Warning, Story Key & Disclaimer are all located in Chapter One, the prologue. Should you continue to read past this point, it is assumed assumes you have read said disclaimer and willing continue to read past this point accepting this story may contain offensive or inappropriate content.


(After you read the chapter of course.)


(That's me!)

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At The End Of The Chapter Are Located The Author Notes/Commentaries


Chapter Fifteen

Muthia –

"Travelling With Gina, Brianna, Or Britanny Is An Adventure."

"Most Times Anyway."

"Reminds Me Of Taking A Walk Around Nerima."

"I Get Into Fights."

"Deal With Rivals."

"More Often Theirs Than Mine, Which Is A Change."

"Heck I Even Get Flirted With A Lot More."

"I Even Flirt Back; Another Change."

"Best Yet, I Don't Get Beat On For It!"


-#-#-#-#-#- The Next Day, Someplace Under The East China Sea (Mid Evening Japan) -#-#-#-#-#-

"Giiiina how much longer 'til we get there?" An orange wetsuit/swimsuit clad Brittany bemoaned loudly while sinking even further into her seat beside Ryan.

"We'll get there when we get there so stop asking!" A sleeveless blue and yellow wetsuit clad Gina voiced with a great deal of annoyance. She briefly threw a glare back towards her sister before returning to piloting the sub keeping it abreast of the large chasm wall to the port side they'd been following for several hours.

"This is taking waaaaay to…" The werecheetah started to whine again but her sister cut her off, "How many times have I told you, archeology is NOT an exact science."

"Too many times…" Britanny then tried to turn the tables on her sister by teasing her with a past occurrence in which she'd been able to get one up on her adventurous sibling. "At least you don't go on about how 'X' never marks the spot anymore."

Gina's frown grew at hearing Britanny and Ryan snickers.

"It happened once! Once!" Gina complained. "Has it ever happened again? No! Is it likely to happen again? The odds are astronomically against it!"

"It still happened."

"I don't see what that statistical anomaly has to do with this mission, or your impatience. However, I can, with certainty, inform you that your constant whining is distracting me from being able to perform the needed functions to locate the entrance to Muthia. An entrance I'd bet a dozen cans of tuna I'd have found already if you'd been quiet and let me to do my work. Now zip it!"

Britanny started to open her mouth only to snap it shut when her sister pointed one of her recently patented Gina-Zappers around the corner of her chair, bits of electrical energy sparking between the two prongs of the barrel. The silence stretched on for no more than two minutes before even the threat of being hit with enough volts to daze a rhino was not enough to keep Britanny from complaining.

"I still don't see why I'm in this sub."

Hands gripping the subs controls, Gina agreed through clenched teeth, "Tell me about it. You could've been in the other one with Bri instead of in this one pestering me."

"Like that would'a been any better."

"Would've been for me." Gina muttered loudly.

"Ha ha. But seriously, what would'a been better is if someone would've rented a larger sub." The formfitting Gucci wet-suit clad werecheetah replied, her eyes burning holes in her sisters back; or rather the back of the large command chair in which she sat. "And I still don't see why you and Ryan couldn't have ridden in the smaller sub. You two are a couple."

"For the thirty-seventh time, Britanny.", this sub has the more sophisticated sensor array; or rather it was the only submarine available to us on such short notice with the capacity to run the sensor array I brought with me."

"Don't call me that, and it's only been thirty-six."

Gina continued as if her sister had not spoken. "If all of my submersible vehicles hadn't been taken apart for an unscheduled maintenance and upgrading, something we both have Brianna to thank for, we would've all been riding in style and comfort instead of being cramped into the largest subs I could get on short notice. I also wouldn't have had to use this less advanced scanning equipment but rather my full suite of scanners which would have aided us greatly in finding Muthia and likely have made this a much faster trip! So if you want to bitch, wait until you see Brianna again instead of annoying me!"

Gina cast a brief dismissive glance around her chair towards the subs only male occupant, "As to Mr. Tabbot, I think you should direct some of your anger towards him for if he'd accepted my suggestion that he be the one in the other sub instead of Ranma thanks would be different. Different as I would've had to put up with hours of you making googley eyes at him instead of this whining."

"Mr. Tabbot?" Britanny mouthed the words in Ryan's direction followed by a mouthed 'Ouch'.

Ryan's response was a loudly muttered "Forgive me for thinking my girlfriend' would want me in the same sub as her." as he forcefully poked a finger at the touch screen on the sonar console before him.

"Did you hear something Cheetah?" Gina asked with exaggerated sweetness. "I almost thought I heard an unrepentant jerk digging himself even deeper into boyfriend limbo. But that can't be right. Can it?"

Ryan's retort died on his lips when Gina popped her head around her command chair to glare icily at him, her eyes holding his captive for several seconds before she released them by turning back to sit properly in her chair.

"Daaaammnnn…" Britanny whispered to him "What did you do to earn that!? I've only gotten that kinda stare from her when I used to flush her math homework down the toilet when we were kids."

"I don't want to talk about it." A slumping Ryan responded curtly.

"Wise decision." Gina's icy tone sent shivers down the backs of the subs other two occupants. "Now, as to how long it'll take for us to locate Muthia little miss whiny-cat, it'll take as long as it takes, so, just sit there and get a grip on your anxiousness to see your 'Tiger' again."

A slight narrowing of her eyes was all the reaction Britanny gave in response to her Gina's 'whiny-cat' comment before the blond genius switched tactics in attempt to turn the tables on her lycanthrope sister. "Speaking of our newest house guest, how about you explain, again, why you felt it necessary to conceal the very important fact that he was under the affects of a shape-shifting curse hurm?"

"Now who's the one making someone repeat themselves?" Britanny replied snarkily, immediately regretting having done so when her sister turned the same frosty glare she'd given Ryan upon her.

"Brrrr…." The spotted girl gave an exaggerated shiver. "So cold…"

Gina continued to hold Britanny under the glare until she raised her hands up in surrender. "Ok ok ok… just stop giving me the eye!"

"I'm waiting." Gina stated flatly when Britanny didn't start answering her question immediately after capitulating.

"Like I said before it wasn't my secret to tell ok. I did plan to ask him if it was ok to tell everyone about it when we went to bed that night but seeing as he spent it on the roof hiding from certain bundles of hyperactive hormones I never got the chance."

"I had planned on asking him that morning but I somehow ended up locked in the kitchen." Tapping her chin with a well-manicured finger Britanny gazed narrow-eyed at the back of the command chair. "I wonder how that happened."

Gina sniffed dismissively, "It was the only way I could ensure the time needed to properly examine him without interruption."

"About that… how come neither you nor the fem-boy back there are willing to go into too much detail about said examination." Ryan questioned, unknowingly using the nickname Pantyhose Taro used for the now lycanthropic martial artist.

"Oww!" the red-head cried out rubbing his shoulder where he'd been punched.

"It's a curse you jerk!" Britanny growled out.

Ryan rolled his eyes before speaking, "Yeah, some curse, turning into a kick'n red-head with a body that could stop traffic. Boo-hoo."

Britanny narrowed her eyes into the best evil glare she could deliver. "I bet you wouldn't think it was so great if you had it MR. TABBOT."

Before Ryan could either retort or think about what it would be like, Gina chimed in. "Ignore him, it's just his insecurities talking. After all, it's that 'kick'n red-head that handed him his ass after all."

"He didn't kick my ass!" Ryan shot back.

"I'd say being carried bruised and unconscious into my lab where you spent more than ten hours healing up in a regeneration tank indicates otherwise."

"Whatever." Ryan huffed at his supposed girlfriend's response before turning to lock his eyes on the systems in front of him. "I still say you left me in longer then needed."

Gina's knowing smirk went unseen.

"Though Mr. I-Got-Beat-By-A-Seventeen-Year-Old here has a point." Britanny drawled out. "Why won't either of you talk about it?"

"Talk about what?"

"About what you were doing with my Tiger while you had him in your lab."

"Which time?" Ryan muttered loudly.

Rolling her eyes Gina answered, "I was giving him an examination."

"Which time?" Ryan repeated.

"Both times as unfortunately my first time was interrupted and therefore I was unable to do a thorough examination."

The werecheetah glared hotly at the back of her sister's seat, "How thorough?"

"Not thorough enough." The blond scientist's disappointment was clear in her tone. "A fact I hope to fix upon our return from Muthia."

"I don't think so."

"I do and it's not your choice, its his, and since he still cannot control his changes I have every confidence that he will allow me to do so."

Britanny growled ineffectually for several seconds before snarling out. "Fine. But only if he wants you to AND someone has to be there to act as chaperone so you don't do anything inappropriate to my Tiger… again."

"All I did was check him out."

Britanny's low growl was echoed by Ryan.

"I meant examine him…" The twin growls deepened. "…Medically!"

"Yeah, right." Came a twin pair of responses.

"Ok. I'm not going to try to deny it. There was some ogling involved, but what woman wouldn't given the chance! Ranma may not even be out of high school but he's definitely grade-A prime-cut beefcake just waiting to be savored!" Gina giggled excitedly. "Imagine what he'll be like once properly aged!"

