The Ultimate Technique - Chapter 3 - Akane

By Mike Breslau

Disclaimer: Better folks than I own most of the characters that appear in this scribbling.


"Ranma, this is all your fault," exclaimed Akane without the passion
that such a remark usually warranted. School was over for the day and
they were walking back to the Tendo home.

"What da ya mean? What is it this time?" responded Ranma calmly.

Akane groped for words. "I feel so calm whenever you're around - and I'm
not used to feeling calm. For ten years all I felt was angry! Now I'm
lost - I don't know what to do - I can't adjust to feeling peaceful."

"I have the same problem, 'Kane, only worse. I'm not used to being
tranquil either. My life has always been danger and hardship, action
before thought, and striving to get better. Now I don't fear anything,
and I think before acting. I even stay awake in school! Sometimes I miss
the old me..."

"So you're lost too. You seemed so sure of yourself..." Akane paused in
thought. "Can you just damp down your serenity effect? We would both
feel more normal then."

"I guess I can try." Ranma's tranquilizing influence faded, but did not
completely disappear. They resumed walking to the Tendo home.

After a few minutes, Akane tentatively asked, "Would you be willing to
train me in martial arts? I'll never be as good as you - I recognize
that now - but I'd like to improve my skills."

Ranma scratched behind his head. "I don' have a license to teach yet,
but we could spar, and I could give you pointers. The next time Happosai
shows up I'll try ta get a license from him." Akane beamed at him and
they continued walking.

Ranma suddenly stopped. "Ryoga is gonna attack me in two minutes. I want
you to stay out of it, but study the fight carefully and see what you
can learn."

Akane wanted to ask how he could be sure, but she remembered that Ranma
could see a few minutes into the future. That would be a tremendous
advantage for a martial artist.

Ryoga appeared right on schedule, yelling the predictable, "Ranma,
prepare to die!" The fight was on, fast and furious.

Akane was taking notes. Ranma didn't do anything (this time) to provoke
Ryoga. I wonder why I never noticed that before. Ryoga attacked Ranma
first. Ryoga was going all-out, with intent to kill or at least maim.
Ranma was dodging almost everything, blocking only when Ryoga's attack
might endanger passersby or property. He wasn't using any of his new
techniques, except possibly precognition. Ranma was enjoying himself -
playing a game he was the master of. Ryoga was simply feeling angry.
It's amazing how graceful and fluid Ranma's motions are. Akane had much
to think about.

Ryoga was getting frustrated. His aura turned green as he gathered his
ki into his hands. "Shi shi..." Ryoga's signature attack fizzled out as
a profound feeling of calm overcame him. He stopped in confusion.

Ranma clapped Ryoga on the shoulder. "That was a good workout, old
friend, but you need to work on self-control a bit more. You can hurt
innocent bystanders with your wild shots."

Ryoga, wondering why his anger had gone away, merely nodded. He was lost
in thought - an unfamiliar territory.

Ranma turned to Akane. "Go on home please. I want to talk to Ryoga
alone."

Akane left the scene, feeling slightly resentful, curious, and
thoughtful.

Ranma spoke quietly. "Ryoga, I recently learned a new technique that
lets me understand a lot of things much better now. I have control over
my Jusenkyo curse and the nekoken, and I think I can help you."

"Prove it," said Ryoga, somewhat belligerently.

Ranma shrugged and changed into Ranko, a tiger, a duplicate of Ryoga,
and back into himself.

Ryoga took a minute to collect his lower jaw and then his wits. "How?"

"When I'm exposed to magic I can sense how it works, and that lets me
figure out how to control it. I know I can cure your curse, and I might
be able to help with your sense of direction - but there's a price..."

"You know I haven't much money, Ranma."

"Nothin' so easy as money, pal. I want you to come clean to Akane - tell
her about P-chan and apologize for taking advantage of her. I want this
blot on your honor and mine removed. Then I'll remove your curse."

Ryoga paled. "She'll kill me...and then she'll hate me forever."

"Not if I'm around. I can shut off her fury and your fear."

"Yeah, I noticed that. Another new technique?"

