Ranma floated in the midst of a red sea. He was seemingly suspended in the midst of a red fluid, sitting in the lotus position, breathing normally. He meditated about his current circumstances. “It does smell like blood.” He thought. “In midst of everything I never noticed before, always too busy to notice. I hate blood. I never want to smell it again.”
The ‘air’ that he was breathing became damp like the summer sun coming out after a summer rain. He continued to breath normally, reaching out his senses to his surroundings. Then the humidity increased until it felt like he was breathing in a dense fog. Slowly he felt the change take place. He felt his body shrink and his skeleton shift. Hard pectorals became soft breasts. Heavy muscles became lithe and supple. He, now a she, stretched out her body and kicked her legs.
With a soft splash, Ranma’s head broke the surface of the vat of LCL fluid. After taking a deep breath, he swam to the side where Ritsuko was awaiting him. “That should be a good enough mix.” He commented as he pulled himself out of the liquid.
The blonde doctor nodded her head. “It seems we were able to introduce enough water into the LCL fluid to trigger your curse and still allow you to breath. Did you have any difficulty?”
“It began to feel like breathing in a morning drizzle of rain.” He explained as he dried himself off. “But it was still tolerable. We should be able to proceed with the next stage.
The doctor nodded and started issuing commands to a pair of female techs that was standing nearby. They walked over to where a plastic barrel was sitting and removed its lid. They slowly poured the powdered contents into the LCL pool. Subsurface level jets in the vat caused a current that gradually dissolved the substance and mixed it into a homogenous mix.
As the solution was being created, Ranma looked over at Dr. Akagi as she watched the red waters begin to spin like a whirlpool. He suspected that she had killed Gendou before joining the rest of them after the last battle. Everyone accepted the theory about suicide since the gun that had put a bullet through his skull was only a short distance from his outstretched hand. People had their suspicions, but no one voiced them. Most people believed he committed suicide to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. Fuyutsuki, who was on his way to the world’s court to answer for the crimes of NERV, thought that Gendou had done it because he couldn’t face the possibility of failure.
Deep inside Ranma knew better. He knew that there was a reason why Ritsuko had stayed behind, but he elected not to say anything. It was best left unmentioned. He wasn’t justifying his inaction; he just felt that Ritsuko needed healing not alienation. If he were to say something, then she would be forced to confess and would be taken away like a common criminal. She deserved better than that. She deserved to live a normal life where she was more than a pawn for a ruthless man.
Trying to kill time while the solution was mixing, Ranma decided to take his thoughts away from anything related to the final war with Seele. “How is the reconstruction of Tokyo-3 coming?”
The doctor looked over to him. “It’s coming along right on schedule. The retracting buildings and shelters are being rebuilt now. They are still some time away from rebuilding them, but they are coming along nicely. The world community is watching us, you know.”
The redhead nodded. “I know. They want to make this a ‘model of modern civilization’, or some such nonsense.”
Ritsuko smiled at the martial artist. “You have to admit it’s true. The city will already have shelters for any disasters. The shock absorbing isolation on the retractable buildings prevents earthquake damage and the fact that they are retractable and suspended above the geofront makes them ideal for surviving typhoons and flood. The power grid and utility systems are the most efficient that the world has seen in human history. As the world finishes its recovery from second impact, this will be the model for all the cities to come.”
“Well I’m glad they have such a dedicated woman leading them into the new era.” Ranma smiled at the other woman. “You did well with the EVAs, now you get to build something for peace.”
The doctor gave him gave him a wane smirk. “Yes, community service for my crimes. You make it sound so noble Saotome.”
Ranma shrugged. “Don’t look at it as punishment. Look at it as training. Training for being something better than you were before.”
She shook her head at the man turned woman. “It’s all about training with you, isn’t it? How does Misato put up with you?”
“Through much pain and suffering.”
They both turned to see the major walking out to meet them, Hope in her arms and Shinji at her side. She walked up and pecked the redhead on the cheek. “How’s the operation coming?”
He looked out over the swirling vat. “Should be about ready.”
