Hi everyone. I know what a lot of you are thinking right now: 'Another new fic? Why doesn't the idiot rather work on _'?
Don't worry. I haven't abandoned any of my fics and I'm still working on all of them. Blame my laziness for the lack of updates... and all the time I spend at work either working or reading fics.
Some of you may have read the first draft in the preview sections of 'fukufics' and the 'fanfiction forum', but this is almost a complete rewrite. I got rid of the weakness moxibustion part for one and made a lot of other changes, especially the conversation between Ranma and Cologne. I corrected some spelling mistakes, but if you should still find any I'd be very happy if you could point them out to me.
This idea has been trotting in my head ever since I've read the first chapter of 'Ichinensei ni Nacchattara' and I couldn't get rid of it. Well, what's the best method of getting rid of an idea? Realizing it of course. Consider it done with this prologue.
Most of you have probably never heard of 'Ichinensei ni Nacchattara', but you can find the first 31 translated chapters at 'Taruby's Paradox'. Since I can't post any links here just google it. The manga is funny as hell and really entertaining. Just give it a try.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: THE CURSE IS NOT LOCKED!
But first the usual disclaimer: None of the characters, series, or locations belong to me. I'm not making any money with this.
PROLOGUE: WHEN HE DIED
A crying, seven year old boy was running through the streets of Nerima. 'Damn them all to hell. My life is over. How can I ever meet my mother looking like this? Manly? What a joke. There's nothing manly about this puny body'.
'No! Calm down, Ranma! There's always a way. You got out of worse situations. Think. There must be a solution to this'. He stopped running and the tears slowly dried up as some of his customary self-confidence came back. He continued his way at a more sedate pace, deep in thoughts and the tactical part of his brain working in overdrive. 'Looking for the mushrooms won't help. With Ryoga's sense of direction who knows where he might have found them the first time. Hmmm… Who could I ask? Who here knows the most about magic and might have a cure'? He considered everyone he knew, allies and enemies alike, but the list boiled down to two people who might be able to help him… and to be frank he'd rather not ask any of them 'The lech is old as dirt and has a lot of experience with magical artefacts. Too bad his attempts always backfire and I'm usually the one who has to pay for it, and since the falling out we had a few days ago we're not even on speaking terms. I doubt that he'll willingly help once he sees me. He'll find it hilarious; I'm sure of it'.
'That leaves one other possibility. The ghoul is a crafty old biddy and knows a lot about magical lore. And from what I've seen so far the Amazons have a large quantity of magical artefacts and cursed items and know how to use them, but I'm not too keen on being in their debt. Who knows what they'll ask of me… except for the obvious, of course.
'But then, there have also been times when Cologne has helped me and taught me some incredible techniques. Okay, there has always been an ulterior motive, but the Amazons are not inherently evil like the old perv and Nabiki, they just live by their own rules. Yes, Cologne is my best bet. Guess I'll head to the Nekohanten and hope that the price I'll have to pay for a cure won't be too steep'.
'I just don't know how to handle the matriarch. She's one of the most cunning people I know and she'll exploit any weakness I show; she'll probably come up with another one of their obscure laws to make me marry Shampoo or have me be their slave. No way in hell will I ever accept that; I don't want to be either a slave or breeding stock'. (1)
He was trying to find think of any alternatives, but his efforts were in vain since he couldn't come up with any better ideas. Sighing loudly he sat down on a bench to compose himself before entering the lion's den. The one person he had to look out for was Mousse. Shampoo wouldn't attack him and Cologne had other means at her disposal. Mousse however was a loose cannon; an honourless bastard who didn't care for any collateral damage or endangering innocent people in his quest to kill Ranma… even if half of the time he got the wrong person. Yesterday's incident had proven that point once again. Out of the blue he had attacked chibi-Ranma and chibi-Ryoga without even knowing who they were, just because they looked like younger versions of his rivals. And what a beating it had been. The pigtailed boy was barely able to move after he'd been put through the wringer. Mousse would pay for that the pigtailed boy vowed… well, once he was back to normal of course. But that was for later. For now he had to make sure he could talk to Cologne before he was spotted by the duck. At least Cologne would protect him from the insane boy… or so he hoped at least.
While he was sitting there lost in his thoughts he remembered. Every event that ultimately led to his flight vividly came back to him.
