Ranma's Ascension - Epilog
By Mike Breslau
Disclaimer: Better folks than I own most of the characters that appear in this scribbling. The original characters (you'll know them when you meet them) in this work are mine, all mine! (But you can borrow them if you'll treat them kindly.)
Highlghts of Akane's life were flashing before her (mental) eyes.
Soun finished straightening out Akane's new gi and stood up.
"Am I a martial artist now, Daddy?" the little girl asked.
Her father smiled affectionately. "No, Daughter, you're only just starting out. You have to practice hard for a long time before you'll be real martial artist."
"I will, Daddy, I will. I want to be the bestest ever!"
"Anata, do you think it's wise to train Akane so intensively?" asked her mother. "Girls aren't supposed to excel at martial arts, it's unfeminine."
"We don't have any sons, Dear," responded her father. "I want the school to continue, so I must train an heir. Besides, she really seems to like it."
Akane was on the other side of the door and she overheard this conversation. "Who says girls can't do well at martial arts? I'll show them," she resolved.
Akane lifted her father into the air while wrestling, and threw him to the ground.
Soun landed badly, with a loud "Oof!"
"Did I hurt you, Father, I mean, Sensei?" Akane was concerned.
"I'm all right," Soun lied, "Just taken by surprise, that's all. I can't believe how strong you are, Akane."
"I'm going to be a real martial artist, Sensei!"
Soun stood and nodded. "Yes, I really believe you will. I'm very proud of you, Daughter."
The doctor looked grim. "I'm sorry, Mr. Tendo. We did everything we could for her..." He really hated this part of his job.
Soun broke down and started to cry uncontrollably.
Kasumi tried to console her father.
The doctor continued, "Her last words were a wish for all of you to stay together, support each other, and be strong and loving. She was a fine woman and a good patient until the end." Seeing that there was nothing further he could do, he stepped out of the room to give them some privacy.
Nabiki looked resolute, but said nothing.
Akane didn't fully grasp the situation. "What's the matter, Oneechan?"
"We are never going to see Mother again, 'Kane. We four are our whole family now."
"No, it's not true!" Akane protested, balling her fists in frustration.
In the weeks that followed it became clear that they could not depend upon Soun for anything other than weeping. By unwritten common consent, the three girls divided the responsibility for fulfilling their mother's deathbed wish among themselves. Kasumi handled the "loving" part and became their substitute mother, Nabiki tried to "support each other" as best a young girl could, and Akane assumed the role of the "strong" one. It was a stable but dysfunctional family in which the children took responsibility for the parent.
Every class in school has its share of bullies. In Akane's class there were three of them - Jiro, Ichiro, and Heero. They weren't evil really, they just enjoyed humiliating others as a way of keeping themselves amused. Perhaps they would turn meaner once they passed puberty, but for now they were only annoying.
Akane's mammary glands had manifested before those of the other girls in her class. This was unexpected because she had less fat and more muscle than her female classmates. Her development caused Akane to feel somewhat out-of-place, being the only girl so endowed; she felt that all the boys in her class were stealing furtive glaces at her. It also attracted the unwelcome attention of the three bullies.
The terrible trio cornered Akane in the schoolyard one day, intending to embarrass her and possibly cop a feel. "What's a bodacious babe like you doing in a joint like this?" asked Jiro, the tall one.
Ichiro, the pudgy one, was more direct. "Can we take a peek at your boobs?"
Heero, not the brightest of the group, didn't bother with clever repartee. Motivated more by simple curiosity than by an intent to hurt, he reached out to fondle Akane's breast. He never stood a chance.
Akane responded with righteous fury. Mallet-sama appeared in her right hand for the first time ever. She swung three times in quick succession and didn't miss once. When she calmed down a bit, she looked at the prone bodies in front of her. "Hmph! Serves them right," she thought. Akane didn't notice the hammer fading away as she began to drag the three truants to the nurse's office. From that time on "all boys are perverts" became Akane's mantra.
A true martial artist does not get queasy or flinch from the sight of her own blood, Akane reminded herself. This time it was different; this time it was personal.
Sure, Kasumi had given her "The Talk," so Akane had no excuse for freaking out. She knew the facts and was expecting it-but the reality did not match her expectations. Instead of feeling proud, she felt yucky. Akane reached for a pad.
When she told her older sister about her new, more adult, status, Kasumi beamed. "We'll have red beans and rice tonight to celebrate."
Akane wished there was a less messy way to prove her maturity.