Shinji walked toward the edge and looked into the pool. “So what is this for anyway? How is this going to destroy the EVAs?”
Ranma sent a mischievous grin to the boy’s back. “Here, I’ll show you.” He walked over and kicked the boy over the edge.
“SHINJI!!!” Misato and Ritsuko shouted at the same time. Ranma held a hand up and waved the open hand in a placating gesture.
“What’d you do that for?” Shinji shouted in a higher voice. He grabbed his throat. “What’s wrong with my voice?” He looked down at his body…and screamed.
Ranma was rolling on the ground laughing when a very irate blue haired girl pulled herself out of the pool and grabbed the older woman by collar of her uniform. “You think this is funny?! You gave me a curse! Now I’ll be just like you!”
“Why is that a bad thing?” Ranma managed between guffaws.
Ritsuko rolled her eyes and turned to the technicians. “You can shut the water jets off now. The solution is good. Start preparations for the next stage.”
Ranma was still laughing as Shinji held her by the collar with a murderous look in her eyes. “I won’t be normal again!”
The martial artist finally managed to get his laughter under control. “Relax. It’s only temporary. Go take a hot shower, and you’ll be back to normal.”
Shinji finally released the other cursed woman and scowled. “What is that stuff?”
“Instant Nyannichuan. It’s an extract from the Jusenkyo spring. It’s not permanent, but it will serve our purposes.” Ranma looked down Shinji’s form. “Besides, you look pretty good as a girl.
Shinji’s hands started to twitch as he used every bit of his self-control not to murder Ranma on the spot.
At that moment, Asuka wondered into the room. “Hey, Misato, where’s the…Shinji?!” She saw the boy turned girl. She felt the aura, so she knew who it was, but he looked so… She quickly dropped to the floor and started howling in laughter, which, of course, sent Ranma back into a fit of his own.
Shinji scowled and started to stalk out the door. “I’m going to go take a nice hot shower, and then I’m going to kick the crap out of both of you.” The voice was level and serious. The others would have taken it seriously if it hadn’t been several octaves higher than is should have been.
“Don’t go yet.” Misato called after the boy turned girl. “You’ll miss everything.”
The blue-haired girl turned to the major. “What’s going on?”
“You’ll just have to watch and see.” She teased.
At that moment, Rei walked in and came face to face with a near mirror reflection of herself. She blinked a couple of times. “Were you activated before the tank was destroyed? Why were you activated before my time was done?”
Shinji gave the other girl a scornful glare. “It’s not you, it’s me, Shinji. Ranma gave me his curse.”
“At least you got a nice face out of the deal.” Rei walked past, leaving a stunned curse victim in her wake. Shinji couldn’t believe that this was happening to him. Most of all he couldn’t believe that Rei had cracked a joke!
Back at the LCL poolside, Misato decided that Ranma had been having too much fun. “Ranma, could you hold the baby for a little bit?”
Ranma stopped rolling on the floor in mid guffaw and looked up at her. “Not while I’m a girl, please. She keeps trying to breast feed when I hold her.”
“Well, you do have the right equipment.” Misato smirked down at him.
“You just have to ruin my fun don’t you?” He said with a sardonic expression.
She gave him a sweet smile. “I’m sorrrr-ry.” She spoke in a teasing voice. “But, what are wives for?”
Ranma shook his head and stood up, taking the baby from Misato. “It’s a good thing I like you, otherwise I’d smack you.” She just smiled as he, without thought, cradled Hope gently.
Ritsuko stood there, arms akimbo, tapping her foot. “I hate to break up the family fun, but are we ready to move on to stage two?”
Ranma nodded. “Let’s do it.” The redhead turned and strode out of the room, everyone else following in accord.
They went down to the level below where Unit 01 stood in the ready gantry, chest deep in LCL fluid. Ranma looked over the setup and nodded his head. “Begin stage two.”
Ritsuko spoke into a hand held communicator. “Blow the armor.”
The room seemed to shake as several explosions went off all over the EVA’s body. Heavy pieces of armor fell away, falling to the bottom of the holding tank with a crash. The helmet fell away to reveal the true terrifying face of Evangelion.