Ranma and Ryoga had been stuck in their child bodies for two days now and were getting more and more desperate to get back to their original age ever since Akane confiscated the last of the mushrooms and spores after she got exasperated with their constant squabbles about who would be the first to get a mushroom. Their constant fights had caused a lot of damage to the house and the shorthaired girl was not sure that there would be much of the structure left if the mushrooms were kept in their reach. So she put the flower pot into her room where the mushrooms could slowly grow without interference. That didn't stop the impatient kids though, and they sneaked inside the teenaged girl's room and wreaked havoc inside, upending every drawer and searching every corner to find their salvation. But when they heard the owner of the room come back they hid inside a drawer of the dresser in fear of what the unbalanced girl might do to them if she found them.
Akane was shocked when she saw the state her room was in and she silenty vowed to make the culprits pray. Before she could go on a rampage however she heard Nabiki's voice calling her.
"Hey, Akane, the mushrooms are 16 cm now." Nabiki had retrieved the mushrooms from her sister's room earlier that day since she knew that Ranma and Ryoga would try to get the mushrooms at any price and deemed them safer in her own room, which in the end was the case.
This lifted the girl's mood at once and all thoughts of punishing the burglars left her mind. "That's great news! Thanks for watching them, Nabiki."
The boys became restless when they heard the news and as soon as Akane had left the room they tried to get out of the dresser. Unfortunately, the drawer was stuck and they had to blow it up to get out. Just at that moment a happy Akane walked into the room with two plates with one mushroom of time on each of them. Unfortunately the loud explosion had incinerated the fungi on the spot.
"Where's the mushrooms?" Ranma asked in a hopeful voice.
When the young girl showed them the charred remains the boys' faces fell.
"I… I'm sorry," Akane answered sadly, "those were the last ones. Please try to be brave… and start your lives over again," she continued, tears forming in her eyes.
After hearing the shocking news Ranma lost it and ran out of the room as fast as he could and fled from the Tendo compound.
Ryoga was rooted on the spot, shaking his head in denial as he was slowly falling to pieces.
Akane smirked; she was quite proud of her little act and they deserved a little payback for destroying her dresser. "Relax. I was just joking," Akane calmed the young boy down. "Gods, you really fell for it."
"Really?" Ryoga asked full of hope.
"Yes. In fact, I hid the remaining mushrooms and spores in Nabiki's room as I was sure you'd try a stunt like this. And now, with Ranma gone for a while it should be safe to retrieve them, but only if you promise to behave yourself, Ryoga. I know it's mostly Ranma's fault for always picking on you, but you're not entirely blameless either.
Ryoga promised to be good. The female martial artist knew that she could trust the bandanna wearing boy's words. "Wait here. I'll bring you one."
The fanged kid didn't dare moving from the spot as he would just get lost once again. And that wouldn't do, especially now that he was about to be cured and finally could get revenge on the bane of his life. He was already coming up with ways to permanently deal with his nemesis. He didn't have to wait long since the youngest Tendo was back less than a minute later.
"Here you go," she handed the kid two 16 cm mushrooms. The second one is for Ranma if you should find him before us. There's a spare in the pot and we can always grow more."
He took the mushrooms and immediately swallowed one, relieved when he felt his body grow. Too bad he didn't take into account that his clothes wouldn't grow with him. With a loud "RIIIIIIIIIP!" the clothes fell apart leaving the rapidly blushing teenager standing there in the buff.
Akane's built-in pervert radar activated and with a shout of "PERVERT!" she malleted the poor boy through the wall and into Nabiki's room. Unfortunately, the wall wasn't the only thing that had been damaged by the attack as Ryoga had landed on the worst possible spot: the flowerpot the mushrooms were growing in.
Not even worse for wear he got up and dusted his clothes off. The others had followed him into the room and when Akane's eyes fell on the ruined mushrooms she almost fainted. The pot was in pieces and all that was left of the mushrooms was a barely recognizable goop. "Oh no! The mushrooms!"
Ryoga followed Akane's gaze and when he saw the damage he chuckled. That was simply perfect. It couldn't have gone any better if he had planned it. Finally his revenge was perfect. With the mushrooms gone there was no way for Ranma to ever recover his normal age. He had finally won. Akane was his now since he was sure that the love of his life would never date a little kid.
When he saw the Tendos and Genma approach he did his best to look as miserable as possible, but he found it very difficult to hide his glee. "I'm sorry. I… I fell on the mushrooms. I didn't mean to," he apologized, and was quite proud of his performance. The idiots really bought it.
