Chapter 5: The Whacked Rose

"You're such sweet little girls. Here, you can each have an extra bun for free," said the gullible vendor, the first victim in what would later be known as the Great Snack Flood of '93.

"Oooo! Golly! Thank you so much!" chimed girl-type Ranma in a sing-song voice as she showed the man her cutest face.

"Thanks, mister, this is very generous of you," added Akane as she widened her eyes and gave him a brilliant smile.

As they walked away, Ranma with arms full of sweet buns and Akane with one in each hand, Akane suddenly stopped and gave off a huge shudder. "Ugh, I can't believe you talked me into doing that, Ranma. I feel so...dirty," she complained.

Ranma stopped, turned, and gave her a smirk. "Hey, if they're stupid enough to fall for it, that's their problem. I learned long ago that one of the best ways to accept this curse is to take advantage of the few perks it provides."

Akane raised an eyebrow at this. Ranma sighed and rolled her eyes, knowing what she was thinking. "I meant the perks not of a sexual nature. You really need to get past that, Akane. Most guys aren't like the perverts at school."

"I know, Ranma," admitted Akane as they continued walking. "It's just that I'm still a little freaked out at what that idiot Kuno tried to pull. Who knows what would've eventually happened if you weren't here?"

As they passed a fence-enclosed empty lot, they noticed that the lot was currently not so empty. A girl in a school uniform with her long black hair in a side ponytail was surrounded by three people in sweatsuits with bandaged faces. Strangely, the three bandaged strangers were each holding two gymnastics clubs. Ranma hopped onto the fence top to watch, while Akane watched from just behind the fence.

The girl in the uniform showed no fear but merely stated, "Pardon me, but you are from Furinkan High School, are you not? Please, no need to rush on my account. If I'm not mistaken, we'll be having our match in one week."

"No more talk!" one of her opponents shot back. "We've got you at last!" shouted another. "We're finishing you off here and now!" added the third. "Prepare to die!" the first one yelled as the three of them charged the girl.

However, the girl they attacked was more formidable than she appeared. She calmly but quickly removed a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon from her school bag. "Forgive me, please, if I've failed to convey my message!" she called out as she proceeded to expertly whip it around, sending all three of her attackers flying back.

"Huh?" wondered Ranma as she watched the display fascinatingly while eating her buns.

However, the girl wasn't finished with her opponents yet. "If I may restate it..." she said as she whirled the ribbon around her body, "perhaps this or this or this will be clearer," she snapped with both her voice and ribbon as she pelted her downed opponents every time she said the word "this."

'She's going too far,' thought Ranma as she listened to the cruel girl's victims crying out in pain. She was just about to intercede herself when Akane hopped over the fence and ran to help. 'I'll let her handle it,' Ranma thought as she continued eating her snack.

Snap! The ribbon pulled taut as Akane grabbed it out of thin air. "That's enough!" she shouted. "You've already won. There's no need to be so cruel."

"You caught that ribbon as if it were nothing," replied the impressed girl as she scrutinized the interloper. "If you'll forgive me, you seem to be no ordinary girl."

"You seem to be correct," replied Akane.

"Good," replied the girl as she quickly dropped her ribbon and kicked one of the dropped clubs up to her hand, "because I prefer not to treat girls with ordinary courtesy!" She jabbed at Akane's head with the club only to discover her opponent was no longer there. Akane grabbed her outstretched arm and yanked her into a powerful over-the-shoulder throw. However, the mysterious girl managed to recover by planting her hands on the ground and gracefully flipping back to her feet.

"Well, you are very good!" remarked the girl with a smirk. "Remember, I'm called the 'Black Rose of St. Bacchus's School for Girls: Kodachi the Black Rose.' Please don't forget it." Kodachi tossed Akane a black rose and quickly bounded away on and over the fence.

Her three bandaged victims then began to cry as Ranma walked over to the group. "Oh, how humiliating!" one of them cried out.

"Are you guys all right?" asked Akane in concern. "What was that all about?"

The three of them removed most of the bandages from their faces to reveal their identities as three girls from their school class to Ranma's surprise. "We're from the Furinkan Rhythmic Gymnastics Team," one of them began to explain. "Akane, we've been so humiliated," added another. "Every member of the team has been injured. We were all ambushed by Kodachi," she continued. "Now we'll have to withdraw from the match," said the third girl.

Suddenly one of girls looked up with a grin. "I know! With the way you just handled her, you can be our substitute!"

"Then you want me to take your place?" asked Akane.

