MORE OR LESS
Disclaimer/Warning/Story Key: If you have not read this in the previous chapters, I have to wonder if you'll get what's going on with the story. Or maybe you just skipped it. If so, bad you!
(After You Read The Chapter Of Course)
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(While Critics Are Welcome, Flames Are Not)
!APPEAL FROM THE WRITER!
Please PM me any errors or mistakes you spot, and resist the urge to post them in a review, as your review would seem kinda silly after I've corrected them. (Private Messages sent via my profile.)
Additional Note: This chapter includes a scene (and a lot of dialog) found in Fred Perry's original work (insert additional disclaimer of ownership here); one I have adapted to show how Ranma's presence influences the outcome. I did consider doing this as a flashback but fleshed it out. Hope you enjoy it!
-#-#-#-#- Much Much Later, Low Over The Nubian Desert -#-#-#-#-
"Holdin' steady at three hundred knots at just about teen feet off the floor." Ace declared to his passengers; Ranma who sat in the co-pilot seat, Gina who was seated behind the red-head, Stryyp who sat behind him, and Britanny who stood scowling at the back of Ranma's head from the cockpit doorway.
Turning from gazing out the window at the dunes flying quickly by, Gina voiced her concern over their closeness to the sands below. "Do we really need to be so close to the ground, Ace?"
"Would you feel better if he were close to the waters over there?" Ranma teased.
"At the speed we're going it wouldn't matter if we hit ground or water!" Gina retorted nervously.
Chuckling Ace answered her question, "Truth Gee, it'd be a mess, and no, I don't need to be so close to the ground, but it's fun isn't it?"
"It is to me! I can't wait 'til I learn how to do this!" Ranma declared before Gina could voice her opinion. Looking up from watching Ace's hands on the controls, she turned her grinning countenance upon those seated behind her before settling upon Britanny. "What do you think kitty?"
"Gina, tell little Miss Red I'm not talking to her, and tell her to stop calling me kitty before I slap her silly!"
"Oh! You rhymed! How precious!" Ranma chirped as cutely as she could, her eyes practically sparkling with cuteness."
Covering her eyes with her left arm Britanny uttered a quick "GAH!"
"You should really just get over yourself kitty, what I did to you wasn't all that bad and despite your complaints I know you enjoy it." Ranma stated after chuckling at the werecheetahs reaction to her kawaii attack. "I mean look at Gina, she's OK with it."
Both sisters blushed, and though one looked away the other did her best to burn a hole through Ranma's head with her eyes and was just about to express her anger physical when Stryyp asked, "What's that red, blinking light on the control panel mean Ace?" pointing a hand towards the light in question.
The man's eloquent reply was, "What?", his eyes widening slightly in alarm.
"Holy Smoke! Someone's got a missile lock on us! I'd better transmit my I.I.F. code before these scrubs blow us away!"
After doing so, Ace began talking to someone through his headset, and from what they could hear, no one had a doubt the conversation was a friendly one.
The sudden appearance of several jet fighters coming up along their side than slowing down to get in behind him didn't promote any warm fuzzy feelings either.
"Ace, your console is buzzing like a hornets' nest! What's happening out there?"
"Nothing serious, Gee… They just unloaded all their missiles on us… that's all."
"You don't seem too worried about it!" Gina exclaimed her voice squeaking a bit.
"Don't sweat it, Gee… " Ace responded calmly, his demeanor cool and collected, his hands not shaking even a bit. "At ten feet off the turf with my ECM blaring in their faces everything's a target to those radar-homing missiles! Their proximity fuses will detonate way before they even get near us! The explosions' heat should take out any heat-seekers that were fired too!"
When everything went exactly as he foretold they heard Ace taunt his assailant. "Hope you didn't pay too much for those missiles Dark Bird!"
The telltale sound of metal shredding was heard as bullets ripped through the right wing and engine of the plane.
Seeing plumes of flame shoot out of the engine through the window Ranma said, "Um, Ace, they just put a hole lotta holes in the engine on this side. The wings OK though, if that's important."
"Good to know Red." Ace chuckled, still sounding composed, though Ranma could see a trace of worry in eyes and in the way Ace gripped the stick a little tighter. "You guys better get ghost… I'll be fine."
"What, leave you to…" Stryyp stated even as Ranma proclaimed, "We're not leaving you…"
"Ace knows what he's doing, he's been in a lot worse positions, so we should do as he says." Gina, who was already heading towards the cockpit door, said. "Now come on."
"You sure about this?" Ranma asked standing up from the co-pilot seat.
"I got this." Ace affirmed. "You just keep those girls and yourself safe, you hear?"
"Wouldn't think of doing anything else."
"Good ta hear Red, because they mean a lot to me, never mind the fact you still owe me another thirty minutes and that's one debt my girlfriend would never forgive me for not collecting on!"
Ranma stepped over to the man, squeezed his shoulder, than turned to race into the cargo bay expecting to see at least the two sisters already in the car. She instead found the three of them standing a bit away from the vehicle staring at Khuva whose was growling at them from the back seat.
"Um Ranma, can you do something? We really need to leave." The sound of more metal being shot up sounded throughout the bay. "Now."
Shaking her head Ranma made a few quick gestures with her hands and to their amazement, the Stalker reacted instantly, leaping from the backseat towards the red-head. They were further amazed at seeing the over six foot long beasts' form shrink becoming the size of a small house cat. A size that allowed Ranma to catch her, than place her across her shoulders where the creature settled in quickly indicating it was used to such a mode of transportation.
"What?" Ranma asked smirking.
Stryyp's comment of "Impressive" earned Ranma a harrumph from Britanny before she leapt into the passenger seat with a call of "Shotgun", her sister already in the driver's seat starting the vehicle up.
"You and Stryyp can hop in the back." Gina said without looking up. "Hope you don't mind that the seats face backwards."
"Nope, but gimme a sec." Ranma said walking past them towards the back of the car.
"We seriously don't have time for grabbing supplies, Ranma." Gina shouted as the plane rocked from a missile exploding far too closely.
