PDA

View Full Version : Akane - The Monk Girl (Ranma 1/2 & Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl fusion/crossover)



VelspertheCat
June 8th, 2011, 11:21 PM
Ranma Nibunnoichi is the property of Rumiko Takahashi. Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl is the property of Akitaro Daichi. All additional references and parodies belong to their respective owners.

AN: This is an experiment with story pacing. Trying to find what's a good mix of plot, normal everyday slice of life, and adventure.

Akane: The Monk Girl

The Not So Bitter End

The night was eerily still and chilly. A dark haired young man in the prime of his youth calmly sat at attention in a room barely lit by two candles and the light sneaking into the hallway from a torch outside the room. His back was ramrod straight and his sky blue gaze was focused on the wall across from him. The brunet's gaze wandered slightly as he gazed around the mostly empty bedroom as he tried to ignore how cold he was through the thin white kimono he was wearing.

A haunting melody carried down to his room.

'Guess it's time.' Ranma Saotome, heir of his martial arts school thought. His bare toes flexed up against the mats in his bedroom. His shoulders twitched as he suddenly felt a crushing pressure settle down on him. 'I'm glad they as least gave me a fair chance.'

The martial artist gulped as he glanced to his right. A shadowy figure cut off the light coming in from the hallway outside. “Your time is up. Our sacred relic has not been returned as agreed upon.” The speaker was a female. Her tone of voice was modulated as she tightly held onto control over herself. “Do you have any last words? I will tell them to her when she returns?”

“I didn't do it.” Came first to Ranma's mind, but apparently that option had been taken off the table. There was also “You've got the wrong guy.”, but that wasn't any good. Especially when said by the student of the man that had robbed them blind.

The teenager hemmed and hawed for a few moments in indecision, but his time ran out when the sound of steel drawing reached his ears. “Well, how about a question?” Ranma asked. He resisted the urge to tug on the short nub of a ponytail he had let grow. The martial artist sadly wished he had let those women cut his hair after his last bath. The urge to scratch at his scalp was driving him crazy right now.

The door slid open.

The chill of winter swept into the dark room. The two candle lights gutted out as the eerie howls lightly pranced around the room along with the funeral dirge he was being played by another of the maidens of the temple.

“That's acceptable.” His would be executioner evenly replied as she moved next to him. From the way she stood so close to his kneeling form he couldn't exactly tell how tall she was in comparison to him. Or maybe it was just the flame obscuring her features and his own shot nerves that were making cognizant questions difficult.

Ranma realized he had at least five different ways to get out of this situation. Ten more if he took the girl hostage and made a break by leaping over the wooden railing that the torch was perched on. Various numbers ran though his head as he calculated the fall from the third story on himself and the warrior maiden.

She offered him a sheathed dagger.

More opportunities began to arise in his feverish mind as he added a weapon. The pros and cons of taking down the sword wielding woman versus distance having to watch his back from a hostile prisoner were also considered.

He discarded them. The martial artist reached for the dagger and gripped it with a solemn air. A little voice screaming for preservation above all yelled for his attention in the back of his head. “Thanks.” Ranma politely replied. A little bit more inside of him shriveled up in fear as he consciously choice to ignore his instincts once in his life.

Ranma's fingers twitched as he gripped the weapon. It was a bit awkward holding onto the knife. He fumbled it once as he hand jerked as he brought it to hold it in front of his belly. He winced as it clattered to the ground in front of him loudly.

The woman tensed. The partially drawn katana at her side gleamed in the harsh red light emitted from the torch outside the room. Her fingers moved to push it out slightly move as her head moved towards the fallen weapon.

The martial artist held his breath. Scenarios of her just drawing the sword in one quick slash and beheading him ran in his head. His nerves slowly began to relax over the next two minutes as the woman's rigid posture smoothed out.

The swords woman traded deadly efficiency with calm politeness. “Be careful.” She quietly chided. The executioner must have realized her own faux pas, though. She breathed out a long, weary sigh as she moved down to kneel in front of him. “For what it's worth...I'm sorry.” She plucked the weapon off the ground.

Ranma winced. He had hoped she might have forgotten that. “...well, I am too, I guess.” He took the weapon with the assurance that came with coming to terms with death. “So...my question.” The martial artist began as the woman rose.

“Yes?” The woman responded as she moved behind him.

The martial artist thought about the harsh words his master had spoken. His rounded cheeks and small frame had visibly shaken as he said things to the maidens he had never heard before. “What did Master Happosai mean by what he said?” Ranma wondered. Best to go facing his death educated instead of wondering about things while stumbling about in the next life.

“Ah...” The swords woman sighed. The woman felt pity well up for the child. “Just never say that to a woman, child. It's not polite.” The naivety in his words and tone struck her, but it was time to finish things off.

“I see...” Ranma drew the dagger out of its sheath. “It must be tough to be a woman.” With that, the dagger was thrust and twisted. The katana gleamed as it swung. From the distance, one particular torch was put out for the night.

*****

A loud and annoying mixture of cawing and warbling filled Akane Tendo's ears. The long haired brunette was currently staring up at the ceiling of her bedroom with veiny red eyes. Her expression was drooped around her cheeks as she merely kept resting beneath her covers. She had grand plans.

Plans to learn to incinerate things with her mind.

The nuisance that was her alarm continued to aid Akane in attempting to spontaneously master the feat, but even the girl had her limits. She rolled over to her left side. The teenager took a deep, calming breath and gently smacked the snooze button with her right hand.

Her left hand was used to cross her fingers.

The screeching noise swiftly cut off, and Akane was further rewarded by not hearing any of the delicate interior of the alarm clock from breaking apart on her. The tired girl completed her roll off the bed and stretched her arms above her head.

A yawn shot out of her throat as Akane blearily looked out the window directly facing her bed. The empty granite pool in the backyard stood in the middle of a yard that sparkled slightly with dew from the night. The surface of the grass gleamed as the sun just started to rise in the distance.

“Hm...gotta get ready.”

Akane's pajama sleeves and the bottoms of her bottoms both were longer than her body, but the girl merely noisily clicked her tongue and knelt to rolled the material up. She staggered around a pile of manga and school books as she headed for her door. Several toys she had outgrown, music CDs, and both paperback and hardcover books were sloppily stuffed on several bookcases she had along her walls.

The girl grinned a bit as she looked over at her desk. A picture of Akane, her two sisters, and parents were arrayed in front of the front door of her house. Her expression fell though as she considered what had happened sometime afterward.

Akane paused at the trash bin next to the door.

Three broken alarm radios silently rested there. They glared up at her with broken or shattered screens. One of them even tipped slightly to the left as the trio of broken electronics almost shifted in response to Akane's dirty glare.

'Hmph. It was you or me.' Akane justified. She opened the door with a little more heat than necessary as she headed out to the bathroom. The door bounced slightly open with the force she used to close it as she headed out to get ready for school.

*****

Akane hummed to herself as she came out of the shower. A large towel was wrapped around her long hair to dry it out. The girl herself, clad in a thick and flowing bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, paced down the empty and cool hallways. She occasionally made grimaces at her own half-hearted tones as her humming cracked or went flat in comparison to the songs bouncing around her head.

'The Siren, I am not.' She thought in amusement as she lightly placed a hand on the railing for the stairs and descended down to the dark first floor. Her footsteps shuffled as she walked past the empty living room and headed towards the kitchen.

The brown eyed girl hesitated. Akane glanced between the quiet kitchen and the abandoned dojo in the other part of the house for a few moments. Her stomach decided things for her, though. A low rumble quaked through her body as she stepped towards the kitchen.

'Sorry, I'll pray extra hard later.' The young Tendo thought.

Akane reached for the light switch. Artificial light flooded the dim kitchen as Akane set to working. The teenager's motions were stilted as she let her mind go on vacation. Mechanical motions that had been hammered into her body allowed her to prepare plenty of rice along with equally simple dishes. Quantity over quality.

The tools of the trade, assorted pots, pans, and other odds and ends that her mother and oldest sister used to use were used without conscious acknowledgment of them. Water ran quickly from the faucet as Akane twisted the nobs for full flow as her motions started shifting. The mechanical motions grew more and more forceful as the empty look that Akane had forced onto her mind began to slowly twist as she became aware of her surroundings.

Akane let off a soft cluck as she knocked the tip of her tongue against the roof of her mouth. She shook her head and finished up the last of the preparations. The teenager walked past the refrigerator in the kitchen and spotted a white note. Or it might have been white at one point. Several smudges and stains were on the frayed looking paper.

'Akane, call daddy. It's been too long. - Nabiki.' Was written flawlessly. Her middle sister always did have beautiful penmanship.

The young Tendo girl sighed and moved the rest of her dishes onto the table. It had been moved a month ago by Akane so it would overlook the backyard. “Thank you for the wonderful meal.” Akane mumbled to herself as she sat down at the head of the table and glanced at the yard. She wondered what it'd be like to have some koi and use that empty basin in the middle of the yard as a pond again.

The teenager snapped her chopsticks in two and took her first bite. “Blargh.” Akane grimaced. The normal tastelessness of her food tasted vaguely gritty this morning for some reason. She looked at the five dishes she had made for herself and the small rice cooker she had on hand and fidgeted in shame.

Time to break out the sauce.

*****

“I'll be back later.” Akane mumbled back to her home. She closed and locked the door before starting down a leisurely stroll towards Furinkan High. The teenager had about an hour or so before class would begin. There was nothing that needed taking care of in her club so she'd just take it easy today.

“Good morning, Ran!” Akane suddenly heard from behind. The long haired brunette grimaced and twisted in place to look behind her. One of the girls from her school raced up to her, clad in the long blue dress and white blouse that Akane was also wearing. She was a pale young girl with oily black hair and freckles along the bridge of her nose. “I didn't know that you lived here!”

Akane waited until the girl caught up to her. “Maybe it's because I didn't want to be found out?” She snarked. A faint smile was on her face, though. “Especially by people that don't bother using my real name?”

“Oh, you're such a tease, Ran!” The other girl laughed it off as she joined Akane. Both girls started walking towards the school side by side. “We're practically neighbors at this point.” She decisively concluded.

“Uh-huh.” Akane replied. The neighborhood around the two of them was quiet at this time of the day. Many of the people who worked here were from either martial arts families. So either already gone to open the rather large number of dojos in the district or just barely rising to go to more 'normal' jobs. “Is that so?”

“Yeah.” The girl continued. “I had always wondered why your house always looked so abandon...ed.” She bit down on her lip hard as Akane's brown eyes, which had been warm up to now, hardened as she snapped her gaze over towards the black haired girl.

“Hey...” The young Tendo began. She took a step forward. “Not cool.” She enunciated the words with a glare. Her hand, which had been gripping onto a worn leather schoolbag, tightened around the hold on it. The leather creaked.

The girl shook her head and stepped away from Akane. A look of shame entered her eyes. “U-um...sorry about that, Ran!” She turned and practically fled away from Akane.

'Well...that's a wonderful start to the day.' Akane sadly thought. Her head dropped as she stared at the ground for the next few minutes as she plodded along. The fascinating pattern of cracked lines on the sidewalk below terminated.

The rows of houses around Akane broke up. A storm drain stretched out the sides of the road.

“Don't resist!” A loud voice boomed, causing Akane to jump in place as she looked up in fear. The source of the voice was a police officer several yards away. He was holding onto a positively ancient looking old man with thin white hair. His body was small and clad in a what appeared to be an excessively dirty looking gi.

Despite his size he was quite readily putting up quite a fight, though. Before Akane's shocked eyes, the old man twisted in place. His tiny hands blurred as they struck the police officer across the chest and stomach. The taller man immediately roared in pain as his arms let go of the old man. He easily landed and began to rush away from the officer.

Yet the old man had clearly underestimated Nerima's finest. The police officer gathered his wits as he grasped a baton from his side. “Stop right there, criminal scum!” And unleashed it with enough force to clear the gap between him and the running old man.

The old man yelped in a high pitched and nasally tone as the baton smacked him in the back. The suspect stumbled down to one knee as the baton bounced off to his side. It was enough to stun him long enough for the officer to cover the gaping distance between the two, but it didn't ensure his capture. The old man shook his head and cackled as he rose to his feet.

“It'll take more than that to capture Happosai!” The old man shouted as he rushed off with all the vigor and power of youth.

“Damn! Get back here!” The officer roared as he raced after the old man.

Akane remained standing where she was in stunned shock. The teenager shook her head to throw off the sight of the two figures running away. “Oh well. Not my problem, I guess...” She started crossing the bridge over the storm drain. On the way across the bridge, she saw the police baton was lying on the ground in two pieces.

'Yikes. Martial artists are pretty scary people.' The schoolgirl thought as she bent down and picked up the two broken pieces. Akane decided to stuff them away in her bag to toss them away later as she put the whole situation out of her thoughts. The rest of the trip to Furinkan High was made in relative silence.

*****

Happosai wheezed as he rushed through the slowly filling streets. He curious pedestrians while simultaneously dodging strikes and attempts at grabbing him from others who had spotted the police officer that was chasing after him.

'I need water!' The shriveled up man angrily thought. A rotund man in a white martial arts gi dove at him, but Happosai simply leapt high over his grasping hands and bounced off the man's head before flying forwards.

“Get back here!” The police officer kept a hand on top of the brown cap on his head as his long brown coat bounced around his legs. The younger man was quickly catching up to Happosai at the pace he was setting.

'Stupid girl! It's all her fault that I'm so dried out now!' Happosai angrily thought. Another wave of exhaustion hit him as he swiftly turned a corner. His eyes brightened as he saw an old woman cleaning the front of her home with a wooden ladle and a bucket full of water. 'That's it!' He happily reached into his small brown gi and withdrew a ceramic ladle.

The object was cracked and looked like it had to be pieced together with different materials. The top half of the bowl that held the water was creamy brown to the bottom half's darker tone. A black gemstone was embedded in the center of this bowl.

“Hotcha!” The old men cheered as he dove towards the old woman. She let out a shriek of fright as she turned and ran away from Happosai. Her own ladle and bucket were dropped in her rush, and the bucket tipped over and started spilling the precious liquid.

Happosai's eyes narrowed as he sped up as much as his current form could tolerate to try and scoop up at least a little bit of water into his own ladle. However, he was forced to terminate his forward charge as a gleaming kunai, sharpened to a fine edge, slammed down in between Happosai and his target. The ground erupted in an explosive wave of energy that slammed him backwards. The old man yelped and furiously slapped at his gi to put out the tiny flames on his clothing as he slowly crawled to his feet and glared upwards with a soot stained face.

“That hurt, Ukyo!” Happosai shouted up at a silent woman alighted on top of a nearby power pole. She was dressed in a short blue sleeveless kimono with black leggings and long lacquered crimson gauntlets on her arms. A long trail of sandy brown hair trailed down her back from a high ponytail held in place with a white ribbon. She had a thin smile on her face as she held up her left hand, showing off six more kunai in her hands.

“That's good.” Ukyo Kuonji mused as her deep blue eyes gazed at him with unbridled hate. “Let's try and repeat that experience, yes?”

“...heh. So you want to go again, right? It's not going to bring him back.” Happosai's playful expression went a bit dark as he glanced up at her. “That's fine with me,” He bounced back to his feet. “Lady Kuonji!”

Ukyo roared in anger as she unleashed the kunai. Happosai rapidly backpedaled as the kunai explosively tore through more and more of the street around the two. The old man streaked past the police officer, who was stunned still at seeing the gaping holes blown in the street long enough for Happosai to break past him.

The woman snarled and leapt away from the pole she was standing on towards another. She kept the pace going as she continued lobbing more explosive weapons down at her target. The few people on the streets screamed and began to panic as the fighting began to spill over towards the streets they were walking on.

“You're going to kill all these people, Ucchan!” Happosai taunted the mad woman above him. His words incited her to even greater levels of rage as he barely kept away from her attacks. “I don't think Ranma would like you very much now!”

Ukyo took a deep breath to respond, but she was completely blown off feet as a small stop sign came smashing towards her guts at thirty miles an hour. The woman came crashing down to the ground in a dazed heap along with the sign, which still had cement clinging to the bottom of it.

“...hey!” The police officer roared as he pulled his left arm back from where he had flung the stop sign like a spear. “You just crossed the line, lady!” He snarled as he adjusted his hat on top of his head as he glared at Ukyo.

“Hahah! Good work, officer!” Happosai crowed. By now, he had put enough distance that it'd be impossible for either of the two to keep up. He jauntily waved his ladle over at the man. “I'll make sure not to peek at any women undressing for...the next ten minutes, okay?” With a final laugh, he rushed away from scene of the fight.

“Damn.” He cursed, but he at least had managed to stop the woman from hurting people.

“Y-you idiot...” Ukyo coughed as she struggled to her knees. Steam hissed off her body as her image wavered. Her silky brown hair grew dry as it began to shrink. Her outfit began getting stains and cuts on it as her overall appearance grew haggard. “Ngh. Now he's free to get water again.” The brunette sighed as she brought her hands up. Ukyo's fingers twitched in a odd looking formation of patterns. Her body flickered out of sight as a large collection of smoke erupted outwards from where she was kneeling.

“Damn!” The officer smashed his fists together in frustration. His hat was blown off his head with the air flow generated by the force of his blows. The officer immediately panicked as he turned to chase after his hat. The wind kept taunting him by keeping it just out of reach of the police officer.

'I swear I'll catch you two troublemakers!' Ayato Hibiki angrily thought as he looked over the area. Several damaged buildings spread out as far as the eye could see. He was so going to get his pay docked again.

*****

“Ran! We need your help!” One of the outliers of the Kendo Club assaulted Akane the moment she stepped through the gates to the school. The brown haired boy looked absolutely panicked as he clasped his hands together in front of him.

Akane groaned as she gazed over at him. “What is it this time, Shutaro-san?” Still, better to get harassed now than when there was absolutely no time before classes started. She offered him a faint smile to try and soften her last statement.

“Ah, Kuno-sempai is forcing everyone to keep practicing! At this rate Jun is going to get kicked out of school!” Aki Shutaro bowed to the manager of the Kendo Club. “She's too timid to go against Kuno-sempai's words. She's going to stay in there until he's satisfied and...”

“Be completely late by the time it's all over, yes.” Akane sighed. She wished the absent minded teenager realized that the rest of the members of the club didn't have ins with the principal of the school, and wouldn't have their tardiness tolerated.

Especially by the school's disciplinary committee. That pack of freaks even got her to back down some days.

“So...can you free them?” Aki hopefully asked. “No one else is as strong as you.”

Akane raised an eyebrow, causing Aki to blush and amend his statement.

“Uhm. Without being one of 'those' martial artists.” He stammered.

Akane chuckled, “I was almost one myself, Shutaro-san.” Her teasing remark got the boy to start nervously twitching and trying to correct himself. “But don't worry. I get what you mean. I'll break your girlfriend out.”

“T-thank you, Ran!” Aki grinned. “I'll go tell Jun the good news!” He turned and raced away.

Akane sighed as she shook her head. “Must be nice.” She muttered as she slung her bag lazily over her right shoulder. The young Tendo quickly made her way across the open field in front of Furinkan towards the back where the private dojo lay. Principal Kuno quite frankly spoiled his son rotten sometimes.

'Guess visiting California does that to people?' The teenager wondered as she slid open the door to the dojo and entered after trading her shoes for some of the slippers provided for the members. The entire club was gathered together this morning in the large one room dojo beyond the walk in room.

Akane's upperclassman was standing at the head of the club dressed in his white gi and long blue hakama pants as he always did when in club. The older teenager looked cool and fresh as he repeatedly showed off the same swing over and over again for the benefit of the others.

'Ah, as obsessed as ever, I see.' Akane mused.

Several of them looked to be on their last legs, but none of them voiced their complaints. Their various significant others looked to be on the verge of all out assaulting Tatewaki Kuno, though. The older teenager didn't seem to mind their presence.

“You're torturing them!” One of the more melodramatic boys standing along the row of students yelled.

“Are you in this club?” Tatewaki responded.

“...no?” The student questioningly replied.

“Then shut up.” Or particularly care, perhaps.

Akane rubbed her forehead as the student was held back by two of their members. She really hated having to be the bridge between the loonies some days.

“I demand passion!” Tatewaki shouted at the group of teenagers before him. “I demand precision!” He continued with another hard swing. “You all have the same drive as I, but we must refine it! Don't let these losers drag you down!”

“Stop adding fuel to the fire, idiot!” In a flash, Akane was firing one half of the police officer's baton straight at Tatewaki. It bounced his head with a particularly loud thump. Almost like if the man's charisma had broken, the other members of the club scattered. Some flew back to their significant others' sides or others just plain ran to get showered off and dressed once they saw the time displayed on the clock above Tatewaki's head.

“Aah...that hurt.” Tatewaki blinked. The mania in his eyes faded as he rubbed at the spot the baton had struck him. He turned his gaze over towards Akane, who was moving towards him like a missile. “Good show, Manager-san!” He raised his boken in salute.

“Not everyone can afford to be missing out on class like you can, Kuno-sempai.” Akane declared for what seemed like the hundredth time this month.

“B-but we were simply pursuing the beauty of the Art!” Tatewaki defended himself.

“Yes, but they will get expelled or fed over to the sharks in the Disciplinary Committee.” Akane bluntly replied. The dark haired teenager began to energetically wave his bokken about as anger covered his face.

“Then we must ride forth and defeat them!” Tatewaki took a breath to continue, but Akane reached over and pinched his nose, causing him to start coughing and gagging. “Why are you doing that?” He asked Akane in a dry tone.

“You alright now?” Akane merely responded.

“...yes'm.” Tatewaki drooped.

“Good.” The teenager let go of her upperclassman's nose. “You're learning.” She patted him on the cheek.

Tatewaki grumbled as he took slouching steps out of his dojo. “Evil only wins when good men do nothing!” He accused over his shoulder.

Akane beamed him a sunny grin. “Then a good woman will be waiting to kick its ass, then.” She skipped past Tatewaki fast enough that she didn't see the faint blush on his cheeks as his eyes followed after her passage.

*****

Two figures clashed high above the rooftops of Nerima late that afternoon. One of them was an averaged sized man in a brown gi. His brown hair gleamed with the luster of rejuvenated energy and his dark gaze was sharper than ever. They both landed, separated by the wide street.