"Please, Akane! There's nothing else we can do!" one of the girls pleaded. "You see, this next match is rhythmic gymnastics wrestling!"

"What the heck is that?" asked Ranma.

"The schools' champions fight with the techniques of rhythmic gymnastics!" explained one of the girls. "By the way," she added, "not to be rude, but I don't remember seeing you around before. Who are you?"

Realizing quickly that she was still a girl, Ranma had trouble thinking of a way to explain her presence. "Well, I'm, er..." she tried.

"Her name is, um, Haruka," put in Akane thinking quickly, "Haruka Saotome. She's Ranma's twin sister. She also lives with us, but she goes to a different school."

"Well, it's nice to meet you," the previous girl said.

"Anyway," said Akane, trying to get back on topic," I'm still not sure I get it, but all right. I will avenge you!"

"Ohhh, thank you, Akane!" the girls gushed in gratitude.

The girls then discussed the match in more detail and made arrangements for Akane to pick up the rhythmic gymnastics practice equipment before everyone finally separated to go home.

As they were walking home, Ranma couldn't hold it in any longer and burst out, "Haruka, as in Sailor Uranus, that Haruka, seriously?!"

"Oh, relax. It was first thing I could think of, and you are technically a lesbian tomboy in that body," replied Akane. Suddenly, Akane stopped walking. "Hey, wait a minute! Why does a macho guy like you watch a girly show like 'Sailor Moon?!'"

Ranma blushed with a hand going to the back of her head as she turned around. "Well, um, the plot's actually pretty good with some interesting mythology references, and, uh, well, what straight teenage guy doesn't enjoy watching hot girls in really short skirts fight evil monsters?" Ranma tried to explain. She wisely left out the part about how she had recently started fantasizing about how Akane would look fighting in one of those sexy outfits.

"Boys!" Akane exclaimed in exasperation as she rolled her eyes and resumed walking alongside her currently female fiancé.

Later that evening, Ranma and Akane were in the dojo to practice with the rhythmic gymnastic tools, which consisted of clubs, a ribbon with a handle, a hula hoop, and a plastic ball.

"You shouldn't have agreed so quick," Ranma complained as he twirled one of the clubs in his hand while proving he still needed to work on telling the difference between adjectives and adverbs.

"Don't worry, with your help I'm sure I'll figure it out, and I want you there as my second, is that okay?" replied Akane. "Although, you will have to be a girl to do so," she warned.

"Yeah, that's fine," Ranma agreed. "You don't think I'd trust anyone else to back you up, do you?"

"Good, now watch this!" Akane exclaimed as she took a starting pose with a pair of clubs. She twirled into the air while taking a graceful leap...only for the clubs to clatter to the ground several feet away. She tried the other props only to fare even worse as she got tangled in the ribbon and broke the hula hoop. Luckily, she had been supplied with two hoops, or they've would've been in trouble right off the bat.

Ranma considered making some sarcastic comments as this performance (if it could even be called such a thing) but decided it was better to hold his tongue, especially when Akane starting crying about being such a klutz. "I'll do what I can to help, Akane, but this stuff is pretty new to me, too," he conceded. "It sure would be nice if we had someone here who was experienced with unorthodox weapons."

"Well, it's a good thing I'm here to show you how it's done," called a voice from the doorway.

Ranma facepalmed. "I've gotta be more careful of what I wish for," he muttered to himself as he awaited the explosion. He was not disappointed.

"Ryoga Hibiki, how dare you show your face here again after what you pulled!" shouted Akane with anger as she clenched her fists and marched her way over to the boy who had sexually harassed her with his Jusenkyo curse.

"Akane, please hear me out," begged Ryoga as he stepped back with his hands held out in a warning gesture. "I came here to apologize," he claimed, leaving out the part about only having decided to so after stumbling upon the Tendo compound in the midst of his usual lost wandering. "I never meant to hurt you. You've gotta believe me! You were just so kind to me when you found me in my cursed form that I couldn't help myself. It was wrong, and I'm sorry!"

"Yeah, you're sorry alright, sorry you got caught," replied Akane in an icy voice. "If Ranma hadn't found out, how long would you have kept it up, never telling me that I really had a naked boy with me in my bed? Besides, wasn't the whole reason you were there in the first place something to do with, what was it again, 'prepare to die, Ranma?' Isn't that going a little overboard over what was essentially an accident?" Ryoga's mind went blank as he tried to think of something to say in his defense. "Now I want you to get lost, which I guess would be literally in your case, before you find out what Kuno feels like every time he-"

"Wait, Akane," Ranma interrupted. "I don't like it any more than you do, but he would be the perfect instructor to get you ready for the gymnastics match."