"Not grabbing supplies, just making sure everyone gets off the plane like Ace wants." The red-head responded thrusting a hand up into the overhead compartment behind the car. They heard a clearly female squeak of surprise and when Ranma pulled her hand back, Gina could only stare in confusion at seeing her holding a black-garbed ninja by the lapels of its uniform. "Which means, we can't be leaving this one behind."
Britanny yelled, "Where the heck did she come from?" able to tell the gender of the ninja from the protuberances on uniforms chest area.
"Better question, why didn't you notice her being on board?" Ranma replied slipping into the back of the car, pulling the person into the car with her, seating the ninja on her lap. "Aren't werecheetahs supposed to have heightened senses? Like smell or hearing?"
"Gina, tell the witch I didn't ask her 'cause I'm not talking to her."
Crossing her arms over her chest Britanny pouted. "Fine. But once you're not!"
"Still busy sis!" Gina declared.
Once Ranma and his cargo was secure, canopy fully closed, she gave Ace the all clear. "We're good to go!"
Ace's voice came over the vehicles radio. "I'll pick you guys up at Tel Aviv! Be safe Gee!"
"Rodger that, Ace, luck to us both." Gina responded, the car already in reverse heading, tires spinning briefly before grabbing traction launching the car backwards and out of the now fully open cargo ramp.
Behind her Stryyp yelled, "GINA, WE'RE GOING TO CRASH!" as the car left the relative safety of the C-130 Hercules, falling towards the ground.
"Don't worry, Stryyp, the Gina mobile Mark Two can handle a drop from a skyscraper!"
The vehicle touched down and bounced once before settling upon the sands. "Besides, I've got three more Gina-mobiles at home if thus one doesn't make it, right Cheetah?"
"That doesn't mean I want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Not with little miss Red anyway." Britanny answered gruffly.
"Shesh, lighten up." Gina said turning the car towards the waters of the red-sea, slamming it into second making the car race forward avoiding the falling ordinance dropped by the planes screeching overhead. She made a brief joke about hoping there weren't any cops around as three-hundred and eighty miles per hour would net her one heck of a ticket.
Above them, Ace forced his pursuers to veer off using a holographic projector fooling them into thinking his plane had armaments, specifically a photon torpedo launcher.
"Um, Gina, we're heading towards water." A worried Stryyp pointed out as the car crested a dune.
"Oh didn't I tell you." Gina smiled proudly while dramatically flipping a switch on the console between her and her sister cause the wheels of the car to rotate up and outwards providing more than enough downward thrust to keep the car off the ground. "This puppy can hover!"
A second later, the car started out across the water picking up speed.
A few hundred yards out Gina asked, "So, since Britanny isn't talking to you, and Stryyp is too polite to just come out and ask, I will. Who's our stow away?"
"This?" Ranma said poking the ninja in his lap getting a clearly female sounding squeal from them. "This is is a cheeky teen who is under the delusion she's my student."
"I AM!" Mika defended loudly. "You promised to teach me! By definition, that makes you my sensei, so there!
"OK, I did promise to teach you a few things, but I never said I was taking you on as a permanent student." Ranma responded glowering at the girl in his lap.
She then pulling the hood off Mika's head revealing her startling red-hair with black roots. "You should consider yourself lucky I didn't. If I had, you'd be in a whole lotta trouble for disobeying me given I told you not follow me"
"And since your manners seem to have vanished, I'll offer up introductions." Using a hand under her chin Ranma turned her head towards each person as she them. "This is Stryyp, Prince of El Dorado, Gina Diggers, Archeologist and Treasure Hunter, and her sister Kitty Diggers, Werecheetah and Queen of the Pouty-Face." She then waved her free hand towards the girl in her lap. "Everyone, this is She Who Suffers From Delusions, though I'm leaning towards calling her P.I.T.A.. Less of a mouthful."
Not liking her introduction Britanny growled loudly firm in sticking to her guns about not talking to Ranma.
"Her name is Cheetah." Stryyp said, offering his hand to the young teen. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance young lady."
"Thank you…" The blushing teen responded shakily accepting the handshake after giving a bow as is Japanese custom. "I'm Gosunkugi Mika, please be kind to me."
She then glared at Ranma. "And I am not a pain in the ass, though I can be if I want to!"
"Trust me girl, you do not want to go there with me. I'll win every time." Ranma retorted with a devilish smirk.
"Is she always this touchy?" Mika asked of the Kryn prince who chuckled shaking his head.
"No, not commonly… Ranma tends to… rub her the wrong way. I in fact wish she'd try to do a little less of it."
"Can't help it if Miss Kitty is so thin skinned." Ranma responded. "And for the record, I've only been responding to her slights."
The Anything Goes martial artist pointedly ignored the death-glare shot her way by the leggy werecheetah.
"Just the same, I would appreciate it if you would be a little less confrontational."
"I will if she will."
"Um, Mr. Stryyp, are you really a cat man?" Mika asked. "And is she really a cat girl?"
Stryyp chuckled at the girls' question. "Though Britanny and I possess feline traits we aren't cat-people, Miss Gosunkugi. Me, I'm a Kryn, and Cheetah, she is a werecheetah."
"P-Please call me Mika, Mr. Stryyp."
"Then you must call me Stryyp."
The girl girls blushing exclamation of "Oh no… I couldn't do that! It wouldn't be proper! You're a Prince!" had Ranma rolling her eyes and Stryyp chuckling.
Britanny's response was to growl loudly, not liking how the false-red-headed teen seemed to be sucking up to her love interest.
"Great, now we got a ninja tagging along." Britanny mumbled than said to her sister, "Your fault of course Red, which means she's your baggage. I'm here to protect my sister and my muffin, not you two."
"HEY! I don't need your protection from some stupid furry person!" Mika countered, than bowed to Stryyp in apology. "No offense meant Mr. Stryyp."
"I can see why sensei doesn't get along with her though."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Britanny demanded.
"You're not very nice."
"Yeah, well, I'd be a heck of a lot nicer if she wasn't such a jerk. Something you seem two have in common pint-stuff." Britanny huffed.
Taking her comment to mean something else due to comments made to her by her cousin concerning her chest size, Mika got angry. "At least I won't knock myself out while running!"
"You're just jealous I've got something up top bigger than an apple short-stuff." Britanny shot back.
"Hrumph! I bet those air-bags on your chest aren't even real!"