The martial artist nodded his head in approval. “Begin stage three.”
Loud roars like a rapids flow filled the room as all the fluid drained from the room, showing an EVA with it’s armor stripped away and lying at it’s feet. Other technicians quickly went to work and looped nylon straps around the shoulders, applying the pressure so that there was constant tension on them. The cord was hung from the ceiling above like they intended to hang the beast by its arms. After the okay was given they pulled away and prepared for the final stage.
“Now the fourth stage.” Ranma handed the baby back to Misato.
Ritsuko again took the communicator. “Flood the chamber.”
A massive door above the Eva opened and the solution they mixed earlier poured into the empty chamber. The man-made life form disappeared. When the water finished pouring, Ranma jumped in and swam out to where the nylon cords were coming out of the surface of the liquid. He dove under. After a few second the straps retracted with, holding nothing. After a little more time passed, Ranma broke the surface, holding the body of a woman. He set her down and motioned for Ritsuko to come over. She checked the woman’s vitals.
“She’s alive, and breathing normally.” The doctor pronounced.
Ranma motioned to the two female techs that had followed them down. “Wash her quickly with COLD water, and make sure you use the soap I gave you.” They nodded and brought out and lifted the woman and carried her away. The martial artist nodded and turned to Ritsuko. “I’d call that a success. Pump the solution back up the vat and tell Toji it’s his turn.” The doctor smiled and relayed the orders into the communicator.
Ranma walked back and stood beside Misato. She gave him a narrowed eyed stare. “Temporary? You didn’t tell me that part of the plan. You’ve got something up your sleeve, don’t you?”
The redhead nodded. “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. What’s the use in a weapon that can’t go out in the rain?”
“But what happens the first time they take a hot shower?” She asked.
“That’s why we’re taking the trip to China. First off, it wasn’t feasible to transport enough water from the springs to drown an EVA, so I had to use the instant, which can make a lot of cursed water with very little extract from the spring. Second, when we get to China, I’m locking them into their cursed forms. They’ll live normal lives unless the EVA are needed again, and then I’ll be the only one in Japan that will know how to revive them.” He took a deep breath. “I know it sounds like a Gendou plan, but I have to think about the world here.”
Misato nodded, accepting the explanation. “I just wish you had explained it all sooner. What’s with the soap?”
Her husband smirked. “That’s so we don’t have any accidents on the way to China. It’s waterproof soap. It will protect them for a little while so we don’t have to worry so much about hot water.”
She looked back at the lowering water level. “Does Shinji know what we’ve done?”
Ranma smiled. “I wanted to surprise him.”
“He’ll be surprised all right.” Misato deadpanned.
The chamber was drained and the process was repeated with Unit 03. After a few hours had passed, Shinji (after a hot shower) and Toji were escorted by Ranma, Misato, and Ritsuko toward one of the recovery rooms at the NERV hospital. They met the staff doctor at the door. He smiled as they approached. “The patients are awake and appear to be healthy. Their memories are a bit fuzzy, but they should live normal lives from here on out.”
Ranma, now a man again, chuckled. “Like that’s going to happen with me around. Come on guys, let’s go inside.”
They filed inside the room. There was a curtain down the middle of the room obscuring the second bed. Toji was the first to speak. “Sis!”
The young girl in the first bed, whose chestnut colored hair was splayed out on the pillow, seemed to glow with excitement. “Toji-Chan!”
He ran forward and hugged her close. “You’re back!” Tears began to leak from his eyes as his smile seemed to take up his entire face.
She pushed back enough so that she could look him in the face, but not enough to break the embrace. “And even better! I’m all better now! I don’t hurt at all!” She exclaimed with a joyful voice. Toji pulled her close and continued to cry tears of joy.
Shinji tilted his head to the side at the sight. “Toji, what is your sister’s name? You always talk about her, but you never told us her name.”
The girl smiled up at him. “My name is Ranko!” She proclaimed proudly.
Ranma sputtered and had to beat his chest to breath again. He finally cleared his throat. “Uh, well…let’s check on that other patient.”