Akane was confused. She was certain that when she had put that fish into the pan it had only two eyes and one head. Now it seemed to have a head at each end and no tail, and twenty-four eyes (at least on the side that she could see.) She was certain that she had followed the recipe exactly (well, almost) and she had only tweaked it a little bit for improved flavor.
The former fish wasn't quite dead, although it should be cooked through by now. It seemed to be afraid of her; it watched her every move with its two dozen eyes and squirmed away whenever she approached it. In frustration and anger Akane turned the heat up to maximum. "Rrr, I'll show you..." A violet smoke began to rise from the pan as the kitchen filled with a disgustingly pungent aroma.
When Kasumi came home she surveyed the kitchen in shock. It wasn't as bad as the last time Akane had tried to cook-then it had looked like World War III had taken place there; the kitchen had to be rebuilt from scratch. This time it looked as if the stove and many utensils could actually be salvaged and reused. Needless to say, the whole room was a mess, and Akane was upstairs in her room sulking.
With a sigh Kasumi got out a large trash bag and surveyed the room. "Where did she get these 'ingredients' from? I know none of them were in the house when I left, and some of these things aren't available in Japan." Most of the bizarre items had labels in English or other foreign languages.
She picked up a red can with a squirt nozzle on top. "Marvelous Mystery Oil," said the label. "It's a mystery, all right." It went into the trash bag. A small jar was labeled "Belch-Not Strained Babies." Kasumi shuddered and threw it out. A flask of purple liquid had a picture of a grinning dinosaur and the words "Essence of Barney." Kasumi threw it away. She picked up a bunch of small green round things. "The Grapes of Wrath, how appropriate." She tossed them. A small stack of unpaid duck bills? Out. "Roasted Salted Hex Nuts?" How tasty! Out. A container of "elbow grease, the perfect cleanser" went out next.
A small can of "Black Shoe brand Kiwi Polish" with a picture of a shiny bird went out next. A pack of oddly-colored "DoubleTint Gum" was quickly tossed. She picked up the next item. "Red Planet Marzipan." It sounded tasty. She tossed it. Kasumi also tossed out a bottle of "Edsel brand Lemon Juice." Next to go was a blue spray can of "WD 41." A small tube of "Krazier Glue" was the next item to go out. A half-empty container of mongoose milk went out next. She also threw away an egg-shaped container of "Sillier Putty." Kasumi overlooked the container of one dozen gnat's eggs, because it was too small to be seen. Fried doe? Out!
A very oddly shaped bottle of indeterminate size bore the label "Klien's Topological Implausibility Juice - Fractal Flavor." Out it went. A tall, thin bottle of "Uncle Vlad's Stake Sauce" with a picture of a vampire on the label caused her to shudder before it swiftly went into the garbage bag. The remainder of a box of overly-cute cookies bore a "Goodby Kitty" logo. Out. The shredded cabbage in "Murphy Slaw" might have been edible once. Trash. Chain mail armor with postage due? Out. An irregular mass of translucent substance (exo-coprolite, i.e.: fossilized alien poop) was the next to go.
Kasumi picked up a small irregular object that was emitting a green glow. Holding it made her feel funny. She threw it away, never realizing that the kryptonite radiation had enhanced her already-considerable powers of ESP. She then picked up a magnetic monopole. "Huh? I thought these didn't exist." She tossed it out. Some slightly-used dilithium crystals were the next items to go.
A small tin can with a Cyrillic label caught her attention. As Kasumi tried to translate it, it seemed to say, "Concentrated Buffalo Flatulence." That couldn't possibly be right, could it? She trashed it. A bag of catnip? Out. She didn't even want to know what "Super Duper Party Pooper" might be for; she used it to fill garbage cans. Kasumi also tossed two rounds of bamboo shoot ammunition.
Kasumi paused at a bottle of "Lemon Oil Furniture Cleaner." "This almost sounds like it might actually belong in a kitchen," she mused. She set this bottle aside, she might find a use for it later. She similarly set aside a softly glowing package of "Harry Otter's Enchanted Toilet Bowl Cleaner."
A box with a picture of a centrifuge was labeled "Whirled Peas." Out. The Holy Grail. Out. The Lost Chord. Out. The Last Unicorn. Out. The Ark of the Covenant. Out. A concise proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Out. A roll of "Quack brand Duck Tape." Out. The Lost Tribe of Israel. Out, out, Damned Spot. Out!