"Oh these are one-hundred percent real little girl!" Britanny shot back placing her hands under them lifting them up than letting them drop so they jiggled.
"I bet they'll be hanging down by your knees by the time you're thirty! And where do you get your clothes? A kid's store? I wouldn't be caught dead in something with a smiling cat-face on it." A red-faced Mika retorted making fun of light-blue sleeveless stretch-top Britanny was wearing. "And those ratty pants? A thrift store?"
"YOU DID NOT JUST DISS THE CLOTHES!" Britanny near screamed.
She was half-out of her seat intent on climbing into the back to teach Mika a lesson when Gina put a stop to it. "Cheetah, sit back down, or I swear I'll have my hurt-bots hide every can of tuna at the house!"
Head snapping so fast it made a crack Britanny gasped out, "You wouldn't dare!"
"In a heartbeat!" Gina affirmed, then said "As for you little-miss stow away, you crossed a line insulting her clothes."
"Darn tootin' she did!" Britanny growled out.
"I'll handle this sis." Gina stated flatly making her sister pout. "Now, anything other than pleasantries out of you girly and I'll have Ranma stuff you in the trunk!"
"Sensei wouldn't let her do that to me!" Mika said trying to put up a good front. "Right Sensei?"
"Her car, her rules."
"Damn skippy it is."
"But you let Ranma insult her!"
"Yeah, what's with that sis?"
"Because so far she hasn't started any of your confrontations, sis."
"Traitor." Britanny pouted, arms folding over her chest.
"Now Miss Gosunkugi, I expect you to apologize to Cheetah. Furthermore, I expect the two of you to stop sniping at each other." Gina declared flatly, and then softly added. "I'd appreciate if you'd do the same Ranma, at least for the next four or so hours it's going to take to get to Farasan Island, ok?"
"Sure thing." Ranma agreed.
"Why are you asking her so nicely?!" Britanny grumbled.
"Maybe because she's been nothing but nice to me?"
"Hrumph. I never thought you swung that…"
"Finish that statement and it'll be you stuffed in the trunk!"
Seeing her sister had wisely chosen to stare out the window rather than test her, Gina turned her attention back to the previous conversation. "Well, let's have it Miss Gosunkugi."
"You're apology. Or should I take your attempt at avoiding so to mean you'd prefer the trunk?"
"NO!" Mika yelled.
"Then get apologizing missy!"
"I'm sorry." The young ninja-in-training muttered.
"I'm sorry Miss Diggers." Gina corrected.
"I'm sorry Miss Diggers." Mika repeated, a bit louder than her first mumbled apology, though not much.
"It'll do for now. However, next time when I tell you suggest you apologize, you'd better say it like you meant it or you won't like what I do to get it. Sticking you in the trunk is nothing compared to the punishments I can come up with, got me?"
"Yes Miss Gina." Mika responded firmly without hesitation.
Silence then pervaded the inside of the vehicle for several miles.
"So Mika." Gina chirped, all traces of her earlier annoyance seemingly vanishing. "Tell me a bit about yourself."
"Let's start with something easy, such as why you stowed away on the plane? After that, you can move on to other easy things such as your age, favorite foods, current grade, favorite class, how you and Ranma met, everything you know about her, or her brother…"
"You can skip those last two Mika." Ranma interjected earning him a "Spoilsport" from Gina.
"Why did I stow away? Well duh, I followed Sensei!"
"Which you shouldn't have." Ranma stated earning him a pout from the girl on his lap.
"Then why didn't you stop me?" Mika challenged.
"Yes Red, why didn't you stop the little snot-nosed sneak?" Britanny asked. "Or did you not notice her sneaking on board?"
"Talking to me now Kitty?"
"Just shut up and answer the question!"
"Can't do both, shut up and answer, so pick one. If I were you I'd go with the shut up, but I'm laying odds ten to one you're too stubborn to take my advice."
"Arg! Answer the question!"
Before an exasperated Gina could tell them to stop arguing Ranma answered, "Well, since you asked so nicely… sure I noticed her sneaking onto the plane, but I didn't stop her because it was her choice to follow me, and as stupid an idea as it was, it wasn't my place to stop her."
"First, I'm not her father."
"You mean mother?" Gina asked.
"I'm not that either." Ranma answered smoothly.
"Mika is her own person and she's got to learn from her mistakes. That doesn't mean I won't interfere if I see her about to make a decision that might get her or someone else killed. It means I'm a firm believer in allowing a person every opportunity to learn from their mistakes rather than force them to avoid making them in the first place. It's the best way to learn."
"That's just dumb." Britanny belittled. "She's what, fourteen? She isn't capable of making good decisions yet!"
"I'm seventeen thank you! And I am able to make good decisions, like knowing when to stop over-eating, unlike you." Mika reached out and grasped at Britanny's waistline. "Looks like someone's been eating a few too many sweets."
Britanny sputtered for several seconds before angrily shrieking, "My waist is not fat!"
Whatever Mika had planned to say in response never came for the girl slumped forward like a puppet with its strings cut.
To everyone's surprise, Britanny reacted rather protectively immediately showing concern for the now limp teen.
"Hey, is she ok?"
Ranma answered, "Yeah, just asleep; figured it was better than having Gina pull over so I could stuff her into the trunk."
Britanny eyed the two of them for several seconds, even going so far as to reach out a hand to check the teens pulse. Satisfied, the werecheetah caught Ranma's eyes with hers. "Ok, but I'm watching you Red! You had better not try anything perverted with her like you did me 'n my sister, or I swear we'll find out how far I can skip you like a rock."
"Don't worry, Mika's too young for me."
"Too young for you, you look what, seventeen? Nineteen at most." Britanny shot back.
"I age well."
"Cheetah, Ranma's older than the both of us."
"According to her birth-certificate she's 23. Her brother would be 24."
"I'll be twenty five in a couple months."
Scowling, the werecheetah kept eye contact with an earnest Ranma for several seconds before nodding and turning back around. "Fine, but that doesn't mean I', not going to watch you!"
Seated the way they were, facing the rear of the car, Ranma leaned her head back into her seat, head close to Gina's the blond overheard her quietly muttered "Your sister on the other hand…" causing the blond to blush and veer off course.