“Ranma?” A female voice came from behind the curtain. “Is that you?” The martial artist quickly ran behind the curtain and to the bedside to see a beautiful woman with short brown hair that he thought he would never see again. “It is you!” She proclaimed as she hugged him close.
Misato, who was following shortly behind, had a slight tinge of jealousy in her expression.
Ranma smiled as he stepped back to look at her. “What do you remember?”
Ikari Yui thought for a second. “The last thing I remember clearly is the Unit 01 test.” She smiled at Ranma. “Somehow I knew that if something went wrong, you would be there to save me.” The smile left her face. “After that, it’s sketchy. It’s almost like I was trapped in a dream.”
At that moment, Shinji stepped around the curtain and stopped in shock. Yui looked up at him. At first, a confused look came over her features, and then it lit up in recognition. “Shinji?” She pulled she sheet away, got out of the bed, and walked over to him. She reached out and cupped his chin in her hands. “Oh my baby. I’m so sorry.” Tears came to the corners of her eyes.
He looked up at her with a puzzled expression. “What are you sorry for?”
She lifted his chin once more and looked into his eyes. “You’ve grown up and I haven’t been there. I missed you filling out into such a strong young man. I can see it in your eyes that you’ve been through a lot, and I’m mostly sorry that couldn’t be there to take the pain away.” Tears were coming down in full force now.
Shinji collected his mom into a warm embrace. “It’s okay mother. You’re here now, and that’s all that matters.”
After she had cried herself out she stood back up and looked around. “Shinji, where is your father?”
He tensed up. “That’s a long story.” He looked toward his mentor for help.
Ranma took a deep breath. “I’ll explain to you on the way to China.”
“Ranma?” Yui’s face looked frightened. “What happened to Gendou?”
The martial artist tried to maintain his calm. “It’s a long story. I’ll tell you on the way.”
“Why are we in such a hurry to leave?” She crossed her arms as she looked at him. “I’ve just been reunited with my son! Why do we have to go so soon?”
“Because we only have so much time before the waterproof soap wears out.” He turned to leave. “Come, we have to go quickly. Asuka has clothes for you and Toji’s sister when we get the jetcopter.”
With little more protesting, everyone made their way to the aircraft. Asuka was standing in the door tapping her foot when they arrived. She looked at everyone that was coming, Ranma and Misato with Hope in tow, Shinji, Toji, and two others she didn’t recognize. “Ready for our trip, Shinji?”
He gave her a withering look. “You make it sound like a vacation.”
She smiled. “We can make it a vacation!”
He stuck his tongue out at her, she responded in kind.
Yui giggled at the proceedings. “I take it this is your girlfriend, Shinji.” Her giggle turned to laughter when Shinji turned a deep red in embarrassment.
They all piled into the jetcopter with Hyuga at the helm. With a roar of the powerful engines, they were off for their excursion into China. Thanks to clearances that Ranma had gained beforehand, they made their way into the interior of the country with no trouble. They made their way to the Bayankala mountains of the Xinghai Province. Ranma climbed into the passenger seat and directed Hyuga to where he should land. After a few minutes of misunderstood directions, they finally touched down outside a large castle.
Three men greeted the party as they disembarked. The first was a brawny man with black eyes and brown hair with tiger striped clothes. Next was a smaller man with black hair and black eyes wearing a wolf skin pelt. The last was a regal looking man with long white hair and black eyes. He stepped forward and greeted Ranma with an extended hand. “Hello again, old friend. It’s been a while.”
Ranma smiled and shook the extended hand. “It has Herb, but this time I’m not here to spar.”
Herb looked over the group behind him. “Indeed. It looks like you’re taking your wives and children on a picnic.”
Ranma sputtered while everyone else laughed. “Only one of them is my wife.” He recovered his composure. “Herb, I’m here for the Chiisuiton. Two of my companions need to be locked into their cursed forms.” He indicated Yui and Ranko.
Herb looked them over. “And they are consenting?” They nodded their heads. The Musk Prince turned to the smaller man. “Mint, go fetch it….MINT!!! STOP STARING AT THE WOMEN AND GET THE CHIISUITON!!!”
