Chaos Lord Productions Brings You.
Of Mousse and Men
Written by Chaos Lord
Disclaimer: All entities and devices in this story belong to their respective owners.
It was a cold day in the ward of Nerima, one of the coldest the ward had seen in many a year. The snow was steady and thick while the clouds hung low. It was the sort of weather that American children longed for, hoping with every fiber of their being that school might be canceled on account of the weather. The kind of weather in which lovers like to remain indoors so that they can hold each other next to a warm fire. In other words, it was the kind of weather in which no sane person would walk in.
But Nerima ward has never been known for having particularly sane people. As such, if one was to look to the streets on this cold morn they would find a person out and about in a long winter cloak. On further inspection of this person one can distinguish features of a person on the male side of the gender equation. The only other thing that we can tell about this fellow is that he is a martial artist, given how he moves. As for his purpose, well one can only guess.
Within a small store in Nerima's shopping district was a Chinese food store run by an odd bunch of Chinese natives. For you see this shop of Chinese delicacies was the Nekohanten and it was run by a group of honest to goodness Amazons. This place was also the home of those who worked here. Downstairs was the Nekohanten's owner and chief cook, Cologne. At one point this old and gnarled woman was the Matriarch of the Joketsuzoku but now she is a vital source of information to the newest Amazon tribe, the Nerima tribe. Not an imaginative name to be sure but it serves its purpose and that is all that is truly needed. At present time what is this fountain of wisdom and knowledge working on? Some potion to snag an unsuspecting male? Maybe preparing to do battle against an opponent that ordinary people would dismiss as make believe? As we take a closer look at the old woman we see that she is in fact simply preparing chicken stock for some meal that will be made during the day.
Upstairs, in one of the bedrooms that comprises the Nekohanten's second floor, was one of the restaurant's other tenants. This resident was the Joketsuzoku's champion Shampoo. Currently said champion was residing in her room. Shampoo's room was an odd mix of cultures. Upon one wall there were a pair of Chinese-style pole arms but ruining the seriousness of these weapons was the poster of the Beetles. Along another wall was a low dresser that contained the young woman's unmentionables and other things. On top of the dresser was a small television for those rare times when she had nothing better to do. Sitting on top of this was a set of rabbit ears and the skull of some small mammal. By the door was a umbrella stand that held both umbrellas and various deadly weapons. Of course what bedroom is complete without that key component, a bed. On this bed, under a huge mound of covers, was the room's sole occupant, Shampoo. Being a snow day and a weekend Cologne was giving the sleeping girl a rare treat, she was letting Shampoo sleep in. And like the creature that she was cursed to turn into Shampoo was curled up under her covers in a beam of the early morning light.
In the room next to Shampoo's resided the third and final tenant of the Nekohanten Mousse. At one time this black-haired young man was the strongest male in the Joketsuzoku Village. At a young age he was picked on by the other children of the village due to the poor eyesight that he had inherited from his father. In an unprecedented move for a male in a female dominated society Mousse decided to learn a fighting art for the sheer reason of becoming the best male fighter in the tribe. Since he had a hard time seeing Mousse chose a rather unorthodox art to perfect himself in, Hidden Weapons. Though his choice in styles allowed him unprecedented reach and an almost unlimited amount of weapons it only made the disdain that others felt towards him increase. So he left his home and joined a circus so that his skills may one day win him his beloved Shampoo. Unfortunately this plan backfired on him and when Mousse returned to the village Shampoo had left on a husband hunt. Naturally he followed his love but Mousse discovered that the one true love of his life had fallen completely for another. The name of this vile cur, Ranma Saotome. In an effort to retrieve the one he loved from the clutches of Saotome Mousse joined in on the insanity that was Nerima. Then whatever forces control the area decided that enough was enough and brought an end to the whole shebang.
On that day not so long ago things went too far and as a result his arms were shredded. Thankfully Nabiki was there and she called the hospital. That was where he remained for a good while as his body tried its best to heal itself. Unfortunately the damage to his arms was so severe that he only retained minimal use there of. As a result he can no longer perform his art. After many long months Mousse was finally able to return to the Nekohanten though he has to make visits to the hospital once a week for physical therapy. That was why he was awake that early on such an obvious sleep-in day.
Downstairs Cologne was heading towards the Nekohanten's entrance. Someone had just knocked on the door to the restaurant and for some reason she couldn't get a read on who it was. She did have her suspicions and upon opening the door those suspicions were confirmed. There, in the snow, was the center of the storm of chaos in Nerima, Ranma Saotome. "Good morning Ranma," Cologne hailed. "What can I do for my fellow elder on this fine morning?"
"Hey Ol' Ghoul," Ranma greeted as he lowered the hood to his cloak and for his trouble Ranma received a hit to the head care of Cologne's staff. "Good to see you too," he grumbled as he rubbed the spot that Cologne had struck. This was a game that he and his fellow elder played. Though they were now equals in the Amazon hierarchy for the most part they liked to resume the roles that had defined their relationship in the past, that of the mysterious teacher and the somewhat-less than willing student.
"Yes, it is good to see you again as well." She then backed away and held the door to the restaurant open, "Come on in Ranma, it must be freezing out there."
"Boy is it ever." Replied Ranma as he walked into the restaurant. As he headed for one of the booths Ranma took off his cloak and laid it out on the seat next to him. Before he could make any move to ask about a beverage, a cup of tea was placed before him. He looked over to the Cologne as she walked towards him with a kettle and a cup of her own, "Thanks."
"It is my pleasure," she replied with a smile. They then sat in silence as they finished their tea. As she poured them both a second cup Cologne began her questions of why Ranma was back in Nerima. "So how are Mihoshi and the baby doing?"
At mention of his beloved wife and their soon-to-be-child Ranma smiled. Several days before the battle against the rogue goddess Tokimi, Ranma married the one true love of his life, Mihoshi Kuramitsu. A woman that was as beautiful as she was kind and there were few as kind as Mihoshi. She had come from the stars and had lived with the earth boy Tenchi Masaki for a year. Though she had been a minimal player in the battle for Tenchi's heart Mihoshi slipped into Ranma's the instant their eyes first met. Several weeks after they all returned from their triumphant battle Mihoshi dropped the bombshell on Ranma, she was pregnant. After that the couple had to face the trials and tribulations of a multi-species child. But other than the little things that a couple has to go through during a pregnancy they were as happy as they could be and that shown brightly in Ranma's smile. "They're great! Mihoshi is due any day."
"Excellent news! Do you have any knowledge of the child's gender?"
Ranma shook his head. "Nope, not a clue. Apparently it's a taboo on Jurai to know what the child is until it's born." At that he shrugged his shoulders at one of the stranger customs of his wife's people.
Now Cologne decided to find out why Ranma was here at such any early hour. Figuring it had something to do with him Cologne asked, "So how are you?"
Ranma sighed and seemed to shrink in on himself. To the elder it seemed as if he had aged several years in that instant. "Not as good as I could be." He sat there looking down at the last dregs of tea in his cup as he tried to organize his thoughts.
Realizing that the situation was more serious than she thought Cologne sat and waited for Ranma to bring himself together.
Finally Ranma sighed and looked up at the elderly woman sitting before him. "I've been having these dreams lately. In them I feel wild and free like no one can stop me. Then I began to see people I know, only I don't. They are all so much taller than I am and there is one similarity between them all, fear. These people, who are so close to me, are afraid of me." He stopped himself and tried to recollect the control that the remembering of those looks shattered. "The dreams continued for a while until I finally realized what they meant. They were the true horror of finally mastering the Neko-Ken, memories of my cat side."