"Ranma, you can't be serious," complained Akane. "Why would I want this, this pig, to teach me anything?"

"Well, I think he really does care about you, as much as I hate to admit it, and we really don't have any other options here if you want to beat Kodachi. Can't you give him another chance, just for now? I'll make sure he doesn't try anything."

Akane growled to herself as she realized that Ranma had a point. Besides, it really wasn't like her to hold a grudge. "Fine, you can stay and train me for now," she conceded to the relieved perpetually lost boy, "but if your hands make any kind of inappropriate contact with my body, I'll hit you so hard with my knee that you'll sing soprano for a month and never be able to have children," she warned.

Ryoga gulped at this vicious threat and decided that this was as good as it was going to get with Akane's forgiveness for now. He cleared his throat and reached down to grab the first tool. "The ribbon," he began as he stretched it out. He then proceeded to whack Ranma viciously with it, that is until he was clubbed over the head by Akane.

"Stop bullying Ranma!" she shouted. "You're here to teach me, not settle a grudge."

Ryoga sighed and proceeded with the lesson properly. 'Why can't she ever be concerned about me like that?' he thought.

Under the cover of darkness, Kodachi approached the Tendo compound wearing a cloak and with the stem of a black rose between her teeth. 'So, they've asked for help. Those Furinkan High gymnasts are bad losers,' she thought. Kodachi threw of her cloak to reveal herself to be dressed in a gymnast's leotard while carrying a large mallet. "Akane Tendo," she stated out loud, "Kodachi the Black Rose will cripple you!"

Once the training session was over, Akane was relaxing in the bath before going to bed. She was improving, and both boys were giving her plenty of encouragement, but she was worried that it still wasn't going to be enough. "It's only a week until the match," she said to herself. "I should have known. I never should've agreed to help." Then she thought of Ranma and imagined how proud he would be of her if she managed to win the match, and she knew she couldn't give up. A smile graced her lips at the thought of the pig-tailed boy. "At least Ryoga's training isn't as tough as my normal training with Ranma. If it weren't for that, I'd probably still be getting tangled in the ribbon after tonight's training."

Meanwhile, her trainers were outside having a discussion of their own...

"Well," said Ryoga, as he picked up his umbrella, "Now that Akane's not here, I can get back to my normal objective...getting my revenge on you, Ranma!"

However, Ranma had been expecting such behavior and quickly entwined Ryoga's feet in the ribbon, causing him to trip into the koi pond. "Akane wasn't the only one paying attention to your lesson," he snarkily replied. "What are you gonna do now, P-chan?" Ryoga squealed in anger as he jumped out of the pond and chomped down on Ranma's fingers. Ranma shouted in pain as he grabbed Ryoga by the bandanna and tossed him to the ground. At the angry look on Ranma's face, Ryoga decided he'd better run, and Ranma soon followed.

"Oh, my," Akane said as she staggered into her room in her pajamas after her bath, completely exhausted. However, she immediately forced herself back into an alert state, as she realized that something wasn't right. She'd have to thank Ranma later for his awareness training, although it was going to be annoying listening to him gloat after she had tried to dismiss the importance of such skills.

She took a guarded stance and looked around the room, searching for whatever might be out of place. It therefore wasn't hard to pick out the leotard-clad intruder hanging from the ceiling above her bed of all places, complete with a black rose in her mouth and a large mallet behind her back.

"You again!" Akane shouted. "What do you want this time?"

"Prepare yourself, Akane Tendo!" Kodachi cried as she dropped from the ceiling, bounded off Akane's bed, and attempted to pound Akane into the floor with her mallet. Akane quickly jumped to the side to dodge.

"As your opponent next week," Kodachi said as she kept trying to clobber Akane with the mallet, "let us both do our best and fight in all fairness!"

"You call this in all fairness!" Akane complained as she attempted a kicking counterattack, which Kodachi swiftly dodged. "You may have been able to ambush the others, but it won't work on me!"

"Ambush?! What a nasty way to put it," Kodachi scowled. "I simply believe in fighting in all fairness...before the match!"

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever, okay, second most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!" Akane replied, thinking of Kuno's ill-fated proclamation against her. "But you know that works both ways, don't you, and I'm not restricted by being forced to use your silly weapons at the moment, so just try it!" Akane challenged.

Kodachi needed no further prompting and rushed Akane once more. Akane was ready and easily high-kicked the mallet out of Kodachi's hand followed by a one-handed palm strike that knocked Kodachi out into the hallway through the still open bedroom door.

