Here's chapter 1 at last (and it only took one year)

Disclaimer: none of the characters and universes belong to me. But I use and abuse them anyway.

Reviews are always welcome (even flames if they are justified) and I'll answer every review and private message I receive. And please review, even if it's only a few words.

You can find links to message boards where you can discuss this chapter (and where I've already posted some asnwers) in my profile. I hope you'll enjoy this chapter and if you find any mistakes (be it grammar or vocabulary) please inform me.

Important: The curse won't stay locked (just wanted to point it out to the numerous people who hate 'locked curse' fics) and yes there's a reason for that and will be explained next chapter.

CHAPTER 1 - ARRIVAL IN NERIMA

3 years later, Nerima ward, Tokyo

It was a nice early spring day in Nerima. The sky was clouded and a slightly chilly wind was blowing through Nerima's streets. The schools had let out a short while ago and the streets were bustling with children and teenagers. A girl in her mid to late teens was browsing through the market, stopping at different food stands to buy ingredients for the evening meal.

She was rather tall for a girl her age and had a lovely face, kind brown eyes and long brown hair that she wore in a ponytail. The teen was wearing a Furinkan High School uniform, consisting of a white blouse and a blue jumper. Even in her less than flattering clothes one could see that she had the beauty and the grace of a fairytale princess. The girl's name was Kasumi and she was well known throughout Nerima. Her charming personality had endeared her to all Nerimans over the last few years, and the stall owners at the market always gave her generous discounts, in exchange for her occasionally lending them a helping hand. Many residents tenderly called her "Nerima's Angel" because of her gentle nature and kindness.

Being done with her shopping, the brunette was headed home all the while thinking about random things, such as what meal she was going to cook that evening, what to do about the snotty and snooty kendoka that was constantly pestering her sister, and how to get rid of a certain freeloading guest that had been causing them a lot of problems over the last few years. Absorbed by her thoughts, she hadn't really paid attention to where she was headed, and had somehow reached a secluded part of Nerima Honda Park, a small park in the vicinity of her home she often travelled through as it was a shortcut. Only a few people were strolling around at the time, and she had yet to notice the 20 to 25 'Stalking Tigers' members that had managed to surround her. The 'Stalking Tigers' were a local punk gang and rather notorious for their ruthlessness.

Her sixth sense suddenly kicked in, and she took a hasty look around. Realizing the danger she was in, she rapidly put her shopping basket and book bag down and took a defensive martial arts stance. 'Damn! How could I have been so stupid and let my guard down', the teen kicked herself mentally, while frantically thinking about a way to get out of the bind she was in.

One of the punks, easily recognizable as the pack leader through his expensive and very cliché designer clothes, approached her and, with a sneer on his face, addressed the shocked girl. "Hi Kasumi, do you remember us? I believe we have a score to settle. The way you treated five of my guys last week wasn't very nice. And they only wanted to have some fun with the girl. Well, it's time for some payback, BITCH! The way I see it, you have two choices. Either we kill you immediately or you decide to cooperate with us and be a very nice and obedient girl, and maybe you'll be able to walk away alive once we're finished with you. And you better believe that my buddies and I are very eager to taste some of what you have to offer. And don't even try and fight it. The consequences would be dire and very painful. I don't know how you managed to beat my boys last week, but you don't stand a chance against all of us. Just be a nice little girl and it will be over soon."

"Forget it! I'd rather die than letting scumbags like you do that to me," a very angry Kasumi spat out, although she didn't feel quite as confident as she sounded.

"Is that so? We didn't ask for YOUR permission. And it's not like you could do anything to stop us," answered the leader nonchalantly while sporting a lecherous grin and motioning his pack of lowlifes to attack.

'I'm in trouble', Kasumi mused. 'I may be a relatively good fighter, but I don't like the odds in this fight. I never had to face that many foes before. Still, there is no way that I'll do THAT with any of them. I'd rather die. But I HAVE to win; my family needs me'.

Two of the punks attacked, but a well placed, ki enhanced punch to the solar plexus rapidly downed one of them, while a powerful kick in the family jewels sent the other one sprawling to the floor. As the other gang members realized that Kasumi wasn't that easy to put down several of them, deciding not to take any chances launched a collective attack. Five of them ganged on Kasumi, but they didn't really prove to be a challenge to Kasumi who almost casually blocked or dodged their attacks. She retaliated, and not even a minute later, all five were lying on the floor, heavily bruised and groaning.

Seeing this, the leader's face took a rather nasty shade of red. "Wait for the others to get up and grab a weapon; the whore's going down," he shouted to his boys in an angry snarl. "We won't be able to show our faces in Nerima ever again if we let the population get the impression we're not strong enough to deal with a little girl."

The evil guys grabbed knives, baseball bats and iron chains out of a box they had brought with them and initiated an attack. The group was attracting an audience, as more and more people gathered to see what the commotion was about, but none of them were even thinking of intervening or calling for help, as they really didn't want to get on the infamous gang's bad side. After all, it was a well-known fact that Nerima's cops were too afraid to intervene, as the district was overrun with strong martial artists, who could rip them to pieces without even trying. Thus, the policemen spent most of their time either sitting inside their cozy little koban, or writing parking tickets and helping old ladies cross the streets.

The fight was definitely not going in Kasumi's favor; her arms were heavily bruised from blocking the bats and the chains, and the rest of her body had fared only marginally better. She's also been nicked by knives several times, although the cuts were rather superficial. But the poor girl was tiring and had more and more trouble avoiding the vicious strikes. And then it happened. One of the thugs successfully stabbed the teenager in the left leg, causing her to cry out in pain.

Just as she was falling down, a new player entered the game and caught the injured brunette before she touched the ground. Her savior was a rather small red haired girl, who didn't look any older than 12 or 13. She was about half a head shorter than Kasumi and well built for her age. The redhead had a very cute face, big blue eyes and long, flowing, crimson hair, parts of which were pulled up in twin buns and a ponytail falling down past each shoulder and over her breasts (1). This rather unusual hairstyle increased her cuteness factor even further. She was wearing a royal blue, two piece silk cheongsam, consisting of a short sleeved blouse and a long skirt with slits on each side. The blouse sported a lotus flower motive and hugged her nice figure rather well. The skirt too was royal blue and allowed for a lot of leg freedom, drawing the people's gaze to her well toned legs.

The redhead gently helped Kasumi sit down, all the while keeping her eyes on the girl's aggressors. The gang members had stopped their assault and were giving her lecherous grins.

"Look at who joined us," the gang leader said. "It seems we got ourselves another treat. And what a treat it is. Two for the price of one."

He turned to the new arrival as he continued talking. "So little girl, I can see that you are eager for your turn. Don't worry. After we're through with little Kasumi here you'll be next."

The newcomer had a disgusted look on her face and answered in a very dangerous voice. "Rapists AND pedophiles? You are the worst scum I ever had the displeasure of meeting. Well, not for long. You're going down... the hard way. After I'm finished with you, you'll find it very hard to rape anyone ever again."