A vial of "Botulism Toxin" went quickly into the trash bag. An empty container of pickled cockatrice eggs went next. The next item was a clear glass jar half-full of white smoke. The only part of the label that seemed to make sense read, "Gaseous Life Form - Do Not Disturb." The smoke seemed to be looking at her even though it had no eyes. Kasumi sighed again. It was going to be a long evening.
Some people think that the Kunos are crazy. That is not possible! When you are rich and behave abnormally, you are deemed "eccentric." A less well-off person who behaves the exact same way would be labeled "insane." The Kunos are too wealthy to be crazy.
Some people think Tatewaki Kuno is stupid-that he has fewer functional brain cells than Kamisama granted to an earthworm. Again, that is not true. Tatewaki has slightly above-average intelligence, he just has an exceptionally effective mental filter.
All humans, even you and I, have a brain function that causes us to ignore or disregard any information that conflicts with our internal belief system. This saves us from the real effort of thinking, and spares us the discomfort of being wrong. (It also permits politicians and organized religions to flourish, but that's another story.) It just so happens that Tatewaki is the undisputed Grandmaster of the School of Martial Arts Reality Ignoring. That is why he makes such an excellent punching bag: he knows that nobody could possibly hurt him, so he feels no pain no matter how hard he is hit.
On the first day of his second year at Furinkan the samurai wannabe was in the school yard when he espied the most attractive young lady that he had seen (in at least four minutes), namely, Akane Tendo. Since it was only natural that the most desireable male in the whole universe should capture the most beautiful girl in the school yard, he approached her and proclaimed, "Greetings, oh most beauteous one! Might I have the honor of knowing your name?"
Not knowing how to respond to the tall, dark, and handsome lunatic, Akane pushed him aside and hurried into the school.
Kuno was taken aback at this brushoff, but he was not deterred. He approached the source of all useful information and inquired, "Can you tell me the name of that angelic vision? I must make her mine!"
Nabiki held out her hand and replied, "2000 Yen."
On each of the next eleven school days Kuno would make yet another approach to the fair maiden, and each time was met with an increasingly emphatic rejection from the increasingly annoyed damsel.
The following morning Tatewaki showed up with a wheelbarrow full of red roses. "Oh fairest of maidens, why do you reject me so? Is it possible that your heart belongs to another? Nay, that cannot be, for who is as desireable a suitor as I?"
Akane had had enough of this nonsense. "What part of 'NO' don't you understand?" she yelled. Mallet-sama appeared and knocked Kuno flat. She dumped the roses on top of her supine suitor and then jumped up and down on him so that the thorns could do their thing. Finally, she upended the wheelbarrow on top of the mashed roses and stormed off muttering imprecations.
"Ah, what a fiery spirit, what a sublime passion!" thought Tatewaki before unconsciousness claimed him, "She is playing hard-to-get. I must make her mine!" The next morning Kuno approached Akane with a confident air. "Today my success is assured. Beauteous maiden, your heart shall belong to me and no other," he proclaimed, "Behold!"
To the astonishment of the entire student body, Tatewaki unzipped his trousers and proudly exposed what appeared to be a gold-plated phallus. "This magical condom is guaranteed to make me irresistible to females," he explained.
Akane was disgusted, not captivated, by this display. "That is so NOT what I needed to see this morning!" A swift uppercut sent Kuno flying, only to land on his back 20 feet away. Akane stormed into the school building, fuming all the way.
The vendor of magical amulets had not been lying when he said it would make Kuno irresistible to females, but he wasn't telling the entire truth either. The enchanted condom did not attract human girls, but every female bird in the neighborhood flew down and began to peck amorously at the gold-plated condom so invitingly displayed.
That evening Kuno sat brooding in his study. "Everything I have done to attract the fair Akane only seems to have driven her away. Could she be a masochist? Perhaps I shall have better luck if I abuse her..."
The next day a special assembly for boys only was called at Furinkan. Tatewaki stood on the stage and told the assembled crowd that no one would be allowed to date the beautiful Akane unless he had first defeated her in battle. Cologne would have approved.
"If I cannot win her heart by being nice," Kuno thought, " perhaps I can succeed by beating her to a pulp!"
All right, perhaps Tatewaki was crazy after all.
"Daddy... This is your friend?" Kasumi asked.
Soun shook his head rapidly in negation.
Nabiki responded sarcastically , "Oh. So this panda just decided to visit! Happens all the time!"
Soun leaned forward. "You..wouldn't be..."