"Huh? Were we going the wrong way or something sis?" Britanny enquired not having heard Ranma as she'd been asking Stryyp if he was comfortable.
"No, I um, just thought I saw something in the water."
ooO Later… A Few Minutes To Midnight Ooo
"Farasan Island dead head!" Gina announced their imminent arrival.
"Thank the kami." Ranma whispered to Stryyp. "One more round of row-row-row your boat and I would've jumped out of the car to swim the rest of the way."
"Indeed. Though I'm I am just glad Cheetah convinced her to start at one thousand 'test tubes on the shelf' to count rather than the one million she wanted." Stryyp replied thinking about Gina's variation on 'One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall'.
"You're welcome Muffin." Britanny, who heard their comments, added her two cents. "You'd think the little geek would've put a radio in this thing with all the gadgets and gizmos she stuffed into it, but nooooooo."
"Like can you complain? You were catnapping for almost the entire trip." Mika pointed out not wishing to miss a chance to take a pot shot at the werecheetah she'd come to think of as her rival for Kryn Princes attention.
"You're one to talk little miss snores-a-lot!" The werecheetah shot back.
Glaring over her shoulder at Ranma, berated her sensei, "Mine wasn't by choice, and I do not snore".
"Yes you do snore, kinda a cute buzzing sound." Ranma teased.
"Yeah, well I'm glad I was asleep anyway! Better than listening to her complaints about not being in the back seat with Mr. Stryyp, or listening to her gripe at her sister for having walked in on their 'conjugal jamboree'. Twice."
"Whoa whoa! Let's not rehash that tête-à-tête, ok?" Gina put in wanting to stay as far away from that subject as possible.
"Why not? I'm hoping to see that face she made again when you said how 'buff' Mr. Stryyp was."
"You know, the trunk is still an option." Britanny deadpanned.
"No it's not." Gina replied.
"Why not?" Britanny all but demanded to know.
"Because, we're here."
Pulling the car to a stop a short distance on to the island Gina popped the canopy allowing everyone to climb out.
Pointing towards a small section of raise rocks at a glowing sheet of yellow energy that stretched into the sky as far as the eye could see Britanny asked, "Hey, what's that over there?"
Holding a recording specially made digital camera to her eyes, Gina answered, hands clicking away taking pictures. "This is it! All we've got to do now is go inside this Ether-Gate, get the goods, get out by using my Light-Gate Generator, and we're in fat city!"
"I hate to be the negative one, but what if it doesn't work?" Ranma asked.
"I'm sure the Ether-Gate will work." Gina replied confidently while stepping around to the side of the gate taking pictures of it from that angle.
"I meant the Light-Gate Generator. What if it doesn't work on the other side of this thing?"
"Oh." Gina said lowering her camera. A second later, it was back up to her face as she waved a hand dismissively. "I'm sure I'll think of something."
"O.K." Ranma said shrugging.
"Wow Red, you take things way to lightly." Britanny commented walking past Ranma and Mika heading towards the sheet of glowing yellow light. "If I were you I'd be worried, seeing as sis usually ends up getting us into all kinds of trouble, which I have to get her out of, of course."
"Given my life, there's no use worrying about what I can't control, Kitty, I'd be worrying twenty fours a day."
Britanny turned to growl at Ranma, "For the last time Red, my name is Cheetah!"
"And mine's Ranma, nice to meetcha."
The werecheetah blinked for several seconds, surprised at Ranma's friendly tone, and try as she might, she could not detect a trace of the expected sarcasm from the girl who was holding her hand out waiting for her to take it.
Before she could either accept the offer or throw it back in Ranma's face she unconsciously took a step back the fur on the back of her neck standing up. This was caused by Khuva leaping from the car landing between her and the Anything Goes Master directing a glare towards her, one she could only take as a 'back-off-bitch' look.
Mika, who had never seen the Stalker as it had remained curled up at Ranma's feet in the car, immediately screamed in horror, moving to take shelter behind Britanny who's own discomfort was forgotten in favor of staring down at the shorter girl in disbelief.
"Short-stuff here's never seen toothy has she?"
With no remorse over Khuva's frightening either of them, only humor, Ranma response was a simple "Nope".
Khuva's throaty long growl did nothing to ease the nervousness of either girl given the Stalker took a threatening step in their direction.
"Oh, and she says her name is Khuva, not Toothy. You'd best call her that because she'd got a lot less tolerance for disrespect than I do, that and because she's more willing to bite than I am."
"You can understand that thing?" Britanny asked pointing a shaking hand at the beast.
Khuva's growl took on a far more menacing tone, the muscles of her legs rippling as the beast tensed in readiness to pounce. When a stream of water struck the Stalker on the nose, it let out a yelp of surprise, backpedaling several steps before pawing at her nose trying to wipe it off.
Seeing Gina holding a spray-bottle Ranma let out a belly laugh earning her a multi-toned snarl from his quadrupedal companion.
"Take it up with her if you want, not me," Ranma commented, laughing a bit more when Khuva took a brief threatening step forward, only to backpedal again when another shot of water struck her snout. Sitting on her haunches, Khuva let out a little whine as she rubbed her nose against her leg to get the offending liquid off.
"Now that we have that settled." Gina stated putting the bottle back into her backpack. "We should get our rears in gear and go through the Ether-Gate before it closes. That is why we came here."
Without further comment, the blond treasure-seeker stepped up to and through the sheet of light disappearing from sight.
Again shrugging, Ranma made to follow her only to stop when both Sisa and Britanny spoke, one saying "I am afraid Khuva will be incapable of passing through the Ether-Gate Ranma." the other "Remember what I said Red, if there's any trouble, I'll handle it.".
"Why not?" Britanny asked before Ranma could.
"Protective measures appear to be in place precluding non-humanoid fauna from transitioning."
"Again, this time not in geek-speak."
"Nothing not human can pass through the glowy light thing." Ranma said putting her arms around the beasts head, giving her a hug, one the Stalker nuzzled happily into.
"I'll be back girl." Ranma said releasing the hug to look at Britanny and replied to her earlier statement. "The best you're gonna get is that I won't get involved in any fight you're in without you or your sister asking me to help."