{You know we can hear you.} Brianna's clearly amused voice sounded through the communication system.

ooO On-board Brianna & Ranma's Mini-Submarine Ooo

A chortling Brianna and a crimson faced Ranma weathered Britanny's shouted demands to know how the currently female martial Anything Goes martial artist was doing; that is until Gina hit the off-switch to the communicator ending the previously open communication between the two subs.

"Great…" The embarrassed red-head mumbled loudly as she turned to look out the view-port on her side of the submarine. "…now Gina too."

"You say that like it's a bad thing."

An unresponsive Ranma remained staring out into the dark depths of the ocean.

"Seriously, what's wrong with a little ogling? Everyone does it. I do it. Gina does it. Cheetah does it."

She was about to say Ryan does it when Ranma's mirthless response of "It's different when a girl does it." interrupted her.

"Ok, you got me there. But it's only because guys don't usually notice when we do it as women tend to be a bit more circumspect when we do and those males who catch us at it rarely complain as they like to know when a girl is interested in them. And, not to sound egotistical, that goes double when it's a girl as hot as my sisters and I are because we like the ego boost it gives. Fact is most women like it when a guy looks at them with appreciation. It's when they leer at us it gets creepy. But when it's done discretely, or by a guy their interested in, women welcome it."

She paused to smirk at her silent companion. "Kinda like what you did back on the ship before we got in the subs."

Ranma's head whipped around, a denial rushing from her lips. "I didn't do anything!"

"Really…" Brianna responded slyly. "It wasn't you I saw giving us girls the once over when we came out in our wetsuits?"

Ranma's response was to open and shut her mouth several times before turning back towards the window to hide her guilt.

"Relax," she said mirthfully "it's not like we didn't want you to look. Especially Cheetah. 'Oops I dropped my scuba mask' my keister. Talk about a lame excuse to bend over." –Chuckle– "Wish I'd of thought of it first."

Seeing Ranma stiffen slightly she tried to put her at ease about the matter, "If you're worried about how we took you checking us out, don't. Heck Cheetah posed nearly every time it even looked like you were going to turn your head her way!"

"I for one didn't mind in the least the way you undressed me with your eyes and I'm positive neither of my sisters did." 'Now Ryan on the other hand…'

A red-faced Ranma snapped around to face the lycanthropoid, denials sputtering from her lips.

"Awww… you mean you don't like the way I look?" She asked waving a hand over her tightly revealing sleeveless wetsuit encased body, her hand stopping to release the safety straps holding her to the chair so as to allow her to pose for her audience of one. "You're not saying you don't think this suit looks good on me?"

Seeing the red-head take in her figure from top to bottom and then back only to turn blushingly away was all the answer the triumphantly grinning blond needed.

"Honestly, look all you want Ranma, I want you to. In fact, I'll let you know when I feel uncomfortable with you looking, which I doubt will ever happen." She then purred teasingly, "Who knows, I may even let you touch, if you ask nicely that is."

Ranma stiffened but kept her eyes on Brianna's and her hands to herself.

"Oh relax Ranma. You're acting like your taking liberties with my body when all you're doing is a practicing a little harmless visual appreciation." The blond added playfully re-strapped herself in, unaware that one of the buckles didn't catch properly.

Once she'd managed to collect herself Ranma spoke, "How can you… what you just said… about looking… I thought it wasn't right for a guy to stare at a girl. Especially like that…"

"Some girls don't, most do, though we're not always honest about it because we like to play hard to get." Brianna stated with all sincerity. "The trick is knowing when it's ok to openly ogle and when you should be discrete about it." The lycanthropoid gave her red-headed passenger a quizzical look. "Didn't anyone ever teach you these things?"

No response came to her question so Brianna turned towards Ranma to find her staring unseeing at the console in front of her, Ranma's expression making it clear no one ever had. 'How could he not have learned that?' Instead of asking why he'd never learned the fine art of 'girl watching' the lycanthropoid let the silence stretch on. To her satisfaction, it didn't last more than a minute.

"Um… Brianna?"

"Yes Ranma?" The blond replied, failing to hide her eagerness at finally having a real conversation with the young martial artist as most of their trip down had been spent in silence despite her best attempts to get her talking about herself. At the moment Brianna felt as if she'd won the jackpot for certainly her female companion, who was in reality a hunky guy, was about to open up a conversation that would allow hopefully her to get to know more about her.

"Not sure if it's important or not but that light over there has been blinking for a while." Ranma pointed out the one she was referring to.

Seeing the light in question, one indicating the occupants of other sub were trying to contact them, Brianna sighed at both having her hopes dashed and knowing she was likely about to get bitched at by her sisters for shutting down the radio for a time.

After she flipped the switch back to the on position Britanny's voice instantly filling the cabin.


Both of the small subs occupants rubbed their fingers in their ears to regain their hearing.

"Sorry about that… technical difficulties." Brianna said once she'd recovered.

Gina responded with obvious sarcasm. {I hope no other systems are experiencing…}


She went on despite her sister's LOUD interruption.

{…technical difficulties with your communications, or that there'll be any more given how dangerous it is to be without them at this depth.}

{Why are you chatting like she didn't shut the radio off on purpose!? We both know she did!}


{Don't Britanny me!}

{Than stop making me angry!}

{But what If She Did Something To My Tiger!?}

{Chill Cheetah,} Ryan was heard saying. {I don't know what you're getting all worked up about. I'm sure Brianna hasn't done anything to your new boy toy that you wouldn't do.}

Britanny immediately went on another tirade over the airways through during which Gina could be heard berating Ryan for further inciting her sister.

{That's it! I'm going over there right now and don't try to stop me!} The sounds of the clearly angry werecheetah moving about the cabin of the other sub and Ryan's desperate pleas for her to stop stepping on him filled the airwaves.

{Don't you worry Cuddle-bug, I'm on my way to save you!}

"Hey cuddle-bug…" Brianna snickered playfully. "…how about telling everyone everything is honky-dory before Cheetah makes Gina turn their sub around so she can board us."

"How?" Ranma looked around for some button she was supposed to push so she could be heard.

Apparently it was unneeded as Britanny instantly cried {TIGER!?} again nearly deafening them.


The sounds of Ryan scrambling to get out her way were followed up those of the werecheetah moving around the other sub.

{Stop just sitting there, make yourself useful, and help me get into this blasted diving suit Ryan!}

"For the love of…" Brianna palmed her face with a hand. "Just speak, they'll hear you, and please do it quick before Cheetah deafens us again."

"Oh, ok." Ranma waved at the sub ahead of them. "Hey Cheetah."

"You don't need to wave." Brianna commented laughingly.

"Oh." Chagrined Ranma lowered her hand "So yeah, heya Cheetah, Gina."

{OH Thank god! I was worried about you!}

"Nothin' to worry about, I'm fine."

"Yup. Nothing to worry about sis, your 'cuddle-bug' is all in one piece. She and I were just talkin' is all. I must have shut off the radio by accident."

{Yeah. Accident. Right.} The werecheetah responded cynically. {Tiger, it's ok to tell me if she has you tied up and is making you say everything is alright.} Though they were on an open communication between the two subs Britanny lowered her voice as if what she said next was only between the two of them {Remember the safe word is 'monkey'.}

Raising an eyebrow Brianna smirked at her red-tressed companion, "You two already have a safe word?" she whispered so the microphones wouldn't pick it up. "And I thought I worked fast…"

"Yeah. Don't really know why we'd need one, but she kinda insisted on it." Ranma whispered back, honestly not understanding Brittany's reasoning instead thinking it was meant as a way for the two of them to identify if either of them were in trouble and needed to somehow let the other one know without tipping their hand.

"Nah." Ranma said loud enough to transmit. "Everything's fine over here Cheetah. She was just… um… explaining some things to me. But I'm sure glad to hear your voice though."

{Awwww I miss you too… but don't you think I'm not still upset about the mall! You still owe me an explanation!}

{Ok kiddies,} Gina chimed in, {now that we know 'cuddle-bug' is ok maybe we can get on with finding my ruins. Plus I for one thing you should give him some space Cheetah; let him come to you when he's ready to talk about it.}


"I think sis has it right Cheetah."

They could hear Britanny growl and harrumph.

{Brianna.} Gina said.

"Yeah sis."

{I'm turning down into that crevasse below so keep your eyes open for the entrance to Muthia.}


{I'm going to cut the chit chat so we can both concentrate on avoiding the walls.}

"Roger sis. Sub-2 out."

{But I was still talking to…} The two heard Britanny whine before Gina clicked closed the open communication they'd been sharing.

Brianna shook her head as she started to look around for the entrance to the ruins through the large bubbled windows of the sub, "Shesh, what else could she think we need to keep an eye out for down here giant squid? Mermen? Not like we're going to run into anyone else this deep under the ocean." Though she knew they'd encountered such things in the past, the lycanthropoid was just venting at having her chance to chat up Ranma interrupted.

Ranma however felt a shiver go down her spine as she searched out her side of the sub, 'Thank the kami I wasn't the one who said that! 'Cause with my luck exactly that would happen!'

"And just to reiterate, Cheetah's not the only one that's curious about what happened back at the mall."