"Ranma Saotome. Sorry 'bout this."
...( you all know this scene by heart )...
"I'm Akane. Do you want to be friends?"
"Yeah, I'd like that," answered the redhead.
"Ranma no baka."
"Ranma no baka!"
"Ranma no Baka!"
"RANMA NO BAKA!"
"...Akane no baka..."
The Creator smiled benevolently and began to speak. His resonant voice could be heard clearly throughout the room, even though it was neither loud nor amplified. "My children, we are gathered on this happy occasion to unite this couple in holy matrimony. You are here to witness the formation of this union. The solemn vows they are about to take shall be noted and honored by all present."
He continued, "Some of you may think I am performing this ceremony. That is not the case. Ranma and Akane bear the burden of making this marriage work; I am merely here as a facilitator."
He paused, then addressed the groom. "Ranma, do you take Akane to be your lawful spouse? Do you promise to love, nurture, and protect her, soothe her when she is hurt, encourage and support her, and help her to become everything that she is able to be?"
Ranma looked the Almighty in the eye and answered, "With all my heart, I do."
Kamisama now addressed the bride. "Akane, do you take Ranma and Ranko to be your lawful spouse? Do you promise to keep him/her foremost in your heart for an extraordinarily long time, comfort and console him/her when needed, and to listen attentively before loosing your temper?" His smile took the possible sting out of His final words.
Akane's eyes flashed dangerously until she heard Ranma's voice in her head, "His choice of words; it's not my fault!"
Akane stood tall and answered clearly, "I promise with all my heart."
"Then by the power inherent in Me, I now pronounce you married under the laws of Heaven and Earth. Let no power ever rend asunder that which has been joined here today. You both have My blessing and best wishes for your life to come." He paused. "Well, what are you waiting for? Kiss each other."
Akane bounced in through the magic door, her smile a mile wide. "I got the part!" she exclaimed happily.
Ranma looked up from his floating translucent laptop. "The musical show that you had auditioned for?" She could tell that he was pleased.
Akane stopped bouncing, though she was still excited. "Yes! They wanted to see me dance, so I did one of the simpler katas in time to the music. You should have seen their faces when I ended with a four-foot high vertical spinning leap. It was priceless."
"I can just imagine. I'm glad you kept it down to something believable." He paused. "So you're going to be commuting to America now?"
"Why not? It's no further away than anywhere else now. All I have to look out for is the time zone change, and that shouldn't be a problem." She crossed the room and hugged him. "Thanks for the martial arts singing lessons, Sensei."
"Well I'm glad that you're getting a chance to act. It's been one of your ambitions for some time now."
"So how was your day, Anata? Anything interesting happen?"
Ranma pointed to the floating laptop and replied in a mock-complaining tone, "Paperwork! If I'd known that being a deity entailed so much bureaucracy I might never have accepted the job."
Ranma took Akane to one of the nicer restaurants in Asgard. Of course, the food was wonderful, and the nectar and ambrosia were heavenly. As the meal neared its end Akane looked contented while Ranma had an "I've got a secret" grin. The angel waiting upon their table silently brought out the dessert - a small round cake with one lit candle standing up in the center.
"What's this for?" asked Akane, pointing to the candle.
"We're celebrating an anniversary today," Ranma replied. "Do you know what the occasion is?" Akane looked nonplussed, so Ranma continued after a moment, "It's been one year to the day since you last got angry."
Akane leaned back and looked introspective. "Has it really been that long? I didn't notice." After a thoughtful pause she continued softly, "Anger used to be my closest friend, but now I don't even miss it..."
Ranma merely smiled, glad that his plans had succeeded.
A temporarily male Akane and a female Ranko were cuddling in bed in a sweaty state of bliss.
"Well that was interesting," Akane said softly.
"Not what you were expecting?"
"It was certainly different . Of course, there was no way I could know what to expect."
Ranko smiled sagely and kissed him gently. "Are you disappointed?"
"No, replied Akane, "You certainly know how to make a guy feel good." He paused. "Ranko, may I ask you a personal question?"
"Of course, Dearest, ask away."
"How come your breasts don't sag when you're not wearing a bra? Any natural woman as well-endowed as you would sag when not supported. I've always wondered..."
Ranko smiled knowingly. "Actually, my breasts do sag. I can feel it." She continued in an imitation-Chinese accent, "Is tragic story. 1,500 years ago a young woman drowned in spring, and now anyone who falls in spring takes form of beautiful girl."
