Author's note: After posting the first chapter some readers complained about it, saying that I should have started the story at the beginning. While I can respect the reasons they came up with I don't share them. I think it's an interesting change for the readers to get some action right from the start.
Well, problem solved. Just dismiss the first chapter for the moment and concentrate on this one which is the real start of the story, detailing how Ranma ended up in the One Piece world.
I hope you'll enjoy it. I put a lot of work in it and I hope I'll get some feedback, positive or negative I don't care. Reviews motivate me to write. I'd also appreciate if you pointed out any spelling or grammar mistakes you might find.
Well, I won't bore you any longer with my notes and just let you enjoy the new chapter.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: I'd like to thank MesoJoe for pointing out a mistake I made about the Japanese schooling system. It has been corrected now.
I have also improved some other passages in the beginning. If you have already downloaded the old version of the chapter please replace it with the updated one.
CHAPTER 2: How it all started
What has gone before:
Luffy has snuck into Impel Down, the most secure prison in the world, to free his brother Ace. When he reaches the lowest level, where his brother is supposed to be held, he learns that he has already been taken away by the Marines. He frees some of the other prisoners who agree to help him get out of the prison, but also have their own agendas. Among the freed are two former Shichibukai, Crocodile and Jinbei, as well as the rising star among the outlaws of the world, Ranma Saotome, the Raging Fist. On their way out, the escapees free numerous prisoners and it's a large group that makes it out of the fortress. Sailing away on the only remaining ship after they had destroyed all the others the escapees can finally relax and Ranma uses that time to think back to that fateful day that changed her life.
'text' = thoughts
text = Chinese
The starting point of what was to be Ranma's biggest adventure had been a calm and sunny Saturday afternoon. It was three months into the new school year and Ranma and Akane were now second years. Things had calmed down a lot, mostly because the young martial artist and his two (as far as he knew) official fiancées had been put into different classrooms during the reshuffling of the classes, much to the relief of most of the students and teachers.
Akane and Ukyo were still together in the same class, but without Ranma there to antagonize them with his thoughtless remarks and rudeness a tentative friendship had developed between the two girls when they realized that they had more in common than they had initially thought. They were still rivals for Ranma's heart, of course, but they agreed that fighting about it was childish and so far had only served to drive him away.
It had been the principal's idea to separate the troublemakers, but then he didn't have much of a choice ever since some angry parents had threatened to sue the school for endangering their children on a daily basis through the constant fighting and stupid martial arts challenges, and he couldn't even dismiss their concerns since his own son was the main cause for most of the incidents. The school board had given the principal an ultimatum: either he came up with a viable solution to the constant madness or he'd lose his job. The principal might be eccentric, some would even go as far as calling him a total loon, but he was lucid enough to realize that without the support of the school board the parents could sue him personally, and even if he was wealthy the many trials that would follow would be expensive enough to drain even his substantial resources.
Since he definitely couldn't let that happen he took some very drastic measures, of which the most important but also the hardest one was to send his son to a private school far away, much to everyone else's joy. Tatewaki had refused at first, of course, but since the principal was the head of the family and thus in charge of the finances he had no other choice but to comply or forfeit his generous monthly allowance, and while he hated being away from his loves he really couldn't stand the idea of having to live like a commoner.. He still made himself a nuisance with the flowers and poems he sent daily, and which landed promptly in the trash, but at least he wasn't physically present, except on weekends when he'd stop for a quick visit before being sent off again via Akane Airlines. Still, they considered it a small victory, even if they didn't get rid of him completely.
While dealing with his son had been an arduous task he had had a much easier time curbing his daughter's 'innocent enthusiasm' as he called it since his baby girl showed him the respect he was due as her father and listened to reason. She promised to behave and not to visit her 'darling Ranma' at his school. So far she had kept her word and was only occasionally making a pest out of herself after school was over.
All these measures had been surprisingly effective and there hadn't been any major incidents or acts of violence inside the school in a month… well, mostly. After all, the occasional sparring matches between rivals can't be called major incidents, right? Until the fights cause property damage or innocent bystanders get hurt it's all fun and games. Boys will be boys after all and they need to somehow get rid of all that pent-up energy in one way or another.
The happiest one with these changes was Ranma who could finally relax in class without having to watch his back or his mouth all the time because of his fiancées' chronic jealousy or Kuno's stupidity.