Ranma pointedly ignored the statement as she herself wasn't sure why she'd reacted the way she had to Ryoga. Yes, she'd been angry at the fact that those she'd considered friends had betrayed her, but she could've put Ryoga down without doing all the damage to the mall or at least allowed him to get lost instead of using him as emotional release valve.

"Ok, how about explaining why it took you over three hours to find your way back to the mansion?"

Ranma was about retort "I don't want to talk about it." when she noticed something odd in the water beyond the viewing glass of the submarine. "Hey Brianna."

"Dodging the question again I see? Oh, and call me Bri if you want."

"Ok, Bri." The aqua-transsexual replied than pointed out the window directing her attention towards an odd metallic tube like device releasing bubbles as it went passed them. "What's that?"

Brianna leaned over, her eyes going wide, than jerked the controls causing the submarine to rapidly change direction while screaming "GREAT HORNY TOADS! EVADE EVADE!" .

ooO A Few Minutes Earlier Ooo

ooO In A Stealth Mini-Submarine Not Far Behind The Digger's Expedition Ooo

"So, they're down there in that crevasse?" Zelda asked.

She, like the other two in the rear section of the sub, was secured into her seat by a roll bar much like one would find on a roller-coaster. However these were far more padded, reminiscent of child safety seat restraints, complete with little hearts on the front of the bar between which the words 'Safety First' were written.

"Yes, if my calculations are correct, and they most assuredly are, Gold Digger and her group should be about three hundred meters directly below us…" Pee Wee responded from the middle and forward of the three safety-seats "…and no doubt completely unaware of our presence due to the stealth technology aboard this sub. So, if everything goes according to plan we will allow them to lead us…"

"Plan, yeah right. You just couldn't find the place so we waited around for them to show up so we could follow down here and then steal the place out from under them. Not that I mind, less work for me to do."

Zelda tapped her cheek with a single finger, "And here's another thing… Why did we have to take your mommy's sub, Pee Wee?"

"I told you at no time to call me that Zelda. It's Lord Talon!"

"Now junior, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't make so much of a fuss. You did give your word you wouldn't plot evil plans or antagonize your playmates while mommy is driving the submarine." The auburn haired woman sitting in the control seat of the sub said casting a glance over her shoulder, a motherly smile on her lips. "Remember, mommy only agreed to take you and your playmates on this trip for your edutainment! Now be a dear and keep your voice down for mommy ok?"

"MOOOOM! I told you not to address me as junior! I wish to be addressed from hereafter by my proper title, LORD TALON, Master Supreme of the DNA HELIX!" Erwin yelled, his face scrunching up and turning red much like a nine year old throwing a tantrum – which he in fact was. "Furthermore, these two aren't my playmates; they are my obedient lackeys whom I have PERSONALLY enhanced through my unquestionable mastery of genetic reconstruction!"

"Obedient, riiiiight." Zelda mumbled low enough only Daishi heard her. She pointedly ignored the black look the ninja directed her way.

Irwin's mother turned her head slightly, looking back towards the group and all three swore they could see an evil light shining from the woman's eyes. "Now junior, mommy doesn't like it when you use that tone. You wouldn't want mommy to stop this sub and give her favorite little man a spany-wanky right in front of his playmates…" Her singsong voice turned cold. "Would you?"

Pee Wee looked down, unable to meet his mother's gaze – and he wasn't the only one. "N…noo… Sorry mommy. I'll be good."

"That's better." The brown haired woman smiled, turned back to her driving, and began humming a tune from phantom of the opera to herself. "And remember, no evil plans, we wouldn't want a repeat of what happened at daddy's geothermal plant now would we?"

"No mommy."

Zelda leaned a bit in towards Pee Wee, "Damn, you're mom is scary…"

"I heard that Miss Hurley. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't use such vulgarity around my junior. He's not the only one I'm willing to put over my knee you know."

Zelda shivered even as she gave the chortling Daishi a scathing glare whose effectiveness fell short. "O… of course Mrs. Talon. My apologies Mrs. Talon."

All three let out a sigh of relief when the older woman returned to humming 'We All Live in a Yellow Submarine' while piloting the submarine deeper into the oceans depths.

"Master Talon, my sub-sonic biogenetically engineered hearing has picked up a low-frequency sonar ping. They are now only one hundred and fifty meters ahead and below us." Daishi looked at the older woman's back before saying more. "I believe it is time we… did some sightseeing."

Pee Wee nodded than spoke to his mother, "Mooom… is it ok if we go out to play now?"

His mother, all smiles at how polite her child was being, nodded, "Of course you may dearikins. Just remember to be back in time for dinner. We're going to Chucky Cheeses tonight!"

With the push of a button, the three passenger seats slid apart and upwards into small sections above where they sealed shut allowing the release of the individual mini-exploration submersibles. The fact each had weapons wasn't something the mother of the main vehicle commented about – after all boys will be boys. She just added it to the list of things she would have to talk to her son about later – after all it wasn't proper to bring weapons on an educational trip.

{NOW! ACCELERATE TO ATTACK SPEED!} Pee Wee shouted into his communicator.

{Remember to play nice Irwin.}

{Yes mom…} The nine-year-old genius responded petulantly. His tone quickly returned to commanding and forceful. {Now… ONWARD TO BATTLE MY LACKEY'S!}

A moment later Pee Wee's voice came across the radio again, {Oh and Zelda, try not to shoot Daishi's sub like you did in practice as reparations will be deducted from your pay.}

ooO On-board Gina, Britanny, & Ryan's Submarine Ooo

"We got three boggies at six o'clock high!" Ryan stated while grabbing the arms of his chair in reaction to the subs sudden shaking in response to the explosive detonation that had occurred behind them.

– Breeep Breeep –

Despite the seriousness of the situation Britanny and Ryan gave Gina incredulous stares as her phone started to ring.

– Breeep Breeep –

Gina, who'd linked her phone the subs communication systems before departing, pushed a button on the console before her answering the call. "Hello?"

{Ah, Gina Diggers… it is sooooo pleasant to have you at my mercy. Again.}

"What in the world?! Pee Wee? What are you doing down here? How did you get this number!?"

{That's LORD TALON to you GOLD DIGGER!} The young egotistical ground out angrily after which he turned to gloating. {Once again we see that there is nothing you have that I cannot snatch from you as easily as one takes candy from a baby; why foiling you has become almost tedious, given your lackluster performance as of late.}

"Have What?! We don't have anything yet! We just got here!"

{Oh but you do. You know the location of the lost City of Muthia a place where legends say rests a treasure for the one who is smart enough to claim it. Me of course.}

"How in the… where did you… how did you find out about this place?!"

{You really should update the security on your computer systems Miss Digger. It was hardly even a challenge to get the files on this Muthia from them.}

{Though I admit to only chancing upon the information given it was buried within a DATA folder where you keep all your graphic files… I believe the folder was labeled 'Beefy Stud-Muffins'.}

Pee Wee made tsking noises. {Naught naughty Miss Diggers… I wonder if your sister knows of the rather risqué pictures of her fiancé Stryyp you have in there?}

{Don't you mean ex-fiancé?} Zelda added evilly.

{Quite right Zelda. Thank you for the correction.} Pee Wee was heard saying to his minion before again speaking to Gina. {My sincerest apologies for the inaccuracy of my previous avowal Miss Diggers.}

{Tell me, has she recovered from the butt-kicking given to her by Zelda when they last met? I was soooo concerned about her welfare.}

Gina could easily hear the crunch of metal as her sister grasped the metal of her seats arms crushing them in her anger at Pee Wee's comments as she recalled the exact incident to which he was referring. It happened shortly after she'd trounced the young genius's lackeys when she'd ran into them at the crater where El Dorado once stood. She'd been so despondent from Stryyp's disappearance that Zelda' had walked all over her. Things would've gone much worse had Seance and Genn not been there to save them. That fiasco, some seven months ago, was the last adventure she'd accompanied her sister on.

"I'll mangle 'em…" Britanny hissed heatedly.

"Now's not the time Cheetah!" Gina jerked the sub down and to the port side avoiding another mini-depth and its concussive detonation.

"I want to hear more about your little picture collection little miss I've got secrets!" Ryan added his two cents, ironically angry with Gina for one of the very reasons she had him in the doghouse – for having a wandering eye. "All these months together and what? I'm not enough for you?! You know maybe it's time we made our relationship official or something!"

"NOT NOW RYAN!" Gina shouted over her shoulder. "Brianna how are you two doing back there?!"

{Not much better then you are sis, lucky this things more maneuverable or we' be fish food by now.} Brianna's frantic voice came across the comm.

{Eureka! Check out your six sis, about seventy-five meters down, there's a cave. My readings say it's easily big enough for us to slip in. Ranma 'n I are heading for there at top speed. I suggest you stop arguing and do the same!}

"Roger that."

{Oh hohohoooo so you think you can out run me in that hunk of junk do you Gold Digger?} Pee Wee's haughty voice came over the com. {Well, we shall just see how well your paltry rental submarine fairs against my latest in mini-hawk subs! Daishi, Zelda, pattern omega nine!}

"Ryan! Prepare the special surprise I installed!"