Akane was weeping as she saw the disaster, once again cursing her temper. "It wasn't your fault, Ryoga. I know you're not a pervert like Ranma. I overreacted once again, and because of that I destroyed the last chance for Ranma to get back to normal." She was really crying now and gladly accepted her older sisters' embrace when they hugged her protectively, pain visible on both of their faces.
"Don't worry, sis," Nabiki tried to calm Akane down. "Ranma will find a way out of this mess. He always does."
"Do you really think so?" She asked her mercenary sister.
"Yes. I'm sure of it. Nothing keeps him down for long as you should have noticed by now. Don't give up hope."
"Nabiki's right," Kasumi added her two cents. "Ranma always manages to bounce back. We'll help the both of you through this any way we can."
"Thank you," she answered and gave her sisters a timid smile.
Ryoga had left the sisters to their grieving and when he passed the bathroom on his way to who knows where he spotted one of his outfits peeking out of the hamper. Astonished at his newfound luck het quickly put his clothes on and left the house in search of his defeated nemesis. Once he was a safe distance away he couldn't keep his joy in any longer. "YES! I did it. I defeated Ranma! HAHAHAHAHA!" He maniacally shouted, not caring about the strange looks he got from the passersby and danced through the streets, not unlike a certain doctor after he's been exposed to Kasumi. 'Now I just need to find him and rub it in his nose'. Apparently his lucky streak continued as he stumbled upon the pensive boy a few moments later. Ranma was so deep in thoughts that he hadn't noticed the heavily muscled person's approach until he was being lifted into the air by the scruff of his neck.
The surprised child barely managed to turn his head and was shocked to see his rival standing there in his teen body, grinning sinisterly. "Ry-Ryoga? Why are you back to normal? Did the effect of the mushrooms wear off?"
The fanged boy just chuckled and was really savouring the moment. Seeing Ranma's shocked an envious look was a dream come true for the vengeful martial artist. "No it didn't. I'm afraid the effects are quite permanent. Akane had some mushrooms left. If you'd stayed you would have seen that she was just acting. But then, this is probably what she intended. What better way to get rid of an unwanted fiancé but to tell him that he'll have to relive his childhood, don't you think. But then, in her eyes you're a freak, aren't you? She's told you that often enough and it seems like this time she found the perfect way to get out of the unwanted marriage arrangement. If you only knew how often she's ranted about your dishonourable ways in the presence of her precious P-Chan. Such a sweet girl definitely needs someone better than a womanizing sex-changing freak like you. She's never really accepted your curse and is afraid of what other people might think if she got married to a sex changing perverted freak like you."
Seeing the trembling Ranma hanging in the air he snorted. "You're pathetic. You're not even worth my time. I won't kill you, since it would be really dishonourable for me to bully someone who's much weaker than me. Can't say the same thing about the others, though. Can you imagine how Mousse and Kuno will react once they learn about what has happened to you? If I were you I'd run far away and hope that they'll never find me.
Being as emotionally drained as he was at the moment Ranma didn't realize that Ryoga was making the story up of course, but after all that has been happening to him lately he was rather out of it and the thought of questioning the veracity of Ryoga's speech didn't even cross his mind. The news was enough to completely break his heart and he started to cry in earnest, letting go of all of his bottled up feelings.
But the fanged teen wasn't finished decided that now was the right time to give the coup de grace. "Oh, before I forget, don't bother going back to the dojo for the cure. I made sure to destroy all the remaining mushrooms as well as the spores. And if I were you, I wouldn't return at all. After all, who needs a little kid that can't even defend his fiancée? With all the trouble you always cause and all the rivals out for your head you'd better get away as fast and as far as possible if you don't want to put the Tendos in danger. I'll be Akane's knight in shining armour from now on."
"You bastard!" Ranma cried while he ineffectively tried to kick the older boy in the shins. If he hadn't been dangling in the air that attacks might even had stung a bit, but with no leverage at all the kicks didn't even tickle the teenager.
Much to Ranma's horror his enemy just chuckled, frustrating him even more. He couldn't hold up very long and soon exhausted himself completely, the fanged boy not worse for the wear.
To add insult to injury Ryoga simply dropped Ranma to the ground and wordlessly walked away at a slow pace not once looking back. Why should he? There was no way a small kid like him could hurt him now. Inwardly he was grinning like mad. In the end he had won. He had completely defeated his nemesis without having to kill him. There were no more credible obstacles to Akane's heart since Kuno really wasn't a serious contender. The fanged martial artist felt much better now that the cause of all his hardships in life was out of the picture. With Ranma neutralized he was the best martial artist of his generation. No more playing second fiddle to the de-aged martial artist. While he was enjoying his victory he didn't notice that in the meantime he had gotten lost once again while he was on his way back to the dojo.
