Ripples from the Past

Prologue

“Ranma, the Animal Trainer?”

 

 

             Inside a dojo in Nerima, the patriarch of the Tendo clan sat reading a postcard. Soun Tendo felt tears of joy streaming down his face. The card read simply, “Hi. Bringing Son. Genma.”

 

             “Oh, how I’ve w-w-waited for this day!” Soun wept in happiness. He ran to the kitchen and peaked in, seeing one of his daughters cutting up a watermelon. “Kasumi!”

 

             The young woman in question was quite lovely with a pleasant expression on her face and a smile that could bring sunshine to any situation. Her long, dark hair was tied into a pony tail that fell over one shoulder. She turned towards her father, a curious look on her face. “Yes, daddy?” She looked after him in confusion as Soun turned and ran up the stairs. After a moment of consideration, she quickly set about finishing cutting the watermelon and setting it out on the dining room table.

 

             Soun stopped in front of the open door to the room of one of his other daughters. “Nabiki!”

 

             The shorthaired girl glanced up from the magazine she was reading with a popsicle in her mouth. “Mm?” she inquired, but her father had already turned around and left. She could hear him yelling out “Akane! Akane! Where is that girl?” Nabiki sighed as she got off the bed where she had been lying and followed her father.

 

             Akane came in through the front gate as she finished up her morning jog. Without going into the house, she headed for the dojo, changed into a gi at nearly light speed, set up a few cinder blocks, and proceeded to smash them into oblivion.

 

             “No wonder all the boys at school think you’re weird,” a rather emotionless voice commented from behind her. Akane glanced over her shoulder to see her older sister, Nabiki.

 

             “So why should I care? Not everyone thinks the world revolves around boys, Nabiki,” Akane nearly growled.

 

             Nabiki smirked as she turned around and put her hands behind her head in a relaxed, non-chalant way. “No? Then I guess this wouldn’t interest you,” she commented idly.

 

             A few minutes later, Soun and his three daughters were seated at a table. Akane, Nabiki, and Kasumi were sitting opposite their father with a variety of looks on their faces. Akane looked bored and uninterested while Nabiki had a cheerful expression as she asked, “Is he cute?”

 

             Kasumi, however, nearly scared her father. She wore a look that bordered on angry, something that Soun hadn’t seen on his eldest daughter in a long time. “How old is he? Younger men bore me.”

 

             As Akane gazed disinterestedly at a wall, Nabiki and Kasumi spoke in unison. “What kind of guy is he?”

 

             Soun laughed nervously. “No idea.”

 

             Nabiki raised an eyebrow at her father. “’No idea?’”

 

             “I’ve never met him.”

 

             Before any of the girls could speak, a knock came from the front door. “That must be them!” Soun cried out as he and Nabiki ran for the door. Needless to say, they were quite startled by a raven-haired girl wearing a pea-green Chinese outfit standing at the entrance with a panda sitting next to her. The fact that the panda was carrying a large pack was not nearly as surprising as the two packs carried by the small girl.

 

             Soun just blinked a few times as he stared at the young girl. Nabiki recovered her voice first. “Who are you?”

 

             The girl bowed to them. “I’m Ranma Saotome. I- hurk!” Ranma was cut off as Soun instinctively threw his arms around her in a bear hug. “Urk!”

 

             “At last! You’ve come! I-“ Soun froze as two protrusions that had no business being on a male’s anatomy pressed against his chest. He held the girl out at arm’s distance and took a closer look.

 

             Nabiki leaned forward and poked Ranma in the breast, ignoring the girl’s request to quit it. “’He’… is a girl.” There was a muffled thump as Soun collapsed.

 

             A little while later, Ranma, the panda, and the Tendo sisters were seated around Soun’s prone form. Kasumi sighed as she placed another cold pack on his forehead. “Oh, poor dady. He’s so disappointed.”

 

             “He’s disappointed?” Nabiki asked incredulously. “Some fiancé this is!”

 

             “Stop it, you two!” Akane ordered her sisters. “He… SHE is our guest.”

 

             “This is all your fault, daddy!” The middle sister accused her prone father. “You should have made sure!”