"Then you have remembered what you did the last time you cat persona was triggered," Cologne stated factually. Ranma's small nod was all the back up she needed. "You are here about Mousse." It wasn't a question.
Ranma once again looked down at the cup before him. "I would have come eventually. It's just. . . How do you talk to someone whose life you ruined? But I think part of the reason for the dreams coming is that I have to right the wrongs I caused. Even if it wasn't me at the time."
Cologne sat and looked at the miserable young man before her and marveled at how far he had come since she first met him. "It wasn't your fault. You know that right?" She hated seeing Ranma beating himself up over something that he had no control of.
"Yeah I know that. But it's hard to feel that way when you can clearly remember doing it."
"How do you think you can help him," she knew that he had some healing powers but she had no idea of their scope.
"Unfortunately I can't," Ranma replied painfully. "Had I had my Light Hawk power back when I wounded Mousse I might have been able to do something. But with all the stuff that the doctors did to patch him up I wouldn't want to try. So instead I talked to Washu and she said that she would see if she could do anything. Her only request was that Mousse doesn't try to attack me."
At that a painful laugh sounded from the back of the Nekohanten. "Attack you Saotome?" He had heard most of what the pair had said. The fact that someone thought that he could harm any one in the state he was in was just laughable. "And how, pray tell, would I go about accomplishing such a feat." He walked out from the darkness, his arms well covered by the modified robe that he was wearing.
At seeing Mousse Ranma jumped up and began to apologize. "Mousse I am so. ."
Before he could say any more Mousse cut him off. "Spare me your false platitudes Saotome. I know why you are here. You just want to help me so you can feel better about yourself."
Cologne went over to Mousse and got on her staff so she could look the young man in the eye. "Mousse! Don't be a fool boy. You are speaking to an elder. But more importantly Ranma is here to hopefully repair you arms."
Ranma placed his hand on Cologne's shoulder. "Don't worry about it Cologne. We know why I'm here and that is all that matters." He then looked into Mousse's eyes, "But I meant what I said, Washu will try her hardest to help you."
Mousse stood there and glared hatefully at Ranma but he did nod his head. He would go with Ranma, he just didn't have to like it.
Several minutes later the snowy streets of Nerima had three new pedestrians. Ranma was in his cloak while Mousse was in a thicker version of his robes. And who was the third person you may ask? Well Cologne decided that she wanted to accompany the two boys and was perched on a carrier attached to Ranma's back. The old woman was so bundled up that the only part of her body exposed was her two large eyes.
The small group walked through the streets of Nerima as Ranma guided them to their destination. "The Tendo Dojo! Why would we come here, I thought you had moved away from here Saotome." Since he had been in the hospital while Ranma had been on his latest adventure, and Cologne had not been inclined to tell him, Mousse knew nothing of the changes made to this part of Nerima.
Ranma did not answer Mousse's question instead he greeted Akane who, despite the frigid conditions, just finished her morning jog. "Hey Akane! How's it going?" He asked as they shared a friendly hug.
As Akane pulled away from the man that had been her fiancé she felt a pang of regret. She still loved the baka, in some way she probably always will. But now he was happily married with a child on the way. The price that he had to pay to achieve such happiness made Akane realize that even after all that they went through she really was not ready for a life with Ranma Saotome. She doubted that she ever would be either. "I haven't felt better in ages."
Ranma snorted, "Yeah right. With pop and Mr. Tendo training you your life has to be hell." While he might not have been the best father a boy could ask for Genma Saotome did know his art. If the training that he was putting Akane through was anything like the kind he experienced then Ranma pitied her.
Akane laughed and began to walk towards the Tendo home. "You got that right! You want to know how they trained me to be more aware of my surroundings? They began hunting me with water pistols and balloons filled with ice water. Every where I turned someone did something to hose me down. They even got Kasumi to shoot me once or twice. I swear that started to feel like you after all the soakings."
Ranma was shocked, "Kasumi shot at you?!" Kasumi was the one person you could count on not to do anything remotely sneaky. That she did so was unfathomable.
"Yeah. I was sitting at the table getting what rest I could when out of no-where someone shot me in the back of the head. When I turned around I saw Kasumi putting something bright and plastic in her apron." Akane shook her head at the absurdity. Ever since Ranma returned to settle everything Kasumi spent a lot of time with Sasami. On one hand this seems to be a good thing because it got Kasumi to loosen up some. On the other hand Kasumi's exposure to Sasami is bad because it seems to have unleashed a mischievous streak that she had long kept hidden.
"Well at least she's participating a bit more," Ranma shrugged. "Akane we've got to go."
For the first time Akane seemed to take notice of who else was with Ranma. Her eyes widened somewhat as she took in Mousse. "Where are you guys going?"
"I'm taking Mousse to Washu, she's pretty sure she can fix his arms." He then pointed to his back and smiled. "The old ghoul here wanted to come along and watch." For his remark Ranma received a whack to the head and a soft cackle.
"Then you guys better get going." A shiver the passed through her body, "And I've got to get inside. This outfit is sweaty and I'm FREEZING!" With that Akane rushed inside and Ranma's entourage made its way to the door.
In a valley outside of the Japanese city of Okayama there is a house beside a large lake. This house is the Masaki home and its residents consist of some of the most powerful people in this universe. The lower level of this immense home primary consisted of a spacious family room. Along the edge of the Masaki's family room ran a flight of stairs that led to the upper levels of the home. Like many such staircases this one held a door so that the space beneath the stairs could be utilized. But this was a very special door. It did not open to reveal a dusty closet filled with things that were put away, no, this door led to somewhere else all together. For you see this door was created by the greatest scientific mind ever to grace the universe, Washu Hakubi, and it so happens that it led to said scientists personal lab. Now how, you may ask, can any lab worth its salt fit within the tight confines of a closet? Well the door that opened unto Washu's lab was a gateway into the realm of subspace, a realm that was so infinite that the five planets that comprise Washu's lab was merely a small rock in a very vast ocean.
Within one of the labs many sub facilities was the great scientist herself, though when one would look upon Washu's visage one may ask if she was a scientist at all. Yes she did wear the customary lab coat but as for the clothes and body underneath was more fitting for a supermodel. Currently said scientist was staring intently at one of many monitors in the lab. On the monitor were vitals and diagnostic displays for one of the many devices in the titanic laboratory. It just so happens that this particular monitor was hooked up to the large glass tube that took up a good portion of one of the walls. Though the identity of the person within the tube was unknown given the fact the tube was frosted, what was clear was whomever it was she was defiantly a woman.
As Washu looked at the display she bit her lower lip. Though she had performed this procedure countless times and she knew that the science was sound she still had to worry. What she was doing was not for the faint of heart and that someone of such a young age to ask for the procedure to be done was incredible. Though Washu had to ask herself one question, how, some hundred years down the road, would the woman in the tube handle the consequences of the decision that she made today? For a woman from a world where old age and death was a constant in life would the gift that Washu was giving her really be wanted in the years to come.
Washu was startled out of her musings by a dual set of alarms. One issued forth from the display and indicated that the machine had finished its task and was now in its final cool-down cycle. The other was a notification that the main door to the lab had been opened and that someone had entered the upper lab. Guessing that it was probably Ranma and the young man that he wanted her to look at Washu recorded a quick message for the woman in the tube and headed towards the upper lab. Upon reaching the upper lab Washu saw that her initial guess about her visitors identities were correct. "Hello Ranma. I take it that this is the young man that your wanted me to see?"
"Hey Washu! Yeah this is the guy. I would like to introduce you to Mousse of the Joketsuzoku." Ranma then turned to Mousse, "Mousse, this is Washu Hakubi, the greatest scientist in the universe. And, with a little luck, she will be the one that will fix your arms."