Her adding "But if someone hurts Gina, tough" left Gina blushing slightly.
"I'm sure that is acceptable Ranma." Stryyp said laying a hand on Britanny's shoulder.
"Fine." Britanny huffed. "But only if I don't protect her first. And stop hitting on my sister! She don't swing that way!"
"Would you rather I hit on Stryyp?"
"You wouldn't dare?" The werecheetah growled, her eyes flashing dangerously.
"Sure I would, if only to tick you off."
Britanny's growl deepened, her whole posture showing her anger from the way she tensed.
"Honestly I'd rather not as he's not my type, no offense Stryyp."
The Kryn nodded. "None taken."
"But if you insist on being a pain in my ass about things I'll go that route and do my damn best to embarrass the heck out of you every chance I get. Again, no offense to you Stryyp."
This time the prince simply nodded.
"Who says you'll be around enough to do it!" Britanny shot back, arms crossing over her chest, a superior smirk gracing her lips.
"Oh, I know this one!" Mika exclaimed, hopping up and down with her hand raised. Once Ranma acknowledged her with a nod she went on. "Gina will!"
"What makes you say that shorty?"
"Duh, even I can tell she's curious about my sensei's past, curious enough to go out of her way to make time to be with her!"
Knowing the teen was right given how her sister had already gone out of her way to do research on the red-head Britanny muttered several disparaging remarks about her sisters' damned curiosity.
"Fine! But if she say's to back off, you back off, deal?"
"And you do nothing to ruin my chances."
With a sigh, Britanny offered her hand "Deal".
After shaking hands on the deal, Ranma turned to Mika. "You and Sisa will stay here to keep Khuva company."
"You… you aren't leaving me here with that…" Mika cast her eyes towards the Stalker whose lips pulled back showing even more teeth as it met her gaze defiantly. "Um… with Khuva."
"Relax, she's just a big ole softy as long as you respect her boundaries. Besides, you'll be safer here with her than with us in there."
Britanny's snort earned her a growl from Khuva and Ranma saying, "She handled you well enough back at the Tendo Dojo."
"She got lucky, that's all."
"But Ranma!" Mika cried interrupting the budding argument. "I wanna go too!"
The teen crossed her arms before her giving Ranma a hard glare. "Fine, after you go through I'll just follow you, so there!"
"No you won't."
"Yes I will, it's my choice and nothing you say will change my mind!"
"Well, if that's how you feel, I guess that my word as your sensei means nothing, which means I should drop you as my student."
"Your student…" Mika gasped.
"You heard me, you stay here, and I'll officially take you on as a student."
The beaming teen immediately bowed towards her now official sensei. "I will do as you ask, sensei!"
After returning her bow, Ranma stepped through the sheet of light.
"Keep an eye on the car too, ok?" Britanny asked.
Mika ignored her, bowing to the Kryn prince. "Come back safe Mr. Stryyp."
Stryyp returned the bow. "I will Mika."
"What about me?" Britanny asked.
"Don't you have some cows to make jealous Miss Titty-Kitty?"
Britanny might've swatted the teen had Stryyp and Khuva not moved between them; one growling warningly, the other stating his displeasure.
"Miss Gosunkugi, that wasn't very nice. I expect you to apologize immediately."
Bowing her head Mika made a sincere sounding act of contrition. "I'm sorry Miss Diggers." In truth only feeling sorry upset the Kryn prince.
"Thank you Mika, however, you should work on not saying such things in the first place."
Bowing again Mika uttered, "Hai".
Nodding Stryyp turned away, thus missing the teen sticking her tongue out at Britanny.
"Come on Muffin, we'd best follow in case something big and ugly is on the other side of this thing trying to eat my sister… in which case I can vent some of these store-up frustrations of mine!" Britanny said tugging on his arm while casting a glare at the teen.
ooO The Other Side Of The Ether-Gate Ooo
"Whoa, who forgot to pay the electric bill for this place!" Britanny commented on the lack of lighting than whistled. "No echo so we're not in a cave. Hey Gina, you here?"
"I'm over here."
"I can't even see my hands." Stryyp chimed in.
"Hey sis, how about you get your flashlight out so we can give this place a gander."
"I thought of that already, Cheetah, but I dropped it." Gina lamented. "Help me look for it, guys."
"It sure is quiet in here. The only thing I can hear is our breathing. What about you Stryyp?"
"This place feels too eerie to me, Cheetah, the sooner we're able to see the better I'll feel."
"Same here." Britanny replied. "Wait a second… hmmm. This feels kind of interesting! I wonder what it is?"
"Cheetah…" Came Stryyp's nervous voice.
In contrast, Britanny's voice was playfully seductive. "Yes, Muffin?"
"That's meeeiiieeee!" Stryyp squeaked out, his voice going up an octave towards the end when the amorous werecheetah playfully gave his groin a squeeze.
"Oh…" Britanny coo'd, her hand slipping past the band of his pants.
"Could you let go? Your hands are cold!"
"Oh…! Oh! I'm sorry…" Britanny apologized. "I just realized which part of you I grabbed… heh… sorry!"
"That's ok. It is dark here." Stryyp accepted her apology if only to keep her sister from know exactly what his girlfriend had been groping.
"Don't let Cheetah fool you Stryyp! She can see into the infrared spectrum so she knew exactly where she was grabbing you! Now stop playing around and find my flashlight, Cheetah!"
"Here's your stupid flashlight, you party-pooping little nerd!" Britanny complained slapping it into her sisters' hand. "It was beside your foot the whole time!"
With light, the group could see they were surrounded by trees.
"Where did that Ether-Gate take us?" Stryyp asked looking around. "It looks like some kind of forest!"
"It's part of Ether-Gates dimension, the forest I mean. And as you can see…" She pointed her flashlight up to the leaf filled branches above them "…the canopy is so dense star-light can't even get through."
"All we have to do now is track down some of that hindrium ore and we can leave!" Gina plucked a device from her belt with her spare hand. "This tricorder should easily find us some!"
"Hey, where's Ranma?" Stryyp asked not seeing the red-head present. "She went through the gate ahead of Britanny and I."
"Then she should…"
"Omigod! Sh-shut up! Everybody!" Britanny commanded cutting her sister off.
