right of combat of Xian Pu, my great granddaughter.>” Shampoo smiled happily and circled her arms around Ranma.

 

            “Just what the hell is going on now,“ a rather irritated Ranma yelled, trying to work himself free of Shampoo.

 

            Cologne gave him a quick rundown on the conversation, which confused Ranma even more, though it did answer a couple of questions. “Great. Nice ta meet another member of the family. Now, do ya mind tellin’ me how we can get Akane back and why that crazy psycho keeps tryin’ ta kill me?”

 

            “She appears to believe you are a demon, son-in-law, or, to be more exact, that your girl side looks just like a demon she fought once,” the Elder responded.

 

            “Me? She’s the one who appeared in the middle of a magic circle after Akane disappeared.”

 

            Cologne thought hard, and something occurred to her. It was possible that Jiejie didn’t know the truth about Jusenkyou. Fifteen hundred years ago, when Jiejie had lived with the Amazons, she may have just been told it was dangerous place of evil magic. She asked Jiejie about this and found her guess to be true. She then explained to the confused Amazon about the curses, the pools, and their unfortunate effects, with Mousse providing an example as he was unwillingly changed into a duck by Shampoo.

 

            The legendary warrior still did not look convinced. “<Why do you think that Ranma is Gui Huo, when you know the demon is dead?>” Shampoo asked this time.

 

            Jiejie Fenfen whispered, “<Because he looked exactly like Gui Huo, from her chest to her hair. Red is not a normal color for hair of either the Japanese or the Chinese, you know. Only Huo Ji had such hair.>”

 

            Cologne sat back to think on this. It was very true that most Japanese and Chinese people did not have red hair. The Amazons had some pretty wild hair colors, but it was not an Amazon girl who drowned at Jusenkyou. As she considered that, it occurred to her that they didn’t know who had drowned in the pool that Ranma fell into it. The Jusenkyou guide had merely stated that it was ‘a vewy twagic stowy’ of a girl that drowned there fifteen hundred years… Something about Jiejie Fenfen caught her attention. “I wonder if there is a connection,” she thought to herself.

 

            “<Why is your hair a little red, child?>”

 

            ”< Because of…>” she stopped suddenly.

 

            “<Because of what, child?>” Cologne was growing very concerned.

 

            Jiejie thought back to a promise she had made to another Elder. “<Don’t tell anyone the truth about your battle; no one, not even another Elder. At least not for oh… fifteen hundred years, and maybe a week or two.>” Jiejie wondered just how the Elder had come up with that particular number. “<I have been forbidden to say, Elder. But Ranma’s girl form looks just like Gui Huo. He might be demon-tainted.>”

 

Cologne could tell that Jiejie was holding something back, but felt this was not the time or place to press. She clocked Mousse over the head, as he was about to attack Ranma over this bit of information.

 

            Cologne eyed Jiejie carefully. “<I doubt Ranma suffers from demonic influence, child. He has shown no signs of taint. But there is something I must know. Why does a warrior of the Amazon tribe show such fear? Your reaction to Ranma’s girl side is not acceptable, even if she does resemble a demon.>”

 

            Jiejie looked tiredly at the old woman. “<Elder, I have been forbidden to speak of the details, but during the battle with Gui Huo fifteen hundred years ago I was… cursed. Part of the curse is that I suffer from a terrible fear when confronted by the presence of Gui Huo.>”

 

            Cologne nodded once more, then pointed at Mousse’s bedroom. “<You need to rest, child. Nothing more can be done tonight. Mousse will show you to his room, then he will sleep in his cage tonight.>” Mousse started to protest, but his quacking ended quickly when Shampoo made a recommendation for diced duck surprise to be added to the menu tomorrow. Jiejie followed the grumbling duck up the stairs while Cologne and Shampoo conferred with Ranma.

 

            Ranma suffered through a bizarre question and answer session that lasted an hour before Cologne offered him the use of a spare room for the night. She would have suggested Shampoo’s room, but she knew he would refuse. After Ranma retired, Cologne sat on her staff and considered. The questions she had asked Ranma were a technique used by the Elders of her village to discover whether someone was suffering from demonic influence. She could find no evidence of it, save for the one encounter they had a while back where Ranma’s girl side was separated from him by a magic incense and had tried to drain his life force. If the demon was inside of Ranma, it was totally pacified.

 

            Cologne hopped over to a chest and began searching the scrolls, trying to find anything that could help send Jiejie back to wherever she had come from. Her search only turned up a reference to a counter-scroll that was brought to Japan. Once again, Cologne wondered just how so many Chinese treasures had ended up in Japan.

 

She pogoed her way to the room where Jiejie was. Looking in, she could tell that the warrior was not yet asleep. “<Child, where have you been? The records state that you left our tribe shortly after your battle with Gui Huo.>”

 

Jiejie Fenfen was motionless for a long time before answering. “<The demon… did… something to me, Elder. Even now, I cannot say what it was… but it did something to my mind. Staying threatened the village’s safety. In the end, my master and I left to keep the Amazons from danger.>”

 

             “<Are you demon-tainted, child?>” she asked bluntly.

 

            Jiejie Fenfen shrugged. “<I can sometimes feel it, but I have spent over a thousand years protecting my mind from its influence. It is not a threat any more.>”

 

            Cologne nodded gravely, then something Jiejie had said came back to her. “<Master?>” A very concerned Cologne asked.

 

            Jiejie Fenfen nodded. “<Tian Huan. He is the one with whom I arrived at the village so long ago. It is for him that I live. I must get back to him. He needs me by his side.>”

 

Cologne frowned, then nodded. “<We shall try to do so. Get some sleep. I may have a lead on sending you back. Though I am curious why you would call any man ‘master’.>” Cologne let the question hang in the air, but Jiejie showed no signs of answering it. Cologne left and closed the door. With a course of action selected, she retired to her own room and waited for dawn to come.

 

 

 

Ending Notes: Yes, the ‘Read it’ voice will be explained much later on.

 

Bakusai Tenketsu – Breaking point technique – Strikes the ‘vulnerable’ point of rock and shatters it. Works on concrete, rock, earth, etc.

 

Kachu Tenshin Amaguri Ken – Chestnuts Roasting in an Open Flame Fist – A series of punches that move so fast that they can’t really be seen.