"Yup. Nobody can fight me in anger unless I want them to. "

"So you were just using me for sparring practice?"

Ranma sighed. "I killed Saffron, and I beat Herb. Happosai and Cologne
can't touch me. How am I going to keep up my martial arts skills without
somebody to challenge me?"

Ryoga was feeling inadequate. He sighed. "No time like the present, I
suppose. Will you lead me there?"

Ranma nodded and led Ryoga by the hand. They found Akane working out in
the dojo. Ranma stayed outside to give the two of them the illusion of
privacy and he intensified his aura of serenity.

Inside the dojo Ryoga waited until Akane had finished her kata.
Gathering his courage, he said, "Akane, there's something I should have
told you a long time ago. You see, I too have a Jusenkyo curse."

Akane's eyes opened in surprise and shock. "What do you turn into?"

"A little black pig," Ryoga answered sadly. "A pig with a yellow and
black bandana."

It took a moment to sink in. "P-chan? You are my pet P-chan?"

Ryoga nodded. "I should have told you earlier, but I was afraid you'd
hate me."

Akane was surprised at how little anger she was feeling. "You saw me
naked. You listened to all my secrets. You used me, Ryoga."

"I never peeped at you or saw you naked, but what I did wasn't
honorable."

"Why?" asked Akane, feeling somewhat stunned.

"Because I was and I am in love with you, and I hated Ranma. I'm sorry
that I wasn't thinking clearly."

"Oh." He's in love with me? Why don't I hate him? "Ryoga, why didn't
Ranma tell me? He must have known..."

"I made him promise not to tell anyone - martial artist's honor. Then I
used his promise against him. I shouldn't have done that." Ryoga hung
his head.

Akane's mind was aswirl with emotions, overlaid with Ranma's calming
influence. Quietly, she said, "Go away, Ryoga, at least for a few days.
I need time to sort things out. I hope that someday we can be friends
again."

Ryoga left the dojo with his heart mildly shattered. The depression he
felt was greatly reduced by Ranma's serenity effect - and he sort of
missed it, like an old friend who had gone away.

Ranma was waiting for him, holding two glasses of water, one frosted and
one steaming. "Would you like to do the honors?"

"Is it done already? I didn't feel anything."

Ranma threw the cold water at his friend. Ryoga got wet, but didn't
change. He examined his hands - he was still human. Ranma then tossed
the hot water . Ryoga felt warm, and still didn't change. He began to
dance around in jubilation.

Ranma let his friend enjoy himself for a minute, then he produced a
towel and dried them both off. He led Ryoga into the Tendo-ke to speak
with the middle daughter. "Nabiki, I want you to get a portable GPS
device for Ryoga. Put it on my tab."

Ryoga scratched his head. "What's a GPS?"

"It's an electronic sense of direction, very useful for folks like you,"
answered Nabiki. "I'm ashamed that I didn't think of it myself."

Ryoga looked elated. "All my problems are fixed in only a few minutes.
It's a miracle! I'll be able to find my home, I can go to school..." His
jubilation was short lived. "I'll have to make up for all the schooling
I've missed..." he concluded sadly.

"You win some, you lose some," observed Nabiki.

The next morning Kuno was waiting in the middle of the schoolyard, boken
brandished majestically as usual, so Ranma could humiliate him as usual.

"Hold, foul sorcerer! Today you shall receive your just deserts."

Ranma asked Akane, "Did he just call me a fowl sorcerer?"

She replied, "No, I think he offered to feed you after-dinner sweets."

Ranma gestured. Instead of holding a boken, Kuno's right hand now
grasped the neck of a rubber chicken.

Kuno threw down the rubber fowl. "What vile obscenity is this?" He
reached into his hakama to withdraw a spare boken, and emerged
brandishing a yellow rubber ducky bath-toy.

"I guess I'm a fowl sorcerer after all," remarked Ranma calmly. "It's
nice to have mastered the Jusenkyo curses." They proceeded into school
without further incident.

Kuno didn't go anywhere for a while - each of his feet weighed more than
two tons. This didn't stop him from ranting until after the late bell
rang.

