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Pieces of Ranma ½ fan-fiction

Olli Toivanen, aka. Hiten, aka. Cachinnation

2003 - 2004

0 : Well-Known

1 : the Cursed Idol

2 : Count Tuesday

3 : Wet Cement

4 : the Horror

5 : Kasumi and Happosai

6 : Venting Anger

7 : So How Could It Drown, Anyway?

(a break because of two unfinished tales)

10 : Only One Way Out

11 : Family Secret

12 : Keep It In the Family

N : Commercials

Note: I ain't adding any comments to anything; I'm not fixing formatting issues or spelling or infelicies of phrasing or horrors of inspiration and execution. Everything below is as I wrote it a decade ago, because that's the point of this. I don't know how to describe that young writer — about twenty, yes, but not writing in his native language. Not quite used to writing, and certainly not handling serious emotions well.

Also, Hiroshi and Daisuke are the canonical names for those two school hangers-on of Ranma's. But if you didn't know that, this is not going to make much sense.

(OT, 2015)

Tale Zero : Well-Known

Chapter I : Upon a Hill

Upon a hill, somewhere in the district known as Nerima, a man was sitting, leaning against a tree, and contemplating the wonders of city life. It was a park of sorts - a quiet patch of greenery, trees and bushes, overlooking a stretch of the city. A path ran through it, and occasionally people went by, busy and silent. The man paid them little heed, smoking his pipe and enjoying the peace and quiet. It was relieving after a day spent in the hustle-bustle of the city, eyes glazed and ears ringing, distressed by the sheer amount of people around one. There was some little sanctuary from the business here.

The man watched a trail of smoke rise into the skies from his pipe and sighed. A jet was flying far overhead. Wonders of the city. What would happen next?

Suddenly, a furtive form rushed through the bushes and dove to the hollow beside the tree he was leaning against. The man raised an eyebrow and looked in interest. It was a young boy, black hair and a pigtail, in some sort of Chinese clothes. He crouched in the hollow, peeking towards the road, clearly disturbed by something. Suddenly, hearing something, he twitched and yelped. To the man, he hissed a desperate plea.

'Please! If she asks for Ranma Saotome, or a boy of my description, or a pigtailed redhaired girl, you haven't seen one! Please!'

The man frowned. Now what was this? The young man curled himself to a ball, hiding as well as he was able. At the same moment, a girl strode down the road, clearly angry and clearly seeking someone. A violet-haired girl (a rather unusual but not an unheard-of hue, in the city), she too was dressed in Chinese clothes. Seeing the man, she hissed.

'You! You see pigtailed boy?'

In afterthought, the girl frowned and added, 'Or pigtailed girl?'

The man, not quite knowing, decided to follow the first plea, and shook his head slowly.

'Sorry. There are many paths out of here.'

The girl stomped her foot angrily and run away, cooing angrily for a 'Ranma'. The man took a deep pull of his pipe and exhaled, like a dragon puffing steam.

'Now, boy, how come you managed to make a girl that angry?'

The boy - Ranma Saotome - peeked of the hollow, made sure the Chinese girl had left, and shook his head.

'Is not my fault. She just won't leave me alone. It's terrible!', he sighed and slumped to the ground, leaning his back against the tree.

'Ah. Fickle creatures, women. She in some way angry because of this red-haired girl you mentioned?', the man asked. He didn't wish to be overly inquisitive, but he was curious.

The Saotome boy laughed - nervously - and smiled.

'Yeah. One could say so. Sort of.'

'Ah.'

Suddenly, footsteps approached. The boy hid again, peeking to see who was walking past now.

A girl it was. She was softly calling, along the lines of 'Ran-chan! Where are you?'. For some reason, there was a note of anger in her voice.

Ranma quivered and curled to a ball again.

'Oh, no! Ucchan! I forgot to -'

He fell silent as the girl stopped.

'Oh. Excuse me, but could you perhaps tell me if you have seen a boy, black hair, pigtail, here somewhere?', the girl asked the man.

The man blew another cloud of smoke, and answered, 'Sorry. You're not, coincidentally, the first one to ask, but I can't help you any more than I could help the previous girl.'

'What?'

'A pretty Chinese girl.'

The sound of footsteps, fading into distance. Curious how they could sound so determinedly angry.

Well, the man thought, certainly things do happen in a city. Aloud, he wondered. 'Well, boy, seems you certainly are well acquaintanced with the local girls.'

The Saotome boy shivered miserably.

'Don't tell me. You know, this really is miserable. Sometimes I'd just like a moment of peace without any fiancées pouncing on me.'

'Don'tcha worry, boy. Believe me, moments of peace get rather boring in the long run. Meself, me finally grew so tired of it that I decided to go to the big city and see how it was. Didn't certainly think I'd end up sheltering a boy from three fiancees.'

'Three? Howzat?'

'Three, I reckon. The Chinese girl, that previous girl with the strange, big spatula on her back, and the red, pig-tailed one the first was looking for.'

'Oh. Believe me, it's kinda too complicated to explain. It seems I'm involved with every girl I meet.'

'Hamph. Well, some people certainly do seem to attract others. And don't you worry - sometimes things like this just seem to jump up out of proportion. Now, Ranma Saotome - that was your name, was it not? Let us see. There's someone coming up the road again. Please keep down a bit longer - I'll try something.'

Ranma ducked.

Soon, another girl ran up the hill. Apparently, she was hiking. She had quite a determined look on her face.

'Excuse me', the man called. 'Sorry to disturb you, but could I perhaps bother you with a question?'

The hiker stopped, jogging in place, and huffed. 'Sure. Please ask.'

'I just - well, wanted to test a theory of mine. About the famous-ness of people. So, to ask: Would you by any chance know a young man by the name of Ranma Saotome?'

The girl stopped jogging, her breath escaping as a loud hiss, and leaned against a young tree. 'Ranma? Sure I do. What about it?'

The man opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. Now how popular could this Ranma fellow be? Trying to think of something intelligent to say, he stammered: 'Ah - I just - well, it seemed that quite a plenty of girls have went past lately, seeking for this Saotome -'

'Ranma, you jerk!', the girl screeched, and lashed out with a hand. The tree she was leaning against was cut cleanly in two. 'What are you up to, now?' Without another word she started running, back the way she had came, looking even angrier.

'Oh, boy.', Ranma wheezed when she had moved well out of hearing range. 'Even she's still angry. Why me?'

The man extinguished his pipe and put it into his pocket. 'Well, maybe you weren't blowing things out of proportion after all. Tell me, is this sort of mischief common in big cities like this?'

Ranma looked at the man, blank, then answered.

'Oh, it's just me. I just seem to be cursed with violent tomboys like Akane or obsessed, merciless amazons like Shampoo -'

As if to heap more troubles upon an already troubled man, Ranma's words, perhaps a bit too loudly spoken in his sudden flare of anger, were instantly answered by - not one, but two - almost-identical bellows from uphill and downhill. The shouts were:

'Ranma Saotome, how dare you!'

Two forms lumbered to view.

'Ak!', Ranma hissed. 'Mousse! Ryoga!'

'How dare you speak so of Shampoo?', the first shrieked, drawing a sword out of his voluminous sleeve.

'How dare you insult dear Akane!', the second shouted, brandishing an umbrella.

The man rose, shaking his head. 'Ranma Saotome, good luck.', he said and left. Behind him, he could heard a battle - quite a fervent one, by the sounds of trees splintering and rocks breaking. Now, these big cities certainly were much more lively than he had expected.

As he walked down the hill, he noticed a girl walking the other way. At a sudden impulse, he spoke. The same kind of coincidence couldn't happen twice, could it?

'Miss. If by any change you'd be seeking one Ranma Saotome, he'd be that way, where the battle sounds.'

The man walked in amazement when the girl yipped in delight and ran up the hill, the sort of streamer on a pole she carried trailing after her.

Well, people certainly did seem to know each other in these parts, mused the man as he walked down the hill.

Chapter II : Lost Boy

It was a big city. It was easy to get lost. Still, it dawned to the man guiding the boy that the boy wasn't the best of pathfinders. He'd felt sort of obliged to guide the boy to the address he had shown after pointing the right direction three times, and thrice seeing the boy taking off into a completely wrong direction.

As it happened, those three times had happened during the same day, a few hours between each one. The man had stayed quite much in the same place, shopping as he was, but the boy had seemed a bit more ragged and frustrated each time he'd wandered back. The man had each time gotten the feeling he'd seen the boy before, but just couldn't place it. Finally, he had just decided that if he was going to do a good deed today it could just as well be taking a little walk and testing whether he had learned his map well enough while guiding the poor boy - Ryoga, his name apparently was - to the place he was seeking. Tendo dojo, or something like that.

'So, boy, you be training in that dojo?'

'N-no.', the boy Ryoga stammered. 'No. Just that a - a friend of mine lives there.'

'Ah. A martial artist, is he?'

'He? No - I mean yes. Both. Is, but she is she, not he.'

'Ah. A girlfriend?'

The boy sighed.

'So I'd wish. But - well, I never quite seem to be able to say it. And I don't know...'

'Oh. Sorry for bringing it up. I wish you luck.'

'Thanks. It's just that I seem to be lost, wherever I go. It's the same whether I try to find may way home or the words to tell her that...'

'Sooth, boy. Things will work out. They usually do.' The man dug a pair of apples out of his pocket and tossed one to Ryoga. 'Now, that wasn't exactly the most profound wisdom on Earth, but things usually do work out. At least where I come from, they do. Here, in a big city, they seem to be a quite lot more complicated. Easier to get lost.'

Ryoga sighed and took a goodly bite of the apple.

'It just seems that - well, I can't take the way that Saotome wretch insults her at every turn...'

A moment of silence. Neither of them could find anything quite polite enough to say. They walked on. Then the man frowned and shook his head.

'Oh, crud. Say, is this Saotome person by any chance a boy by the name of Ranma Saotome?'