The pissed looking teen took a defensive stance, ready to parry everything the thugs could throw at her. As they didn't seem to be willing to start the hostilities she let out a fraction of her battle aura and, before the bad guys could blink, a few of them they lay on the ground, groaning in pain and unable to get up. But that didn't stop the red haired girl from demolishing the rest. She ripped into them using some very vicious, bone breaking combos, punching and kicking away like a dervish until the boss and herself were the only ones still standing.

"Wha-WHAT?" shouted the boss incredulously, the shock visible on his face. "Who are you? Who gave you the right to do that to my pals? There's no way that a little slip of a girl like you could be able to do that. You- you're a monster!

"Naaaah. I'm just someone who loathes people like you, acting all high and mighty, preying on the weak and helpless, and believing there won't be any repercussions for their despicable actions," answered the very angry teen. "As to how I did this, years and years of intensive martial arts training. Here, I'll show you some more… free of charge."

The leader didn't wait for her attack and pulled a gun out of his pocket. "You may be strong, but even you can't block or evade a gunshot. Game over, baby. Prepare to meet your maker".

The young girl rolled her eyes, but soon a smirk developed on her face as she taunted her opponent. "AND you're a coward. Not even man enough to fight fairly. You probably have a really small one and need the gun to overcompensate for your inadequacy."

The guy was fuming and about to explode, but that didn't stop the redhead. "And by the way, where did you get your cheesy lines from? You should hire a new writer. Even a baboon could come up with better ones. You sound like a B-Movie villain," she continued in a condescending tone, shaking her head.

"DIE, BITCH!" the enraged man shouted, and as he unloaded his gun on the redhead, the crowd scattered and took cover. The young girl just stood there, not even trying to evade the bullets, and after the ammo was spent she was still standing in the same posture, unharmed and looking rather bored. She opened her fists and let the bullets fall to the floor. The thug, the onlookers, as well as Kasumi were gaping stupidly at the scene, not believing their eyes.

Less than a second later the redhead was in front of the thug and gave him a thorough and merciless beating, finishing the attack with a ki enhanced kick into his private parts. "Let's see you try and rape anyone ever again." She then whispered something into his ear in a very threatening tone. "You're lucky there are witnesses here, otherwise I'd have killed you on the spot. And I would have done it in a heartbeat, without remorse. You wouldn't be the first rapist I'd have sent to hell." Not giving the man the time to retort she continued punishing him, cracking several rips and breaking all the bones in his arms and legs in the process, leaving the heavily bleeding man barely alive. Suffices to say that most of the remaining onlookers had turned an unhealthy shade of green and some had even puked. Getting away from the guy, the redhead focused her attention on the other punks, pressing the same pressure point on each of them, and slowly walked over to Kasumi. Some of the punks were able to get up, if only barely, and they decided to check on their leader who wouldn't be getting up for a long time. He was covered in blood and it looked like he didn't have a single intact bone left in his body.

"You had better call an ambulance… and fast. He probably won't last for more than half an hour if he doesn't get some medical attention soon. Not that I care if he lives or dies, mind you, it's just that the paperwork is such a hassle. And here's a friendly piece of advice. Get the hell out of Tokyo and never come back. If I ever see any of your ugly mugs again… well you saw what I did to your boss. Rapists are the worst scum on earth, and I have very low tolerance for scum."

After making sure the gang members got the message, she bent down to the injured teen and checked the stab wound. "Let me take a look at that."

The red haired girl gently examined the wound and got up again to retrieve some medical supplies from the backpack she'd dropped on the floor before joining the fray. She rummaged through the backpack and, having found what she was looking for, returned to the spot where Kasumi was sitting. She kneeled down and quickly and expertly prepared a poultice, which she put on the wound, after having cleaned it with some smelly liquid from an unmarked bottle. She bandaged the wound, tapped some shiatsu pressure points to ease the pain and helped Kasumi to her feet.

Kasumi was visibly impressed by the young girl's medical knowledge, but soon broke out into sobs as the shock of what had happened finally set in, and she hugged the petite girl, who turned an interesting shade of red that matched the color of her hair. "Thank you for saving me," a teary-eyed Kasumi answered. "I can't stop thinking about what would have happened to me if you hadn't helped me. How can I ever pay you back?"

"No need to thank me. I see it as my duty as a martial artist to help people in need. And I'm a little ashamed of myself. I should have interfered earlier, but as you handled them very well before they used weapons, I thought I should let you deal with them, as I know several martial artists who don't like other people butting into their fights. I'm really sorry," said the young girl in an apologetic tone all the while patting Kasumi on the back with one hand and caressing her hair with the other. Slowly but surely the distraught girl calmed down.

Meanwhile she heard the people around her clapping and thanking her. "Thank you for putting down those guys. They've been terrorizing the neighborhood for several months now, and no one has ever tried to fight them," one of the bystanders said. "Maybe now we won't have to be afraid of leaving our houses anymore," another one continued.

"You're welcome," the redhead cheerfully answered, while inwardly seething. 'Damn cowards! Now that the danger has passed they come out of hiding. The situation could have been resolved a long time ago if only they hadn't been too chicken or at least called for the police'. They are really pathetic. She turned her attention back to the crying girl who was slowly calming down.

"My name is Kasumi, Kasumi Tendo" the brunette presented herself to her savior. "You have nothing to apologize for. After all, you were able to prevent the worst from happening. Not many people would have done the same, and you put them down so easily. I wish I was as good a fighter as you are. Your skills are amazing and you are so young," Kasumi said while smiling at her savior and drying her tears with a paper handkerchief someone had handed her.

The redhead blushed after hearing Kasumi's praises. "My name is Mei, Mei Kido, and I'm not that young; I'm already 13," she told the older girl. "I'm glad I could be of help. I can't stand bastards that gang up on people… and I especially hate rapists."

Kasumi almost took a step back after hearing the venom in Mei's voice. "Were you ever…?" Kasumi asked tentatively, but was interrupted before she could finish her sentence.

"No!" she stated firmly. "But one of my friends was raped by three men. That was the day I decided to deal harshly with that kind of bastards", the redhead continued. "But let's talk about more positive things. So Kasumi, you said your family name was Tendo, right? Are you by any chance related to Soun Tendo? I've come to Nerima to meet with him."

"Why yes, he's my father," Kasumi confirmed. "I'll show you the way to the dojo if you like. It's the least I can do after what you've done for me. Maybe you'd like to stay for dinner? We seldom have guests, especially since our house guest arrived at our door three years ago," she continued in an angry tone. As the wound made it impossible for Kasumi to walk without help, she leaned on Mei's shoulder and both of them slowly walked towards the Tendo Dojo.

Having noticed the hostility in Kasumi's voice, Mei pondered if she should pry into her private business or not, but she knew from experience that it wasn't very healthy too keep one's feelings bottled up. "You don't seem to like your houseguest very much. Care to talk about it? I found out several years ago that discussing my problems with friends often helped me find a solution. And giving vent to one's feelings is very liberating; I for one generally feel better afterwards."

"A friend?" Kasumi enquired. "Do you consider me a friend? We've only met a few minutes ago."

"Sure. I've only come back to Japan today, after having lived in China for the last three years and don't know anybody in this part of Tokyo yet. And I've always loved making new friends. So what do you say? I would be honored to have a friend like you. First of all we share a common interest, martial arts. Secondly, you've earned my respect for having selflessly protected a girl from being raped last week. It's difficult to find such a noble spirit nowadays. So yes, I couldn't imagine anyone worthier of becoming my friend. This may sound a little pompous but I mean it."