 

             “He SAID he had a SON!” The Tendo patriarch defended himself.

 

             Nabiki reached out and grabbed one of Ranma’s breasts. “Do you see a son here? Hmm? Do you?” She squeezed as she yelled at her father. A strange sensation caused her to pause for a moment and consider it. ‘There was something odd about the way that breast felt,’ she thought to herself as she squeezed again, ignoring the black-haired girl’s protests. ‘Maybe they’re fake,’ she considered as she took a closer look. ‘Oh, no, it’s just a rat.’ It took a few moments for that thought to process as said rodent crawled out of a pocket in the girl’s shirt and onto Nabiki’s hand. She made eye contact with the creature that seemed to be doing an excellent job of glaring at her. ‘Oh look, it’s even got its paws on its hips, just like a person.’ Nabiki nodded to herself once before cutting loose with a blood-curdling scream.

 

             Before she could pull back her hand, the mouse bolted up her arm and sat on top of her head, chattering angrily at her. Nabiki froze in place, torn halfway between panic and her need to maintain discipline. Moments before panic would have won out, Ranma saved her.

  

             “Ucchan! Cut that out! Can’cha see yer scarin’ ‘er spitless?!”

 

             The mouse did an amazing job of looking embarrassed as it bounded off of Nabiki’s head and performed an intricate acrobatic flip before landing on the ground. Akane and Kasumi watched in surprise as the mouse scampered up Ranma’s pant leg and perched itself on her shoulder.

 

             “Sorry about that…”

 

             Akane blinked in surprise as she leaned in to get a closer look at ‘Ucchan’. “Wow, it’s great how you got her to perch like that. Are you an animal trainer?” She pointed with her thumb towards the panda that was calmly sitting behind them.

 

             “Uh… err… well…”

 

             “That’s cool. Hey, join me in the dojo. My name’s Akane. You want to be friends?” Akane smiled pleasantly at her raven-haired visitor.

 

             The effect on Ranma was stunning. For the first time since she had shown up a small smile crept onto her face. “Sure.”

 

             When they got to the dojo, Akane tried to get her companion to open up a little. “You do karate, don’t you?”

 

             “A little.”

 

             “Then let’s have a little match, okay?”

 

             Ranma seemed to consider it for a moment. “Okay.” She reached her hand up to her shoulder and, as if on cue, her mousy companion hopped onto it. She set the rodent on the ground near the entrance before moving towards the center of the dojo.

 

             Akane adopted a standard stance across from her opponent and waited for Ranma, but the pigtailed girl just stood there. ‘I’ll give her plenty of warning, then,’ Akane thought to herself as she rushed forwards, telegraphing the punch well in advance. She wasn’t surprised that Ranma dodged the strike, but she was startled by the fact that the girl went vertical. She tried to catch her on the downward trip with a kick, but the raven-haired girl avoided it easily. The next punch after Ranma landed was also dodged with apparent ease as the girl just rotated her body around it. Akane felt her frustration building when Ranma ducked under her next kick and was about to ask why she wasn’t attacking back when suddenly a hand shot up to snag her ankle and she found herself being pulled around. Before she could recover, there was a blow to the back of her standing knee and she began to crumple to the ground. Only Ranma’s arm snaking underneath her as the pigtailed girl dropped into a crouch kept her from hitting the dojo floor hard. Akane could only stare up at the girl in surprise as Ranma stood and set her back on her feet.

 

             “Ya gotta retract yer kicks faster. And don’t aim fer the head of a faster opponent. It’s too small a target an’ can be moved too quick.”

 

             Akane blinked and for a moment felt her irritation growing. When Ranma smiled at her nervously, the irritation vanished and she was able to absorb the wisdom. “I guess you’re right. You know, you’re really good. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to attack.”

 

             Ranma scratched the back of her head and laughed a little. “Well, I used ta have a problem with hittin’ girls, ‘cept when they’re tryin’ ta kill me, but Ucchan broke me of that habit.”

 

             Akane blinked. “How could a mouse do that?”

 

             The laugh died a horrible, strangled death as the smile froze on Ranma’s face. “Uh… it’s a long story.”