'Yes!', Ryoga barked. 'You know him?'

'Just a passing acquaintance. Met him yesterday. He was chased by a horde of women.'

'Well, that is indeed Ranma Saotome!'

'Didn't seem too pleased by it, though.'

'That's Saotome too. He doesn't care about anyone but himself.'

'Now, that's a harsh judgment. Maybe he's just lost, too.'

'Huh?'

'Ah, nothing. Just wondered that - ah, yes. Here we are. The Tendo dojo. So I did read the map right after all.'

The Ryoga boy smiled.

'Thank you. Don't know would I have ever found my way here alone.'

'Don't bother thanking. Glad to be of help. A good day to you, boy.'

The boy rushed in. The man turned to leave, only to almost collide with a red-haired pigtailed girl that had been running down the street, careless of where she was going. However, the girl apparently was something of a martial artist, or then just very good in jumping over rather than crashing on someone.

'Sorry!', she squawked, then paused, eyes widening. 'Do I know...'

She laughed a bit.

'In the case you wonder, I too am one of the women you see when Ranma Saotome's around.'

She ran inside the dojo.

The man left, shaking his head.

This Ranma Saotome person certainly did seem to be known by everyone.

Chapter III : Common Acquaintances

It certainly was exciting to be in a big city.

However, most people have a limit to the amount of excitement they can take.

In the case of one particular man, visiting the big city for the first time, the limit had been achieved when the bridge he'd been walking over had suddenly groaned and collapsed. Now here he was, in the middle of the river, sitting on a portion of the bridge held intact by one of the supports standing on the riverbed, and wondering how much more exciting things would become until he could take absolutely no more. There was time for thinking, because the rescue squad didn't seem to be in any hurry and the river was too chilly to encourage any swimming.

Ah well, he mused, at least he wasn't alone. There was the girl - a young woman, actually. She'd apparently been shopping, by the basket she was holding. She'd almost dropped into the river when the bridge collapsed, but he'd managed to grab her wrist and wrench her to the safety (and dullness) of the bridge-piece, alone in the middle of the river.

The woman was sitting on a scrap of blanket, while he stood nearby, leaning against a piece of still-intact railing. It was the least he could do to spread the blanket. After all, one couldn't lose his manners just because one happened to get stuck on a collapsed bridge. There had to be some decency.

Finally the man snorted derisively and folded away the paper he'd been reading. 'What nonsense!', he spat.

'Sorry?', the woman replied.

'Ah, nothing. Just was reading an article about the strange things men believe. Like that belief that the connection really works.'

'Connection?'

'Yup. That legend that if you take two people anywhere in the world you could build upon friends, acquaintances of friends and colleagues of acquaintances of friends, and thus link any two persons with a chain of six persons or less. That's nonsense, if one asks my opinion, which no-one naturally does.'

'Oh.', the woman replied.

'If you'd believe that rant someone had bothered to type, there'd be even crazier connections. Like, for example, me having been here in the city for two days, already knowing someone you know.'

'Well, people do meet each other -'

'But not so much! Sorry. Didn't mean to snap. It just seems so illogical. Why, so many other things here in the city do so it might just work! For instance, it seems that everyone I run into is either a fiancee or a foe of Ranma Saotome.'

The woman smiled. 'Well, I for one am neither.'

The man smiled, happy that there could be even a little bit of normalcy.

The woman spoke. 'Oh, my. It seems I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Kasumi Tendo. A strange occurrence that, however, a sister of mine seems to be a fiancee of Ranma Saotome's - oh! Do be careful. You almost fell into the river.'

It took some time for the couple to get rescued from the bridge remains. The man, by that, had recovered most of his composure. What was he, cursed to bump into Ranma Saotome at every turn?

Kasumi insisted on inviting him over to thank him for saving her. 'After all', she said, 'without you I could be drowning in the river, or worse. And it certainly is a strange chance, you bumping into Ranma's friends everywhere.'

Sipping a cup of lemonade while Kasumi worked in the kitchen, the man looked around. It somehow figured that he'd end up in the Tendo dojo. A squeal from below drew him to look, and he found there was a small, black pig sitting on the floor, looking at him with curious eyes.

'Kasumi-san', the man called out. 'Should there be a small piglet running around in here?'

'Oh', Kasumi answered. 'It is just Akane's pet, P-Chan.'

'Ah.'

The man bent to scratch the piglet's ears.

'Well, a very... a very pig-looking pig you are. Charmed to meetcha, P-Chan.'

The man took one of the cookies Kasumi had offered and tentatively offered it to the pig, which greedily bit into it.

'Well, you do seem hungry. What's that what you're wearing? A bandanna of some sort? Doesn't surprise me that I've seen one like it somewhere.'

Suddenly, the pig seemed to start sweating.

'Probably nothing. Fashion, or something. Or, using my small powers of deduction, maybe - ha! Got it. You being a pet to one of the girls here, that bandanna could be a gift from a suitor of hers. Did meet someone with a similar sash yesterday. A splendid young boy, by the name of Ryoga. You seen him, P-Chan?'

The pig stared at the man, fascinated, as if it understood every word.

'A resolute young creature. Some serious spirit in him. I - oh, pooh. Here I am, lecturing to a piglet. I must be losing it.'

The man straightened and took another sip of his drink. Suddenly, there was a loud crash from nearby, and two figures ran through the room and into the garden. The second was the red-haired pigtailed girl the man had seen yesterday. The first was bearing a cup of rice and clearly running away from the girl.

'Oh, pooh.', the man sighed and stared into his cup. 'Kasumi-san? A question. Should I be worried if a young girl just chased a panda through the room?'

'Oh, no, not at all.', Kasumi answered from the kitchen. 'Quite normal in here.'

'Ah. Good to know.'

The man took another sip of the drink, relieved that it apparently wasn't a fault of the drink after all. Life in the city certainly was a lot more strange than he had thought it would be.

'Well, P-Chan', the man said after a while. Talking to a piglet probably was absolutely normal in here. 'A quite spectacular household you seem to be living in. Take care.'

The man drained his cup, carried it to the kitchen and, after once more thanking Kasumi, walked to the door. He paused only to look to the garden. The panda was lying on its back in the grass, snoring, with an empty cup of rice beside it.

A strange household indeed.

The passerby frowned, looking at the man walking down the street. What had that been all about?

'Why on Earth should I know anyone named Ranma Saotome? And what did he mean, 'finally out of the Ranma zone?''

Tale one : the Cursed Idol

Akane was very angry when she found the little statue. People usually are either very angry or outright mad when they find things like that. It is a law of the Story.

Ranma had been his usual rude self, and Akane was still simmering hours later. She had ran out of cinderblocks and, searching for some more, had ended up in the storage room of the dojo. No cinderblocks there, but plenty of ancient and strange memorabilia from the long years of Anything Goes Martial Arts. Some were amusing, such as a note that said: 'For Imperial Treasury. To be paid to the owner of this note: 1 yen, for services rendered. The Shogun.' Some were strange, such as a combination weapon of a katana and a longbow, carefully packaged with a note of 'Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, try to use. Eight-fingers Jinji, Master of Anything Goes.' Some were plain incomprehensible, such as a coagulated lump of rice soup labelled 'Dangerous! Do not wet. Do not expose to sunlight. Do not, DO NOT, eat.'

And some of the things in the storage were scary. Well, as scary as anything connected to the branch of martial arts Happosai was the strongest representative of could be. The statue was half a foot tall, red, hard-baked clay, representing a widely-grinning young man.

The label was the scary part. It read 'Cursed Idol. Do not give to anyone.' Nothing more. Cursed Idol? All kinds of strange rubbish -

And at that moment Akane heard a voice from the dojo. A female voice that spoke poor Japanese with a Chinese accent. A voice she decidedly didn't like.

'Husband! Come back!'

She also heard the sound of Ranma running for the hills.

She rushed out to confront the insolent Amazon and, on seeing her, noticed she still held the statue in her hands. Now, Akane Tendo wasn't an evil person, but she had had a very bad day so far, and she really didn't like the woman that had repeatedly tried to steal Ranma from her. Not that she cared about the jerk, of course.

'Shampoo!'

'Ak! Kitchen Destroyer!'

Silently fuming and very resolute now, she presented the statue. 'Shampoo, I'd like you to have this.'

'What is it?'

'Oh, just something I found in the storage room. I think it is Chinese, so you should have it.'

'Oh. Thank you, Kitchen Killer.'

Shampoo was guileful enough to know Akane wasn't, so she didn't expect such a sudden bout of nastiness. And besides, where could the Doom of Food get a dangerous magic item from?

Akane felt a little bad seeing Shampoo leave. A little, and even that feeling disappeared when she noticed the dish of ramen that had spilled to the floor and stank of roses and nameless, both amorous and poisonous things.

Shampoo had had her share of encounters with magic, so she could draw a connection when the third fire hydrant exploded while she was walking past.

Fire hydrants do explode now and then, but three in one hour is unusual even in Nerima.

There was really only one thing that could have cursed her, and that was the statue. Oh, the Kitchen Menace had been very crafty. Shampoo hadn't heard of such bad cursed items for a while.

As it is very well known, the Chinese Amazons usually don't let an insult go unanswered.

Soon after the Tendo doorbell rang, and Akane went to answer. Kasumi heard the following half of a conversation.

'Oh, hi, Shampoo. Ranma isn't home right now so you -'

'Oh, really? Well, thank you. You really shouldn't have. Please come inside. You look all wet and -'

'Oh. Where was she in such a hurry to? I almost feel sorry for her. I gave her that nasty idol and now she brings me a present in return. A fancy scarf it's wrapped in. I wonder what it might be -'

'Of course. The same blasted idol.'

Meanwhile, in the garden, Ryoga was rehearsing.

'Akane, would you like to come to a date with me?'

No. Too straightforward. What if she refused?

'Akane, there's this new martial arts movie playing and I thought...'

But what if she didn't want to see the movie?