"Roger that Gina. But don't think this means we're not going to have a talk as soon as we get…"


"Right right… launching the special package in four… three… two… one… away!"

The water behind the larger of the two submersibles filled with a sparkling ink like substance obscuring not only normal visual acuity but the use of sonar and thermal imaging as well.

{Daishi! Zelda! Full-Speed pursuit!} Pee Wee commanded.

{I would Lord Talon, but the cloud is interfering with my sensors making it impossible to track them.}

{What!? You incompetent fools! You…} Pee Wee trailed off only to speak a moment later, his voice lacking its previous sense of urgency. {Are they gone?}

{Yes My Lord, outstanding acting job.}

{I know. I was good, wasn't I?} Pee Wee chortled. {Zelda, cease your pursuit immediately. We have achieved the goal I set out for.}

Zelda, still on an attack vector released her remaining torpedoes into the cloud before veering away. {Huh? I thought we were being serious?! Why didn't you tell me anything about this?!}

{Because Lord Talon had no wish for them to see through our ruse. Something our prey would have done had we relied upon your… less than stellar skills at acting.} Daishi deadpanned.

{Daishi is being far too generous! You couldn't act your way out of a wet paper bag even with cue cards and thirty years to practice your lines!} Pee Wee added laughingly.

{Oh you can both bite me!}

{SILENCE! While I would've liked to have beaten Miss Diggers to Muthia, it was never my intent. Now it's time for you and Daishi to fulfill your parts.}


{While she and her plebeian associates rush forward opening locks, tripping traps, and generally mucking about in her pathetic attempts to loot the treasures of Muthia, you two shall sneak in and snatch the real treasure for me! In addition, while you are at it, see if the Ranma they spoke of is the very one I sent the others to find information about. It seems too coincidental.}

{Yes Lord Talon.} Daishi replied, a beeping noise sounding through the comm. as he finished.

A second later, he came back on.

{Lord Talon, it appears you have an urgent communication from Link. She has apparently been attempting to communicate with you since yesterday. I am only now aware of it due to the main sub launched a communications buoy.}

{What does she want now?} Pee Wee said, his annoyance obvious.

{It appears to be a medical related emergency.}

{Marvelous.} Pee Wee sighed {Very well. I will return to the mother sub than back to the main craft to look into this matter. Just make sure the two of you do not fail me.}

ooO Sometime Later Ooo

Jumbled imagery flitted across Ranma's minds-eye during her way back to the land of consciousness. Images of being trapped in what appeared to be an overturned car with glass separation between the front and back seats flowed into ones of frantic gazes out of a view portal into the depths of ocean. These were coupled with emotions of confusion, worry, and annoyance.

Coming fully awake, she shook head to clear not only the residual sensations of the disjointed images but to clear away the last remnants of a blunt trauma induced headache. This done, Ranma took in her surroundings confirming she was still inside the submarine, though the large viewing bubble which she'd been looking out of during their trip, one that doubled as an emergency escape hatch, was no longer in place; its remnants were strewn in bits across the heated cavern in which the submarine had come to rest.

The next thing she noticed was that she was alone.

Calling out the missing girl's name, her voice laced with concern, Ranma frowned at not receiving a response. Worry doubling, she called out Brianna's name a second time as her fingers pressing the release button on her chair restraints only to have it fail to work. Unconcerned with causing further impairment to the already damaged submarine she grabbed the strap leading downwards to her left and tore it from its mounting with ease.

Standing up she was relieved to spot an apparently unharmed but unconscious Brianna several yards away near the largest part of the hatches remains; around her several small turtle like objects Ranma recalled her referring to as Peebos mulled.

Her first attempt at leaving the sub ended poorly as she accidentally treaded upon, and thereby set off, a Peebo who happened to be staying near the ruined vehicle.

Eyes narrowing in annoyance at having been blown back into the wreck, Ranma stood up only to almost fall back on to her rear when the floor beneath her shifted; the nose of the submarine tilting upwards. Through the opening she could now see the ceiling as the vehicle began to tilt and slide back into the waters of the passageway through which it had arrived.

Acting quickly Ranma grabbed and stuffed as many of the falling objects created by the angle change of the submarine, as she could into her weapon-space as she out only to land on another Peebo who went off with a shout of "YIPPEE!".

The ensuing cloud of stone debris left her coughing for a few seconds due to having breathed in some of the powdered stone created.

The sudden cries of "GET THE BAD PERSON!" "BOOM!" and "KABLOOEEE!" were enough of a clue for the beset martial artist to get out of way by leaping upwards to cling to the ceiling. She did so in time to avoid the explosions of three more of the overzealous little robots reaching program completion – an explosion that had nearly enough power to dislodge Ranma from her perch among the stalactites on the cavern ceiling.

"Great, just great." Ranma grumbled as the last bit of the submarine slipped beneath the pools surface whilst stowing away the items she'd caught before leaping clear and reaffirming her grip on the ceiling.

Her attention was pulled from the waters towards the remaining Peebos below when she heard a cry of. "YOU SUNK MOMMY'S SUB!"

"What?! I didn't do it! That other turtle-bot did, it not me!" Ranma shot back.

"You stepped on her and we're not turtle bots, we're Peebo!" One of the Peebos shouted earning an echoing reply of "Yeah!" from the others.

"Yeah well, the stupid thing shouldn't have been skulkin' around near the sub in the first place!"

"#375 was not skulking, she was patrolling." Ranma swore the thing was being smug. "Besides, how can I trust an intruder to tell the truth? I bet you knew #375 was there so just admit you stepped on her on purpose and take your punishment you bad guy!"

"I ain't admittin' nothin' ya stupid tin can; especially since I didn't do anythin'!" Ranma responded angrily, his speech falling back into less articulate patterns.

"You stepped on her!" The spokes-bomb shot back imperiously, clearly enjoying the position of being in charge and obviously being in the right. "And we are called Peebo, now, come down here and let us do our job!"

"Yeah! Besides hanging from the ceiling's not playing fair!" A Peebo who was hanging closer to Brianna complained.

"You, want me" Ranma pointed at herself than at the floor. "to come down there?"

"YES!" Came a chorus of eager replies.

"If you think I'm doing that you're nuttier than a Kuno. If I come down there the bunch of you will try to blow me up, which won't work, but with my luck it'll bring the ceiling down on all of us instead! Do want that, the ceiling coming down on top of Brianna? I know I don't."

Ranma's reply sparked a small conversation amongst the Peebos about the structural soundness of the cavern as it related to their duty of protecting their mistress. This discussion ended when the spokes-bomb put its two cents in. "You're just trying to trick us into not punishing you! Well it's not going to work! #375 must be avenged!"

A chorus of "Yeahs" and "Rights" sounded, the Peebos now firmly back on the side of making Ranma pay.

"Now come down here and take your punishment and let us revenge #375!"

"Forget it." The red-headed ceiling hugger responded shaking her head in disbelief. "If you want me you're going to have to come up and get me."

Ranma then stuck out her tongue while pulling down one of his eyelids with a finger. "Stupid pokémon rejects."

Ignoring the grumbling Peebos as they moved into to a football huddle to discuss what to do about her the clinging martial artists took stock of the cavern noticing immediately that she could see clearly when the cavern should have been pitch-black. Even weirder, there were no shadows, not even between her and the ceiling. The next thing she noticed was that the room was unbearably hot, and this heat was coming from the above, a fact that caused her to adjust her grip from time to time though she was growing accustomed to it. As to the rest of the large cavern, it possessed two obvious exits; the pool through which they had entered and an archway towards the far end of the chamber. This archway was at the center of a five-stepped dais which was raised ten feet from the cavern floor.

Ranma's thoughts on where the upwardly inclined passageway beyond the archway led was ended when the spokes-bomb called her attention back to the machines.

"So, you ready to come down yet?"


"Are you suuuuuuure?" it asked with an almost sickeningly sweet childlike voice.

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"Are you really sure?"


"Really REALLY sure?"

The annoyed martial artist was about to tell the Peebo to go blow up when the stalactite she was holding snapped free causing her to scramble briefly in an effort to find a new purchase.

"Oh Oh look look! I think she's losing her grip!"

When she managed to avoid falling the little bit bombs let out a collective groan of disappointment.

"No need to hide up there from us…We're just cuddly little rabbits… no explosives down here…" The spokes-bomb said in a sweet friendly voice, clearly trying for another angle. "We're just so cute and cuddly… how can you resist the urge to come down and hug us?"


Ranma couldn't help but smirk at seeing the little machines dog pile the one who gave them away after which before driving the now ostracized bit-bomb towards the back of the room. Seeing them distracted, she took dropped to the floor to give Brianna a quick once over confirming her previous analysis that the lycanthropoid was indeed OK before leaping up and backwards to reattach herself to the ceiling a few yards away as they noted her presence and immediately zoomed in to defend their creator.


"You snooze you lose." Ranma taunted back snapping off a bit of rock from the ceiling and flicking it at the lead Peebo.

"Ooooo you are such a bad bad bad person!"

