The Journey is the Destination
Ranma 1/2 is owned by Takahashi Rumiko and they have no connection to this what so ever. These characters are used without their permission and include a plea not to be sued as I have no money.
Ranma grimaced as she cartwheeled over the compact but powerful ball of ki that sped her way, her bruised ribs protesting the movement. Her numb right arm was throwing her movements off, but she was able to compensate with shifts in other parts of her body to alter the spin. All of her various battles had prepared her for this one and there was no skill unused.
The wall behind her practically exploded as the sphere of ki hit the wall and caused the metal to burst. A few of the shards tore her clothes, cut bits of her hair and gave her a few small lacerations. She returned a moko takabashi blast that narrowly missed Cologne, knocking a fire hydrant off its mooring, and sending hundreds of gallons of water spraying into the sky. Both of them were quickly soaked.
This did not faze Ranma, as this was a far too common occurrence in her battles. It did seem to be irritating Cologne some which made Ranma smirk, "What's the matter ya dried up old mummy? Is the water a little too uncomfortable for ya?
"Insolent whelp!" She moved in, but Ranma managed to use the debris effectively, to keep the Amazon Elder from closing by kicking some into Coloogne's path.
They exchanged a few more ki blasts as Cologne maneuvered slowly to close for hand to hand, despite the obstacles. Ranma did everything in her power to maintain space between them until feeling returned to her arm. Already she could feel the pins and needles, running up and down the skin and it was a bit maddening. She just needed some more time. But that was not something she had plenty of as she had just closed within staff range.
Cologne beat her around a turn and suddenly there was a barrage of kicks and punches, with Ranma at a distinct disadvantage. A twisting blow from the staff caught her alongside her head and Ranma flipped through the air seeing stars and her stomach lurching. She managed to get her feet under herself and land well, bringing her guard up as best she could.
The staff impacted her in the abdomen, causing her to fold over that blow and then a vicious knee to the head flung Ranma back. Hitting the ground hard, Ranma had some trouble rolling to her feet as her head was throbbing. She was able to just barely flex the fingers of her right hand so she needed to get some space. She flipped backwards just as Cologne came in hard, leaving a small impact crater under the tip of the staff. Her landing was sloppy.
"Not so cocky now are we boy." taunted Cologne.
"Fight's not over yet ghoul." Focusing more on getting use of her arm back and less on wordplay, Ranma channeled her ki some more, trying to burn through the blocked channel in her arm that was keeping the limb paralyzed. It was helping but not fast enough. There was some movement in her arm but not enough. She was really starting to worry and beginning to think that maybe it was time for the Saotome Final Technique.
Cologne came after her as she worked hard to maintain more than weapon distance and Ranma had a difficult time evading the old woman's strikes. Finally, when they were again near some of the pipes, Ranma was able to spin around a larger pipe one handed and managed to catch the woman with a well-placed kick to the torso that drove her into the wall, crumpling the metal around her.
"Ha! Trapped you now Ghoul!" Ranma hoped that bought enough time to manage to get her right arm to begin moving some. The limb was not in any condition for fast movements but it did help her balance immensely and enable her to think about returning to the offensive. She was better on the attack than on the defense and she was sure that Elder Cologne knew that. That certainly explained why she was currently under attack.
With a groan of metal, Cologne worked herself free of the metal, stood and smirked at Ranma, seemingly unharmed. "Come now boy, do we really have to do this? You already know how this is going to end."
Ranma smirked and replied with a great deal of confidence, "You're right. I do."
Cologne quirked an eyebrow quizzically at that, sure that something was up. She the thrust a finger forward and called out, "Bakusai Tenketsu!"
A fount of debris erupted from the floor, blocking Ranma's vision and she had to shield her face one handed to protect it from the flying shards of concrete. She dodged to her right out if instinct and felt the air move as Cologne swung her staff through where she had been standing. Cologne kept pressing her, using the Breaking Point to keep blinding her so she had to rely purely on instinct.
Ranma was taking more hits but her arm was coming back, allowing her to block more effectively. She now had several cuts on her face and arms from the shrapnel and she could tell that some of the hits she had taken were more than growing bruises, from the way she was breathing that there was at least one broken rib.
Cologne looked injured as well which gave Ranma some satisfaction. The teenager had given as good as she had gotten and she also had minor cuts and was favoring one leg. It was clear that the staff was being used for more than show at the moment. The two of them were panting and staring at each other, each trying to find some opening in the others defense.
As Cologne started to move again, trying to flank the redhead, a voice out of the line of combat called out, "I think we should talk."
Cologne glared at Ranma and then turned to look at Nabiki Tendo, who was standing a short distance away with her hip cocked and looking quite pleased with herself. Standing next to her was her sister Akane, who looked injured, limping some, and a similarly injured Ukyo and Konatsu. The last one there was Nodoka Saotome, looking as unruffled as ever but her sword was not in wrappings, clearly ready for use. Akane and Ukyo were both holding animal carriers, with feral grins on their faces. Cologne relaxed her stance a hair wondering what was going on.
