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Dragon Child

Disclaimer: Here disclaimer, here boy. Where are you?

< >: Thoughts

[" "]: Dragon telepathy

Chapter 4

Transformation

"Class, we have a new student today. His name is Ranma Saotome and he has just come in from China."

Ranma bowed as the teacher finished introductions, then took the only empty seat in the class, which was coincidentally beside a red-haired girl with superhuman strength and a hyper-active blonde. A few seats away, B-Ko looked on as her razor-sharp mind began hatching up a new scheme.

"Hi."

"Hello, nice to meet you. I’m A-Ko. You did a really great job in smashing up those battle mecha before." She started looking up and down at her new classmate and especially took note of his sharply defined musculature.

"No problem." Ranma said nonchalantly as he gave her a friendly smile.

Oh boy! He’s even more dreamy-looking than K was! Unlike him, this guy isn’t a wimp! "Oh, and this is my friend C-Ko."

"Hi!MynameisC-koandit’sreallynicetomeetyou!WhatyoudidthismornigwassocoolandIjustknowthatwe’llallbegoodfriends!Everyday,A-Kogetsattackedbyalotofrobotsandstuff,butsheusuallydestroystyhemallinaminute!YoutookoutthoserobotsinsecondsandIneversawB-Kosoupsetathowyoutrashedthosemachinesand…"

Ranma just partially caught what A-Ko’s friend was saying to him, but still gave her a nod. He was so focused on trying to decipher what C-Ko uttering, that he didn’t notice the lovesick look A-Ko was giving him, nor the devious expression on B-Ko’s face a few chairs behind him.

In the Dragon World…

["Well now, it looks like the ladies are starting to notice your pupil, Sojan."]

["I expected as much."] Sojan said with pride as he and Karrida peered through the viewing portal. It was then that the smaller dragon noticed heading toward the coast of Japan. ["Oh dear. Look at that."]

The Fire Dragon King of the South looked over to where his companion was indicating, then nodded his head. The viewing portal now depicted a small cargo ship that was sailing across the Sea of Japan and was about to reach the coastline. On board the vessel, were several Amazon women and their leader, an ancient crone that was perched on a cane.

["It seems that the females at school are not the only ones that have noticed him. Should we give him a hand?"]

Sojan was thoughtful for a moment, then shook his head. ["Ranma is not in any true danger for the moment, and his interactions with these females will help him adapt to dealing with others. In any case, unless Ranma is in true peril, we are still forbidden to interfere with any mortal affairs. I remember what Socran had declared when he allowed Ranma to return to Earth."]

["Indeed."] Karrida agreed as they turned their attention back to the portal. ["By the way, did you take care of that little detail about Ranma’s… you know."]

["What?"]

["IT."]

Sojan thought for a moment, then slumped down. ["Oh dear, I completely forgot about that! I was so eager to see how Ranma would adjust to the human world that I forgot to put the mental barrier on his transformation powers!"]

["Hmmm, this could prove interesting…"]

["Although I have taught Ranma to not use his shape-shifting ability unless it was necessary, he could still undergo a full transformation under very high stress or mortal danger."]

["Let’s just hope that he doesn’t get into any of that."]

Back on Earth…

Ranma was just starting on his lunch in the cafeteria when both A-Ko and C-Ko came up to him.

"Hey Ranma, mind if we sit with you?"

"No problem." Ranma gestured to the seats next to him. As he watched the two girls sit down, C-Ko thrust a bento in front of A-Ko. The red-haired girl blanched at the sight of the offered tray as her companion took on a bubbly expression.

"Here A-Ko, I made this just for you!"

Ranma couldn’t help but gaze at the look of absolute terror on A-Ko’s face as she looked at her friend’s offering.

"Is… something the matter?"

A-Ko held up her hands and waved frantically while trying to hold a smile. "No! N-N-Nothing’s wrong! I-I-I-It’s just that… well, I just bought this big meal here and it would be a shame to waste it after paying for it. Sorry C-Ko. Maybe next time."