"Damn it! Every single time. RANMA! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!" Old habits die hard as they say, and even the euphoria he had been feeling earlier was very rapidly being replaced with a solid depression once again. Some people were probably simply not meant to be happy.
Ranma hadn't noticed any of that and wouldn't have cared anyway. He had his own problems to deal with and while he normally would have laughed quite a bit at Ryoga's misfortune, happiness was the furthest thing from his mind. Quite the contrary was true. Where he had been depressed before meeting the bandanna clad boy he was now feeling completely hopeless. The mushrooms were really gone, and he was sure Ryoga wouldn't be making up something like that. He looked much too ecstatic to be making that up. And all the other things he had said… If they were true Ranma could never return to the Tendos until he got a cure. He really believed Ryoga's story since he had witnessed more than once Akane taking the pig's side. What if she truly hated him? Fact was that the youngest Tendo usually trusted Ryoga's word more than her own fiancé's.
'Well, who needs them anyway', Ranma defiantly thought getting some of his 'never-say-die attitude back. First of all he needed to find a cure. He could deal with the fanged teen later.
He walked to his destination much more confidently, but kept an eye on his surroundings. Ryoga had been right when he said that Ranma was now easy pickings for his rivals, and Mousse had already proven that he had no problem attacking small kids. As he got closer to the restaurant he slowed down and used all of his stealth skills to approach the door unnoticed. He checked his surroundings once more, but not seeing anyone he knocked on the door hoping that it wasn't the blind idiot who would answer the door.
"The restaurant is closed. Come back later." He heard a familiar old voice shout through the door.
"It's me, Ranma. Open up, please!"
He heard a key turn in the lock and the door opened immediately afterwards.
"What can I do for you son-in…?" The crone blinked once… twice and looked rather puzzled at the boy standing in front of the door. 'What the…' She didn't understand. The ki signature of the kid was unmistakably Ranma's; she had already felt it before opening the door, but the reduced size of the martial artist came as a real surprise and left her speechless. 'A brother? No, that can't be. There are no two similar ki signatures in the world.' She had seen a lot in her admittedly long life, probably much more than any other person alive, but she was completely unprepared for this new craziness. It could only be her son-in-law. 'But then, how…'
"Sorry about that," he apologized and scratched the back of his head with his hand.
This simple, but typical gesture for her son-in-law put any doubts she had had to rest, and she chuckled loudly. "Only you, son-in-law. Things like these can only happen to you. And here I thought I'd seen it all. This I really need to hear. One thing's for sure. Life is never boring with you around. Come in and tell me about it. I'm sure there's quite a story behind your…," she looked him up and down, "… state."
Ranma followed Cologne into the restaurant. "Sit down at the table. I'll prepare us some tea and you can tell me how you ended up like that."
The pigtailed boy was fidgeting in his seat while he waited for Cologne to come back. Experience has told him that he needed a lot of patience with the old woman and that he couldn't risk irritating her if he ever wanted to return to normal. He didn't have to wait long though, as Cologne came back but a few minutes later.
After pouring hot tea into Ranma's cup and her own she sat down, took a large sip from her cup and comfortably settled into the chair. Seeing the unsettled state her pigtailed boy was in she patiently waited for him to start his tale.
And what a tale it was. He told her everything that had happened to him over the last two days until right to his last confrontation with Ryoga. "…And then… and then I came here; I don't know who else I can turn to."
"You put too much faith in my abilities, son-in-law. It's true that I know a lot, and that my nation has a proud past and very long history, but we're not miracle workers. I know a lot about the supernatural and magic, but honestly I have no idea how to reverse the effects of those mushrooms. I've heard the legends of course, but never before have I witnessed the effects of the mushrooms. Believe me when I tell you that I've been looking for them myself, but no luck… and it's the village idiot who finds them. Well, I shouldn't be too surprised about that. He always stumbles upon defective miracle cures or faulty magical artefacts."
She gave the teen sitting in front of her a pitying look. "I'm really sorry. I wish I could do something for you, but I can't. I can write back to the village and ask the lore master if she has an idea, but personally I don't know of a cure. I'd tell you if I knew, especially if I could get you to finally accept your marriage to my Shampoo as a return service."
