Chapter Eight: Enter, Bad Guys
By Qaddafi the Ripper
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 belongs to the almighty Takehashi Rumiko, Tenchi Muyo! to Pioneer (?), Sailor Moon to Takeuchi Naoko, Aa! Megami-sama! to Fujishima Kosuke, and Fushigi Yuugi to Watase Yuu. Please don't sue this poor college student!
"I might be able to help if you told me what the problem is, Ryu-sama,” Washu said, leaning over the redhead’s shoulder. Ryu had planned to leave shortly after dinner, but halfway through dessert, she’d asked if she could use Washu’s computer. The universe’s greatest scientific genius couldn’t tell what the problem might be; it looked like Ryu was trying to make a weather forecast. Why else would she be looking at clouds?
Ryu had the view pan in abruptly, and Washu frowned at what they saw. Red splotches were rapidly evaporating but still readily visible; in the center was what appeared to be an envelope. Ryu turned to her and said, “Your daughter can teleport, right? Could you ask her to fetch that letter for me?”
Washu hurried out of the lab and bodily pulled Ryoko off of a frantic Tenchi. “Hey!” the space pirate protested. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“You’re running an errand for me!” Washu informed her, dragging her into the closet-lab. After a lot of complaining, Ryoko finally agreed to retrieve the letter for Ryu.
“So what’s the big deal with this, anyway?” she demanded with asperity when she reappeared in the lab. Ryu quickly snatched the letter and read it, her face turning pale. “Well?” Ryoko prompted impatiently, “what is it?”
“It is a declaration of war,” Ryu replied, lowering the paper.
Washu grabbed it and read aloud, “ ‘Fushicho Ryu, for all the pain you have cause us, we will revisited it upon you a hundred times over. This is only the beginning. -Aku-Shindeiru’.” She paled. "He's come back," she whispered.
Ryu nodded, then keyed something into the computer. Washu stared at the image on the screen. The basic form was that of a man, but he seemed to be made entirely out of black fog. His image wavered, varying between a more definite human form and a cloud. The only thing that stayed the same was two silted red eyes that glowed. Even his more human form was not quite right. His hands seemed to end in claws, and she thought she could see fangs.
"Is that this Aku guy?" Ryoko demanded. "What kinda... thing... is he?"
“Aku-Shindeiru is a being of great, evil powers who is currently without any real, physical body. He and his family first appeared over a thousand years ago, causing no end of trouble. They rampaged across the galaxy, but not just destroying randomly. I wish it was that easy. More than killing, they enjoy causing fear and regret in their victims - psychological terrorists, if you will. By the end, they had destroyed an uncounted number of worlds, and very nearly destroyed some of my friends. So I killed the more powerful members of the family, his parents, and banished Shindeiru and his two brothers. I thought they’d learned their lesson,” she finished grimly.
Washu closed her eyes, trying to blot out the memory; hearing the pain still strong in the redhead's voice, she longed more than ever to speak the secret she knew, but it was not her place. “So what do we do about these trouble makers?”
“I don’t know where they’ll next strike. Call the others -we’re going to have a strategy meeting.”
“But we thought you wanted us to leave you alone, Ryu-sama,” Washu protested.
She sighed. “I would have liked to have a normal life, but it seems that won’t be possible just yet. I don’t want anymore incidents because we’ve relaxed our guard. I’m going back to Nerima now. I’m worried about what might have happened there since I left.”
“We’ll be ready for the meeting by tomorrow. See you them. And Ryu-sama?” The redhead glanced back. “Take care,” Washu murmured. “Without you, we have no chance.”
“I will. See you tomorrow.” And with that, she was gone.
“So, Nii-san, how was it?” Aku-Hakai asked.
Aku-Shindeiru smirked, a vicious glint appearing in his eye. “It was most … amusing. Perhaps I should do it again.”
“Considering the condition you left her in, I don’t think Urd will be available again any time soon.”