"Rude much Chee…"
"Shut up Gina! I'm trying to listen!".
Catching each others eyes after looking warily about Stryyp and Gina turned their attention back to a still Britanny.
"Maybe you heard Ranma?" Gina whispered, clipping her tricorder back on her hip, hand moving to her holster, thumb ready to depress the locking release on her weapon.
"No, I heard something or someone growl a second ago!" Britanny whispered back. "Raised the hackles on the back of my neck big time!"
"Maybe it was Khuva?"
"That floating orb thingie, Sisa, said Khuva couldn't get through the gate so it can't be her, now zip your trap I'm trying to listen!"
A moment later Britanny stuttered out, "G…G…Gina, we need to get out of here now!"
"We should find Ranma first." Stryyp stated, his eyes scanning the thick foliage around them for any signs of the danger Britanny claimed was present.
"As much as I hate to admit it, Red can handle herself; the three of us need to skedaddle, pronto!"
"Cheetah, Stryyp is right, we can't just leave her behind, nor can we leave without locating the hindrium or Atlantis is sunk." Gina replied, her pun eliciting a groan from her sister. "A sec is all I need to tune my tri-corder to add lifeforms and…"
Out of the foliage a bit to their left burst two large furred figures, one male, one female, both dressed in small amounts of light beige leather covering just enough to keep things from becoming rated R. Both were clearly racing towards the threesome after a cry of "NOW!"
"The werecat is mine, Thabian! Make sure the others don't interrupt us!" The seven-foot-seven red and white furred female lycanthrope declared, her final leap taking her directly at her prey.
Thabian, an eight-foot tall grey and white furred mountain of muscles responded by palming Gina by the head with his massive clawed hand eliciting a startled "Eek!" of terror from the blond. "Of course, Jetta. But be careful!".
Britanny's surprise was such that she didn't react to Jetta grabbing her by the throat one handed save for an exclamation of "AAK! WEREWOLVES!".
"You're meatier than other werecats of your kind, my dear. But your strength is still far less than a werewolf's!" Jetta said declared as she gripped Cheetah by the neck with a hand and leaped away with her prey into the woods and out of Gina and Stryyp's sight.
Thabian started to lift his arm meaning to pick Gina up by her head only to stop, unable to move it an inch, when someone gripped his wrist.
"Bad idea furball." A female voice to his left stated flatly from his left.
Eyes going towards the owner of the hand keeping his arm from moving Thabian boggled for a moment at how a human girl who stood nearly a full three feet less in height could possess the strength to hold his arm in place by the wrist. When he didn't immediately let go Ranma put pressure on his wrist, sufficient pressure to cause the large werewolf to grimace in pain and release his hold on Gina.
Head no longer palmed Gina rushed behind Stryyp who asked, "Why do you attack us?"
"Only the werecheetah, man-cat. You and these humans may live if you leave the werecat to us!" Thabian's threatening step towards the two found Ranma barring his path.
"Whoa up there big-guy." The Anything Goes martial artist cautioned confidently staring up at the eight-foot plus mountain of fur-covered muscle. "How about you tell us why you're attacking Miss Kitty so we can settle things before they get ugly."
Stepping closer to Ranma so he loomed over her five-foot two form Thabian growled out, "She is our enemy and must be killed as will you if you interfere! NOW GO!"
"Whoa, serious doggie breath." Ranma said waving her left hand in front of her face while her right moved to search her pockets. "Hang on a sec, I might have a kaol."
Clutching a closed first before her face Thabian grabbed Ranma by the front of her shirt lifting her off the ground by a foot. "I won't warn you again!"
"Let her go!" Stryyp howled rushing the two, chopping at Thabian's hand so he'd release Ranma. That done, the Kryn prince interposed himself between the two females and the werewolf, left hand shooting forward to strike Thabian's jaw. A punch that did little more than force the muscular werewolf to turn his head to the side. Stryyp's next blow Thabian caught with a hand.
"I hoped you'd do something stupid like that!"
"I didn't." Ranma uttered while readying herself to go to Stryyp's aid only be stopped by Gina.
"Go help Cheetah, Stryyp and I have this!"
Uttering, "Cheetah ain't gonna like it." Before giving the werewolf an angry glare, swearing to pound him into a pancake if he hurt Gina in the least, Ranma shot off into the woods.
He didn't have any problems finding the two as they were making no attempts at trying to be subtle given their fight had resulted in the destruction of several trees, the last of which Ranma took a seat upon rather than just jumping into the fray. The main reason for this was her amusement at seeing Britanny's current predicament; that of having her head sticking out of one side of a tree.
"Ooooh! Poochie, you are sooooo dead!" Britanny growled, trying to free herself from the tree with her hands but having difficulty.
"I don't think so werecheetah…" Jetta snarled back, then with a sniff pinched her nose with one hand while stepping around the tree-trunk so she was on the same side as Britanny's head. "Yuck! You have the stench of a shopping mall about you!"
"Hey! No dissing the mall!"
"I knew it." Jetta declared stepping around the tree to place both her hands one Britanny's head, one behind the other under the chin. "Soft, pampered, disgusting!"
With no apparent difficulty, Jetta ripped Britanny the rest of the way through the tree splintering it in the process.
"Your pelt won't even make a decent trophy!" Jetta stated hurling Britanny further away from the others towards another tree where she struck it chest first, going through the tree trunk as if it was paper, though it didn't like so to the werecheetah given the way it hurt. Before the werecheetah could get to her feet Jetta was already upon her, the two rolling around on the ground in their struggle for who'd control their grapple.
"You know." Ranma chimed in. To her hilarity both combatants froze, their arms and legs entangled in awkward ways as they turned to look at her in almost perfect synchronicity. It took a considerate amount of control to not fall over laughing at how the two resembled a pair of cartoon characters frozen in mid-battle. "Big Red there has a point, Cheetah. You're definitely soft… very pampered… even a wee bit chunky around the thighs from the way their jigging as you thrash about."
"But at least you're are wearing underwear as Big-red there is giving me a free look at her goods, above and below, thanks to her Tarzan-and-Jane outfit. Plus, I'm guessing she and the hunk of meat I left fighting your beau are probably crawling with fleas."
The two performed synchronized blinks.