And it wasn't like he didn't see his fiancées anymore. He was still living at the Tendos' and spending lunch hour with the two girls, but the few hours of less exposure to them and their rivalry had really helped improve their relationship. Oh sure, Akane still had her temper and made her anger known whenever Ranma refused to eat her food instead of Ukyo's during lunch, but at least the two girls weren't fighting each other over it, and it was mostly the pigtailed teen alone who had to suffer the brunt of their displeasure, but since he barely felt the blows he endured the treatment and kept his mouth shut not to make things worse. Old dogs can still learn new tricks as it seemed.
Another thing that had changed was that his heated rivalry with Ryoga was pretty much over. Ever since P-chan had confessed to Akari he had mellowed a lot and was much less of a pain in the butt. He was still short-tempered, but didn't fly off the handle quite as often. All of that had been the pig farmer's doing. The pigtailed boy was especially grateful that the pig farmer had finally made the eternally lost boy understand that not all of his problems in life had been caused by Ranma. They were still sparring occasionally and going all out while fighting, but there wasn't any real animosity in their bouts any longer.
Ryoga still hadn't told Akane about his curse, but since he didn't use his cursed form any longer to sneak into her room or to get Ranma into trouble the pigtailed fighter had stopped calling him P-chan and agreed not to tell Akane either, especially since he'd be in just as much trouble as Ryoga for not telling the short-tempered tomboy about it.
Mousse was still his old self and tried to kill Ranma regularly, but without Kuno or Ryoga to help him with his stupid schemes he wasn't much of a nuisance and easily dealt with.
Kodachi and Shampoo still hadn't given up on him, much to Ranma's chagrin, but with Akane and Ukyo fighting them off together they didn't stand a chance and were quickly defeated.
Thankfully, both hadn't been around for a few days and the two teens had used the quiet time to improve their relation.
School had finally let out for the weekend and after having said their goodbyes to their friends Ranma and Akane left the school grounds to go shopping together, and while they didn't call it a date that was pretty much what it was. Akane needed new clothes and Ranma agreed to accompany her. At first he was rather reluctant to do so, having learnt about the horrors of shopping from some of the boys at school who had girlfriends, but after his mother had told him it that this would be the perfect occasion to get on his fiancée's good side he had finally caved in. Oh well, while Akane was browsing the clothes shops he could always visit the bookshop and buy some new mangas.
He wouldn't admit it to Akane, but so far he had been enjoying the outing. Walking through the streets and talking about inconsequential things that happened at school, and just having a good time without any of the usual nuisances interfering was quite relaxing.
"… and then, get this, Hiroshi stumbled over his own feet and the cup of hot coffee flew right at Miss Hinako's head," Ranma chuckled while retelling the embarrassing story. "Believe me, the teacher's reaction wasn't pretty, but I'm sure the idiot has learnt his lesson and will pay better attention next time he's handling hot beverages."
"Hahaha!" Akane laughed out loud. "Poor Hiroshi. He's still as unlucky as ever."
"Yeah. And I bet…"
"AIREN!" A shrill voice interrupted the pair and caused Ranma to cringe.
Before he could react the annoying Amazon had already glomped him from behind and was rubbing her impressive assets against his back.
The unfortunate martial artist turned his head and gulped when he noticed the angry aura forming around his fiancée. He then looked imploringly at the sky. 'Why me?', he sighed. 'Just when things were getting better between us…'. He just knew that Shampoo would ruin all the progress they'd made over the last few days.
"Airen happy to see Shampoo?" The Amazon asked affectionately while rubbing her cheek against the back of his head.
"SHAMPOO!" Akane growled and tried to kick the Chinese girl away from her fiancé. "What do you think you're doing?"
Before the kick could connect the purple haired girl had already backflipped to safety and blew a raspberry at her rival. "Angry girl too slow. Need train lot more if want hit Shampoo. But probably waste of time since angry girl too weak."
"I'll give you weak, you top heavy bimbo!" the black haired girl growled and ran straight at her rival. Shampoo had anticipated the simple attack and gracefully jumped over Akane before mule kicking her in the back and landing lightly on her two feet after performing an aerial flip.
The Amazon's attack had taken Akane by surprise, but she still managed to curl up and tumble forwards which kept her from crashing gracelessly to the ground.
She was about to attack again when Ranma jumped in front of her. "Stop it, Akane!"
"Stay out of this!" She pushed the pigtailed teen away. "This is my fight. Don't butt in!"
"Fine. Have it you way," Ranma groaned in annoyance. "She'll just humiliate you again."