A-Ko’s friend went from cheerfulness to absolute disappointment in a nanosecond as her eyes began to get watery and her face took on this sad puppy expression. "Aw, but A-Ko, I worked so hard on this for you. Can’t have just a little? Please? Pretty please?"

A-Ko sighed. She knew where this was going. Every time her friend went into that sad, puppy dog routine, the redhead would cave in and be subjected to yet another bout with the lethal cuisine that her friend referred to as food. She wondered if anyone could be an even worse cook than C-Ko.

Somewhere in Nerima, a certain uncute tomboy sneezed. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

A-Ko was about to reach out with her chopsticks when Ranma saved her.

"Do you mind if I try some?"

A-Ko let out a sigh of relief when she heard those words, then panicked again. C-Ko’s cooking may likely kill this boy and it was so hard the super-strong girl to get a date.

"Ranma, you really don’t…"
C-Ko cut in as soon as she heard Ranma’s polite offer. "Really? That’s great! Here, have as much as you want!" She thrust the bento in front of Ranma.

"No, you don’t have to…" A-Ko was now frantically shaking her head and waving her hands.

Ranma smiled as he good-naturedly took piece with his chopsticks and popped it into his mouth. He had only been here one day and he was already making some new friends. Life seemed good. Then it happened.

He didn’t know why, but as soon as the morsel hit his tongue, it suddenly changed temperature from tepid to blazing hot. He had experienced high heat before, but nothing like this had ever hit his taste buds all at once. He then felt a feeling of nausea that threatened to overwhelm him as he began to chew. He wondered just what was in that food and felt a wave of dizziness. He suddenly felt clammy. Then he made the biggest mistake of all. He swallowed.

A-Ko frowned as she saw her new friend suddenly turn green, then blue, then purple. She winced as she saw his forehead become covered in sweat. Then she held her breath when she saw him swallow. She began thinking that she should call his next of kin at this moment.

"AAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!" Ranma leaned back and his mouth opened wide, belching out a huge stream of fire. He looked like he was going to explode as his face turned red, then black, then pure white. Ranma started making convulsions, then leapt up and did a backflip. He then crashed down onto the floor of the cafeteria, drawing the attention of everyone there.

A-Ko quickly rushed to his side and crouched down to hold him in her arms. C-Ko’s expression went from joyful to confusion. Why was he acting like that? It couldn’t be her food could it? She had been practicing and had thought she had gotten the recipe right. It couldn’t be that bad could it? She looked down at the bento, then decided to try a bite.

Ranma was still emitting smoke from his mouth after the initial fires had burned themselves out. Even though he had the constitution of a dragon and could withstand any natural poisons and most drugs, C-Ko’s cooking was anything BUT normal. And there were certain things that even a dragon couldn’t stomach. That point was further supported by C-Ko suddenly jumping up and down and screaming after eating a bit of her own food.

"AAAAAAAHHHHH!!! I’M ON FIRE!!!! I NEED WATER!!!!"

C-Ko was also spouting flames, though nowhere near as large or as hot as Ranma’s were. As she rushed to the nearest water cooler, A-Ko looked back down at the boy cradled in her arms. She smiled with some relief as she saw some color return to his face. She also noticed how very well built he was. Her cheeks began to tinge with pink as she felt the lean and tight muscled frame in her arms. She looked at his face and became even more embarrassed as his eyes met hers and he gave her a small smile, signaling that he was all right. She almost fainted at the sight. She had never seen such a shade of blue before and those liquid depths accentuated the rest of his handsome features. He was such a hunk and those slitted pupils of his were so dreamy.

<Wait a second. Slitted pupils? > A-Ko did a double take as she looked into his eyes again. However, she did not get a closer look as Ranma blinked and then started to rise. He gave her a weak smile and dusted himself off.

"Uh, well that was… interesting. I… must say that you’re friend’s cooking packs… quite a kick." Ranma commented politely as he looked over to where C-Ko was drinking like mad from a nearby water fountain.