Now it was Kasumi who blushed. She sighed and after some fidgeting decided that it couldn't hurt to share some of her problems with her new friend. Friend… she liked the sound of that. "I really shouldn't have mentioned that freeloader, but whenever I think about him, I can't help but get angry. But I don't want to bore you with my problems."

"You won't, I'm sure of it. We are friends, right? And as such it's our duty to help each other with our problems. So, spill the beans!" She ordered, a winning smile adorning her face.

Kasumi couldn't help it and started to giggle at the redhead's antics. Her cheerfulness was apparently contagious. But she sobered up very quickly. "Thank you. This really means a lot to me. I don't have many friends and it's difficult to make any, as most children my age tend to avoid me, mostly because of our houseguest, who invited himself into our home three years ago, but my family is partly at fault too.

"Is your situation at home really that bad? Why don't you kick the parasite out? You are a very skilled and talented martial artist. You should be able to get rid of some no-good lowlife," she reassured the older girl.

"Oh no, he's much stronger and experienced than I am," Kasumi retorted. I've always loved martial arts, but unfortunately I stopped practicing after my mother died, as I had to take care of the family. I started training again several months after uncle Genma came to live with us. At first I did it to become strong enough to get rid of him, but I realized very quickly that it would probably take me decades to reach a level that would allow me to take him on. But I decided to continue my training anyhow, as I really enjoy practicing the art. I should never have stopped. When my mother was alive I practiced a lot, and my father had even told me that I was very talented. After our mother's death, my father turned into an emotional wreck, feeling sorry for himself and lacking the energy to teach at all. All the students left the dojo and I was forced to become the new housemaid. Juggling school, household chores, and later on babysitting to earn some pocket money didn't leave much time to train."

"When uncle Genma came to our home three years ago, we noticed that our father had become livelier again and we thought that would be a good thing. But at that time we didn't know what a louse the bastard really was. He told us that he had come to our home to tell my father about his son's tragic death. Since then he has been staying with us, not working at all and mooching off our modest income."

Immediately after hearing the name Genma, Mei stopped for a moment, startling the older girl, but urged her to continue with her story, which Kasumi did. They resumed their walk while Mei was still listening to Kasumi's story. Kasumi couldn't help look at her traveling companion as the air suddenly turned chilly. She was rather surprised when she noticed the very cold aura the younger girl was emitting.

'Damn that old panda. And I had hoped he'd learnt his lesson. But that was probably too much to hope for, and now he's ruining Kasumi's and the other Tendos' life. Well, I guess I'll have to teach him another lesson. And this time he'll really feel it', Mei thought while helping the hobbling Kasumi to reach the Tendo Dojo. 'But still, I'd better get confirmation. No need to fly off the handle if it happens to be some other Genma… yeah right; like I'd be that lucky'.

"Genma? As in Genma Saotome? Middle aged, wears glasses, a bandanna and a dirty gi, and additionally transforms into a panda?"

"Oh my, yes!" A very surprised Kasumi exclaimed. "Do you know him?"

"Oh yes. All too well, unfortunately. And he has a lot to answer for, especially for what he did to Ranma. Don't worry, I'll get rid of him for you… and it will be my pleasure."

"Do you really think you can beat him? He is incredibly strong you know. And what is this about Ranma? Didn't he die in a training accident?" The brunette enquired.

"Dead? Is that what the panda told you? Figures he wouldn't tell the truth. The word 'honesty' doesn't figure in his dictionary. No Kasumi, Ranma is very much alive, and he has done very well over the last three years after having been disowned by Genma for refusing to obey him any longer. And believe me, being disowned is the best thing that ever happened to him. You can't imagine the number of problems Genma has caused for his son. Ranma is still in China at the moment, but he'll probably come over in a few months. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't met him 5 years ago. He's been my best friend since then and we've constantly been training together. Even if we aren't related by blood, I've come to consider him as my brother. And our bonds are probably stronger than those of any other siblings. If you're interested I can tell you more about him and our training journey later on."

"I'd love to hear more," Kasumi said enthusiastically. "I can't wait to meet him. And you obviously love him very much. You two must have led an interesting life. But what are you going to do about uncle Genma. I hope you don't plan on killing him."

"Don't worry Kasumi, I won't kill him. I'll leave that honor to Ranma, if he wants to get back at Genma for all the shit he put him through over the years. No, I'm just going to roughen him up… a lot. I'm sure he won't learn his lesson, but it's the least he deserves for the problems he has been causing your family. Ranma told me that beating Genma up always was a very therapeutic experience for him," Mei giggled.

"You must really hate him, if you are able to talk so casually about hurting him," Kasumi stated.

"Words can't describe the hate I feel for that waste of human skin. Thank God I didn't have to suffer from his stupidity, as I merely followed him and Ranma on their training journey. It was Ranma who had to suffer so much under his 'tender' care. And what kind of sister would I be if I didn't try to help my brother."

While the two girls continued walking to the dojo they talked about this and that, consolidating their newly acquired friendship, both of them being happy to have met a kindred spirit.

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"Ah, here we are," the older teenager said as Mei helped her open the gate to the huge compound; the two girls then continued on to the house door. The L-shaped, two story house looked old but was in good repair. Next to it was a decent sized dojo. "I'm home!" She announced as the two girls entered the house. "And I've brought a guest."

Both teens entered the living room and saw two men sitting in seiza behind a small table, playing shogi. One of the men looked to be in his early forties and was wearing a brown gi. He was rather tall and of average built, had black hair that stretched to mid back and a large drooping moustache. The other man was well-known to the redhead, although he had changed a lot over the last three years since she had last seen him. While he used to look stocky, his appearance had always been deceiving as the layer of fat had been hiding solid, rock hard muscle. But that was no longer true. Even to the untrained eye it was obvious that he hadn't kept up with his training. Gone were the muscles, leaving only fat behind. "Pathetic" was the first thought that came to Mei's mind.

Before anyone could react, Mei had already positioned herself behind the bandanna wearing man, who was too absorbed by the game to notice anything; another proof of his lack of training. But he noticed someone tapping lightly on his shoulder.

"Ha! I won't fall for that old trick Tendo. You can tell Kasumi to stop trying to distract me," the man in the white gi said.

Mei tapped him on the shoulder once more.

Getting annoyed, Genma turned his head around to see who would dare to interrupt the game he was obviously going to win. He looked at the teen standing behind him, wondering why she seemed so damn familiar. You could almost hear the gears shifting in his head, and then his eyes widened comically as the realization set in.

"Hello Genma," the girl said in a saccharine tone. "Do you remember me? After all, we haven't seen each other for more than three years."

After hearing the voice that had been haunting him ever since Jusenkyo, Genma's face turned starch white and he started to shiver. "H-how…?"

Not giving him the chance to utter another word, the redhead tapped a paralysis pressure point in his neck, shutting him effectively up and leaving him unable to move a single muscle, except for his eyes.