"What? You don't think I can take her?" The youngest Tendo was outraged at her fiancé's insinuations.
"That's exactly what I mean," he countered, much to Akane's surprise who hadn't expected her fiancé to put it so bluntly. "Look", he elaborated, hoping to appease her and keeping her from making a huge mistake, "I don't want to make fun of you, but as long as you let your anger rule your actions you won't be able to beat her. Don't you see? She's taunting you on purpose, just to make you lose your focus."
"Like you're any better! Someone just has to make fun of your skills or your masculinity and you'll accept any challenge, however stupid it may be."
"Yeah? At least I win my fights, unlike a violent tomboy I know."
"Why you…!" Akane was getting angry again and the two of them started bickering, much to Shampoo's joy whose amused grin turned a lot more sinister.
"Erhem!" The purple haired girl interrupted the quarrel. "Shampoo still here you know."
That had been enough to get them to stop. "What do you want, Shampoo?" Ranma asked. "Haven't you done enough already? Just leave us alone. We have stuff to do."
Akane looked at Ranma with surprise, but also with genuine happiness. Was this it? The day when he'd finally send the barbarian packing?
"But airen," the Chinese teenager tried to explain. "Shampoo have cure for curse. Real one this time."
She had barely finished her sentence when Ranma had already teleported in front of her and taken her hands into his own.
"Really?" He asked in a hopeful tone, not noticing the blazing aura coming from behind him. "Where is it?"
"Rannnnmaaaaa!" Akane venomously hissed at her fiancé having tried her best but failed at keeping her temper in check. "What are you doing? Don't tell me you trust her. You're always letting her manipulate you, and none of her cures have ever worked. Even you can't be that naïve."
The martial artist carefully considered his fiancée's words and couldn't really fault her reasoning. So far the results of his numerous quests for a cure had been less than stellar. "You're probably right, but who knows, this time it might be a real cure. Let's just hear her out. You know how important this is to me."
Akane was less than pleased by his answer. She knew that this was just another ploy to get a date with HER fiancé. "Oh really! Well, I remember very clearly what you said at Jusendo. Didn't you claim that you had finally stopped caring about the curse and that your girl side would always be a part of you? And then you went immediately after the barrel of Naniichuan at our wedding."
"Well, yeah. But at that time I thought the cursed springs were gone for good."
Shampoo was following the verbal exchange with obvious interest and glee, waiting for the right moment to make her move. Her plan was working out even better than she'd expected. First she'd drive a wedge between them, and then she would steal her airen's heart right under the nose of her hated rival. She couldn't wait to see the violent girl's reaction after she realized that she had lost the battle for Ranma's heart.
"Well, I don't care. You can go and look for a cure another time. You promised to go shopping with me today and I don't want HER to ruin that."
He froze after hearing those. Akane was right, of course. He had made that promise. But then, listening to what Shampoo had to say would only take a few minutes. He was sure that the dark haired girl would understand. They'd still have the rest of the afternoon left to go shopping.
"But Akane", he tried to reason with the girl. "Let's just listen to her. It won't take long and we still have more than enough time to go on our shopping trip."
"Fine!" Akane violently slapped her fiancé on his cheek. "Then just go with the bimbo. See if I care." She huffed and walked away.
Ranma just stood there, rooted on the spot and with an astonished look on his face, watching the furious way walk away. "Fine! Be that way! I'll get my cure and you'll see that I was right," he shouted after the departing girl and demonstratively turned his back to her. "Hmpf! She has no idea."
'Perfect', Shampoo grinned malevolently at her rival. 'Exactly as planned.'.
Of course, she could have easily implemented her plan without all the drama, but she just couldn't resist such a perfect occasion to make fun of and humiliate Akane, especially since she was such an easy targer. She really hated the girl who tried to steal away HER husband.
Taking advantage of the fact that the two Nerimans seemed to have forgotten her she quickly pulled a round object the size of a tennis ball out of her cleavage. "Shampoo wish Ranma love Shampoo!" She shouted as loudly she could and in Japanese to make sure that Akane and Ranma understood her.
There was a bright flash and the two martial artists immediately looked into the Amazon's direction, eyes drawn to the glowing sphere she was holding in her hands.
Not waiting to find out if it had worked she immediately made another wish, just in case her airen or the angry girl tried to take the magical artifact away from her. "Shampoo wish Shampoo and airen sent to Joketsuzoku village." (1)
There was another flash, temporarily blinding Akane who had been staring at the orb, and when she could see again she realized that she was alone in the street.