A-Ko shook herself to compose herself as she got up and said, "Uh, yeah. C-Ko’s cooking does tend to be a bit on the… spicy side. She is getting better though. Usually it takes a person a lot longer to get over it after eating her food. I’m really sorry that…"

Ranma held up a hand and said, "No need to apologize. Actually, as far as spiciness goes, that was actually a little milder than some of the foods I’ve eaten. It… just caught me off guard, that’s all."

Ranma was in fact telling the truth. In the Dragon World, he had been foolish enough to take a bite into one of Karrida’s special Demon Inferno Peppers. The Fire Dragon King of the South loved to spice up his meals and had grown his own specialty herbs. Ranma had taken a small nibble when he was eight. One tiny bite alone was like swallowing napalm, nitroglycerin and a truckload of jalepenos all at once. Despite Ranma’s ties to dragons and his high resistance to heat, that one bite had taxed the insides of his body to the limit. It had taken more than a month before Ranma could taste anything again. Since then, he had preferred foods that were easily digestible.

Meanwhile, near one side of the school, B-Ko and her henchmen were busy planning the latest scheme to separate C-Ko from A-Ko. This time however, there was an added hitch. The spoiled rich girl was more than intrigued by Ranma’s interference that morning. The way he had sliced up her battle mecha with that sword of his had been unbelievable. Even though no one else saw it since that sudden flare of light had blinded them, one of the video cameras from the destroyed mecha had survived when her crew went to salvage the wreckage.

The sensors could not accurately measure the power contained within the blade, nor could it analyze the material it was composed of. The thought of what she could do with such a weapon made her shiver with delight. She saw herself standing triumphantly over a beaten and cut A-Ko with that sword held above, ready to deliver the final blow. Furthermore, the owner of the sword was also puzzling. The sensors had also scanned him and Ranma did not register completely as human either.

Ranma was mystery and B-Ko was determined to solve it. That and the fact that her most hated rival had started forming an attachment to him only fueled her determination. He was very handsome and even better than that wimp K was. Taking him and C-Ko away from her would even be more delicious! Yes, this was going to be very interesting!

She then gave off a maniacal laugh that made a certain Black Rose in Furinkan seem tame.

Later that day…

"Mom! I’m home!"

"Rammie!"

Ranma smiled as his eight-year-old sister Kisara glomped onto his legs as soon as he entered the house. Patting her head, he managed to pry himself loose from her iron grip. He then picked her up and swung her around before giving her a piggyback ride into the house.

"Hello son. How was your first day?"

Ranma nodded to his mother as he set his sister down in the den. "It wasn’t too bad. Made a couple of new friends. So when’s dinner?"

Nodoka gestured towards his room and said, "We’ll be going out to eat tonight, so you’d better get changed. We’ll be leaving as soon as your father returns. He should be back in an hour."

The dragon warrior nodded as he went upstairs to his old room to change.

Some time later…

Genma was unusually happy as he led his family into a small restaurant near the edge of Juuban. Ranma and his mother couldn’t help but be suspicious of him. After all, it was just a couple of days ago that his son had pounded the living daylights out of him for his deceitful ways, and there was also the matter of that seppuku contract that Nodoka had reminded him of. After all that had happened, Genma seemed to be too relaxed and sure of himself. Something was up. Ranma had noticed that his mother was also giving her husband a suspicious eye when he suggested going to a restaurant that was near the Nerima district.

Ranma and his mother’s suspicions were confirmed as they entered the establishment and Genma started waving to a group that was already sitting down at a nearby table, which incidentally was the table that Nodoka had reserved.

"Soun! My friend! Good to see you again!"

"Genma! Over here!"

Nodoka’s eyes furrowed a bit as she recognized the Tendo patriarch and his three daughters. After Genma returned home after Ranma’s apparent death, Nodoka had gotten acquainted with Soun and his family. Genma’s old friend was just a bundle of uncontrolled nerves and emotions. That was when she had learned of the pact to unite the Schools of the Anything Goes. She had been keeping on relatively quiet terms with the Tendos since then. Now that Ranma had returned, she should have expected that her husband and his over-emotional friend would try to get her son to marry Akane, Kasumi or Nabiki. With that in mind, she pulled her husband off to the side.

"Dear… just is the meaning of this?" Nodoka said in a low, but very firm tone.