"No, old man!" The girl exclaimed. "I don't want to hear any of your lies anymore. You're going to pay for all the shit you put Ranma through. But I won't kill you. I'll leave that honor to Ranma when he returns from China. In the meantime, I'll give you a little taste of what is to come once he gets his hands on your worthless carcass. In a sense I have to thank you for disowning Ranma. That act freed him from the repercussions of the shame and the dishonor you brought to the Saotome name."

While Mei was talking to Genma, the rest of the household, the three Tendo sisters and her father were intently listening to the redhead's speech and avidly watching the drama unfold in front of their eyes.

"But enough of that. Don't complain later on, you had had this coming for a long time," she told him nonchalantly, as if it weren't of importance.

The fight, if you could call it one, was brutally short. Genma, who was still paralyzed, didn't have a chance to retaliate or even defend himself, while Mei was pummeling him into unconsciousness. After the thorough beating had stopped, Genma was lying on the floor, bent into pretzel form. Mei then grabbed him by the lapel of his gi and punted him into LEO.

"And that's how you get rid of garbage," she explained.

When she saw the four people gaping at her with wide open eyes and unable to utter a single word, she asked them what their problem was. After they got out of their stupor, Kasumi made the presentations. "Mei, I'd like you to meet my family. My father, Soun Tendo, and my younger sisters, Nabiki and Akane."

Sound Tendo was somewhat out of shape but looked surprisingly fit and it was very difficult to assess his martial arts skills, but if what Kasumi told her earlier was true his skills have probably degraded it a lot from what they'd been in his prime

Nabiki was a very pretty girl, with short brown hair in a pageboy cut. She was wearing shorts and a green t-shirt with 'bad girl' written on it. She was lazily chewing some bubblegum and analyzing Mei with a calculating gleam in her eyes, making the young girl feel uncomfortable. She was in good shape, but obviously not a martial artist. She probably worked out regularly.

Akane had straight, long, bluish black hair tied together at the end with a ribbon. She was wearing a yellow blouse and a pleated red skirt reaching down to her knees. She was in really good shape but her thighs and arms were a little thick. She probably did a lot of weightlifting and her posture showed some skill in the art, but it was obvious she wasn't in Kasumi's league. She would have looked cute, if it weren't for the annoyed expression on her face. She was visibly pissed off about something, but Mei had no idea what it was.

"Family, I'd like you to meet Mei Kido, my newest friend. She saved me when I was attacked by a large group of "Stalking Tigers". If it hadn't been for her help I probably wouldn't be here. And I've invited her over for dinner to thank her. I hope you don't mind," she added cheerfully.

Soun was still rooted to the place mouth agape and unable to react. "Snap out of it, father," Kasumi told him while shaking him.

"Huh! What?" he asked, slowly coming to. "What happened just now?" After saying that he noticed the state his daughter was in and began to wail. "WAAAAAAH! MY BABY WAS HURT!"

"FATHER!" Kasumi shouted. "Stop it! You're making a scene. Mei saved me before anything bad could happen."

Mei looked incredulously at the middle-aged man, who was crying like a baby. The tears stopped almost immediately and Soun examined his daughter very thoroughly. Having made sure that Kasumi was all right, he turned to the redhead. "So what happened just now?"

"It looks to me like Kasumi's friend just got rid of a giant cockroach," Nabiki answered. "Good riddance if you ask me. I hope he'll stay gone."

"GENMAAAA!" the mustachioed man shouted and turned his attention to the redhead. "What did you do to my friend?" He asked in an angry voice, using his patented demon head technique.

"Hmm?" Mei asked negligently, not impressed in the slightest by the technique. "Oh, I just showed him the way out, just like Kasumi asked me to. With some luck you won't have to see his ugly mug anytime soon. And I have to say I'm rather surprised that you still call that lowlife your friend after the stunt he's pulled all those years ago. Not to mention the mooching he's been doing over these last three years."

"What are you talking about?" The perplexed Tendo patriarch asked the young girl.

"I'll show you," she said and rummaged through her backpack. "Ah, found them!" She took a set of scrolls out of the pack and handed them to the surprised elder man. "Take a look at those and tell me if you recognize them."

Sound opened the first scroll and had a shocked look on his face as he recognized the contents. "Those… those are the original scrolls containing our family techniques. Where… did you get them? They've been gone for years. I thought I had lost them." The mustachioed man stammered.

"Ranma found them in Genma's backpack after he sent him flying three years ago," Mei explained. "And your outburst just now confirmed my suspicions. You didn't give them to him willingly, right? And you still think of that waste of space as your friend?"

The man went into shock once again as realization slowly set in, but after shaking her father for a few moments Kasumi was able to snap him out of it.

A clearly disappointed and humbled Soun sighed. "I guess you're right. I know that he did some bad things in his youth and I'm ashamed to admit that I have been an accomplice in some of the larcenies and petty thefts he has committed in our youth, while we were training together. But we were weak and afraid of our master. But I got over it after we managed to get rid of the master and I've been deluding myself into thinking that it would be the same for him. I was probably in denial after having known him for all these years. Friendship often blinds, but I'm glad you managed to open my eyes."

"It was my pleasure. I'm always happy when people start seeing Genma for what he really is, a sorry excuse for a human being. But I have to admit that the scrolls were quite a find. The Tendo techniques are rather useful and they've really helped us improve our repertoire of martial arts techniques."

"I see," Soun answered in a calculating tone. "So, if Ranma knows the Tendo branch of Anything Goes, do you think he would mind teaching the Saotome branch to one of my girls? Genma and I made a pledge several years ago to unite both branches through marriage. But as Ranma isn't a Saotome anymore and after finally realizing what a kind of man Genma is, I declare the pledge null and void. But as Ranma now knows both schools it would be only fair if the heir to the Tendo branch knew them too. Don't you agree?"

"I don't have a problem with it. In fact, I've been thinking about taking Kasumi on as a student. She has a lot of untapped potential and could become one the greatest fighters in the world."

"Kasumi? An obviously surprised Soun Tendo asked. "But Akane is the heir of our school, not Kasumi."

"Oh?" Mei exclaimed, perplexed. "But even without seeing Akane fight I can already tell that Kasumi is a whole lot better. I'm not trying to insult your younger daughter's skill, but shouldn't the better fighter be the heir? "

Kasumi blushed after hearing Mei praise her skills and a vein popped out on Akane's forehead as she got angry and slowly started to glow as well as exude a slight aura.

Mei opened her mouth to add something, but was rudely interrupted by a verbal outburst from one of the Tendo sisters, namely Akane. "Hey you! What's the big idea? Barging into our home and attacking people? And then you start insulting my fighting skills. Who do you think you are? I could have beaten uncle Genma myself. This is my home and it's my job to defend it. You had no right to interfere with our business. And everyone knows that Kasumi is not a fighter and never will be."

While the dark-haired girl was verbally assaulting the redhead Nabiki once again started to appraise the young girl and to calculate the marketing value of the new arrival.

Kasumi interrupted Akane's rant. "That's quite enough Akane. Stop harassing my friend. Is that how you treat a guest? I for one am glad that he is gone. And I'm pretty sure Nabiki shares my feelings. Apologize to her immediately!" Kasumi ordered.

Akane harrumphed. "Why should I? I'm the best martial artist in Nerima and it's my job to protect the family. After all, I'm the heir of the Tendo branch of Anything Goes."