"What is it you wanted to talk about, Nabiki Tendo?" growled out Cologne, her primary focus never leaving Ranma.
"I just wanted to let you know that Shampoo and Mousse are in these cages."
"That I figured Miss Tendo."
"Then you might also want to know that they are also locked into their cursed forms." Nabiki's grin was predatory.
Cologne turned and stared, her guard dropping, "What? How?"
"The Ladle." To prove this Nabiki took out a squirming lavender cat out of the carrier that Akane was holding and poured hot water over it. Nothing happened. This caused the cat to freeze as well.
Cologne turned back to face a grinning Ranma. The redhead smirked at the Elder and winked, "Gotcha."
The old woman's shoulders slumped and then they started shaking. Then she started to laugh, a deep belly laugh. This caused everyone to stare at the old woman as if she had lost her mind. She leaned on the staff and then looked up, wiping the tears from her eyes, "Well done, girl. Well done."
"Wait… girl?" Ranma was confused and looked over at Nabiki for clarification.
Nabiki snickered and put Shampoo back into the carrier. The cat was no longer squirming but quite still with eyes wide with fright. "It seems as if Elder Cologne has finally made a realization, concerning you."
"Yes. Yes indeed." Cologne limped over towards Nabiki. "I take it that this ends the fight?"
"It does. We did this so we can talk."
Cologne nodded, seeing the reasoning behind the middle Tendo's actions. "Water from the Locking Ladle. Very clever Ranma. I suppose you got this from Herb?"
"Yes. And water from the Kettle." confirmed Ranma.
"This was a very clever plan Ranma, I must commend you. And to get all the Tendo women involved, and your mother. Well done."
"Uhm… yeah." Ranma again looked over at Nabiki for help.
"Planning something and counting on others like this… that is so very unlike Ranma Saotome, Man among Men. Heh… no this was much more of a woman's plan than a man's. This was something that an Amazon would plan. I am impressed."
"Uh… this was Nabiki's plan." explained Ranma.
Cologne looked at the middle Tendo and then back at the redhead. "Yes, but you started this ball rolling. This is your plan that has brought us here to this moment."
Nabiki smirked, clearly happy with the success of the plan. "You have a point, Elder Cologne. This is all your idea Ranma, I just made some enhancements to it."
"So, let me guess, you change Shampoo and Mousse back for my agreeing to leave Ranma and the rest of you alone?" asked Cologne, with a big smile.
"That is the planned trade off." stated Nabiki flatly.
"Let me toss out a counter offer. The kiss of marriage is canceled as is the kiss of death. After Jusendo and what Ranma did to Saffron, the Elders decided that truly aggravating you was not in the best interests of the tribe. But I would like to offer you a place in our tribe, as a warrior."
Ranma looked thoughtful, "Give me a moment."
She walked over to Nabiki and her mother. They leaned in and Ranma asked, "What do you think?"
Nabiki pursed her lips, "This might be in your best interests. Think about it… Amazon training and you don't have to worry about Shampoo anymore. I am not sure what the bad is, unless you have to move to China."
"You are a wonderful woman Ranma and this is an opportunity that might be a blessing." said her mother.
Ranma turned back to Cologne. "What about Ukyo and Akane? They defeated both Mousse and Shampoo."
Cologne looked at the other two girls holding the animal carriers. "Yes… they clearly are warriors. I have no problem extending this offer to all of you. You have clearly demonstrated your worthiness. This was a cunning plan after all."
"So the fighting is over? No more attacks from Shampoo or Mousse?"
"Correct. Can you live with that?" asked Cologne.
Ranma nodded absently, a bit stunned. "Uhm… let me think about this some more."
"Why don't we go back to the restaurant or the dojo, sit down and have a talk. Then we can deal with all of this. Are you amenable to this?"
Ranma nodded again.
"Good. Then shall we."
The group headed out. Konatsu took both animal cases and Ukyo and Akane helped Ranma, the three of them hobbling together. Nodoka offered to help Elder Cologne and the old woman rested her hand on Nodaka's arm. Nodoka said, "The Dojo is closer. We can relax and discuss this in a civilized manner."
The walk was only ten minutes or so and then they reached the dojo. Kasumi seemed shocked by the damage that Ranma and Cologne had caused each other and returned to the living room bearing a tray of tea and the first aid kit. The various fighters allowed themselves to be fussed over, as they all knew that there was no arguing with Kasumi when she was in this state. Once the medical affairs were in order, the tea was served.
Elder Cologne bowed over the warm cup. "Thank you Kasumi."
"You are welcome Elder Cologne."
"Now what was this about you wanting me to become an Amazon?" demanded Ranma, a bit flustered by the whole idea. It was terrifying and so strange to even consider.
"Could you return Shampoo and Mousse to their natural forms first? I would prefer that prior to us talking even more. If you please."
Nabiki looked over the rim of her tea cup with narrowed eyes, "We naturally have assurances that there will be no violence on your part if we do?"