Kodachi pulled herself back up by grabbing the door frame. "I thought this afternoon might have been a fluke, but the rumors are definitely true. You're as good as they say. I shall return!" With that, Kodachi spun around her gymnastics ribbon (where she was keeping it, Akane didn't want to know), and the room was somehow filled with swirling black rose petals. When the view cleared, Kodachi was gone through the now open window, leaving behind a windswept room coated in black rose petals, as well as the abandoned mallet and a single black rose.

"Who do you think is going to clean up this room?!" shouted Akane angrily through the window. She then bent down and picked up the rose that had been left behind. "Kodachi, the Black Rose, I'll repay you for this at our match!" Akane swore.

'Akane Tendo, she is not to be dismissed easily,' thought Kodachi from her perch on the roof of the Tendo home. Suddenly, a black piglet raced towards her across the rooftop. 'A pig?!' she thought.

"Hold it, Ryoga!" shouted an attractive pig-tailed young man as he chased the pig. He was unable to stop in time, and the two people still in human form collided into each other. As Ranma was currently in motion while Kodachi was not, the laws of physics took effect by sending Kodachi flying off the roof. Seeing the strange girl in trouble, Ranma quickly leapt off the roof to catch her then rebounded back to the roof. This would be an action he would come to heavily regret for many months afterwards.

"You okay?" he asked but then got a good look at her. "Oh no, it's you, the Black Petunia or whatever," he groaned as he set her back on her feet.

"Oh ho ho ho, I see my reputation proceeds me," she responded with the back of her hand at her mouth. 'Oh, he's gorgeous!' she added in her head. She knew just what to do now. "I..I..I was so frightened!" she cried as she grabbed the boy and held him to her chest.

Ranma froze up in her arms and began to sweat. 'Now what?!' he thought. Out loud he stammered, "Wuh..wuh..wait a sec!"

'Oh, the gray, dreary life of a girl's school! I'd given up hope of finding a man to love,' Kodachi thought as she began to cry. 'Oh, to think that such a wonderful encounter was awaiting me!' "Please, sir, may I ask your name?" she asked out loud.

"R-r-ranma Saotome," Ranma nervously replied.

"For you, my Ranma!" expressed Kodachi as she pulled a bouquet of black roses from...somewhere that nobody wants to think about...and handed them to him. Ranma was surprised at the gesture and even more surprised when the scent of the flowers caused him to collapse to his knees. "Ha ha ha ha ha ha, a bit of paralysis gas in the bouquet!" Kodachi screeched as she seemingly attempted to imitate the Wicked Witch of the West.

"What, are you crazy?!" cried Ranma as he struggled to keep from collapsing entirely.

Kodachi was now able to easily pin the now panicked pig-tailed martial artist to the rooftop. "Now, my Ranma. Be brave and take these lips of mine!" she exclaimed as she leaned in to steal a kiss.

Just as Ranma was about to be lip raped, an angry voice shouted, "FORE!" and the weight was suddenly removed from his body. He sighed in relief at the sight of his savior Akane holding a mallet at the end of a follow-through. Akane glared down at the ground where Kodachi was struggling to get up since no one had been able to catch her this time. Her battle aura glowed brightly as she shouted, "Thanks for the mallet, but stay away from my Ra-, uh, friend, you whore!" Ranma couldn't believe how turned on he was by the sight of his angry fiancée defending him in her pajamas and was thankful that Kodachi's paralysis gas also seems to work against involuntary movements as well.

"Such tragic timing," Kodachi muttered as she shakily climbed to her feet with the help of just one good arm. She could tell that the ribs on her right side were bruised from where the mallet had made contact, and her left shoulder was dislocated from the fall. Luckily, these were minor enough injuries that they would both heal by the time of the gymnastics match. "My Ranma, let us meet again," she called as she painfully jumped to the top of the property wall and then out into the streets.

"Feh, ridiculous," Akane scoffed as she watched the departure of the loon who had tried to steal her fiancé, not that she actually wanted to marry him or anything, she mentally added in denial. "Ranma, are you okay?" she asked as she knelt down to help him out. "Why didn't you throw her off?" While Akane had been a little concerned that Ranma had been too passive when she caught them together, she trusted that Ranma had a reason for it. There was no way he would've wanted to kiss her.

"Can't...move," Ranma croaked out.

Akane gasped in shock as she realized the full situation. "That b****! There's no way I'm going to lose to her!" she vowed. She carefully lifted Ranma and carried him over her shoulder as she jumped to the ground and made her way back into the house and put him to bed (to the delighted surprise of their parents) before making her way to her own. That night she dreamed about all the different ways she would cause bodily harm to Kodachi during their upcoming match.

