Chapter One, Part Two: To Earn Trust
By Qaddafi the Ripper
Disclaimer: Ranma Ĺ belongs to Takahashi Rumiko, so please donít sue me! And Tenchi Muyo! belongs to Pionner (?), Sailor Moon to Takeuchi Naoko, Aa! Megami-sama! to Fujishima Kosuke, and Fushigi Yuugi to Watase Yuu.
"Yum! You make the best ramen, Ranma!" Shampoo declared cheerfully, finishing off her second bowl.
The redhead, who was wearing one of Shampoo's old outfits, bowed. "I live but to serve, Madam Xian." She smirked as Shampoo helped herself to a third bowl. "If you keep eating at that rate, you won't be village champion for long," she observed dryly.
"Feh. What do you know, silly Japanese girl? A strong warrior naturally has a large appetite. On most days, I burn off enough calories to compensate for eating five times the amount of most girls my age," she lectured. Despite her words, her voice was teasing. She'd only known Ranma for three weeks, but the foreign girl had already become her closest friend. Ranma was just really easy to get along with; she had an easy sense of humor and a surprising wisdom about life that was rare in teenagers.
Shampoo had been talking to her grandmother about making Ranma a member of the tribe for over a week. Everyone in Nieuchiesu adored her, even if she didn't seem to be much of a martial artist -her movements were much too loose and careless to be much more than an orange belt. Shampoo had offered to train her, but Ranma had laughingly declined. Even if her fellow tribesmen hadn't liked Ranma, Shampoo still would have tried to get her as part of the Juketsuzoku.
About the only downside was if Ranma stayed, Genma would too. Shampoo's lip curled in distain at the thought of the over-fed, thieving panda who was Ranma's father. While the man probably did have some socially redeeming qualities, Shampoo had yet to discover what those were. She especially disliked the way Genma was always trying to egg Ranma on. She didn't understand much Japanese, but she could easily tell that Genma was always hurling insults at his daughter. He also seemed to think that since he was an excellent martial artist (as far as Shampoo was concerned, he was decent, but not excellent), then Ranma should naturally also be an excellent martial artist. And as long as Genma exerted his claim over Ranma, there were very few ways they could legally (or semi-legally) accept her into the tribe.
But Shampoo was enjoying her friend's presence for as long as she could. Cologne had warned her not to get too close to Ranma; she'd said that Ranma had also been cursed at Jusenkyo, but she hadn't said how. Shampoo had tested this theory out by asking Ranma if she wanted to go swimming with her yesterday, and she declined. Tactfully, Shampoo hadn't said anything about her aversion to water, but she was as curious as a kitten. Still, that didn't explain why Great Grandmother didn't want her hanging around Ranma for long. It was horrible that the other girl had to live with a curse, but that shouldn't stop them from being friends right?
Cologne stood just outside of the kitchen, listening to the two girls chatting. Ranma seemed like such a kind, trustworthy person, she felt bad for being suspicious of her. But she knew something Shampoo didn't know -this red haired girl was not Ranma's true form, but rather the cursed form. The very first day she'd asked if Ranma had also gotten a Jusenkyo curse, to which the girl agreed. She had taken a pail of hot water and dumped it over her head, showing her more masculine side. She -er, he -had also asked that Cologne keep the specifics of the curse secret for now. She had agreed, but not because she felt sympathetic to the child's situation.
She kept silent because Ranma frightened her. His girl form was casual enough, and most people would only see a handsome youth in his boy form. But Cologne saw something else: a warrior, strong and proud, but also humble and self-effacing. It was mildly amusing to see most of the villagers pampering Ranma because they thought "she" couldn't take care of herself. Cologne, oldest and most revered elder of the tribe, who had never backed down from a fight before, had taken one long look into the male Ranma's eyes and decided she would never fight him if she could possibly help it. Because if they did fight, she would be the loser.
But the main reason she kept her peace was because Ranma confused her. A great warrior, who pretended to be incompetent. A young man, who let everyone believe he was a young woman. A child who, according to his father, had never studied Chinese in his life, yet spoke the language fluently. Why? Cologne was honest enough with herself to admit she didn't have a clue. And until she did find some answers, she was going to let him have his little deceptions.