"I'm not her husband!" The boy vehemently denied as he jumped up from the chair. "I don't love her, especially not after all the crap she has done to me since I've known her. First she tries to kill me for a stupid reason; next she wants to marry me for an even more stupid reason. When I refuse she uses every dirty trick in the book like love potions, joining me in bed or in the bath in the nude, attacking the other girls, trying to discredit me in their eyes, trying to discredit THEM in my eyes,… I admit, she's a beautiful girl, but so are the others. All the crap she's pulled has killed any affection I might have had for her."
"You already are her husband, like it or not," the old woman interrupted him. "You defeated her in combat and she gave you the kiss of marriage just like our laws demand it. There's nothing you, me, or anyone else can do about it now."
Ranma had been having a terrible few days and the mention of marriage had been the straw that broke the camel's back and caused the pigtailed martial artist to release all the pent up anger and frustration at once. "BULLSHIT!" The enraged child banged his fist on the table. "I never agreed to that and your laws are invalid anyway. I'm not as stupid or gullible as you might think I am. I asked some friends at school and they directed me to the public library where I found some easy-to-understand books on Japanese law, and I found some very interesting information which basically leads to one important fact: we are in Japan and your insignificant tribal laws mean squat here. You're in a foreign country and you have to follow that country's rules. Shampoo can give all the kisses she wants, but they aren't legally binding which renders the kiss of marriage invalid. I also doubt the validity of the kiss of death, even if it was given in your village. I can't imagine the Chinese government acknowledging your laws which basically give you the right to kill people you don't like, especially foreigners.
And that's not all. I also figured out why you don't simply kidnap me or force me to marry Shampoo, and Nabiki confirmed my suspicions. I'm a Japanese citizen and kidnapping me would cause an international incident between Japan and China and move your little backwater region into the spotlight. You are only a few thousand people at best, and not all of them fighters. You wouldn't be able to defeat the combined might of Japan and China if they decided to wipe your little village from the maps. And since you know I will never marry Shampoo of my own free will you've been trying to 'convince' me with potions and magical trinkets. You know damn well that I would have a hard time proving I was coerced into it through the use of magic."
The boy sank back into his chair and let out a long breath and wiped the sweat from his forehead. That had been exhausting but satisfying and he's really needed that. Any doctor could have told him that keeping all your rage in is bad for your health. He already felt a little better and when he saw the defeated look on Cologne's face he knew that he'd hit the nail on the head.
"You're right," the matriarch confirmed. "I can't force you to marry my great-granddaughter, but I hope that you'll reconsider."
"Fat chance," the reluctant groom countered, "and you know it. Why do you even insist? Are you really willing to risk the security of your people just for some stupid and anachronistic laws that have no place in modern society?"
"Of course not," she answered. "That would be stupid."
"Because she loves you, you idiot. I admit that at first it was out of duty, but she very quickly fell in love with you. Any Amazon would have since you are just the type of man our tribe is looking for: strong, skilled, and good-looking. The kisses are easy to annul as I am an elder and the supreme authority in the village. There are loopholes in all of our laws, but outsiders would have a hard time finding them."
She took a long sip from her cup as she considered her next step. Ranma was silently sitting there, completely lost and unable to react. After a few moments she slowly put the cup down and looked the child straight in the eyes. She had lost and she knew it. There was only one thing left to do and she knew that Shampoo would be heartbroken, but there was no other way. She got up from the chair and lifted her cane in the air. "I Cologne, elder and matriarch of the Joketsuzoku, hereby declare the kiss of death and the kiss of marriage inflicted on Ranma Saotome null and void."
The incredulous martial artist looked at the matriarch with wide eyes and was completely speechless and wondered why she would do something like that. "Why did you do that?"
Cologne just shrugged and calmly answered, "Why shouldn't I? Since you know the truth now and made it very clear that you have no intention of marrying Shampoo the kisses don't serve a purpose any longer. Without the threat of punishment hanging over her head my great-granddaughter my reign in her enthusiasm and try to win your heart in a more conventional way. I promise to look for a cure if you agree to give Shampoo a chance if I'm successful. It's probably the best outcome I can hope for now. After all, she won't be able to marry you in your current state."
"Okay," the pigtailed boy answered. "I promise you to go on a date with Shampoo if you find a cure, but I'll tell you right away that she'll have a lot of work ahead of her if she wants to gain my trust."
The matriarch nodded and Ranma got up from the chair and walked to the door.