"RANMA!" She shouted in fear and frantically looked around, hoping that all of this was just a bad dream, but she couldn't find the other teens anywhere. She ran to the spot where Shampoo had been standing, but there was no sign of her… or of her fiancé.
"Ranma," she whispered before angry flames appeared in her eyes and an impressively huge aura of the deepest red formed around her. "That bitch!" She yelled. "Wait till I get my hands on her!" Akane wanted answers and she knew where she'd get them. She turned around and angrily stomped towards the Nekohanten.
All was calm in the Amazon village of Nyuchiehzu until out of nowhere a young woman materialized in the center of the marketplace surprising the shoppers as well as the vendors. Shampoo looked around and grinned when she recognized the place. Home. She had finally done it. She had successfully completed her quest and brought her airen back with her. She couldn't wait to show him off to her friends. They would be so jealous of her for catching the perfect husband.
She looked around for Ranma but didn't see him anywhere. "Airen? Where is you?"
Fear was slowly gripping her soul as a frightening thought came to her mind. Could she have made a mistake? She tried to figure out where she might have gone wrong when she heard a familiar voice call her name.
Xian Pu? Is that you?
Ranma was at a loss as to what to do. One moment he was in Nerima on a kinda date with Akane and the next one he found himself inside a small alley, in an unknown place and completely disoriented. He carefully approached the exit to the alley, his back to the wall to make as small a target as possible, and took a quick peek around the corner. He gasped when he saw the landscape. The view was breathtaking. All around him he saw Chinese-style houses of every size, many of them chiseled into the mountainside from bottom to top of the mountain range surrounding the village. He had been to many unusual places on his training journey, but he had never seen anything like this. He wondered how he had ended up there but then he remembered Shampoo's wish. Something about sending the both of them to her village, but it was quite obvious that something must have gone horribly wrong. This was definitely not the Amazon village he knew.
He took another peek, this time concentrating on the people instead of the landscape. What he saw didn't fill him with much confidence. Scantily clad women wearing nothing more than thongs, loincloths, bikinis, or other skimpy tops populated the streets. Many of them wore white capes she didn't understand the purpose of. Most of them were carrying weapons and looked like they knew how to use them. What troubled him most was the complete lack of men. He couldn't find a single one in the large crowd, which led him to the conclusion that even if this wasn't Shampoo's village the culture had to be somewhat similar, but then he remembered that even if Shampoo's people are a matriarchal society the men are at least allowed onto the streets, although there were some places that were off-limit..
Another thing he noticed right away was that the place seemed to have some kind of snake theme going on. Not only were the roofs of the houses adorned with snake statues, but most of the women were wearing carrying living snakes that were coiled around their bodies.
Ranma might not have known where he was but the whole setup set off alarm bells in his head. This was a certified clusterfuck just waiting to happen and he didn't want to have any part in it for once. Very slowly he walked away from the opening to his own personal hell and deeper into the rather short alley. He walked backwards to make sure that no one was following him, when he stepped on something squishy.
This was answered by an angry yowl and when the unfortunate martial artist turned around to take stock on the situation the angry, furry animal he had disturbed jumped at his face and viciously used it as a scratching post.
"C-C-CAT!" He shouted in fear, trying to pry the angry beast off his face. Stumbling blindly around he couldn't see where he was going and promptly tripped over a large piece of wood and landed on the ground outside of the alley. The cat let go after it had vented its anger and Ranma let out a relieved sigh.
The sigh got stuck in his throat, though, when he noticed the many astonished eyes on him. 'Oh shit!' He thought and had barely enough time to get up before the chase was on.
Later, when he would reflect on the whole scene, he'd swear that through the whole chase he had heard someone play a catchy tune on the saxophone. Weird.
Meanwhile, in Nerima, Akane was on her way to the Nekohanten. Her anger was palpable and made the bystanders give her a wide berth lest they become the targets of her ire. She had rarely resented Shampoo as much as she did at that moment. Everything had been going so well too. They had finally been getting along better and then that bitch had to show up and ruin everything. Although, in retrospect, after replaying the whole scene in her mind, she had to admit, albeit reluctantly, that she might have overreacted a little bit. She knew that her temper somehow got the better of her and that this fiasco could have been avoided if she had reacted more calmly, but that damn top heavy bimbo just knew what buttons to push to get under her skin. The same was true for Kodachi, actually. She knew that she should have handled the situation differently, but Ranma had also been at fault. By now that idiot should know better than to trust the Amazons. They never do anything for free and always have a sinister motive for their actions, but once again, the mere mention of a potential cure had been enough for him to throw his common sense through the window. When would the baka ever learn?