"Absolutely. I said as much earlier. I am quite content with the fact that the battle is over and that you are the victors."
Nabiki nodded and Ranma got up and headed out of the room with Kasumi. Akane and Ukyo opened the animal carriers and got out Shampoo and Mousse. The small cat and the duck moved closer to Cologne, nervously looking at the others. Akane looked a bit smug as she glared at the cat, even though she was developing a pretty good black eye.
Kasumi came in with a steaming kettle, followed by Ranma, who tossed a couple of bathrobes over to the Elder. With a happy smile, the eldest Tendo poured the water on Shampoo and Mousse, returning them to their human forms. The kettle was now empty.
Once the two were now covered, every one sat there at the table calmly, though it was clear that Shampoo was struggling with her anger. Cologne did not spare her a glance when she spoke. "As I said before Ranma,that was masterfully done. It was a battle plan worthy of an Amazon."
"Uhm… thanks." replied Ranma, shifting nervously in her seat.
Nabiki elbowed the redhead gently in the side, to get her to still. "She was talking to me baka. Thank you Elder Cologne. I could not have planned it if it were not for the fact that Ranma had the foresight to have obtained both the locking water and the kettle water and had them on hand. The fact that she did and no one knew about it astounds me."
Ranma blushed some as Nabiki praised her some.
"Yes. That was excellent foresight Ranma. And I must admit the use of the locking water is the one thing I would never have expected you in this ruse. I did not think you had the courage and determination to do something so… permanent to an opponent or to yourself." stated Cologne.
Ranma nervously rubbed the back of her neck, "Uhm… well… I figured that with my luck with water to do anything less would mean that my plan would fail right at the start."
The Amazon Elder nodded in agreement. "Very insightful. Yes, I do believe any other method that you could have used to change your form would have failed you at some time. It is just like the curse to draw the water you are most trying to avoid to you. That is what we have seen in the village."
"That's what I thought. So I just used some ladle water and poof… safe."
Cologne looked thoughtful a moment before asking, "How long have you had this water in your possession?"
Ranma appeared a bit startled by the question and then sheepishly answered, "Uhm, ever since Herb was here. I got it before he left, you know… just in case I would ever need it."
"Very clever. And no one suspected?"
"I know I had no clue." admitted Nabiki. "And trust me, I would have used them if I had known about them."
Cologne nodded. "I am sure you would have. You are a fierce defender of your family, Nabiki Tendo. Seeing how you and yours did today I would like to offer you membership into the Amazons, as full members of the Tribe with all rights and privileges."
Shampoo and Mousse both bounded to their feet protesting. "Grandmother!" "Elder!"
"Hush! You two were clearly defeated in combat before you were locked into your cursed forms and Ranma kept me away long enough for that plan to work. That and she held her own against me. You tell me how that does not warrant full membership?" replied Cologne. "Besides, I do not want to irritate the destroyer of Jusendo over your mistaken quest for love."
Shampoo's face turned purple with rage and she spat out, "Husband is mine! Not stupid violent girl's!"
Akane smirked and replied lightly, "Actually, she is mine."
Both of the Amazons looked at Akane questioningly, unsure of her answer. Mousse had taken off his glasses and was looking over at a potted fern. Cologne asked calmly, "Explain."
Ranma sighed and Akane patted her girlfriend's hand lovingly. She looked up at the Amazon Elder and said, "Just so you know, she had three doses of the ladle water but only two from the kettle."
The Amazons were quiet staring at Akane in shock. Shampoo and Mousse shrunk back to their seats at this news, stunned by what they had heard. In a tiny voice Shampoo asked, "Ranma give only water for Mousse and Shampoo?"
Ranma looked down at her hand clasped with Akane's and nodded. In a soft voice, filled with emotion she replied, "Yes. Yes I did. Because this plan was the best way I heard of to end all of my, all of our issues with you and the others. The threat of you two being stuck as animals would be stronger than me stuck as a woman. Cologne would really have no choice but to yield if you two were locked. So I had to decide, did I want an out for me or an out for my whole family. Family comes first."
Kasumi had tears in her eyes that had not fallen and Shampoo's eyes looked wet as well. Akane looked so proud of Ranma that she might burst as did Nodoka. "As for me… being a girl has not been a bad thing. I have been happy and my life has been calmer. I have Ukyo as my sister. Kodachi is gone. Ryoga is leaving me alone for the most part. Pops is going crazy which I am fine with. My life is stable and I have friends. I do things outside martial arts. Yeah, giving up the kettle water for this was not much of a choice in my mind."
Cologne smiled. "You are indeed a wonderful warrior and not a mere man. You truly would have been wasted as a simple husband. My offer to you all stands. Will you join the Tribe as warriors, you and yours, for your family is clearly one of warriors of the highest caliber, in many areas that would enrich my people."
Ranma looked at Nabiki who had a calculating look on her face. The middle Tendo finally came to a conclusion, nodded and Ranma said with a grin, "We accept."