“That’s alright. It doesn’t really matter who. Next time, I think I’ll choose someone more important to him.”
Aku-Hakai leaned forward, pensively regarding his elder sibling. “Are you sure this is a good idea, Nii-san? If something goes wrong, it’ll be the end for us.”
“Never! I will not turn back now! That bastard ruined our lives and destroyed our family! We can’t let him get away with it! I won’t allow it!”
“Do not be so rash, Shindeiru,” said Aku-Kiseichu, joining the other two. “It is dangerous to strike so openly, especially so early in the game. Our master wants us to proceed with the height of caution. Is that understood?”
Aku-Shindeiru bowed slightly to the eldest of the brothers. “I understand, and I will obey. So I promise.”
“Good. Hakai, stand ready; you’re turn’s next.”
“Right!” With that, the youngest disappeared.
“Akari-chan? You feeling okay? You look kind of spaced out.”
“Eh?” Akari looked up into Ukyo’s troubled face. “Sorry, Ucchan, I'm all right. Right.”
“Don’t say that,” the other chided, taking her hand. “I can tell there’s something wrong. Tell me.”
“I think … something terrible is going to happen; maybe it’s already begun. I don’t know, but I’m worried. I hope Ryoga-sama will be okay.”
Ukyo laughed. “Ryoga’s the last person you should worry about. He can take care of himself. Besides that, he’s visiting Ranma. No one in their right mind would take on the two of them together.”
“No, this is something serious. I just know something horrible will happen!” She jumped up, startling Ukyo. “I’m going to go warn him!”
“Hey! Wait a sec! Akari-chan! I’m coming with you!”
“Suika Sakebigoe!” Akane yelled. She and the others were training again at her dojo, taking advantage of the brief lull from school to spar some more. Akane had suggested that they work on their techniques, and Shampoo agreed. As she stood across from the Amazon, a large ki-blast shot from her hand. Shampoo quickly dodged out of the way, but the ki-blast burst into numerous pieces. Shampoo barely warded three chucks off with her bonbori and dodged more, but one hit her on her left arm.
The Amazon winced, then cocked an eyebrow at her opponent. “Watermelon Scream? Where Akane come up with name like that?”
“Actually, Tousan came up with the name. I think I should have ignored him. I was first learning how to do ki attacks last summer. Nabiki wanted to get an embarrassing picture of me messing up, so she threw a watermelon at me, right while I was still gathering ki in my hands. At any rate, I lost control of the blast, but instead of just disappearing or flying off, it split into pieces,” Akane explained. “I thought it might be useful to have an attack that did that on purpose. The ‘scream’ part of the name came because I was yelling at Nabiki for getting me covered in watermelon,” she finished dryly.
Shampoo grinned. “Akane good. Better than Shampoo expected. But how well you defend against ki-enhanced attack?” With that, she launched her own attack. “Kachuu Tenshin Amaguriken!” she called, going out with the customary hundreds of punches per second. Lucky for Akane, she held back considerably, because the youngest Tendo was only able to dodge or deflect the first few. After that they all connected. Akane fell to the dojo floor with a cry.
Shampoo stepped back and let Akane get back to her feet. “You’re a fine one to talk about strange attack names. What was that about chestnuts?”
“Is three-hundred year old Amazon speed technique. Great Grandmother teach year ago.”
Akane rubbed her shoulder and winced. “I’ve never seen anyone move so fast. You’re amazing, Shampoo. I used to think I was the best martial artist around; now I know just how much I need to improve.” She rubbed her arm this time. “I think I need to build up more resistance to pain, too.”
“Then we keep sparring,” Shampoo concluded.
Akane brought her fists up, then blushed furiously as her stomach growled loudly. “Umm, maybe we could eat some dinner first,” she suggested.
“It is getting last,” Mousse agreed from where he sat watching. The Kunos, already exhausted, perked up hopefully. Since both of them preferred to use weapons and lacked in special attacks, Mousse had been working more with them today.