"You probably do to, now anyway, with how the two of you are rollin' around on the ground with each other like a pair of wrestlers looking for a mud-pit." Ranma cited. "I'm seeing a flea collar in your future, Cheetah… or maybe those little drops they but on the back of a cats neck. Of course it'd mean one of those cat-cones too, wouldn't want you to get sick if you cleaned yourself or something."
Ranma rolled off her log seat avoiding the twin attacks by the two enraged werecreatures; Jetta screaming "Pervert!" and Britanny "Die!".
"Good, I got your attention." Giving ground the red-head dusted off bits of splintered tree from her shirt between ducking under kicks or punches sent her way. "So how about we settle this without deforestation?"
The two female weres halted their attacks to point at each other shouting, "There's no talking with/to a werewolf/cheetah!"
"Seriously?" Ranma sweat-dropped. "In stereo?"
Neither of the two responded as they'd turned their attentions back to their fight; the pair now circling each other like a pair of pro-wrestlers.
"No Ranma! This werewolf is going down, so give it up 'n go protect my sister like you said you would!"
"Who do you think sent me to help you rocks-for-brains, the tooth fairy?"
"Well, I don't need your help shorty, or your insults, so stick to our deal!" Britanny demanded.
Jetta tried to go for a clinch only to be pushed back in order to avoid a series of hyper-fast punches.
"And that deal was you stay out of my fights but help Gina if I tell you to. Well, I'm telling you to!"
Britanny dodged a lunge by Jetta, scoring a solid shot to the werewolves jaw than rolled over the werewolves back to throw a kick at Ranma that missed by barely an inch due to the Anything Goes martial artist leaning slightly back.
"That's not quite how I remember it… and you've got a little something on the bottom of your shoe there. Gum I think."
"Shut Up And Go Help Gina!" Britanny yelled coming back to her feet after rolling over the red werewolves back forging the opportunity to deliver a blow to the red and white furred lycanthrope to avoid Jetta's left claw towards her chest.
"Fine. Shesh, so bossy!" The red-head replied, clearly annoyed.
"But before I go." Ranma snapped out a hand at Jetta slapping something to the werewolves stomach, a 'Baby On Board' sign. "Keep that in mind ok?"
Knocking the sign from her belly with a snarl Jetta attempted to prevent Ranma's departure with a high-kick. To her and Britanny's amazement, the Anything Goes Martial Artist casually avoided the attack by hopping up in the air coming down to perch upon Jetta's outstretched leg before springing away as if she were using a diving board.
Springing from tree to tree Ranma reached Stryyp and Gina dropping out of the sky high kicking Thabian in the stomach ending his hammer-blows on the force-bubble the two had been sheltering behind.
"Hey, neat force-field." Ranma flicked it with a finger causing ripples to flow across the shields surface.
"Thanks for the save Ranma, where's Cheetah?" Gina asked lowering the shield.
"Still fighting Big-Red." The red-head informed, her head turned in the direction she'd just sent the werewolf. She smiled briefly at seeing she'd not added to the forests destruction with her humanoid-missile.
"I thought I sent you to help her?"
"Ya did, but Cheetah's being all 'It's my fight'." Ranma answered going on to mutter "damn stubborn tomboys always thinking they don't need help when they're outclassed" rather loudly.
Stryyp started to suggest Britanny might accept his help over Ranma's only to yell 'look out' while grabbing Gina pulling out safely out of the path of the uprooted tree that came flying towards them from the direction the Anything Goes martial artist had propelled the grey-furred werewolf.
Ranma, instead of ducking or stepping out of the way, chose to leap up on to the deciduous projectile running along its length either stepping around or flipping over the many leafy branches before landing back in the spot she'd been in prior.
"Serious, what've you werewolves got against trees for Kami's sake!" Ranma yelled at Thabian as he debouched out of the forest. "I just don't get it. You're sorta a dog, right, and dogs love trees, right? So what's the deal? Is it a personal thing or is that why dogs piss on trees, because they hate them? I thought they did that to mark their territory. Care to clear up this little mystery there tall dark and furry?"
Still advancing towards a clearly annoyed Thabian cracked his knuckles before him, eyes glaring at the red-head before him. "You're going to sound awfully funny trying to make jokes once I pull your tongue out of your mouth girl."
"Least you didn't just say 'Die'. As nostalgic as that is it gets a bit repetitive." Ranma gestured back the way she came with a thumb. "Hey, has he flashed you like the other werewolf did me, or is this guy wearing something to keep his goods from knocking together like newton's cradle?"
Ranma squatted down, avoiding Thabian's punch; an act she immediately regretted the act for it gave her a direct line of sight to what was hidden beneath the werewolves loincloth.
"Oh Kami, You're Commando To!" Ranma declared before rolling away from the werewolves attempt kick her. "I soooooo did not need to see that…"
Stryyp immediately reengaged the werewolf while Gina stepped up to Ranma. "I'm surprised you know that that is, Ranma."
"Know what what is? What he's got under that flap of leather? I'm not an idiot ya know."
"I never thought you were, but you sure do like to play dumb at times." Gina answered, her eyes on the two fighting, hands busy reloading her Photoelectric Projector. "I meant knowing what a newton's cradle is."
"Hey, I read."
"Now about my sister."
"Ooooo that looked like it hurt." Ranma changed the subject at seeing Stryyp backhanded into the ground. "Not much of an up front fighter type is he?"
"To be fair Ranma, that werewolf has got about and extra hundred and fifty pounds on him." Gina replied, a worried look on her face. "But he's way more agile."
Seeing the Kryn Prince evade the werewolves attempt to stomp him into mush and his subsequent tripping of Thabian when Stryyp performed a classic leg-sweep Ranma nodded
The two briefly looked towards the woods at hearing Cheetah scream in pain.
Before Gina could ask Ranma muttered "I know I know, go help Cheetah."
The blond cutely patted the red-head on the cheek. "Well read and smart too."
"Ha ha." Ranma replied dryly before jumping off into the woods hearing Stryyp yell "NOW!" and a 'BOOM' of Gina's weapon firing behind him.
She'd just managed to find Britanny and Jetta's field of destruction when she heard the werecheetah yell "GINA! STRYYP!".