“Ukyo, just give up and go find some water. This is getting just sad.” The man held a ceramic ladle in front of him like a weapon. Its stone looked polished and whole.

Ukyo gasped and huffed for breath as she held a rusty kunai at the ready. “I'm...not going away that easily, Happosai!” Her outfit was nothing but dirty brown rags at this point. Her hair was cut boyishly short as dirt and famine clung to her body in equal measures.

“I'm only interested in women, m'boy.” Happosai taunted. He twirled the ladle around in his hands as he preened. “Not quite interested in underdeveloped teenagers like you with these looks.” He boasted as he tapped his chest with his weapon.

“Ha...you're just like me...you cheat.” Ukyo gasped. The teenager found it terribly hard to concentrate on pulling any of her flagging reserves to her. “Just magic you're using. Nothing more!” She angrily retorted. “You're spitting on the memory of Ranchan using that artifact like that!”

“Oh, my heir would have been happy to provide for his master's retirement, I'm sure.” Happosai shrugged off his words. “Better than the madness you want to use it for. Giving it back to them isn't going to make Ranma come back to life, you know!”

“It belongs to my family's descendants...” Ukyo retorted. “It's the only way he can be cleared of blame and move on!”

“Well, then just try and take it back from me, then? I'd be happy moving on with my life if you somehow took it away from me.” Happosai smiled happily. “Oh wait, I'm afraid you're just not strong enough!”

“Just remember those words when I enforce them, demon!” Ukyo shouted as she threw herself at Happosai.

“Ready or not, here I come!” Happosai chortled as he jumped straight at her.

Both the ladle and Ukyo's kunai met in mid-air. The magic between the two objects violently reacted as the two opposing elemental forces within clashed. Ukyo and Happosai were sent soaring away from each other as the invisible tension between the two weapons reacted by repelling each other. A growing spark of magic formed between the two flying martial artists that rapidly spread into a massive dome of energy.

Happosai and Ukyo both let out screams of pain as they were each clipped. The man's left foot and woman's right foot spasmed as they felt all of the magic in their bodies be drawn into the sphere. They instinctively curled in on themselves with pain in mid-flight. This was the only thing that saved them as the massive sphere of energy collapsed in on itself before exploding outwards in a rolling wave of force.

Windows shattered and people were knocked to their feet as the kinetic energy slammed Happosai and Ukyo, and aided their fight away from each other. Ukyo felt her kunai dissolve and vision start going to black. She quickly calculated her flight path, and used her life forces to at least have her land somewhere empty.

Ukyo's figure vanished in a burst of light.

*****

Akane let out a shriek as she heard a loud thump echo from the alley she had just passed on her way back home. She quickly spun around and looked at the direction. Only one of the city's garbage cans, tipped over on its side, appeared in her sight.

The brunette sighed, but immediately went bone white as she saw a hand flop out from behind the large plastic can. “Oh no, hey! Snap out of it!” The teenager rushed over towards the can, unheeding of anything besides the teenage girl that was slumped behind the can. She looked absolutely slovenly and was letting out pathetic wheezes as she stirred at her voice.

Akane looked around in a panic.

“W-water...please...I need...” The homeless teenager below her moaned pitifully. Her loose, oily strands of brown hair rubbed against the stained ground. “Just...a little bit.” She begged with a hoarse throat.

That made the decision for Akane.

“C'mon, we're getting you home.” Akane insisted as she dipped down. She ignored the smell lingering about the woman as she hauled the brown haired teenager up to her feet. Both of them stumbled out of the alley as they headed towards Akane's home.



Happosai shakily crawled out of the crater he had created with his body. He had used the last of his life forces to have his magic protect him,but now he had found himself in the middle of a street. Several onlookers gawked at him, but the majority were trying to ignore the old man as he began to wobble away.

One of the more brave pedestrians, a young gray haired foreigner wearing a large traveling pack, moved up to Happosai. “Hey, do you need any help?” He offered a hand towards the wobbling old man.

Happosai angrily slapped the offered hand away, “I'm fine, thank you.” He groused. Unlike Ukyo, he willingly gave up mass when he lacked magic, so he would be fine without water. Yet his ears perked up as the gray haired man shrugged and started moving. The sound of several bottles of water could be heard from within the pack.

“H-hey wait! Can I get a bottle of water?” Happosai instantly tried to present a feeble front.

The gray haired man snorted as he turned his green eyes on the old man with a sharp gaze, “500 yen.” He replied with a straight face.

“What! That's outrageous!”

“Then you get no water. I'm a merchant, and I'm not in the habit of being friends with thankless people like yourself.” The gray haired man turned and started away.

“F-fine, then! Give me a bottle.” Happosai angrily took out a coin from his gi. Bottle and coin were tossed at each other from five feet away. The old man was actually surprised the young man was able to catch it so easily.

“Pleasure doing business with you.” The merchant smirked as he blended back into the crowd.

“...hmph.” Happosai broke the cap on his bottle of water and thirstily chugged it down. He felt his strength start returning to him. The last bit of the water was poured into his ladle. The dark stone at the bottom of the ceramic artifact glowed as it infused the water with magic.

Happosai eagerly grinned as he tensed to splash himself.

“-oops!” The elderly man felt himself get jarred. “-sorry!” A dark haired teenager in a school uniform apologized as the water in the ladle wound up splashing him on the knee.

“Eh.” Happosai sweated. A curly haired man dressed in an immaculate white gi and long blue hakama pants stood where a school clad teenager had bumped into Happosai. In his left hand a shining steel katana shone.

The man rapidly blinked as he looked around the area before focusing on Happosai. Then specifically on the item in Happosai's hands. Electricity crackled along the surface of his katana as a look of interested crossed his eyes. Happosai turned to flee, but a bolt of lightning streaked out from the katana to strike the old man down as the man swung at him with his sword.

“Halt, vile troll! You shall not get away from the noble Blue Thunder, Tatewaki Kuno – age 17, so easily!” Tatewaki's voice was oozing with flamboyance as a thunder bolt answered him as he held his sword up. It was indeed blue.

And it was enough to knock Happosai clear out when it struck him down.

“Aah, you killed him!” One of the rubberneckers nearby shouted. Tatewaki put on a sincere smile as he turned towards the crowd around him. The katana vanished from his grasp as he shook his head in denial.

“Do you not see? The foul demon yet breathes.” Tatewaki gestured towards Happosai, who was currently face up. His cloaking and hair looked frizzy and lightly burnt, but people could see that the man was still alive.

“Oh.”

The crowd murmured amongst themselves as they hesitantly let it go before the man's pleasant facade. Tatewaki walked over towards the old man. “Hm...what an interesting device.” He mused as he snatched the ladle away from the man.

Happosai groaned.

“I think we will need to have a little chat.” The samurai banished his katana with a thought. He grabbed onto Happosai and started off to his mansion. “A good, long talk.”

*****

Akane's nose twitched as her passenger moaned in pain. She immediately chastised herself as thoughts of setting the homeless girl down somewhere crossed Akane's mind. The young Tendo fought back the growing urge to just get a breath of fresh air into the back of her mind. “We're almost there.” She told the other teenager as she kept her eyes firmly locked on a corner market convenience store.

The few people who were just gaping at Akane and her passenger were driven away by a sharp look.

Akane began to assist the girl into the store with her. The young man standing behind the counter glanced up. His eyes immediately widened as he focused on how bedraggled the girl with Akane looked. The man dipped down beneath the counter and pulled out a cloth rag and a bottle of glass cleaner.

“Cleaning.” He mouthed to Akane as he moved to stand directly in front of the doors and set to clean the glass on the doors.

Akane gave the man a dry look.

'Oh, that's how it's going to be?'

The man merely glanced over at the teenager Akane was holding up. A small group of people began to line up behind Akane as the clerk and Akane entered a staring match. The clerk gave vigorous wipes of the glass while Akane firmly stood in place.

“Hey, are you going to be taking forever?”

“...mommy, what stinks?”

“Hush!”

The young Tendo's temper began to fray at the edges. Her own stubbornness began to set in as she firmly stood her ground. The crowd's murmuring increased as Akane and clerk both locked fierce gazes together.

A particularly noisy woman shouted, “Look, just get out of the way!” The schoolgirl felt someone shift behind her as Akane merely kept holding her ground. The squirming behind the teenager made her think someone was trying to decide on what to do next.

'I would have shoved myself aside by now.' Akane mused to herself as she kept engaging in a staring contest with the clerk.

The homeless girl's painful moan decided it for Akane.

'I can't let myself get into a stupid staring contest.' Akane thought in shame. 'I don't have time to try and 'win'.'

Akane moved aside with a flicker of guilt in her gut. Several people gave her faintly disproving frowns as they were allowed into the store by the clerk. The teenager helped the homeless girl down so she rested up against the store. “One second.” Akane begged apology to the homeless girl as she quickly made to move into the store.

The clerk briefly glanced at Akane disapprovingly, but made to move back behind his counter as he allowed the brunette into the store. The teenager swallowed the curses that were bubbling up in her guts as she went in directly towards the bottles of water and picked several up. She felt several eyes on her as ducked in between aisles and picked up some strong aspirins too, just in case.

Akane fairly slammed the items down on the counter.

The clerk frowned.

“...sorry. Ring me up now.” Akane said. A moment passed between the girl and the young man. “Please.”

Akane fairly flew out of the convenience store once she paid for her purchases. The homeless girl looked as shaky looking as ever as she rested up against the bricks below the window of the store. Akane squatted down and twisted open the top of a bottle of water.

Akane started breaking open a cap of aspirin once she passed the water over to the ragged looking girl.“Here, do you need some medicine?” Next to her was a large plastic bag with more bottles of cool water along with other over the counter medicines.

The homeless girl desperately attempted to make her lips fuse around the neck of the plastic bottle as she eagerly sucked down the water. Akane's brown eyes shimmered in worry with the other teenager's reactions as she rolled the bottle of aspirin between her hands nervously.

“...gah!” The brown haired girl cut off her thick gulps off as she wheezed for breath. The bottle limply dropped from her hands as she shook her head as she gazed at Akane in surprise. “No...I'm fine.” Her deep blue eyes focused on Akane's brown eyes searchingly. “Thank you. I'm Ukyo Kuonji.” The newly introduced girl softly added.

“Oh...well, I'm glad.” Akane replied with an honest smile. She let the bottle of aspirin drop back into the plastic bag. She thrust it out towards Ukyo. When Akane saw that Ukyo was looking at her in confusion, she provided an explanation. “Here, this is yours, then.”

A look of alarm crossed Ukyo's eyes.

“Wait-” She was cut off by Akane.

“I don't need it.” The young Tendo replied as she pressed it into Ukyo's hands. Akane blinked as thick calluses closed on top of the Tendo girl's relatively softer hands.

“I...”

Akane stood up. She gave her blue skirt a hard shake once before she offered her a hand up. “My name's Akane Tendo.” She gave Ukyo a sunny smile. “It's a pleasure to meet you.”

“Ah...the pleasure is all mine.” Ukyo matched Akane's smile with one of her own. Her grimy hand grasped Akane's hand as both girls worked together to get the brown haired girl on her feet. Both girls stayed standing next to each other as Akane asked her next question.

“Do you think you could follow me to a clinic nearby?” Akane wondered.

Ukyo softly gripped the plastic bag. Over the years chasing Happosai down, she had run into this sort of situation time and time again. She couldn't afford to give up the chase now. Happosai was at his absolute weakest at this time.

“I'm sorry, but I have to...”

“Please! It'll just be a half hour, tops!” Akane begged. Ukyo suddenly noticed that Akane hadn't let go of her hand. “You might be okay right now, but you did pass out. That can't be normal.”

“I...” Ukyo remembered all the times she had been in this situation. She always ran the risk of being chased by truant officers and other government officials if she ever stumbled into a hospital after a devastating loss to Happosai. Especially if her magic failed catastrophically enough to send her back to her original body.

Akane squeezed her hand. Her eyes shone with nothing but concern.

“...okay.” Ukyo allowed. The cheer Akane let out was infectious enough to make the homeless girl smile.

'Just wait for me a little bit more Ranchan.' The short haired brunette thought.

*****

The window to Tatewaki's second story room was ajar. The curtains fluttered as the wind came in through where the samurai and his captive had crawled into the building from. The twenty five year old quirked his head from side to side as he inspected his image in the full length mirror in his walk in closet.

“Haa...”

The charred form of Happosai lay on top of Tatewaki's bed, wrapped up from head to toe in the covers. He hadn't woken up once since he had hit him with that last thunderbolt. It was always good to be cautious, though.

Tatewaki held his hands up to his face and inspected them. He could see where the callouses he had built up over the year were reinforced with more on his hands. Clenching his fists flexed muscles that had been developed along the lines he had always dreamed about.

He twisted in place as he turned towards the ceramic ladle set one of the chairs he had set up in the spacious closet. The object was heavily damaged, but the dark stone embedded within the ladle was whole. The senses he had been granted seemed to react to that gemstone.

'Are you what made me this way?' Tatewaki wondered as he leaned over to inspect the stone more. It was shaped like those club from card decks and glowed with an inner power that had his senses of danger ringing.

“Dangerous...” Tatewaki thought with a smile. “But interesting.” He picked the ladle up. The heir of the Kuno estate had been splashed with water coming from this item before he had been changed. Maybe it was best to run some experiments?

The man turned back and walked over towards his bed. The large, four pillar western bed was a bit excessive to Tatewaki's eyes, but it made his father happy. He reached over and roughly shook the old man awake.

“Sha...?” The man wheezed as he blinked his wide eyes up at Tatewaki.

“Tell me your name.” The samurai ordered. “Then how to get this to work.”

The fog of confusion lifted from the old man's face as he sneered angrily. “What makes you think I'm going to do...yeowtch!” His steadily rising voice was interrupted as Tatewaki ran a small amount of voltage into the old man's leg.

“Your name and function of this.” Tatewaki replied as he held up the ladle. “Or I can always smash it. I suppose.” He mused. “It'd be disappointing, but I have no need for something I don't know how to use, right?”

Tatewaki was secretly pleased as the old man went pale.

“Nonono! I'll talk! I'll talk! My name is Happosai Saotome!” Happosai babbled. Tatewaki took his hand off the old man at the sign of cooperation. The smaller male frowned, but continued. “It works with water. It grants a transformation ability afterward. Cold water changes the object, person, or animal into whatever they secretly wish to be. Hot water turns them back.”

“Well, that just explains part of it.” Tatewaki replied. Lightning crackled between his fingers. “I do believe I never wanted to literally be the Blue Thunder.” He reasonably mused.

“That's...I'm not sure how that works.” Happosai admitted with annoyance in his tone. “I just stole the thing. All I know is that when I got the transformation power, I could use magic. You can too now. But it comes at a cost. Water from the closest source.”

Tatewaki gave the old man, and his dried and shriveled looking skin, a piercing look. “Ah, well, I'd best stop my casual displays of magic, then.” He dismissed the lightning once he noticed that he was feeling a bit thirsty himself.

Happosai sighed.

“Well, this sort of puts a cramp on things.” Tatewaki admitted. A lazy grin crossed his face. The heir of the Kuno fortune didn't notice as the black gem in the ladle gleamed with an inner light. “Still...it's not an unconquerable challenge.”

The old man glanced up in alarm. “W-wait! Drop the ladle right now, brat! You don't know what you're dealing with.”

Tatewaki snorted. He turned and started out to his bedroom's door. “I imagine you'd say that, but it doesn't matter now, does it? I'll have one of the staff come and attend to you in exchange for the information.” He paused as he opened the door. “Oh, and I suppose to repay you for this. It's only fair.” Tatewaki had a rather possessive grip on the ladle as he strode out as the old man began to curse and shout.

*****

The clock on the wall five P.M.

The cozy office of Dr. Tofu Ono was only about a ten minute walk away from her home. On arrival, they had managed to get Ukyo seen by the doctor when Akane had explained the situation, and the homeless girl had been lead away by the kind doctor after a few reassurances that Akane would wait. Akane had busied herself by cleaning up the small waiting room and back room that had a mountain of paperwork from the doctor's various patients all clustered in towers of folders.

Akane had gone ahead and tended to the waiting room and front desk as best as she could. She didn't want to mess around with any of the secretary's things here, and she wasn't quite confident enough to go and check behind the third door, which lead up to a staircase that connected the clinic on the bottom floor of Tofu's practice with his residence upstairs.

It was something to help out, but Akane didn't want to walk up into the doctor's home. Even though they had known each other since she was a young girl. A few moments of mindlessly pacing around the waiting room led to boredom as she plopped down on a pleather couch and lost herself by plucking a random magazine off the shelf.

In the blink of an eye, it was now 5:20 P.M.

Akane looked up as Tofu walked out into the waiting room. Moments later, Ukyo stepped out besides him. She gave him a cautious glance, but the man nodded as she took the door leading up to Tofu's residence. A folded set of clothing which resembled the doctor's own usual outfit of a black robe was gently clutched in her hands.

Ukyo glanced at Akane with a small trace of fear in her eyes. Akane gave her an encouraging nod. Ukyo's expression smoothed out as she went upstairs.

Akane set aside the two month old magazine. “Is she alright, Ono-sensei?” She carefully asked once the door leading to Tofu's loft closed behind Ukyo.

“Dehydration.” Tofu reached up to take off the small pair of rounded frames on his face. The casual response made Akane relax as he began to clean his glasses as he spoke. “However, it's a good thing you helped out like you did, Akane. Even if it was a minor case at this point, she must have been in much worse shape when you found her, correct?”

Akane sheepishly nodded. “I thought she was going to die...” She mumbled.

“Well, you were always a nurturing type when it counts.” Tofu gave her an approving smile. “I offered her the bath to wash herself up.” His smile dimmed slightly, though. “I tried to convince her to allow me to contact the authorities, but she was adamant about things. I believe she would have fled if you hadn't been here.”

The young Tendo rubbed at the bridge of her nose. She could already feel frustration start to bubble up behind her eyes. “So...”

“Could you try and help me convince her to at least hear me out?” Tofu grimaced, and nodded apologetically.

Akane firmly nodded. “I can do that.” It was a much worthier goal than mediating between the various crazies in her school.

The doctor placed his clean glasses back on his face. He placed an encouraging hand on Akane's shoulder as he lead her up to his loft. “At least dinner will be on me tonight?” Akane's stomach rumbled loudly on command. She flushed as Tofu chuckled as the two went upstairs once they turned the rest of the lights downstairs off.

*****

“...what am I doing here?” Ukyo wondered for the sixth time since she had started scrubbing herself off. Layers of dirt and grim poured off her body in rivets as she firmly and methodically cleaned herself in Doctor Tofu's bathroom.

Another bucket of cold water was upended over her head, bringing both relief from the layers of filth she had accumulated in her constant hunt for Happosai and energy as she felt her body recover with the water. She felt the power of the ladle attempt to change her as a tingle raced up her spine, but she used a spiritual mantra her family had designed to keep the effects at bay.

Best not risk frightening her hosts.

The short haired brunette had her answer as she heard the laughter of Akane faintly bubble through the door to the bathroom.

“...it's best that I recover my energies.” Ukyo justified. It had been such a long time she had treated her real body well that it had gotten to such a state. The ever constant search for Happosai as the more skilled man outpaced her could only be made up for a constant doggedness on her part. So while he could play around and have fun, she had worn her body down over a trip that never ended.

Ukyo finished scrubbing herself down and marveled at the soft pink skin exposed beneath all the dirt. 'It really has been a long time since I've seen myself like this...' She stood up and stared at her reflection in the mirror over the sink. Her short hair wetly and limply hung down past her shoulders. Not like the long and luxurious hair of her ideal form, but it was practical.

The girl reached forwards and traced a finger along the fogged surface of the mirror as she just took a moment to look at herself. 'More like a lifetime ago.' She mentally concluded as she stepped away from the mirror and made her way to the bathtub. Ukyo made sure to check herself once more before wading into the water.

“Aah...” Ukyo immediately moaned in bliss. Heat completely surrounded her as the water soaked deep within her body. She could feel her magic and life forces start to rapidly restore themselves from being submerged in the hot liquid. Ukyo let her head lightly rest against the back of the corner of the room the bathtub rested up against.

The smell of freshly cooked food began to assault her nose. Ukyo's eyes began to grow heavy as the combination of sensations began to lull something weary within her to sleep.



Ukyo's assault on her father failed. A slim girl, all of thirteen years, hit the wooden floor of the dojo in a rolling maneuver in a desperate attempt to bleed off excess motion. Mostly it was to keep herself from breaking a limb. Ukyo's chest ached from where she had been so easily blown away by her father's palm strike.

The massive bear of a man glanced down at her with deep eyes the color of an ocean. “Get up.” He rumbled. The kimono that he wore was entirely restrictive, but he had easily read her moves ten steps ahead of time. “The Saotome Clan will be arriving here soon, and I will not have them thinking a failure of the Maidens of the Kunoji Clan.”

“Y-yes...” Ukyo shakily rose to her feet. The kunai she held within her trembling grasp was bent and warped from its attempt at piercing through her father's vitals in his True Self, but it was all her own minor magic could generate until she too received her True Self.

“Good. Now, show me that allowing you to train under Konatsu was not a total loss. Show me your determination or I will pick one of your more worthy sisters to join the Clans!” The dark haired giant went into a standard melee stance as Ukyo snapped to the stance only her mentor, Konatsu, and those he had specifically chosen to teach had been privy to use.

'Ranchan! I'm not going to let you down!' The young girl thought. She roared a challenge as she charged at her father.



“Ukyo! Dinner's ready!” Akane's voice made the brunette jerk out of her daze. Ukyo nearly drowned as her head briefly sunk beneath the water. Her eyes widened beneath the tepid liquid, but she managed to break the surface. She gasped for air as her eyes teared.

“J-just a minute!” Ukyo gagged out, spitting up water from her lungs.

“...you okay?” Akane's voice sounded concerned as it moved closer to the door.

“Y-yes!” Ukyo fought from letting annoyance sneak into her tone of voice. It wasn't her fault she had fallen asleep, but couldn't she hear the fact she was choking?

'Maybe she's one of those thick type of people?' The brunette wondered as she pulled herself out of the tub. Water poured down her body as she leveraged herself out. 'Well, nothing wrong with the upfront types, I guess. Even if someone could sneak any kind of lie past them.'