The next day, Ranma and Akane were entering the schoolyard when Akane's friends Sayuri and Yuka joined them.

"Morning, Akane!" greeted Sayuri.

"Good morning," Akane replied.

"I hear you're going to represent us rhythmic gymnastics," said Sayuri excitedly.

"Don't let us down," added Yuka.

"Leave it to me," proclaimed Akane with confidence.

Suddenly, Ranma and Akane both detected danger in the area.

"Knave! I do ambush thee!" shouted Kuno as he charged Ranma while wielding his bokken.

At the same time, Kodachi swing at Akane from above with a shinai, her left arm in a sling. "Oh-ho-ho! You've been ambushed!" she shouted.

Ranma easily dodged Kuno's strikes and sent him sprawling to the ground in defeat. "W-woe is me," he said dejectedly.

Meanwhile, Akane easily caught Kodachi's strike with just her left hand. With a mighty heave, Akane swung both the shinai and Kodachi over her shoulder and flying over the school gates. "I lost! No! Ranmaaaa!" Kodachi cried as she flew away.

Junichi Masuda put his notepad back in his pocket after watching the fight. "Those are some pretty good lines," he said to himself. "I should put them in a video game someday. Well, time to get to work over at Game Freak and compose some more music for 'Pulseman,'" he said as walked away.

(Author's Note: Other than replacing "Plasmaaaa!" with "Ranmaaaa!" this is actual dialogue from a pair of Team Plasma grunts aboard the Plasma Frigate in "Pokémon Black 2 Version." I couldn't resist giving the lines to the Kuno siblings here.)

"First a mallet, now a shinai, and my critics think I'm too aggressive with blunt weaponry," grumbled Akane.

"Shh!" whispered Ranma nervously. "We're not supposed to break the fourth wall."

"Well, don't lampshade it, you dummy!" complained Akane with a quick elbow to his side. "That's for the readers at TV Tropes to do. Well, that is if this story ever gets a page created for it someday, which could be years from now with how long it takes for the author to update."

Suddenly, the forgotten Kuno groaned and slowly climbed to his feet. He slapped Ranma on the back and said to the horror of everyone listening, "I have heard what she cried from her heart as she flew away. Yes, you have my permission to go steady. Take care of my little sister."

"Wait a second. What did you just say?" asked Ranma with a look of horror on his face.

"I said, 'Take care of my little sister,'" repeated Kuno. "Even though I am her brother, I have to admire her for being so wicked, so nasty, so spiteful, and so thoroughly twisted." He turned to Akane. "Please, Akane, try not to let her injure you. When Kodachi wants a man, she doesn't let go. She'll surely try something evil in the match." With that warning Kuno walked away with his bokken held high over his shoulder.

"Ku-kuno's sister?!" Ranma stuttered in disbelief.

"Now that I think about it, they're identical." observed Akane.

The night before the match, Ranma nodded in approval as Akane chased Ryoga (who had finally made it back after getting lost for a few days) around the dojo with the various gymnastics tools, successfully tagging him every few attempts. At one point she nearly slipped on the ball but managed to step aside at the last second. 'She's ready,' he thought. 'That black rose lunatic won't know what hit her.'

The next afternoon, girl-type Ranma and Akane met Kodachi in one of the hallways at St. Bacchus's School for Girls.

"So, the pig-tailed girl will be your second," noted Kodachi. "We have met before, have we not?" she added as she remembered the girl being there when she first encountered Akane. "Well, may the best girl win," she proclaimed as she held out her hand to shake.

"I make it a habit never to shake hands with people who hide tacks between their fingers," Akane frostily replied as she held up Kodachi's wrist.

"My, my, how did these get here?" Kodachi asked rhetorically.

"Your cheap tricks won't work on me," declared Akane. "I'm going to beat you fair and square."

"Oh ho ho ho! Confident, are we? Maybe we should raise the stakes. I know brother dear would much appreciate taking you out on a date," Kodachi challenged.

"No way!" shouted Ranma immediately. He thought quickly for an excuse. "She can't, because, uh, she has a fiancé, my brother Ranma...really."

"F-f-f-fiancé? Ranma-darling from the roof last week?" Kodachi stuttered in disbelief.

"More or less," conceded Akane. "But it was our parents' decision, not ours," she felt obliged to protest.

"So, how interesting. Shall we wager for Ranma in the upcoming match?" Kodachi challenged.

