Subject: [FFML] [fic][Orig/AMG/SM/R.5)(T.O.A.DB2C7r1)Unintended Consequences
From: "LSMcGill" <lsmcgill@hotmail.com>
Date: 2/6/2004, 2:16 PM
To:


Revised edition v1

Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 characters property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan,
Kitty, and Viz Video. Sailor Moon characters property of Takeuchi Naoko,
Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. Ah! My Goddess property of
Fujishima Kosuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and
Dark Horse Comics. Other characters who may cameo are property of respective
owners.  All are used without permission. I did not write this for profit,
but for practice. Will be removed at request of original creators or
authorized rep.

Zhu Shu (who shoo), Tao-Ching, Xi'an Chi (zy-an chee), and Clans' Dragon and
Skorpion are mine, and may be used so long as I am asked beforehand.

Previous chapters at
http://www.rakhal.com/florestica/lsmcgill/dragon/index.htm

Tears of a Dragon Book Two: The Dragon's Child


Chapter Seven: Unintended Consequences

Urd blinked as she looked around the devastation.  What had happened?

She hadn't left her home the last several days, trying to come to grips with
the encounter she had had with Hild, and wishing she wasn't stuck with this
damn assignment.  Belldandy had tried coaxing her out with sweets, and even
Skuld had tried to cheer her up, but nothing could drag her out of the room.
She hadn't even been able to get a good drunk on.  She'd drained all the
sake the first day and Belldandy wouldn't buy her any more, so she'd just
sat in her room sober and hating her life.

But something had finally prompted her out of her funk, a nagging sense of
something . . . missing.  It had been growing for the last couple of days,
and she'd finally spent several hours this morning trying to narrow down
what it might be, and finally, she had come looking for Mara.  Regardless of
how strange the demon had been acting, or how frightening she had been since
the Terrible Master had possessed Urd, something had told the goddess that
Mara needed her.

No matter how she had fought it, that sense wouldn't go away.  It had nagged
at her, pushed her out of her room, and finally driven her to the apartment
complex where Mara had made her lair.  There had been no answer, but all her
senses had screamed at her at the residuals of power within.  It had taken
her all of three seconds to pick the door with a credit card.

Now, surveying the ruins of what had once been an apartment, she wondered if
she had come too late.  At a guess, this had happened days ago.  She looked
at the scorch marks on everything, and the two wooden spikes embedded in the
wall, trails of blood dried under them...

So much blood.

She touched the dried stain cautiously, and shuddered at the torrent of pain
that clung to the blood and the sure knowledge that it was Mara's.  What
could have done this to a Demon First Class?  She looked around, sure
whatever it had been was gone, but on edge.  If it could kill a demon...

A faint groan came from the bedroom.  Urd blinked, then pushed on the badly
scarred door.  A soft golden glow came from the bed, but Urd couldn't make
out what, or who, was on it.  She started to move forward, then stopped at
the flare from a magical circle on the floor.  The golden glow flared
brightly for a second as a pair of burning eyes floated above the circle,
seeming to stare right through her.  Urd took a step back as the eyes closed
and the circle faded.  She recognized the signature on the ward, though she'
d never seen anything like it before.  What was the Dragon up to?

Another groan drew her attention back to the bed, and she cautiously tried
to step forward again.  This time, the circle raised no protest and she
crossed into the ward.

Instantly, she felt the world outside fade from her senses, the ward sealing
even her goddess powers.  She staggered for a second as she felt herself cut
off, but concern for the still figure in the bed overrode her wariness.  She
knelt next to the still form of Mara and brushed the hair back from the
demoness' face.
She breathed a sigh of relief as she reassured herself that Mara was alive,
the silent dread that had driven her here fading.  Regardless of how Mara
had been acting, they had once been friends.  They had grown up together,
and played together, inseperable to the point many had thought they were
twins, but Urd's decision to become a goddess had driven a wedge between
them, one that had widened over the years as Mara had risen to become their
nemesis.  Urd had been confused by the change in her friend, then resentful,
but she'd never been able to bring herself to hate her one time best friend,
no matter how angry she had gotten at the demoness disrupting her life or
trying to mess with Belldandy and Keiichi.