Though Mousse had no love for Ranma he did respect those in the medical profession. As such he bowed deeply to Washu, "It is an honor and privilege ma'am. I thank you for your offer."
Washu was surprised that the young man before her would be so polite. As far she knew he did not have a respectful bone in his body. Still, politeness aside, he was still one of the reasons that Ranma had been so messed up when he came to the Masaki home. As such she would treat him with a bear minimal of kindness. No-one mistreats her family. "Don't thank me, thank Ranma. I'm doing this for him," she said coldly. "Follow me." She then looked back at Ranma and Cologne and her features softened considerably, "You two should probably wait outside. I don't know how long this will take." With that she headed off into her lab.
In the Masaki living room there was a small party going. The cause for said party was Ryoko. If here was one thing she hated more than anything else it was too see a member of her family unhappy. So knowing that Ranma would be so until Washu was able to fix Mousse she arranged for a party to keep Ranma's mind off darker matters. For the most part Ryoko's distraction was a success. As the sake flowed freely around him, as was usual for a Ryoko party, Ranma sat in the calm eye with his wife Mihoshi cuddled up next to him. As they sat they chatted with Cologne about the one thing that could keep his mind off of what was going on, the pregnancy.
"Now explain this taboo about the child's gender," asked Cologne. Learning about the intricacies of Jurai always fascinated her. It was simply amazing how such an advanced culture could be so superstitious about some things.
Mihoshi smiled, that was a reaction she got often about some of the odder customs of the Jurai. It was even harder for people to believe since she took after her father's people for many things and in fact that is what species she thought of herself as. But the customs of her mother's people still was a part of her. "It is from a belief that came from sometime during the creation of Jurai. It is said that Tsunami herself descended upon the land and issued a proclamation that no one had the right to plan a person's fate before they were born. Now though it used as a way to get to know and love the child as a person rather than let any preconceived gender rolls be placed on the child. Some say that the relationship between parent and child is purest while the child is still in the womb."
"I had not thought about it like that," Cologne responded. "In the village it is custom to learn the sex of the child early on. If the child is female there is much rejoicing. If the child is male though the reaction varies. The more open minded welcome any new life to this world while the more conservative elements look upon a male birth as a curse or mark of shame. It is not uncommon to have several of these pregnancies terminated," she finished grimly.
Before any one could say anything on the matter the door to the lab opened up. At that everyone, including the rather boisterous Ryoko, became quiet. As one Ranma and Mihoshi stood and walked over to a spot just outside the door. But it was not Washu that exited the lab but Nabiki.
When she saw Ranma standing right outside Washu's door Nabiki's eyes widened in shock. "Ranma! What are you doing here?" She hoped that by asking first it might take Ranma's mind off of why she was there.
"We live here," Ranma deadpanned. "I brought Mousse to Washu to see if she could fix his arms." Then he asked the question that Nabiki feared, "So why are you here?"
Nabiki paled, "Uh. . ."
Washu walked out of her lab and the statuesque red head place her hand on Nabiki's shoulder. "Tell him. And make sure you tell him why. He can handle it."
Though Washu's words had been but a whisper Ranma heard them clearly due to his enhanced hearing. "Nabiki, what's wrong? You can tell me."
"Ranma I . . . I asked Washu to make me immortal," Nabiki said as she looked down at the ground. Though she did not feel ashamed at what she did. Her reasons for doing so, both stated and silent, were sound and logical. Still, standing here in front of Ranma, it felt as if her hand were caught in the cookie jar.
For his part Ranma was shocked. He had always thought that Nabiki was the level headed Tendo and now she went and made herself immortal. Granted, he did like the fact that someone from the old crew would still be alive in a thousand years but this was extremely unexpected. "Why would you go and do that?" Luckily for all involved he had managed to keep his tone kindly.
"Well think about it Ranma," her tone forceful and sure. "Now that Usagi isn't going to cleanse the Earth the Senshi are going to have to come to power another way. That means that they need someone who knows how to deal with people. Sure Ami and Washu are extremely intelligent but as it is now Ami is too shy and Washu," Nabiki turned to look at the scientist. "No offense," she then looked back at Ranma. "Is too forceful. You guys need someone who knows the global economy and has enough phenese to manipulate it to her will." That was about the same reason that she had given Washu but Nabiki had one other reason. One so secret that no one would ever know. Nabiki did not want to do to her children like her mother had done to her and her sisters, die.
Ranma more than understood but there was one question that was still on his mind, "Why didn't you tell me before?"
Nabiki looked down and cheeks burned with embarrassment, "I was afraid that you would try to talk me out of it."
"Well that makes sense. And just so you know I wouldn't have tried." He then hugged his friend and whispered, "Thanks." When he broke away from Nabiki Ranma addressed Washu. "So Washu, how is Mousse? You think you can help him?"
"I swear I don't know how you people get healed at all with the witch doctors you have on this planet. I have no doubt that the damage done to Mousse's arms was extensive but what your doctors did was even worse. Had he been brought to me then I would have been able to return his arms to the state just prior to the accident. The body has what you could call a short term memory, that is why I was able to put you back to the way you were when you first came here Ranma. But after so long I have to rebuild Mousse's arms to how his genetics state them to be. After the procedure he's going to have to train to get them back to the way they were."
"So what about the other thing?"
"His eye's?" Washu shook her head in disgust, "I checked them like you asked and its the damnedest thing. There is NOTHING wrong with them." She called up her astral computer so that all could see the screen. "See! According to my scans Mousse's eyes he should have 20/20 vision."
"So why." Before he could say more Ranma was interrupted by Cologne.
"I believe I can answer that question." Everyone walked over to where she was sitting and looked at the aged woman expectantly. "Oh do sit down. I do not relish the idea of telling a story while looking up at you all." There was mad rush by everyone to find a seat and within seconds everyone interested was seated, their faces like those of eager school children. "I assume you have seen how Mousse has acted in the past. Seeing the world the way he wants to. Acting as if the only rules that truly apply are his own and even if he is beaten by someone using his rules he claims that they were cheating. Well there is a reason for all this. You see long ago when the Joketsuzoku were still very young there was a man that fell for a beautiful woman. Every day the man would sneak away to see her sing out in the forest. This woman was the wife of a mage and though it did not appear to be so from the outside she was very happy. The man, in a bout of intense foolishness, decided to free the woman from the clutches of the mage. He attacked the woman's husband and kidnapped her, luckily he was not able to injure either of them otherwise the consequences might have been worse. A short time after the woman's capture the mage found the pair and rescued his frightened wife. For the man's crime the mage placed a curse upon him and his descendants. From then on the man was unseeing, meaning that he was unable to see reality for what it was. Mousse is that man's descendant."
Ranma did not know what to think, on one hand Mousse was not responsible for all the trouble he caused. On the other hand he has been a royal pain in the ass. Still his honorable side won out, "Is there a way to cure him?"
"Yes there is. All he has to do is either get the one who placed the curse on his family to remove it." Everyone's hopes fell at that. "Or get a very powerful wielder of white magic to banish the curse from him."
"If the conditions for removing the curse are so simple why has no one sought out a cure," asked Ayeka.
"Well the men of Mousse's family are unaware of a cure. And quite frankly they usually make everyone around them so angry at them at one point or another that most don't cure it as a form of punishment."
"Why do you keep letn'em get their freak on if they piss you guys off so much," asked the VERY inebriated Ryoko.
"The men of Mousse's line produce some rather potent warriors." The meaning of that statement was clear, they were used as breeding stock.
Ranma though was not paying attention to the discussion at hand. Instead he was thinking about how he would help Mousse get over his problem.