Ukyo amused herself as she toweled off by thinking of implausible situations. 'She probably would be able to spot a transformed human a mile away. Even if they looked like an animal.' She thought, shaking off the silly thought.

The Kuonji slipped on Ono's robe and headed out after cleaning up the bathroom after herself. Her nose and stomach were assaulted by heavenly scents as soon as she walked out into Tofu Ono's home. Both Akane and Tofu glanced up at Ukyo. Ukyo suddenly had a pang of self consciousness as their intense looks focused on her.

“Uhm...thank you very much.” Ukyo offered them a deep bow. Tofu immediately glanced away as Akane jumped to her feet.

“Ukyo, chest! Your chest! Cover them up!”

“Eh-?!” Ukyo screeched as she realized the robe had parted in the front. She slapped her hands over over chest as she drew the robe closed.

A tense silence descended on the group.

“Aah...and you think stating things bluntly is a bad thing, Akane!” Tofu awkwardly laughed. His reaction made the two teenagers relax as well as the trio made their way to the table. Several dishes of food were waiting for them. “You help keep things from getting even worse there.” He mused as they took their seats.

“Thank you for the food.” Ukyo pressed her palms together. She bowed her head simultaneously with everyone else as they dug into the foot provided to them by the doctor. Her stomach immediately stopped rumbling, and the awkwardness in the air started to fade away.

“Hmph. I guess so.” Akane mumbled around her chopsticks.

Ukyo balked and clutched at her robes a bit in remembrance. “M-may I ask what you mean by that, sir?” She tried to distract herself by seeking clarification.

“You mean about Akane?” Tofu wondered. At Ukyo's nod and Akane grumpy stare, he chuckled as he cleared his throat. “Akane is just annoyed by a nickname she has been given for a while now.” He hid his smirk by taking a sip of water as he ate some more of his curry.

Ukyo turned curious eyes at Akane.

“Mmph. Since junior high.” The young Tendo grumped. Ukyo quirked her head, causing Akane to sigh and dap at her mouth with a napkin as she pushed her plate of curry away from her. The teenager leaned on the table with her elbows and rested her hands on her cheeks as she gave Ukyo a glum stare. “They call me Ran.”

“Huh?” Ukyo's eyebrow raised in confusion.

Akane snorted as her fingers lightly drummed on the sides of face, “I know, right? What kind of message are they trying to give me by calling me a demon?” She groused. Tofu lightly chuckled as he leaned back in his own seat.

“I think it's more chaos.”

“But I keep those idiots in line!” Akane turned wounded eyes on Tofu. “Tatewaki would be creating roving packs of wannabe samurais in no time flat if I wasn't there! Not to mention all those other weirdos at the school that would just get overblown heads if someone isn't there!”

“She mothers in her own way.” Tofu cheekily explained to Ukyo. The brown haired girl's eyes lit up in amusement as Akane spluttered.

“Nonsense! Like I care about those martial artists and weirdos! H-hmph!” Akane sniffed. The black haired girl gazed flatly over at Ukyo, who had a wide grin on her lips. “D-don't believe stupid Doc Tofu, you hear?!”

“Of course.” Ukyo deferred to the flustered Akane as she wholeheartedly joined the two for dinner.

*****

“Hey! Let me go! ” Two tall, muscled men in casual dress shirts and slacks carried Happosai out into the night air. The trio moved past ornate rock gardens and past several tall and luxurious looking plants before opening the back door set on a high stone fence. Moments later, the two men flung Happosai out into the darkness of the alley behind the building. Happosai let out an undignified squawk as he landed on his rear and bounced twice before coming to a halt on his side. The old man furiously rose to his feet and tried to rush the door, but the two men slammed it shut on his face.

The old man slammed his fists on the door. “That idiot doesn't know what he's playing with!” Happosai's small hand loudly rattled and shook the door, but his strength in this diminutive form wasn't nearly enough to break through. “Damn!” Happosai cursed as he turned and rushed away from the alley.

He had to get some water, now.



Tatewaki glanced at the old man running away on a closed circuit television. The young man had transformed himself back to normal with a splash of hot water. Once he had been assured he was fine, he had called in his two assistants and moved to his father's study, which had several monitors showing practical every inch of the household.

The elder Kuno was very paranoid about his children's safety due to those silly ideas he had picked up from the Americans.

Tatewaki nodded as he saw that Happosai's dirty gi had been exchanged for a clean outfit. He made a mental note to give a raise to the staff of seamsters in the mansion before turning towards two bodyguards that were standing at attention.

“He'll come back for this sometime tonight.” Tatewaki held up the ladle he was playing with. “I'd rather not ruin the building, so let him in and stay out of his way unless he decides to start damaging the mansion excessively.” The heir of the Kuno family clicked off the monitors and rose from his father's desk as he started walking for the exit.

His bodyguards closely followed after him. “Sir...?” They asked in confusion.

“I'd rather not get in a fight. This ladle could get destroyed. It feels...very fragile at this point.” Tatewaki explained. “I want one of you to stay behind with half the staff. The other half is to follow me to Furinkan High School, we have only the rest of the night to prepare!”

Both guards shared uneasy looks. Tatewaki's eyes had glazed over a bit in a fit of mild madness that the Kuno family were unfortunately well known for. Now they had to figure out whether they should intervene or not.

“Sir...what will we be preparing for?” One of the guards carefully asked.

Tatewaki's glazed look cleared a bit as he started, “Oh yes, of course! I forgot...I wish to uplift Nerima with this wondrous artifact!”

The more heavyset of the guards raised an eyebrow, “'Uplift' Nerima?”

“Yes! If we allow this ladle to soak within...say the school's pool, we can then use that magic water to grant everyone amazing abilities! Surely no one will complain about me running my Club ragged if everyone is better, right?!” Tatewaki grinned as a frantic light entered his eyes. “Nerima will once again rise to prominence as martial artists and magic will walk side by side! Then they'll hail the Kuno Family as heroes for these wonderful gifts!”

The guards relaxed. It was just a harmless bit of fun, then. Still, a bit childish of the heir to want to engage in tomfoolery with water.

*****

Akane bowed to Doctor Tofu as she and Ukyo were lead downstairs by the older man. Ukyo shortly followed while keeping a hand on her neckline to keep her cleavage from spilling over again. “Thank you for having us for dinner, Ono-sensei.” Both of the teenagers chimed simultaneously as they strode out of the front door of the clinic.

“Think nothing of it.” Tofu waved it off easily. “I just wish you'd rely on me more often, Akane...”

“Sorry, but...” The dark haired girl's expression went sombre.

Tofu nodded. “It's fine.” He immediately dismissed it.

Ukyo glanced between Akane and Tofu, but remained silent. Akane's expression lightened as she looked over at Ukyo.

“So...want to come see my house?”

Ukyo glanced at Akane's pleading expression. “I...shouldn't take advantage of the charity you two have given me so far.” She slowly shook her head. “It wouldn't be fair to either of you if I kept doing this.” Ukyo began to back away.

Tofu and Akane traded worried glances.

“Ukyo...” Akane began as she slowly strode towards the retreating homeless girl.

“I...take care of yourselves, Akane and Tofu.” Ukyo gave the two a brief smile before turning and racing off into the darkness.

“Akane!” Tofu called out as the young Tendo rushed off after Akane. The man swiftly lost ground to the two teenagers as he had to lock the door before rushing after the two of them. The trio raced around the dark streets, only illuminated by the occasional street light and the golden glows from the windows of the homes around the neighborhood.



Tofu huffed for breath as he took a sharp corner. The flickering blue skirts of Akane's school uniform were the only things he used to navigate as his poor vision and the rather intense chase worked against the older man. Up ahead, he saw two blue colors moved to opposite sides of the streets.

The doctor let out a soft curse and chose to head to the left. A girl with freckles and inky black hair let out a yelp as he came crashing into her back.

“I-I'm sorry!” Tofu swiftly apologized as he backed away.

“Doctor Tofu?” The girl blinked, the look of fear on her eyes swiftly being replaced with one of awareness. “What are you doing running around here so late at night?”

“Oh, Gosukugi-san...” Tofu blinked. His own confused expression cleared. “Please, have you seen Akane run down this street?”

“N-no, is Tendo-san alright?” Hikaru Gosukugi fretted.

Tofu shook his head. “Sorry, no time!” He turned about face and raced back the way he came.

Hikaru chewed on her lower lip as she hesitantly followed after the doctor. 'Maybe I can apologize to Ran for what I said this morning?' The pale girl hoped.



Ukyo's heart rattled against her ribs as she rushed through the night. Fear pulsed through her veins as her sweaty hands rhythmically squeezed into fists and released as she fled into the night. The back of her head was filled with tingles of static as she sought a source of water to augment her abilities so she could escape.

Occasionally she could hear Akane's shouts behind her. Several curious people peeked their heads out of the nearby buildings.

Ukyo stumbled as she took a corner hard. She hissed as her ankle twinged as it protested the abuse as she nearly collapsed onto her face. 'Water!' The young girl awkwardly hopped to avoid stressing her bum leg as she zeroed in on a water hose on a person's front yard.

“Ukyo!” Akane's pleading caused Ukyo to hurry up her pace. “I just want to talk!”

Ukyo slapped her injured foot down on the ground as she vaulted over the thigh high stone fence and tore across the grassy yard. The grass hose and spigot were coiled around the side of the building and it was a matter of moments for Ukyo to start up the hose and dip her hands into the cold water.

“Ha! I got yo...ou?” Akane screeched to a halt as Ukyo's body visibly warped before her eyes.

The homeless girl's hair lengthened from shoulder length to nearly pooling down onto the ground. A massive white ribbon appeared on top of Ukyo's head, pulling the long train of hair up in a high ponytail so it was at mid back. Likewise, age was added to the girl as she swiftly aged up to a much more mature and graceful looking woman as the robes she was wearing shifted to a blue tone. They shortened to become a short kimono with black leggings and crimson lacquered armor covered her arms and shins.

Ukyo's dark blue eyes and Akane's brown eyes locked. The confusion in Akane's eyes faded even as the older woman's hesitance melted away.

“You...you don't have to run!” The teenager offered a hand to Ukyo.

“Sorry...” The mature beauty whispered. Ukyo brought her fingers together in front of her in an odd position. Moments later, she vanished in a burst of smoke.

“Ukyo...” Akane's hand limply dropped to her side.

“Ran!”

Akane glanced away from where the remaining wisps of smoke vanished. A girl from her school raced up to her. She waved her pale arm around for Akane's attention. The young Tendo felt irritation bubble within her as she calmly waited for the other girl to catch her breath.

“It's...good to see you...” The newcomer breathed out harshly in gulps of air.

“Mmm...” Akane replied. Her expression was unreadable as she gazed at the dark haired girl. She was focusing most of her attention on willing herself from lashing out on someone that didn't deserve it.

'Not her fault. Not her fault.'

“D-Doctor Tofu sent me...w-well, n-not really.” Hikaru began to stammer heavily when she saw the unimpressed look in Akane's eyes. “I-I just wanted to help...?” She squeaked.

Akane sighed. “Yeah...I'm sorry about that.” She rubbed at her forehead. Recognition entered her eyes as she peered at Hikaru. “Didn't we talk earlier...?” She wondered.

“Y-yes! My name is Hikaru Gosukugi.” Hikaru eagerly nodded.

Akane gave another half hearted glance back at where Ukyo had stood. Was it some kind of ninja trick or something? “I need to go see Ono-sensei. Thank you for you help.” She gave Hikaru a wane smile.

Hikaru eagerly lapped up the attention. “Of course!” Taking Akane's statement for approval, she eagerly began to walk alongside Akane. “I just wanted to make up for things, y'know?”

Akane's eyes drifted over at Hikaru, “Well, thanks, I guess.” She paused. “Hey, do you know anything about martial arts?”

“A little!” Hikaru perked up with happiness. “My cousin studies a lot of mystic stuff and knows about martial arts too!” She was actually having a conversation with Akane!

“Do you know anything about age changing techniques?”

“No. Why?”

Akane frowned. Well, maybe it wasn't the end of the world, but best check with Doctor Tofu.

“I need to go.” Akane explained to a panicked looking Hikaru. “Thanks for the concern.” She flashed Hikaru a quick grin before she turned and raced back towards Tofu's clinic. She didn't even see the look of disappointment on Hikaru's face.

'...screwed up again.' Hikaru sighed as she dipped her head and kicked at the ground.

Up on the rooftops, Ukyo silently watched Hikaru and Akane. Once she saw the two part ways, Ukyo fled into the night.

*****

The night blurred around Happosai. High above the skies, the full moon loomed beneath several thick clouds, casting a silver glow across the Nerima skyline as he threw himself from rooftop to rooftop. The fire elemental magic surged in his veins with each leap and flip.

A massive three story tall pagoda loomed high above Happosai.

'Seriously, what's wrong with this town?' The youthened man thought. He began to soar up the side of the building. His weathered hands punched small hand holds as he flipped, pulled, and dashed upwards to the very top of the building.

The wind buzzed in his ears as he gripped onto a jutting pole coming out of the middle of the pagoda's rooftop.

Happosai sighed as he cracked his neck. He held a hand up horizontally against his brow as the light of the silver moon was oddly intense as he stood at the very zenith of the pagoda as he cast his sight out. The western style mansion that the Kuno boy lived in was alight with motion as tiny, ant-like people scattered about far below him.

“Well, good to see them not...” The oddly intense wind gained a strange noise beneath it. “Huh?” Happosai turned upwards.

The light that had been bothering him dramatically increased as a helicopter cut through the clouds. The military vehicle was loaded for bear as its rotary blades sliced through the skies as it kept itself and several ominous looking devices fitted on its sides and below it in the air. A man in a brown trench coat dangled off the side of it through an open door, gripping something within the vehicle to keep from falling.

“Surrender!” Ayato Hibiki shouted down to the martial artist as he kept one of his hands on his hat.

Happosai's eyes bugged out. “What...I just goosed a girl!” The martial artist blurted. “Why are you even here?!”

“We have laws against that! I will not have you endangering the teenage girls of our fine community with your lechery!” The police officer boomed as he swayed outwards a bit from the helicopter as it swung in closer. “Besides, the Kuno Family have told me that you intend on attacking their home, and I will have none of it!”

“How can you even track me?!” Happosai hissed angrily. The transformation made him look completely different!

In response, Ayato Hibiki gave the martial artist a fanged grin. “You think they let you go without bugging you? Nice outfit, by the way.” He briefly ducked his head into the vehicle. The helicopter dove towards Happosai. “Ayato Hibiki lets no crime go unpunished!” The police officer boomed.

The launchers on the helicopter loudly clunked. Two missiles were sent streaking outwards from the depths of the devices. The projectiles screamed in the night sky as they belched out smoke and flame as they soared straight at Happosai.

“...what the hell?!” Happosai yelped as he dove off the roof. High above, the front half of the missiles shattered, releasing a massive net that covered the rooftop of the pagoda. The net released visible blue sparks of electricity as it settled down on top of the rooftop harmlessly. The spent missile limply dropped to the ground below with loud thuds.

The second missile's flame trail cut off. The top of the missile was launched into the skies with a small bang as the projectile began to fall below. Beneath the cover were revealed two rows of five smaller launchers a piece. The tips of the smaller rockets within flashed green before being launched high into the skies.

They twisted around in dizzingily patterns after Happosai. Three of them were unable to twist enough to reorient themselves as Happosai soared past the cluster of projectiles, though. All three of them smashed together in a small fist sized burst of flame and a large clouds of thick, green mist.

Happosai found himself crashing onto the street's surface with a bone jarring impact. The high pitched screeches above caused him to immediately make a break for it. His decision was rewarded as three more missiles crashed where he had been standing. The magic user coughed and hacked as a few fumes reached him even from ten yards away. He immediately felt a bit of nausea.

“Are you idiots trying to kill me?!” Happosai shouted. If he had been in the in the middle of that cloud he'd be done for!

“Nonsense! We're the police! We uphold law and order!” Ayato's voice boomed down via the speakers on the bottom of the police helicopter. Three rotating spotlights on the bottom of the helicopter twisted and oriented themselves on the martial artist. “Those missiles, kindly provided to the department by the Kuno Family, have enough tranquilizers to knock out an elephant!”

Happosai was briefly stunned at the stupidity inherent in that statement. “...that's enough to kill a human being!” He angrily insisted. Happosai felt two of the missiles draw frighteningly close and flung himself at a nearby street light. His feet briefly alighted on the surface before angling himself higher into the air and towards a secondary pole across the street.

One of the missiles smashed into that street pole, making it wobble as a plume of green mist clung to it and the surroundings. A black cat, which had been drawn out of a nearby alley at the echoing thud from the impact, immediately keeled over unconscious onto its back. Its legs were stiffly pointing up at the skies above.

“See?!” Happosai yelled as he bounced off the second light pole and up to the rooftops.

“That's just a feature! It's to paralyze all of you deranged Nerima Martial Artists!” Ayato yelled back into his microphone on the control terminals for the helicopter. The police officer strained against the straps trying to hold him snug in the chair next to the rather eager looking female pilot.

“I'm not from Nerima!”

“What?” Ayato blurted. He was blissfully unaware about how the smile on the pilot's face began to dim. The police officer was suddenly aware of how the woman shoved him back into his seat so she could lean forwards and speak.

“You can't mean that! You're doing weird stuff like them!” She whimpered. Next to her seat were several cartoonishly drawn white skulls painted on the interior of her door. They had black cross marks through the front of them.

The martial artist twisted and contorted himself in ways that made Ayato wince as the remaining three seeker rockets were avoided in mid-air between two rooftops. Happosai firmly landed on terra firma and rushed towards the Kuno Estate, which was now less than three blocks away.

“That doesn't mean I'm from here!” Happosai panted out.

Ayato and the pilot traded glances. “...you sure?” The police officer wondered.

“Of course!” Happosai angrily responded. He took a brief moment to glance upwards and angrily shake a fist at them.

“I guess we have to stop the rockets, Sono-san...” Ayato mumbled up above. “At least until we determine whether he's telling the truth.”

His pilot, Arisa Sono, let out a whine of disapproval before sulkily pressed a button on the control terminal. So much for her streak.

Down below, the missiles began to remotely detonate. An ever expanding cloud of green smoke began to fan outwards in a wave. Each of the remaining rockets made the wave spread out further and further until the final rocket, which was fairly close to the fleeing Happosai, managed to cause the wave to overtake the martial artist.

Happosai stumbled as he began to hack. His eyes burned and watered as he pitched forwards off the final rooftop. The transformed martial artist came to a rolling stop a few feet away from the front gate of the Kuno Estate.

A strangely unguarded gate.

'They won't catch me unaware again!' The martial artist slapped his hands above his head. A bomb the size of three grown men standing on top of each other's shoulders manifested high above his head. With a hack, he threw it at the wall.

The explosion leveled a large chunk of the walls. Happosai merrily bounded into the gardens, followed by a thick wave of green smoke.

“Swing over into the building again!” Ayato told Arisa as he began to unbuckle himself from his seat. He plucked a gas mask off a hook above his door and placed it over his face as the helicopter swung past the Kuno Estate.

“Sir?” Arisa glanced over at Ayato. Her reddish brown eyes widened as Ayato slid open the door to the helicopter. “Wa...”

“Best make sure the criminal isn't brutalized...too much.” Ayato muttered. “He isn't one of our homegrown freaks, after all.” The large man kept a tight grip on his hat as he threw himself over the edge of the helicopter. Ayato's coat wildly flapped about his ears as the estate rapidly rose up to meet him.

“Aaah!” Arisa yelped as her hands jerked on the controls. The helicopter wildly wobbled in place for a few moments before the wavy haired brunette managed to control its flight. “Crazy jerk!” The pilot cursed as she began to pull the helicopter high over head once she confirmed that the police officer had landed safe and sound.

Ayato gave her a thumbs up from down below. Moments later, he began to rush around the side of the building through the gardens as he made his way to the front of the building.

'This is making Kyoko's offer to join Mishima Heavy Industries way more attractive.' Arisa groaned as she held the helicopter steady high above.

*****

Happosai let out a yelp as he was punted out of the thick cloud of smoke. Fresh, wonderful air filled his lungs as he smashed into the walls of the Kuno Estate. The two guards that remained after his brief scuffle with them angrily twisted the hilts of their batons. Electricity sparkled along the length of the weapons as they approached Happosai.

“C-cheats after my own heart.” The martial artist choked out a laugh. “Too bad you idiots sent me outside the cloud.” He took a deep breath as he focused on the magic running through his system. An aura blasted outwards from the smaller man as he let out an enraged shout.

Both of the guards wobbled on their feet before collapsing on their knees. Invisible waves of force swept past them to smash into the thick cloud of smoke to begin dissipating it. The remaining grogginess within Happoai was dispersed as new energy flooded his body.

“Round Two, jackasses!” The aura flared higher. Happosai gave the two guards the impression of almost having become taller than they were. They rapidly blinked to try and shake the image out as they rose, but it turned out to be terribly real.

The martial artists' lengthened limbs smashed out. The two guards' gas masks shattered, and the remaining force behind the blows sent them stumbling backwards. “No smoke to help now, huh?!” Happosai grinned and followed it up with strikes fast enough to crack the air as the guard's padded armor proved hilariously ineffective. The martial artist vanished and appeared randomly around the two of them as they were juggled into the air with the force and speed of the strikes as Happosai loudly cackled.

Part way through Happosai's counter attack, Ayato leapt over the stone fence and landed facing the martial artist. “That's enough!” The police officer shouted as he began to rush towards the transformed man.

“Oh? You came down?” Happosai replied as he lashed out with a spinning kick. Both guards were sent flying towards Ayato. The police officer stopped his charge as he dove to catch both of the unconscious men and gently set them down on the ground. “Well, take care of them, then! I have business with the bratty Kuno!” Happosai laughed as he easily vaulted over the stone fence.

“Dammit!” Ayato hissed. He reached into his coat and pulled out a hand-held radio. The police officer switched it on and quickly tuned into the radio of the helicopter high above. “Arisa, get me some paramedics...” Ayato spoke up as he inspected both of the men he had rescued from Happosai. He winced as he heard distant explosions. “Fire trucks and more backup.”