She examined the sleeping form more thoroughly, and her breath drew in as
she noted one very minor, but very significant change about Mara's face.

Mara's demon marks had changed.  The scarlet split v and paired triangles on
her cheeks had vanished, to be replaced by golden teardrop shaped designs
noticeable against her pale skin only by the reflected light of the sun
peeking through the window.  Urd blinked at the curved teardrops, noting
they looked almost like. . .

Claws?

Mara tossed again, and moaned slightly, then her eyes fluttered open
slightly.  As she focused on Urd, she smiled weakly.  "Urd?"  She said
softly, just barely loud enough to hear.  "He said you would come.  He
promised me you would be here when I woke."

Urd blinked, but nodded.  "Yes Mara.  I'm here."  She knelt by the bed.

Mara's hand shakily rose and touched Urd's.  "I-I'm sorry.  I never wanted
Ragnarok.  Hild - Hild clouded my mind."  She coughed weakly.  "She clouded
my mind with hate."

Years seemed to roll back as all Urd could feel was concern for an old
friend.  She couldn't even feel the demonic aura Mara had developed over the
years.  "Don't try to talk Mara.  You're weak.  Let me take you back to
Morisato's.  Bell and I can help you get better."

"Never hated you, Urd.  Never..."

Urd nodded.  "I know Mara.  Rest.  You need to get better."  She reached out
to stroke the demoness's hair.  "Go back to sleep for now.  I'll get
Keiichi."

The demoness nodded.  "He said you'd come."  She smiled.  "He promised."

Her voice faded as her eyes closed again and she drifted back to sleep.  Urd
sat back on her heels as she contemplated the demoness' words.  Legend had
been talking to Mara?  And promised the demoness that she was coming?  What
was going on?  More and more she was starting to feel like a pawn being
played in some vast chess game, and she didn't like the feeling.

Whatever was up, Mara wasn't the psycho she'd been lately.  And she was weak
and injured.  She looked down at the hand that was still holding hers, and
shuddered at signs that they'd been healed from being pierced.  Had Hild
done this to her?  Had her mom tortured Mara?  Because she wasn't hindering
Urd enough?  Or because Mara's creature had killed Zhu Shu?

She wished she had the answers.

Gently, she extracted her hand and went to the window, looking down to where
Keiichi was patiently waiting by his bike.  "Yo! Morisato!  I need a hand up
here."  He looked up at where she had her head poked out and waved before
heading towards the building.

He was up a few minutes later, blinking at the rubble.  "What happened here?
She blow herself up?"  He kicked a burned pillow out of the way.

Urd gave him a dirty look.  "No.  I think she was attacked by my mom.  She's
been healed by someone, the Dragon, I think, but she's too weak to take care
of herself.  We need to get her back to Bell."

Keiichi did a double take.  "Whoa.  She's a demon, Urd.  And our biggest
headache!  Even you said she's been acting crazy."

"She's hurt, Keiichi."  Urd said, pleading.  "And I think she's back to
normal.  I can't leave her here.  What if my mom comes back!  She's
defenseless!"

Keiichi looked at the blood on the wall and the uncharacteristic desperation
in Urd's eyes and nodded, "Okay.  I think there's room for you both in the
side car, but you're going to have her on your lap."

Urd let out a sigh of relief.  "That's fine.  Let's just get her out of
here."  She looked around the apartment nervously and wiped her hands on her
skirt.  She led him into the bedroom, noting that the ward had already
faded.

As Keiichi looked at Mara, he did a double take.  "Hey, what happened to her
markings?"

"I don't know."  Urd confessed.  "This is how I found her."  She lifted the
sheets to slid Mara out of bed then dropped them again.  "Oh, cripes.  She's
naked."