It was Nabiki that had the solution though. "Usagi."
When Ranma heard that it was like a light bulb turned on in his head. In a fit of irritation he hit himself in the head. "Of course! She can use her powers to fix him. The way they tell it that is her main gig."
Washu sighed, she really hated it when people started throwing around the word magic. It went against her scientific sensibilities. "Well whatever you're going to do has to wait for twenty-four hours. My patient will not be ready until then."
Ranma nodded and slammed his right hand into his left palm, "Right. Tomorrow it is."
Within a tube inside Washu's lab was Mousse. When he and Washu had entered this portion of the lab the scientist directed him to strip and lay on the examining table. Mousse did as she requested though he retained his underwear. For the next thirty minutes examined him with a host of instruments whose names he did not know. In the beginning of her examination Washu went about her work in the complete silence. But as time passed Mousse began to hear the scientist mutter to herself. The angry muttering got louder and louder as she was unable to find out what she was searching for. Finally with a scream of frustration she slammed her hands down and ordered him to sit up. With him in his new vertical position Washu explained to him what she was going to do to him. Though he only understood a fraction of what she said Mousse was able to understand that she could fix his arms but he would have to retrain them to their former glory. This mattered little to the myopic boy as long as he got full use of his arms back.
Understanding in place Washu walked him over to the large tube that she said would play a vital part in his recovery. When the tube closed and began to fill up he felt a measure of fear but this was only the visceral primal reaction to being in this situation as Washu had explain that this would happen. As the tube filled with liquid a mask slid down that would allow him to breathe normally. Once the tube was filled Mousse began to feel sleepy as his mask pumped tranquilizer into his lungs. That last thing he saw before surrendering to unconsciousness was the hazy image of Washu standing before his tube.
Sometime later, Mousse couldn't be sure when, the effects of the tranquilizers began to wear off. As they did Mousse experienced something that he hadn't since before his arms were mangled, no pain. For months he had been plagued by a persistent pain. It wasn't major but after months it had the affect of wearing him down. Now though, the lack of pain was a huge burden off of his shoulders. Soon the tube began to empty of liquid and the tube opened exposing him to the chill of the lab. The first thing he heard upon exiting the tube was a feminine, "Eeep!"
On another street in the city of Tokyo two girls walked towards their destination. Whether the people of Juban ward knew it or not these young women were well known to them. You see these young women were Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury, members of the Sailor Senshi champions of love and justice and general goody-goods. In their capacity as Senshi these two have given their lives for this world on more than one occasion. Had certain elements succeeded the Senshi would have committed a grave injustice upon the people of Earth, luckily they met Ranma Saotome. Now, while the future is not as certain as it had been it does seem brighter.
As Usagi Tsukino walked towards her friend Rei's shrine she tried to pay attention to the young woman beside her. Last night Usagi had gotten a call from Ranma asking if she would come over and help a friend of his cure a curse that was placed on him. Of course she agreed, if there was one thing that she hated more than anything was people who were in trouble and curses were some major trouble. She didn't know much about curses so Usagi decided to ask Ami and her miniature library to accompany her. But she was now regretting that decision as Ami was talking about all the cool stuff they might see in Washu's lab.
For her part Ami Mizuno was in a state of absolute bliss. Ever since she had first encountered Ranma's friends, especially Washu, she had wanted to get a look at the technology that they possessed. While the Juraians had been somewhat open about sharing what they did share meant little to the blue-haired amateur scientist as it dealt mainly with the Juraian tree technology. As for Washu's technology Ami was not let anywhere near any of it. Washu told her that she was not ready for nine tenths of what was in her lab. Being able to enter the lab was a dream come true for her, she just hoped that Washu would not notice that she had her computer with her.
Once they arrived at Rei's shrine they used the door that Washu placed there to allow the Senshi quicker access to the comrades in Okayama. Stepping through the door Usagi and Ami were instantaneously transported to the lower end of Japan. Walking towards the Masaki-Saotome Home they were greeted by Ranma, one of the house's occupants.
"Hey guys! I'm glad you could make it."
Usagi and Ami bowed silently, had the reason for meeting been less serious then Usagi might have hugged the pig-tailed martial artist. When they stood back up Ami addressed Ranma, "So you have a friend with a curse?" It was interesting to Ami that magic was still in the world. Before she had encountered Ranma and his friends magic was only present in the Senshi and their enemies.
Ranma nodded, "Yeah. It seems as if one of Mousse's ancestors pissed off the wrong person and ever since the men have been screwed up in the head." He then turned and headed inside, "Come on, I'll show you to where he's at."
Ami got a little excited, "Is he in Washu's lab still?"
Ranma looked back at Ami oddly, "Yeah, Washu's got him in one of her healing tubes. Why," though he asked Ranma already knew the answer to his question. The look in Ami's eyes was the same that was in Washu's whenever something new was going to happen.
As Ami opened her mouth to answer Ranma Usagi started talking, "Oh Ami gets excited whenever there is some high-tech sciency stuff happening." Ami blushed at the truth of Usagi's words.
Ranma laughed at Usagi's simpleness. "I know what you mean. Washu and Kasumi get the same way." There was no further conversation as Ami was now completely embarrassed.
I was only a brief walk to Washu's lab but Ami the time was like an eternity. Finally they reached the door to the lab and they were inside the immense lab of Washu. In the entranceway to the lab stood the mistress of this realm, Washu. The red-haired scientist/goddess speared Ami with a stare that chilled her to the bone. Ami knew at the moment that not only did Washu know about Mercury Computer she was prepared for it. Without her having to ask Ami pulled out her computer and gave it to Washu.
Washu was not without compassion and gave the obviously disappointed girl a smile. "I am sorry Ami, but you know my reasons for not letting you scan my lab." She opened the Mercury Computer and accessed it systems. "Besides, as a scientist I would think you would rather learn about all this the old fashion way." As she looked through the tiny computer Washu accessed her own systems. In few moments Washu closed both computers and walked back over to Ami. Handing the small computer back to its owner she said, "Here you go, Ami. I've shielded all of my equipment so you can have this back."
Ami took her computer back dejectedly. "Sorry Washu."
Washu waved off Ami's apology, "Don't worry about it Ami. I have the same thirst for knowledge that you do. You and Kasumi are much the same in that way but Kasumi was a clean slate. That way I have been able to teach her in my ways. You will have to learn all about the technology and the ugly truths about man before you can learn about anything that is in this lab."
Ami looked at Washu questioningly, "Ugly truths?" She couldn't understand what that meant. In her experience mankind was ready for many of the things in this place. Whenever she thought about the lab all those she could help with its technology sprang to mind.
Ranma was the one to answer Ami's question as he knew a great deal about what Washu was meaning. "Ami you and the rest of the Senshi see only the good in man. While that is not a bad thing it blinds you to all the evil that still is out there. You probably want most of this stuff so that you can help clean the air or end world hunger and that is a very noble goal. Unfortunately mankind, at least those in power, are far from noble. They would take anything that you bring into the world and try to pervert it into some kind of weapon. The only way the people of Earth are going to be ready is when they are ready to live in harmony with each other and with nature." Ranma sighed and shook his head at his people's shortsightedness, "Untill then you have to act within the system. But when it does happen I'm sure that Washu would be happy to teach you all she knows." That gained a nod from said scientist.
Having had enough of the intense atmosphere Usagi threw her arm around Ami's neck. "Come on guys! We've got a person to save."
Everyone smiled at that, including Washu. "You are quite right Usagi. Ok people I'll lead you to our troubled friend."
Before she could turn though the door opened and Cologne entered the lab. The elder woman sent a withering glare towards Washu and Ranma. "I do hope that you were not going to do anything to Mousse without me."