“Shampoo have idea!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands together excitedly. “We go eat at Neko-haunten! Akane will like it; too too delicious ramen! Then we practice there!”
“Ahh… will anyone else be there?” Akane asked carefully.
“Great Grandmother be working in restaurant. Ranma, too, if he back.”
“Oh. Well, maybe it’d be better if we just practiced here. I wouldn’t want to ruin your business.” Akane fidgeted, trying not to look the other girl in the eye. I don’t want to see Ranma. He might have asked me out, but I'm too nervous right now. What if he changes his mind? What if he thinks I’m no good?
“But if we practice at the Neko-haunten, you can try techniques you can’t do here,” Mousse pointed out. “Kodachi here has already experienced Cologne’s balancing training. The prospect of having to pay for any food you spill is a great motivator.”
“I would like to practice there again, Akane-chan,” Kodachi added.
“… All right. Let’s go.” Akane promptly sprinted out of the dojo, the others close on her heels. The prospect of a meal was the only thing that kept the Kunos going as the Nerimans followed the amazons. Shampoo grinned in anticipation. Akane was good, but she wouldn’t stand a chance on the amazons’ home turf. As it was, she and Mousse were the only ones not winded when they arrived. An amused Cologne delivered dishes to the panting martial artists.
“How did the training go?” she asked as Shampoo and Mousse pulled on aprons. They were used to waiting for food until all the customers cleared out.
“Really well!” Akane assured her brightly. Kodachi glanced at her, frowning slightly. Akane seemed more cheerful than was usual for her. It’s like she’s forcing herself to be cheerful, the gymnast thought. But why would she half to force it? She’s been looking forward to training here all week!
“Your great granddaughter’s fantastic,” the youngest Tendo continued. “I only hope that, one day, I’m as good as her. And I’d really like to learn the chestnut technique you taught her.”
“Than I shall teach it to you,” Cologne replied and bounced back into the kitchen. Akane watched her blankly. Kodachi tried valiantly (but unsuccessfully) to hide her giggles. Akane had no idea what sort of training was in store for her here. “Catch!” the old woman cried, throwing a dish of ramen at Akane’s head. Instinct took over and she snatched it out of the air, then her eyes widened.
“Ah!” she cried, quickly setting it down on the table. “What’s the big idea, throwing a dish of scalding hot ramen at me?”
“This is training. As you learn to keep up, you will build up the speed necessary for the Kachuu Tenshin Amaguriken. Or is this too much for you?”
Akane scowled and drew herself up. “I can handle anything you throw at me!” she declared.
“Is that so?” Cologne smirked and tossed three bowls of ramen at her. “Let’s see you handle this!”
Akane snatched two up and stared in dismay at the remaining dish, which was currently on a crash course with the floor. At the very last minute, though, she managed to catch it on her foot. She winced and put the bowls down, wondering if she’d burnt her hands.
“Not bad,” the elder commented, “but for the rest of the evening, I suggest you use a towel,” she added, holding out the advised item. Akane snatched it up and got to work. It was the most tiring, stressful work she’d ever done, but with at least one consolation: Kuno was much worse than she was. He was more likely to attack the orders than try to catch them, and Shampoo and Mousse had made a game of it: see-who-can-save-the-meal-from-Kuno-first. Akane didn’t even want to think about how much practice they must have had to manage it.
Eventually, the crowd began to disperse for the evening, and Akane sank to the floor gratefully. “That was horrible!” she declared. “Remind me never to take you up on a training offer again, Shampoo. I’m *so* tired!” Then she felt arms wrap around her, and she began to see red.
“Ah, Tendo Akane! How I weep for your mistreatment at the hands of these uncouth savages! But never fear -I, your lover, shall protect you with all my strength!”