Keiichi shrugged.  "Just wrap her up in the blanket.  I'll come back to grab
some clothes for her."

Urd grimaced, but nodded.  She put her hand Mara's shoulder and gently shook
her.
"Mara?  We need to move you.  We're going to take you to Belldandy."

Mara's eyes fluttered open and focused on Urd again.  "You're still here?"
she whispered, smiling.  "I thought it had to be a dream."

"No Mara.  But we need to move you.  We can't carry you.  You have to
 stand."

The demoness smiled dreamily and nodded.  She did her best to help Urd and
Keiichi as they managed to get her on her feet and down the hall to the
elevator.  Mara pouted as they waited for the car to go down.  "I'm sorry."
she told Urd, trying to focus. "I feel so drifty."

"It's okay, Mara.  You lost a lot of blood." Urd said, doing her best to
hold up her side of the demoness

Getting her into the side car with Urd was even trickier, but finally, the
goddess had Mara arranged on her lap so that Keiichi could drive without
having a wreck.  Mara giggled softly as they pulled out of the lot.
"He said you'd come for me." she whispered, so softly Urd barely caught it
over the sound of the engine.  Her next words were lost to the wind as they
merged with traffic.

But Urd still did a double take at what she thought she'd heard.  Looking
down at the demoness as she laid her head on Urd's shoulder and fell asleep
again, Urd blinked.

Then she passed it off as a trick of the wind.  There was no way Mara could
have said, "I love you."

* * * * *

Kasumi came in from shopping and stopped as her ears twitched at a faint
noise.  She put the groceries down and listened.

Was that... water?

Yes.  It was the sound of someone bathing in the upstairs bathroom.

Curious.  Soun and Genma had taken Sandal out to a local gaming room, so the
house should have been empty.

She quietly crept up the stairs and approached the furo door, rolling pin in
hand.  As her hand touched the door, there was a sound of the water bucket
falling over.

She slid open the door to find a wet and bedraggled kitten on the floor,
looking up at her curiously.  The overturned water bucket was lying next to
her.

"China?  Whatever happened?"

The kitten meowed, as if to say "I got wet!"

Kasumi laughed.  "You poor thing.  Here let me get you dried off."  She
picked up the wet kitten and stepped towards the towel draped over a hook by
the tub.  Noting the strange fact that the furo was full of fresh, steamy
water, she failed to see the bar of soap, and with a "Whoops!"  and a yowl
from China, she pitched forward into the tub.

She rose up out of the water and wiped it out of her eyes to find herself
face to nipple with a full breast.  Her eyes rose to look into the violet
eyes of a very worried Amazon.

"Shan Pu?"

"Please not be angry.  Great Grandmother say must do to cure Ranma of cat
fear, and learn more about Airen!"

Kasumi blinked, noting the sudden absence of China.  "Oh my."  She wrung out
her hair as she stood.  "Did she curse you just to do this?"

"No.  Shan Pu be cursed many years now.  Since thirteen."  She frowned.
"Musk who attack village.  Shan Pu meet before.  Make fall in spring.  Part
why cousin hate so much."  She sighed.  "Is why so upset when find Ranma
fear cat.  Do not want Airen run from Shan Pu.  Run from Shan Pu enough
already." she finished sadly.

Kasumi wrung out her skirt as she nodded.  "I know, dear.  But are you sure
this is the best way?"  She finally gave up wringing the water out and began
undressing.  Nothing in the groceries would spoil, and she'd been intending
to get a bath before dinner anyway.  "Akane is really happy with having a
pet.  I don't know how she'll take it finding out it's you.  She's not
always the most rational or forgiving person."  Hanging her wet clothes from
a nearby hook in the washing area, she settled into the water across from
Shan Pu.  "I mean, I know I told you that you need to work on being subtle,
but not outright deception."