 

             Akane shrugged and waved it off. “Oh well, I’m just glad you’re a girl. I’d really hate to lose to a boy.” She started to head back to the house, never noticing the nervous look that came over Ranma’s features. She also didn’t see the mouse rubbing its head with a paw.

 

             Ranma, after picking up his companion, followed Akane into the house. Kasumi stopped the pigtailed girl at the door and held out a couple of towels. “Wouldn’t you like to take a bath?”

 

             Ranma started to argue, but a sharp pain from her ear caused her to look at her mouse. “I guess yer right,” she finally said as she took the towels and headed for the bathroom. On the way, she pulled out a folded set of clothes from her pack.

 

             Once inside, she dumped a bucket of cold water over her head and scrubbed thoroughly before slipping into the heated water. A magical transformation occurred and the pigtailed girl became a pigtailed boy. The young man closed his eyes and sighed as the heat from the bath began to soak into him. He cocked an eye open just in time to see his mousy companion perform what could only be referred to as a rodent cannonball into the tub. A second later, a dark-haired girl with a long ponytail was sitting across from him.

 

             “Hey, Ucchan. Waddja go an’ bite me for?”

 

             The girl glared at him as she folded her arms over her chest. “Well, think about it, jackass! Do you think I like being a smelly rat?”

 

             Ranma rolled his eyes at her. “Come on, I toldja before, ya don’t smell bad as a mouse, Ukyou. But yeah, I guess yer right. I hate my cursed form about as much as you do, but at least I can still talk ta people.”

 

             Ukyou nodded as she leaned back in the tub, her arms and legs positioned to protect her modesty as best they could.  “Now we just have to figure out what the old geezer wanted us to come here for. It’s obviously not just a scam, since this place isn’t exactly ritzy.”

 

             Ranma nodded as he made sure that his hands were strategically placed so that his private parts remained that way and that his eyes were looking pretty much anywhere other than at Ukyou. “Yeah, but if he’s gonna try an’ bum offa these people for a while, then what are we gonna do about the curses. I mean, you heard Akane. When she finds out I’m a guy…”

 

             Ukyou started to nod in agreement when the sound of the door opening caught both of their attentions. As one they looked towards the entrance to the bathroom and saw a naked Akane holding a towel whose size and location did little to protect her dignity. Ukyou could almost hear the fuses blowing as the youngest Tendo stared at the naked teenagers sharing the bath.

 

             After a couple of seconds Akane stepped back and slid the door shut. Ranma and Ukyou just stared after her for a moment before giving each other looks that seemed to say ‘Oops’ and ‘Now what?’

 

             Outside the bathroom Akane slipped her robe back on before calmly walking into the hall where her sisters were watching their father talk with another man in the living room. Nabiki and Kasumi watched in shock as Akane just strolled into the room without even acknowledging the visitor’s presence. She sat down at the table and stared at it, but her eyes seemed unfocussed.

 

             After a moment, Kasumi stepped out and placed a hand on her youngest sister’s shoulder. “Akane, what’s wrong?”

 

             “NAKED PEOPLE IN THE BATHROOM!” She blurted out suddenly. If it had been a strange girl or a strange boy, she would have reacted far differently. In the case of a girl, she would have demanded the reason for her being there. If it were a boy, she would have found the nearest heavy object and tried to drown him with it. Finding a boy and a girl had just completely shorted out any of her normal responses.

 

             “Uh, sis… what are you talking about?” Nabiki asked curiously. She noted with some suspicion that the visitor had slapped himself on the forehead a moment ago.

 

             “But Ranma was just in the bath,” Kasumi informed everyone. There was a small sound from the hall and everyone turned to see two people standing there with sheepish expressions.

 

             The one in front was a teenaged boy with black hair done up in a pigtail. He was wearing the same pea-green Chinese outfit that Ranma had worn earlier. Behind him was a rather cute brown-haired girl with her hair done up in a ponytail. She was wearing a pea-green Chinese outfit similar to the boy’s that Kasumi recognized as the one Ranma had grabbed from his pack earlier.

 

             The boy bowed. “I’m Ranma Saotome.”

 

             The girl bowed. “I’m Ukyou Saotome.”

 

+-         In unison, they apologized. “Sorry about this.”

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