She had finally arrived at her destination and without announcing herself entered the restaurant and headed straight towards the back, past the astonished patrons who didn't dare to stop the angry girl. She resolutely entered the kitchen where she found her target talking on the phone, in Chinese.
Strangely enough the old woman didn't seem to be surprised to see her which was a good indication that the elder knew perfectly well what was going on. She just had to find away to get the information out of her.
She's arrived; just as expected. I'll call back once I get her version of the story. I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of this very soon.
"Ah, Miss Tendo," Cologne greeted the teenager jovially as she calmly put the receiver back on the hook, not giving anything away. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"
"Cut the crap! You know why I'm here, so don't play any games with me. Where are Ranma and Shampoo?" She forcefully demanded, not bothering with the usual niceties but getting to the point right away. "I know you're behind all of this. Tell me where they are!"
Before the young girl could really talk herself into a rage the elder quickly poked a pressure point along her spinal cord and one on her neck. As if she was a puppet whose strings had been cut Akane sagged into a conveniently placed chair, her legs not supporting her body any longer: She tried to protest but immediately realized that her vocal cords refused to move, much to her shock and she hoped that the old had wouldn't do anything worse to her.
"That's better," the elder nodded with satisfaction. "You should really learn to respect your elders, girl. Now, if you promise to behave I'll release you from the pressure points. I'm sure we can talk about everything civilly, like adults. Nod if you agree!"
Akane shot the Amazon a venomous look, but fully aware of her helplessness she had no choice but to reluctantly agree.
"That's better," Cologne nodded approvingly and released the unfortunate girl from her predicament, poking some more pressure points on the youngest Tendo's back.
Akane immediately jumped to her feet and pointed her index finger at the old woman. "You know what happened to Ranma!" She accused Shampoo's great-grand mother once again, but this time in a calmer tone, afraid to find out what else the Amazon would do to her if she tried her patience too much.
"That I do," she confirmed the young martial artist's suspicions, "but not in full detail. I was just about to learn more when you barged in. We will probably be able to get a clearer picture if we share information. The only way for us to rescue son-in-law from whatever trouble he's in this time is to work together.
"Well, it's you and Shampoo who are responsible for this mess. Don't try and put the blame on someone else".
"That's beside the point," the elder countered. "Throwing around accusations won't help us find a solution. Tell me exactly what happened between the three you without leaving out any detail, however unimportant you think it is and I'll tell you what I know. But know this. Shampoo acted on her own without consulting with me beforehand. You should really stop jumping to conclusions without having all the facts, or one day you might end up angering the wrong person, someone who isn't as tolerant and levelheaded as I am. Now then, please begin."
Akane complied and told the whole story from her point of view, trying to be as precise as possible.
"I see. What a poorly worded wish," the elder shook her head. "What was that foolish girl thinking? This won't make things any easier."
"What do you mean?" the short haired girl asked.
"The person I was on the phone with is a friend from the village who called to give me news about my great-granddaughter. According to her Shampoo appeared out of thin air in the center of the village, alone. According to my friend Shampoo bought the orb in a magical shop just yesterday, but hasn't bothered to read the instructions since they are in a language she doesn't know."
She shook her head once more. "That girl. She'll send me to an early grave with her foolishness If only she let her brain rule her actions instead of her libido…"
The old woman stilled for a few moments before sighing loudly. "Well, what's done is done. No use crying over spilled milk. The only thing that might help us right now is to find the orb's instruction manual. According to the information I got Shampoo left it in her bedroom. Wait here and I'll get it."
After the Amazon had left Akane sat back down on the chair lost in thought. 'Please, be alright'.
Unfortunately, if the situation Ranma was in was any indication, Akane's wish hadn't reached its intended recipient in the strange place where he had ended up since the martial artist was far from alright. Quite the contrary in fact as the group of scantily clad women in hot pursuit definitely didn't have his best interests at heart.
All had started out alright, compared to his usual adventures at least, and he could probably have got away safely without anyone noticing if not for that damned cat. After he'd tripped and stumbled into the main street he tried to use the patented Saotome charm that his father had always been talking about on the surprised Amazons, but it became apparent very quickly that it had not had the slightest effect on the women who, instead of worshiping him, drew their weapons and pointed them at him.