But she'd feel much more comfortable with the situation if he wasn't so close to Shampoo.
Meiou Setsuna sat down, arranging her skirt; she glanced around, curious about the gathering. She'd never before been in such a diverse company. Apart from herself, she saw the master of Jurai, Tsunami, sitting next to the self-proclaimed greatest scientific genius in the universe, Washu. Next was Taiitsukun, controller of the four worlds, and lastly sisters Belldandy and Urd.
Tsunami stood up and motioned for quiet. After it was granted, she welcomed them, "I'm glad that all of you could make it here, even from very far away," she nodded at Taiitsukun at the last part.
"Whatever. Why did you call for this meeting?" Taiitsukun asked, blunt as always.
"It's very simple. *He* has come back."
Setsuna nodded, having expected as much. She saw others mimicking her gesture. "Finally," Belldandy murmured happily. "We've waited so long for this!"
"It took him long enough," her sister added grumpily.
"Right now he's in one of the obscure regions of China," Washu reported. "However, I think it might be better if we just watch him circumspectly, rather then trying to confront him. If he wants to make contact with us, great. If not, we leave him in peace; he's deserved that much, at least."
"But it's not like he doesn't know us!" Belldandy protested. "How can we just sit by and pretend we don't care?"
"Bell-chan," Setsuna cut her off, "he's trying to have a normal life for once."
"As if going back to his old life is anything close to normal," Washu muttered.
Setsuna continued, ignoring the interruption, "It was very difficult for him to force himself to come back; we shouldn't make it any more difficult by bringing up painful memories."
"Well then, if that's it, I have important business to get back to," Urd reported. "Important business" making life difficult for young Morisato Keiichi, no doubt, Setsuna thought drolly. The Norn goddess of the future and her younger sister left, Washu moments behind, chucking evilly over something on her computer. Taiitsukun moved as if to leave too, but Setsuna and Tsunami cut off her escape routes.
The old woman scowled and crossed her arms. "Was there something else you wanted?" she asked suspiciously.
"You know there is," Tsunami replied gently. She weighed the other woman for a long moment, then asked, "Are you sure you want to keep this a secret from him? I don't think "
"I didn't ask what you thought about it," she retorted sharply. At Setsuna's reproachful expression, she continued in a calmer tone, "I'm sorry, but it was my decision to make, and I don't plan on backing down on it now."
Tsunami bowed her head in defeat. "Very well, we will keep your secret, but I still wish you would change your mind." With that, she too left.
"I don't care what Tsunami said. As far as I'm concerned, you're the stupidest person alive. I won't tell anyone either, but I warn you: if you persist in this pointless idiocy, you will cause more hurt than you can imagine." Leaving her to stew on that thought, Setsuna returned to the Gates of Time.
"Elder! Elder Cologne!" She turned to see one of the younger scouts dashing frantically towards her.
"What is it? What's wrong?" she asked. With the way she's acting, it had *better* be important!
"The Musk! The Musk are attacking!" the girl managed to gasp out.
"What? That's impossible! The treaty "
"The old king who we made the treaty with is dead! Now, Prince -er, King Herb is determined to finish the war his father started! They're marching on us even now!"
End of Chapter One, Part Two
Author's Notes: Well, this chapter has been revised cuz I didn't like the pace; figured I should put in more of the stuff from China. For those of you who don't know, here are the series the various characters are from: Setsuna = Sailor Moon
Washu, Tsunami = Tenchi Muyo!
Belldandy, Urd = Aa! Megami-sama!
Taiitsukun = Fushigi Yuugi
As with the amazons, I'll use Taiitsukun usually, except when they're talking in Chinese, when Ill use Tai Yi-Jun. You may have noticed I took out some of the series cuz I think it's easier to keep track of this way; though there may still be some elements from other series incorporated later, I plan on mainly leaving the plot with these five. I'm also going to be using fewer Japanese phrases, as I plan on limiting it to suffixes (i.e., -san, -chan, etc) and attack name/proper nouns.
Onto Chapter Two
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