When she zipped past her Ranma couldn't help but be impressed as the werecheetah was little more than a blur.
Putting on her own burst of speed Ranma rushed to follow her arriving in time to see Britanny close-lined by Thabian's arm coming from a bush enabling the grey and white werewolf to restrain the spotted werecat at his mates command.
Seeing Stryyp on the ground knocked out and Gina pulling herself out of a bush Ranma shook her head. "Ok, I guess I'm done trying to finish this amicably."
Jetta turned away from glaring at her restrained foe towards Ranma. "Oh, and what are you going to do about it puny?"
"Jetta, the girl is more than she appears, be careful." Thabian warned, his grip tightening the double arm lock he held Britanny in.
"Hey kibble-breath!" Britanny snarled struggling uselessly in an attempt to escape the hold she was in. "Tell cuddles to let me go so we can finish out fight! C'mon! Just you 'n' me!
Holding a clawed hand out towards Britanny's exposed neck Jetta grinned ferally, and though her eyes were firmly on Ranma, her words were clearly directed at Britanny. "I am sooo tempted to take you up on that, it was fun stomping you into the earth… but the fun is over… and soon so will be your life!"
Eyes narrowing Ranma tensed prompting Jetta to put her claws to Britanny's throat drawing blood with the tip of one finger. "Now now, be a good little human and just stay where you are."
Seeing Ranma apparently relax Jetta relented her grip slightly but did not move it away.
"Now where was I?" Jetta said seeing Ranma apparently relax. "Oh yes. Before I send you off to that big litter-box in the sky mall-lover, I thought you might like to know what I have in store for your companions."
Jetta gestured with her free hand towards Ranma. "As little-red there pointed out to you in a rather amusing way, I'm with cubs, cubs that'll be arriving soon, and I am beginning to think we might need a nanny or two… so I'll just infect your little human friends with lycanthropy making them my obedient slaves as well as a decent, helpful werewolves!"
"I think I'll pass on being anyone's slave." Ranma said taking a step forward only to stop at Jetta once again pressing her claw into Britanny's neck.
"And you're grossing me out." Britanny chimed in.
Jetta turned her attention for a second to Britanny so she could meet her eyes as she said, "A pity I can't turn you into a slave werecheetah, but lycanthropy doesn't affect true werewolf".
"I wouldn't know, I've had shots for that stuff!"
Ignoring her comment the female werewolf continued.
"Of course that man-cat will share your fate! And like yours, his pelt will hand in my den as a trophy! Men make such horrible nanny's."
"Kinda sexist. Don'tcha think?" Ranma expressed. "Plus, ewwwww, skinning people to use them as trophies? Wrong on sooooo many levels there Big-Red."
"You know nothing of our ways!"
"I know you don't believe in wearing undergarments." Ranma taunted, a smile blooming on her face. "And that you're easily distracted."
Jetta had time enough to utter "Wha…" and turn a bit before the sound of a gun going off filled the clearing. When the werewolf went down clutching her thigh screaming as if mortally wounded when the bullet had only grazed her Ranma knew something was off.
"Geeze! Gina, what kind of ammo are you packin' in that twenty-two of yours?!" Britanny, still held firmly in Thabian's grip, asked over Jetta's continued screams.
Thabian's stuttered fearful declaration was heard over his mates agonizing cries. "S-Silver."
"CRAP!" Ranma cried, dropping to the injured werewolves side, hands pushing hers away from the wound so she could inspect it.
"Get away from her!" Thabian screamed advancing on Ranma having thrown Britanny to the side into some bushes.
Advancing on Ranma with the intent to forcibly remove her from his mates' side so he could rush her to their cave in hopes they still had some extinguisher Thabian slowed up, eyes going wide at seeing his mate ceasing her painful struggles. Casting his eyes down towards Jetta's leg where she'd been nicked by the bullet he just as surprised as Gina and Britanny were to see Ranma's cupped hands glowing a soft violet.
Kneeling opposite her Thabian laid a hand upon the now unconscious Jetta's head, his other hand gently caressing the fur of the arm closest to him while behind him Cheetah was lecturing her sister on having and using a silver weapon given her aim not even allowing the now conscious Stryyp to interrupt her.
A minute later, her body clearly showing the stress her healing the wound had taken on her, Ranma finished as the sun came up over the trees. Thabian said nothing to her as she tucked the few pouches of medicinal herbs she'd pulled out away, he instead slipped his arms beneath his mate lifting her up as he stood.
After casting a baleful glance in Gina and Britanny's direction Thabian turned, walking out of the clearing. Just before he vanished from sight he stop and spoke. "For your friends actions, I will allow you time to look for whatever it is you came here for. But I warn you, go no further into these woods lest your life be forfeit."
"Jerk." Britanny declared as she handed Gina's silver bullet armed pistol to Stryyp. "You've got the best reflexes of any of us, and the werewolves know it. Jetta 'n' Thabian'll think twice about attacking if you have it."
"If you give it to me I won't use it." Ranma interrupted looking askance at Britanny. "And if you had any idea of what that woman just went through you wouldn't either."
Moving to stand up Ranma would've fallen over had Britanny not rushed to hold her up. An act Ranma almost shrugged off both out of anger and refusal to accept help.
Giving Britanny a brief nod of thanks Ranma steadied herself saying "So, I vote we do as Thabian asked, find what we came here for, and leave".
"I second that vote." Stryyp and Gina affirmed.
Supplementary Appreciations To
Those who reviewed the previous chapter making me wish to continue to write this story.
Rainbowtroll – For his help/advice with some of the comedy.
Ranma Hakubi – For their corrections on my grammar in places, that and other things! (Though not this sentence!)
For those of you are not familiar with Gold Digger, Gina needed the hindrium to stop the evil wizard Gyphon and his rampaging monstrosity Armageddon in Atlantis.
PS: I once again make no claim to ownership over some of the dialog/scenes, as they were adapted from the original works of Fred Perry.
PPS: To those of you who feel this was just a rehash for the Eden episode of Gold Digger I cannot argue with you. I only point out that this chapter helped to cement certain attitudes between the various characters for future writing. I also hope you enjoyed it.
– Complete June 2nd, 2015
- Edited June 3rd, 2015