Had she been twenty millennia younger and not a goddess Washu may have been affected by Cologne's angry visage. As it was she just dismissed her actions as the impetuousness of youth. "Of course not Cologne. Now please follow me, Mousse will be awakening shortly."
Within minutes the small group was in the chamber where Mousse was being healed. In one part of the room there was a large glass tube in which the silhouette of a man could clearly be seen. "So when is he coming out of there," asked Usagi.
Washu called up a screen, "Right about now." On cue the tank beeped and began to empty.
As the young man who was in the tank stepped out Ami felt her heart stop in her chest. She knew what the male form looked like, both from her health classes and he videos that Minako occasionally made them watch. But none of those had elicited the types of feelings within her that he was. The oddest thing was that the young man still had on his boxers yet the way the wet material clung to him was more erotic to Ami's mind than any video. As a scientist Ami never really believed in love at first sight. She knew that lust at first sight existed, Minako and Makoto had proven it to exist on many separate occasions. But now a certain warmth began to fill being apart from the lust that she felt. Though she had experience this warmth before Ami knew that this was the real thing, love. Without a doubt she had found her soul-mate.
When Mousse stepped out of his tank Usagi noticed that his clothing left nothing to the imagination. She gave off a shocked, "Eeep," and turned away from the sight. What she saw was even more shocking than Mousse. Ami was standing as stiff as a board and her eyes were wide. Along with this was a line of drool running down the side of her open mouth. Though Usagi could understand Ami's reaction, she might have been staring herself if she didn't have Mamoru, but at this moment it was inappropriate. They were here to help Mousse not ogle him. So, in order to get her friend to stop Usagi turned Ami to face her, which was a harder proposition than she had originally thought. Finally Usagi managed to turn Ami to face her and even then she had to shake her to get her attention.
Seeing Ami's display Washu summoned up a robe for Mousse. All the while she was muttering, "Good lord. That girl needs to get laid." Washu's ideas about sex were very open and she felt that people as repressed as Ami needed a serious opening up. Luckily Ranma got what he needed otherwise the poor boy may have blown a gasket. That much stress wasn't good for the boy.
When she finally came out of her Mousse induced stupor Ami found herself staring into Usagi's blue eyes. Instantly all of Ami's mental faculties came on line as her leader may need her assistance. "Usagi? What's wrong?"
Usagi stared at her friend in shock. "What's the matter?" She pointed at Mousse, "You were staring at him like a piece of meat."
When he heard that Mousse blushed a deep crimson. His eyesight may be impaired but his hearing was just fine. Though his heart belonged to Shampoo he was amazed that there were women out there that might find him attractive. Of course had he not had his curse Mousse might have learned this much earlier as there were several women in the Amazon Village that would have loved to go three rounds with him in a battle between the sheets. He was grateful for the robe that suddenly appeared on his form, it was rather cold in the lab especially if one was wearing nothing but wet underwear. With his unmentionables covered Mousse looked to Ranma, "Why are they here Saotome?"
Cologne was the one to answer. She really wasn't in the mood for Mousse's eccentricities and his tone at the moment was not helping. "They are here boy to help you." She then muttered to herself, "Though why they would is beyond me."
"I thought that Washu already fixed my arms," Mousse stated as he flexed said appendages. As far as he was concerned all he needed was some training and he would be in perfect shape.
"No Mousse they're here to cure your curse," replied Ranma.
At that Mousse was ecstatic. Ever since he had been "blessed" by Jusenkyo Mousse had felt a measure of helplessness. While Ranma transformed into girl he was still able to speak and defend himself. As a duck Mousse had to worry about getting splashed near restaurants. Also there were all the times that Cologne caged him up which both pissed him off and terrified him greatly. He was so happy that he began to dance a jig while chanting, "Never gonna be a duck again."
Ranma looked at Mousse's actions with openmouthed shock. After a second he slowly said, "Uh not that curse Mousse. The other curse that you have."
"Other curse? What the hell do you mean curse!?"
Cologne hit Mousse in the head. "Don't yell! The curse he is referring to is the one that makes you the thick-skulled male that you are."
Usagi took this opportunity to walk up to Mousse and introduce herself. "Hi I'm Usagi Tsukino and this," she gestured over to a blushing Ami, who she had dragged over, "is Ami Mizuno. I hope we can help you with your problem." Usagi looked over to her friend and saw that Ami was still looking at the ground. Deciding that Ami needed a little motivation Usagi elbowed the quite girl, "Ami! Say something," she whispered.
At this moment Ami was more nervous than she had ever been. The lust that she had been feeling had quickly disappeared into an odd awkwardness. Hearing Usagi's order Ami slowly raised her head to look at Mousse and though she tried to suppress it her blush only grew redder. "Um. Hi." With that her courage was gone and she quickly lowered her head. An action that gained upset groans from Washu and Usagi. Ami paid them little heed and opened up her computer so that she could scan the young man before her. It only took the miraculous little computer a few seconds to scan Mousse and discover his problem. With mind n a more business frameset Ami once again addressed Mousse. "It appears as if you are suffering from a Class Two genetic curse and a Class Twelve uncertainty curse."
"What does that mean," asked Usagi. If there was one thing she hated it was when people used big and/or technical words.
"The Mercury Computer says that a Class Two genetic curse is one that travels down through the generations, usually carried on a piece of the genetic code. Mousse's curse is transmitted via the Y-chromosome and apparently treatable. The Class Twelve uncertainty curse is an inherently unstable curse that is pure chaos magic. According to this there is no cure not even from a Class Twenty order artifact such as the Silver Crystal." This shocked both Ami and Usagi. The Silver Crystal is one of the most powerful creations for good that they had ever heard of. For it to be unable to do something like this was unthinkable.
"I guess the first curse is the vision curse and the second is Mousse's Jusenkyo curse," stated Ranma. "Well since Usagi, since you CAN help Mousse where do you want to do this?" He looked around at all the sensitive equipment around them, "I don't think that Washu would want you to do it in her lab."
"You're damn right," said scientist confirmed. She had seen how destructive Usagi's "helpful" energy blast could be. She defiantly did not want that kind of thing in her lab.
Usagi was thinking the same thing and nodded in agreement. "You're right Ranma. Why don't we do this outside." She then looked at Ami, "What should I use to help Mousse?" She had several attacks that would purify a person but some of them were rather strong and had a kinetic effect upon the target so she wanted to be sure.
Ami typed some commands into the Mercury Computer and it quickly responded with the desired information. For a few seconds she stared at the tiny screen as she wondered how she could say this without sounding completely ridiculous. It was one of the unfortunate side-effects of having allies that were combat veterans that were serious when it came to fighting, you learn how stupid everything you do is. "You can use your," "oh God," she whispered to herself. "Your Moon Twilight Flash." Sure enough, as soon as she said that she heard snickering coming from behind her.
Washu and Ranma had waited for Ami's pronouncement in rapt anticipation. They were not disappointed. When they heard what Usagi should use they looked at each other as they tried to contain their laughter. Ever since they had met the Sailor Senshi the attacks and outlandish poses that the girls performed was a constant source of both amusement and worry. These girls were their allies and well they were not good for the image they tried to maintain.
Usagi paid the restrained laughter little mind. She knew that others found the Senshi's actions amusing but she happened to like it. "Ok!" She patted Mousse's arm, "Well let's go and get you healed" With that she strode purposely out of the room. Several seconds later she was back. "Um. Washu. Could you show me the way out?"
Washu had been waiting for that. Her lab was not the easiest place to navigate for the uninformed. "Don't worry about it. It takes a while to get a hang for the layout of the lab." And so she led the motley crew out of her lab.