The sound of the transformed martial artist's laughter echoed in the night sky.

“Lots more backup.” Ayato sighed.

*****

“Perhaps you have bit off more than you can chew, Master Kuno.” One of the guards dryly spoke up as he glanced from the monitoring system. Next to him, Tatewaki's eyebrow twitched as he watched the various screens set up in the back of the van. Each of them showed the rapidly growing old man swatting aside the best of the best as he tore through the walls of his home.

“I hadn't realized I had poked Gojira with a stick.” Tatewaki weakly replied. He, along with twenty other men and women, were scattered around the back of the Furinkan High School in a fleet of vans and buses. Several of his staff were setting up plastic tents around the school along with banners and signs.

“...hm. There goes the roof over Mistress Kodachi's room. She isn't going to be very happy when she comes back from that tournament.” The man idly continued to gently chide his boss. Tatewaki winced as the attack helicopter continued raining missiles almost indiscriminately down at the yard. The few speakers that were still working could faintly hear shouts reach them.

“You're not breaking my kill streak, you bastard!” The pilot's voice shrilly boomed.

Tatewaki sighed and placed his hands in his face. “Kodachi is going to murder me by the time this is all over, isn't she?” He glanced hopefully up at his guard. Currently the man was gently squeezing Tatewaki's shoulder and had an infinitely kind look in his face.

“Yes.” The guard softly replied. "Yes, she will."

*****

Happosai flexed both his arms and aura. The fiery aura burnt through the green knock out gas as quickly as it was produced. Once the attack from the damn helicopter was nullified, Happosai began to charge through the gardens. The female guards out front rushed away from him like he bore the plague as their eyes focused on the countless number of panties sticking out from the pockets of the robe he was wearing.

The male guards were impressive, though. No matter how often the thirty foot tall man swung for the fences, the damnable guards kept returning. It was rather interesting display of endurance, all things considered.

“Brat! Get out here!” The massive martial artist roared as he swung a fist. His attempt at knocking completely sundered the door and walls around it as the heavy steel doors flew deep into the building. Several of the windows in the mansion shattered as the screeching ruckus he had created came to a halt. “Or I can just come into the building~?”

Silence answered his demand. Happosai grinned as he began to step towards the entrance he had punched into the building, but was distracted by a flicker of motion on the side of his vision. His danger senses blared warnings to him - causing the giant to leap backwards - as a scrap of white paper fluttered limply to the ground where he had been standing.

“Huh...?” The giant carefully nudged the piece of paper with his toe. Besides a little static shock, whatever great power it had held was now extinguished.

Ayato cursed as he leapt down from one of the few trees that dotted the mostly devastated garden. In his hands he was holding several more loose strips of paper.

“Hah!” Happosai boomed. The martial artist pointed and chortled at the police officer. “You'll need more than that to stop me!”

Ayato let the loose papers go free from his hands. “I guess I do.” The man reached into the shadows of his coat and puckered his lips. “Arisa!” Suddenly the man's voice boomed outwards from him at a level that matched Happosai's own enhanced voice. “Do it!”

“...what?!” The giant's head whipped upwards. The helicopter was hovering in mid-air - as the missile launchers beneath it began to shake. Loud clicking could simultaneously be heard moments before both of them fired. The twin missiles exploded into two massive nets. Tightly wrapped around them were dozens of prayer strips like the ones that Ayato had tried to fling at Happosai.

One of the nets tightly wrapped around his arms, but the other was avoided with a yelp and a backwards stumble. The wards on the net that had tagged him nearly caused him to scream as the energy attempted to purify his monstrous growth aura. The night skies filled with battling blue and red lights as the giant's knees nearly buckled.

Happosai shouted in pain, electricity surging along his body, as he bunched his legs beneath him to retreat.

“Not so fast, criminal scum!” Ayato roared, drawing Happosai's attention to him. The police officer was holding onto a rocket launcher as tall as he was. One hand was used to aim the weapon straight at him. “Think fast!” The weapon howled as it launched a metallic tube out at Happosai. The projectile blurred as it slammed into his side – where it unrolled into yet another ward that clung to his body.

Happosai gaped.

Ayato smiled. “What? You think Tokyo's police don't deal with a dozen of you every day?” He reached up and snapped his fingers. The steel ward on Happosai's side lit up like a fireworks display. The massive martial artist howled as his aura was ripped to shreds between both wards' attacks.

Happosai clutched at his side. His fingers gripped around the metal ward as he tried to rip it off him as it shrunk with him. Worryingly of all was the fact that the nets weren't shrinking. The shrinking martial artist hissed as he turned. 'I have to get out of here!' Happosai angrily thought as he started rushing away.

“Get back here!” Ayato threw the rocket launcher to the side. He broke out in a flat run after the dwindling martial artist.

“I...urk?!” Happosai groaned around a mouth full of geta. His eyes briefly crossed as he stared up Ukyo's short kimono. The brunette looked decided unimpressed before being firing him away from her at a decently clip with her follow up kick.

Ayato jerked to a halt as Happosai, now a foot taller than he had been as an old man, soared past him. The netting that had been holding his arms back flopped down on top of the police officer as the martial artist used the metallic edge of the ward as a blade. The police officer spluttered as Ukyo briefly alighted on top of his head before rushing after Happosai as both of the martial artists flew into the darkened building.

“You're interfering in police business!”

“Sorry, but this is personal.” Ukyo called back as she tossed six kunai into the ground in her wake. The weapons glowed as they erected a massive wall of magic in front of the hole Happosai had punched out of the building.

Ayato internally winced as he used his own monstrous strength to tear through the netting. 'That's going to cost me.' He thought as he rushed after the two martial artists, but he was repelled the second his foot came crashing into a rippling wall of force. The police officer let out a yelp of pain as he bounced around outside of the mansion on one foot.

'Goddamned weirdos!' Ayato cursed as he reached up and threw his hat down angrily.

*****

The kunai sliced outwards. It was met by a rain of panties.

“Have I ever told you what a disgusting person you are?” Ukyo coldly stated as she and the gnome sized old man danced around the halls of the mansion.

“Maybe. You can keep repeating yourself for a few more years, though. Surely it will take by then.” Happosai cheekily answered as he ducked under a volley of kunai. He turned the motion into a diving forwards roll. His knowledge on the kunoichi's habits was rewarded. The force of the explosion aided him in completely avoiding her follow up stomp.

Happosai sprang to his feet with a cackle as he rushed down a side hall.

Ukyo brushed flakes of pulped wood out of her hair before rushing after the old man. “You're worn down, Happosai! Just give up and give me the ladle!” Her voice gained a razor edge as she summoned more kunai and flung them at the fleeing martial artist.

Happosai snorted as he leapfrogged over a knocked over chair. His foot lashed backwards and kicked it upwards. One of the kunai slammed home into the chair. The weapon and chair briefly vibrated before visibly shattering into pieces. “Not with that kind of attitude, Missy!” The martial artist laughed as he zigzagged to avoid further attacks.

Ukyo let out a low hiss of frustration as she rushed after him. “Wasn't he your heir? What's the point of all this stupidity?! While we're running around like jackasses he's...” She finished her statement with a shout of pain as Happosai flung a small paper sphere in her path. The bomb detonated in a wave of flame and smoke.

“Living is for the living, Missy! You and I have the drive to keep going long past our expiration dates, but he didn't. When everything was said and done...” Happosai chided the woman. Ukyo's charred body erupted from within the cloud of flame and smoke. “...he was too weak when it came to drives outside of martial arts!”

Ukyo's birth skin rippled as she began to heal. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!” She screamed as the woman's burnt flesh mended. Magic wove her outfit together into one piece from where it was barely hanging onto her body by will alone. “Give me the ladle!” The woman demanded as she let another set of kunai fly.

The old man cackled as took rushed up the side of a flight of stairs. “See? Even now you're still coming at me! Forget Ranma! We've wasted how many years?” Happosai replied as kunai swiftly followed in his wake. They tore gouges out of the wooden walls and furniture, but weren't quick enough to pierce his flesh as he made his way to the second story of the Kuno Mansion.

Ukyo, unable to draw a bead on Happosai with her kunai, followed after him, She quickly leapt onto the remaining pieces of the guard rail along the side of the stairs. From there she jumped onto the second story before the broken wood could snap beneath her weight. She let loose with another handful of kunai the second she landed on the second floor.

By this point, Happosai was far down the hallway. He could feel the six kunai Ukyo tossed streaking towards his back, but Happosai knew he'd make it to that Kuno brat's room first. The brunette rushed after the projectiles as she launched more towards him with rage powered tosses.

Happosai physically threw himself at the door. The sixteen kunai Ukyo had tossed went streaking into the room after him, but Ukyo's wasn't able to confirm if she had hit the man with her sight. She reluctantly dove into the room.

“Happo...!” Ukyo began, but was cut off as a terrific blow smashed into her back from a blind-spot. The woman let out a shout as she went crashing down to the ground, and Happosai took advantage of it by leaping onto her back and gripping her long ponytail.

“I'm afraid to say that the ladle isn't in the mansion, Ukyo.” Happosai cheerfully replied. In his hand he was wielding one of Ukyo's own kunai as he lightly pressed it into the back of her neck. “So...shall we end this round, then? I'd really like to have a few years of peace until you start haunting me again.” He chirped. “Or do you want to consider my words?”

“...I won't team up with you.” Ukyo replied. The kunai lingered near her neck. She subtly began to move her fingertips along the ground, which was covered with a thin layer of wood particles from the door being annihilated.

Happosai huffed, “I suppose that's alright. Just don't get in my way. The damn brat that lives here stole it.” He glanced around the bedroom of Tatewaki Kuno with a sneer on his lips. “It's mine and no one else is going to keep it.”

Ukyo began to shift beneath Happosai, but the older martial artist pressed the weapon up against her again. “You really are a jackass, aren't you? Can you even hear yourself?” Ukyo softly wondered. “You're acting like an obsessed maniac. You aren't even anywhere near what you used to be with your martial arts because of it.”

Happosai scowled. “I can still take you down, girly.” He angrily retorted for the first time in their rematch.

“I trained under shinobi, though. And monks...” Ukyo grinned as she finished drawing a sign on the dusty ground. “I'm not supposed to fight up front!” Ukyo clenched her eyes shut as she slapped her hand on the ground before Happosai could move. Her curse form shattered beneath Happosai as she reverted to normal. The magic that had been brewing within her alternate body was converted into raw power, which exploded outwards from Ukyo to knock Happosai off her.

“The old man let out a pained shout as he was temporarily blinded. Happosai's grip on the kunai slipped, and it loudly dropped to the ground. Ukyo, having expected the action, twisted her body as she knocked Happosai off her. The aged martial artist flew off her body as Ukyo gripped the weapon.

In the darkness of Ukyo's vision, she instantly saw Happosai's form blaze with an aura of the younger girl's magic. She let the kunai fly. The weapon gleamed as it silently soared through the air and into Happosai's body.

“...Ngh?!”

Ukyo opened her eyes. Happosai was staring at Ukyo in shocked amazement as the kunai she had flung stuck out of his chest. She immediately struggled to her feet as he began to taking staggering steps towards Ukyo. The sharpened weapon began to glow in direct opposition to how the old man's figure began to lose definition and color before the teenager's eyes.

“You...win.” Happosai grunted out. The martial artist had a faintly bemused smile about him as he looked at her. “Lost my tou...” Happosai trailed off as he imploded in a pile of dust. The kunai he had been pierced with followed him in non-existence.

“Haa....” Ukyo trembled as she staggered to her feet. Now that the barrier on the front door was down, Ukyo could hear distant wails from firetrucks drew the teenager's attention away from the pile of dust in the room. She could faintly hear dozens of feet banging along the wooden ground towards the room she was standing in.

'I need to get out of here.' Ukyo spared one last look at the dust pile before rushing over towards the window in Kuno's bedroom. It only took a few moments before the teenager was once again rushing outwards into the night.

She was going to need some help.

*****

“...we definitely have bitten off more than we can chew, boss.” One of the guards gazed upwards at Tatewaki. The heir of the Kuno Estate thoughtfully nodded as he watched the kunoichi flee from his mansion. He glanced at his guards and then at the school's pool, which was glowing with a luminescent blue light as his group carefully dipped the ladle into it.

“I'm going to need a bigger sword.” Tatewaki announced with all the calm in the world.

One of his guards slapped his forehead in pained wonder. “Boss, this girl took down someone who was single-handedly handing half the mansion's guards!”

“Yes, but only after Hibiki-san weakened him!” Tatewaki replied. He pondered that for a few moments. “Oh. I know...” He drawled outwards. Tatewaki glanced over at his guards. “Get me Ayato Hibiki on the phone right away!”

*****

So yeah, this will be a short little story to get me some more practice. Hope you all enjoy.

VelspertheCat
August 11th, 2011, 12:26 AM
Ranma Nibunnoichi is the property of Rumiko Takahashi. Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl is the property of Akitaro Daichi. All additional references and parodies belong to their respective owners.


The Birth of the New Heir...?


The sound of Arisa's helicopter lifting off echoed in the night skies as Ayato Hibiki was ushered by the remaining staff of the Kuno Mansion. The burnt down hallways and collapsed rooms were increasing in number as fire fighters walked around the detective and his small entourage of maids and butlers.


“So, what's so important that I have to put aside finding that other martial artist?” Ayato demanded as he put away his radio from where he had ordered his pilot to fly off.


“Master Kuno wishes to speak to you about the attack.” One of the butlers responded.


The detective went silent. 'There isn't much I can do to try and ignore that.' He frowned.


The same butler that had spoken up noticed Ayato's annoyance “He has a video that might help the investigation.” He baited the detective. A faint sense of victory filled the butler as the group exited the mansion and headed towards one of the cars parked out front.


*****


“Ono-sensei!” Akane's hollered, fists banged on the door to the clinic. Dogs barked in the distance as a few of the nearby houses lit up. Her banging caused the door to tremble and buckle slightly. With a start, she realized she was going to knock the thing down, and she quickly stepped back.


Moments later, the door slid open, revealing Tofu. The man was holding into a flashlight and had a profound look of relief on his face as he saw Akane. “Akane, did you find her?” He anxiously asked as he adjusted his glasses.


Akane rapidly shook her head in denial. “She ran away when I tried to get her to come back.” She mourned, eyes drooping slightly as she harshly kicked at the sidewalk beneath her.


Tofu grimaced and ran a hand through his hair. “We have to find her, Akane.” The doctor's words caused Akane to tense as she shifted anxiously in place. The school girl shook off her own dark mood as she spoke up.


“Ono-sensei, do you know anything about martial arts?”


Akane's words caused a reversal of the previous tableaux, and put Tofu on the spot now.


“Why do you ask, Akane?” The older man rolled the flashlight in his hands as he tried to find something to occupy the nervous twitch that was now controlling them. Akane shook her head, sending her long dark hair swaying from side to side.


“Ukyo used something incredible before she ran away...” Akane rubbed at the side of her neck.


'Like...she aged...' She lamely thought to herself.


Tofu raised an eyebrow at her stuttering explanations. “Like what, Akane?” He pressed.


“She...vanished?”


“I've never heard of anything like that before...” Tofu mused. “How fast was it? We can't have her vanishing again. You saw how she was when you found her.” He insisted.


“Nearly instantly.” Akane replied, eager to talk about what she had seen, to the older man's increasing worry. Tofu didn't like the gleam that had entered the teenager's eyes at all from talking about the martial arts. “She used some kind of hand signs before teleporting away too!”


“Maybe...ninjutsu?” Tofu murmured. But that didn't quite sound right to the doctor. He glanced over at Akane, who looked interested. “Let's try one more time to find her.”


'Was that really what it was?' Akane wondered. Ukyo's hand signs kept bouncing around in the back of her head.


“Alright! I'll show you the way.” Akane took one of the flashlights offered by Tofu before both of them headed off in the direction she had found Ukyo.


*****


Ukyo felt herself stumble and come to a halt. Her expression turned sour as she looked around her. “Are you going to show up?” Her eyes caught a spot of deeper darkness beneath her feet. “Trying to trip me up is just plain immature.” She growled.


The darkness began to expand as it pulled away from her shadow. It streaked two feet away from her before it began to rise in a flickering, hazy man sized shape that was less than four feet tall. “Heh, you can't say anything either, Ukyo.” He sounded a bit bitter about his defeat. “You've done worse to me when the situation was reversed.”


“Of course.” Ukyo had a fierce smile on her features. The two of them were over a small store eight blocks away. The two observed a small, but rapidly vanishing number of people vanishing before their eyes. “Did you have to make such a mess?” She wondered as she saw the clear looks of fright on several of the people below.


“I had to make a statement.” The shadow replied.


“And what was that, Happosai?”


“Don't get in the way of little old men – we're crabby and often aim for the junk.”


Ukyo snorted. She turned and leapt away from the rooftop of the convenience store. “What were you babbling about before I killed you?” The ageless woman wondered.


Happosai hissed at the thought. “That damn brat, Kuno, stole the ladle.” His voice warbled with the depths of his rage.


“Great...now another idiot is trying to meddle in our affairs.” Ukyo sighed as she cleared her leap. She would definitely need a locals help now. “Fortunately, you're not going to be a problem for a good while.”


“Don't count on that.” Happosai promised.


“Hmph. Take your death like a man.”


“Like you do?” The old man's comment drew a frown from Ukyo.


“Gods, I hope I get that ladle soon. I'll be glad to get rid of you once and for all.”


Happosai's answering cackle faded away along with the shadow that was his body until he managed to will himself back to life. Ukyo was left alone with her thoughts and a darker than normal shadow for all her troubles.


'I want to be with you soon, Ranchan...' She tiredly thought as she bounded towards the only direction she could. Hopefully Akane and Tofu would take her back. She needed to get things done before Happosai recovered.


*****

The two of them searched for an hour, but they found no signs of Ukyo. Unfortunately they were limited to the street level since neither of the two were an accomplished martial artist. They were exhausted and silently aggravated by the time Tofu and Akane returned to the clinic.

'Ukyo...where'd you go?' Akane miserably thought. The thought of the girl back out in the streets again caused her to drag her feet as she lagged behind Doctor Tofu. 'What could be out there for someone all by themselves?' The flashlight in her hand dangled uselessly from her hand as her mind created one outlandishly dark scenario after another for the girl that Akane had wanted to befriend.

“Akane? Are you alright?” Tofu glanced over at Akane when the silence lingered too long for his liking. The schoolgirl's eyes were dim and her brow was wrinkled with concern. The front door to one of the houses they were passing by opened before he could try and offer her some kind words.


“Akemi-san!” Tofu's expression lit up as he recognized one of his regulars. “How are you?” A slim, dark haired woman with purple eyes and dressed in a silver dress offered both Tofu and Akane a smile as she stepped out of her home.


“Ono-sensei, I'm glad I caught you both on the way back.” The woman hurriedly continued. “You two need to get out of the streets.”


“Huh?”


From behind her, a male's voice shouted out. “Chiwa, get back in here! It's dangerous out there.” A twenty year old man with short dark hair approached. Chiwa glanced back at her home before she gave the two a final look.


“It's dangerous. Some run away martial artists were rampaging over by the Kuno Estate.” Chiwa quickly told them. “The police have actually engaged them.” She gave the two of them a fearful nod before turning and wandering back inside.

The young man lingered at the door for a few moments. “Please get back to the clinic soon.” He muttered to them. “Chiwa would be miserable if her boss had to go to the hospital as well.”


Tofu frowned. “Let's go, Akane.” That man was as charming as always. Made the vastness of the universe itself seem warm.


“But...” Akane's words were cut off by a sharp glance from Tofu.


“I'm not going to let you get hurt.” The doctor's curt words took the fight out of Akane. “I'll walk you home.”


“Hey! I can protect myse...” Akane's eyes widened. Up on the rooftops of Alice's home she could see a slim figure lightly land. A flash of a white ribbon on the top of her head peeked out of the gloom before the figure leapt away in the direction of the clinic.


“Doctor Tofu!” Her arm lashed out and grasped Tofu's as Akane directed his gaze towards Ukyo with a finger. The man's own expression was briefly stunned before both of them rushed after the slim figure. Akane cupped her hands over her mouth and let out a loud cry.


“Ukyo!” Akane's shout caused the woman to freeze in place two buildings away from her and the doctor.


A look of bemusement was on Ukyo's face as she stopped and turned to face them. Ukyou's confused expression cleared as she glanced down at Akane after the schoolgirl repeated herself. “Akane...?” Ukyo walked towards the edge of the rooftop before dropping down to street level with Akane and Tofu.


Seconds later, she was nearly knocked off her feet as Akane rushed over towards her and enthusiastically hugged her. “Why'd you head off like that? Don't you know how cold it is? Do you want to be out in the streets like a jackass?!” Akane angrily cried, eyes moist as she shook the taller girl.


“I-I'm sorry.” Ukyo flinched as Akane's fingers dug into her kimono. “I just had to ...see someone.” She weakly tried to defend herself.


Tofu jogged up to the two of them. Once he heard Ukyo's excuse, the doctor relaxed a little once he saw the genuinely chastised look that the runaway had on her face. “You can't just head out like that, miss.” Tofu drew Ukyo's attention with his words. “The police here don't allow martial artists too much slack anymore.”


Akane frowned and let Ukyo go. “That's because of what they've ruined in the past.” The school girl softly muttered. She turned her back to Tofu and Ukyo to prevent seeing their expressions as she wiped at her eyes.


Tofu answered Ukyo's curious expression with a shake of his head. “Let's go. We need to get indoors. The police will be searching the streets for whichever martial artist got away from them.” He turned and began leading them back to the clinic.


Neither Akane or Tofu saw the brief look of alarm that crossed Ukyo's face. She quickly composed herself before she following after them.


*****


Light flooded the darkened clinic as Tofu flipped a switch as he entered. The two school aged girls followed after him. Once the three were in the building, Akane shut the door closed behind her and turned expectantly towards Ukyo along with Tofu.


“Alright, young lady...” The doctor began. Ukyo held up a hand to interrupt him.


“Call me Ukyo.” The brunette shifted a bit in place uncomfortably. “I'm not really good for being called that.”


“Miss Ukyo,” Tofu nodded as he gave the younger girl the concession. “We just need you to understand that we don't want you to feel pressured...”