The man, who had been gawking open mouthed at the women, quickly shot up and ran away at speeds the newcomers couldn’t believe. He returned shortly carrying a bucket with a ladle. Herb took it from him and walked over to the woman and girl. He carefully ladled water over both of their heads.
He stepped back and handed the bucket to Mint. “It is done. Put this back in the vault.” The man sped away again.
Ranma heaved a sigh of relief. “Okay. Now we only have one more stop and then we’re heading back to Tokyo-3.”
Herb gave the martial artist a faked hurt expression. “What? Without sparring?”
“You know.” Ranma shrugged. “I got a lot of responsibilities. By the way, I’d like to introduce you to my wife and daughter.” He waved Misato forward. “Prince Herb meet Saotome Misato and our child Saotome Hope.”
Misato looked slightly out of sorts. “Hi, uh, your majesty.”
He gave her a critical up and down look. “You’re not a powerful fighter. How did you manage to tame the wild horse?”
She gave him a withering look. “With much frustration and perseverance.”
Herb laughed. “She’s a match for you, old friend.” He turned back to Ranma. “I wish you both happiness on your journeys through life.”
Ranma nodded. “You too. I’ll be back some other time for our sparring match.”
“I’ll be waiting.” The prince smiled. “I can’t wait to see how soft you’ve become.”
“Hey!” Ranma clenched his fist. “Who’s gone soft?”
Herb laughed. “Still as easy to anger as ever. Get going before you lose daylight. Where are you going anyway?”
“Joketsuzoku.” Ranma stated simply.
Herb raised an eyebrow. “Why in the world would you want to go back there? Wasn’t your first trip there enough trouble?”
The martial artist rolled his eyes. “Yeah, but I’ve got to pick up some friends.”
Herb shook his head as he turned to return to his castle. “Beware the new matriarch. That’s the only bit of advice I’ll give you.”
“Thanks.” Ranma turned to the rest of the party. “One more trip and we can call it a day.”
They piled back into the jetcopter and hopped a short ways to the village of the Amazons. They landed about one hundred yards from the gates of the village. They disembarked and trekked to the entrance. When the guards got one look at who was leading the party, they took off into the interior of the village.
Misato turned to her husband. “You sure do know how to leave an impression on people, don’t you?”
He shrugged. “When you best their leader, you got to expect some recognition.”
One of the women came back. “You wait here. Matriarch come soon.” She told them in broken Japanese.
After a bit, a small procession made their way toward the visitors. At the head of the column of armed women was a tall, shapely woman with long lustrous locks of lavender hair. Her presence screamed dangerous, but her looks told nothing but a story of beauty. The woman looked over the group and finally her eyes rested on Ranma. “So my husband finally returns.”
Misato’s eyes went wide. “I thought that was taken care of!”
“It was!” Ranma hissed to her before coming back to face the matriarch. “Yo, Shampoo. How’ve you been?”
Everyone took a step back as Ranma’s face had a fresh handprint on it. Shampoo glared at him. “How dare you come back with children from other women!”
“Children?” He asked. “Only the baby is mine!”
“Don’t lie to me.” She glared at him. “The boy is yours.”
Ranma looked right behind him where Shinji was. The boy was wearing his blue version of Ranma’s Chinese outfit. “He’s not mine. He’s just the heir to my school.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Not him.” She pointed at Toji. “That one! He’s your son! By the looks of him, I’d say he’s also the son of Spatula Girl! How could you! I WAS YOUR WIFE!!!”
Toji went into shock. He couldn’t believe what that woman had just said. He remembered his mother telling him about a Shampoo girl and how she used to call her Spatula Girl, but how could Ranma be his father?
Ranma was finding himself at a loss for words. He didn’t want Toji to find out like this, and he certainly didn’t want this confrontation with Shampoo. He had hoped on just getting Akane, Kaji, and Nabiki and heading out, but he should have figure in his own dumb luck.
“Still gathering women about you, eh Saotome?”
The martial artist turned to see a man and woman walking toward him. Kaji looked none the worse for wear as he swaggered up, but Akane looked like she was ready to kill as she stalked forward.