Out in the yard in front of the Masaki-Saotome house was the small group that had been in Washu's laboratory a few minutes ago. Further away from the house Usagi and Mousse stood several feet apart. The quiet of the scene was shattered when Usagi called out, "Silver Crystal Moon Power!" In a hale of colorful lights and fancy poses Usagi transformed into Sailor Moon. With a flash of light Sailor Moon's specter appeared in her hands. As she called upon the power of the attack she was about to perform the light faded in the area as the Sun disappeared and was replaced by the Moon. With most of her low level attacks Usagi has reached a point that she could execute them without the poses or words but what she was about to do was different. An attack usually needs very little focus, all she had so was point and shoot. When she was healing though she wanted to do it by the programming that had been placed within Sailor Moon sometime during the Silver Millennium.
Though the Moon was high in the sky it was as big if it was low on the horizon. Like something out of a fairy tale a beam of light shined down from the Moon unto Sailor Moon. The light gathered around her until she was surrounded by a nimbus of moonlight. As she raised her scepter the light moved there and it very quickly became impossible to look at. Her scepter raised and her power at its fullest Usagi began her dance as she called out, "MOON. TWILIGHT. FLASH."
From Sailor Moon's scepter a beam of pure white light lanced out to envelop Mousse. As the beam struck him it seemed as if he struggled against the power of Usagi's attack. Luckily for all involved the curse placed on Mousse's family was not a evil one, just annoying. As such, when Usagi's attack struck Mousse it put up little resistance and left his body like it was told.
As Ranma watched he could not help to be awed. In training with the Senshi Ranma had been witness to many of their attacks. Though he questioned the use of some of the attacks, such as Cape Boy's roses, he never called into question the power the Senshi could bring to bear. The two Senshi that impressed him the most were Sailors Moon and Saturn. The power that those two could generate was staggering yet they didn't let it go to their heads. Having power and not abusing it was a trait that he wished more had.
Like every other time the Senshi performed an attack that she had yet to see Washu was recording and taking notes. What her readings were telling her was rather frightening, even for a goddess such as herself. The beam that Usagi shot at Mousse was rather unremarkable, what shocked her though were the events leading up to said beam. Somehow Usagi had been able to, for a few moments, block out the Sun. Then move the Moon directly overhead without the resultant gravitational anomalies. Upon checking her sensors she saw that while the Moon was overhead the mass and gravity field it created were still in there original location. Then after Usagi was finished she somehow set everything back to their original states. The only thing she could do was accept what she found, otherwise if she tried to figure it out then she would probably drive herself crazy. Whenever magic came into the equation she just had to hold on and enjoy the ride. As far as she was concerned magic took all the rules that she knew about, threw them out a window and went, "Phht."
Ranma looked on at Washu's face and had a good idea what was going through the scientist's mind. For his part he was rather apathetic on the subject of magic. While the Senshi wielded magic with the utmost ease and precision Ranma was still somewhat leery of them. As far as he was concerned magic and his life were two things that should never interact on any level. He did teach the Senshi his art and they were rapidly making progress on their path but as far as the Senshi's magic they were on their own. Shifting his gaze from Washu to Mousse he saw something that both shocked and worried him. The young man, that had been filled with such pride and unwavering hard-headedness, was on his knees crying.
All his life the young man known as Mousse had lived in a world of his own. Whenever there was a problem he would take the way that was the most destructive to others yet beneficial to him. In fights he would employ tactics that other martial artists would call unhonorable. With his love life he had become enamored with a young village girl named Shampoo and had made her life hell. If anything tried to get in his way he would make sure that the obstacle was removed and while he had not killed a person as of yet, it wasn't for lack of trying. He was the kind of man that got what he wanted and damn the consequences. This attitude made him little friends and for the most part he was alone.
But there were those who had good in their hearts and looked upon this pathetic young man and called him friend, or at least ally. The main such person was a young man called Ranma Saotome, a man that Mousse had tried to kill on many occasions. This mattered little to Ranma and he took steps to rid Mousse of the curse that made Mousse such a bastard to others. Whether Mousse liked it or not.
After Mousse regained the use of his arms because of Ranma's friend Washu, the genius scientist, other friends of Ranma, Ami Mizuno and Usagi Tsukino, came to help him with yet another problem that he faced. These two women were of great beauty, not as great as Shampoo of course, and though they had little reason to they came to help Mousse and hopefully make him a better person. While they said that he had a curse that he had no knowledge of, the healer Washu, confirmed the young woman's claims. So he did as the two young women asked and followed them out of Washu's laboratory. Outside Mousse stood where Usagi directed him to, she warned him that he may feel an increase in energy and that it was part of the curse removal procedure. Though he had been warned Mousse was shocked as the world grew dark and he felt a MASSIVE energy build up. As he was currently without his glasses he had a rather hard time seeing things but the ball of extreme radiance was really easy to see. When Usagi launched her attack at him Mousse felt his instincts scream out at him to run but he stayed his ground as the pure white beam of light impacted with him.
As the white energy enveloped his form Mousse felt something buried deep within his soul be pulled away. A part of him tried to resist this healing wave but it was quickly gave up to be brushed away. When Usagi's attack was finished Mousse was treated to a glorious sight, the Sun high in the sky and all around was nature in all of its bounty. But as quickly as this sight lifted his spirits his now-seeing eyes and soul made him pay witness to his life. This time, as all he had done passed before his eyes the painful light of truth shone on it all. The weight of what he had seen was so great that he fell to his knees as he wept for all those he hurt and for himself. "How could I been so foolish," he sobbed to himself. "How many could I've killed?" In that moment Mousse knew his true place within the cosmos and he found it to be a rather tight fit.
But Mousse's sorrow did not go unnoticed by the others in the area and soon he felt something that he hadn't felt in a long time, the comforting embrace of another person. He opened his eyes and through the tears his met those of another. These eyes were blue but unlike those of Ranma they were lighter and filled with something that he could not recognize. As his gaze widened he saw that the person who was holding him was a woman and a very attractive one at that. Though he did not know who she was he figured that she had to be one of the two young women that had come to help him.
"Shh. Don't cry. You should be happy," said the young woman with a smile. "You are free from your curse."
Mousse turned away from the young woman, who he now knew was Ami Mizuno. In his mind he was unworthy to look upon the face of one so beautiful. But while he did not look at her Mousse did respond to what she had said. "While I may be free from my curse there is little room in my heart for happiness. I have done a great deal of terrible things in my life and now I see how far gone I really am."
Ami placed her hand on Mousse's cheek. With a soft but unyielding force she turned his head and locked her eyes with his, "If you can say that and mean it then you are not as gone as you think."
Mousse doubted Ami's words as she had not seen what he had. As he was about to issue a retort Mousse felt a soft hand touch his shoulder. He looked to the source of the hand he was treated to the sight of what could only be an angel.
"Listen to what Ami is saying Mousse. If you can see your mistakes then you can fix them and hopefully regain what you have lost," said Sailor Moon.
As she looked upon the scene that was before her Cologne felt all her anger at the boy before her vanish into the wind. While it was true that in the past Mousse was a pain and had skirted the fine edge of what was considered acceptable to Amazon society she knew now that she could not hold that against him now. The Mousse that she knew would have never cry like he was or openly state remorse for the fact that he had injured others. That Mousse would not have so easily take the advice of two caring strangers. This Mousse was a person who was freed from his Hyde and now his Jeckyle must face the demons he created. But she vowed that the boy would not be alone on this path, while it was obvious to all that Ami had feelings for him, she would make sure that Mousse would have others. That vow in mind Cologne hopped over to the young man and addressed him with hope to raise his spirits. "Mousse I have some good news for you."