"One more thing before you leave," the old woman continued. "I know you hate your reduced age, but if there is no cure you'll have to live it, so just try and consider it less a curse, but rather a blessing. Just think about it. How many people would like to be in your place and have the possibility to get a new lease of life; to correct some of the errors they had made in their lives and maybe find happiness? You're a child again without most of the responsibilities your teenaged self has to deal with. After all, who'd expect a six- or seven-year-old to marry anyone? I know that you are unhappy with your current life and are tired from all the usual craziness that surrounds you. Well, consider this an opportunity. Maybe you could even leave your father for some better parental figures or stay with your mother. Or even better, why not simply accompany us back to China? The Amazons would gladly adopt you into the tribe."
Ranma considered the elder's words and had to admit that the old bat had a point, but then she always had an agenda that usually clashed with his own. Maybe removing the burden of the kisses was just another ploy to win him for the tribe where he wouldn't be allowed to leave ever again and serve as breeding stock. Additionally he loved his liberty too much to ever join a tribe made up of psychos with screwed up laws. He was sure that he could find another way; he'd just have to continue looking. If only Dr. Tofu hadn't left Nerima. He was probably the only genuinely caring person he knew to ever help him without an ulterior motive. He'd have to look it up. Maybe someone knew his new address.
"So, what is your answer, Ranma?" Cologne asked and startled the young martial artist out of his thoughts.
"That's a very important decision I have to make. The one thing I'm sure of is that my mother is out. She still only knows me as 'Ranko Tendo'. What do you think she'll do once she finds out what has happened to me? The curse was bad enough, but now I can't even be a man half of the time. I'm hardly a man among men now, am I? And I have no intention of dying anytime soon, honour be damned. As for your offer I don't know, I'll have to think about it for a while. I'll keep in touch."
That was also his cue to leave. He had already decided that he would refuse the offer; there always was a price to pay when dealing with the warrior tribe, and it usually was too high. He didn't outright decline the offer though since it wouldn't be wise to make an enemy out of the elder. At least he was free of the kisses; one less thing to worry about; he already had more than enough of his plate.
"I understand. It's a very important decision so I'll wait. There's just one more thing you need to know about the kisses; they aren't applicable to children. The ones you got would have been if I hadn't removed them because you were a teenager when they were applied. However, in the eyes of the Joketsuzoku you are a child now, never mind your real age. I know that you think we are barbarians, but our laws have served us well for millennia and kept us strong. Know however that children are sacred to us. Never would an Amazon willingly attack or hurt a child outside of martial arts practice. Any Amazon who willingly hurts a child will be severely punished"
This was new to the pigtailed boy. "It that is true, what about Mousse then?"
"What about the idiot?" Cologne inquired.
"Just yesterday Mousse attacked both Ryoga and me and gave us quite a beating just because he mistook us for our teenaged selves. And he's not even the most unbalanced of my rivals. Just imagining what the others would do to me gives me goose bumps."
"Did he now? Well, well, well. In that case the duck and I will have some words once he gets back. I don't mind him attacking you when you can fight back, but this is serious. What if he mistakes some more kids for you? I'll put a stop to this right here and right now. He's been making a fool of himself and by proxy his tribe for much too long."
Ranma bid the old woman goodbye and left already feeling better. Things had gone better than he had hoped. Okay, Cologne didn't have a cure, but he managed to get rid of two problems, Shampoo and Mousse. However, he had still a lot of enemies left, some of which he couldn't reason with. But he would weal with those problems once they became urgent. The next order of business was to locate Tofu. And where best to start the search than the place he had been last seen at: the clinic.
He didn't have to go far as the clinic was only a few streets away. On arrival he immediately checked the front wall, door and windows for information, but couldn't find a sign or note displaying his new address anywhere. There were some small remains of adhesive tape and he gathered that some kids probably tore the notice off. This only left the neighbours as an information source, but he was sure that one or two of them could help him. He got lucky right away as the very first person he asked could help him out. He thanked the old lady who had been one of Tofu's regular patients and left.
As it was already evening he was wondering if it might not be better to wait until the next day before visiting the doctor. It would take at least three hours by train to reach Tofu's new address after all and he didn't want to get on the doc's bad side, although he sometimes wondered if the doc had one. He had no clue where to spend the night, though. The dojo was out for obvious reasons and as he was a very target at the moment he couldn't use any of his usual haunts. The safest solution would probably be to take the first train to his destination and find a place to sleep. He had enough money to afford a hotel and could visit Tofu first thing in the morning.