Shan Pu hung her head.  "Great Grandmother say must need learn more about
Airen.  She say be pet for while so be close to Airen, not be pushed away
like have been.  Learn how make Akane and Ranma love like Shan Pu love.
Learn how win heart."

Kasumi sighed.  "I'm sorry she's like that, Shan Pu.  But you were a little
bit of a surprise for all of us." she paused, reflecting, "Then again, so
was Ranma.  Father neglected to tell us about him until he was on our
doorstep."  She sighed again.  "Plus, there's the fact my last advice led to
the pair of you destroying the dojo."  She laid her head back against the
tub.  "Oh dear.  I don't know, Shan Pu.  Your grandmother could be right.  I
guess for now I will keep your secret.  But please, don't do anything to
abuse Akane's trust while you're a cat."

Shan Pu  nodded.  "Not wish to abuse trust.  Not even sleep in Akane bed.
Sleep under so not even hear words she say in sleep."

Kasumi smiled at her.  "Very well.  I will keep quiet and help if I can.
Just be careful."

The Amazon nodded enthusiastically.  "Shan Pu try very hard."

Kasumi smiled.  "Good."  A sudden thought hit her.  "Oh my... were you
listening to Akane and I talking yesterday?"

Shan Pu colored as she hung her head.  "Shan Pu in basket.  Could not help
but hear."

Kasumi frowned.  "You really should try to avoid that in the future, dear.
It's not polite.  Still I suppose it can't be helped."

Shan Pu shook her head.  "Shan Pu did not do on purpose, but did listen to
Airen.  Why Akane no wish have babies?  Is not proper way show love for
husband?"

Kasumi sighed.  "I suppose for your village, that is the way, but we have
changed here in Japan.  We don't have to have lots of children in the hopes
that a few will survive.  Father is unusual in that he has the three of us.
One or two children is more common these days.  And Akane wants to be more
than just a mother."  Kasumi leaned back as she let the warm water soak into
her bones.  "Our mother used to be a martial artist, and was well on her way
to being one of the best.  When she met father, they fought like cats and
dogs, but she could never defeat him."

Shan Pu nodded "Is best way.  Strong man insure strong children."

Kasumi smiled.  "I suppose that's true.  Anyway, eventually Mom fell in
love, and I was conceived.  That was the last bit of scandal my mother
allowed my father to engage in.  They were wed and I was born... and mother
had to give up being a martial artist to take care of me."

Shan Pu blinked.  "Why?"

"Because taking care of me and father was too demanding to allow her the
same kind of time and dedication to martial arts she had previously.   And
she insisted on stability for the family, so she and father could not live
as wanderers anymore.  Father returned home and took over the school from
grandfather, and mom learned how to be a mother from grandmother.  By the
time our Grandparents died, Nabiki had been born, and mother had settled
into being a housewife.  She still practiced in the mornings with father,
but I always got the sense she'd felt like she lost something."  Kasumi
traced circles on the top of the water as she stared off into the distance.
"I tried as hard as I could to help around the house, and take the burden
off of her, but I never understood until later what it was that she missed.
I never realized how much she had given up until she died, and I was helping
to raise Akane.  She is so much like mother at times it's scary.  Father
always used to brag that he had tamed a shrew in mother, and Akane's drive
and temper came from her."

Shan Pu giggled as she rubbed the back of her head.  "Shan Pu have felt
Akane's anger.  Is not worried.  Shan Pu proud Akane is such strong warrior.
But being mother does not mean is not warrior."

"Do the women of your village share the responsibility for raising
 children?"  Kasumi asked.

Shan Pu nodded.  "Men mainly do care, but all village help."

Kasumi nodded.  "In Japan, only the family helps, and men are generally off
earning money to support the family.  The school was fathers' job, but when
mother died, he just kind of fell apart.  If it hadn't been for the money
mother had put back, and Nabiki's gift for managing money, we would have
lost our home years ago."

Shan Pu was giving her a horrified look.  Finally she blinked and shook her
head.  "Japanese very strange.  Understand now why Akane not want children
right away."