Hearing his elder address him Mousse looked to her and bowed as much as he could. "Yes elder."
Cologne smiled at Mousse's newfound respect. "I have a cure for your Jusenkyo curse. But be warned, this cure is not without its drawbacks," she said gravely.
Ranma heard this and spoke up with a measure of irritation in his voice. "Why didn't say anything before."
Cologne turned to Ranma and answered with no trace of malice, "To begin with Mousse was responsible for gaining this curse so I felt that he should be the one to find his own cure. He behavior up to this point also did not endear me to him. But the reason that I did not tell any of you is that the curse's cure is not the type of cure that all of you would want." She turned to Mousse, "There is no true cure for Jusenkyo's touch the only thing you can do ifs modify the curse. Unfortunately when poor fools try to cure themselves without proper guidance they usually end off worse than they were before. I am sure you know of Pantyhose Taro, he was dunked into a spring and then later he jumped into yet another pool and the two curses merged. Had he jumped into a spring that either made him human but altered his mind or made him into a girl he would be normal. Since he immersed himself within a pool that was an animal like his original curse the two merged." She turned back to look at Ranma, "You should probably thank Happy. Had he not chugged down that cask of spring water your cursed form would have had both female and male attributes."
At that statement everyone shuddered at the mental image. That was something that none of them wanted to think about. Ranma vowed right then to that the aged pervert the next time he came around to train him. Luckily, for Ranma, Tsunami had been able to make the transformation into a woman a voluntary one. Then his glorious wife Mihoshi showed him the wonders that come with said body.
"How does this knowledge help me? Jusenkyo was flooded remember." While the prospect of a cure HAD done as Cologne intended and raised his spirits now that he knew that it would require Jusenkyo they fell once more.
"Yes they did flood and because of Ranma the valley is more at peace than in many years." Before she be interrupted she kept going, "The Phoenix peoples, after Saffron's defeat began to rebuild what you destroyed Ranma. The Musk sent a party to see what was wrong and found that the springs were flooded. With the springs gone so were the Musk's primary method of gaining women. Luckily you had been able to humble Herb somewhat and instead of foolishly attacking the Amazons for women he sent envoys to the Phoenix to negotiate. The two banded together so that they could fix the springs. Not wanting to be left out the Joketsuzoku council decided to send their own envoys and several of the old treaties have been reforged. Now, after only one month of work the springs are back to their prior state. And we have you to thank, Ranma."
Ranma was shocked. He had never thought that the three tribes of the area would work together. That he was the cause of this togetherness was that much more amazing. "Um, you're welcome." When it came to praise Ranma had little way of coping.
Cologne smiled, "It is they that should thank you and once the alliance has rebuilt the Phoenix's home they shall come here to do so in person." She turned to look at Mousse, "As for you. After we met the Sailor Senshi I asked the council to send me a cask form both the drowned boy and the drowned girl springs. I thought that they might be able to cure you and I wanted to be ready in case what has happened would transpire. All we have to do is go back to the Nekohanten and retrieve the water." She then took on a look of caution, "But you must remember, you will only be trading one curse for another. Instead of becoming a duck you will change into a woman, with everything that entails."
To Mousse there was little choice. "Believe me Elder. I would gladly trade feathers for a pair of breasts." While he would miss the freedom that comes with flying he would not miss everything else. He had been put into a cage and threatened to be eaten way too many time and if a cure meant becoming a fully functional girl then that would be a more than adequate price. He looked down at himself and noticed that he was in a robe, "Um, before we go can I get my own clothes back."
As the small group exited the Tendo compound Ranma stopped and looked down the road. Seeing his motion halted the others stopped to see what was the matter.
Mousse was the first to ask, "What's up Ranma?"
"Kuno," he stated direly. While he had helped Mousse there was still the kendoist to consider. He had, while under the effects of the Neko-Ken, violently blew up Kuno's hand. Though he had helped Mousse he felt that he still needed to help Kuno out, only then would his demons be vanquished.
Those who where in the know understood Ranma's meaning. "Of course Ranma. Would you like us to go with you," asked Cologne.
"Yeah! My cure can wait. You've helped me and now I would like to help you." Though he could do little to repay his debt to Ranma Mousse would try his hardest to do so.
"Are you sure Mousse? You could go on ahead if you want, I know how important your cure is for you."
Mousse shrugged his shoulders, "I've had this curse for this long. I doubt waiting a little while longer will hurt anything. Besides Kuno still needs your help and with us here he might be less willing to attack."
Off to the side Ami sighed. "He's so caring," she said wistfully to herself.
While the Nerima crew did not hear Ami's sigh there was one who did, Usagi. Upon hearing the loving sigh coming from her friend Usagi tracked Ami's gaze and saw that the young woman was staring at Mousse. Her theory that Ami was in love with Mousse confirmed, at least for now, Usagi grinned evilly as she began to devise a scheme to get the two together.
As he stood there waiting for Ranma's decision Mousse had a feeling of impending doom wash over him. Looking back in the direction of the feeling Mousse saw Ami starring off into space while next to her Usagi had an expression that did not bode well. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor Mousse turned away and tried to put the entire incident out of his mind.
Seeing that his friends were willing to stand beside him in this Ranma smiled broadly. "Thanks guys! This shouldn't take long." With that he led the group in the direction. As he walked Ranma hoped that Nerima was not finished with the good will it was presently displaying.
The walk to the Kuno Mansion was not a long one and within a few short minutes of their departure from the Tendo residence Ranma and Co. were standing before the gates to the estate. Though he felt a measure of dread being anywhere near this place, Ranma reached out and rung the bell.
Within a few short moments the gates opened to reveal a short man in a ninja suit. Seeing Ranma the little man gasped and quickly bowed, "Greetings Master Ranma. My lord had hoped you would seek an audience with him. Please come in, your friends are welcome to accompany you," he said as he opened the gate wide.
As they entered the Kuno estate those who had made prior visits looked around with wonder. Never had they entered the Kuno grounds without feeling dangers all about them.. Another difference to the property was that the palatable and ever-present feeling of gloom was gone. In its place was a very nice and comfortable space. All they could do was look at each other as a singular word passed through their minds, "Weird."
Not liking the silence Ranma addressed the diminutive ninja. "Hey Sasuke, how's it going." Hopefully if life, and his employers, had been kind to Sasuke then maybe this meeting with Kuno will be a good one.
Sasuke turned and all could see the smile that adorned his face. "I am most excellent Master Ranma. They joy that I now have in my work is a welcome respite."
This was a surprise. Usually Sasuke looked and acted like his service to the Kuno family was a burden. Now though it was like his servitude was a joy. They had to wonder what had changed, and why.
As Ranma sat at the low table in the Kuno family's tea room he wished the others could be there. Instead, Sasuke had asked them to wait in the Kuno's living room while Ranma and Tatewaki had a private meeting. As he was currently alone in a place that held many a bad memory he could be excused for his discomfort.
Ranma's wait was a short one though as the door to the tea room opened up to reveal his host, Tatewaki Kuno. The young man was dressed in a simple button up shirt and pants, something that was unheard of for him outside of school. He walked slowly over to the low table, all the while he gave nothing away to what he was thinking. Once he was seated the young Kuno reached out to take hold of the kettle of hot water that Sasuke just appeared with. Though he only had one hand the Kuno heir seemed like he was coping well as he performed an abbreviated tea ceremony.