Mei raised an eyebrow after hearing this, scanned Akane's aura, and snorted. 'Hmm, a lot of strength but apparently not much control, especially over her emotions. She's had some basic training but probably hasn't been practicing her fighting skills regularly. She's a typical power fighter. Kasumi is clearly much better, so why isn't she the heir? I'll have to ask her later'.

"The best fighter in Nerima?" Mei enquired mockingly. "Don't make me laugh."

Akane got really angry after hearing the smaller girl badmouthing her skills. "What did you say? Care to repeat that? I AM the best martial artist in Nerima."

Mei shook her head incredulously. "Suuuure you are."

"THAT'S IT!" Akane shouted. "Let's take this to the dojo. I challenge you. Or are you too afraid to fight me?"

"Quite confident, aren't you? You should be more cautious as to who you are challenging. It can be rather unhealthy to provoke people that can wipe the floor with you. You're not even worth my time; but all right, I'll humor you. Maybe taking you down a peg or two will teach you some humility. Lead the way."

Mei followed Akane and the other Tendos into the dojo, looking completely relaxed and admiring once again the cleanliness of the house. Although the dojo was partially attached to the house they had go outside and follow a small cobbled path to the entrance. The dojo was decent sized and, just like the house, in excellent repair and well looked after. A small shrine built against one of the walls and several pole arms and the dojo sign were hung up on another one.

While Mei was walking into one corner Akane started to talk. "After I've won you'll leave and never come back, got it?" She asked the redhead.

"And what if I win?" Mei countered in an amused tone.

"There's no chance you'll win against me."

"That's your opinion. But it's hardly fair. Why should I be the only one to make a wager?"

Mei's calm tone irritated Akane even more. "Fine! Should you win I'll allow you to stay. But don't bother unpacking, I'll send you back on the road real fast."

Mei had to laugh out loud after hearing this. "You? Allow me to stay? As far as I know you're not the head of the house and this means that you don't have the authority to decide about that. But all right. I accept."

While Akane was doing some stretching and flexibility exercises Mei was calmly waiting in her corner looking bored, causing Akane's head to turn even redder. After Akane had finished her warm ups Kasumi approached the two fighters. "I'll be the judge of the fight if that's ok with everyone," she announced while thinking about the upcoming match. 'Akane, you should really learn to shut up sometimes. Oh well, you brought it onto yourself and maybe a beating will help curb your temper and teach you some much needed humility'.

Mei took a typical relaxed Anything Goes stance, hands behind her back and nonchalantly waiting for an attack.

"This is a best out of three fights. The first one who lands two hits on her opponent wins. HAJIME!"

Akane immediately launched a furious attack onto the redhead who easily dodged all of the angry girl's attacks while whistling a tune at the same time, infuriating the dark-haired teen even further. Akane overextended a punch and Mei simply sidestepped the attack and lightly tapped her on the back.

"First point goes to Mei," Kasumi said.

"Hey!" Akane objected. "That doesn't count. You cheated somehow. There's no way you could have hit me otherwise."

Mei rolled her eyes and Kasumi told Akane to stop arguing and concentrate on the fight if she didn't want to be disqualified.

Akane reluctantly calmed down, but inwardly she fumed. "HAJIME!" Kasumi shouted again.

Akane attacked in exactly the same way as before. Mei sighed and dodged once again. 'Oh god, how pathetic. Whoever taught her how to fight did an awful job at that. She lets her anger cloud her judgment and she forgets even the simplest fighting moves and kata. And she's the heir to the dojo? That's really sad. Oh well, let's finish this and show her the difference between a real fighter and a wannabe martial artist'.

"This is pathetic," the redhead exclaimed and Akane stopped attacking for a moment. "What are you doing? You call this fighting? I've rarely seen sloppier attacks than yours. You let your anger get the better of you and forget even the simplest fighting techniques. I don't know who your teacher was, but he obviously did a very bad job. You're not even worth my time. With an heir like you the future of the dojo does look rather bleak."

"WHAT?" Akane shouted venomously, steam coming out of her ears. "How dare you!" 'I'll put all my strength into the next punch; she'll never be able to block that one', Akane thought as she launched her attack, but Mei simply grabbed her arm and threw her into the dojo wall.

"Second point to Mei. The match is over," Kasumi announced as Akane remained lying on the floor of the dojo, unconscious.

"WAAAAH! MY BABY GIRL!" Soun cried. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY LITTLE GIRL?" he asked the redhead, using his demon head technique one again. And once again Mei wasn't impressed and simply popped the demon head with her right index finger.

"Mr. Tendo. Akane wanted the match and I gave it to her. It's not my fault she's incapable of judging her opponent's skill. She should really start from scratch. She has some potential, but if she doesn't learn to control her temper she'll never be able to improve," Mei told him.

Soun calmed down immediately, but wasn't able to hide the shame he felt for his violent and unjust outburst.

"I-I'm sorry," Soun apologized to Mei. "I shouldn't have flown of the handle. It's just that… I love my girls and I couldn't stand if anything happened to them. They are all I have left after my wife…"Soun started to sob. Kasumi took him in her arms and calmed him down.

"Dad! I know you've had a hard time getting over mom's death, but that isn't an excuse to shout at Mei. I'm sure you didn't mean to and just wanted to defend Akane. But she started the fight and it's really not Mei's fault that Akane can't control her temper and constantly lashes out at everybody. Mei hasn't been here for more than half an hour and has already realized this. You can't be that dense not to have noticed Akane's violent temper. What will we do once she loses control and kills someone in anger?" Kasumi asked her father in a very serious tone. "We can consider ourselves lucky that the hentai horde is attacking Akane and not the other way round, or their parents would have filed more than one lawsuit against us due to the number of boys Akane has sent to hospital."

After hearing this, the middle-aged man sighed. "You're right of course. I've been overreacting once again. Okay Mei; you won fair and square and I'll honor the wager Akane made with you. You're welcome to stay here."

Kasumi smiled after hearing his. "See Mei, now you won't have to camp out in the park or find a hotel room."

Mei bowed to the assembled Tendos, minus Akane who was still out cold. "Thank you for your offer and I gladly accept. But I don't want to be a freeloader like the panda, so I'll pay for my stay and help with the household chores. After all, it's not right that Kasumi should do all the work around here, especially since she'll have a lot less leisure time if she should accept to become my student. I've told you earlier that she has a lot of potential, and I really mean it. It would be an honor to teach her."

"You really mean it?" the eldest Tendo daughter asked with a grin on her face that indicated she felt like Christmas had come early for her.

"Of course. I think you have what it takes to become one of the greatest fighters in the world. I'll have to evaluate your skills first but I'm pretty sure I won't be disappointed. But I must warn you; my training is harsh and I don't want you to complain later on. Take some time to think about it before you give me a definite answer. It's an important decision for the future, as once you become my official student I won't let you quit until you've mastered the techniques I'll teach you. It will be difficult, but I promise you that it will be worth it," the red haired girl told her potential student.

Kasumi's face lit up and it was easy to see she was very happy after hearing the redhead making the offer. "How come you haven't told me of this before?" She asked.