Ukyo looked a bit uncomfortable. Seeing that the doctor's words weren't having the right affect, Akane figuratively stepped up.


“Ukyo, do you want to see my house?” The schoolgirl offered. On seeing Ukyo's hesitant expression, Akane smiled and added. “I got a dojo,” She smiled. Akane twisted her fingers into an approximation of what Ukyo had used earlier that night. “You can show me some ninjutsu!”


'How did she...?' Ukyo's eyebrow rose in surprise. Akane's mimicry of the way she had finished performing her jutsu was close. 'The motions are wrong, though...'


“Akane, I'm going to go let your father know that you were with me.” Tofu told Akane. The doctor turned and walked to the back of his clinic once he saw her cheerful nod of agreement.


Akane waited a few moments. The happy expression melted off Akane's face once the door to Tofu's office slid shut. Akane's change in expression was so swift that Ukyo was surprised.


“Ukyo, you were the one that caused that mess, weren't you?” Akane quietly demanded.


Ukyo took a sharp intake of breath.


“I'm not going to say anything...” Akane quickly continued. “But I need to know what's going on.”


“Why do you think...?”


“You were a mess when I found you.”


Akane's interruption threw Ukyo's balance off again. Both teenagers awkwardly stared at one another.


“I didn't tell Ono-sensei about that trick you used...” Ukyo heard the emphasize that the other girl put on her respect for the older man. Ukyo's mood soured as she considered the intense look that Akane was giving her.


'I ran away from her, but here I am coming back for help.' Ukyo felt the weight of her time settle on her shoulders once again. 'It's only fair that I explain some of it, right?'


“Ukyo...”


“Okay.” Ukyo reluctantly nodded. “I'll tell you some of it, but only in private.” She added her own terms. She sighed in relief when Akane nodded.


'I can't tell her everything, though.' Ukyo guiltily looked at Akane's faint smile.


*****


Nabiki Tendo - a young woman with short brown hair in a pageboy cut, wearing a short crop top, and knee length shorts glanced up at the sound of a telephone ringing. She was currently lying on her stomach in the well lit living room and turning through pages of a manga. Nabiki let the phone ring a few more times as she thumbed through Akane's subscription of Purple Sky.


'Hm. Kabbage Boy is coming over in a week? News to me.' The brunette smiled. Maybe she could cajole her father for a ticket.


The phone continued to ring in the background.


With a sigh, Nabiki set the music magazine to the side and stood up. She grumbled a bit as she walked through the darkened house towards the kitchen. Once she was inside, Nabiki reached for the wall mounted phone and quietly spoke up.


“Tendo Residence.” She resisted the urge to drawl.


“Ah, Nabiki-chan! I'm glad I hung on long enough for you to answer.” A faint hint of teasing entered the voice of her family's doctor.


“Ah! Ono-sensei, how are you?” Nabiki shifted in place. Feeling hunger nip at her now that she was in the kitchen, she walked away from the mount with the cordless phone and reached for the nearby refrigerator. “I'm guessing Akane was bothering you again?” She wondered as the fridge cast a yellow tint to the dark room as she started rustling.


“Nothing like that.” Tofu shook his head on the other side of the line. The man was currently sitting down at his desk with his own phone, an old styled corded phone in the crook of his neck. The door to his office was closed so he wouldn't intrude on the privacy of Akane and Ukyo. “You should know that neither you or Akane are ever a bother.”


“Yes, well...” Nabiki uncomfortably replied. “I guess so.”


“Did you see the news?” Tofu opened up the conversation.


“Hm? No, I was finishing up my schoolwork.” Nabiki lied. She bent over and started pulling some things out of the fridge. “Now I'm making something for dinner.”


“Well, the police got involved in another fight.” Tofu explained.


Nabiki snorted. “Are the normal people calling it a 'martial artist rampage' again?” She wondered. The clatter of her noisily making herself a snack reached Tofu's side of the conversation.


“Heh. Well, my secretary certainly thinks so.”


“Great. Like it isn't that hard trying to get some use of the dojo already.” Nabiki drawled. She stopped her preparations.


“I had been hoping Tendo-san was in to let him know, but I guess this is good too. I'll walk Akane home so the police don't mistakenly try and involve her.”


“Nah, daddy isn't in yet. He probably will get here in a few hours so there's no problem with him being over-dramatic.” Nabiki shifted the phone from one shoulder to another.


“Alright, then.”


“Oh, and my stomach thanks you for keeping Akane away from the kitchen tonight.”


Tofu resisted the urge to laugh, but a smirk did cross his lips despite himself. “Well, I'll have to cash in that thanks sooner than expected, though.”


“Why's that?” Nabiki's tone went lower.


The doctor rubbed at his forehead at the suspicious tone in her voice. This was the reason he had been hoping Soun had been back home. “Akane and I found a runaway today...” His statement was met by expectant silence. “We wanted to see if it was alright if she stayed with your family tonight.”


“...what?!” Nabiki nearly dropped the phone in surprise. “Hey, that's not good! We're not one of those charity houses, Ono-sensei!”


Tofu winced at Nabiki's response. “That's why I wanted to talk to Tendo-san...” He wasn't quite able to hide the sheepish tone in his words.


Nabiki grew silent as she considered. “Well, it definitely isn't my call. Here, let me give you daddy's cell number.” With that, she began to rattle off the phone number to the doctor.


“Thank you, Nabiki-chan. I'll be walking Akane back home within a half hour. Good evening.” Tofu replied.


“Uhm...yeah, good luck, Ono-sensei.” She awkwardly replied. “See you later.”


Both of them hung up.


*****


Both Akane and Ukyo had exited the clinic. Neither of them wanted Tofu to overhear their conversation, but Akane had begged off moving too far away from the building itself. Her confused inquiry as to the reason made Akane's expression go slightly cool.


“See, about ten years ago there was this rogue martial artist...”


When Akane didn't continue with her statement, Ukyo blinked and leaned slightly towards the other teenager. “What happened?” She still couldn't wrap her head around the surprising amount of force levied against Happosai. While it had definitely softened him up for her, she and the old master had never run into such a reaction in any of the martial arts communities they tended to run in between.


'...that's because this town is insane...' The tiniest whisper reached Ukyo's ears.


Ukyo wolfishly grinned. Well, maybe things might get better soon.


“Ah...sorry.” Akane missed the look on Ukyo's face as she shook herself out of her daze. “It was one of those dojo destroyer types.” She explained. When she saw Ukyo nod, she continued. “He was making a circuit of all the dojos.”


“So what happened?” Ukyo's attention had been caught. The master she had been hunting had typically been challenged by many dojo destroyers. She knew that they typically had pretty brutal styles to their names.


Akane felt an itch in the back of her neck. “Well...” It began to throb for attention. “The fighting broke out into the streets.” Her hand sunk into the long weave of hair that hung down her back so she could scratch at raised skin beneath.


Ukyo winced as Akane had a faint sardonic smile on her face.


“My mother died.”


*****


Ayato looked decidedly unimpressed with Fuurinkan High School after he had to endure the silent drive through the darkened streets of Nerima. Thoughts of slashed budgets were the only thing that stayed Ayato's temper as he saw the young heir of the Kuno Estate in the center of what could only be described as a circus.


The teenager was wearing something more suitable for a kendo contest at the moment than walking around at night. Tatewaki broke away from where he was ordering a few large men to begin hanging up banners near the school's gate.


“Welcome, Detective Hibiki!” Tatewaki grandiosely gestured at their surroundings. The area around the school pool were completely sealed off by a large and colorful tent. The sounds of several large engines rumbled around them as massive trucks came in with plastic barrels.


'Is that a firetruck?' The older man wondered in shock, seeing one pull in through the front gate. 'What sort of sideshow attraction is this?'


“Kuno-san, may I ask what you're doing here?” Ayato was rather proud he managed to so calmly speak.


“Of course, Detective! Follow me!” Tatewaki turned and began to stride towards the back of the school.


Without any other recourse, the flustered detective went to follow after the teenager. Along the way, they ran into several more men and women, who were moving several large plastic containers into and out of a large tent in the back of the school.


“So what are you doing?” Ayato gritted his teeth in annoyance.


“Just a little more.” Tatewaki called back as he lead them into the large tent. Several tables with bottles of water were strewn about inside of it, and Ayato could see that it was covering the school pool. As they passed the tables, the detective could make out several animals locked up within cages of various sizes.


Several men and women looked up at them, but went back to examining the animals.


Eventually they came to a stop near the school swimming pool. A large crane was on the other side of the pool, dipping its scoop into the water. Ayato did a double take as he noticed that there was a faint glow in the center of the pool.


'What is that?' The detective felt a bad vibe from the water.


Tatewaki noticed Ayato's attention was drawn to the pool. “Impressive, isn't it? I had to call in a few favors to get all of this arranged in time.” He expansively gestured at their surroundings. “But I had to do all my best for Nerima.”


“Kuno-san...” Ayato decided to be blunt. “The hell is going on here?”


Tatewaki let out a chuckle as he glanced up at the taller man. “Evolution, my good friend.” He began to walk along the edges of the pool, glancing at the water that Ayato knew shouldn't be sparkling so much. “I've run into a wondrous power.” The samurai glanced over at the detective. “The same power that fueled those two you've been after today now belongs to the Kuno Family, and I wished to share it with you – my most forward thinking officer.”


Ayato narrowed his eyes. “What's the catch?” He asked, trying to buy time as his thoughts ran a mile a second. Was this the reason that the two martial artists had attacked earlier in the day?


“The only catch is to keep hydrated. As far as we know, the power here seems to take moisture from the bodies of those transformed.” Tatewaki paused. He lifted up a hand for Ayato's attention as he knelt by the edge of the pool and held his hand over the surface of the water. “Then there's this...”


Tendrils of water began to be slowly drawn upwards towards his palm.


Tatewaki glanced over at Ayato as he ignored the water rising up to meet him. “Hot or cold water gets attracted to you based on whichever body you might be in at the moment.” He concluded his statement just as the water touched him.


Ayato took a step back in shock as Tatewaki's body visibly rippled. A man with piercing eyes and the same outfit as before stood in the same spot that the teenager had been. He rose to his feet and snapped his fingers. A bolt of lightning flashed into existence in his hand, shaped into a form resembling a sword. Ozone burned as the weapon crackled in the man's hands.


Ayato stumbled backwards, caught flatfooted from the sudden transformation. Before the detective could launch himself at the samurai, the man began to laugh with a rich voice.


“No need for any of that, detective! I am still the scion of the Kuno lineage and the now literally the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High – Tatewaki Kuno, age 18.” The man's declaration and subsequent flourish with his blade caused Ayato to merely boggle and stare.


'That...did sound a lot like Kuno's voice.' Ayato realized, but the detective couldn't just just let it lie at that.


“What did you send the department last Christmas?” Ayato suspiciously questioned.


“Hmm...” Noticing the detective's apprehension, the man claiming to be Tatewaki dismissed the sword of lightning from his hands. He stroked his chin in thought. “I believe it was a ten part series on those police chases in America.”


“That's...right.” Ayato allowed. He sighed as he rubbed his head. “What...what happened to you?”


Tatewaki grinned. “I've become what I've always wished I could be.” He held his hand out to gesture at the pool behind him. “With the power of a magic ladle, I've gained these amazing powers.” Electricity surged along his body.


“You've brought down the attention of two criminals too.” Ayato replied with a pointed stare.


“Heh...that's true.” Tatewaki allowed. “But it's for a good cause. Soon, everyone in Nerima will be like me – good enough that even our civilians need not fear for their lives.” He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “With this water, we can go back to the way things were before! Like they were during my father's day!”


“And what? Have chaos? You don't remember because you're too young, but this was a madhouse back then. We've barely managed to get everything under control as it is!”


Tatewaki stared at Ayato for a few moments. The detective gave him a hard stare back. The zealous expression on the samurai's face began to fade as they continued to try to look the other down.


“You...might know more about that era.” Tatewaki allowed. “But you don't understand the people! This could change things for them! Just look what they did to me...”


“That might be the case, but it still isn't your property.” Ayato declared, trying to decisively wrap this up.


“Hm...that's true.” Tatewaki mused. “I'll just return it when I'm done with it.” He nodded as he lightly tapped his left fist into his right hand.


“That's not what I meant!” Ayato roared. Didn't the boy realize what he was doing? “Dammit. You're singlehandedly causing this entire mess, Tatewaki! Just give those crazies their ladle back and let things just lie.”


Tatewaki frowned. For a moment, it almost looked like he was going to agree, but a strange look crossed the samurai's face.


“I know...” Tatewaki began. His expression lit up as a smile crossed his face. “Surely you'd agree with me if you knew what this felt like!”


Before Ayato could react, the man had vaulted over him and kicked him in the back. The detective let out a shout of surprise as he went tumbling towards the pool and landed in its glowing waters with a loud splash.


*****


Soun Tendo, a middle aged man with a dark complexion, bushy mustache, and short cropped haircut glanced away from where he was looking through leaflets for Nerima city hall. His eyes had dark rings underneath them and he constantly shifted about with unspent, nervous energy in his seat. Despite his best efforts at staying awake, Soun's eyes began to droop.


“DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO


Girlfriend, you really wanna make my heart bend
You know you'll always be my beeeeeeeeest friend
And what I'm saying to you, I can't pretend
Because I'm turning inside out...”


Soun jerked and nearly fell off his chair as a horribly ring tone assaulted his ears. 'Nabiki!' His hands rapidly patted his jacket for his personal cellphone. The phone continued to assault him with horrible music. 'What did I tell that girl about not touching my ring tone?'


“Oh your so fine all mine (Say What)
Like a porcupine (Say what)
What a kind of lover,
I got a heart like a valentine (Yo Kabbage Boy)--”


“Nabiki!” Soun answered his phone with a forceful demand. He knew only one person would call him so late at night. “What kind of joke is chan...”


“It's Tofu Ono, Tendo-san.” Tofu's voice cut Soun's built up head of steam. “Should I go ahead and leave you alone?” He sounded faintly amused.


Soun sighed. “No, that's fine. I'm sorry about that.”


“I know how they get, trust me.” Tofu reassured him.


Soun allowed himself to sink further in his seat to avoid feeling too much embarrassment before he spoke up again. “Is there anything wrong at home, Ono-sensei?” He had never known the doctor to actually call him so late at night.


“No, Nabiki is making herself dinner, but I wanted to let you know that I'm walking Akane home.”


Soun tensed. The only reason that would happen would be... “There was an attack?”


Tofu sighed. It was enough to confirm things for Soun.


“Yes, Akane found a runaway today so she stayed late. Unfortunately, there was an attack at the Kuno Estate.” The doctor confirmed.


“What?!” Soun nearly knocked his desk as he leapt to his feet.


“She's fine though.” Tofu hurriedly tacked on.


Soun grit his teeth and tried to desperately center himself. As he did so, he glanced around his office. Several framed news articles showed his prior victories in the political arena.


“Tendo-san?” The hint of worry in Tofu's voice drew Soun away from seeing the picture of himself and the mayor shaking hands in a worn out clipping.


“Thank you for watching out for them.” The father of three mumbled softly. A glance at the nearby clock showed the late hour, and a stab of self condemnation rushed through him. “I'm ashamed that I couldn't be there for Akane...”


“It's fine. You know that they mean the world to me as well, Tendo-san.”


A brief lull descended on the two men. During that time, Soun observed the large amount of paperwork he still had to deal with tonight.


“Could you stay with them?” Soun felt his stomach curdle at having to ask. “I'm not going to be coming in until much later.”


“That's fine. I doubt I'll have any walk ins early in the morning, anyway.” Fortunately, Tofu answered with a clear voice. Soun privately thanked the doctor for not judging him with his words.


“If you do miss some people...let me know and I'll compensation you.” Soun promised, even as he swore to pay the doctor for his time spent tonight.


“There is something that you might be able to do for me.” Tofu drawled slightly.


Soun blinked. “What is it?”


“The girl that Akane found earlier. She tried to run away just two hours ago. I wanted to bring her along. It seems Akane connected with her.”


Soun frowned a little. “What's her name?” He was glad to open his doors to the doctor, but he wasn't sure about doing the same for a complete stranger. “I guess it's not possible for her to go to the regular shelters?” He knew that Tofu would have sent anyone he ran into to those facilities.


“Ukyo Kunoji is her name. I couldn't sent her to the normal shelter since she knows martial arts.”


Soun raised an eyebrow in surprise. “She could have been involved.” He pointed out.


“That's possible.” Tofu allowed. “I needed someone to keep an eye on her.” He sighed. “I don't want to accuse a patient, but I need to make sure she isn't dangerous either.”


Soun stood up and started prowling around his office. He remained silent; his tongue held in check as he resisted the urge to snap at the other man for his idealism. The fact he had to exert himself to keep himself in check sort of saddened him in a faint way.


'When did I get so cynical?' The man glanced past the picture he had of his victories – public policies put in place to secure the town better – and looked at the picture of his family. His wife, a beautiful woman with rich brown hair, offered him a secret smile. 'I'd shame her if she could see me right now.'


With that thought fresh in his mind, Soun agreed to Tofu's terms.


*****


'Stupid, stupid, stupid!' Akane cursed herself as Ukyo stepped back in surprise. 'Why'd you go and tell her something like that?'


But despite Akane's aggravation, the confession had felt...oddly soothing. The teenager wasn't sure why, but had wanted nothing to be completely honest with the girl in front of her. Still, it was best not to freak out the girl.


“I'm sorry...” Akane sounded chided.


Ukyo held her hands up. “No! Don't worry about it. It helped me understand...” She trailed off. At least she knew why Happosai had been hunted down like a dog.


'Woof. Woof.' Happosai's sneering mental voice pleased Ukyo.


“I really didn't mean...” Akane trailed off. She blinked and for a moment she stared past Ukyo. The brunette curiously looked the same way, but she didn't see anything.


“What's wrong?”


“I...” Akane clamped her mouth shut before something else stupid spilled out of her lips. “I thought I just saw something weird.”


'Like your shadow getting darker for some reason.' The schoolgirl thought to herself.


Ukyo gave her a strange look, but Doctor Tofu was out of the clinic before she could follow up.


“Ah, you two went out for a breath of fresh air, huh?” The doctor smiled as he locked the door shut behind him. “I went ahead and talked to your father, Akane.”


Akane crossed her arms. “He wants you to walk me home, right?” She sighed as she received a nod from Tofu at her prediction. “Doesn't he know how late it is? We shouldn't be troubling you like this, Ono-sensei.”


Surprisingly enough, Ukyo cleared her throat at this point. When Akane turned to look at her, she spoke up. “Your father is just worried about you.”


'Heh. Not that you're going to be rampaging around anytime soon.' Ukyo thought.


'Just laugh it up. I'll will myself back eventually.'


Ukyo remained silent at that. The raw magic of the ladle was pesky that way after it had drenched both of them for years now.


“Yes, it's already late, and there was that attack too...” Tofu quickly moved to back up Ukyo.


Faced with a united front, Akane gave in with a sigh.


“I ...guess.” Akane reluctantly allowed. She put aside thoughts of shadows and her mother for now, and followed after Tofu and Ukyo as they headed for her home. Ukyo gave her a strange glance as she trotted behind with her.


“Aren't you going to lead?”


Akane shook her head at Ukyo's question.


“I've actually had to walk her home a few times.” Tofu sounded amused. “Mostly when she was a little girl.”


Akane flushed a bit. “I just wanted to help you out with your paperwork.” She defended her childish crush. She shriveled up in place a little when Ukyo gave her an amused look.


“You were always a helpful girl.” Tofu replied with a smile. He didn't notice as Ukyo gave Akane a sign to drop back. The two girls fell slightly behind the older man before the brunette gave Akane a devious look.


“So that's how it was?”


“Shut up.” Akane muttered a bit.


Ukyo smiled and said nothing else as she walked besides Akane for a few moments. Just when Akane looked less defensive, she spoke up again. “I used to try and invite my senpai for tea when I was a girl too.” She confessed.


Akane glanced over at her curiously.


“It was kind of sweet, but kind of bitter now that I think about it.” Ukyo nonsensically mused to herself. She remembered how much she idolized Konatsu for his skills. “He got the attention of all the older girls.” She smirked. “He was a really pretty boy.”


“...yeah.” Akane agreed with Ukyo's sentiments. She remembered the longing looks that the doctor used to give her older sister whenever she came to the clinic to pick her up after volunteering. “I don't really regret it, though.” She blushed a bit.


Ukyo smiled at her.


*****


“We're home, Nabiki!” Akane hollered as she led the way into her house.


“I'm in here, Kane.” Nabiki's voice called out from the kitchen. Faint music could be heard from that direction.


Akane rolled her eyes as she walked towards the kitchen. “Don't be so rude! We have guests!” Ukyo and Tofu lingered behind at the entrance of the house, but the schoolgirl turned and waved them further into the house.


“Yeah, I made tea.” Nabiki lazily replied from the kitchen. With a final sigh of annoyance, Akane headed to the kitchen after showing Tofu and Ukyo the living room.


When Akane entered the kitchen, she was hit with a full blast of pop music from the radio next to the sink. Nabiki was lounging near the phone, twirling her fingers along the cord on the wall as she sat on the kitchen counter near it. Next to her she had a plate with some noodles and a glass of soda.


When Nabiki noticed that Akane was looking at her, she simply pointed at the stove, which had a kettle of water and a closed tea can next to it.


“What are you doing? We have Ono-sensei and a guest waiting for us.” Akane frowned.


“Yeah, I already talked to Daddy about it.” Nabiki replied casually, still holding her phone next to her ear. “But I'm trying to win some tickets to a contest, so...”


Akane rolled her eyes. “Fine, fine. At least come out when you're done, alright?” She asked. Nabiki merely gave her a halfhearted nod. Keeping her complaints to herself, Akane moved towards the oven. She halfheartedly glanced at the dirty pots and pans that Nabiki had made with her dinner, but dismissed them for now.


“Are you two alright in there?” Tofu's voice called out to Akane and Nabiki before the doctor peeked into the kitchen.


“Hi, Ono-sensei!” Nabiki cheerfully greeted after shifting the phone to her other shoulder.


“Good to see you, Nabiki.” The older man smiled.