"Er…. I don’t know what you’re talking about." Genma said with slight tremble to his voice. "I thought it would be nice to get together with my old friend, so I invited him and his family to join us for dinner. This would be a good opportunity for Ranma to meet…"
Nodoka cut him off with a very dangerous look. "This isn’t some plan for you to force Ranma to marry one of Soun’s daughter’s, now is it?"

"Uh… no! It’s not that at all!" Genma said defensively. Some sweat was starting to form on his brow. "I just thought that it would be nice for us to spend some time with old friends, that’s all! And it wouldn’t hurt if Ranma got to know Soun and his family, now would it?"

Nodoka remained silent for a long moment before she said, "Just so long as it is just that, Genma. Remember that I am still holding you to that contract. I will not tolerate any coercion or suggestion of marriage. Is that understood?"

"Y-Yes dear."

"Very well then." Nodoka then led her husband back to where Ranma and Kisara were standing and the four of them headed to the table.

"Genma! It was very kind of you to invite us to join you for dinner!" Soun then looked at the tall and handsome boy beside Nodoka. "And this must your son Ranma?"

Nodoka nodded as she and her family took a seat. Genma sat beside his old friend. "Yes, he just returned to us from China."

"Well now, Ranma." Soun then gestured to his three girls. "I would like you to meet my daughters. My oldest daughter Kasumi, she’s 19. My middle daughter Nabiki, she’s 17. My youngest daughter Akane, she’s sixteen. "

Ranma nodded to each. Kasumi was gentle looking with long brown hair done up in a simple, lush tail. Nabiki had short, brown hair cropped in a fashionable, yet very moderate style, while Akane has a long black hair with equally lengthy sideburns. "Pleased to meet you all."

Soun beamed as he said, "So, which one of my girls will you ma… Erk!" He then found himself short of breath as Genma jabbed his elbow into his solar plexus.

"Heh, heh… Well, shouldn’t we get started and order an appetizer, while Ranma gets acquainted?" Genma said with a nervous laugh.

As he gestured for the waiter to bring some menus, the three girls began looking over the handsome boy.

Kasumi saw a very mature-looking person who seemed nice enough, though a bit young for her. For some reason, she felt that Ranma had a certain something that set him apart from everyone else. He was very attractive though. He had a kind of trait that made him seem… otherworldly. Contrary to popular belief, the eldest daughter was not as unaware to things going on outside of her home. She possessed a mental acuity that rivaled her mercenary sister’s and had a bit of a sixth sense for things that seemed out of place.

Nabiki looked over the boy with the calculating efficiency that had made her the Ice Queen of Furinkan High. <Hmmm, good looking… built… tall… obviously not starving… interesting… I’m going to need some more information. >

Akane managed to hide her contempt for boys as she nodded her head to him and said hello. Boys were nothing but perverts after all. Only Dr. Tofu was the exception. Every other boy was scum and deserved to be pounded into the ground with Kuno and the rest of the morning mobs that she faced every day. It had taken some doing for her father to persuade her to join the rest of the family to eat with the Saotomes. After finding out from Genma that his son was alive, her father had gone into a fit of silliness and kept on repeating some nonsense about the schools being joined. Whenever she asked him about it, her father would just give her a goofy grin and say nothing.

As the families ate dinner and engaged in quiet conversation, Genma was in a bit nervous throughout the evening. With Nodoka watching over him like a hawk, he couldn’t press Ranma into choosing one of the girls as a fiancee. Furthermore, the hope of the boy getting close to one of Soun’s daughters diminished, as he showed no interest in them other than casual acquaintances. Genma and Soun had thought that by just introducing them to each other, they could let nature take its course. However, they knew about romance about as much as they knew about quantum physics. They had assumed that it would be love at first sight, but the boy wasn’t cooperating!