“Get offa me!” Akane screamed throwing a bowl of ramen over her head at him. She hadn’t been this furious in a long time, but then, he hadn’t groped her like this in months. She heard an *oof* behind her and grinned. “I hope that teaches you not to mess with me, pervert!” The she frowned, something was wrong -he hadn’t let go of her yet.
She angrily shoved him away and turned around, ready to seriously mangle him, when she saw something that made her freeze. Standing in the doorway to the restaurant, with the door still open, was Ranma, eyes wide in astonishment as ramen dripped down his face from the bowl that had landed on his (yes, he is now in guy form) head.
Oh no! Akane mentally screamed. I hit the wrong person! Of all the people to come right now, why oh why did it have to be *him*? She hurried to her feet and bowed low. “I'm so sorry!” she apologized. “I didn’t mean to hit you! Really!”
Ranma pulled the bowl off his head with a surprising amount of dignity, considering the situation, then accepted the towel Shampoo handed him. “Don’t worry about it, Akane-san,” he assured her, wiping off the noodles. “I wasn’t paying much attention, either.”
Kuno, who had by now regained his feet, was looking at Ranma distastefully. “And who might you be, cur?” he demanded loftily.
"That's Ranma," Kodachi explained to the still-mostly-conscious Kuno. "He's sometimes a girl."
Ranma laughed at the explanation as Kuno gave him an odd look. “No one of consequence,” he assured him, and headed off to the kitchen. Akane just stared at the ground, blushing furiously. She finally looked up when she felt Shampoo’s hand on her arm.
“Akane maybe go home now,” the Amazon said. “Shampoo walk you back.” Akane nodded numbly as she followed the other girl out, not really aware of what was going on. She dimly noticed Mousse escorting the Kunos away, but it never really registered.
Only one thing was going through her mind right now. I threw a bowl of ramen at him! I made myself look incompetent, and I embarrassed him! And he’ll think I was calling him a pervert, not Kuno! He’ll hate me for sure now! Oh, what am I going to do?
“Akane worry too much,” Shampoo interrupted her recriminations. “Ranma not mad.”
“Are … are you sure?”
“Of course. Shampoo think maybe he like you,” she added.
Akane felt her heart skip a bear. “Why would you say that?” she asked carefully. “It seemed to me like he was trying to avoid me.”
Shampoo nodded. “That why.” Akane blinked, and she explained, “He nervous, he shy. He want you think good about him, but not know how. He really like you.” And she smiled encouragingly.
Akane finally managed a tentative smile. “Thanks, Shampoo. You’re a good friend.”
She would have said more, but she was interrupted by a joyful cry of, “Akane-chan! At last I’ve found you!” She looked down and saw a small … something … firmly attached to her chest.
“Excuse me, but do you know where the Neko-haunten is?”
Returning from the Kuno estate, Mousse looked up to see a young man about his age carrying a giant pack on his back. “Yes,” he replied. “I work there. I’ll take you there, if you’d like.”
The young man smiled in relief. “Thank you,” he said as he fell in step with Mousse.
“I’m Mu Su. Who are you?”
End of Chapter Eight
Author’s Notes: I hadn’t planned on Happosai showing up this early -it just kind of happened. Oh well. And Ryoga finally gets to have a significant part. We’ll also be seeing more of Ukyo, Akari, and Konatsu. Wai! I’m sorry that this chapter took awhile; I’ve had tons of school work and writer’s block to boot. Now that the rewrite's out, I think I finally have a plot figured out, so hopefully future updates won't be so far between.
The evil boys on the block: Shindeiru you met last chapter. Aku-Hakai means ‘bad destruction’ and Aku-Kiseichu means ‘bad parasite’. From henceforth till forevermore we will affectionately refer to them as the ‘bad bros.’
Next Chapter: Lots of fighting! Shampoo vs. Happosai, Ryoga vs. Ranma, and Konatsu & Ukyo vs. Aku-Hakai! Wow! Not much else though…
-Chan: term of affection
Nii-san: older brother
-Sama: more formal than ‘-san’
Onto Chapter Nine
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