“Can you tell Akane to calm down? She's being a real nag today.”


Tofu glanced over at Akane curiously.


“Don't encourage her.” Akane bit out. “She's already acting like enough of a brat today.”


“Bah. I've got a life to lead.” Nabiki sniffed.


The doctor chuckled while Akane shook her head as she finished pouring some tea for them. Quickly raiding one of the cupboards, she got some crackers for them and set them all up on a tray.


“At least come out and say hello to our guest.” Akane pointedly stared at Nabiki.


“In a few.” Nabiki dismissively waved.


Akane rolled her eyes as she grabbed the tray and offered a smile at Tofu. “Well, let's not keep Ukyo waiting long.” When the man nodded, both of them headed out of the kitchen.


Nabiki's eyes narrowed a little. She lowered the phone from her ear, pushing the phone line so it could reconnect it. 'Now then, let's see who you are, Miss Ukyo.' She hung up the phone and hopped off the counter so she could go spy on the new girl.


*****


Ukyo found herself looking through at pictures of Akane's family as she waited in the living room. Behind her, she could hear the music coming from the kitchen. She wondered how anyone could enjoy that kind of music.


'Stop being so old fashioned, Ucchan.' Happosai cackled, his presence darkening both her mood and the shadow beneath her feet as he returned. 'We can't be stuck with the old ways forever.


'Oh, you would know that, wouldn't you?' Ukyo retorted angrily. She looked away from a picture of an Akane with a pair of older girls – her sisters most likely, one of which was dressed in a cap and gown and holding a paper.


'Not my fault that your traditions kept me from seeing the ladle.' Happosai calmly replied.


Ukyo quietly simmered for a few moments. 'Why don't you just leave me alone?' She quietly begged as she closed her eyes.


'For the same reason you never left me alone after all the times I killed you.' The old man briefly sounded his true age. 'We're stuck together. Through thick and thin.'


Ukyo shivered a little. She turned back to look at the rest of the family pictures to distract herself.


“Sorry we took so long!” Akane's voice drew Ukyo out of her contemplative silence. “My sister is being a poser. We'll have to have these without her.” The brunette turned towards the school girl and smiled as she had a tray of snacks and drinks with her.


“Are you sure this is alright, Akane?” Tofu wondered, glancing around at the living room. The girl shrugged in response.


“I clean this place now. Isn't like it'll bother me if I have to work a little bit more because of something I wanted to do.”


Akane set down the tray at one of the low hanging tables in the room and then sat down. The other two moved to sit with her as they reached for their drinks. They spent the next few minutes silently enjoying the tea and the crackers with it.


“Nabiki is getting pretty good with this.” Tofu idly commented.


Ukyo looked confused as Akane looked sheepish.


“She has to, I think.” Akane refused to mention that her last attempt at making tea had caused Nabiki to start choking. “Less than a year to go...” She trailed off.


Tofu's expression grew serious. “Has she already found a school?”


Akane quietly nodded, squirming a bit in place as she felt butterflies in her chest.


'What's...going on?' Ukyo wondered.


'Heh. You're so ignorant.' Happosai mocked Ukyo. 'Her older sister is leaving home soon.'


'Oh...'


Ukyo glanced at Akane as the girl offered her and Tofu a smile.


“Akane...” The older man began.


“She's getting into a really prestigious school.” Akane idly ran her fingers along the rim of her cup. “Full ride and everything. She even gets to stay at the dorms free.”


'Hm... I wonder if I could have seduced the girl with my youthful form.' Happosai singsonged. 'From what I can see, this home is only routinely lived in by those two. Pity you killed me before I could try my luck at keeping her company.'


Ukyo quickly raised her cup to her lips to hide her scowl. 'Bastard' She mentally growled.


'You betcha!'


Akane rubbed the back of her head. “Heh. I'm going to have to try and get some more cooking lessons at school. I'm going to wind up cooking myself to death when she leaves.” She joked with a smile.


...


Nabiki frowned as she pulled back into the hallway. 'Is she really okay with that?' She wondered, having seen the lines of worry on Akane's face. Nabiki had thought that her little sister was okay with her getting the house to herself finally, but...


She shook her head and looked at her cellphone in her hand. With the noise of the radio blasting from the kitchen, it had been child's play to take a picture of the brunette's profile from around the corner. 'Now, who the hell are you, miss?'


She turned and quickly headed upstairs. Nabiki would definitely feel better about letting her stay after uploading the picture to the police.


...


“How about I show you the dojo now?” Akane offered Ukyo with a sunny smile. The homeless girl glanced over at Tofu for a moment in indecision.


He offered her an encouraging nod.


“Sure, I'd love to.” Ukyo smiled.


“I'll take care of these dishes for you.” Tofu spoke up before Akane could turn and pick up the dirty cups and plates.


“Are you sure...?” Akane dragged out.


“Go, go.” Tofu gestured for the two to head off.


“Thank you, Ono-sensei!” The teenagers quickly left the living room. The doctor took the plates and headed off to the kitchen.


'Not as clever as you think you are, Nabiki.' Tofu thought as he glanced at the empty kitchen. Honestly, he wondered what she would have done if Akane had headed in and looked.


The doctor glanced up at the ceiling while thinking about the silly middle Tendo as he began to run the water through the dishes.





Meanwhile, Nabiki was on the house's phone as she jumped through hoops on her computer. “Look, I just need to have you guys check something out.” She began.


“And since when am I your personal servant?” A gruffy dispatcher on the other line responded.


“Since my dad and everyone else pays the goddamned taxes, since then.” Nabiki growled as she arrived at a contact page on the district's police website. “I just want to find out how I can make sure my house guest isn't a damn serial killer, is all I'm asking.”


The dispatcher let a put upon sigh. “Okay...” She only very reluctantly replied. “This is pretty new to me too. They only install these kinds of things since the freaking city is so messed up these days.”


Nabiki, wanting to at least make this a pleasant conversation, empathized. “Just random wackos and costumed nut jobs all around lately, huh?” She replied with a pleasant tone.


“Yeah. At least they aren't in our part of the woods.” The dispatcher replied. “So, to report it, I need you to upload it at this web page...”





“So what do you think?” Akane wondered, spinning in place as she stood in the middle of the open dojo.


Ukyo was impressed with the size. The tall, arched ceiling was held in place by well varnished and treated wooden beams. The ground was swept and maintained clean of dust and grime. The dojo's walls looked a bit worn, but she could feel the devotion that went into taking care of the room.


“I like it.” She smiled, remember days spent with Konatsu long ago. She spotted a small shrine off in the corner of the dojo.


“Do you practice?” The schoolgirl wondered.


“Not...anymore.” Ukyo admitted with a grimace. She wondered just how rusty her skills were at this point.


'Probably worse than mine.' Happosai chimed in.


'We're not on top of our game anymore old ma...what?'


Akane's eyes were glancing straight at Ukyo's shadow. A look of confusion and concern was on her features.


“Akane...?” For a moment, an irrational fear that she had been caught surged through Ukyo.


'Hah. No one has the gift anymore except those the ladle touches.' The old man snorted.


Which was why his exclamation inside her head was louder than Ukyo's when Akane dropped the new bombshell.


“Ukyo, what's going on with your shadow?”


*****


Ayato's breath sounded harsh and guttural to his own ears as he leapt over a house. He briefly landed on the stone fence surrounding it and catapulted off it before the stone began to crumble beneath his weight.


Behind him, he could hear more grunts from others behind him.


The detective lumbered along the rooftop of another building, gangly limbs swinging in the night air as they carried him with grim purpose to his destination. Rage spilled forth from clenched teeth in the form of snarls as he leapt towards his destination.


The Tendo Dojo.


'The chase ends now!' The other officers behind him, transformed into misshapen beings like himself, reacted to his frustration by growling as well. Down on the streets below, he thought he had heard the sounds of shouts, but a quick glance and the noises stopped.


Why were the people pointing at him?


*****


“It's getting pretty late.” Tofu looked at his watch as he pulled out a blanket and pillows for the guest room. Just as he headed towards the room to set things up for Ukyo, he heard a terrible crash by the front gate.


Nabiki's shout of surprise caused Tofu to drop his things and race downstairs. He was shorty joined by the middle Tendo sister as both of them headed to the first floor. They could hear Akane and Ukyo's shouts from the dojo, but they suddenly stopped caring when Tofu opened the front door.


A giant in tattered brown rags, outlined by the light of the moon, towered over the two. He was about the size of three men put together and twice as wide, with mottled gray and brown skin. The giant's skin bulged with muscles and his limbs were long and gangly. Some sort bone growth was threatening to pierce through the man's ridged forehead – giving the two humans impressions of horns.


“O-oni?” Nabiki squeaked as she stepped forwards. The giant squeezed through the hole he had seemingly torn through the fence. Another portion of the it crumbled as the large man finally squeezed his way into the yard.


“Where's the suspect?” The giant growled, being joined by much smaller figures with black and blue mottled skin. These were more normal humans, but were practically tearing the police uniforms they were wearing with the size of their own muscles.


“You're the police?!” The brunette stuttered.


“Detective Hibiki.” The misshapen man growled. “Where. Is. The. Suspect?” He took a threatening step forwards.


“Nabiki!” Tofu quickly pulled the girl behind him, but the giant's eyes narrowed.


“Obstruction of justice!” In a flash, a club half the giant's size rose from the depths of the earth, creating a hole as the oni ripped it out. With a speedy swing, the tip of the metal club smashed the doctor in the face and sent him flying away from Nabiki.


The middle Tendo let out a scream as Tofu flopped onto the grass. She collapsed to her knees even as Akane and Ukyo tore out into the front yard.


“Ono-sensei!” Akane screamed as she raced towards the doctor.


“Begone, demon!” Ukyo snarled as she raced towards the group of oni. The air around her shimmered as she summoned two foot long kunai into her hands, which flashed with raw magical energy.


“Restrain them!”


Ukyo wasn't sure which of the muscular police officers blurted that, but ten of them descended on the yard from all angles. Two of them dropped down from the roof to seize the nearly catatonic Nabiki, causing her to struggle and smash her head against them to force them to let her go. While that was happening, another four threw themselves in the direction of Akane and Tofu. Once they touched Akane, she began to struggle even more than her sister was doing, and grew even more desperate as two of the officers began to pull Tofu away from her.


“Let him go!” Akane shrieked.


Tofu remained calmly breathing in the officer's arms. There was no sign of a bruise, but something had obviously happened to keep him unconscious.


The last four officers threw themselves at Ukyo while the massive demon leading them lingered back near the fence.


'That face...' Happosai muttered, recognizing the warped scowl on the red giant's face. 'It's that man!'


'Stop shouting!' Ukyo snapped as her kunai desperately parried and deflected the thrusts of the blue officer's batons, which were only kept at bay thanks to her own magic. Her muscles in her arms and shoulders screamed with agony as she led them in a merry chase around the yard as they clashed weapons over and over again.


“Why are you doing this?!” Nabiki demanded fearfully, face down on the ground with the two officers pressing her down. “We didn't do anything!”


“Of course not. You did very well reporting that thing.” The red giant agreed.


“Nabiki!” Akane exclaimed in shock.


“I...I just wanted to be sure...”


“But you're obstructing justice.” The giant rumbled as he pointed over at Ukyo, who was using one of the officer's heads as a jumping bar as she hopped over on the other side of them. “She's an undesirable element. We have to remove her for the benefit of the people.”


“She hasn't done anything wrong!” The youngest Tendo shouted over at the giant. He didn't respond, merely crossing his arms as he turned back to look at the fight between his officers and Ukyo.


“If she hasn't, why is she resisting arrest?”


“Maybe it's because you guys are freaking whack jobs!” Nabiki snarled up at the two officers holding her down.


'That damn samurai gave them all curses!' Happosai angrily snarled. 'How dare he use my ladle!'


Ukyo ignored the midget's voice as she danced around her attackers. 'They're nothing more than slaves to their idealized self right now.' She countered. 'Which means I can exorcise their curses if I can buy some time!'


The officers were getting smarter about their attacks as they harried Ukyo closer towards the red giant and further away from Akane, Nabiki, and Tofu.


'You need to take care of them now. That foolish detective doesn't know about overkill if it bit him in the face.' Happosai declared.


Ukyo was barely able to keep ahead of the officers. She suddenly stopped and rolled backwards, slamming her feet into one of their chests and sending them flying back and into the dried out koi pond.


She ignored the sharp crack behind her as she sprang up to her feet and launched one of her kunai at the closest officer. The ground beneath him trembled and heaved upwards, sending him stumbling long enough for Ukyo to tag him with the other.


The man howled, body igniting with purifying flames as his body began to shrivel back to its normal proportions.


Taking advantage of the remaining officer's brief moment of stunned amazement, Ukyo flashed past them and summoned two more kunai as she raced towards the crimson giant.


“I'll have to add attacking an officer to your many offenses.” The giant's words caused the metal club in front of him to sprout sharp spikes. He gave Ukyo a fanged grin as he brought his weapon to bear. “Along with conspiracy since you share the same ability as that other vagabond.” The weapon shimmered as it gained flowing scripture on its surface.


'What?! Look out, Ukyo!' Happosai's warning came too late.


The words on the club ignited with hellish purple and blue flames as the giant threw himself at Ukyo and Happosai with extraordinary speed. Ukyo let out a cry of shock as the giant smashed into her shoulder first before grasping her with his empty hand and spinning in place like a high speed top before flinging her up into the air.


The freakish giant leapt into the air from the crater he had dug into the ground with his revolution and appeared next to Ukyo. The girl flung her kunai at the same time that the giant brought his club screaming down on top of her.


“Gaah!”


An explosion rocked the night skies before both the oni and priestess were sent screaming back to the yard. Ukyo went slamming into and through the roof of the dojo while the giant slammed face first into the yard.


One of his arms were shriveled up to normal human size, and his club was sheared in half.


“Ukyo!” Akane took advantage of the shock of the two officers holding her to slam the back of her head into one of their faces. The officer let out a pained scream as he let her go. The girl landed on her feet and raced into the house after Ukyo – shortly followed by the two officers that had been holding her.


The red giant stirred.


*****


Akane tore through the door to the dojo. Behind her, she could hear the heavy footsteps of the monstrous officers, but she only had eyes for her friend. Ukyo was still as she lay beneath several heavy wooden beams in the corner of the dojo. Her eyes were closed and she couldn't tell if she was breathing.


The school girl rushed up to her, the dozens of questions in the back of her mind muted in favor of trying to save her friend's life.


“Don't you dare give up on me!” Akane shuddered as she clutched at one of the beams on top. Having approached Ukyo, she could see that there was a slowly growing puddle of blood beneath the other girl. Desperation filled Akane as she clutched at the shattered beam, trying to move it off Ukyo.


Ukyo let out a weak moan. Her face, pale in the moonlight, caused Akane to shudder as she briefly saw her mother's face. Fear sapped Akane of her strength as the beam she had been slowly moving came to a stop.


The door that Akane had just bowled through was annihilated, wood and paper snapping and tearing apart as the officers rushed towards her. The school girl felt something cool and metallic prod her in the ankle.


'Take it!' An old man's voice prodded.


Akane's vision briefly blurred and she clutched her head as pain assaulted her. She glanced down to see one of the knives that Ukyo had been throwing around in the front yard slide out from beneath the pile of wood.


A shadowy tendril went back beneath the woodpile.


“We're going to have to haul you in for an escape attempt!” The officer that Akane had smashed her head into snarl, voice squeaky from his nose being ruined. “Do not even attempt to pick up that weapon...” He warned as the two saw the knife at the girl's feet.


'Fight!' Akane's ears rang as the two officers slowly began to draw closer to her with their batons in their hands. 'Get those jugs of water!' She noticed heavy jugs strapped to their sides.


Akane began to lower herself to the ground, fingers stretching towards the knife.


“Stop!” She paused at the officer's glared at her. “This is your last warning. We may be like this, but we're still duly appointed officers of the law!”


'She's going to die if you don't do this.' The man hissed in her ear.


Akane's decision was made there. In a single swift motion, she scooped up the knife from the ground and let it fly at the officers with all of her might. The three of them were shocked as the weapon wetly stabbed into one of the officer's torsos, faster than even Ukyo had flung it.


'That's the spirit girl!' The old man hooted. 'Never let honor get before reason!'


That man began to howl as the kunai shattered, igniting and engulfing him in white flames as he went down to the ground. His partner dashed at Akane with a snarl. The transformed officer's baton gained spikes on it as he swung at her.


'Who are you?!' Akane demanded.


Akane barely got out of the way in time as the baton smashed a large chunk of the wooden beam off. The school girl desperately began to scramble away from the man as he angrily swung at her.


'I'm Happosai Saotome!' A chunk of Akane's long hair was torn off as she barely swayed out of the way of a sloppy attack. The girl screamed in pain as she jerked backwards, stumbling from the attack. 'Roll to the left!'


Akane did so as the office descended on the ground, palm smashing the ground with enough force to crack it. She continued to roll as the officer continued striking at her, missing her each time.


'I'm running out of dojo!' She screamed as she saw she was moving towards the unconscious officer. Besides his charred uniform, he had no sign of damage from the kunai. The gourd he had with him had transformed into a regular plastic bottle of water, which was in her path.


'That's fine! Just get the water and splash yourself with it!'


“What?!” Akane demanded.


“So it isn't assault...” The officer mused – anger fading as he saw his partner was alright. The spikes on his baton retracted as he substantially slowed down. “But I'm still taking you in!”


'Grab it now!'


'But I don't want to be a monster!' Akane snatched the water bottle up as she rolled up against the wall.


'Splash yourself! I'll guide the transformation!'


“This ends now!” The officer leapt at her.


Akane ripped the top off the water bottle, clenched her eyes, and poured it down on herself.





'Get up, you old bat!' Happosai's voice prodded.


Ukyo faintly stirred. A massive surge of magic was slamming at her senses, urging her eyes to open.


One of the oni officers went soaring past her and slammed through the wall next to the shrine in the dojo. Another burst of intense magic caused Ukyo to divert her attention back to a figure that was hauling herself to her feet.


'Akane?' Ukyo stared in shock as a wild storm of energy surged around her friend. The darkness was chased away from Akane's hair even as it shortened down. Her brown eyes chilled to a sharp blue as she shrunk a little.


'Yes!' Happosai cackled in her words. 'She has the gift!'


Akane brought up her hands before her eyes, clenching and unclenching them in front of her. Her entire body began to quake as her lips curled up in an easy going smirk.


...


“Akane!” Nabiki squirmed below the two officers, but they merely leaned further on her to restrain her. The sounds of the dojo being torn up lent desperate strength to her struggles, but it was nothing before the two officer's might. “Let me go!”


“Not until it's over.”


A loud crack echoed as a wall of the dojo shattered outwards along with Akane's scream.


“No! Kane! Kane!” Nabiki felt her shoulder burn as she nearly dislocated her shoulder as she bucked beneath the two men. Her vision dimmed with pain as her forehead struck the ground hard. Tears began to come to her eyes.


“Men! At attention!” The red giant barked in the the eerie silence that descended. The remaining seven officers called out as their leader pulled themselves up to his feet.


There was no response from the dojo.


“What...?” The giant began, but clamped his mouth shut as the monstrous police officer was flung out from the hole in the dojo wall like a rag doll. He loudly slammed into the fence before collapsing onto the ground.


Nabiki quickly looked up with hope in her eyes. A pair of figures, one short and the other tall, stepped out from the darkness of the dojo. The taller of the two was an older looking Ukyo, who was heavily leaning on a short girl with short red hair and bright blue eyes dressed in the same uniform that Akane wore. The other girl was carrying a massive piece of lumber five times her size against her shoulder.


“Nabiki...please don't snitch in the future.” The red haired girl pleaded. “I'll lend you my sweaters next time. Or buy you some candy, I don't know.”


Nabiki started as the strange girl made her offer. “...Kane?” She glanced over at the transformed people around her.


“Restrain them!” The two officers that Ukyo had breezed past threw themselves at Ukyo and Akane with a snarl. In response, Akane gently let Ukyo down to the ground before gripping the giant piece of lumber with her two hands and swung with all of her might.


The wood glowed as it connected with the two officers, but both of them dug their heels in as the ground beneath them flared. Akane's improvisational weapon shattered into toothpicks and sawdust for her troubles.


Both officers smirked at Akane.


Akane merely smiled.


The two officers howled as their figures ignited in flame as two kunai slammed into them through the distracting storm of sawdust.


“Don't...count me out.” Ukyo growled from the ground.


“Get them out of here!” The giant ordered his men as he stepped forwards. The blue skinned officers hauled a screaming Nabiki and an unconscious Tofu up between them. “I'll handle these two!”


“Yes sir!”


“Let them go!” Akane lowered herself and shot off at them with speed that would make an Olympic sprinter jealous. The officers panicked and were about to set down their charges, but the giant was in front of Akane.


The sheared club, smoothed of spikes, smashed the redhead in the face.


Akane gagged as she was sent flying upwards, but Ukyo prevented the giant from following it up by flinging her kunai at him with a howl of rage. The red head flipped head over heels in mid-air, dazedly watching as the officers took Tofu and Nabiki away from her home.


'Wake up!' Happosai snapped. Akane's head cleared as she began to plummet back to earth. At the last moment, her arms lashed out, straining with magical reinforcement as she turned the crash into a roll. She winced as a few rocks tore into her dress and skin, but she paid them no mind as she tried to shake the webs out of her head.


Ukyo tossed knife after knife at the giant, who blocked them with his club – which vanished more with each strike. Seeing what had happened to the others, the giant began to use his human arm to shield him.


“Oh no!” Ukyo exclaimed as the knives vanished the moment they struck the giant's skin.


“It's over!” The giant tossed the stub that his weapon had become away as he grasped her head. The ground around Ukyo rose up and slammed around her in a snug cocoon of earth, clutching to her like a straightjacket.


“Let her go!” Akane roared as she fired herself across the yard in the blink of an eye, connecting with the giant's face with a flying kick. The monster cried out in shock as he was sent flying into her living room.


The redhead righted herself in mid-air and landed on the ground in a crouch. She quickly crawled over towards Ukyo and tried to rip the earth off the brunette, but she quickly shook her head.