'Akane, I thought I'd go to the movies tonight and I wondered if you would like to come with me?'

But what if she had other things to do? Worse still, what if she was going to the movies with Ranma?

No. Not possible. That lout would never manage to ask Akane to the movies.

'Akane, do you like movies?'

No. Absolutely not. A stupid question.

Why it had to be so difficult?

Oh! There Akane was. Quickly now, Ryoga. What do I say? Then she was here and there was no more time to think.

'Oh, hi Akane! I was w-wondering if t-today s-still m-movies l-like t-though-h - AARGH!'

Strange, he thought, usually the mental block wasn't this painful.

'Oh, Ryoga! Thank you! If you hadn't been there that could have hit me. Strange, now. How can a... a saucer? A saucer just zip out of nowhere like that? Somebody must have been washing dishes too vigorously.'

'Oh! G-glad to s-stop any s-saucers for you, Akane! Anytime!'

What was that thing Akane was holding? A statue? Was she offering it to - him?

'Ryoga, could you ...'

The world dissolved into a rosy haze.

Distantly and dimly Ryoga Hibiki heard an angelic voice say: '... could you throw this thing to a dumpster for me? Somewhere far away.'

The voice that spoke was so sweet to hear the words were almost incomprehensible. Anything! Anything for Akane!

When the mist finally dispersed, Ryoga found he was holding a rather repulsive clay statue of a grinning young man. Akane was gone.

Akane!

It took Ryoga several hours (and more than several imploding fire hydrants, violently and independently opening cold-water faucets and one insane fireman) to get convinced that something was wrong. His days weren't all that good, but they rarely were this bad. Finally he thought of the only possible explanation.

Saotome! This was all his fault!

The wretch had tricked his precious Akane into giving him a cursed idol of great, malignant power! The base knave! To stain the hands of beauteous Akane with such vile plottery!

Ryoga shook his head. He was so angry he didn't even recognise his thoughts as his own. That beast Ranma Saotome! He'd punish him for this trickery!

What could he do?

Running off to find the wretch was the first alternative. He'd go and find him and punish him for all evil he'd inflicted on him! Wait. There was a better idea. Let the plotter have a taste of his own medicine! A fitting punishment.

Ha. Now he only had to find the wretch.

Several hours later Ryoga found his way back to the Tendo house. Surely a sign of the righteousness of his cause that he should so quickly find his way over an overwhelming distance of whole three blocks!

And there was the wrongdoer, lying in the sun, apparently not caring about his evil deeds... The wretch!

'Ranma Saotome, prepare to die!'

In an instant the two were ready to fight, as usual. Ryoga didn't rush in yet, however. Time to put his ingenious plan into effect. The knave couldn't resist this.

'Ranma! Behold this!'

'Huh? What's that?'

'This is the secret Moustache Monk Idol of the Martial Arts Enhancement! With its powers, I shall defeat you!'

'Oh, really.'

Some kicks, some punches, a couple of leaps. An anvil that mysteriously fell out of the sky and barely missed Ryoga.

'Hey, Ryoga, if it really is so hot how about this: We fight, and if I win, I get to keep it. What you say?'

Excellent! He had known Saotome couldn't resist such an allure.

'Agreed, Saotome, but you shall never defeat me!'

Ryoga was surprised how little he had to hold back to lose to him. It was mostly because of the strange things that kept dropping out of the sky. Frogs? Nerima had strange weather-patterns, but showers of frogs were still unusual.

He tried to keep the smile off his face. It was rather easy because his back hurt so.

'Martial Art Enhancement, huh? Wasn't quite enough, pig boy. Well, see you again.'

There the fool went, not noticing his own cursed idol, cunningly disguised. Plastering a false moustache on the statue's face had been a stroke of genius!

Some people are just not made to be devious, but occasionally they are lucky.

'Oh, my. What happened to you, Ranma?'

'Just a bad day, Kasumi. Would you believe a water tower ruptured when I was walking by?'

'Oh.'

'And before that Kuno and Mousse ganged up on me. Do you have any dry clothes somewhere? I'm soaked.'

'What's that thing, Ranma?'

'Oh, just a stupid idol I won from Ryoga. Doesn't seem to have any power, even if he said it would enhance martial arts. Almost lost to Kuno. It's just a dumb piece of pottery.'

'It looks rather nice to me, except that terrible moustache.'

'Well, you keep it. I don't need it.'

'Thank-you, Ranma.'

And there it ends, because nothing bad can ever happen to Kasumi.

-THE END-

1 the Cursed Idol / seed 4 / 5 / 3-10-3-8-2-5

Cleaning up the dojo storage room and feeling angry, Akane finds a strange statue bearing the note: 'Cursed Idol. Do not give to anyone.' Bad time for Shampoo to walk in. Shampoo naturally manages to quickly give the idol back to the Kitcher Destroyer. Akane, in turn, has calmed down and asks Ryoga to throw the idol to the dumpster. Does Ryoga listen? Having been just given something by his precious Akane? Really. After noticing the curse, Ryoga decides to go and flaunt his 'Idol of Martial Arts Enhancement' to Ranma. 'If I win, I get the idol!' How far will the idol go? 'You keep it Kasumi if you like it. It doesn't work.'

Writing time: 70 minutes; 11.6.03 23:20 - 00:30, and 15 minutes to proof-read once.

Tale two : Count Tuesday

'That fool Saotome! That fool Saotome!'

The muttered curses fluttered across the park like heavy-winged bats. It had - again - been a most disappointing day to Hikaru Gosunkugi, the master photographer and the master of the dark arts of voodoo.

Well, at least a master photographer. There were enough photographers around for Hikaru to see he was good. There weren't so many practitioners of voodoo, so he really couldn't say, but what else but good could he be, having such unwavering devotion to it?

Agreed, his dark and fearsome arts didn't work with much visible effects, but some day they would. Some day girls would swoon at the feet of Gosunkugi the Great, the acclaimed master of the mystical arts. As of the present - well, he was quite confident that his numerous sorceries against that wretch Ranma Saotome were slowly - so slowly, but ah so unstoppably! - taking effect. Was not Saotome in constant turmoil and trouble? Was he not plagued by the attentions of not two, not three but four stunningly attractive young women? (Not much of a pest, thought Hikaru, but Saotome didn't seem to handle it well. The fool.) Was not the accursed Saotome daily beset with foes natural and supernatural, and the otherworldly rages of Upperclassman Kuno? Truly, his magic was not very direct at the moment, but slowly it worked its malign effects!

Stalking towards one particularly malignant-seeming tree, Hikaru drew forth his mallet, nail and straw manikin. He wasn't much good in making the things, but getting one look like Saotome was easy. Just add the pigtail.

This time the magic should be most awesome and powerful indeed. The manikin was stuffed with an item that had been in direct contact with that lecherous enemy of women, and was so deeply imbibed in his vital juices that handling it had given Gosunkugi mixed shivers of disgust and trepidation.

Somewhere else in Nerima Ranma Saotome was wondering where one of his sweaty sport socks had disappeared to. He was not destined to find out.

With a not-entirely-sane giggle Gosunkugi positioned the sock-filled manikin against the tree, took a hold of the nail, and struck with all his might.

'Yaagh!'

Unbelieveable! The manikin screamed and jolted out of his grasp! Dumbfounded by this sudden show of his spectacular arcane prowess, Gosunkugi landed on his hinder parts and gaped in wonder.

Such a powerful cry of pain and surprise! That fool Saotome was finished! Wait! What was this? The very tree moved, bending in unnatural, ominous ways. What was this? What accursed magic had he accidentally wrought? Gosunkugi trembled. This was the first time 'the nefarious powers of the otherworld brushed against his frail presence'. He had been waiting for this. He spoke.

'Hail! O mighty spirits of the otherworld of voodoo, listen to me! I am Hikaru Gosunkugi, a master of the dark arts! Heed my call and obey!'

The tree trembled and swayed uncertainly.

'What?', it said. Curious how the sanity-gnawing demons of the elseworld-abyss could sound like squeaky schoolboys when they so wanted, for reasons unknown to mere mortals.

'Heed to me and obey, o spirits of voodoo! I command thee to obey my whim!'

The tree swayed and went silent. Then it bent over him and cackled. A bad sign. A demon you are trying to subdue cackling is usually a very, very bad sign. Suddenly Hikaru wished he hadn't seen some of the voodoo movies he had seen. Decidedly unwholesome things happened to people in them. Some of them involved sharp things.

'Hoo!', the arcane spirits spoke. They still sounded like a schoolboy, but they were slipping. There was a resonance of unearthly power in their way of speaking, much akin to the way a young boy might try to speak were he seeking the most hollow and scary tone possible. 'Thinkest thou me a spirit of the... er... awayworlds, Gosunkugi?'

'Verily so! I have pierced thy diaphanous subterfuge, o Things that Gnaw!', Hikaru intoned. Saotome was finished now! 'Listen to me and obey, you tintillating and noxious shapeless things of the abyss! I command thee!'

The tree-thing snorted in a most threatening fashion.

'Bah! Foolish mortal Gosunkugi! Didst thou not recognise me for... er... ah... the Incredible Bad and Evil God of Voodoo, the very... Count Tuesday, the lord of the abyss and such evil things?'

Gosunkugi shivered. Count Tuesday? This was no mere minor imp! What terrible powers had he awakened? It must be a most horrible lord of the underworld. He had never even heard about it, and - because of those films he had so avidly watched - he could all too well imagine several reasons why there was no-one alive to tell of such an abyssal entity. Some of them involved sharp objects.

Control the bladder. Control the bladder. This is not the time to lose control.

'This time I shall let you go unmolested, foolish mortal!'

Phew.

'Relatively unmolested.'

Oh no. This was very bad. It could still involve sharp objects.

'On one condition...'

Hurrah!

'O most puissant and terrible Count Tuesday, tell me thy will! I shall serve thy whims if thou but restrain theeself from harming my own worthless self! Please! Please! Pretty please!'