Kasumi nodded.  "We don't have the same ways as your village, Shan Pu.  And
it is hard for a woman in Japan with children to be anything but a
housewife.  It's what's expected."

Shan Pu nodded.  "Is same for men in village.  Not think Ranma be good
househusband."

Kasumi giggled.  "No, I can't see Ranma in that role."

Shan Pu nodded.  "Shan Pu will think on this.  She want make many babies for
family, but things not like at village.  May be best to wait.  Akane want be
family first.  Shan Pu devoutly wish as well."

Kasumi gave her a warm smile.  "I'm hoping for that too, Shan-chan."

Shan Pu blinked, then smiled.  "Shan-chan.  Will need get used to, but like.
Very happy Kasumi will be sister as well."

Kasumi laughed.  "I'm hearing that from a lot of people these days."

* * * * *

The warehouse was old and rickety, like the dock.  Tao-Ching looked it over
and grinned.  According to his source, Herb's boat would be here by dusk.

The Prince had done a good job of seeking unobtrusive entry to Japan, having
hired a private luxury yacht last night to take him across to Japan.  His
only mistake had been paying in gold.   The yacht's captain had had no
choice but to try and fence the metals, since had he tried to sell in under
normal channels, the PRC would have been sniffing around trying to find out
how he had come across such a large cache of antique coinage.  Seeking to
avoid the PRC had forced the captain to contact Japanese "merchant", whose
connections reported directly to Tokyo.  As a "favor" to Tao-Ching, the
yacht crew had been replaced while Herb slept and he had boarded it this
morning unaware that the crew was under orders to bring him directly to this
old, disused Hibiki warehouse.  Further arrangements had been made to ensure
the docks were empty for a half mile around.  Five million American dollars
could buy a lot with the Yakuza.  Twenty million all told, if you took into
account hiring the mercenaries of Area 88 to blow up the Musk fortress.

Tao-Ching felt the scar along his side and smiled.  A small price to pay for
revenge.  Mint and Lime had already paid with their lives for his
humiliation at their hands.  They should have made sure he was dead.  This
time, he wouldn't give Herb a chance to use his fancy chi techniques and
throw him over a cliff.  That had cost Shan Pu a lifetime cursed to be a cat
and him six months healing from being impaled on a bamboo pole.  Herb had a
lot to answer for.

* * * * *

"I can't believe you asked her to introduce you to VENUS!"  Ayeka screamed,
causing Kyoko to wince.

Ai looked at her coolly, leaning back in the hot tub she'd arranged to have
installed in the cheerleaders dressing room.  She stretched her arms out
along the side, lifting her breasts to just above the waterline as she got
comfortable.  She gave the raven haired cheerleader a slow examination,
making the naked girl feel like her skin was being flayed, and Ayeka
resisted the urge to cover herself.  Finally, Ai spoke.

"Yes."  Ai said icily.  "We talked about the Senshi.  I needed information
on exactly how involved with them she is.  The last thing I want is to beat
her down only to have to fight five super powered magical girls.  It's
called intelligence gathering."  Ai shook her head at Ayeka's failure to see
the obvious.  She should have avoided mentioning asking for Sailor Venus'
autograph.

"It looked more like flirting!"  Ayeka said, crossing her arms under her
breasts as she cocked one hip in annoyance.  "And most of the school thinks
so too!"

Ai sighed, wishing Ayeka's eagerness to be her pet wasn't part of a massive
inferiority complex that made the girl a great submissive, but incredibly
insecure.  "Enough Ayeka.  Attractive as Zhu Shu is, until this matter of
challenge is settled, she's off limits."

Ayeka wouldn't be mollified.  "Attractive!  What does that little Chinese
bitch have that I don't!" she screamed, lifting her arms and turning to
display her lithe figure.