<Come on boy! Ask one of them out! Do something! Can’t you see that your future bride is there? Come on! What’s wrong with you?! The fate of the Anything Goes Martial Arts depends on you marrying a Tendo! >

However, Genma despaired in silence as Ranma simply continued making polite, yet non-intimate conversation with the girls. Ranma’s father suppressed the urge to shout out that he should pick a bride and get it over with. If Nodoka wasn’t there and that damned seppuku contract, he would have forced Ranma to choose from the start. But he was forced to sit and fume in silence. He also noticed that Soun was agitated at the lack of results this meeting was having.

"So, what kind of martial arts do you study?" Akane asked.

Ranma shrugged as he replied, "Well, I know about the Saotome style of the Anything Goes, but I haven’t really practiced it very much. I do know several other styles and I’m pretty good with Kendo forms as well." Ranma purposely didn’t mention that he was actually from the School of the Four Dragon Kings.

Akane frowned a bit when she heard that Ranma knew of Kendo. <Great, another Kuno! > She had developed a special disgust for the pompous captain of Furinkan’s Kendo Club, ever since he made that insane declaration for her to be defeated in order to date her. But she was curious to see what level this Ranma was at. Not as good as her of course, since he did admit that he didn’t practice the Anything Goes very often. "Say, would like to have a sparring match some time?"

Ranma looked at Akane and took a moment to consider before saying, "Thanks for the offer but no thanks."

Akane’s eyes narrowed as she was casually brushed off. How dare that… that… BOY turn her down! Does he think that he’s better than she was? Did he think that she wasn’t good enough for him? Her temper began to rise at this boy for this slight against her ego.

Ranma apparently didn’t notice Akane getting miffed.

The Dragon World…

["Oh my. It seems that Ranma still needs some work on being tactful."] Karrida commented.

["Well, it’s not like he had very much practice with other people. After all, he spent most of his time with us dragons. Ranma had simply gauged the girl’s skill level and saw it was well below his own. I had tried to teach him subtlety, but it looks like he needs more practice. "] Sojan replied. ["That’s the one of the main points why I sent him back to his world, to get the experience. Unlike his clueless father, Ranma does learn from his mistakes."]

["We shall see."] The Fire Dragon King of the South then saw a scene that was sure to erupt into violence, some blocks away. ["Look at that!"]

Earth…

Genma pulled Soun off to the side as the rest of the group went to the cashier to pay for the bill.

"Genma… the schools must be joined!" Soun whispered. "I thought you said that all we needed to do was to have them meet and let nature take its course!"

"I thought so too, but that boy of mine isn’t cooperating!" Genma was very exasperated. He had thought that Ranma would go with Akane, after their little conversation about martial arts. He was a martial artist and so was she. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect match up, right? But, Ranma spoiled everything by turning her down to a match! He had also noticed that Ranma was taking normal-sized bites. Genma despaired and silently vowed to retrain that son of his in the Anything Goes. Maybe a refresher course, starting with the Cat Fist, would be in order. <Well, maybe not the Cat Fist…> He still remembered Nodoka’s warning.

"Well, why don’t we just…"

"I told you before Soun! We can’t just force that boy to marry up with one of your daughters! Nodoka would kill me if she found out! Besides…" Genma shuddered as he remembered how badly Ranma had pounded him that day. "The boy’s too strong and independent for such measures! We have to think up a subtle plan for him to marry one of your daughters! By the way Tendo, which one of them is he going to marry?"

Soun thought for a moment, then said, "Akane! Yes! She’s a martial artist. He’s a martial artist! It’s a match made with heavens blessings!"

In the Dragon World, both Sojan and Karrida groaned in disgust at the sheer stupidity these two humans were displaying.

Genma smiled as he said, "Then it’s up to us to bring our children together!"

"Then it’s Soun…"

"And Genma’s…"

"Operation Wedding Bells!" The two said quietly as they struck a small pose.

Near the cashier, Nodoka frowned as she saw the two men whisper to each other, then took a pose. It looks like she would have to have another one of those (ahem) discussions with her husband.