"I wanted to observe you some more and wait until your wound was completely healed, but what I've seen so far is very promising. That's why I make this offer so soon. Think about it for an hour or two and talk to your family before you give me an answer. But don't let them dictate your life for you. In the end it's your decision, and they'll have to accept it."

"You're right," Kasumi answered, "I'll give you my answer after dinner."

Having heard this Soun turned to face the redhead. "Kasumi?" Soun asked. "Why would you want to train Kasumi? She's not a martial artist. She stopped practicing martial arts years ago."

"Father," Kasumi stammered unsurely. "I'm sorry I haven't told you before but I picked up the art again a few months after Genma's arrival, because I had hoped I'd be able to become strong enough to get rid of him. I haven't told you because I know how emotional you become if you think that one of us might get hurt. I'm really sorry. But I do want to continue. I shouldn't have quit after mother's death, but I decided then that someone needed to take care of the family as you weren't up to it."

Soun's eyes widened visibly and he sighed once more. "I understand. I'm disappointed that you haven't told me about this, but I'm glad you have found something in your life that you enjoy to do apart from cooking and other household chores. And you couldn't have made a better choice. I have been somewhat overprotective after your mother's death, haven't I? But you're right. You're old enough to decide for yourself what you want to do with your lift and so am I. I've been grieving over your mother's death long enough and it's time that I resume my duties as your father.

Turning his gaze back to Mei he continued, "Thank you for opening my eyes about Genma's dishonesty. I was a fool for ever having trusted him. I think that I can finally go on with my life."

At this both Nabiki and Kasumi stared at their father, mouths agape and not believing their ears.

A genuine smile graced Kasumi's as she hugged her father once again. "Thank you father. You have no idea how much this means to me."

Mr. Tendo then turned to Mei. "Let me welcome you to my home young lady. You may stay as long as you want. I'm sure you'll like it here; Kasumi is an excellent cook.

"I can't wait to taste her cooking. She already told me that she loves to cook. And as cooking is also one of my hobbies I'd love to help her in the kitchen. Maybe we could even exchange recipes."

"I'd like that," Kasumi told her. "Let me show you the way."

Mei followed Kasumi into the kitchen whereas Soun and Nabiki decided to check on Akane, who was slowly coming to.

"Oooh, what hit me?"

"A cute little redhead I'd say," Nabiki told her with a smirk on her face.

"Nabiki, don't tease your sister!" Soun chided his middle daughter. "Her pride must be wounded enough as is."

"Maybe now she'll think twice before attacking someone who's obviously much stronger than herself. It was time someone took her down a peg or two," Nabiki retorted.

Soun helped Akane up. "How are you feeling? Are you hurt?" Mr. Tendo asked Akane in a slightly worried tone.

But apparently Akane hadn't been hurt that badly as she had enough energy to go into ranting mode. "Where is that bitch? She must have cheated. That's the only way she could have won. I'm the best martial artist in Nerima. I demand a rematch. I'll show her who n° 1 is. That's what you get for going easy on your opponents. Next fight she's going down… and hard."

'She hasn't learnt anything from this fiasco', Nabiki and Soun thought while Akane was blowing off some more steam.

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Back in the kitchen Mei was helping Kasumi put the purchases away except for the produce they needed for the evening meal. Mei was impressed by the cleanliness of the kitchen. Obviously Kasumi knew how to take care of her home.

"So, what are we going to cook?" The redhead eagerly asked the brunette.

"Sukiyaki," Kasumi answered.

"All right. That's something I know how to cook at least. I learnt cooking in China and I mainly know Chinese recipes, but I'm able to prepare several Japanese dishes, and sukiyaki is one of them," Mei explained.

"That's good. I won't have to tell you what to do then. Could you clean and cut the vegetables while I cut the meat and prepare the sauce, please?" Kasumi politely asked her newfound friend.

"Sure thing, Kasumi," Mei answered happily. Having washed the vegetables Mei threw them in the air, took two knives and started cutting and slashing faster than the eye could see. 5 seconds later the vegetables landed on a plate properly peeled and diced.

And once again Kasumi was speechless at seeing her new friend's skill. 'How did she do that'? She wondered and hoped that Mei would teach her.

Seeing Kasumi's reaction Mei had to grin. "Don't worry. If you follow my teachings you'll be able to do the same very soon. I'll evaluate your skills tomorrow and see where to go from there. I did an aura scan earlier and as I've already told you before you have tremendous potential, much more than Akane. I'm pretty sure you won't disappoint me."

"I have no problem with that. Let's get back to cooking. My questions about the training can easily wait until tomorrow. Tonight I'd like to get to know my new friend better if you don't mind."

Mei smiled at her. "Sure thing; my thoughts exactly."

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While the two girls were consolidating their newfound friendship in the kitchen, Soun and his two younger daughters were sitting in the living room and talking about Kasumi's new friend; all three of them were still trying to come to grips with what had happened earlier. The Tendo patriarch was sitting in front of the table deep in thought. Akane had calmed down, but she wasn't able to successfully hide her feelings, and she obviously wasn't very happy with the situation. Nabiki on the other hand seemed completely indifferent, having embraced her Ice Queen persona and waiting for her father to initiate the conversation.

"So, what do the two of you think about Mei? I for one am very impressed with the skills our new guest has shown, especially with how fast and efficiently she was able to defeat Genma, a master of Anything Goes, even if she managed to take him by surprise. She has obviously been training for a long time under excellent teachers. And I'm pretty sure she has only shown us a small part of her skills," Soun stated.

"She was just lucky. I was unprepared," Akane huffed.

"Suuuuuure," Nabiki retorted sarcastically. "And pigs can fly. Face it sis, Mei is simply better than you, even if you don't want to admit it. It's really time for you to get off your high horse and face reality. You have to accept that there are people younger than you that are also better martial artists. Why don't you simply accept your loss and maybe ask her to train you? After all, she'll be training Kasumi so she probably wouldn't mind another student."

"I don't need her help. I'm the best and I'll prove it to you, to dad, and to everyone else. I'll beat her next time," she bragged and stomped off to her room.

"Where did I go wrong with her?" The Tendo patriarch whined.

"Do you really want me to answer that?" Nabiki asked. "It started when you decided to abandon your parental duties after mom's death. We had to fend for ourselves while you were wallowing in self pity. All of this could have been avoided if you had put more effort into pulling yourself out of your funk and helping us. After Genma's arrival you got some of your old fire back, and we had hoped that the old you would come back, but as soon as you heard about Ranma's so-called demise you fell even deeper into depression. And when you started listening to the damn panda and his harebrained 'get rich quickly' schemes you reached a new low. There's also the fact that Akane herself hasn't gotten over mom's death yet, although it's been 7 years now. You should have been the one comforting her and help her get over the pain. We tried, but it was clear we didn't really get through to her. It's the role of the adults to comfort their children after all. And when you stopped training her she felt betrayed and that is probably the origin of her deep-rooted anger and her temper problems. But earlier, when I saw how easily Mei handled Genma and your reaction… I'm glad to see that you've managed to overcome your grief. And I hope that you'll stay with us from now on and not have a relapse."

"I-I'll try. I can't promise you, but I'll try my best," he said in a confident tone.

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In the meantime Mei had joined them and started setting the table. "Could you tell me where my seat is, please?" She asked.