"What?! Are you insane?!" shouted Akane. "I'm not going to bet my friend on the outcome of a match! Besides, he's his own person, and I have no right to do that to him!"

For a second there Ranma had been worried that Akane's competitive nature would cause her to accept the bet. She sighed in relief as Akane defended their friendship. 'She really is the best friend I've ever had,' she thought

In the dressing room, Ranma made sure to turn her back as Akane changed into her leotard. After getting rid of a bouquet of black roses laced with sleeping potion, Ranma said, "Don't worry, Akane. I know you can win. If you weren't restricted to those silly tools, Kodachi wouldn't even be able to touch you. Just relax, remember your training, and if you get in trouble, just remember: bare-handed attacks may be illegal, but the foundations of our style still apply. It's still 'Anything-Goes Martial Arts' no matter what the setting."

Akane smiled at her friend. "Thanks, Ranma. I'll keep that in mind."

"You're sure this is St. Bachus's School for Girls? Absolutely no doubt?" Ryoga asked a couple of schoolgirls?"

"Ab-absolutely!" one of them replied. "Who is that guy?" questioned her friend.

"I came without getting lost!" Ryoga literally cried with tears in his eyes. 'To think that I, with the world's worst sense of direction, have come straight to this place, that is the power of love!' Ryoga thought with an image of Akane in his head. 'But this is no place for emotions. I must get a front row seat and properly cheer Akane on!'

Unfortunately for Ryoga, his plans were literally splashed away when a girl in an upstairs classroom dumped a bucket of water out the window, transforming Ryoga into his porcine form. Before he knew it he was being cuddled by several St. Bacchus girls until he was snatched away by Kodachi herself. "This pig will help me greatly," she said ominously.

Finally, the match was ready to begin. The stands were filled with students from both schools, including Kodachi's older brother Tatewaki Kuno, who had strangely attracted some Bacchus fangirls to the disgust of the other boys from Furinkan.

"And now, the champions of the schools..." began the referee into her microphone. She introduced Kodachi and her second and then introduced the visiting team: "And in this corner, from Furinkan High School, Akaaaane Tendooooo, and her second, Haruuuuka Saotomeeeee!" This set off a bunch of whispering into the crowd as to Haruka's possible relation to Ranma.

The referee brought the challengers to the center of the ring to shake hands, and that's when Kodachi made her move. She quickly locked Akane's right wrist into a manacle connected by a chain to another manacle locked around the waist of a very familiar black piglet. "Carelessness is your enemy," Kodachi proclaimed.

Akane scowled, upset at herself for letting down her guard against a known cheater. "What have you gotten me into this time, Ryoga," she asked the pig in frustration. However, she had no time to dwell on the matter as the bell immediately rang, thereby signaling the start of the match.

A commentator at a side table took the opportunity to announce the rules, few as they were, to the audience over the school's PA system: "Today, martial rhythmic gymnastics! The rules: no time limit, no bare-handed blows; the match ends when one contestant is knocked completely down; and if either contestant falls from the ring, she will be an immediate loser!"

Trying for a quick opening blow, Akane attacked first with her ribbon, but Kodachi easily parried with a rope. "Just what we've come to expect from the flower of martial gymnastics, Kodachi Kuno!" bellowed the commentator. "She handles the rope as if it's a rod!" Kodachi swung the rope at Akane's head only for Ryoga to jump up and take the blow himself, knocking him out with a nasty bump on his head as he fell into Akane's arms. "Wait a minute! It is a rod! A rod disguised as a rope!" revealed the commentator to the surprise of only half the audience.

Akane quickly grabbed the rope-like rod from Kodachi's grasp and tossed it out of the ring. "Thanks, Ryoga," she said to the dazed piglet in her arms. "I may have my issues with you, but Kodachi couldn't have picked a worse animal to chain me to," she smirked as Ranma lobbied unsuccessfully with the referee as to the legal nature of Kodachi's rod. She gathered her ki into left hand and used a karate chop to sever the chain close to her wrist as much of the audience gasped in surprise and awe. "You've done your part, but now it's my turn," she said as she tossed Ryoga over to Ranma just before Kodachi moved in with her next attack.

This time Kodachi attacked with a club held in each hand, jabbing at Akane's face. She dodged and barely avoided the spikes that popped out of the head of the club by means of a hidden switch. Ranma tried to complain to the ref, but she either missed it or was playing dumb about the matter in a biased fashion. "A club with retractable spikes, what magnificent cowardice, if I may say so about my own sister," commented Kuno from the stands.