Later on in the early evening, after Kisara had been put to bed…

Ranma was soaring high over Tokyo as the sun began setting toward the horizon. He had decided to have a quick flight before turning in for the night. He had always loved flying with the wind dragons of Surek’s domain and it was a great way to relieve tension. He had told his parents that he was just going for out for a while. Of course, his father shouted at him, telling him that he was being lax in his training and accused him of becoming weak like a girl. Ranma agreed to a quick match and Genma was instantly pounded into la-la land. Promising his mother that he would return shortly, Ranma then walked a few blocks before taking flight. Making certain that he was high enough so no one would spot him, he darted across the darkening sky and watched the city below turn on its evening lights.

<Everything looks so peaceful from up here. Maybe I should take Kisara flying one of these days. > Ranma took a deep breath while enjoying the air as it rushed past his face. Everything seemed just right at that moment.

KABOOM!

Ranma looked down when he heard the explosion and saw a huge column of smoke rising from an area near the West Side of Juuban. He decided to investigate and dived down toward it.

"AKAGIYAMA MISSILES!"

A-Ko yelped as she twisted and turned to dodge B-ko’s attack. The missiles from the rich girl’s battle armor exploded all around the super-strong redhead, causing major property damage. Stores were wrecked, signs were blasted and huge potholes in the pavement were formed as the two rivals duked it out.

"You won’t get away this time A-Ko! I will defeat you!" B-Ko sneered as she launched another barrage of missiles at her.

"Will you just give it a rest!" A-Ko shouted as she leapt high to avoid the attack, then dived down to plow her feet into B-Ko’s gut. It had been bad enough that her rival attacked her daily at school, but now she was doing it after class as well! She just didn’t know when to quit!

B-Ko was sent reeling back from the force of the blow, but did a somersault and then lashed out with her whip, catching A-Ko’s leg. She then used her suit’s strength boosters to swing her around before slamming the schoolgirl into the asphalt.

THOOM!

A-Ko was quick to bounce back as she worked her leg free, grabbed the whip and yanked. B-Ko was thrown off balance and pulled toward her. As soon as she got close, A-Ko reared back a fist and gave B-Ko a haymaker to the chin. The force of her punch caused the faceshield to crack as B-Ko was sent flying back again.

The armored girl did not land on the ground as she activated her suit’s flight mechanisms and became airborne. She flew up to a height of fifty feet and hovered.
"I have a surprise for you A-Ko. Remember my Ultron 3000 battle droids? You never did get to face off against them this morning since that new student had cut them to pieces so I thought to whip up some brand new and upgraded models, just for you." She took out a small control device and pressed the red button.

A-Ko wondered just what was going on when she then heard the distant sounds of jet engines in the distance. She then looked up and saw several bright dots in the sky, heading toward where they were. In less than a minute, twelve large and very dangerous-looking giant robots landed in front of her. Each machine was at least forty feet tall and sported an array of weaponry that made their predecessors look like tinker toys. They were far more massive and had thicker armor.

"Behold! My Ultron 3000 A’s! They have at least fifty-percent more armaments and the best titanium/vanadium armor, ten inches thick! Even you couldn’t punch through that! Prepare to meet your maker!"

A-Ko winced as the first of the robots began with a barrage of laser fire. The redhead jumped up and landed on the shoulder of the machine. Digging her fingers into the metal, she began pulling with all her might. The armor may be too dense for her to rip open, but the junction between its head and shoulder wasn’t. Circuits began letting off sparks as they were torn free. When enough of an opening was made, A-Ko sent her fist into the exposed machinery, causing a small explosion. She leapt off the robot as it suddenly toppled forward like a tree, crashing onto the pavement with a resounding crash.

"Bring it on!" A-Ko cried out as the other machines began letting loose with missiles, energy beams and other projectiles.

<Whoa! A-Ko’s packing some serious power there! > Ranma had seen the girl’s display of superhuman strength and was impressed. <She could probably give some of the lesser fire and earth dragons a run for their money! > Ranma then frowned as she saw the brave, yet hopelessly outnumbered girl, fight on. B-Ko wasn’t not playing fair as she used her monstrosities to keep A-Ko occupied as she took pot shots at her foe. He winced as he saw A-Ko avoid a barrage of B-Ko’s missiles, only to be hammered into the pavement by a robot fist from behind. It then released a ball of sticky goop from a shoulder cannon, which covered A-Ko and glued her to the ground, hampering her movements and blunting her strength. The droids took this opportunity to keep on pounding the poor girl into the concrete as B-Ko laughed maniacally from above. That was when Ranma decided to step in.