So he did what any brave and manly martial artist would do in a similar situation: retreat... which was a technique that had been used since the dawn of time by the most famous commanders and generals in history who wanted to buy some time to turn a total defeat into a tremendous victory. Some ignorant fools might think that he was afraid of a bunch of women and running for his life, but such a shameful act was only done by lesser men and not by accomplished martial artists like him. He was just considerate of the women's feelings and didn't want them to feel bad after losing to him.
As he was retreating at full speed through the main street of the village he cursed every deity in existence as well as a certain purple haired Amazon for the trouble he was in once again, and as he reached the exit of the village the mob had swollen to about 30 individuals who didn't show any sign of getting tired anytime soon or of breaking off the pursuit.
Thankfully he was much faster than the heavily armed group and it didn't take him long outrun them until he made one very fatal mistake. Instead of paying attention to his surroundings he turned his head to check for his pursuers and failed to see the large and very sturdy tree branch appearing in front of him. Noticing the obstacle too late he didn't have enough time to brace himself and hit the branch head on. The blow had been so hard that he was seeing stars and stumbling about directionless until he lost his footing and slipped down a slope and splashed into the stream running below.
While the fall into the cold water had cleared her head immediately and triggered the curse it had also allowed her pursuers to catch up to her; a fact she noticed very quickly when she saw the row of pointy spearheads leveled at her face when she was trying to get up. She looked around and saw that she was surrounded. Some of the Amazons had taken up position further away and were pointing bows made out of real, living snakes at her. That was definitely very, VERY peculiar and she really wondered how they were doing that. She dismissed those thoughts, though, as she had more pressing issues to deal with than improbable weapons. She racked her brain, trying to come up with a way to get out of this mess, but these female warriors were definitely not amateurs and really knew what they were doing as they hadn't left a single gap in her ranks she could use to her advantage. Of course, she could choose the most basic solution: attacking them and knocking them out, but without knowing how many enemies there were or what techniques they used it would be incredibly foolish to try anything, and a fool she was not, at least when it came to fighting.
She was still alive though, which probably meant that her captors could be reasoned with and that she was in no immediate danger of being killed if she cooperated. Or at least she hoped she was right in her assessment of the Amazons. That's why she decided to play it safe, for now, and simply surrender peacefully. That would also give her the time to come up with a good escape plan. She might not know what her enemies were capable of, but the same was true for them. They had no idea what she was capable of and at one point they were bound to make a mistake which she could exploit and maybe turn the tables on them, but that had to wait until she learnt a bit more about them and their strengths and weaknesses.
"I give up," the redhead slowly lifted her arms in surrender, hoping that they understood Japanese… as well as the meaning of the gesture.
Her captors nodded and grabbed her wrists which she had docilely presented to them, before binding them together behind her back with a rope.
Ranma grinned inwardly as this confirmed her theory. They really had no idea what she was capable of or else they would have used something else than a simple rope. If worse came to worst it would be easy to snap the bindings and make a run for it, and this time she'd avoid making a rookie mistake.
As they led the redhead back to their village she tried to talk to her captors and maybe get some information that could help her escape. "Sooooo. Who are you people and what do you want?"
Her perfectly sensible question was answered with a painful blow to the head with a spear shaft. "Quiet, prisoner!" The owner of the weapon ordered, a rather pretty girl with short, curly, brunette hair, wearing a fur miniskirt and a revealing fur vest which only served to enhance her natural beauty. Ranma guessed her age at perhaps twenty-two or twenty-three. "You don't speak until spoken to! We're the ones asking the questions here."
"Alright, alright," the redhead grumpily complained. "No need to get your panties in a bunch, sheesh! I was just asking."
The Amazon gave the redhead a scathing look and considered hitting her once more for disobeying the order she'd given, but seeing that the girl was quiet now she stayed her hand… for now. Instead, she poked Ranma in the back with the spear head whenever she slowed down, one time even drawing a bit of blood. This made the martial artist realize that her captors really meant business and that she'd better not antagonize them unnecessarily; at least until she had a better grasp of the situation and was sure she'd win. All bets would be off then.
The group of women led her into the village and past the many onlookers who were observing her with obvious curiosity. When they reached a large, iron cage they opened the door and pushed her inside.
"You'll stay here until your fate is decided." The brunette ordered sharply. "If you try to escape or decide to rebel, the guards will shoot you down on the spot, without mercy!"