"I do this all so that I may prove myself to Ranma," Kodachi announced. "Oh, how inspiring the lengths to which I'll go!"

Akane growled in jealously, which was not missed by Kodachi. "I'm telling you, there's no chance of Ranma going out with you!" Akane yelled as she sidestepped another thrust of Kodachi's club and slammed her still manacled wrist into Kodachi's face in a vicious backhand, sending her flying across the ring until the ropes stopped her forward momentum.

Kodachi's second then tried to complain to the ref for once only to lose the argument when Akane held up and pointed to her metal-enclosed wrist. "Valid!" proclaimed the three judges as they held up white flags.

"Promise that if you lose, you'll never again show your face to Ranma Saotome!" Akane commanded as Ranma gasped in surprise behind her.

"And what precisely are you to Ranma Saotome?" asked Kodachi in reply.

"Are you going to promise or not?" pressed Akane.

"Oh ho ho ho hoooo!" Kodachi laughed sinisterly. "It's not just an arranged engagement. You! You want Ranma too!" she declared. "I see it clearly now! You dreadful girl!" she added as she attacked with clubs once more. Akane blocked with a pair of her own clubs that Ranma has tossed her during the lull. Akane focused her mind back on the match, but she couldn't help blushing at Kodachi's pronouncement, which was not missed by the lunatic gymnast.

Getting nowhere with the clubs, Kodachi called for a hoop. "It won't do to have a rival for Ranma's affections. I, Kodachi the Black Rose, will punish you!" she declared as she sent the hoop flying. Akane jumped over it only to shout in surprise when it sheared off the top of one of the ring's corner posts.

"A-a razor blade!" announced Ranma nervously. She was starting to get worried for Akane's safety with how dangerous Kodachi's modified weapons were proving to be.

Kodachi then used her ribbon to bring the hoop back around for another pass. Akane barely managed to bring her manacled wrist up in time to deflect it out of the ring. Ranma and Akane both sighed in relief.

Akane took a stance as she prepared to go the offensive with her clubs. "Heh, how laughable!" Kodachi scoffed as she accepted more clubs of her own. "Now witness the secret technique of the Black Rose! The Blow of a Thousand Hands! At full furry!" Her arms seemed to blur as she rained blow after blow down on Akane. Akane blocked as many as she could, but she was taking hits just as often. Before long she lost her grip on both of her own clubs.

"That's incredible!" "Looks like she's using 20 clubs!" remarked a couple of impressed spectators.

"Akane!" shouted Ranma as she tossed a ball into the air. Akane jumped up and spiked the ball into the blur of movement, successfully disarming Kodachi of what actually was an arsenal of 20 clubs.

"This is only the beginning!" Kodachi declared as she now armed herself with a ribbon. "The essence of martial rhythmic gymnastics is control of an endless arsenal of weapons!" She leapt onto a corner post and used her ribbon to ensnare the bell from the judges' table, which she then flicked with dangerous accuracy at her opponent. Akane swiftly dodged. Kodachi tried again with a folding chair, forcing Akane to jump over it.

"Two can play at this game," growled Akane as she grabbed her earlier discarded ribbon from the floor. She then accelerated the ribbon-bound arms race by sending the entire commentator's table flying at her opponent. Kodachi wasted no time in snagging her own brother from the stands, who cut the table in two with a quick strike from his bokken.

"Ugh, this is just getting ridiculous!" complained Ranma with her face in her palm as Akane and Kodachi reached a stalemate as their ribbons swirled around each other.

Unfortunately, Ranma's inattention cost her as Kodachi used her ribbon to next snatch a kettle of boiling water from Genma (who for the seeming convenience of the plot was enjoying tea in his panda form just outside the ring) and tossed it at her opponent. Akane dodged only to gasp in horror as the kettle went flying straight at Ranma's head. It knocked her to the ground and spilled open, pouring out its contents on its victim.

'Oh no!' thought Ranma in dismay as he felt himself transform back into his birth gender. 'Everyone's going to find out my secret! I'll be a laughingstock at school!' The steam emitted by the kettle was obscuring the view of his body, but that wouldn't last long! Thankfully, Genma had acted quickly and brought over a conveniently placed fire hose. He sprayed Ranma back into female form before anyone in the audience could notice. However, there was one girl with a better view than most whose jaw dropped and eyes went wide at what she saw...

After the unusual interruption, Kodachi turned her focus back to the match and attacked again with one of her spiked clubs. However, Akane was ready for it this time. Being careful to avoid the spiked end, she grabbed the club with both hands and swung Kodachi over her shoulder with her great strength.