B-Ko was ecstatic as she watched her creations continue to mercilessly pound her rival into a pulp. The super-adhesive she had developed had worked like a charm and now held down A-Ko like a spider caught in flypaper. She became even more amused as her robots began releasing canisters of tear gas at their helpless target as they continued to pound away at her. Without any leverage to push against or a chance to retaliate, A-Ko’s superhuman strength was rendered useless and it wouldn’t be long before she was forced into submission. Nothing could stop B-Ko now!

A-Ko was just barely conscious from the beating she received as the robots halted for a moment to regard they prey. They all raised their fists to deliver the final blow. A-Ko closed her eyes and waited for the end.

"DRAGON FLASH!"

A huge strobe of light suddenly appeared ahead, blinding both B-Ko and her robots’ sensors. She then heard the sounds of metal being sliced apart as a gale force wind was suddenly swept up. He suit’s flying mechanisms were strained to their limits to keep he stabilized.

"HUNDRED WIND SLASH OF THE WEST!"

When the bright light finally faded from view, her eyes widened as she saw Ranma standing amid several piles of scrap metal and robot parts. In his arms he held A-Ko, battered, barely conscious, but somehow clean of the sticky goop. Ranma looked up defiantly at B-Ko. Crimson Fang glinted in the night from its scabbard.

"You again?! You dare to interfere with my revenge?! This is none of your business!"

"Too bad. I’m making it my business!" Ranma retorted as he gently set A-Ko down to one side. "Now, leave A-Ko alone or … else!"


B-Ko sneered at him and said, "So, you think you can just butt into my affairs? You’ve got gall. I like that in a man." B-Ko smiled seductively at Ranma as she then pushed another button on her remote control. "I was hoping that we’d meet again. You’ve already proven yourself quite formidable. I was hoping that we’d might be able to have something. However… " She glared at A-Ko. "Since it seems that you are allying yourself with my mortal enemy, I must consider you as my enemy as well. A pity, but now you too must share A-Ko’s fate. Oh well, at least I’ll still have C-Ko when this is over." B-Ko shrugged as two dozen more of her Ultron 3000 A’s appeared from the sky and began firing at Ranma and A-Ko.

Ranma had no chance of fighting back as he was concerned with A-Ko’s safety. Quickly sweeping her back up in his arms, he began leaping about and darting every which way to avoid the laser beams, concussion blasts and various ordinance that was thrown at him. More property was damaged as he scrambled to get A-Ko to safety.

"Hmmm, he’s very nimble. I’ll give him that." B-Ko marveled as not one of her Ultron 3000 A’s could score a hit. She then saw Ranma run into an abandoned building. She directed her robots to obliterate the building completely.

The droids launched a sizzling swarm of missiles at the structure, enveloping it in a series of explosions. Gas mains were ignited, adding more fuel to the conflagration, causing the building to fall apart in a heap of concrete, wood and twisted metal. B-Ko sighed as she thought about what could have been magic between herself and Ranma. Oh well, time to move on.

It was then that an inhuman roar was heard from the wreckage of the building.

The Dragon World…

["Sojan… would a building collapsing on top of him and multiple explosions count as a mortal danger to Ranma?"]

["I’d say so."]

Earth…

B-Ko wondered just what was going on when the huge, still burning mound of debris began to tremble and shake from something moving beneath it. Suddenly, it exploded out into a hail of flaming rubble and the rich girl had to fly backward to avoid being hit by embers and chunks of concrete. A huge cloud of smoke was kicked up as something huge emerged from the rubble. It was then that the smoke cleared and B-Ko got a good look at what had just came out of the mound.

The dragon was huge! It measured more than one hundred and twenty feet from snout to tail. It resembled a dragon of Western Europe and had blue scales with silver highlights. Its head was kind of a cross between a Chinese dragon of ancient legend and something from the time of Camelot. The face had winglike protrusions and sparse hairs around its temples. The large, batlike wings attached to its shoulders kicked up even more dust and debris. It let off another roar as it turned its head toward B-Ko and her robots.