His mind made up he walked as fast as possible to the nearest station all the time considering his options. The elder might be a scheming crone, but in one pint she was right. This really could be the perfect opportunity to start a new life, far away from all of his problems. Unfortunately that was easier said than done. He doubted that the Tendos and his father would let him go that easily, not to mention the Kunos who probably have the means to find him wherever he goes. There was also family honour to consider, although that was becoming less and less of an issue with all the dishonour the panda has brought to the Saotome name. The biggest problem was his reduced age. Kids can't live alone in a city and it wouldn't take long for the authorities to either send him back to his father or to an orphanage if he refused to tell them where he lived. He also had no way to earn money for food or lodging. After all, who would give a job to a kid? Additionally he was also much weaker in this form and while he was sure that some thugs wouldn't pose any sort of threat to him he was still somewhat vulnerable and he was not sure if he could dodge a bullet.
Since Ranma wasn't into long-term planning and 'what ifs' usually were inconclusive, he decided to do what he did best: play it by ear. First he'd consult with Tofu and if that should be a bust he'd improvise.
Deep in thought he mechanically walked through the streets and didn't notice the stalker who had been carefully following him for the last few minutes, staying out of range of the martial artist's honed danger sense.
Said stalker didn't go unnoticed for long however. Ranma was suddenly pulled out of his musings by a loud clang and a string of Chinese curses. He looked at the spot where the noise had originated from and paled when he recognized the cause of the disturbance. It was Mousse who was trying to get out of a large trashcan.
The visually challenged teen got up and put his glasses back on while cursing up a storm. Seeing that his cover had been compromised anyway he attacked the pigtailed child at once. "SAOTOME! I know it's you. I overheard your little chat with Ryoga. It's time to pay for all the humiliations I have suffered because of you!" He shouted maniacally and Ranma could see the madness in his eyes. The myopic boy had finally lost it, incensed by what he believed to be an easy victory. He had followed the pigtailed child back to the Nekohanten and overheard the whole conversation with Cologne without them noticing him, but it was apparent to the young martial artist that the visually challenged teen didn't believe in the Amazon creed of not hurting children. Mousse on the other hand was glad to see that the bugging device he bought from Nabiki was working as advertised; Cologne would have discovered him for sure if he'd openly spied on them.
'Oh shit'! Ranma thought as he dove out of the way of the attack, his many years of combat experience being his only saving grace. His father may have been a sadistic, moronic bastard, but he had managed to turn his son into a world class martial artist, and even if he was weaker at the moment his danger sense and battle instincts were intact. He knew however that he stood no chance against Mousse in his current state and so he did something he would have never done if he had been at the top of his game and not overwhelmed by the situation: he ran away. Mousse was in no hurry to follow his nemesis since he knew that closing on to him wasn't even a challenge at the moment. At first he wanted to simply kill Ranma on the spot, but seeing the frightened state his enemy was in he decided that drawing out his victory and making the boy believe he had a chance of escaping was much more entertaining, especially since he loved hunting.
As he was about to follow the frightened boy and start the chase he sensed a presence behind him, but before he could react he received a heavy blow to the head and fell unconscious. The small figure lifted him into the air and pogoed back to the Nekohanten. "This time you have gone too far. You have violated one of our most sacred codes and I'll see to it that you are punished accordingly. I'm sorry, but it's out of my hands now," she told the dazed boy with regret in her voice. He was an annoying dimwit, but she had known the boy for many years and even if he usually was a minor nuisance at best, she couldn't close her eyes on his latest blunder, especially since she had told Ranma about the consequences of such an act. No, showing leniency was not an option any longer, not after giving Ranma that speech about their laws concerning children. Going back on her words now would definitely ruin any chance of getting the boy's loyalty. It was a waste in Colgne's minds as she knew that there had been a lot of potential in the idiot, but Ranma's was much higher and he'd make much better addition to the village. If only Mousse hadn't wasted his talents in his obsessive and pointless pursuit of her granddaughter he could have become an excellent fighter and an asset to the village.