In the middle of the second period Tatewaki burst into Ranma's
classroom, yelling incoherently. The nearest window opened itself.
Tatewaki ran across the room and jumped out the window, ranting all the
while. The window closed itself.

Ranma apologized to the teacher. "Sorry for the interruption, Sensei.
Some people just can't take a hint."

In the middle of the fourth period a bandaged Tatewaki burst into
Ranma's classroom, yelling imprecations. Again, the nearest window
opened itself. Tatewaki ran across the room and jumped out the window,
yelling all the while. The window closed itself.

Ranma apologized to the teacher. "Sorry for the interruption again,
Sensei. Kuno just won't learn." The rest of the school day passed
quietly.

After school a heavily bandaged Kuno was waiting for Ranma again,
brandishing a white lily (that used to be a boken). "Argh - your evil
magic will not defeat the mighty Blue Thunder! I fight on!" He threw
down the flower, reached for yet another spare weapon, and emerged with
a bag of marbles. In frustration Kuno threw the marbles at Ranma, who
allowed them to pass harmlessly through himself.

"Oh look," observed Akane, "Kuno's lost his marbles!"

Kuno lost consciousness shortly thereafter.

That evening Happosai returned to the Tendo-ke bearing a large sack of
"silky darlings" and cackling in glee.

Ranma was waiting for him with his arms crossed across his chest. Genma
and the Tendos had gathered to serve as an audience. "Happosai, I
challenge you."

The ancient pervert stopped short. Ranma seemed unusually sure of
himself, something was up that boded no good. He tossed his sack into a
corner. "What are your terms?"

Ranma answered solemnly, "If you win I will do anything you ask for a
full year, and I will not challenge you again for two years. If I win
you will designate me grandmaster of the school of anything goes, you
will have the title of master or grandmaster emeritus, and for the next
year you will not visit the Tendos or the Saotomes without an explicit
invitation."

Happosai was astonished at the temerity of this young man. Those were
big stakes indeed. He smelled a trap, but he could not decline without
losing face. "Okay, you're on." He assumed a loose stance.

Ranma wore a Nabiki-like smile - the kind that would make a shark
envious. He produced a blindfold and held it out. "First you can tie
this on me, to improve your chances somewhat."

Happosai was getting nervous. Ranma was certainly cocksure. He examined
the blindfold carefully and tied it around Ranma's head.

Ranma stood and turned around so he was facing away from Happosai.
"Begin!"

Happosai was not really surprised when Ranma gracefully dodged his first
few punches and kicks even though he couldn't see them coming. He took
his ki-charged pipe and swung in a way that would be hard to duck. The
pipe went through Ranma's body without meeting any resistance. Happosai
found himself clutching a handful of wet udon noodles where his pipe
used to be. Now he was getting nervous - he might lose. In desperation,
he tried to throw a pair of fireball bombs - but they wouldn't leave his
hands for some reason. Two explosions later Happosai was charred and
stunned.

Ranma turned around to face his opponent. He gestured. Something grabbed
Happosai's left ankle and hauled it ten feet in the air, leaving the
ancient master dangling upside down and helpless.

Happosai extended his senses to try to see what Ranma was using. He felt
neither ki nor magic. Worse, a slowly increasing pressure was forcing
the air out of his lungs. Happosai had to choose between defeat and
death with dishonor. "I yield, you win," he croaked. He was gently
lowered to the ground and raised to an upright position.

Soun and Genma began a victory dance, but were quickly stopped by a
glare from Ranma, who had removed his blindfold. "Leave the former
grandmaster with a little dignity," he commanded.

Ranma and Happosai entered the dining room. Nabiki was waiting for them
with documents that would formalize the transfer of grandmastership and
give Ranma his license to teach. Happosai grumbled, but he signed.

"Ranma, you used techniques that aren't from any school I know of. Where
did you learn them?" asked Happosai.

"From Nabiki, the mistress of all information. She taught me an ultimate
technique."

"Nabiki taught you?" Astonishment was evident in Happosai's voice.

Ranma nodded. Nabiki smirked.