The tree-count snorted.

'Ignoble mortal. Go thou to the house of one Ukyo Kuonji, a cook of great repute, and... and with thee bring a great assortment of various chocolates... mint-flavoured, I think... and give them to her, as a 'present from an admirer that goes in many guises'... Then leave quickly! This is my will!'

'As thou wish, o most detestable and unwholesome authority! I shall obey!'

'Now begone, foul mortal, before I unloosen my terrible wrath upon thee, and several sharp and painful things!'

'At once, o most arcane majesty!'

'Go now, thou craven prostrator!'

'As thou wish, o worm-riddled magnificence!'

'Be gone!'

Gosunkugi fled.

The next day several students actually noticed Hikaru Gosunkugi. This was mostly because of the wide, idiotic grin he wore. Also, people that keep muttering to themselves while clearly not seeing the world around them tend to attract attention. Especially if they happen to mutter something along the lines of 'The power! I've got the power now! He'll suffer! I shall inflict a thousand mystical tortures on that craven enemy of women!'

Somewhere not very far away one boy known as Tsubasa Kurenai and also known as a wearer of many disguises (occasionally trees), was nursing a nail-created wound in his backside, and chuckling softly to himself. Count Tuesday indeed.

2 Count Tuesday / seed 3 / 2 / 15 / 14

Gosunkugi, once again nailing a straw Ranma-manikin to tree, gains a visit from the dark voodoo gods... or maybe from a tree-disguised Tsubasa Kurenai, feeling depressed and nailed, and intent on paying back!

Writing time: 50 minutes, 12.6.03 22.20(?) - 23.10, and 15 minutes to proof-read once.

Tale three : Wet Cement

'Do you see him?'

'Hss! Be quieter. He might hear. You know how good his hearing is! If he hears and comes here, I'll kill you!'

''s no use, _he'll_ kill us if he finds us...'

'Be silent and write! Or do you want your sister hogging all of your stuff after you're dead?'

'Never! And not... ah -'

'The things in your closet in that brown bag?'

'Yah.'

'Certainly not for your sister, Daisuke.'

'Right, Hiroshi. Who?'

'Maybe Nob. He'd value them.'

'Okay. "And to my friend Nob I thereby give the contents of the brown paper bag in my closet, not to be viewed upon giving them to him." Going to be a strange will. What about your collection?'

'Hss! Did you hear something?'

A period of very, very quiet silence.

'Nothing.'

'Must be nothing.'

'Yah. _He_ wouldn't creep, not after what we did. _He'd_ march in, take a stick and beat us into bloody -'

'Don't say it! It wasn't our fault!'

'There were people watching! They'll tell him! He's going to be so angry. He never, ever thinks well when he's angry. He's going to find us and kill us!'

'Wasn't like we meant to do it.'

'Quiet! Who knows how well he hears?'

Again, distressed silence, broken only by the sound of two pens busily scrabbling against paper. The handwriting that resulted was very shaky. The handwriting of people that believe they have mere minutes to live usually is.

A hand wrote: 'My collection of rare', and then drew a cross over the word 'rare'. There's some honesty even in people that are about to die. 'of somewhat-rare stones and rocks, to my mother. All of my money and wealth to my girlfriend.' Born devious, dying devious: Let the girls bicker by themselves over the honour of having 'been' his girlfriend. Ah, the irony!

Somewhere nearby, a floorboard creaked. Two terrified forms huddled into a corner. Nothing more was heard, except the beating of two scared hearts and the sigh of one loosened bladder.

'Phew. For a moment though we were dead.'

'We are. When he finds us, he'll take a cheesegrater and -'

'Don't say it! Don't say it!'

'He must have heard about it already. He's somewhere there, looking for us and he thinks bloody murder. Maybe he'll take a sword and -'

'Don't say it! Why are you so interested about the way he's going to kill us?'

'Huh? Looks like the last thing worth being interested about to me. Can you blame me?'

'Shiver. What a disaster! I mean, there we are, looking at the construction yard, a pool of cement beyond the railing and under us, a bright sunny day and girls in short dresses -'

'Groan. I don't want to die!'

' - and then suddenly he waddles there, and you slap his back and he loses balance and -'

'Girls in short dresses. I'm going to cry.'

'- and he falls in and can't get to the surface, and everybody is pointing at us and -'

'Hiroshi! Hiroshi! Control yourself!'

'Control myself? How am I going to do that? I'm about to die!'

'Quiet! Don't shout!'

'What does it matter? Hell, Daisuke, he's going to kill us because we accidentally drowned his stupid panda-father into a pool of wet cement!'

Suddenly, a door croaked open. A bald form walked in. Two boys gurgled and fainted.

Afterwards, Genma Saotome was very puzzled. The two boys swoon when he walks in, then awaken, see him and cry in relief and beg his forgiveness. Then they treat him with a free multicourse meal while begging him not to 'tell Ranma about it'. Well, he hadn't a clue about what 'it' was, but he was going to be very quiet about it anyway. Free food is free food.

Meanwhile, searches for the panda that had escaped from the zoo continued.

3 Wet Cement / seed 4 / 3 / 19(4) / 7

Hiroshi and Daisuke cry and write their wills after accidentally burying a panda in wet cement while Ranma searches for them.

Writing time: 20 minutes, 23.30 - 23.50, 10 minutes to proof-read.

Comments: A disturbingly weird idea. Couldn't forget about it until I wrote this. I'm not normally like this.

Tale four : The Horror

The nurse left, feeling very distressed. One rarely saw such pitiful, pained examples of human misery. The two poor boys were in absolute shock, gibbering and whispering like that. Trauma of the worst sort. Oh, the way they had cracked their heads was terrible, too.

Behind her, the patients spoke to each other.

'That was the last time ever I peeked on someone, Hiroshi.'

'Cross my heart and hope to die, Daisuke. The mere thought -'

'Ohh. I think I'm going to throw up. Oh, how my head hurts.'

'The very thought that _that_ could be possible - no. It's too terrible to even imagine!'

'Uh-huh. Yes. I can't help thinking what... what he'd do if he found out we knew. He could force us -'

'No! Don't say it. Don't say it. Not with... with... it's...he's...'

Someone lost the last of his breakfast.

'I'm reforming, I swear. No more peeking. No more sneaking to look at the girls, even. It's all over for me. I swear that monstrous sight is indelibly printed on my soul!'

'The horror! The horror!'

'We hear the sound and creep in, oh poor we! A girl, we think, we innocent peeps, we!'

'The horror! The sanity-gnawing dark revelation of the evil mockery this frail existence of ours is!'

'Hiroshi, calm down. You sound like something out of H.P. Lovecraft.'

'What's that?'

'An American writer. He wrote about things just like this.'

'Sanity-gnawing horror?'

'Yes.'

'The horror!'

'And we see there is indeed someone there. Removing their clothing. We creep closer, silent and unseen. We shiver with disgust as we quickly recognise the dark-clad vile form we see.'

'The vile horror of it all!'

'No, we think, that epitome and mockery of all such activities that are so dear to us! And then, then the garment drops and we behold the ultimate secret, the supreme terror!'

'The ultimate horror!'

'Frozen we are, frozen and unable to move as the monstrous, misshapen diminutive form waddles into the bath, naked and terrible! Woe!'

'The grim horror!'

'Finally, we can move - we move, we run for our lives, run like all the demons of the hell be pursuing us! We try to overrun that terrible glimpse of unholy reality, but it flutters after us - a memory! A memory! A memory too terrible to be forgotten!'

'The horror!'

'No matter what we do, we still see it! So clear, every unholy detail so well-etched to the tender canvas of our gouged minds! With a mighty cry we bang our heads against the implacable cement of the yard, but in vain! The image remains! The terrible knowledge! The knowledge of the dark attentions that could be visited upon us, should the Thing know we saw it!'

'The unspeakable horror!'

'Dark-clad and unnameable it could creep to visit us in the dark of the night, force us to act in perverse, unwholesome ways to sate its devilish fantasies! No! I cannot sleep! I cannot close my eyes for the fear of seeing that awful sight printed inside my fluttering eyelids!'

'The fiendish, fiendish horror!'

'Hiroshi, my dear friend, my fellow in the ultimate dark horror of revelation, cry with me! Woe is us! The terrible ruin we have by our own clueless curiosity brought upon us! I dread the dark of night, knowing the secret! I cannot rest, lest that Thing creep up to me, demanding unnatural attentions and gruesome acts! Hiroshi, cry with me! It tears my soul to know that HAPPOSAI IS A WOMAN!'

4 The Horror / seed 2 / 4 / 19(4) / 13

It was but a normal day... Until, by freak accident, Hiroshi and Daisuke discovered the dark, incredible secret of Happosai!

Writing time: Twenty minutes, 13.6.03 00.10-00.30, 10 minutes to proof-read and cackle evilly.

Comments: Yeech. Too much Poe, Lovecraft and Ranma. Another of those sick ideas you just get and then can't forget.

Tale five : Kasumi and Happosai

It was the day Kasumi decided she'd have to do something about the old man. Now, he hadn't such horrible table manners as some, and didn't wreck as much furniture as some others (or the same), but that way he kept stealing underwear was a bit troublesome sometimes.

The old ruffian was so attached to those items, too, and it was awfully hard to get him let go of them once he got a good hold of them. Several times she'd had to sneak into his room and take a pair of them because all others were dirty or in wash. Now, at least the old man had been active enough to make sure she hadn't have to take anyone other's underwear. Now that would have been most improper.

But really, it was one additional bother she really could live without. Not many housekeepers have to bother with stealing back their own underwear.

The old man was frightfully stubborn, too. It probably wouldn't do any good trying to talk him out of it. Not even if she smiled very nicely.

What, then? She wasn't a martial artist that could just hit him until he stopped - and besides, Kasumi disapproved of such methods. They were so terribly messy and noisy. And asking one of the martial artists that lounged around - well, they wouldn't be of any help. It was really curious how much they feared the awful little old man. It wasn't like he would have tried to kill someone or anything. Well, not very often, anyway.