"Maybe you could sit next to Kasumi. You're friends after all," Soun answered.

Mei nodded and as Soun showed her the seating order Kasumi appeared and asked Nabi to fetch Akane. Kasumi and Mei then returned to the kitchen and came back a few moments later, their arms laden with platters of food. The family plus one sat down after Akane had arrived and dug in. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and have a good time, except for Akane who glared at Mei from time to time before continuing to eat.

"Mmmmmm… delicious," Nabiki said. "I have to say you outdid yourself today Kasumi. This is excellent." The others around the table nodded.

"You should thank Mei too. She's helped a lot. She really knows how to cook and you should have seen how fast and efficiently she prepared the vegetables."

"If that's the case, thanks a lot Mei. This is really great." Nabiki then turned to Akane. "See sis, she's a better martial artist AND a better cook. You should really ask her to teach you."

"Shut up Nabiki!" Akane angrily shouted before glaring at Mei. "I'll show you. I'll prepare lunch tomorrow. And then we'll see who the better cook is."

The redhead looked surprised when she saw the other Tendos pale.

"So Mei", how about telling us a bit about yourself and the adventures you've had during your travels?" Nabiki asked, trying to avoid another outburst from Akane.

"Yes, I'm rather curious myself and would like to learn more about yourself and the different fighting techniques you picked up during your travels," Soun told her, and from the eager look Kasumi was giving the redhead it was easy to surmise that she too wanted to hear her story.

Mei obliged. "Where should I start? There's so much to tell. I've loved martial arts since I was little and I've always been a quick study. My parents died when I was nine and as nothing held me back home I decided to hit the road and travel across the country to perfect my fighting skills and learn everything I could about martial arts. I challenged different dojos and stayed at those that were able to teach me new techniques and styles, and I learned a lot. But I didn't just concentrate on martial arts; I also visited temples to learn more about meditation and some esoteric arts. I even learned some moxibustion, shiatsu, and other pressure point disciplines. That's how I managed to paralyze Genma by the way. I'm not sure if I could have beaten him without resorting to that tactic. He is a tricky bastard after all and I'm pretty sure he still knows some dangerous fighting techniques he never taught Ranma.

I met Ranma and Genma several months after I'd begun my journey. Both of them were sparring when I found them and I was impressed. I challenged Ranma to a duel but he didn't accept at first and told me he didn't fight girls. He didn't really mean it though, but it was a remnant of the conditioning he had to endure under Genma's 'care' who constantly hammered into him that women were weak and only good for giving birth and doing housework. I got angry of course and attacked him. When he realized that he wouldn't have as easy a time as he had imagined he took me seriously and we fought for more than 15 minutes until we were both exhausted and decided to call it quits, declaring the match a draw. He apologized afterwards for not taking me seriously but after I got to know Genma better I was able to understand where he came from. Having someone like that as his only role model for his whole life… well you can imagine that it isn't easy. I was even more surprised that he had turned out so well, what with his upbringing. He told me had pretty much stopped listening to Genma after the nekoken disaster. The nekoken is a supposedly unbeatable fighting technique but has been banned for centuries. The training is quite easy. You take a child no older than ten, wrap it in fish products and throw it into a pit filled with starving cats. Then you repeat as often as needed, until the trainee has either learned the technique or died while trying."

After hearing this, the Tendos looked appalled and shocked; even Akane's face had a rather greenish tint to it.

"How… how could he do something like that?" A horrified Kasumi asked.

"Because he's a moron, that's why," the young girl continued. "Suffices to say it was a fiasco. Oh yes, Ranma learnt the technique, but at what cost? Only about 1 in 10 people survive the training and of those very few manage to keep their sanity intact. You see, the goal of the technique is to create an unstoppable berserker. Those who survive are traumatized in such a way that even the sight of a cat is enough to have them run away in fear. If they can't get away or are cornered they see only one way to deal with the fear, turning into a cat themselves. Their mind regresses to that of a cat and they behave just like one, becoming fierce and ruthless fighters that attack anything they consider a threat. They are able to produce ki claws that shred the toughest steel like paper.

None of the cats in the pit survived the onslaught after Ranma entered the nekoken, and after a prodigious jump, Ranma got out of the pit and started to chase Genma around, trying to kill him. Thank God there was an old lady in the vicinity that managed to calm him down. Only someone the nekoken victim trusts or doesn't see as a menace can get it out of that state. The old woman probably radiated an aura of peace and Ranma didn't feel threatened. Ranma jumped onto her knees and let her pet him until he dozed off. After Ranma woke up he was back to normal. Ranma took the nekoken manual from Genma and read it. The manual itself stated that only a moron would teach the technique and that the technique had been banned by every serious martial arts school for centuries.

I noticed right away that he was uncomfortable telling me about that. And I understood why after he told me more about his life and the irresponsible and dangerous training regimes Genma had put him through. For instance, tying him to a train to increase his speed, leaving him tied up near a nest of angry wasps to have him train his evasion skills… I wouldn't wish that torture onto my worst enemies.

I on the other hand told him of my own experiences, which were of course laughable compared to what he had had to endure and he even envied me for having had parents that loved me. He sounded really bitter and somewhat wishful when he confessed to me his feelings on that matter. After telling each other our life stories we became fast friends and started training together. He taught me Anything Goes and other martial arts he'd learned over the years and I taught him some techniques he didn't know as well as some pressure points and meditation techniques. Genma always said that meditating was a waste of time but I'm sure he only wanted to keep Ranma from thinking too much. After all, if Ranma were able to focus better he'd probably start to think… and Genma couldn't control him any longer. You can guess that he wasn't really that happy that Ranma started listening to me more than to him and so I wasn't really surprised when he left with Ranma two months later while I was sleeping.

But as I didn't want to lose my friend and favorite sparring partner, the only one I had, I followed them and we trained secretly together. One of my sensei had taught me how to hide my aura and as Genma wasn't actively scanning his surroundings, not expecting anyone to follow them I had an easy time tailing them. Then there was the highlight of the training journey and probably one of Genma's most stupid ideas, the trip to China. Genma decided that they should swim to China instead of taking a boat, saying that it was a great exercise. In my opinion he was simply too cheap to pay for the boat fare. I wasn't stupid enough to imitate them, but I had not much money and so I hid on the boat and traveled as a stowaway. I reached China faster than they did and waited for them at the spot they would arrive. Ranma had told me beforehand where they were supposed to land and so I didn't have much trouble finding them. Genma was really surprised to see me waiting there, but he couldn't do anything to keep me from following them; so he simply decided to ignore me.