A look of panic came over his face. He was at a loss for words. All of the sudden, flashbacks of Nerima came to mind and he knew that he was about to be hurt…bad.
At that moment, Yui stepped forward. “So these are the fiancés. I wondered when I would meet them.”
Shampoo and Akane both turned their eyes toward the woman they didn’t recognize. “Who are you?” Shampoo asked.
“Ikari Yui, a friend of Ranma’s.” She smiled brightly. “Surely we can resolve this peacefully. I think that we can come up with a solution that could satisfy all parties.”
Shampoo glared at her. “I’ll be satisfied when I’m bearing Ranma’s children.”
Akane glared at Ranma. “And I’ll be satisfied when Ranma explains why he slept with Ukyou.”
Yui took a deep breath. “At least one of you is easy to take care of. Just calm down and Ranma will explain all about it.” She turned to Shampoo. “You however, are not so simple. I’m sorry, but I don’t think Misato would let you bear his children.”
“DAMN RIGHT!” The major shouted.
“Uh-hem!” Yui cleared her throat. “Perhaps if some other agreement can be made.”
Shampoo eyed Shinji. “How about that one? He could marry one of the girls of the village. Being the heir to the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, he should have fighting ability.”
Asuka latched onto Shinji and glared at the older woman. “Try again.”
“Then maybe the son.” The matriarch looked at Toji.
“I’m not really much of a fighter.” He hedged.
Shampoo turned back to Ranma. “Then we are at an impasse.” She looked at the woman carrying the baby in one arm and holding onto Ranma protectively with the other. She strode forward and looked down at the baby. “May I hold it?”
Misato looked up at Ranma who nodded his head. She passed the baby to the other woman. “Her name is Hope.”
Shampoo held the child gently and traced her face with her finger. “She will be strong and beautiful. He sure does sire beautiful babies.”
“Too bad they grow up ugly.” Asuka couldn’t help but shoot at Toji who finally came out of his stupor and glared at her.
Shampoo smiled as she looked from the auburn haired girl back to the baby. “I have a solution.” She looked up to Ranma. “You visit more often, and I teach your daughter what I can of Amazon ways. I want to treat her like the daughter I never had. Is that satisfactory?”
Ranma nodded his head. “That is.”
She nodded. “Then come!” She smiled at the group. “We will celebrate the birth of a new Amazon! All of you must come and feast with us tonight!”
“We really need to get back.” Ranma commented.
“Nonsense!” Yui smiled. “We can stay for a night. You all need a night off anyway. From what you told me on the trip over, you’ve all had a rough time.”
“Sounds good!” Misato chimed in.
“Okay.” Ranma finally conceded. He then turned toward the pilots. “Don’t fight anyone! Am I clear?”
“Why?” Shinji asked.
“Because you don’t want to wind up dead, or worse, married.”
“Good answer.” Shinji backed off.
They all feasted and celebrating the birth of Hope and toasted to the new beginnings for the world around them. Things would be bright for all their futures. The angels were gone and the world was recovering. So all the portents pointed to a bright time to come.
That night Shampoo insisted on taking care of Hope, leaving the Saotomes alone in an Amazon guesthouse. Misato walked around and looked the place over. “Not a bad place.” She turned to Ranma who had come in and plopped down on one of the chairs in the room. “So do you think Yui will marry again?” She asked absently.
Ranma shook his head and smiled. “I think she’s had enough of marriage to last a lifetime. Her last one ended with her stuck in a giant robot. She’ll probably be a little gun shy after that.”
Misato smiled and accepted the answer. She looked at him once more with a different look entirely. This one was that of a predator on the hunt. “You know what?”
He looked at her with a confused expression. “What?”
“Hope is a month old.” She said as she sauntered over to him.
“Yeah, so?” He asked, not quite getting the point.
“So…It’s time to make another baby!” She exclaimed as she pounced.
Next door, Shinji and Asuka were both getting acquainted with Yui. Shinji turned his head as he heard the sounds coming from the other house. “Don’t those two ever get enough?”