It appeared that Kodachi was going to fly out of the ring and finally lose the match, but she had one last trick up her sleeve. She quickly pulled a whistle out from the front of her leotard and gave it a blast. Suddenly, the entire ring moved to accommodate her, allowing her to safely land back in the ring! "Ha ha ha ha! 'Out' is an impossibility for me!" Kodachi gloated.

"We'll see about that," muttered Akane with a smirk as a sneaky idea occurred to her.

"Akane Tendo, you have truly been a worthy opponent, but it's time to bring this match to an end!" declared Kodachi. "My special ribbon, please," she called to her second, who quickly obliged.

Before Akane could call for a weapon of her own, Kodachi snapped out the ribbon and quickly bound Akane to one of the corner posts as the ribbon wrapped around her a couple of times.

"Ho ho ho hooo, it's over, Tendo!" Kodachi declared. "That ribbon is laced with threads made out of diamond. Not even you can break it! Now I can just enjoy knocking you senseless at my leisure!"

Kodachi confidently strode towards her with one of her clubs as Akane struggled in vain to free herself. 'Oh no, she right! I can't break free! What do I do?!' she thought it a panic.

"Akane, don't give up! You can still win!" shouted Ranma from behind her. "Remember, anything goes!"

Akane's eyes went wide as she realized what Ranma was telling her. 'He's right! If I can't break the ribbon, I'll just have to break something else!' Akane gathered her ki and started to cry out as her battle aura burned brightly around her.

Kodachi stopped a few feet away from her in surprise. "Just what is that trollop up to?" she wondered out loud. She didn't have to wonder for long as a loud cracking noise began to be heard. "No way!" Kodachi cried as she realized what was happening. "She's tearing out the entire post!"

With one last crack, the post separated itself completely from its support, and Akane charged towards Kodachi with her final weapon. However, Kodachi merely smirked and jumped high in the air, easily dodging Akane's final attack as the weight of the post and the ropes to which it was still attached caused Akane to lose her balance and fall to the mat.

"That was an excellent last-ditch effort but ultimately futile!" Kodachi declared as she aimed to bring her club down on Akane's head. "The final blow!"

"That's what you think!" called Akane just before playing her final card. She simply took a deep breath and let out a loud whistle. Under the ring, Kodachi's teammates couldn't see what was going on. They simply assumed their captain had called for them once again and began moving the ring back to its original location. "NOOOOOOO!" screamed Kodachi as she had no choice but to land outside the ring.

The crowd erupted into cheers at the upset, none bigger than by Ranma, who jumped into the ring and starting untangling Akane from the ribbon and ropes. The referee held up Akane's arm and declared her the winner. "Akane Tendo wins the match! Akane Tendo wins the match! Akane Tendo wins the match!" the commentator shouted over and over.

Kodachi sighed. "A total defeat." She walked over to Akane. "Congratulations, Tendo, but don't think this means I've given up on Ranma," she said. She continued in a quieter voice that only Akane could hear. "By the way, I saw something quite strange during the match. It appears that Ranma is even more interesting than I first thought. You'd better make your move on him and her soon, or I might just steal Ranma away from you." She flipped her ponytail and walked away as Akane stood there gaping with wide eyes.

Author's Notes: Phew, I finally managed to update this story. It's been a while, hasn't it? Don't worry, I don't plan on abandoning any of my stories for which I've already posted multiple chapters. Hopefully, I can get some more updates done relatively quickly now that baseball season is finally over.

Anyway, sorry if this chapter was a little too much by-the-manga for your tastes. It'll be the last one like that for a while. I've got some great stuff planned for the next arc (Martial Arts Ice Skating), which is my favorite early manga arc. I hope that I at least managed to entertain you with the ending. It's the way that I always wished Ranma had won that match in canon.

I've always thought that the Kuno siblings just needed to see Ranma's transformation clearly to figure it out. Tatewaki's rude awakening is also coming, but it won't be for a long while.

Besides being a obvious reference to Kodachi's nickname as the Black Rose, this chapter's title has double meaning beyond that. Did you catch them both?

I went back and forth on whether to use St. Bacchus or St. Hebereke for Kodachi's school. I decided that since I generally use the English translations for various terms as shown in the official English translation of the manga that I should remain consistent with that approach.

Ranma's stated reasons for watching "Sailor Moon" in this chapter are my own. You gotta problem with that? I'm particularly enjoying the new "Sailor Moon Crystal" series, which is a reboot designed to more closely follow the original manga. Feel free to check it out on Hulu or Crunchyroll. New episodes come out on the first and third Saturdays of each month.