"I knew that. How does it answer my question?"
"Well, when she drowned, she was obviously underwater."
After a moment Akane put two and two together. "And mammary glands float! Your 'cursed' form is the shape of a girl with buoyant boobs..."
"Buoyant, not boyish. If I wore a bra, they'd point up! It would look weird and attract attention, so I go without."
"I see," said Akane. "I guess I won't be jealous of you any more."
Ranma and Akane were in a deserted park at the predawn hour. It was almost cherry-blossom time, and spring was in the air.
"Remember the first time you went flying with me?" Ranma asked.
Akane smiled. "I'll never forget! It was glorious."
"Well today you're going to fly under your own power, without any help from me."
Akane was shocked. "How can I possibly do that?"
"Similar to the way Herb does it. You already know how to use your ki to slow your fall so that you drift down slowly. You've got enough ki mastery now that you should be able to drift upwards by using the same technique, only this time try harder."
"Oh." She meditated for a minute to calm her heart and gather her courage. Akane resolutely focused her ki and used it to oppose the pull of gravity. After two minutes of increasing effort she began to drift upwards like a wind-bourne dandelion thistle. "I did it!" she exclaimed, only to fall as her concentration faltered.
Ranma helped her to get back on her feet. "You've got to pay attention, Student."
"Hai." Akane tried again. This time her control was noticeably improved, and she rose to rooftop height without a problem.
Ranma flew up alongside her and inclined his head in a "follow me" gesture. The two of them circled the park at a leisurely pace, relishing the experience.
"This is even better than the first time," exclaimed Akane, her heart filled with the pride of achievement.
"Yes it is," agreed Ranma, proud that hi student/wife was making such progress.
The review of her mortal life finally concluded, Akane knelt and softly wept. "I am not worthy," she murmured.
"I assure you," answered the Almighty in a tone of friendly good humor, "you would not be here if you were not worthy."
Akane wiped away her tears and looked up. "Okay. I'm ready now."
Kamisama nodded. "Very well."
Akane felt her body dissolve into mist, as her consciousness expanded beyond her wildest dreams. Her senses seemed to encompass the entire universe, past, present, and future. Power of unimaginable magnitude flowed through her, yet she was not harmed. She could not tell how long this experience lasted, yet when it ended it was over too soon. Her soul returned to finite size and found itself in a brand-new body-familiar in appearance but greatly improved in every other way.
Kamisama reached down and took her hand. "Arise, Akane, Second Class, Second Category Goddess of Emotions (trainee)."
Credit where credit is due:
"Darc" suggested elbow grease.
"Miyagawa" suggested kryptonite and catnip.
Thanks to Colin McEnroe for exo-coprolite.
"Daddy... This is your friend?" - dialog lifted from Viz Media's translation of the original manga.
Authors Rant-Two ways to make me stop reading your Ranma fanfic:
A) Write a scene in which the entire NWC (Ryoga, Kuno, Kodachi, Shampoo, Mousse, Taro, Ukyo, Akane, Konatsu, Sasuke, and possibly even Hinako-chan and Hikaro Gosunkugi) all attack Ranma simultaneously . Ain't gonna happen-too improbable, hard to coordinate. And even if it did happen, post-Saffron Ranma would be powerful enough to take them all down at once. I mean, he killed a god and leveled two mountains with his bare hands-the whole NWC wouldn't stand a chance against him if Ranma got angry. Why do you think Takahashi ended the Ranma saga at this point?
B) Portray Akane as a perpetually-on-PMS, forever furious, super-angry, ulta-violent harridan with no socially redeeming features at all. I don't know who this one-dimensional caricature is, but she surely isn't the Akane portrayed in Takahashi's own work. Yes, the cannon Akane had temper issues, but she had many problems to work out (loss of mother, the hentai horde, no longer being the best martial artist, etc.) The "real" Akane's main reason for frequently malleting Ranma is that they would be married in an instant if she didn't, and neither of them is ready to get married yet. Ranma accepts the hammering for the same reason (you know he's good enough to dodge or block her hammer every time if he wanted to). Give her a break guys, make your Akane believable.
Author's final final thoughts:
If you have any suggestions for other 'ingredients' Akane might have used, please include them in a review. If I like your suggestion I'll include it in a rewrite and give you credit here.
The nice thing about not getting paid for my writing is that I don't have to do it. If my muse takes a vacation or my real life intrudes, I simply stop for a while.