Several days later we arrived at Jusenkyo. Genma and Ranma started sparring, jumping from bamboo pole to bamboo pole until Ranma kicked his father into one of the springs. Before Genma could get back to his feet Ranma jumped off the pole and joined me. We were flabbergasted when a panda jumped out of the pool Genma fell in. The Jusenkyo guide then told us more about the place and the curses; he then showed us how the magic worked and that it was possible to reverse the changes. This wasn't enough to calm the panda down and he blamed me for his stupidity, saying that ever since they had met me trouble seemed to follow them. Then he started insulting me, calling me names like slut and bitch and he even tried to hit me. That was when I Ranma lost it for the first time since I've known him and he kicked his father into a tree with so much force that went right through it and landed on the ground rather hard. After Genma regained consciousness he forbade Ranma to ever see me again. Ranma refused and the asshole threatened to disown Ranma if he didn't comply. I was shocked that Ranma treasured our friendship so much that he was willing to become a ronin and my respect for him rose another notch. I told both of them to calm down but Genma didn't want to hear anything and Ranma didn't believe Genma would go through with his threat. Genma wasn't probably thinking right at that moment and cast Ranma out of the Saotome clan. To say that Ranma was shocked is an understatement. Ranma was devastated at first but then got so angry that he punched Genma into LEO.

Ranma started to cry for the first time in years and I did everything I could to calm him down I managed to do it, cursing Genma for doing this to him. Afterwards we decided to leave and we took Genma's traveling pack with us. Thinking about it I figured that it was maybe for the best, as he didn't have to suffer under his father's idiotic teachings any longer or having to steal food and valuables. We became a family and we've never regretted it. From that day one we treated each other as siblings and decided to stay and train together. We found some really interesting martial arts scrolls in Genma's backpack, even some he wrote himself."

Hearing that Soun gasped and everyone turned to look at him. "Would that be the umisenken and the yamasenken techniques?" He asked.

"Yes, indeed," Mei answered, surprised. "How do you know of them?"

"Well, Genma told me about a set of techniques he had been developing in secret while we were training together in our youth, but they were still unfinished at that time. The subject didn't came up when he came back from China and I forgot all about them. So he managed to perfect them. I don't know much about them, just that they are very dangerous," the Tendo patriarch explained.

"You're right about that. I haven't seen him use the moves but he must have resorted to them for some of his thefts or else he would have been caught. But Ranma and I decided to never use them for that," Mei retorted. "I won't show them to you nor teach them, but they enable us to hide our ki signature, practically becoming invisible, create vacuum blades or even rip the hearts out of people's bodies. Trust me when I say they are dangerous."

The Tendos were stunned by this information and an uncomfortable silence set in. Never before had they heard of techniques capable of doing that. Soun had to think about his master and was glad that Ranma and Mei were honorable people, shuddering at the thought of Happosai knowing them. But then, he probably knew even more dangerous techniques.

Mei didn't like the skeptical looks the two youngest Tendo daughters were giving her and she decided to continue with the story. "After we got rid of the Panda the guide suggested we visit the Joketsuzoku village that was nearby. I thought it would be best to stay in the guide's hut for the night as Ranma wasn't emotionally stable enough for the trip yet. The following day we thanked the guide and took our leave. We arrived at the village late that afternoon, but there was a lot of commotion, and a flow of armed women entering and leaving the village. Apparently there had been a visitor the day before who took advantage of their hospitality and ran off with two bags full of food, several precious stones and some jewelry. Three guesses as to who the thief was. You can imagine that they were somewhat wary of us at first, but after we told them what we knew about Genma and what he'd done to Ranma over the years they took pity on us and allowed us to stay. At first we only wanted to stay for the night and buy some supplies, but after we saw them train and spar we were awed. Just imagine; a village full of skilled warriors. That's every martial artist's dream. We asked the matriarch who had welcomed us if they'd agree to teach us, but she refused at first, telling us that only amazons were allowed to learn their special techniques.

Later Ranma and I were sparring and several amazons were watching. The matriarch was impressed and agreed to teach us the basics of amazon wushu if we taught the young amazon warriors some basic moves from our own styles. We agreed of course and over the next few days we learned a lot from them. But then something awful happened. We were exploring outside of the village when we saw 2 teenage girls being raped by a group of 4 men clad in furs. We later learnt that they were members of the Musk tribe, a patriarchal tribe that has had a continuous feud with the amazons for several centuries. We saw red and attacked the rapists, incapacitating them. The village was very grateful and we became allies to the tribe and the matriarch taught us their most secret fighting techniques herself.

We stayed with the amazons for the next two years and decided to travel through China in order to locate the martial arts schools and temples Genma robbed and give them back the rather large collection of scrolls we found in Genma's pack. There was unfortunately nothing we could do about the valuables that were stolen. Most understood that Ranma was not to blame and some even taught us techniques we didn't know yet. After finishing our business Ranma returned to the amazons as there was one technique he wanted to learn, but I decided to come back to Japan earlier to take care of some personal business. Ranma will probably meet me here in a few months.

Shortly after arriving in Nerima I witnessed the fight between Kasumi and the thugs that had attacked her and jumped in to help her. That's how we met and she invited me to dinner.

And that's about the gist of it," finished Mei and inwardly grinned at seeing the shocked faces around her.

There was a minute of silence while the Tendos were busy coming to grips with what they´d just heard, and Soun was the first to react. "Well, that's quite a story you have told us. I'm impressed. Both of you have already gone through so much at such a young age. I can't even imagine how you must have felt. But I'm glad that something good has come of that and that you dad found someone to comfort you. Don't you agree, children?"

Kasumi and Nabiki nodded, but Akane sneered. "So what!" she said venomously and left the table. The other members of the family sighed at her immature behavior.

"I'm sorry about my daughter's lack of manners," Soun apologized.

"No need to do that," the redhead answered. "I don't hold her reaction against you."

She then addressed Kasumi. "Let's clean up and wash the dishes. We can talk some more afterwards."

Kasumi agreed and both of them got to work. Nabiki turned on the TV and Soun read a newspaper. Kasumi and Mei were chatting in the kitchen while cleaning up. They prepared tea and rejoined the others in the living room. They talked some more and Mei went to the dojo for her evening training. Kasumi joined her shortly thereafter and was once again impressed by the younger girl's prowess.

"Kasumi," Mei called out to her prospective student after finishing her katas, "At want time do you get up in the morning?"

"I usually get up at 6 a.m.," she answered.

Mei nodded. "That will do for tomorrow. As you've still not completely recovered from the stab wound I'll start off the day with explaining to you exactly what I will teach you. And afterwards I want you to tell me if you accept what I'm proposing or not. Could you show me my room, please? I still have to unpack."

"No problem. Just follow me. You can have Genma's old room. It's spacious enough and he won't need it any longer. "

They talked some more and Mei went to be a short time later."

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The next morning Mei got up at 5 a.m. like every day and stretched her limbs while she was trying to get rid of the least remnants of her sleepiness. She got up and grabbed a change of clothes before going to the furo, not even bothering to wear a robe over her blue negligee.

She filled the furo and while she was waiting for the bath to be ready she got out of her negligee and lathered up. After the furo was filled she closed the tap and entered the hot water.

'If Kasumi accepts the training I'll have to tell her the truth. This is too important to keep from her. I hope she won't call me a freak like some people did. There's a reason why I don't want people to know. But I'm pretty sure I can count on her. There isn't any malice in her aura and she even got rid of the anger that had been developing over the last few years. Probably because I got rid of Genma. Poor girl. She must have suffered a lot and the rest of the family as well'.

Just as Mei had finished pondering and was climbing out of the furo the door opened.

"Oh my!" Kasumi exclaimed, as she saw a black haired boy standing in front of her.

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(1) Pretty much similar to Shampoo's hair style

Posted: 01/01/2008