The very next evening Akane happily emerged from the kitchen bearing a
tray full of misshapen hockey pucks. "Ranma, I made some cookies for you
to thank you for teaching me for real."

Even the Buddha could not remain calm in the presence of Akane's
cooking. Ranma bigsweatted and looked over her offering with a jaundiced
eye. At least they were sort of round. "What kind of cookies are these?"

"They're gingerbread cookies, and they're good," Akane assured him.

Ranma merely raised an eyebrow Spocklike.

"Well, the ginger kept rolling off the bread, so I had to use some
mustard to make it stay on. Go on, try one..."

Gently, Ranma asked, "Have you tasted one of these?"

"No, I wanted you to be the first to have one."

Ranma considered. He could simply transmute each cookie into one of
Kasumi's as he was eating it, but that wouldn't teach Akane anything.
"Akane, from now on I will gladly eat anything you make for me - AFTER I
see you taste it yourself."

"Why?" Akane felt a little hurt.

Ranma answered a question with a question. "Have you ever taken home ec
in school?"

Akane lowered her eyes. "Well, I did once but I was expelled after a
week."

"And why was that?" Ranma was still being gentle.

"The first time my teacher tasted my cooking she turned blue and smoke
came out of her ears until her stomach was pumped out. The next time she
tasted some her eyes turned orange, and she began to breathe flame like
a dragon. She scorched my class notes! Fortunately, we had some lemonade
handy and that extinguished her fire. The last time she ate some she
gave birth to a baby girl right there in the class, and she claimed she
hadn't been pregnant. A likely story! After that they wouldn't let me in
the room anymore, even as an observer."

"What did you learn from that experience?"

"My teacher liked to tease me! It wasn't my fault..." A touch of
uncertainty crept into Akane's voice.

"Akane, have you ever tasted your own cooking?"

"No, why should I?"

"Have you tasted Kasumi's cooking? Did you like it?"

"Yes, of course. It's very good."

"Would you like to cook as well as Kasumi can?" Ranma was still leading
her on.

A touch of anger in her voice, Akane answered, "You mean I can't?"

Ranma held out a "cookie." "Taste this and then tell me how well you can
cook." It was an order.

A moment later Akane was running to the kitchen for a glass of water.
She returned looking crestfallen. "I'm sorry, Ranma. That wasn't good at
all."

Ranma led her back into the kitchen, which looked as if a war had been
fought there recently. "Akane, you can cook as well as your sister if
you approach it properly. Start at the beginning with simple recipes and
work your way up slowly. Don't rush, and consider every step carefully.
Follow a printed recipe closely - don't improvise. Use the correct
ingredients and avoid substitutions. Ask questions if there's anything
you don't understand. Okay?"

"Funny, that's what Kasumi always tells me."

Ranma placed his hand reassuringly on her shoulder and pointed to the
oven. "You know, it has temperature settings other than 'blast furnace.'
You can't save time by raising the heat."

"Oh," Akane said. It was a novel concept.

"Just one more final tip," said Ranma, "What is Kasumi's mood while
she's cooking?"

"Her mood? She's calm, happy, and at peace. Kasumi finds her 'happy
place' in the kitchen."

"And what is your mood while cooking?"

Akane looked around at the devastation in the kitchen. It didn't look
like a 'happy place.' "Oh," she said.


To be continued...

Just what can Ranma do that he couldn't do before? Essentially, he can do
anything that Tenchi's Ryoko can do, more or less. He has better senses than
she does (he can see the future and the past), and he's beginning to
learn magic. He can't split himself in two.

So can he teleport? Not really, but he can dematerialize, fly very fast, and
rematerialize. Achieves much the same effect.

Is Ranma immortal? Possibly, but he doesn't realize it yet. If he gets sick,
old, or injured he can use the Jusenkyo effect to restore his healthy, youthful
body.

Poll: If Genma's cursed form wasn't a panda, would it be more fitting if it were:
(a) A sloth
(b) A jackass
(c) A three-toed sloth with the head of a jackass
(d) A three-toed jackass with the head of a sloth
(e) Your whimsical choice.

Mike