Understanding that Kuno intended this meeting to be both important and informal Ranma played along. Though he was not well versed in this portion of the Japanese arts his mother and Ayeka had been working to correct that deficit. As he excepted the tea Ranma subtlety reached out with all his senses to ensure that the tea was not one of Kodachi's blends. Sensing that it wasn't harmful in any way Ranma drank the tea as tradition demanded. Seeing as the ball was in Kuno's court Ranma waited for the young man to speak his mind.
He didn't have to wait long. Once both cups of tea were consumed Tatewaki placed his hand on his thigh and sighed as it appeared like his was trying to decide were to start. His mind made up, Kuno opened his mouth to speak, "I would like you for your visit Ranma. I had wanted to speak to you but unfortunately I was unable to locate you. And . . . I was somewhat reluctant to speak with you," he added softly.
Ranma's eyebrows raised in shock at that. In all the time he knew the young man sitting across from him he had never know him to be reluctant about anything. Seeing that it was difficult for Kuno Ranma kept quiet though.
"My reluctance had nothing to with you. Instead it was my embarrassment over my actions that kept me away. But now that you are sitting here before me I can finally say what needs to be said." He then bowed low, "Thank you."
Now Ranma was completely befuddled. Of all the Nerima crew he had never expected Kuno would thank him, for anything. "Um. For what? I did blow your hand up, remember."
Kuno rose and nodded, "Yes and that is why I must thank you." Seeing the look of confusion on Ranma's face Kuno explained himself. "After our final bout I was sent to the hospital for surgery. While I was there the doctors witnessed the state of my mental faculties and placed me in the psychiatric ward. There I was able to get counseling that eventually cleared me of my delusions and my sisters drugs."
"Yeah! Where is Kodachi anyway," though it did break with the decorum Ranma couldn't keep his mouth shut. He was a Saotome after all.
"She is in an institution. While my delusions were easily banished my dear sister's problems run much, much deeper. Luckily once I began to understand that the doctors were there to help I reported my sister so that she too can be helped."
Ranma whistled, "Wow that's some mind job the Docs pulled. You seem like a completely different person."
At that Kuno blushed and looked away from his pig-tailed guest. "Yes. Well. The doctors are not the only reason I am as I am today."
Having a good idea what Kuno meant Ranma got a sly look about him, "So who is she eh?"
Kuno's visage softened as he looked off at something unseen. "Her name is Maya. She is a member of the influential Ibuki family though that is not the reason that I adore her so. Despite her brilliant mind and vast fortune she feels it is her responsibility to help those unable to help themselves. As such she spends a good portion of her free time volunteering at the hospital. Since I was determined to be non-violent she often came to my room to bring me food or cheer me up. As I became saner I grew to love her more and one day, to my delight, I found out she felt the same. It is to her that I owe my speedy mental recovery."
"Well I'm glad that you have someone," Ranma stated with a smile. "I suppose you are wondering why I came by."
"Yes the thought did cross my mind."
Ranma took a deep breath. "I've come to put my demons to rest. The condition that caused me to injure you is controlled now. With that control came knowledge of what I did. Now I'm here to help you. I have a friend, Washu, she's a scientist that give you back you hand."
Kuno held up a hand, "Please, your demons may rest. I have forgiven you for what you did but I do not want my hand back."
Ranma was shocked, "But your art?"
"Is gone for me forever." He held up the stump that was his arm, "This wound is a constant reminder of what and who I was. This stump of a hand tells me that there is and always will be consequences for my actions. For that lesson I shall always be grateful." He turned his head and called out, "Sasuke!"
The little ninja appeared out of the shadows beside his master. In his hands he carried an ornate katana. "Here Master."
With his sole hand Tatewaki reached out and took the sword from his retainer's hands. Turning towards Ranma he placed the sword on the table between them. "Here take this sword Ranma, of House Saotome. Let it be a symbol of the Kuno family's eternal bond to you and yours. From here on end should you or any of your descendants need assistance do not hesitate to call upon the resources of the Kuno family."
Ranma looked at the sword on the table before him and was tempted to reject Kuno's offer. There was no way that he wanted servants of any sort, that was one of the reasons he did not want to stay for any extended period on Jurai. But he could tell that this meant a great deal to the man in front of him and as such he took the sword with great reverence. "The house of Saotome is pleased by the Kuno family's vow and I take this sword in the spirit in which it was given.
Those who had accompanied Ranma to the Kuno mansion were sitting in the Kuno's living room. As they sat on the plush couches they chatted amongst each other as they looked about. While they waited for their leader the group was served by the ninja Sasuke. About thirty minutes after they arrived Ranma was brought back to the room by a young man who had one arm that ended in a stump. Any one with any sense about them could tell that something was bothering Ranma though what it was, was not apparent.
Mousse stood, "Ranma what's wrong?"
Ranma shook his head as if to clear it, "Huh? Oh nothing's wrong Mousse. Let's go and get you cured." With that he began to walk away.
Wondering, but not commenting, on Ranma's strange behavior Mousse and the others followed the troubled teen. The trip to the Nekohanten took but only a few minutes and its entirety was spent in silence. Upon arriving Cologne hopped towards the cellar. "Mousse show our guests to the back alley. I shall bring the water to you."
Everyone did as the elderly woman suggested and followed Mousse out back. Once there Mousse stripped off his robes though he did leave his pants on. Upon seeing the look on Ami's face he replied, "I don't want to get them wet."
A minute or two later Cologne came hopping out of the Nekohanten. In her hands was a container with Chinese written on it. "Here is the water, Mousse." Once she handed the container to Mousse she hopped away and motioned to the others to do the same. "I would suggest that you all step away. Though you are females the only one of us here immune to the magic of those waters is Ranma. If you girls are splashed you will be cursed as well."
Washu quirked an eyebrow, "How?"
"The curse alters the most basic structure of all living creatures. When a female is exposed to the waters of Jusenkyo they are transformed into someone else, physically that is. They would be subject to the same rules as all of Jusenkyo's victims."
As the water cascaded down Mousse's form it worked its magic and his masculinity was replaced with an overabundance of femininity. When he poured the liquid over himself Mousse had kept him eyes shut. Now that he felt the tingling that heralded the Jusenkyo transformation Mousse looked down at himself and saw the large weights that he felt there. As he expected, jutting out form his chest was a large, and well-rounded, pair of breasts. Mousse did not have to feel himself to know that he was changed below as well as above. After standing there in the cold for a few moments Mousse felt someone's hand touch his shoulder. Turing in that direction he saw that it was Ranma who was also holding out a towel for him.
"Welcome to the club. How's it feel?"
"Very weird. And yet it doesn't feel so different," he replied as he dried himself down.
"Yeah that was about the same for me. If you need any help adjusting you can ask me."
While Ranma and Mousse were talking Ami stood rooted at where she was at. In her life she had seen many naked females, she did bathe at school after all. In the course of her time with her friends the Sailor Senshi she had seen them in the buff on several occasions as well. But never in all her years had the sight of naked female flesh elicit a response. Now though, as she stood there staring at Mousse's rather generous assets Ami felt the type of reaction that she had only felt when looking at guys. This bothered her immensely and yet she knew that it was somehow okay. In this case, with this man/woman it was okay to look and feel this arousal deep within her.
Ranma paid this little heed as he talked to Mousse. As he and Mousse conversed Ranma felt the final bit of sorrow lift off his soul. Mousse and Kuno were not crazy anymore. They both where either in a relationship or on the cusp of one. Most importantly was that Mousse was no longer bound by the horrors of the duck. All he had to do was wait until Ryouga come around and he could cure him to. But until then all he wanted to do was go home and be with his wife and their unborn child.
Author's Notes: Well here's a side story for The Light Hawk War, I hope you all enjoyed it. With this I've set the stage for the future whatever it may be.
King of the Wicker People