"Yeah, well, your slow, have bad paint job, and probably don't even know how to explode."

"Ooooooooo. Burn." Said the now ostracized Peebo from the back.

Smirking at the milling bombs below Ranma decided to pass the time until Brianna woke up by breaking off small chips of the ceiling and flicking them at the Peebos below her further riling them up. It was while she was doing this she noticed that four of the little bombs were missing.

"Hey, weren't there twenty of you?"

A chorus of "No", "Nopes", and "Nuh uh's" came in reply, none of which set she believed despite the way the little machines tried to look at her with innocence in their eyes, something she'd thought previously impossible for a mechanical device to do.

Ranma did another quick head count knowing that she was right in their number only to come up with sixteen when a slight whirring coming from each direction as four of the Peebos came into view, their little wheel like appendages holding them firmly to the ceiling.

"You guys can go up walls?!"

The four machines nodded vigorously while continuing their approach, almost smiling in anticipation of delivering what they felt was proper punishment to the person responsible for all of their creator's current troubles.

"Y…you really don't want to do this." The clinging red-head stammered nervously, a sweatdrop forming over her brow.

The four bombs briefly rotated a single optical sensor towards one another before turning back at Ranma. Their last action before they both detonated was to mimic a nod then yell gleefully, "YES WE DO!".

The Peebos closest to her landing point rushed in trying to catch the singed martial artists as she crashed to the floor. Almost to their target, who was about to leap away, they were surprised when the cavern rumbled loudly, the shaking of the floor sending them off track. As the room blossomed with light red-tinted optical sensors tracked upwards locking upon the hole in the ceiling created by the four Peebos explosion slowly bending downwards, something behind it pushing it out of the way forming an upside down dome of red-orange stone that suddenly oozed open a downpour of molten rock streaming from it towards the floor.

Ranma was the only one of those close to the deluge of flowing stone with the speed to get away, and though the Peebos were made of stern stuff, immersion in lava was not among the things they were meant to withstand.

Scooping Brianna up as he raced to escape the splattering of molten stone pouring into the room Ranma easily crossed the cavern floor in a series of giant leaps, the last of which landed her on the stone dais. Pausing to look back at the growing pool of magma Ranma felt little regret at knowing the machines that had been protecting the girl in his arms had failed to escape the surprisingly fast flowing lava.

She was about to turn and head down through the archway and up the corridor to wherever it led when she heard a very faint sound of metal grinding on metal. Turning back she spotted a slightly smoking Peebo, the one who'd been ostracized to the back, pulling itself up over the ledge backwards, a small bit of one of its sister machines held tightly before it somehow.

Though pleased one made it she was still tempted to play kick the can with the little thing, sending it to join the others for the trouble they'd caused her but one look at the melancholy expression on its mechanical face changed Ranma's mind. So, still cradling Brianna bridal style in her arms, she kneeled down to address the little machine, "Now listen to me you firecracker in tin can, I'm not trying to hurt Brianna, I never was. She's my friend and if you give me any trouble I will toss down there with the rest. Got me!"

The little Peebo shifted on its wheels somehow giving off a pensive appearance.

"Now, I'me gonna put some distance between me and this lava, you can join me if you want and once we're safe, if you feel like, you can try to blow me up. Ok?"

The little machine slowly whirled around to face Ranma. "I'll be good. But if you try to hurt mommy…"

"I know I know… You'll go boom." Ranma stood to her full height, readjusting the still unconscious girl cradled in her arms. "Let's go squeaky."

Without further thought on the matter, Ranma slid the toes of her slippered foot underneath the little machine flipping it up from the floor on to her head before racing up the tunnel beyond the archway.

Behind them, some ten minutes later, in the now lava filled chamber, the surface of the molten rock close to the steps shifted as something vaguely dog like broke the surface to sniff at the air, a low rumble-growl escaping its oddly shaped conical maw. Turning its head back it 'Yipped' three times before heading out of the chamber through the archway, behind it more wakes formed in the lava.

-#-#-#-#- Someplace Time Later -#-#-#-#-

When she awoke some twenty minutes after being thrown over Ranma's shoulder Brianna wasn't all that upset given her first sight was Ranma's shapely rear-end before her. Sure, she would've preferred it to have been her male forms but she would take what she could. So, with a half-grin-half-leer on her lips as she reached out to give it a good squeeze noting it was softer than she'd expected, yet just as pleasant as she'd hoped. She had no time to confirm her findings given Ranma's reaction was to give out a yelp of surprise then unceremoniously dump her on the ground on her rear.

She heard an obviously female Ranma object to her actions. "Shesh, my rear isn't dough ya know. It doesn't require kneading!"

"Sorry, couldn't resist." Brianna responded sheepishly.

"No harm done."

Ranma leaned down to check out the small lump on Brianna's forehead. "How you feeling?"

"Nothing a few aspirin wouldn't cure." Brianna answered wincing when Ranma's fingers brushed across the lump. "So where are we?"

"Beats me. Someplace underground is all I can tell ya."

"What happened to the sub?"

"Crashed, than ended up at the bottom of a lava pool, thanks do those Peebo thingies."

Brianna was about to ask for details when she found Ranma dropping something in her lap. "Speaking of which, now that you're awake, you can take care of the little pest."

"Hey I am not a p… oh… MOMMY!" The Peebo pressed itself against Brianna glaring at Ranma. The glare turned to a gleam when it asked, "Should I blow her up now?"

"Blow her up?" A confused Brianna questioned, though the bomb in her arms didn't take it that way at all as it yelled "YAY" and started to try to get back to Ranma who was backing up hands waving in front of her.

"Hey I thought we were friends!?"

"You dropped me in mommy's lap and called me a pest! You deserve to be blown up!"

"Cancel that order!" Brianna blurted out grabbing the mechanized bomb before it could get away from her. "In fact, add Ranma to your friend or foe identification list as a friend, amend the file Ranma Saotome to include this form as well as her hybrid forms."

"Understood and acknowledge." The little explosive responded. "Darn it."

Sighing at the avoided problem Brianna looked up intending to further question Ranma only to find the redhead already walking off up the inclined hallway in which she'd awoken.

"Hey, wait up!" Brianna called getting to her feet. To her surprise Ranma didn't slow up a bit which forced her catch up only to have to draw back when the redhead arm shot an arm out preventing her from either passing or stepping beside her.

"Didn't you hear me ask you to errk!"

The errk was due to the sudden appearance of Ranma's hand in front of her face in time to stop a rather large dart. Following the hands gesture towards her feet she gazed down to see she had stepped on some sort of trigger.

"You might wanna watch your step." Ranma said lowering the arm blocking Brianna's passage. "This place's got as many traps as the Kuno mansion…though a lot more dangerous and without any of the silliness. " She then chuckled to herself. "I mean seriously, who puts a giant revolving lottery machine as a trap beneath their mansion?"

"Kuno Mansion? Giant lottery machine?" Brianna questioned only to shake her head. "You know what; file that question for later answering, for now, how about giving me a few more details on how we got here and where here is."

"Sure, what do you remember last?"

"I remember hitting my head on the glass when my seatbelt came loose after we got sucked up a side tunnel when our main stabilizer was hit."

"That far back huh."

Brianna nodded.

"Well, you didn't just hit the glass you, bounced off it and hit me too. When I tried to grab for you I got a hold of your belt, or rather somethin' on your belt which popped open releasing some gas knocking me out."

"Opps. Sleep gas canister."

"Ah. So that's what was in those things."


"Yeah, I didn't just pop one but a whole pocket worth. I gotta ask, why would you carry them like that, all tied to one pull string?"

"Sometimes things don't go down with one."

"Makes sense."

Brianna than prompted him by asking what happened after he woke leading Ranma to tell her the whole story as they continued forward including that the tunnel behind them may be filling in with lava though she caught on to the fact the Anything Goes Martial artist doubted it would reach this high.

"And that brings us up to now."

"Ok," Brianna said plucking a small square device from a belt pouch that to his eyes looked like a fancy Ipod touch.

Watching her thumb through several pages of what looked like suits of body armor out of the corner of her eye Brianna stopped and pressed the red button in the middle only to have the device fizzle then shoot out sparks and smoke. Flipping it over she moaned, "Great, the casing cracked".

Popping it open, she groaned again "And of course the circuitry is frak'd."


"F.U.B.A.R.'d, Totally Smurf'd, Slomljen, Broken."

Um… how bad is it?"

"Bad enough; I'll have to make do with what equipment I've got on me, or find some spare parts to fix it."

Brianna's vision was blocked by a metal backpack with the words 'Brianna's Survival Pack' stenciled across it. "Got it from the sub before it sunk."

"You just made my day!" Brianna announced throwing her arms around Ranma to give her a kiss after which she accepted the backpack from the boy turned girl's slack hands.

When Ranma recovered from the sudden show of affection, she was a tad bit impressed to find the pack floating in midair at Brianna's waist height. Waving her hands under it, she failed to notice her blond companion trying to get her attention despite clearing her throat twice.

When the small Peebo ran over her foot a third time she finally responded, "What do ya want pest. Can't you see I'm doing something?"