Having given her warnings the fierce woman left Ranma to her thoughts and left in direction of the largest building in the village with the other hunters in tow. Once they were gone some of the villagers gathered around the cage and eyed the prisoner with curiosity. 'This must be how the animals feel in a zoo', she thought, not liking those stares in the least. 'Well, I'll just have to wait and see,' she shrugged and lay down on the simple bed, trying not to let the crowd bother her.
Akane was sitting on the chair, patiently waiting for Cologne's return, but inwardly she was seething. The worst was that she didn't know who she should be most angry with; Ranma for once again falling for one of Shampoo's stupid schemes, or the annoying Amazon for never leaving them alone. She didn't have time to think too much about it as two minutes after leaving Cologne was already back, holding a piece of paper in her hand.
"I found it. It was openly lying on Shampoo's bed where anyone can easily find it. That girl… I really don't know what to do with her anymore. I told her time and time again never to leave incriminating material lying around."
When she saw Akane's incredulous look she turned her head away, slightly embarrassed, and coughed in her fist before changing the subject. "Ahem! Anyway, with this we will hopefully get to the bottom of things."
Akane got up from the chair to take a closer look at the paper, blinking in surprise when she recognized the language. "Isn't that English?"
"Yes, it is. Unfortunately…"
"Let me guess," Akane interrupted the old woman before she could elaborate. "Shampoo doesn't know any English."
"Indeed," she sighed in dismay. "How reckless of her. Such a behavior is not becoming of a great Amazon warrior. I simply can't understand why she didn't ask me to translate it for her."
"Have you read the instructions yet?" Akane eagerly asked, hoping that the old woman had found out where Ranma was.
"I only skimmed it, but it doesn't look good at all. I'm going read it more thoroughly and translate it for you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Akane angrily asked. "I can understand English just fine."
"I don't care what you THINK you're capable of. I'm sure you know a little English, but I doubt you're good enough to completely understand all the intricacies of this text. Magic is serious business and not to be trifled with. A single mistake in the translation, however insignificant it might seem, could lead to disastrous consequences. With all the dangerous artifacts you've been exposed to you should know that by now. Now, child, be quiet and let me read."
Properly chastised the young girl shut up and patiently let the elder finish. Once the Amazon had reached the bottom of the sheet she sighed very loudly. "It's even worse than I thought," she rubbed her forehead in annoyance.
Akane stared at the elder with uncertainty, fear gripping at her heart. She'd never seen the usually strong and confident woman in such a sorry state in all the time she'd known her. Could it really be that bad?
"Here's what the text says," the elder started:
'The MacGuffin Orb (2) for Dummies:
The MacGuffin Orb is an infamous, cursed orb that can grant its owner almost any wish. However, it will usually twist the wish in the worst way possible to bring pain and misery to its user. Not much is known about its origins, but it is widely believed that it was created either by a god or a demon. Wherever it may have come from, one thing is obvious. Whoever created this malignant object was either one hell of a vindictive bastard who hated the whole word or a powerful, mischievous being with too much time on their hands.
Whatever the reason for its creation may have been, in the end it doesn't really. More important is knowing how to handle it and how to minimize the trouble it most certainly will cause.
Here is a non exhaustive but essential list of things to be aware of when dealing with this artifact:
1) The orb is sentient and very capricious and whimsical and has a mean streak a mile wide, especially if angered. Believe me; you really don't want to get on its bad side.
2) It is completely indestructible, so don't even try destroy it as its retaliation will be swift and unpleasant, death being the best outcome you can hope for. Many have tried to rid the world of its indescribable evil and all have come to regret their foolish attempt for the rest of their usually short lives.
3) Whatever you wish for you have to be aware that the orb will grant the wish in whatever way it wants, depending on its mood. Therefore, always treat it with respect and deference or the results of the wish will be worse than they are already bound to be.
4) Using the orb's power at least once a day is heavily advised. Refusing or forgetting to do so will result in a penalty inflicted on you or someone close to you. The longer you wait before making a wish the direr the consequences will be, ranging from tripping over a banana peal to suffering a fatal heart attack.
5) There are only two known ways to get rid of it: giving it away… or dying of course.
6) All wishes are final and the orb will NEVER undo them but only make things worse'.
Akane could hardly believe her ears and was gaping at Cologne after she had finished reading the notice. "That can't be," she shook her head in denial. "We have to do something."
"Indeed we do," Cologne answered matter-of-factly. "I have to call the village and warn them about the orb before something really bad happens.
"I meant about Ranma," the black haired girl specified.