“Don't! He's still up ...” Ukyo's warning came too late as the oni charged through the ruins of Akane's house. Before the redhead could react, he had slammed his muscular arm into the redhead's neck with a lariat backed up by his strength and dash.


Akane gagged as she was sent rolling away from the two and came to a complete stop. She let out a wheeze as she tried to get up to her feet, but she stumbled and fell over to her side as she desperately tried to gather her breath again.


The oni shook and trembled from his own exertions as well. “Stay. Down.” He panted as he looked at Akane with the order clear in his eyes. A chain spewed forth from Ukyo's restraint and ran up to his demonic arm.


Akane's body trembled as the giant began to drag the last of her friends away from her.


'What are you doing? Get up and fight!' The old man's voice harassed her again.


But she felt so tired.


'You have the potential for magic! Nothing is impossible for us as long as you have the will!'


Akane's arms shook as she tried to move back up, but she collapsed on her face again.


“Where are you taking me?!” Ukyo demanded at the monster, but Akane could see the fear in her eyes that she was hiding.


“Kuno wants to see you. Then I can end this damn case.” The oni paused and glanced back at Akane. “You, you'll be next when this is over.”


'Kuno?!' Akane's eyes widened. 'He can't have anything to do with this!' The ridiculous idea gave her enough strength to try and sit up.


The old man seemingly jumped on the notion. 'He has a source of intense magic. It preys on your wants and warps you if you let it. He's going to unleash it on the whole city, and everyone will go as mad as these police officers!'


The giant was at the hole he had created in the wall, dragging Ukyo along with him.


'You have to move, now!'


Akane swayed as she got to her feet. “Stop!” Fear at what these things running around in even greater numbers could do gave strength to her legs as she began to run towards the giant.


“Stay back, Akane!” Ukyo desperately begged.


“Fuurinkan High School! I'll wait for you there!” The giant called. With a mighty leap, he was gone, dragging Ukyo with him.


Akane collapsed to her knees as the last of her strength bled out of her. She angrily clutched at her dirt and grass stained dress as she solemnly stared up at where they had vanished.


*****


Why had he taken so much time walking to the exit when he could have leapt away at any time?


Ayato ignored the shouts of his prisoner as they bounded through the night skies. The thought rolled around in his gut, churning and bubbling as he moved to regroup with his officers at Fuurikan. Soon, Master Kuno would get to uplift everyone.


Then he could finally retire in peace, knowing that the citizens would be safe when they could bring this wondrous power to bear.


Another shout below drew Ayato's attention. One of his citizens was pointing up at him, with a horrified look on his face. The officer clenched the chain he was holding as a feeling of unease settled down on him.


Why had he told that girl where they were going to be?


*****


'Snap out of it girl!' Happosai's voice needled Akane out of her silent contemplation. 'I didn't give you this gift so you could sit around and watch the grass grow.'


The old man's anger drew Akane out of the shock she had descended into.


“What...what happened to me?” She mumbled, lifting her hands to stare at them. “I...I just swung that thing and ran...”


The patch of her shadow she was staring at darkened, giving her the impression of disapproval.


“And I'm having a conversation with my shadow.” Akane mumbled, officially deciding she was insane. She lifted a trembling hand to run her fingers through her hair, but instead of the soothing locks that had resembled her mother's, she only got her newly shortened hair.


Akane's eyes glistened.


'Are you going to cry like a girl now?' Happosai mocked.


“I-I might!” She responded, sniffling as she trembled even more.


'Gods, this is why I ignored women - only strong men got trained. And even then he was so damn afraid of people...'


“Wait...what?” An irrational hate bloomed in her chest even as her eyes continued to tear up. “I-I'm not weak!”


'I thought so too. You certainly fought back when you knew they were in the wrong.' A paused. 'Better than most of your countrymen can say.'


“T-then why?”


'Look at yourself. You're already throwing the towel.' He sneered. 'Ukyo's legs were broken and she still fought.”


Akane's sniffles stopped.


'That's right...' Happosai urged. 'Get up.'


Akane slammed her hand into the ground as she leveraged her abnormal strength into her legs.


'Good. Now, let's see what we can do about your strength. You'll be useless unless you learn the basics of using your magic.'


“Yes!”


*****


Tatewaki Kuno laughed joyously as he saw the growing crowd outside the school. News vans that he had invited were scattered about the yard, talking to his various staff on his behalf as he lingered towards the pool side.


Already dozens of people were transformed. The early morning skies were lit up with small gouts of flame, ice needles, and smaller bolts of electricity. Sorcerers, demons, models, fighters, and scholars, ninja, and many others were rubbing elbows as Tatewaki's tents were packed with lectures on what Kuno had found out about his abilities.


Blimps and large signs posted in the front of the school drew the attention of adults as well as the students.


“Tatewaki, what the hell are you doing?!” Nabiki and one of the local doctors angrily glared at him from where they were locked up inside a cage, with three police officers standing guard around it. “Have you gone insane?”


“That hurts, Tendo.” Tatewaki sniffed. “I just can't have you causing dissent. It's a very delicate process. My personality held strong, but several of my staff got set off by the tiniest thing.” He gazed over at the girl. “And your shouting is definitely more than just a tiny thing.”


“It's because you've gone completely off your rocker!” Nabiki snarled.


“Hm, well. I heard how strong Akane became. I'd rather not risk you causing a disaster if you got power.”


Ayato Hibiki strolled up to them. “Master Kuno, the water is ready to be shipped out now.” The oni still had his arm looking like it was when he was a human, but the rest of his body was still as strong as ever.


“Oh, good.” Tatewaki smiled. Soon they would get it into the city's water supply and spread the gift as far as they could. “And what of that girl...Kuonji?” He guessed.


“Her legs were set. She's recovering in the school.” Ayato rumbled as he crossed his arms. “I still think we should get her and these two back to the station. The oni looked over at Nabiki and Tofu with a steady gaze.


“Tatewaki!” Tofu urgently pressed past Nabiki as he moved towards the front of the cage. “You can't drop...whatever this is into the water supply! It'll cause mass panic!”


Tatewaki looked over at the man. “Well, that's why we'll begin announcing the uplifting now. We won't actually do it until a few days pass.” He shrugged. “I'm going to be setting up facilities like this throughout the city. Nothing will go wrong.”


...


Beneath the surface of the school's pool, the black club gemstone within the ladle pulsed.





Ukyo, who had both of her arms handcuffed to her bed, and heaters blasting her on high, looked up as she felt the ladle react. 'No! Not now!' The partially desiccated looking girl slammed her arms into the steel frame of her bed, but all it did was dig the cuffs painfully into her leathery skin.





“What was that?” Akane demanded, feeling a shiver run down her spine. She was rushing alongside traffic from the rooftops.


'My biggest mistake.'


The wind whipped her short hair around her as she occasionally leapt and cleared three houses in the single bound. A few pedestrians pointed up and gawked, but the closer to the school she went the more she gawked as all manner of strange people and things began to flood the streets.


The gaudy decorations set her teeth on edge, but she easily vaulted the stone fence to the school as she snuck into the premises. The redhead glanced around at the mob of transformed people with worry on her face.


'Why haven't they gone crazy yet?' Akane wondered as she tried her best to blend into the crowd. A old training outfit, a set of black pants and a blue silk top was the best she could do in terms of disguises.


'The gemstone has ...a will.' Happosai reluctantly explained. 'Right now it's suppressing any darker thoughts, but it has its limits. The oni went wild once they moved out of range.'


Akane nodded. So it was even more important to get Ukyo out to purify them.


'What's the plan?'


*****


Hikaru Gosukungi and her pale, mousy cousin stood in line with anticipation clear on their faces. Both of them had immediately lined up with the rest of their school when the first person was transformed in front of their eyes.


To think that there was such a thing as magical wish granting water!


“What'cha going to be, Voodoo?” One of the boys behind them asked Hikaru's cousin. When he stuttered a little in response, the person sneered and laughed off her cousin's attempts at explaining himself. “Maybe you should wish for a personality first!”


As the crowd laughed around them, Hikaru frowned and placed a hand on her pale cousin's shoulder. He gave her a grateful smile and bravely gazed forwards, ignoring the laughing jocks behind them.


Hikaru scowled to herself. Only the sight of a few young children happily flying around their parents' heads made her smile.


“Look, Mom! I can fly!” One of the boys happily rubbed his face against his mother's cheek. “It's too bad that Jiro didn't get anything.”


“Oh, maybe it's better. I don't think I can handle the terrible twos if he could fly around.” The woman laughed happily as she led her family away. In her arms, a baby contently slumbered.


*****


One of the oni officers patrolling the halls outside of the nurse's office glanced up when he saw a flash of red moving down the hall and around a corner. He reached up and toggled his radio on. “Officer Kobayashi, requesting for backup.” The oni spoke into the device.


“Roger, sending backup.” The radio sqwacked.


The officer took a step in the direction that he had seen the red hair, but he heard a rumble behind him.


“Officer down! Officer down! Suspect has broken through the cordon!” Kobayashi's eyes widened as he spun around in time for his face to be met by Akane's fist. The oni went soaring down the hall and only stopped when he hit a wall of lockers. The racket was enough to cause a red haired woman to peek her head out from a classroom.


“...pay no mind, citizen.” Akane waved. The woman fearfully glanced at her and then ducked back inside.


'That was the worst plan ever!' She angrily thought.


'I don't like doing subtle. We're here anyway, right?' Happosai laughed. 'Besides, you enjoyed that.'


Akane remained quiet as she pushed open the door to the nurse's room. The locks snapped as the door slid open.


“Akane!” Ukyo glanced up. The woman looked a terrible sight to Akane, looking old and rail thin. Her hair was graying before Akane's eyes as she miserably sat in the center of several heaters and the morning sun from the window.


“Let me break these things and we're out of here!” Akane put actions to her words even as they heard shouts outside in the hall. Once the cuffs were snapped open by Akane, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a bottle of water. “Here you go.”


Ukyo gratefully accepted the water and desperately began to drink it down. Akane slung her arms beneath the brunette's body, shifting her grasp as she began to grow and gain weight within her hold. The two of them moved towards the window and Akane broke them open with a snap kick.


Akane dove out of the window just as the officers arrived at the door. Both of the girls began to plummet down towards the ground below when a red blur slammed into them both from below. They both screamed as they were sent soaring upwards before slamming through the fence around the roof of the school.


Both girls groaned as they laid on their sides as the figure of the red giant landed on the roof with them a few moments later.


Akane quickly got onto her feet once she saw the monster that had defeated her.


“So, you came. What took you so long?” The giant wondered. He cracked his neck as he took a step towards Akane.


“I was learning how to defeat you, monster!” Akane replied.


“At least get this...” The giant laughed. “None of us are monsters here, Miss Tendo. We're just doing our jobs.” He threw his arm out towards Ukyo. Before the girl could react, the roof itself had wrapped itself around her, muffling her as it covered her lips.


“Aren't you supposed to be police officers? Why are you doing this!?”


“Hmph. You've seen what punishment we can take.” Ayato replied with a sneer. “If everyone is like this, no one has to worry about being hurt again.”


“That's stupid! It's just going to escalate things even worse!”


“Things were already escalating! So long as the police have these bodies, we will still be stronger than everyone else. Not even that one...” Ayato thumbed over at Ukyo. “Or you could stand up to me.” He grinned. “We'll finally have peace.”


A gust of wind blew past the rooftop.


Akane pushed a stray lock of red hair behind her ear as she frostily glanced at the man. “If that's what you believe...it'll just have to break that delusion!”


“I'll gladly welcome your attempt!” A spiked club rose out of the roof next to him. Ayato grasped the club with his demonic arm. “Try your best to stop this, Miss Tendo!”


'No! Run away and stop the ladle!' Ukyo desperately thought.


Akane roared as she shot across the roof at Ayato in a streak of color. The oni swung his glowing club around to smash her, but it swung through nothing but air. Ayato only had a moment's warning from hearing a sharp crack on his left before Akane had appeared in in his blind spot and was slamming blows into his left side.


The oni staggered backwards as he weakly tried to bat away Akane with his human arm. However, the girl merely sped around towards his back, hammering his flesh with the force of a sledgehammer.


'That's right, Akane! Keep the pressure up!' Happosai guided the girl as she ducked and leapt over the oni's enraged strikes. She rolled beneath a club strike and answered with three strikes to the gut. A quick dash beneath a stomp rewarded the giant with six kicks to the back of the leg.


'How...?' Ukyo stared in sheer amazement at the speed blitz from outside. The air around Ayato was turning red as only the occasional flashes of blue appeared around the oni.


...


'Wind magic is one of the finest arts.' Ranma proudly told Ukyo once. The two of them were watching in amazement as Happosai was singlehandedly harrying three of the elder students. The small man cackled as he bounced around between their strikes with terrifying speed. 'I want to learn how to harness it at those levels someday...'


'You're already pretty impressive, Ranchan.' Ukyo placed her hand on her fiancee's shoulder encouragingly.


For a moment, something dark crossed his eyes. 'Yeah, but I'm not the best.'





Ukyo shook off the memory.


Ayato tried to gasp for breath, sweating profusely as a whirling sound began to rumble through his entire body. The giant slammed his club with all his might into the roof top, causing the entire building to quake as the floor gave way beneath him and Akane.


Rocks and dirt were swept up into the sky in a swirling column of wind as the two of them plummeted down below.


The school's water towers trembled from the shock of the attack. Various steel bolts popped out of place as the entire structure began to totter dangerously from side to side. Bits of water began to leak out from the top and into the hole created by Ayato.


'Damnit! I refuse to be so helpless!' Ukyo's lips pulled back as she tried to bite her way through the ceramic and tile as she anxiously watched the water drip out from the tower.





“You can't run down here for much longer!” Ayato shouted, body aching as he lumbered after Akane. The girl was favoring one side as she raced ahead of him. Behind them there was trail of devastation from the oni's swings.


“I know, but I won't need to for much longer!” Akane replied. Her fists were bloody and bits of her bone were sticking out through muscle and raw skin. “I just need to outlast you.” She taunted the oni.


Ayato snarled as he slammed his club into one of the lockers. With a mighty flex of his muscles, he ripped the locker out and swung his weapon in Akane's direction. The locker on it gave way to his furious swing and was launched straight at the redhead.


'Duck!' Happosai commanded.


Akane instantly went into a slide as the locker soared over her head. With a grin, she saw it head straight at the water fountain at the end of the hallway. The crumbled metal slammed into and shattered all the pipes behind the fountain, releasing a deluge of water.


She spun around so she was facing the ground and shoved herself to face Ayato. The water slamming into her back began to swiftly re-energize her and knitting the wounds on her hands shut. A look of horror crossed the oni's face as her expression turned devious.


'You're a beginner at true magic so you need a lot of water to do anything.' Happosai began. 'It's a sad fact that these losers get it better than you, but...'


An aura of blue light flared around Akane as Ayato snarled. He reared back and flung his spiked club like a missile at Akane. The weapon flashed as the walls, ceiling, and ground beneath it began to break apart, pieces of it being drawn towards the weapon as it swiftly began to morph into a spiked sphere.


The water began to dance around Akane as her aura guttered out. The howling of gale force winds carried the sparkling droplets around her, reflecting Akane's determined expression. The ground beneath her began to be sliced apart as the cloak of wind began drilling into the ground.


'We can eventually do it all!' Happosai cackled as Akane set herself down and shot straight at the spiked sphere.





Up on the rooftop, Ukyo let the blood bowl from her lips as she spit out the last chunk of tile covering her mouth along. Bloody pieces of meat, chunks of her teeth, and earth littered the ground in front of her.


But her jaw was still in one piece thanks to her magic, and she had enough of her tongue to speak.


Ukyo closed her eyes as she began to chant a prayer. The water within the tower began to stir anxiously as she began to plead to the spirits within it to come to her. The tower itself groaned as the gallons of liquid within it began to put more stress on worn down bolts.





Akane slammed into the sphere with all her speed. A terrible noise began to echo through the hallways as razor sharp wind tried to tear metal apart. The sphere strained as it kept trying to slam into the redhead while she did her best to resist and press forwards.


“This...what is this?!” Ayato took a step back in shock.


“It looks like this is the limits of your power!” Akane snapped back. The oni's face twisted in rage as he focused on his attack. More of the hallway began to break apart around them as it was drawn towards the sphere.


The drenched redhead grit her teeth as she felt her clothing begin to dry as her spell continued demanding water from her.


“I'm not going to be weak again!” Ayato roared.





Ukyo continued chanting as the water within the tower began to churn. The structure dangerously began swaying back and forth, spilling water on the roof and sometimes throwing water off the roof all together.


The water that landed on the roof swiftly moved towards the brunette, restoring more of her vitality and healing her as her chant grew in mystical strength.


'Collapse on this side! This side!' Ukyo prayed as her mouth flew through the long practiced words.


A sharp crack answered her prayers as the tower finally gave up all together. The structure collapsed in Ukyo's direction. The structure shattered the ground as part of it sunk into the wide hole that Ayato had created. Enough gallons of water remained of the roof to streak towards Ukyo, granting her enough strength to shatter her bonds in a few minutes, but she prayed the water downstairs reached Akane.





Akane's eyes blazed with her power as she felt her own body begin to react as the last of the moisture was drawn from her clothing and hair. The redhead felt a faint weakness, beginning at the edges of her limbs and moving inwards, begin to sweep inwards.


The spiked sphere, large enough to fill the hallway at this point, began to press her back. The water coming from the pipes behind her simply wasn't enough at this point.


A rumble could distantly be heard.


Ayato, who was straining with all of his might to control the sphere, was the first to feel the slight dip in the temperature of the hallway. “What...?” He looked behind him just in time to nearly be knocked over by a surge of water, held together in a wave by an aura of light.


'The old hag came through!' Happosai cackled as the water slammed into the sphere of metal and bent around it as it headed towards Akane. 'Take it!'


'Ukyo!' Akane felt the water drench and soak into her body. Her magical stores surged as the winds around her sped up.


“No! I was stronger!” Ayato screamed as the sphere was shoved back towards him.


“I had friends.” Akane replied as she surged forwards.


The sphere shattered as she tore through the metal. Shrapnel tore into the hallway as the winds receded around Akane's body to contain the metal. However, the sheer speed and force they had granted her was maintained as she twisted in mid-air and slammed her extended leg into Ayato's chest.


The oni roared as both of them were sent screaming down the hallway and through the far wall of the building. Ukyo, who had descended to go after them, quickly leapt out of the hole created by Akane.


The crowds below screamed as they flew through the air and came down hard on the practice fields outside of the building.


Ayato groaned, shrinking back to normal as Akane tiredly rolled off him.


Hundreds of people began to run towards their direction, but frozen in place as Ukyo raced past them and guarded the redhead and the detective with her kunai and a sharp glare.


“Detective Ayato!”


Several officers, mixed between normal looking ones and oni, pushed past the crowd and tried to rush Ukyo, but Ayato held an arm up as he sat up.


“Stop!” When the officers gave him confused looks, Ayato continued. “They saved me from that monster...”


A surge of murmurs went up throughout the crowd. Ayato gave Akane a pleading look, and the drained redhead shakily helped him to his feet.


“We have to stop this now!” Ayato shook his head desperately. “We can't let the water change more people.”


Akane flashed him a look of understanding. “Ukyo...” She called to their guard. The brunette lowered her kunai as she moved back besides Akane and the detective.


“But Detective...”


“No! It does something...something to your mind.” Ayato shook his head. “Things will just get worse if we spread it out too far!”


“That's because you're too simpleminded to conceive of a world with the water.” A new voice sliced through the confusion. “Or jealous that you lost the power.”


The crowd parted as a scowling Tatewaki Kuno strode through. In his hands he was wielding a blade of thunder, which hissed and snapped at anyone that got too close to him.


“Tatewaki...” Akane weakly held a hand up to him. His cold stare made the redhead flinch away.


“You always get in my way, Akane...” The samurai snarled. “Well, this...this is my time to step forwards and be recognized!”


“Not if I have anything to say about it!” Ukyo moved in between the two. The pitch black shadow beneath Akane stretched and connected into the brunette's own.


'I still owe you an ass kicking, kid!' Happosai shouted.


Ukyo wondered why the hell he even said that if the boy couldn't hear him.


“So be it...” Tatewaki swung his blade. The skies above began to darken before lightning slammed down from above randomly.


Akane clutched onto Ayato as they both leapt out of the way of a stray bolt of electricity. The crowd around them screamed and began to push away from Tatewaki as the samurai swung his blade at guard position once the area around them was cleared.


“En garde.”


...


The ladle around the black stone began to crack within the school pool.


...


'Old hag! I'll lend you my capacity if you kick his ass for me!' Happosai called out to Ukyo as she and Tatewaki began to circle around each other.


Ukyo's hands twitched with her annoyance, making the knives in her grasp bob up and down a little.


Tatewaki's stance was solid as he slid on the surface of the grass like a ghost. Occasionally a bolt of lightning slammed into the yard whenever someone tried to get to close to the two of them.


'What do you want in return?' Ukyo tentatively replied.


'Give me a body while I'm building my next one with my magic.' Happosai made a deal. 'Even if you get that ladle, I sure as hell refuse to pass on. So how about it?'


Ukyo frowned in thought. '…deal.' She gave in as she and Tatewaki paused as they sized each other up one last time.


“Pleasure doing business with you.' He cackled. Potential began to flow into Ukyo as the immortal brought her knives before her as she charged at Tatewaki. The samurai kept a steely look on his face as he stepped forwards once.


An aura of power surrounded her kunai moments before they slammed into the lightning blade.


Sparks of electricity and raw magic erupted from their weapons as Ukyo hopped backwards and threw one of her kunai at Tatewaki. The samurai charged straight at her, swinging his sword to bat the knife away and simultaneously unleashing a live bolt of electricity from the depths of the weapon at Ukyo.


The priestess leapt over the attack and began to rain kunai down on Tatewaki as quickly as she could create them.


Tatewaki's sword swung around to defend his face as dozens of electric tendrils burst from the middle of the sword. Whenever they slammed into the kunai they would propel them back towards the brunette like a rail gun. Several of them smashed into the woman and knocked her to the ground.


'Electricity might be your worst match up.' Happosai jeered at Ukyo. The woman rubbed at her body a bit sheepishly as she brought her hands together in a hand sign. The scattered knives flashed before erupted into raw mana around Tatewaki, creating a smoke screen as she raced forwards.