The Dragon World…

["You know, I’ve always wondered about Ranma’s dragon form. I thought his ancestor was a Black Dragon."]

Sojan nodded. ["He was, but Hachima Ryudo also had a Blue Dragon in his family tree. He must have passed on that recessive gene down through the generations."] Though matings between different dragon species were uncommon, they did happen. The traits of a Black Dragon were dominant over a Blue Dragon’s.

["So now what?"]

["Let’s find out."]

Earth…

B-Ko was more than shocked to see Ranma’s dragon form, which looked at her as if it was going to swallow her up in one gulp. She decided that now was time for a strategic retreat as she ordered her robots to attack it while she withdrew from the battle scene.

The Ultron 3000 A’s opened up with every weapons they had, but the energy beams and missiles were about as effective as throwing pebbles against Ranma’s thick, scaly hide. The dragon tolerated the little gnats for a few moments, then looked down at the ground. A-Ko was still unconscious at his feet after Ranma had shielded her body with his own during the building’s collapse. Not wanting A-Ko to be hurt by any falling debris or errant laser blasts, Ranma raised his head back up and opened his mouth.

A huge blast of blue-white fire exploded forth from his maw and reduced a third of the robots into melted piles of slag. A single flap of his wings caused a hurricane blast of wind to be kicked up, knocking back the several of the irritating machines and slamming them into the pavement. One swish of his tail smashed the rest into recyclable junk.

When the robots had all been dispatched, the dragon looked down at the girl and saw her starting to regain consciousness. He also began hearing sirens in the distance and the flashing lights of fire engines and police cars. Not wanting to be around when the authorities arrived, he carefully picked up A-Ko in one of his massive paws and took off. A news van stopped in its tracks as its camera crew looked up in awe at the magnificent flying lizard streak overhead. They couldn’t wait to show this footage on the nightly news.

A-Ko regained full consciousness as the nightly air cleared her head. Though they were flying at an altitude of at least 3500 feet, she didn’t feel the slightest chill. Whatever was holding her was very warm, like an electric blanket turned on high. She then looked up and her eyes widened. She was so stunned that she didn’t even think to scream.

["No need for you to panic A-Ko. It’s just me."]

A-Ko became confused at the sudden voice in her head. "Huh? Wha…? What’s happening? Where’s Ranma? What did you do to him, you monster!?"

A-Ko began pounding on Ranma’s oversized fist, making him wince.

["Calm down A-Ko! It’s… me, Ranma."]

A-Ko thought she was dreaming as she continued to stare up at the dragon that was holding her. She began to panic and tried to break free of the dragon’s grip.

["I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Look down."]

A-Ko then noticed that they were flying pretty high and a fall from this altitude would hurt, even with her strength and endurance. She ceased in her struggles and then looked back up. ["R-R-Ranma? Is that really you?"]

["Uhhhh… yeah it is. I guess I should explain myself. Listen, could it wait until we land?"]

A-Ko couldn’t believe that this huge dragon was the same person she shared lunch with as she nodded slightly. ["Uh, okay…"]

Ranma nodded as he winged his way toward Mt. Fuji and disappeared behind the summit.

A while later…

A-Ko watched in awe as the dragon standing before her glowed with a soft blue and white aura and then flared. The huge shape began shrinking down and shifting back into a humanoid form. When it took on Ranma’s normal form, the light faded away and A-Ko was now face to face with the dragon warrior, who was fully clothed with his sword strapped to his back.

Ranma gave A-Ko a sheepish smile as he scratched the back of his head and said, "H-H-Hi there, A-Ko. Sorry about this."

To be continued…

Author’s notes

Well, I finished with that one and now A-Ko is going to become an integral part of our Dragon Ranma’s life. Genma and Soun will be trying to get Ranma to fulfill the pledge of course and you can bet that B-Ko will be causing more trouble. As for the Amazons and that strange being from Jusenkyo, they’ll be making the scene soon enough.