"Yeah, looked like you're just trying to kill the fleas on your head by overheating it; now pay attention!"

With a sigh Ranma looked up at Brianna from where she was kneeling while checking out the underside of the backpack. "How does it float? Can you fly with it?"

"It uses a gravitational pressor-field to maintain a set distance away from the Earths center of gravity, and no, the field keeps it in a fixed position based upon its correlation to said fields when it's activated."

"Oh" came Ranma's glum response as she stood up losing all interest in the device. "So the little pest said you wanted something?"

Brianna chuckled both at Ranma's cute pout and how her Peebo kept ramming into the girls foot repeatedly in response to the 'pest' insult.

"Yes, I'd asked if you minded giving me a moment alone so I could get changed into some of this gear… but if you want to stay and watch I don't mind…"

The lycanthropoid then stepped up to Ranma to run a finger along the redhead's arm suggestively. "That is so long as I get a chance to reciprocate with your hunky male body in the future."

Eyes going from Brianna's face to her feet and back again Ranma began waving her hands before her rapidly as she stepped back, "M…maybe next time."

The blond chuckled, "I'll hold you to that Tiger".

"Um… right… I'll just go wait at the end of the hall…" Ranma pointed further up the passageway "…where it T's"

She got about four steps before Brianna spoke, "You best not peep…"

Before Ranma could respond she added "…too much".

Briefly, Ranma was torn between turning to stare at her pointedly and rushing off down the hallway in a mad dash to get away from the clearly amorous blond. She settled for somewhere in-between by casting one glance back then made her way hurriedly around the left corner of the passageways T intersection.

Once around the corner the pig-tailed warrior leaned against the wall congratulating herself for another trap avoided; this one perhaps more deadly than any she'd faced in these tunnels so far. It wasn't that Ranma found Brianna unattractive, or that she was afraid of the girl no matter how forward she seemed to be at times, it was that she was unsure of how she fit in around the new females that had appeared in her life since she'd left Nerima.

Dart hurling trigger stones, no problem. She'd actually caught most of them and now had a rather sizable supply of things to throw at a later date should she need them.

Collapsing floors with spike-filled pits below; easily leapt over.

Scything blades from ceilings, stabbing spears from the walls, even guillotine corridors; all pieces of cake if you were fast enough to avoid getting hit, many of which also were added to her collection of weapons.

Dealing with anything female that showed an interest in her; these were things not easily avoided. She knew them to be far more dangerous to handle than any of Happosai's Happo Daikarin.

The currently female pig-tailed warrior rested with her head pressed against the cool stone of the wall cursing inwardly over the fact that all of this would be so much easier if she'd actually been able to get things straightened out with Britanny. At least enough so she had a better idea of what their relationship was so she'd have a clue as how to react to her sister's advances. What irked her the most was how the one time she'd tried to broach the subject with the werecheetah, which was just before they'd left for the airport to go on this expedition, she kept changing the subject or asked her if she was ready to talk about what happened at the mall.

Muttering to herself, "How do I end up in these messes?" Ranma readied himself for anything at hearing Brianna's call of "I'm finished, you can look now."

Stepping around the corner, she was unsurprised, but appreciative, of the clothing Brianna had chosen; a not too revealing forest green saree backless blouse and matching biker boy shorts. Around her waist, hanging at an angle towards her right hip, was a utility type belt complete with several clips from which a variety of small gadgets hung. Slung over her left shoulder going down to her right hip where it met and intersected with her belt was a bandoleer from which hung five grenades along with a holster containing a tricked out pistol on one side, a diving knife on the other. Finishing up the outfit Brianna wore a pair of multi-buckled combat boots into the right of which was a baton like item where one might store a knife.

"So, how do I look?" Inquired the lycanthropoid, a high-tech two-handed multi-barreled gun in her left hand, her other resting on the hilt of her knife. "Am I not the epitome of stylish badassery or what?"

Ranma once again let her eyes wander over Brianna's form in appreciation before she answered, "Um… seems a bit unfuctional, but yeah, you look good."


"I gotta ask, you don't think we'll need shoot anything do you?"

"I sure hope so!" Brianna enthused as she let the front of the multi-barrel gun fall forward so she now held it with both her hands "I haven't had a chance to field test this puppy. It's a dual-barreled plasma projector with a center barrel medium personal pulse laser, purple in color of course! And for when I don't need to fricassee something I added an under carriage high voltage shock-bolter!"

"I'm not going to be able to use the laser much since I can't summon my armor and plug it into its primary power source, but it should be good for a few shots, or one thirty five second sustained one. It's also good for slicing through pesky doors that refuse to open up."

"Ok, I've got two hundred rounds for the shock-gun in eight clips, that's good. Sixty shots for the plasma projector, four if I gotta overload it, not so good. Three explosive grenades, one flash, and one thermite, not too bad. For close-up I've got a stun baton, good for about thirty hits against anything man-sized."

"As for defenses, I've got two Gina-Shielders, goof for about thirty six hours of environmental protection and air filtering, less if the force-field projector has to do any serious deflecting. "

She tossed one of the belt clipped boxy looking devices to Ranma who caught it and looked it over before clipping to her side just as Brianna's was.

"Push the green button to turn it on, red to shut it off."

Watching Ranma attach it to her belt than not turn it on Brianna commented, "You should leave it on. It won't waste much power and will instantly kick in when it detects a problem."

Ranma shrugged and pressed the green button than asked, "So, left or right?"

Brianna flipped up a small display screen on the top of her gun near the back then swung it back and forth while walking about the T section of the hallway before she responded.

"Well, since the GPS locater beacon shows that either direction takes us no further away or towards where Gina is, why don't we keep going the way you turned since you seem to want to take the lead. If it takes us to a dead end we just turn around."

"Works for me."

After about five minutes of Ranma leading the way down the corridor, the little surviving Peebo rolling along behind Brianna, the youngest Digger sister had enough of the silence that had sprung up between them.

"You know, you haven't been very unfair to me and my sisters."


"We've told you whole bunch of things about ourselves while you've been tight lipped about yourself."

She began ticking off fingers on the hand not holding her large gun. "I know you're a martial artist. You're from a place called Nerima. You like to eat. You've got a curse that changes you from a seriously hunky guy to total babe, both of which have naturally occurring multi-colored hair. You also, and only recently, turn into a rather hunky werecat but have no idea how to control it."

"I also know you're eighteen, soon to be nineteen. You're in your last year of high school. You're no longer a virgin, yet are apparently a natural at sex, which I can excuse given your innate knowledge of the female form. If that from practice I wonder?"

"HEY!" Ranma cried, her blush clashed sharply with the yellow of her wetsuit as it covered the central area of her torso.

"It's easy to make you blush." Then added "You seem to know your way around old tombs or at least are familiar with traps." at seeing Ranma toss four of the large darts she'd collected from previous traps at several stone tiles ahead with enough force to trigger the spear traps they were connected to. "How about telling me something I don't know."

"Like what."

"Your favorite foods, movies, or music, your favorite places to hang out, a funny story about something that happened to you as a kid, what classes you like or hate in school." She then smiled slyly towards the red-head. "I know, how about we start with something easy and pertinent, like past girl friends?"

Ranma directing a 'get real' expression towards her.

"Ixnay on past girlfriends, gotcha. Disappointing, but was worth a shot. So, you pick any of the other topics or one of your own and start a babbling, I'm all ears."

A minute or so of them trekking down the hall in silence the lycanthropoid spoke again.

"Look, the strong silent type gets old really quick. It also doesn't help deter questions as it only makes a girl even more curious. So, if you want to get any peace you're just gonna have to give something to keep my mind occupied or I'll end up pestering you until you blow your top. Either way, I'll have learned something more about you than what I already know, such as the limits of your patience. Personally I'd rather you talked willingly 'cause I don't want you mad at me."


"Why don't I want you mad at me?"

"No, why do you need to know about me?"

"Because I'd like to be friends." 'Or more.' "And the first step is trying to get to know you. Plus, I am curious as to how you, a stranger, managed to bring Cheetah out of her funk, when her family couldn't."

"All I did was promise her I'd stick with her until she didn't need me anymore."

"That's it?"

Ranma nodded.

"There has to be more to it than that." Brianna muttered aloud prompting Ranma to respond.

"Probably. But I've got no clue as to what Cheetah thinks or what my promise means to her, I only know what it means to me."


"And what?"

"What does it mean to you?"

"It means that until she tells me she no longer needs me, my place is here, or wherever she is. Which is another reason for us to get to her as soon as possible."

"You know your promise is unrealistic. There's simply no way for you to 'always' be with her. Take for example disappearing at the mall. Flying in first class with Gina or even being in a different submarine than her. It's simply not possible to be with her twenty four seven. All of which have happened meaning you've been away from her several times."

"Duh." Ranma chimed in, her thoughts on when she'd been stuck to Happosai. "Been stuck with someone like that once before and trust me it ain't no fun."

Sensing an opportunity to learn more about her mysterious pig-tailed companion Brianna said, "Do tell." only to be disappointed when Ranma waved it off.

"Nah, I'd rather forget it."

"Seriously? You say something that 'might' lead me to learning something about you and you just wave it off?"