The lightning blade streaked out and nearly severed her head off her neck, but Ukyo was able to close in and begin to engage the man in hand to hand.


A strike to his sword wrist caused Tatewaki's grip on the sword to reflexively release. The blade flashed out of existence before Ukyo overwhelmed the samurai. Tatewaki cried out as Ukyo's blows left no room for mercy.


The brunette flipped Tatewaki down and slammed him hard into the ground. Moments later, she summoned her kunai and held it ready to drive it into him to exorcise him.


“Ukyo, stop!” Akane called out as she raced closer to the edge of the thunder strikes. When no more came, the redhead quickly ran over towards Ukyo and Tatewaki.


Ukyo gasped for breath while Tatewaki moaned in pain, face swollen up as he lay beneath her.


“Finally!” Akane exclaimed, kneeling down besides Tatewaki. A frown was on her face as she clenched a fist. “You dumbass! What the hell was going through your head?”

...


The ladle shattered, leaving behind a club shaped gemstone floating in the water. It flared as an ancient grudge erupted from the depths of the gem as the familiar presence which had been within its vessels was finally identified.





So this was going to be how he died.


Like a complete jackass.


Ranma glanced down at the tanto in front of him. It had all about honor. Honor your grandfather by paying for his mistakes. Honor the contract he had never had a say in and marry that one girl when he had chosen a girl of his own!


For god's sake, Ukyo was more of a sister than a wife. Why didn't they introduce her to him before... then he could have fallen in love with her properly!


Gods...he hated his grandfather. He hated everything about the man except for his martial arts, and even that had been fading thanks to his reliance on that 'magic'. Even that he threw him away.


The thought of smashing aside the woman behind him tempted him. It made his body tense and relax. To buy himself some time he asked the woman some meaningless question.


'It's ***** or me, huh.' Ranma thought as he took the knife.


He hated them all.


With that, the dagger was thrust and twisted.


The katana descended.


From the distance, the torch outside the room was put out.


Moments later, a dark, oppressive aura erupted from within the room. Hateful grudges on wasted potential, attached to the magical energy, shot away to rejoin the source of all of the magic in the area.





“You bastard!” Ukyo wailed as she knelt down amongst the tall grass. Tears streamed from her eyes as she slammed her fists into the earth.


Across from her, looking stunned at the development, Happosai merely stared over at the palace.


“I...only wanted to take it out for a test.” The old man weakly defended himself. “I wanted to be young again...”


They were supposed to wait another day!


“I...I'll kill you!” Ukyo could only see red as she turned to Happosai. She drew one of the kunai she had been taught to wield and flew at Happosai. The elderly man readied himself to fight the crazed woman's attacks off, but before he could...


The gemstone in the ladle laying between the two, which was a fierce red, swiftly darkened to black and erupted in an explosion of magic, suffusing the two with raw magic as it threw the two of them away.


The ground around the ladle was glassed, and several large shards of glass slammed into the two martial artists – instantly killing them. Yet the ladle wasn't done with them. One night later, the two of them woke up, free of injuries.


And the immortal's case was on for the enjoyment of the spirit within the gemstone.





The skies darkened as rain began to pour from the clouds high above. From the depths of the pool a massive dragon formed of water erupted out. The beast let out a roar before spreading massive wings and taking flight towards Akane, Ukyo, and Tatewaki.


The crowd in the school went into a full panic. Most of them were knocked down, along with the tents and structures that Tatewaki had set up by the low flying beast, but those that were transformed were visibly drained of energy as the monster drew streamers of dark energy into its body.


The water within rapidly grew muddy as its transparent body darkened as it slammed down in front of the trio. It howled at them, unleashing a blast of wind that blew the three away from each other.


“What the devil is that?!” Tatewaki demanded as a shining gemstone erupted out of the head of the vaguely serpent like creature before them. Its talons dug furrows into the ground as the beast's crimson eyes flashed as it gazed between Akane and Ukyo.


It hatefully growled.


The samurai summoned a blast of lightning to his hands, but the serpent merely flicked its sharp tail at him. Akane let out a scream of panic as Tatewaki was launched away from them.


The rain began to pour in earnest as Akane and Ukyo dragged themselves up from the muddy ground.


“What...is this?!” Akane stepped back in shock.


“No...it took on too many regrets!” Ukyo brought her hands up to her mouth in shock. “Happosai, you damn fool!”


'I never expected this to show up again!' Happosai defended himself. 'I had thought we had slain it ages ago!'


“Akane! We need time to banish it!” Ukyo spoke up as she created new kunai.


'We need five minutes...can you do it?' Happosai asked.


Akane glanced up at the dragon worriedly. “Do I have a choice?” She wondered.


'No, but nice try!'


Ukyo gazed at Akane in concern. “...don't die on me, Akachan.” She vanished in a burst of smoke just as the dragon unleashed another shredding howl of wind on her and Akane's position.


Akane leapt backwards and began to run away from the direction most of the crowd was located. The dragon took flight with a mighty flap of its wings as it began to fly after her, but a stream of lightning slammed into its side.


The beast howled and swung its tail in the direction the attack had come from, but Tatewaki was already gone and was halfway between Akane and the dragon.


“Get away, Tatewaki!” Akane bellowed at the moronic samurai, but he merely flashed a grin at her and saluted with his sword as he raced after her.







“What is that thing attacking Akane?” Nabiki asked in horror, seeing a tiny redhead in the distance running away from the mother of all snakes. Occasionally the beast would try to attack the girl, but it would get struck in the side by a bolt of lightning from Tatewaki.


A crowd of people ran shrieking past Nabiki and Tofu. The two human guards that had been watching over their cell glanced briefly away in time to get bowled over by the stampede, and in that moment the doctor moved.


“I don't know, but we're breaking out now.”


Before Nabiki's shocked eyes, Tofu's arms bonelessly draped off his shoulders with loud pops and crunches as he flexed his back muscles.


“Doctor!”


“Not now, Nabiki.” The older man walked up to the space between the bars and slid through the space. Several more wince worthy crunching sounds could be heard as he moved between the bars like a snake, and his body dropped to the ground once he was on the other side.


Nabiki moved her hands to cover her mouth to keep from being sick as Tofu twitched his muscles and got his bones set back into position. By this point, one of the two guards that had managed to shove his way back through the crowd up to them rushed the doctor, but he was quicker.


With six swift strikes, the guard was down and unconscious.


“Sorry...” Tofu apologized, wincing a little as his chi was running low just from the simple exercises. He bent down to pick up a ring of keys from the officer before he turned and quickly began to test out them out on the door.


Tofu grinned with satisfaction when the latch to the door swung open.


“We need to help Akane.” Nabiki's statement brooked no argument as she stepped out of the cell.


“Of course, but what are we going to do? We don't have much in the way of abilities, and you saw that using that water isn't a good idea.” Tofu statement made both him and Nabiki glance around at their surroundings as they moved away from their former cell.


Nabiki grinned as she spotted a crane. “I have an idea.”





“This is getting us nowhere!” Akane shouted over towards Tatewaki. The two of them were running out of open ground to run on, and the dragon's attacks were coming more swiftly by the moment.


“Verily, my fierce ti-ow!” The samurai rubbed his face from where the redhead had picked up a pebble and smacked him in the face with it. “No need to be so violent!”


“Don't get weird on me or I'll tell your dad to up your dosage!” She shook her fist at him.


Tatewaki gulped. “Fine!” He swung his blade in the direction of the dragon, sending it flying back to avoid a punishing attack. “It was just...for flavor!”


'Yeah, right.' Akane rolled her eyes.


“There's definitely enough water around for our magic, but it's the same for it, and it has distance working for it!” The redhead complained.


“We only need to buy time, yes?” The samurai asked.


Both of them dove out of the way as the dragon unleashed pummeling winds in their direction. The martial artists skipped back in the direction of the soccer field as the distant sounds of rioting could be heard.


“But...it'd be nice to win, y'know?”


“It's not the time, Akane!”


The howls of the dragon raged in the skies, cutting them off before the two of them could get into another argument. Both of them turned to face the creature as it dove towards them, but the metallic tip of a crane came barreling through the storm. It swung its boom around and smashed the upper sheave into the dragon's side.


The beast let out a shriek of pain as the hook stabbed into it, releasing foul water down onto the crane and the ground below.


“Nabiki?!”


Akane stared in shock as Nabiki and Tofu sat within the cabin of the device. The crane began to pull back from its stabbing attack, but the hook within the water dragon refused to unlatch from the beast so easily.


“This is our chance!” Tatewaki decided as he pointed at the path that lead straight towards the dragon.


Akane's eyes glittered as she came to the conclusion.


“Let's go!”


Tatewaki and Akane both exchange a look before both of them began to rush across the ruined field.


Thunder flashed as the dragon ripped itself away from the crane. Nabiki and Tofu shouted as the crane was sent bouncing backwards, windows shattering as they were barely able to pull back from the monster's follow up attack.


“Oh no you don't!” Tatewaki waved his blade as dozens of bolts of electricity slammed into the opening that Nabiki and Tofu had torn into the dragon, causing the beast to shriek as it writhed in mid-air, trapping it from moving further away from the crane. “Go on, Akane!” The samurai shouted as he lingered behind, focusing most of his attention on keeping the dragon in place.


The redhead shouted back her agreement before vanishing in a burst of speed.


Akane came to a crashing halt on top of the crane.


“What the hell are you doing, Akane?!” Nabiki shouted up at the girl.


“Buying some time!” She glanced over her shoulder at them with shining blue eyes. “Drive me closer!”


Before they could reply, she was racing up the crane's boom.


Tofu quickly shifted the gears inside the cabin and they were once again charging at the dragon.


“Doctor?!”


“I trust her.”


...


Tatewaki collapsed, exhausted as the dragon shook the last of his lightning bolts off, but he could see the red speck rushing up towards it. “Fight on!” His sword vanished as he collapsed face first on the ground.





The dragon snarled as it whipped its head in the direction of the school and its prey.


“Down here!”


A sharp whistle drew its crimson gaze downwards.


Just as Akane went barreling into the gemstone on its forehead at full speed. The dragon let out a shrill cry of surprise as its head snapped backwards and it began to dazedly plummet downwards. Akane, having bounced off the incredibly hard stone, was briefly in the same boat.


Thanks to the water neither of the two remained confused for long, but it was enough time for Akane to swing herself down on top of the dragon's back as its swept back off the ground, tearing up the earth as its belly dragged up the soaked ground.


Akane swayed unsteadily on the beast's back as the dragon began to pick up speed. She could hear is jaws open with a rumbling growl as they headed towards the edges of the school and towards the defenseless people beyond.


'I don't think so.' She angrily thought. The redhead began to dash up towards the beast's neck, fighting the wind and rain off as they conspired to blind her and slow the relatively short trip. Fortunately she was able to arrive at the base of the its neck, and with a roar of anger she brought her fist down.


The dragon howled angrily as its body buckled beneath her, whipping its head from side to side as they spun back in the direction of the school. Akane's hands slammed past the surface of the monster's strange skin and gripped onto the ragged edges of the hole she had created as the beast spun in mid-air as it tried to shake off the menace it realized was on it.


Foul water drenched Akane from the rapidly shrinking hole she had created, but she had more pressing problems as she desperately clutched at the repairing edges as she dangled helplessly from the beast's back.


'Of course he can fly while upside down! It was already hovering when it was getting electrocuted – why give any more lip service to the laws of physics?' Akane angrily thought as she gazed down at the lethal fall that awaited her when the large hole she had created sealed.


However, she could see a faint light building up across the entire school...


“Buy time...well, I guess I can do that from the inside.” Akane glanced away and took a deep breath before she rocked her entire body back and forth into the stream of filthy water before flinging herself upwards into the dragon's wound.


Which sealed shut after she went in.


*****


Akane found herself in an empty field of grass. Beyond herself an endless sea of green grass stretched as far as the eye could see. The ocean of greenery swayed as strong breezes swept across the world, but when she looked up into the sky, only a black nothingness greeted her.


“Where...am I?” She grew startled at the sound of her normal voice. The girl quickly glanced down at herself and found that she was back in her normal uniform and her hair had gone back to its natural shade and length.


“You're back where you belong.”


Akane gasped as she spun to face the man that had spoken up behind her, but she found nothing but the wind and the grass. She felt a punishing blow crash into her back. Akane cried out as she crashed into the ground.


“It's time for me to live my life.”


...


“What is that thing doing?” Nabiki angrily demanded as she moved onto the roof of the crane's cabin once the heavy rain stopped falling. Tofu silently handed her a pair of binoculars that he had pulled from the police officer that he had knocked out.


She peeked through the binoculars.


“It's ...changing?” The dragon had abandoned the wings it had been using to fly, absorbing them into its body as it began to curl in on itself. The beast was losing its definition as it transformed into a sphere of water.


“The spirit within it was trying to incarnate with the magic in the area.” Ukyo called out behind them. Both of them turned to see the woman hauling Tatewaki's original body with one arm. “It tried to do that with me and...well, someone else before.”


“Where were you?!” Nabiki angrily demanded.


Ukyo looked unphased as she set Tatewaki up against the crane before leaping up to the boom of the crane. “I completed the ritual to purify the area. It won't get any magic from anything else now.” She glanced over at Nabiki and Tofu. “Except for one final source...”


“Akane...” Tofu growled.


*****


An ordinary day: People were going about their business, walking along the streets and a few occasionally greeted neighbors or friends with sunny smiles and warm discussion. Suddenly there was a panic as two figures charge around a corner and barreled into the crowd without care.


The first is a girl in Chinese clothing, her medium length red hair in a ponytail, obviously in a hurry to get somewhere. At least anywhere where her pursuer isn't going. That figure chasing after her is a cross looking panda.


Shouts of dismay and surprise ring out as the crowd panics over the thought of a rabid panda attacking.


The girl charges right for a wall, suddenly leaping up and onto it at the last second. The panda hadn't calculated for this and slams into the wall. It lets out a dazed growl and falls over.


“Really! I can't believe you fell for that...aie!”


The panda had sprung up from its position and grasped onto her before slamming her into the ground. It pointed back in the direction they had come from.


“I'm not going.” The redhead sulkily replied despite having a panda bear looming over her. “I have to find a way to get rid of this damn curse, old man!”


The panda considers things for exactly three seconds.


Then it rips off a nearby stop sign out of the ground and liberally applies it to the girl's face. It began to drag the unconscious girl away under the stunned gaze of the crowd.


It paused a moment, turned towards them, and offered a polite bow before continuing to drag the girl away.





Akane twitched in her dreamless slumber.





“Three...what?!”


“Just choose one and we'll get you married right away!”


It was a life of absurdity.





Sustained by the foul water, Akane's magic kept her at the edge of the waking and dreaming worlds.





“Because of you my life is a living hell! Prepare to die!”


It was a life of danger.





Half remembered faces swam in and out of her vision.





“I love you!” A cheerful declaration in Mandarin from someone who had been attempting murder just a while ago.


“Here! Made fresh just for you!” An okonomiyaki with a heart drawn on it with sauce.


A dark haired paramour with an insane laugh and highly dubious habits leapt to show their affection in their own twisted way.


It was a life of complications.





“D..'t . . . ie, A..”





“So...you have to go out and show your twin from a magic mirror how to woo guys?” A sigh of frustration came out from clenched teeth. A few moments passed before annoyance gave way to a bit of suffering affection. “Geez, why do you keep getting into these kinds of situations?”


It was a life of comedy.





“...don't die on me, Akachan.”





A rampaging god, spewing enough heat and flames to melt the top off this mountain lay before them. If nothing was done soon it would too late to save...!


Then this god had to go.





Was this any way to live?





It was a good life, despite all of its problems.





She had no life unless she escaped.


...


It...


was...


my...


Life!





Akane's blue eyes snapped open. She floated within the center of the sphere of water and high above her she could see the black club shaped crystal that had started all of this.


An aura of magic, alternating between two vast extremes in temperature boiled around her. The heat and cold spiraled around her as she swept all of her mixed up conflicting feelings into her ultimate attack.


“HIRYU SHOTEN HA!”


She threw an uppercut as the sphere of water was ripped asunder as a tornado erupted in the depths of the sphere of water. The winds howled as they slammed into heaven and earth, ripping off dark miasma from the massive gemstone as it rapidly shrunk as both of them began to descend to the ground below.


'Thanks for the memories...'


*****


'Old hag, do it now!' Happosai screamed in Ukyo's mind. Ukyo leapt off the crane at the first sign of the swirling tornado and slammed her kunai into the earth. Both of them watched as the entire campus flared with power from the sheer amount of water soaking it through.


The dark miasma being ripped away from the tornado began to dissolve within the exorcism field along with the transformations of all of the people that were still within a mile radius of the school.


Once she confirmed that the spell was working, she joined Tofu and Nabiki in their mad dash towards the tornado's base, following the shining crimson light that was descending from the top of the meteorological event.


*****


A dark haired girl in a blue silk top and black pants stood in the center of a deep crater in the earth. Her long hair swayed behind her as she stared up at the sky. In her hands was a large red club shaped gemstone with a strap coming out of it.


“Akane!”


Akane glanced in the direction of the voice, and shrieked as she was knocked to the ground by Nabiki, who had flung herself down into the crater after her. Both sisters began laughing and splashing each other with muddy water as Tofu and Ukyo glanced down at them from the edges of the pit.


Ukyo gave Tofu an unsure glance, but he merely smiled and gestured her to go ahead.


The brunette grinned and leapt down into the pit after the two sisters.





And that's how the incident came to an end.





Tatewaki snapped awake and groggily glanced around at his surroundings. Seeing a nearby puddle of water, he smiled and thrust his hand into it.


Only for nothing to happen.


“Nooo!”





Ukyo's ritual purified the school of their transformations. Tatewaki was morose for a good week afterward.





Tatewaki eyed a watermelon in front of him as he sat in seiza position in his dojo. Next to him was a pamphlet full of martial arts maneuvers.


“Hm...” The heir considered the fruit for a moment. “Well, better than the Neko-ken...” He rose and drew a blade.





He was back to his usual antics before long.





Tofu swept the front of his clinic. Occasionally he'd give a polite nod to a passerby.


“Ono-sensei!” Ayato jogged up to the man in a casual outfit. Several bruises and bandages were on his face. “We're here for my appointment.”


Behind him several more police officers came up behind him with grumbles.


Tofu smiled.





Ono-sensei's business skyrocketed in the immediate aftermath...





In the distance the Hollywood sign could be seen through the window of the lavish condo.


“You did what?!” The father of Tatewaki roared into his phone.





Tatewaki's father learned a lesson on proper parenting after paying the hospital bills of the injured.





Nabiki glanced at the acceptance letter for her college. She walked over towards the window of her room and gazed down at Akane, who was filling the koi pod with water. Next to her were several plastic bags with fish swimming in them.


She smirked as she headed towards the phone.





Nabiki told me there was a mistake in admissions. Seems she'll have to stay at home next year due to overcrowding at the dorms. I told her that we should fight it, but she decided that it was too much of a bother.





Soun Tendo glanced at the pictures of his family in his office. He had realized what Nabiki had been intending with her dorm ploy, and it shamed the man.


His phone buzzed once again.


“Mister Tendo? The Mayor is on line two...” His secretary spoke through to him.


Soun's gaze lingered on the picture of his wife.


“...right.” His face twisted in annoyance. When he returned to his desk, he glanced at the report that had been sent to his office from a Detective Ayato.


'Proposal to allow martial artists to join the police in patrolling Nerima district.'


Soun picked up the phone. “Hello, sir?” He glanced over at the report as he paused to let the man speak. “Yes, I think that this Neighborhood Watch idea is a very good idea. I think it's about time that the police get assistance from those that can provide. It'd be a very good feather in your cap to promote these things to the younger generation...”





Daddy has been coming home more these days. He was even talking about maybe opening up the old dojo again.





Ukyo leaned up against the roof of the Tendo Home, gazing up at the blue skies above.


'So, the gem inside the ladle rejected us both, huh?' Happosai spoke up.


“Uh huh.”


'What do we do now?' The old man nervously spoke up. 'That magic was how we regenerated...'


“I guess your next body will be your last, old man.” Ukyo ran a hand through her hair.


'You at least keep that young body, you biddy!' Happosai whined. 'If I regenerate, I'm just going to be an old man again.'


“Hm...well, I can see about scrounging up some kind of appropriate vessel, I guess.” Ukyo drawled.


'Really...?!'





And Mr. Saotome...





“You traitor! Judas! Snake!” A two foot tall Panda Bear plushie angrily shook its paws at Ukyo, who was clutching at her sides and laughing so hard she nearly fell off the roof.





Is a really adorable mascot these days!


...


Akane sighed, wiping off the sweat on her brow. She shakily rose to her feet and bowed to her father. Both were standing across from each other in the dojo in their training gi. The dojo itself was open to let in the fresh air and sunlight in.


“Thank you, papa!” She grinned at her father.


“The pleasure was mine.” Soun reached up and stroked his fingers beneath his nose.


Akane rolled her eyes as she saw her father attempt to coax the stubble into a mustache. “It's not going to grow any faster, daddy.”


Soun's eyes teared up a little.


Ukyo stepped into the dojo from the direction of the house. She was holding onto a small spatula and had a flour caked white apron over her black leggings and blue kimono top.


“Ranchan! Mr. Tendo! Miss Kasumi is at the front gate!”


Akane and Soun shared a wide smile as the eldest Tendo came back home for vacation.


The good news was almost good enough for Akane to ignore Ukyo's use of her hated school nickname again.





The En-





A small panda bear clutched onto its perch. “Ukyo, what are we waiting for?” Happosai squeaked as he clutched onto the priestess' shoulder. Far below them they could see several men moving a large gallon of water.


“No. Not yet.” Ukyo insisted. The branch she was perched on shook as a newly added weight was added on to it. The brunette glanced over at the other girl with a grin. “Took you long enough.”


“Sorry...” The redhead drawled. The light of the moon shone off the crimson club eye patch on her eye. “I couldn't just take off without my homework done.” She whined.


“Ladies...” Happosai gruffed.


Ukyo and Akane traded a smile before diving straight at the men.





It's a good life, despite all of its problems.


It's my life.


*****


The End.