"What do you want me to do? I have no idea where he is and no a way of finding him. I definitely won't use the orb for that. The only thing I can do at the moment is trying to help my great-granddaughter out of the mess she's in. She used a powerful magical artifact without supervision and without knowing the consequences while additionally failing her quest of bringing her husband back with her. If she's lucky she'll only lose her warrior status for her failures, which one of the greatest shames that can happen to an Amazon."
"That's more important to you than getting Ranma back?" Akane asked, getting angry once again. "It's Shampoo's fault he is gone in the first. She deserves what is coming to her. The least you could do is try and bring him back."
"Like I said before, I have no idea how," she coldly answered. "I feel for your loss, but son-in-law has to find his own way home. There's nothing I can do. And now, please leave, there's a lot I have to do."
Akane tried to reason with the elder but to no avail and was promptly escorted out of the restaurant.
Before the young girl could protest the old woman closed the door and locked it up.
"Fine! Be that way!" The furious teenager shouted at the door. "I don't need your help. I'm sure I can find him himself."
She angrily left trying to come up with a viable rescue plan on her way home. She would show them all what she was capable of. This time she would be the one doing the rescuing and she couldn't wait to rub it in everyone's face after she'd succeeded. That would teach them not to underestimate her. And finally gaining her fiancé's respect would be the icing on the cake. However, before she could search for him she had to inform the families.
Ranma was calmly lying on the bed, hands buried under her head and mentally processing the information she'd gathered so far, which hadn't been very much she had to admit. However, looking at the inhabitants of the village it was obvious that most of the members of the tribe were warriors and fighters. She could work with that. The kind of people usually respected strength, and if she showed them her skills they might let her go… hopefully. Whatever might happen she would be smarter and not make the same mistakes she made with The Chinese Amazons. She'd ask about the rules first before accepting a duel or any other kind of challenge to prove her strength.
Those were points of concern, of course, but what really worried her was the complete absence of men inside the village as well as the completely alien vegetation. This was definitely not Japan, and yet all the inhabitants spoke Japanese. She didn't know what that meant, but she would need answers to these questions before she tried to escape or made any kind of deal with her captors. The thin iron bars of the cage would not be an obstacle.
She was interrupted in her thoughts by a commotion coming from outside of her prison. She lifted her head to see what was happening and saw the crowd part to make way for two women who were confidently walking into her direction.
She got up and approached the bars to get a closer look at them and immediately noticed that they were complete opposites.
The one on the left was a cold beauty in her mid to late twenties with long black hair tied in a high ponytail. Very eye-catching was the top of the ponytail, which looked like the headstock of a guitar, the dangling lozenge earrings, and the artfully applied blue eye shadow and red lipstick which gave her an air of sternness and cruelty. She wore a sexy, fur plunge monokini (3) that barely left anything to the imagination, covering only her nipples and the sides of her breasts and was held together by a large metal ring covering her navel.
The one of the right was basically a fat, less decrepit looking version of Cologne. She was maybe a little bit taller and had long, white hair and was carrying a staff in form of a snake that she used as a walking stick. On closer scrutiny Ranma noticed that the staff was actually alive. She was dressed similarly to the other women, but the redhead was very glad that her clothes were a lot less revealing.
She supposed that they were the leaders of the tribe.
"I am Kikyo", the younger one introduced herself after reaching the cage, "the acting leader of the Kuja tribe while Hebihime-sama, the great and powerful Pirate Empress Boa Hancock, is away. And this," she pointed at her companion, "is Elder Nyon."
She then looked at the prisoner. "We will ask you some questions and you WILL answer them truthfully, or else your life is forfeit. If your answers are satisfying you will live; at least until Hebihime-sama is back and takes a final decision as to what your fate will be."
Two chairs had been brought forward in the meantime and positioned in front of the cage. The two temporary leaders sat down and Kikyo started the interrogation. "State your name!"
(1) Joketsuzoku, the Japanese name of the Chinese Amazons, basically means 'Village of Woman Heroes', which is vague enough to render the orb's task of twisting the wish very easy.
(2) At first I wanted to use the cursed monkey paw, but after a rather annoying discussion about the exact workings of the artifact and anticipating more of the same if I used another 'existing' magical trinket I decided to just use the current name since that's basically what it is. http(:) wiki/MacGuffin
It won't be mentioned again in the story, or at least it won't have any important part to play..
(3) That's the closest designation I could find for the garment. If anyone knows the exact designation of that kind of outfit please tell me. It's pretty much a fur version of Vampirella's outfit.