Unfortunately, Ranma hadn't witnessed any of this and was running at full speed still believing that Mousse was in pursuit. After having run five minutes and surprised that the duck hadn't caught up with him yet he turned around and was relieved when he didn't see his pursuer. He immediately stopped and sat on the ground trying to catch his breath. Having recovered some he got up and punched a street light as hard as possible in frustration; the punch had been strong enough to bend the pole half way and leave a large dent, but the pigtailed boy wasn't happy with this inhuman feat and cursed his weakness once more. "DAMMIT! Normally that would have been enough to obliterate the damn thing. I REALLY need to get my hands on some of those mushrooms." Then he paled when a really horrible thought formed in his mind: even Akane would be able to defeat him in his current state. 'The vindictive bitch would never let me live it down if that happened', he thought. I remember the super soba incident and how she gloated when I couldn't lay a finger on her'. If Ranma had been more honest himself he would have remembered that he had done exactly the same thing after Akane got cured, but then he was much like the other residents of the ward and liked to forget his own faults or shortcomings.
This last incident, however, had been enough to confirm his earlier thoughts; he couldn't stay in Nerima if he valued his life. Next time he might not be so lucky and lose his enemy. At least Mousse had chased him into the right direction as he was only about five minutes away from Nerima's train and subway station and since he couldn't travel long distances on foot anymore taking the train was the only solution. He checked the timetable and noticed that he had been right with his earlier prediction about the length of the trip. He bought a ticket and waited for his train. Ten minutes later he was on his way to his last chance at a cure.
Having had a very difficult day and his young body tiring faster he had trouble staying awake, but he knew that if he dozed off now he'd surely miss his stop. When he heard the intercom announce his stop he followed the other passengers out of the railroad car, but was too tired to look for an affordable hotel room. Well, it wasn't like he hadn't any experience with sleeping outside as it had happened very often along his long training journey, so he knew from experience where the best spots were. He wasn't very picky and quickly found a cosy place inside the station behind a large tool shed and promptly fell into a deep, albeit troubled sleep as he was having nightmares throughout the night.
That was probably the reason why the sound of the passing passengers and the speeding trains woke him up rather early the following morning, since he usually slept like a log. Rubbing his eyes the little boy panicked when he didn't recognize his surroundings. However, the memories of all the previous day's happenings hit him like a freight train and he immediately remembered why he was sleeping on the floor and what his plans for the day were. His rumbling stomach reminded him however that he had something more important to do at the moment: getting breakfast. He stepped out of his hiding place, unnoticed, and left the station looking around for a diner, tea house or any other place where he could fill his stomach.
Across the street he noticed a friendly looking bakery. He entered the small shop and bought a few sandwiches which he wolfed down in under a minute. Usually he'd eat a lot more, but his younger body just didn't need as much calories as his regular one did, which was fortunate for his wallet, as the train ticket hadn't been cheap. He had just enough money left for the trip back.
He walked along the sidewalk and periodically asked the passers-by for directions. He had to admit that there were some advantages to being a kid again. The people were very helpful and took their time to guide a harmless little child around. All the while he was memorizing the important landmarks, just like his father had taught him over the years. It was always important to know one's surroundings and locate every possible escape way, a credo which the panda had taken to heart… and it had saved their lives more than once.
As he was looking around he passed a cute little girl with long black hair and who was about his current age about to cross the street. She was wearing an elementary school uniform consisting of a pink shirt, a green tie, a red beret and a red skirt-jacket combination. A sudden gust of wind blew the beret off her head and onto the street. The panicking girl ran after her headwear, not paying attention to the traffic and thus didn't see the approaching truck. A nerdy high school student wearing glasses was about to intervene and try to save the child, but someone was faster.
When Ranma noticed the truck and realized that the girl wouldn't make it he reflexively jumped on the street and pushed her out of the way. Feeling the push the girl finally recognized the danger and as she was tumbling out of harm's way her eyes fell on her saviour and her eyes widened when she saw something she'd never forget for as long as she lived.
The young martial artist was relieved when he saw that the girl was safe. Unfortunately he had completely forgotten that he was smaller now and had miscalculated the jump. Just as he was about to leap away from the danger he had to suffer a full frontal assault from the truck and the impact had been so heavy that the unfortunate child was sent flying and thudded on the unforgiving tarmac more than ten meters away from the impact spot.
Ranma had never felt that much pain in his life as he landed in a large puddle on the street, a leftover from the rain that had fallen during the night, changing him into a her.
The young girl could feel that life was leaving her and as her eyes were closing for the final time her last thoughts were of a sarcastic nature. 'I really shouldn't be surprised. My whole life has been a waste and a joke so why should my death be any different? Even in death I can't be a man'. Then she knew no more.
I know there's no proof whatsoever in the manga that the men are treated badly, but the only Amazon male Ranma knows is Mousse (Shampoo's father is only seen briefly in a few panels) who's being treated badly by Shampoo and Cologne.