There was, naturally, the storage room. Kasumi, as the only person in the Tendo household, actually knew what was stored in the cramped little room by the dojo. Mostly they were things best left in there. Kasumi was the sort of person that, coming across a little statue labelled 'Cursed Idol. Do not give to anyone.' would carefully dust it, replace it in the storage room, and then, without any care or interest whatsoever, promptly _forget about it_. In a place like Nerima such sensible people were very, very rare.

Now, however, Kasumi searched for an old scroll she had seen there sometime. It was one of those things only a master of Anything Goes could invent. She'd even tried it once, while very much younger and a considerable bit sillier. Her father had been very agitated but had never found out who did it or what it exactly had been.

Ah. There it was. An ancient scroll tied with a red ribbon, a repeatedly-broken seal hanging from it.

Usually it isn't worth the bother to seal the scrolls that conceal the Utmost Dark Secrets of the Mystical Arts. Some power-hungry sod is bound to come, read and conquer soon anyway.

Kasumi took the scroll to the kitchen, set it down behind the breadbox, and for the rest of the day promptly forgot about it and concentrated on making the dinner.

This, too, is something only very few people - especially in Nerima - are able to do without a great deal of either practice or natural aptitude.

Finally, when everyone else was asleep, Kasumi sat down in her room, read the scroll, and smiled a little bit. Maybe it was a little extreme, but it would work. And it would only take a little preparation and some cheap chemicals.

It is often believed that the most impressive feats of the martial artist are the result of decades of sweat, blood, tears and constant training. Actually, the most impressive feats are manufactured with a little bit of gunpowder, a pestle and a mortar, and a good deal of swearing. Sweating is included, too, and occasionally bleeding, if you aren't careful.

The following day. Happosai, the Master of the School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, the Thief that Giggles in the Night, the Terror of Women, a man feared, dreaded and loathed across the entire ward of Nerima, had just awakened from a pleasant, female-underwear-filled dream. Donning his usual shapeless garb he prepared himself for the coming day, probably full of excitement and gorgeous females. Or at least gorgeous females. The excitement wasn't exactly daily, but he could live without it as long as there was an occasional nice girl to see. Well, mostly to see. Sometimes other forms of more direct contact were included.

Well, if you take 'sometimes' to mean 'on an hourly basis'.

He walked down the stairs, noting with a small amount of chagrin that all three of the Tendo sisters had gotten up and left already. Pooh. Well, there would be other girls. There were sounds from the kitchen - Kasumi, the eldest. A bit too nice and mild for his liking. And no Ranma anywhere. Pity. That young cur was always fun.

But what was this feeling that kept tugging at him? Like a scent, yet more subtle and not originating from his nose at all. An instinct, the result of decades of training. He turned and crept forward. Yes! His senses hadn't betrayed him at all. There, on the garden lawn, it was.

Wo-hoo! A prime example of extremely frilly and frivolous cute female brassiere, all alone and ownerless! He leapt and laughed aloud. What a way to start his day! A good omen!

He was somewhat surprised when, just as he reached out to snatch the pretty object, a ball of fire engulfed him, frying the pretty and paradoxically considerably cooling his ardour. With a yell he leapt for the pool.

Now this, then, was not a very good way for a day to begin. A good example of exciting brassiere soiled by fire. He himself quite singed and wet, and he hadn't even gotten any breakfast yet. What a rotten luck.

He got out of the pool and shook himself. Bah! This was nothing to such a master of the arts as he! There would be other interesting items of underwear. Besides, that puny flare had been nothing compared to the one created by the awesome secret technique of his, the fearsome Happo-Fire Burst, developed from the ancient Anything Goes technique of...the technique of... Pooh. Developed from the ancient Anything Goes technique of Something that Exploded!

Awooh! There was another item! A lonely pair of panties, even frillier, and in a pleasant shade of pink, too! With a victorious snarl he leapt.

This time the fireball was several times bigger and hotter. So hot, in fact, that Happosai began feeling concerned about the state of his own personal underwear - not something he (or anyone else, actually) thought much about.

What could this be? Who could attack him in such a cowardly, devious way? And from where? Keeping a careful watch the old master rose from the pond, determined to see where the next attack came from.

Aiyah! This couldn't even be true! Another pair of panties lying out in the open! Now he had to be careful. That pretty item must not suffer the fate of the previous ones. No, to char such loveliness would be too horrible to even imagine! With skill unrivalled by the most he run, leapt and dodged, weaving an incredible net of distraction, sure that no-one could target on him now. Upon passing the precious item, he reached out a hand to grasp it.

Once again cooling himself in the pond, master Happosai frowned. A crafty opponent he had, indeed. And just in the very moment he had gotten a good hold of the beauty, too! Blasts of fire were so unhealthy to ancient masters of the martial arts. Not to mention what they did to frilly underwear.

Inside, Kasumi ticked another mark to her notepad. Three gone, thirteen left. She was pretty sure the old man would be finally conditioned into forgetting the habit of his. If not today, then tomorrow. Or maybe the day after that. She had time.

And she had the secrets of the technique of the Anything Goes Explosive Underwear, not known to many.

Keeping the house of several martial artists had its own unique troubles, and its unique solutions.

-the end-

5 Kasumi and Happosai / seed 3 / 5 / 13 / 5

Kasumi decides old master Happosai might fare better if he learnt to lay off stealing underwear. Not a good time for her to find a book about the Anything Goes Secret Technique of Explosive Underwear.

Writing time: 40 minutes, 20.53 - 21.36, 20 minutes to proof-read once.

Comments: No, I really don't known where these ideas come from. I hope the Martians implant them in my brain, because it really scares me to think they may be mine.

I was tempted (for three seconds) to label this as 'Kasumi and Happosai : Contains liquids, severe hotness, and underwear not being worn', but then the fit passed.

Tale six : Venting Anger

Weary and wounded, both combatants slumped to the ground. Both were bone-weary, bleeding from a dozen cuts, and exceedingly despondent. Somehow, both still held a clarity of mind, sharply accentuated by the weakness of their bodies.

Ryoga tried to raise a hand to jerk out the small spatula that had caught itself into his tattered sleeve, but couldn't gather enough strength and let his arm fall. It had been a mistake to get into a fight with the girl so soon after fighting Ranma, but he had been so inflamed and furious he hadn't been able to hold himself back.

Ukyo closed her eyes for a moment and gulped for breath. She felt bruised and battered all over. It had been an even fight, neither of them able to gain any advantage and neither the slightest willing to give up. At least she hadn't any immediately dangerous wounds - at least she thought she didn't have. Not that she felt anything of her body except the throbbing ache of the bruises and the bristling pain of the minor cuts. She had been in an unusually foul mood colliding with the lost boy, and it had just escalated from that, he making a venomous remark about Ranma she just couldn't shrug off.

Ryoga closed his eyes and again failed to gather enough power to move himself. Fighting two such exhausting fights almost one after another was too much even for him. He knew he was going to limp for days - for weeks, maybe. Breathing hurt, so maybe he had broken a rib. And not that it would have been broken by Ranma. No, by that stubborn girl who had to go and stand for that no-good womanizer! What had gotten into them, fighting like that?

Ukyo grimaced and lied still. Trying to move had sent waves of agony up her arm. Badly jolted, maybe even broken. What had gotten into her, goading and fighting the boy like that? They weren't actual enemies - just two of those people whose life centred on Ranma Saotome. Hers on trying to win his love, his on trying to... to kill him? Mutually exclusive goals, for sure.

Ryoga tried to make his breath even, and slowly succeeded. Gods, how his chest ached! Just breathing was a chore now the surge of adrenaline had passed. Moving was too hard even to think of. What a fighter that girl was! He had fought in anger, and now recognised with a chill that he had been trying to kill her, more than he had ever tried killing Ranma Saotome. Anger and frenzy and the frustration of yet another defeat in the hands of the flippant Saotome. Another opponent, another chance.

Ukyo gave in to her aching muscles and rested her head against the ground. So much for trying to raise it and see how her opponent fared. She was simply too weary. She had fought with every ounce she had been able to muster, and frighteningly enough it had been enough against the lost boy. How? It was eerily clear now, past the blinding anger. She had fought to kill. Because there hadn't been anyone else she really could fight. As much as she at times hated Ranma she couldn't raise a hand against her fiancé. She really couldn't fight any of the other fiancées, no matter the situation, because she deep inside feared that Ranma might care of some of them so much he'd then abandon her. But the lost boy had insulted Ranma, and Ranma cared little of him. She had fought to kill, vented all of her frustration and anger on him.

Ryoga managed a grim, terrible smile but felt like tears inside. Well, indeed. What if he had managed to injure the girl fatally? He didn't like fighting girls, and would never hurt one willingly, but he had been past all reason a moment ago. Had he killed her? Another thought. If he now recovered quicker than she did, it could be easy. Would he kill her? That would ruin Saotome's happiness, wouldn't it?

Ukyo shivered and fought back an urge to throw up. Kill? Had she really had so much anger, so much fury she hadn't been able to vent, inside her? Maybe she had killed the boy, or crippled him. What would that change, if anything? Ranma, leaping to her arms, congratulating on vanquishing a foe of his? No. Ranma wouldn't do that. Wouldn't love a woman who fought his fights. Who killed someone. In anger. No love in blood, hot or cold. But would this rage vanish, killing him?

Ryoga licked his lips, tasting sweat and blood. What would killing her achieve? His quarrel was with Saotome, not with his women. And as much as he hated him, there was only one person he really could kill for that quarrel, and it wasn't this woman. What would killing her achieve? Only the hate and disgust of those few who still cared about him. Akane would hate him. Never be his, no matter what happened to Ranma.