"Yup. Now, getting back to what you said about me and Cheetah being separated, I'm not worried about it and I'm sure she's not either. Well, not too much." Ranma chuckled. "She's probably got more reason to be worried about my being alone with you than anything else."

"Oh? And why is that?"

Ranma cast 'who are you kiddingly' glance at her before turning her attention back towards making sure nothing unfortunately reared its head while they made their way down the passageway. "Going back to the whole promise thing, I know I can't be with her twenty four seven, but I can be there when she needs me. It means not casting her aside like that Strip guy did."


"Yeah, him. When the jerk left her, he hurt her. Bad. It left her feeling betrayed. Left her feeling unwanted and unneeded."

"We tried to help…."

"I'm sure ya did, you all love her. But you're supposed to ya know?" Ranma's previously firm voice softened, becoming melancholic "That's what a family should do for each other." only to strengthen losing it's sad undertone just as quickly as it gained it. "And believe me I'm sure she appreciated it, don't think she didn't."

"But it wasn't what she needed."

Ranma's sudden punching at a swinging pendulum and blade as it swiped by in front of her made Brianna jump as she was firmly distracted by listening to the girl talk about her sister. She did note how the blow bent the apparatus a sufficient amount preventing it from returning to its waiting position allowing them to pass it safely.

"No, it wasn't. She needed someone who had nothin' to gain from her to give her back her worth. Someone to show her she could be wanted without there being a previous attachment between them… You know, someone who had nothing to gain by making her happy other than seein' it…."

"Or maybe I'm completely wrong." Ranma shrugged. "Only Cheetah does, and I for one ain't askin'. Why look for trouble when it finds you on its own I say."

A moment of silence passed before Ranma said "Wait here.", the firmness of her command bringing Brianna back to the now allowing her to notice they'd reached something of a dead end to this level of passage, the only way to go further forward was an upwards spiraling passageway off of to their left.

A passageway Ranma had already disappeared up.

The gun loving lycanthropoid spent several minutes being miffed at being left behind, more precisely, of how she'd indirectly stated that she didn't need her help. Her annoyance grew over how she'd somehow surrendered leadership to someone she considered a rookie at ruin exploration conveniently forgetting Ranma's apparent skill at avoiding traps. In her mind she should've been the one leading them given the number of adventures she'd been on, not to mention all those she recalled from the memories she had from her sisters.

"Damn it! He distracted me from getting my answer!" Brianna cursed aloud. "Well that isn't gonna wash! No siree!"

She took one angry step forward into the hall only to stop upon detecting a scratching sound, not unlike a dogs nails on a tile floor, coming from the hallway. Turning around she spotted a pair of yellow eyes staring at her out of the darkness far behind them. Slowly, the owner of the eyes came into view giving her her first real look at the black skinned bull-dog like creature; that is if a bull dog was seven feet long, two feet wide, had taloned feet, a conical muzzle, pulsing red veins beneath its rocky flesh, and had superheated drool.

Grinning widely Brianna stepped back into the hall, leveled her BTAR or Brianna Tri-Purpose Adventuring Rifle (trademark pending) towards the beast, selected the stun-bolter option, took aim, and squeezed the trigger.

The ensuing blast was perfect by her standings, creating a gratifying :-:FLOOM:-: sound as the electrically charged round escaped the muzzle of her weapon to speed down the hallway where it impacted the beast dead between its luminescent yellow eyes. The effect however, was less than satisfactory for the bolt did little more than make artistically pleasing spider-web pattern across its chest.

Brianna let loose a second bolt, then a third, a fourth, and a fifth – each shot having no effect other than to force the creature to steady itself after the impact. Cursing herself for not having made the bolts able to accept a higher level of electrical discharge or even a higher level of kinetic impact she toggled the weapon over to its main function, that of a Plasma-Projector.

"Ok. How about this!" Brianna declared kneeling down to steady her shot.

One :-:PSSSSSHHHWOOOM!:-: and a fist pump later a dancing Brianna shouted "Oh yeah! Who's the woman! Me that's who! Uh huh!" after seeing the beast explode splattering the walls around it with its superheated guts.

Hearing the sound of more growling the gun happy lycanthropoid halted in mid-jig, apprehensive eyes gazing down the corridor where, much to her growing concern, she could make out at least three more of the creatures coming down the hall in her direction behind which several more glowing eyes could be seen.

"Ohhhhh so you've brought a few friends to the party… well far be it for me to not share the fun!"

Kneeling back down she let loose seven more shots destroying an equal number of the beasts. When seven more appeared to take their place, she took them down as well along with the next seven and the seven after that.

But when seven more appeared, she cast a quick glance at her weapons round count to note she'd used up just short of half of her plasma rounds she made a quick decision.

Coming to her feet, doing an about face, she made use of her cheetah inherited speed as she ran up the spiraling hallway with a shout of, "RANMAAAAA! WE GOT COMPANY!"

-#-#-#-#-#- Kyoto, Japan – Aoyama Compound (Mid Evening Japan) -#-#-#-#-#-

Shampoo let out a groggy moan of "What hit Shampoo, Lost Boy?" as she awoke.

"Afraid not sugar."

Hearing her rival's voice the wounded Amazon attempted to sit up only to collapse back into the futon she lay upon with a wail of "Aiyah! Hurts!".

"Trust me, ya don't wanna do that again."

Despite, or perhaps because of the unsolicited advice, the purple-haired Amazon stretched a bit only to instantly regret the act.

"Told ya."

Again waiting for the pain she felt in her back, legs, and neck to fade to a dull ache she cast her eyes about noting the simplicity of the windowless rice-paper walled room in which she rested. It was furnished with the futon she laid in, a second one rolled up against the far wall beside which a non-descript low Japanese dressing table with a small mirror lay, a black colored plain dresser, a kotatsu carved from a dark wood around which four cushions lay, and a single out of place western style rocking chair. As for lighting, it came from an overhead electrical light that was suitably disguised so as to not detract from the chambers traditional motif.

Pain at a tolerable level she turned her head slowly to face her rival noting not only Ukyo's arm was bandaged; but her chest, left leg, and stomach.

"How Spatula girl get hurt?

"Savin' your fat ass."

"Shampoo not fat! Shampoo have nice bubble butt not like flat-boy-butt you got." Shampoo snapped. "And what you mean you save Shampoo?"

"Exactly what I meant, I saved you. I found you lying in the street, unconscious, buildings burning all around you."

"Oh." The Amazon uttered, frowning at her inability to remember how she'd been knocked unconscious as the last thing she remembered was helping her grandmother fight off a large cat-man. "Where we? And where Great Grandmother?"

"What, not even a thank you?"

Silence reigned for several seconds before the bed-ridden Amazon replied "Shampoo might owe you thanks, but only if what Spatula girl say is true. Now where this and why Great Grandmother not here?".

"Might? You might owe me a thank you?!"

"Only have Spatula girl's word she find Shampoo as she say."

"And that's not good enough!"


"Why you… you… ungrateful… arrogant… stubborn… narcissistic… ARG!" Ukyo stomped back and forth before Shampoo for a moment, her long brown hair swishing freely behind her. "I almost wish I hadn't saved you!"

The chef grimaced, hefting up her arm to emphasize her next statement. "I certainly wouldn't be all trussed up in bandages if I had left your carcass to burn that's for sure!"

Feeling a bit of shame at pushing Ukyo in such a manner the purple-tressed Amazon gazed at anything but her glaring rival as she ranted which gave the brunette time to make a connection to the Amazon's refusal to believe she'd saved her.

"You don't remember do you?"

"Boy-girl stupid if she think Shampoo remember you saving her if she unconscious as you say, yes?"

Ukyo opened and closed her mouth for several seconds before simply nodding her acceptance of Shampoo's valid claim. "Fine. We're in Kyoto.".

"Why we here and who tend to Shampoo's wounds? Bandages no look like Great Grandmother's work."

"What makes you think it wasn't me?"

"You not this good at putting on bandages." Shampoo said gesturing to said items then smirked. "Unless they for making girl look like boy."

"Yer wrong." Ukyo stated flatly. "But yer also right."

When the brunette didn't immediately explain Shampoo demanded she do so.

"This is the home of Himura-san's cousin, Aoyama-san. One of the Aoyama retainers bandaged you up, but I'll have you know I'm very good at bandaging up wounds! Unlike you who had family to help you when you got hurt as a child I've had to care for my own training wounds since I was eight when that bastard panda left me behind."

"Shampoo know Himura or Aoyama. Why you let her bring us to here? Why no take Shampoo to Neko-Hanten?"

Lips set in a firm line Ukyo responded. "You'll find out soon enough."

"No, Spatula-girl tell now or…"

"Or what you ungrateful Amazon, you'll beat it outta me?" The chef taunted. "You can't even get outta that bed without help!"

"And since I've got you as a captive audience, let's chat about something that's been bugging me for a looooong time." Ukyo declared sternly. "My name's Ukyo, Ukyo Kuonji, Kuonji-san if ya want'a be formal. It's not Spatula girl, not boy-girl or girl-boy, not cross-dresser, and definitely not hey you. I'm done giving you respect by calling you by your name and getting none back so if you want me to answer any more of yer questions, you're gonna have'ta use my name."