Ukyo moaned and tried not to faint. No. As much as she loved and cared about Ranma, she couldn't kill just to protect him from - from stupid insults. All the rage of the battle had now drained out of her, and she felt numb and empty. She had been so close to killing someone. Just over words, and just because there wasn't anyone over she could fight and hate. But killing wouldn't solve anything. Dying?

Ryoga scowled and sighed. It felt so cold and so empty, all drained of force and emotion. Was he dying? Maybe he had suffered some injury too small to be noticed amidst all this ache, but serious enough to kill. Maybe not. Maybe the girl would die. What could he do then? There would be no other choice but fleeing, never to return. There was a choice in going and dying fighting Ranma, but he wouldn't fight him in his present state. He would pity him, and then hate him. No. Not really hate. He would be _disgusted_ by him.

Ukyo fainted.

After minutes that seemed to last eternities, Ryoga finally managed to stand up. It felt like his body was made out of devouring fire and crumbling ashes - aching and throbbing all over, and seemingly held together only by his willpower. He limped forward to his opponent, heavily leaning on his umbrella. He loomed over her, she looking so tiny and fragile. And so battered. Gods! Had he really done that to her? He was such a - an animal. Beast. How could he? What could he do now?

Suddenly Ukyo awakened. Pain lanced through her body, but it was only the pulsating, continuous ache she already knew, not the stabbing agony of a new injury. She forced her eyes over and saw the form looming above her. She felt like laughing but couldn't even smile. A pitiful sight. Then it hit her. All her doing. All those cuts and bruises and torn clothes. A leg covered in blood, a face that resembled a mask of devastation. An arm unnaturally limp. Terrible injuries. Gods, had she done that? He seemed more likely to fall on her than to attack her. She sought out his eyes and looked at them.

For a moment, the eyes of the two locked. For a moment, they recognised similar thoughts and similar pain. Then that moment passed.

'Hold onto my arm. It's not a long way to the hospital.'

'Okay.'

A pair battered forms, lying on hospital beds.

'Did this really happen?', a voice asked, wondering, not really expecting an answer.

'I will never speak of this.', a hesitant whisper returned.

'Then neither will I.'

'Then this never happened.'

'Agreed.'

6 Venting Anger / seed 4 / 3 / 9 / 8

Ryoga and Ukyo get into a fight over Ranma. Winded and hurt they think if killing the other one would solve anything.

Writing time: 40 minutes, 0.50 - 1.34, 10 minutes to proof-read once.

Comments: No, not a pairing story.

Tale Seven : So How Could It Drown, Anyway?

'So, what is this Ranma like, anyway?', asked Nabiki.

'Ahem.', Soun coughed. 'Actually, I don't know. I've never met him.'

'What?', hissed Akane. 'Engaging one of us to a complete stranger -'

'Oh, my.', Kasumi interjected. 'There's someone at the door.'

'It must be Ranma!', Soun exclaimed and ran to the door, Nabiki right behind him.

Behind the door was a wet and angry panda.

'Huh?', asked Soun.

'Huh?', asked Nabiki.

'Growf.', said the panda.

'You wouldn't be Ranma Saotome, would you?', Nabiki decided to ask.

The panda shook its head and whipped out a sign. 'Nope. But I'm his father.'

Another sign. 'Nice to meet you, miss. You too, Tendo.'

Nabiki turned to face Soun and calmly asked: 'So, father. You engaged one of us to the son of a panda?'

'No! I don't know -', Soun began, but the panda interrupted by whipping out of nowhere yet another sign. 'Let us go in. I'll explain.'

Shortly after the Tendo family and the panda were seated around the table. Nabiki was rather agitated. 'So, again, father, would you care to explain?'

'But I don't -', Soun began, but was again interrupted by the furry creature.

A sign. 'I am Genma Saotome. And this is my son, Ranma.' The creature whipped out an irregular, fist-sized rock and placed it gently on the table.

For a while there was silence.

'Great.', commented Nabiki. 'Father, your best friend is a panda - something you apparently just didn't notice - and you have engaged one of us to his son, who just happens to be a rock. Just plain great.'

Soun began to cry.

'Huh, dad?', continued Nabiki, prodding the rock. 'Do you see a son here? Huh? I mean, the son of a panda? A rock? Huh?'

The panda snorted and waddled to the kitchen, looking for hot water. Meanwhile, Akane picked up the odd rock and studied it. Yup. Certainly a rock. Nothing more.

It was thus quite a surprise to her when a man walked out of the kitchen and threw a cup of hot water on the rock. Suddenly she was holding not a fist-sized rock but a very surprised, and very naked, young pigtailed boy of about her own age.

'Huh?', asked Ranma. He then went on to notice that a perplexed girl was holding him by - well, by some parts. And that he was naked.

'You...', gasped Akane, and then reacted as she usually did. 'You... PERVERT!'

'Oh, my.', said Kasumi. 'You really shouldn't use the table like that, Akane. You spilled all the tea.'

Some time afterwards.

'So.', said Ranma. 'I dropped to this spring called the Spring of the Drowned Rock - and don't ask me how that happened - and now, whenever I'm touched with cold water I turn into a rock. Hot water gets me back.'

'Uh-huh.', said Nabiki.

'Could be worse.', sighed Ranma. 'I mean, I could turn into something worse, like a dorky girl or something.'

'Grrr.', said Akane.

7 So How Could It Drown, Anyway?

Written 25.10.2003, 23.14 - 23.38, thus 24 minutes.

Comments: Spring of the Drowned Rock? Another idea that was just too plain strange to ignore. Thank heavens I don't have the time or patience to write the entire plot anew on these lines.

Hmmm... the entire manga with the Spring of the Drowned Rock...

To reiterate, thank heavens I don't have the time or I surely would do it.

Tale Ten : Only One Way Out

A Ranma 1/2 fanfic by Hiten

It was the day of reckoning at last. He had been a coward, a despicable coward for a long time, but now it was over at last. His dark secrets were open for everyone to see, and they had turned even the woman he could die for against him. He was without a friend in the world. Ryoga Hibiki chucked - not in joy, because this was the most painful day in his life, but in relief. Finally.

The people he had sent messages to were arriving to the field. They were probably surprised to see Ryoga there. Somehow this new terrible peace of mind he had had enabled him to find his way here without any trouble.

There they came: the boy he hated above all else, and the girl he loved more than life itself. Ranma and Akane. He was angry, but curious. He counted on that curiosity holding long enough for him to say what he wanted to. She was angry, and that was easy to understand. After all, had Ryoga not cheated her, tricked her, spied on her?

'It is the day.', Ryoga called. Ranma looked up, surprised. He had probably expected the usual cry of 'prepare to die, Ranma Saotome!' Not today. His back still ached from the bruises Ranma had given him days ago. And his arm was still broken. He had learned to live with the pain.

They stopped. Ranma didn't seem to even think about it but he positioned himself a step closer to Ryoga than Akane, as if protecting her.

Ranma opened his mouth to speak. Ryoga cleared his throat and spoke before he could ruin it all.

'It is the day of reckoning, Saotome. Tendo.' He dropped his umbrella and backpack. 'Despite my deeds I have striven to live with honour.' He sighed. 'I have failed.'

Akane was still angry. No wonder. What else should she be?

Ryoga reached to his belt. Ranma tensed, but he motioned him to relax. 'In my weakness and lust I made it impossible to…' His voice broke, and he struggled to not cry. For now, he succeeded. He coughed. 'As a result of my vile actions, the woman I love more than life itself will never like me. Not as a loved one, not even as a friend.' He grinned. 'Thus my life is without love; but there is revenge. Ranma Saotome, you caused my curse to come to be. One might even say you caused the collapse of my life that followed.'

Ranma shifted, obviously again ready to shout his denial. Did he really think it did matter anymore whose fault this all was?

'Ranma Saotome. Will you fight me now, to death?'

Ranma stepped forward, but Akane put a hand on his arm, restraining him. Ranma slumped, dejected. Apparently they had spoke of this before.

'No.', she said. 'Go away, Ryoga. We won't have anything to do with you.'

Ryoga had expected those words, but they were still painful. Painful, and leaving only one way to escape.

'Will you, Akane Tendo, then fight me, to death?'

She hesitated. Now it was Ranma's time to hold her arm.

'No. I will not.'

Ryoga shook his head. 'Very well. Then there is only one choice. It is… Death!' And with that he leapt, drawing a weapon from his belt.

Ranma and Akane reacted instinctively. Akane ducked. Ranma growled and kicked out with him foot. Something cold and metallic flashed in the air. A sickening thud sounded, and Ryoga dropped to the ground. A dagger, driven to his breast by the force of Ranma's kick, was still held by his fingers. He smiled, blood colouring his lips, and looked at Akane.

'Your love, Akane Tendo, or death.'

Having said those words Ryoga Hibiki closed his eyes, breathed out and died. Ranma trembled and sat down, as if the foot that had driven the weapon to Ryoga's breast was now unable to support his weight. Akane shivered and felt tears coming.

Sometimes there is only one way out.

10 Ohh, so moody and dark... But this is how it would end.

Tale Eleven : Family Secret

A Ranma 1/2 fanfic by Hiten

The young girl sat in dark, waiting. She toyed with a ribbon, eyes closed, and tried to breathe evenly. A door creaked. The house was old and near-abandoned. For precisely that reason this was the chosen meeting-place. They didn't meet very often; now and then, when the loneliness became too much to bear. They were so different and yet so alike: A mother, and a daughter.

'Greetings, daughter.', Nodoka Saotome said and sat down. She, too, closed her eyes. It was much too dark to actually see anything. Her daughter liked it more so.

The daughter giggled and then sighed. 'Good day, mother. And what of my brother?'

Nodoka sighed. 'Ranma is well, or as well as he usually is. His life is so tangled up.'

The daughter sighed again. 'Yes. And I am not making it any better. But I so much would like to have a brother that would love me. That would care and listen… Mother, I am so lonely.'

Nodoka sighed and wished she could hold her daughter's hand. It wasn't possible, however. Her daughter was of… delicate mental balance and didn't like being touched. 'Your keeper, however, won't have anything to be changed -'

The daughter hissed. 'I won't have anything changed! A change is always for the worse! I won't have anything changed, except to bring my brother and me together!'

Nodoka shook her head and fell silent. It was impossible to talk to her daughter when she was like this. She was such a troubled creature. Given away as a child because she couldn't take care of her, then stolen further, and grown up amidst a strange, loveless family. It had taken her years to find her daughter, and she had been shocked finding her. She had become a creature much like she herself was when stressed and angry - except that her daughter was like that all the time. Her line was known of becoming strange when agitated - madness, some would call it. Ranma had been unaffected by it, this far. This far.

Nodoka rose and tried to smile. 'I wish you my best, daughter. Work as you will, and may you find happiness.' She turned and left.

The girl smiled - or rather grinned, glumly. 'I try, mother. I just am so very afraid, and I can't tell anyone. Forsaken and away-been blood can't demand its birthright by blood alone. I want my brother to love me, but he must love me without first knowing that. Oh, how lonely I am…', sighed the girl commonly known as Kodachi Kuno, and started to silently, softly cry.

11 Not much, just an idea that popped into my mind... one of those 'what-if' scenarios.

Tale Twelve : Keep It In the Family

An annoying piece by Hiten

'Wait!', Nabiki cried. 'Ranma! Wait! You can't marry Shampoo, even if she finally managed to extort the promise out of you.'

'What?', Ranma cried and jumped up. It was the first thing that had managed to stir him in several days since he had - as a result of an extremely convoluted set-up - publicly and quite irrevocably promised to marry Shampoo. It had been such a terrible, blundering promise even running away seemed hopeless. Besides, Shampoo was very good in following people.

'What? Please, please tell me! Pretty please?', he whimpered.

Nabiki smiled. 'First, please sign this.'

'Huh? What's this?'

'A very simple paper, Ranma dear. My very own three wishes.'

'Huh? "I, Ranma Saotome, hereby promise to fulfil three specifically made wishes of Nabiki Tendo, be they any and of any kind, to the best of my ability, including -" - No!'

'Wanna marry Shampoo?'

'Dang. All right. I'll sign.'

'Thank you very much. And here is the paper.'

Nabiki gave him a yellowed piece of parchment and left. The parchment was an extract of a copy of the birth records of the Amazon village. It listen the birth of Xian Pu, or Shampoo, the daughter of Lo Tion, an Amazon of the village, and …

Ranma gurgled and fainted.

Several days later Shampoo cried in the back room of the Nekohanten, bereft of all hope. The twin blows had been almost too much for her.

First to learn she couldn't marry Ranma. Ever. The time she'd spent trying to had all been just a foolish and futile impossible quest.

And the second blow was the exact reason.

Genma Saotome was her father.

Now that was maybe even worse. Genma Saotome wasn't exactly a picture of the Amazon virtues.

Had he stayed in Joketsuzoku after seducing one of its young girls while on a training trip in China he would have become the laughing-stock of the village. Instead he had been a coward and escaped while some unknown black-clad pygmy raided the Amazons' underwear, and the shamed girl had been forced to quickly marry another to hide her shame. It was, however, unthinkable to write a lie in the birth records; besides, no-one ever looked at them, anyway.

Had Cologne known her shame? No. Even she hadn't believed such a thing possible. All their plans were ruined because of the momentary weakness of her mother, and the wiles of the cowardly Saotome.

Only the fact that patricide was impossible to think of had prevented Shampoo from going and killing Genma Saotome immediate after hearing the news. That, and the paralysing shock.

And the realisation she couldn't marry Ranma.

So much time wasted. So much passion used pursuing a lost cause.

Suddenly Cologne hopped in on her stick, smiling and cackling.

'Be silent, Great-Grandmother', Shampoo sniffed. 'All ruined. No can laugh now.'

'Oh, great-granddaughter', the old ghoul chuckled, 'You don't know yet that even if failure stings, making sure others don't succeed is something of a balm. Look at these papers I collected from the Nerima hospital.'

'Shampoo no understand.' There were several papers, all seemingly innocent hospital documents.

'Ah, daughter, it is rather complicated. See? There are the blood types of Soun Tendo and his wife. You know that blood types are inherited? No? Well, believe me. There are the records of the three Tendo daughters and their blood types. And this is the record of one more person with a rather rare type of blood in his veins, and some other interesting hereditary characteristics…'

Shampoo felt dizzy. 'If Shampoo understand this right…'

'Indeed, girl. Let me write these things down in a form that is more easily understood. And then you'll deliver it to the house of the Tendoes.'

Shampoo grinned. Revenge was bitter-sweet.

Genma Saotome was nowhere to be seen. It was very well so because Soun, after recovering from his initial fit of hysteria, had started breathing heavily, glowing red in the eyes, and grasping a katana with a knuckle-whitening grip. A very, very sharp katana.

'My daughters!', he muttered. 'That fiend Saotome! To think I called him my best friend! And the shelter of my home! And to think he seduced my noble wife to such acts… not once or twice, but three times!'

It hadn't been exactly easy for the Tendo daughters either. Kasumi had fainted on realising what the records meant. Nabiki had only smiled with glazed eyes. She was still smiling, and seemed to not hear anything she was said.

Akane had, for some reason no-one else could explain, only hugged Ranma and cried.

There wasn't any possibility of a marriage between children with the same father.

Genma had apparently tried to snatch Ranma with him when he left the city, immediately after hearing the contents of the letter and well before Soun regained his senses. Ranma, for some reason, had kicked his father through several walls and then leaned against Akane, sighing very deeply.

All was ruined.

In the weeks and months that followed life slowly regained some sense of normalcy in the Tendo household. Genma was not seen again. Soun recovered, for a part, but he refused to give up his sword. Kasumi became her own cheerful self. So cheerful, in fact, that the others became a bit nervous. Akane stayed moody and became increasingly violent.

And Ranma started seeing Ukyo Kuonji more and more. It was only natural. She was shocked but not personally affected by the news, and there was nothing she wanted more than to help her best friend, her beloved.

And, very slowly, there rose the possibility that they might become a pair of lovers. Akane didn't like it, but she couldn't oppose it, and after all she wanted Ranma to be happy. Soun wept, but there was nothing he could do.

And then, one day, Nabiki reappeared.

She had left the house several weeks before, apparently to visit a friend of hers and to calm her nerves. She had smiled when she left; she grinned when she returned. For some reason she constantly whispered to herself: 'It was only logical, only logical, that this would be so too…'

She brought with her a faded copy of yet another birth certificate, and a copy of an adoption order. Namely, the permission for one seller of okonomiyaki named Kuonji to adopt a poor orphan girl, placed in an orphanage after her mother died of grief. The mother had been seduced by a wandering martial artist who had, after seeding the child, fled and left the mother alone.

Naturally, the name of the martial artist was Genma Saotome.

It was a terrible thing to do, naturally, but it took hours before Akane could stop laughing. Nabiki grinned all the time. Kasumi didn't laugh, but she said 'Oh, my!' in a strange tone.

Ranma and Ukyo were considerably less amused.

A hysteric delving into the birth records of the Nerimites proved two things at least: That Genma Saotome had apparently been considerably more attractive when younger, and that he had some fifty illegitimate children in the ward of Nerima alone.

Ukyo, Shampoo, Nabiki and Kasumi founded a classy restaurant that served only for women. Akane became their bouncer. After several nasty cases men learned to not come near the place.

Soun Tendo travelled to China and took a sword with him.

Genma Saotome was never been again. The secret of his charm wasn't discovered, either. Maybe it was better so.

After some time Ranma Saotome and Kodachi Kuno were wed. At that point the groom was in a state of mind that very well matched that of his bride: irrevocably insane.

Sorry. A stupid idea.

Stray Notes

How come there isn't a single married or even steadily dating couple among all the Nerimites?

Soun is a widower. Genma is in hiding from his wife. Nabiki doesn't date. Kasumi and Tofu? Not a relationship, and certainly nothing normal, I hope. Ranma and Ukyo/Shampoo/Kodachi? Nah. A friend/in love, scared/obsessed, and terrified/obsessed. Kuno? Hopelessly self-centred. Ryoga? Hopelessly scared. Cologne? Never seen her husband. Shampoo's father? Never even heard of his wife.

Ranma and Akane? Well, maybe. Just maybe.

And a story line we're unlikely to see any time soon:

"A Terrible, Terrible Danger"

'So', Shampoo purred. 'I no like what Shampoo must do, but Shampoo must.'

Ranma shook his head in disgust. 'So why didn't you tell me earlier?'

'Shampoo no can. Ranma no believe if Shampoo tell.'

'So you're not an Amazon at all, but a member of a secret society of women that hunt demons?'

'So it be. Shampoo need disguise, a reason to protect Ranma, so Shampoo set up the tournament, set up losing to Ranma, set up Kisses of Death and Marriage. All so Shampoo can get close to the demon, and kill it.'

'And Akane is that demon in disguise?'

'Yes so. A terrible, cruel old demon - the evil Kitchen Destroyer demon. Wrack kitchens, make poison-food, tolerate no bad comments.'

'Uh-huh. You know, I'm willing to believe that.'

N : Commercials

Diverse and wicked scenes for R½ commercials.

One : 'Marital arts'

Two : 'So Happy'

Three : 'On a Quest'

Four : 'His enemies thought him finished...'

Five : 'I've seen hell...'

Six : 'Devoted wife'

Seven : 'Once upon a time, a vile sorcerer...'

Eight : 'A beautiful lady'

Nine : 'Main stars'

One

[black screen.]

[flash: a wooden pole kicked in two.]

[black.]

Narrator: A master of martial arts.

[flashes: more objects kicked and punched in pieces.]

[black.]

Narrator: Master of strange techniques.

[flash: bright light and a scream of 'Hiryu Shoten Ha!']