Upon finishing her lecture, the two stared each other down, Shampoo with an angry defiant expression and Ukyo with a smirk that just increased the Amazon's level of annoyance. When the chef made as if to leave Shampoo gave in as knowledge was needed over her pride.

"Fine, but you answer all Shampoo's questions and…"

The opening of the rice-paper door allowing the entrance of a young shorthaired brown-haired girl in a kendoka outfit entered the room carting a tray of bandages interrupted her.

Seeing Shampoo awake the girl spoke, her voice indicating she was older than the early twenties that she looked "Ah, I see you are awake child."

"Shampoo no child! Shampoo warrior of Joketsuzoku. Champion for whole village, not little girl. Now who you!"

"Yet you act as one." Nodoka admonished entering in behind the brunette, tray of food in hand. "An adult would have politely corrected Kika-chan rather than lashed out as you have just done."

Shampoo bristled but held her tongue as the mother of the man she yearned to marry crossed the room to place her tray upon the small kotatsu.

"Please leave the tray of bandages on the dresser." Nodoka directed towards the brunette who silently bowed her head in acknowledgement. "And if you could, inform Taka-san that her patient is awake."

With a second lower bow, Kika silently departed the room sliding the rice-door shut behind her.

Throughout the strained silence that ruled the room while Nodoka went about moving the prepared bowls of food from the tray to the small kotatsu Shampoo noticed how her rival glared at the woman and though she greatly desired to inquire about it she held her tongue.

The meal passed quietly, none of the participants speaking until Nodoka had put away the plates, covering them with lids and placing the cart she brought them in upon outside the rooms' door.

"Now, I know you both probably have several questions but they will have to wait for a bit."

"Why." Shampoo asked beating Ukyo to it.

"A reasonable question, one to which I have no reasonable answer beyond saying I have things I want to discuss that I feel are of more importance." Nodoka responded. "Now, this may not be the best time for me to do so, but we are going to speak about my son and your relationships with him."

"Ranma Shampoo's airen." The young Amazon lied, unwilling to admit the loss of her marriage to Ranma before her rival thus giving her what she thought was room to grab him for herself.

"And he's my fiancé."

"As we have already discussed several times Miss Kuonji, my son is no longer your fiancé."

The sudden smile on Shampoo's face died out upon Nodoka's adding "Neither is my son your husband." to her statement.

"Amazon Law say he is. Ranma defeat Shampoo, he Shampoo's husband." Shampoo shot back frowning. Her words were more out of habit than truth.

"Yes, the circumstances surrounding your engagement were explained to me."

"Then Ranma's mother understand."

"I understand you challenged my son after my husband had wrongfully eaten the champions' prize for the tournament your quaint little village held that day."

"Yes, he and Panda man eat Shampoo's victory feast."

"And when you demanded my son, who was a she at the time, answer for their embarrassing you did anyone explain the consequences of defeating an Amazon to him?"

When Shampoo did not immediately answer her, Nodoka went on.

"Your silence is telling."

"Is true airen not know law, but that no reason to allow breaking." Shampoo admitted, then added. "Even so, husband defeat Shampoo second time when she snub him due to Contrary Jewel Mousse try to use on Ranma. Ranma also come to Shampoo's rescue saving Shampoo from too too bride crazy Ghost Cat."

"While my son failed to mention those events, I am sure there is an explanation for his actions that does not include a desire to become your husband."

"He love Shampoo, why else Ranma do?"

"Because my son has a big heart." Nodoka responded, adding "One that has often led him into much trouble." with a shake of her head.

"Sooooo true." Ukyo muttered.

"No, Shampoo know Ranma do so because he love Shampoo."

After a moment's pause, Nodoka went on. "Tell me, if my son loves you as you say, why has he not simply accepted his 'marriage' to you and gone back with you to China?"

"Husband have much honor and no want to bring dishonor to other girls Panda man trap him with."

"If Ran-chan feels trapped by anyone, it's you sugar, not me." Ukyo snapped.

"Girls, now is not the time." Nodoka chided preventing the two teens from getting into their long-standing argument over whom Ranma wanted. Once she sure they were not going to continue, she did. "Tell me, Shampoo of the Joketsuzoku Amazons; are you aware it is against both Chinese and Japanese laws to kill someone?"

"Outside laws no concern Amazon, only Amazon laws matter."

Nodoka seemed surprised by the girls answer while Ukyo just shook her head.

"Young lady, you cannot mean you truly believe that."

"Of course Shampoo believe, it true. Elder's say so."

The once matriarch of the Saotome Clan stiffened, hands clenching tightly in her lap. "So, to you, to your peoples Elders, Japanese laws do not matter."

"No. Shampoo not say that."

"Then please explain exactly what you mean."

"Japanese laws matter, but Amazon law more important. Where Amazon go, she carry laws always. Amazon first follows Amazon law, than follow China law, than local law. It simple as that."

"It is far from simple." Nodoka responded tersely, a frown now marring her lips.

"Perhaps you no understand…"

"No." Nodoka interrupted. "I understand well enough. What you do not understand is that your Elders are wrong."

"How so?"

"Just as you are a Joketsuzoku Amazon, my son is Japanese citizen, yes."

"Shampoo no argue that."

Nodoka nodded. "Good, since we agree my son is a Japanese citizen, it means he has all the rights, privileges, such would entail. These rights include the ability to refuse to follow laws that the very country in which your tribe resides would disregard as China, being a civilized country, would have long ago overturned such laws as they are nothing but a means to legally commit murder or enforcing someone into unwanted matrimony!"

"What about when a mother who has her child pledge to commit seppuku if he fails to be a man among men?" Ukyo chimed in, the anger over her and Nodoka's previous conversation involving her now dissolved marriage arrangement getting the best of her.

"While the old ways are not as well thought of, they are not entirely frowned upon." Nodoka answered, her head bowed.

"I admit to being ashamed of how I simply accepted that pledge when I should have ripped it up and chased after them. I am even more ashamed for trying to hold my son to it, and not just because it kept me from knowing him for a further two years." Nodoka said before lifting her head to glare at Shampoo. "But I have learned from my mistake and been forgiven by my son for it. Have you ever asked my son for forgiveness for trying to kill him?"

"Our laws have kept our people strong! They are not like weak outsider laws!" The lavender haired Amazon declared hotly. "Shampoo never need apologize to airen as airen know she wish he'd been boy first time so she never had to chase him. Shampoo shows this to airen in how she feels towards him every chance she get."

"Yeah, by rubbing yourself all over him like a hussy." Ukyo grumbled.

"Not Shampoo's problem boy-girl no have body to please airen with!"

With a growl of "Why you!" Ukyo moved to get up only to stop at Nodoka's firm command of "Enough!".

The two younger girls fumed silently at each other as elder woman got to her feet brushing her kimono.

"Kuoinji-san, I have already contacted your father and he has agreed to meet with me so we can put this sham of an engagement between yourself and my son to rest." Nodoka said from where she stood in the now open door.

"As for you, child," Nodoka affixed her glare upon a wincing Shampoo. "you need to think heavily upon what we have spoken. Of how yours laws are not as absolute as your Elder's have led you to believe. Laws that I, his mother, a Japanese citizen, find repulsive to the point I shall never approve of any union between Ranma and any member of your… people."

"YOU HAVE NO RIGHT!" Shampoo shouted than groaned as she fell back into the futon when the pain of trying to get to her feet unaided overwhelmed her.

"I have a mother's right." Nodoka stated back calmly, then slipped out of the room.

"Tell me honey, does that make Ran-chan's mom an obstacle for killing?" A smirking Ukyo taunted after Nodoka had shut the door behind her.

Her words earned her a growl of "No talk to Shampoo." from her rival.

Chuckling ruefully, Ukyo helped her at first resistant rival back into her futon without uttering another word.


Additional Thanks

(In Alphabetical Order)

7 Winds – For looking over some of my work, offering his advice, critiques, & corrections.

Genhoss – For his wonderful advice, ideas, corrections, suggestions, & critiques.

To Lord Ra, Cory D. Rose, Weebee, Innortal, Spacer-X, & Several Other AuthorsAll of which unknowingly providing me with the inspiration to continue writing.

To Rainbowtroll And My Other Friends – For putting up with me babbling about my writing when they have zero interest in fanfiction as well as for their occasional quote or unintentionally given idea.

And Finally A Thanks To All Those Who Posted A Review (negative or positive) for this story as well to those who helped me correct mistakes in previous chapters by sending me them in private messages. (Mythicalprogrammer, Hiryo, and EPJ III just to mention a few.)


Chapter Notes & Author Commentary

Once again, I thank you for reading this story and I do hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I had in writing it. If you did, please leave a review. Now on with the author commentary:

Originally, I had planned on not releasing this chapter until I had finished chapters of my other works but I have become stalled, clearly I changed my mind.


– Posted August 13th, 2011 –

– Revised April 4th, 2013 – (Thanks Mythicalprogrammer For The Corrections)

– Revised January 5th, 2015 – Happy New Years!