[black]

Narrator: In martial arts, he needs no help.

[flash: Zooms in on Ranma, standing against a backdrop of mountains, hands folded over his chest, looking proud and self-confident.]

Narrator: Not so with marital arts.

[flash: Shampoo glomps someone, with an 'Aiya!'.]

[flash: Kodachi, slightly demented, cackles: 'Ranma darling is mine!']

[flash: Shampoo, angry, stomping her foot: 'Husband!']

[flash: Akane mallets someone with a heated: 'Ranma, you jerk!']

[flash: Ukyo, ecstatic: 'Ranma honey!']

[flash: Zooms in on Ranma, huddling in a corner, looking very, very scared.]

Narrator: Ranma 1/2. Can somebody please help this boy?

Two

[black. Grandiose action-flick music.]

Narrator: He is a master of martial arts.

[flash: an unsuspecting cow is kicked sky high. A moo quickly fades into distance.]

[black.]

Narrator: His wisdom is beyond compare.

[flash: somebody frenetically burrowing into a pile of ancient scrolls and tomes, not visible.]

[black.]

Narrator: His charm without equal.

[flash: a crowd of running women, screaming: 'Hey, come back!' ... among other things. Not too many rakes, because this is a city.]

[black.]

Narrator: His name is feared.

[flash: Cologne scowls, eyes narrowed, in distaste: 'So... Happy.']

[black.]

Narrator: His habits leave much to be desired.

[flashes: Happosai, the great master of martial arts, bouncing around, waving undies and screaming (probably 'Whatta haul!' and 'Pretty ladies!'), grinning and drooling like a maniac.]

[black.]

[flash: Shampoo, smiling, in response to Cologne's comment: 'Is short for Happosai, yes?']

[black.]

Narrator: Prepare for the fight. Master Happosai is coming.

[flash: Genma and Soun, near-frozen in terror. Soun whispers: 'Don't say his name! Don't say his name! He might hear you!']

[flash: Happosai, against a backdrop of nightly thunder, laughing. Words like 'insanely' and 'maniacally' or 'ominously' could fit in here.]

Narrator: Watch Happosai 1/2... er, Ranma 1/2... for more.

Three

[black. Typical on-a-quest-commercial-music.]

Narrator: She has a quest.

[flash: Zooming in from far. Somebody walking up a mountain.]

[black.]

Narrator: It took her far away from home.

[flash: Zooming in from far. Somebody walking over a plain.]

[black.]

Narrator: It had to be completed.

[flash: Zooming in from far. Somebody swimming over an ocean.]

[black.]

Narrator: (in a poor imitation of Judge Dredd) It was the Law.

[flash: Shampoo, brandishing a weapon: 'Ranma! I kill!']

[black.]

Narrator: And she happened to find a man.

[flash: Shampoo glomps (male) Ranma, saying: 'You I love!']

[black. Music rises to a deafening crescendo of high-speed action-flicking typical to action-movie trailers.]

Narrator: Follow the path of the Amazon warrior Shampoo as she struggles to destroy her enemy and marry the man she loves...

[flashes: Shampoo crashing through a wall. Shampoo glomping male Ranma. Shampoo trying to clobber onna-Ranma. Shampoo kissing male Ranma, looking happy - although Ranma looks quite uncomfortable. Shampoo chasing onna-Ranma, shouting: 'Female Ranma! Kill!']

[black. Music slows down.]

Narrator: No obstacle is too great.

[flash: Shampoo, very serious: 'Is obstacle. Obstacle is for killing.']

[black.]

Narrator: No task too difficult.

[flash: Shampoo, holding the platter on which lies a slightly-cooked P-Chan, smiles: 'Wife make lunch.']

[black. Romantic music.]

Narrator: No reward too great.

[flash: Shampoo hugging sleeping Ranma (male), muttering: 'Darling...']

[black.]

Narrator: Witness the breathtaking adventures of Shampoo at... Ranma 1/2!

[flash: Music stops. Shampoo, puzzled: 'Me no understand, but is deal.']

Four

[ominous music. Something between Jaws and Godfather. Music becomes more and more dramatic as the commercial goes on.]

Narrator: [the voice of someone who probably wouldn't think omerta a type of spaghetti.] His enemies thought him finished...

[flash: A man screams.]

[black.]

Narrator: ...but the accident only made him stronger.

[flash: Night. Inside a dark house. Somebody breathing heavily.]

[black.]

Narrator: Now he is back.

[flash: A piece of white cloth, apparently a part of someone's clothing over chest. A male person. Camera moves upwards, very close to the cloth.]

[black.]

Narrator: Stronger than ever.

[flash: More of the white cloth - apparently the camera is still moving upwards.]

[black.]

Narrator: Stranger than ever.

[flash: More of the same ol' cloth. Near to collar.]

[black.]

Narrator: Meet the wrath of -

[flash: Musical crescendo. A panda, in martial arts stance, brandishing a sign that reads 'Hiyah!']

[black.]

Narrator: - the Panda!

[flashes: Panda-Genma clobbers Ranma with a signpost. Panda fights over food with Ranma. Panda sweeps the floor with a broom. Panda lies on the beach, wearing sunglasses. Panda attacks Ranma.]

[black.]

Narrator: Genma Saotome is...

[flash: The Panda, breathing heavily, dripping wet.]

Narrator: ...the Panda.

Narrator: Watch Ranma 1/2 for more.

Five

[ominous music.]

Narrator: A man on a mission of vengeance.

[Flash: A male voice whispers, very angry: 'Thanks to you, I've seen hell...']

Narrator: Someone tortured him.

[Flash: The same male voice whispers, voice hoarse with rage: 'How dare you insult _her_...?']

Narrator: Someone took the woman he loves.

[Flash: Male voice whispers, rapidly sliding from puzzlement to fury: 'Bread? You think this is all about _bread_?']

Narrator: Someone who had no clue at all.

[Flash: Ranma, very much trying to think while Ryoga fumes in the background. Ranma: 'Let me see... Wait... I think I do... Nah. Who the hell are you?']

[Flash: Ryoga leaps, swinging the umbrella. The voice, that of Ryoga, screams: 'Ranma Saotome, prepare to DIE!']

[Title, in bold lettering: 'Ryoga's Revenge'. Under it, in smaller font: 'P-Chan included']

(inspiration: Star Wars II spots.)

Six

[music very similar to that in the beginning of Terminator 2.]

[flash: a female form, lined as a shadow against a bright light.]

[screen goes black, shows the text: Equipment - A ribbon and gymnastic pins.]

[text: More equipment - Paralysis poison and roses.]

[flash: Kodachi (who else?) cackles evilly.]

[text: Occupation - Devoted wife.]

[flash: Kodachi cackles some more.]

Seven

Narrator: Once upon a time, a vile sorcerer wove his nefarious magic -

[flash: Ranma Saotome, surprised: 'Who? Me?']

Narrator: - upon two innocent girls. One was sweet and maidenly -

[flash: Akane Tendo screams and hacks a cinderblock in two.]

Narrator: - the other energetic and lively.

[flash: 'Ranko Saotome', flailing her hands wildly: 'Keep away from me!']

Narrator: There was but one man in all of the realm who could save them from the vile attentions of the lecherous magician!

[flash: Ranma Saotome, angry: 'Hey!']

Narrator: Only one who was strong enough, devoted enough.

[flash: Ranma, wearing a pointy hat and trying his best to appear sorcererly, crankily: 'Yes, yes. And he was...?']

Narrator: One known by his unrivalled courage, his unflagging determination, and by his skill with the wooden sword.

[flash: Ranma the magician, deflated: 'Oh pooh. Not him.']

Narrator: One who was known as... (silence)

[flash: Ranma the magician, waving his hand at the silence, cranky: '...well?']

[flash: A flash of lightning. Kuno, brandishing his bokken: 'As Tatewaki Kuno, the Blue Thunder of the Furinkan High!']

[Title in ornate letters: 'Kuno's Quest'.]

Eight

[A feminine figure, tall and regal, face away from us. Long black hair. Not recognisable. Clad in Chinese clothes.]

Narrator: A beautiful lady, courted by many men. Wise beyond her years. An unrivalled fighter.

[we see flashes of this woman fighting against men (winning), reading ancient scrolls, and knocking down other women. What we glimpse of her face tells us she is indeed lovely.]

Narrator: Quickly one of the leaders of her tribe.

[we see her placing a golden circlet on her head.]

Narrator: Married to a wonderful, caring man.

[She is holding the hand of some man we see only the back of.]

Narrator: Mother to a sweet little child:

[She smiles, not noticeably older, holding a baby.]

[background music stops.]

Narrator: But, we so sorry, our story only begins a century later.

[the woman, shocked: 'What?']

[the music begins again, a bit different.]

[the woman, a hundred years later - no-one else but Cologne! - jumps into view, her usual ancient, ghoulish self, and whirls her walking stick expertly.]

Narrator: Well, at least she still is an unrivalled fighter.

[Cologne: 'You clod!']

[she whaps the camera with her staff. The view tilts down and fades to black.]

[text: Ranma 1/2. Includes other women.]

[a sound of the staff hitting the camera once more, and the voice of Cologne: 'Clod!' Fade out.]

Nine

Narrator: They are two of the most skilled martial artists of the land.

[a view of Happosai and Cologne, their usual ancient, ghoulish selves, eyeing each other suspiciously, while the narrator continues.]

Narrator: They know things most martial artists would never even dream of. Their prowess is the stuff legends are made of. Their very names carry an aura of awe and fear.

[a pause.]

Narrator: But let's face it. We're still happy that these other people are our main stars.

[Ranma, Ryoga, Shampoo, Akane and Ukyo pop into view, grinning and waving. And being severely more attractive than the ghouls.]

[black, with the text: Ranma 1/2.]

Narrator: Hey, isn't that explosive?

[the text explodes with a shout of 'Happo-fire burst!'. Fade out.]