Ai shook her head.  Telling the girl to shave had been a mistake.  Nice as
she looked bare, Ayeka had obviously taken it as an attempt on Ai's part to
make her substitute for Zhu Shu.  It hadn't been, she'd just discovered she
liked the look, and had made Ayeka her first experiment, trying to decide if
she was going to have the entire squad shave, but in the tall girls mind, it
had been far more significant, obviously.

"She does have bigger breasts." Kyoko added helpfully from where she was
busy massaging Megumi's legs.  Megumi was watching the fight with an air of
"enough already", supporting herself on her arms as she lay on the massage
table, her legs spread to let Kyoko rub muscles sore from practice.  She
looked down at the younger girl's comment and rolled her eyes with an amused
smile.

Ayeka glared at the chestnut haired girl, her hands rising into a
strangulation grip as she almost advanced on the kawaii brunette.

Ai waved her off.  "I said enough.  Seriously Ayeka, you're acting like your
jealous.  You've never raised a fuss like this over anyone else I was
looking at as a play toy."

Kaede looked over from where she was filing her nails on the other side of
the hot tub..  "No one else you've played with could fight us to a draw."
she said, matter of factly.  She examined her perfect nails and dropped the
file on the side of the tub as she stretched out, her toes casually finding
a soft and furry target.  "Akane doesn't count because you weren't ever
interested in her.  She's always been too much of a tomboy for you.  You
like your women feminine, and your guys masculine." she finished, her toe
stroking up and down gently.  Ai spread her legs slightly but didn't react
otherwise.

"She certainly isn't acting that way as much since Zhu Shu started living
with the Tendos."  Kyoko added.  "She's nowhere near as violent."  She
sighed.  "Which makes Kuno give her googly eyes worse than ever."  She
stopped rubbing Megumi's thigh as she daydreamed.

Megumi looked down at Kyoko over the mute evidence that she was no more a
natural red head than Ai was blonde, and rolled her eyes.  "Why you care
that Kuno chases her is beyond me."

Kyoko gave a pretty little pout.  "He's only done that since he came to
Furinkan.  He always used to chase me when we were in junior high."

"And I remember him being just as obnoxious about it."  Megumi shook her
head.  "And you playing hard to get just made him worse.  Now he assumes
every girl is doing it."  She fluttered her eyes at the brunette and looked
down meaningfully.  Kyoko blushed as she started rubbing again

Ayeka growled.  "And all of that is beside the point!"  She turned to Ai.
"When are we going to challenge that bitch!"

"When I can find some way to cancel out those chi attacks!"  Ai exclaimed.
"As good as we are, none of us know any chi based attacks that
sophisticated.  We need some way to counteract those."  Ai rubbed her
temples, tired of the argument.  She laid her head back against the tub's
soft side as she felt Kaede's toe begin making small circles.

"We could always insult Ayeka until she explodes."  Megumi suggested, to a
glare from the dark haired girl that the red head ignored.   "It worked
against your sister's school."

"Mariko's squad got cocky.  She needed to be reminded who the real master of
combat cheerleading was in the Konjou family."  Ai said with a frown.  She r
eached down to tap Kaede's foot away.  "And Ayeka is uncontrollable when she
's berserk." Ai said as she rose from the tub and began drying off.

The dark haired girl glared at all of them, the faintest hint of a violet
aura shimmering around her.  "Keep it up and you'll find out just how
uncontrollable I am!"

"Calm down Ayeka.  We will redeem ourselves against Zhu Shu.  As soon as I
feel we are ready."  Ai said as she picked up her bra and started dressing.
"You all did well in practice today.  I just need to figure out how to even
things up in our favor, and we'll teach the entire school who's still the
best."

The rest of the squad nodded, except for Ayeka, who fumed still.  "I won't
wait forever Ai!"

Ai fixed her with an icy glare that dissipated Ayeka's aura.  "You will wait
until I say or I will do something far worse than punish you."  She made
very sure Ayeka met her eyes.  "I'll stop."

The cowed girl nodded as Ai turned and left, her yellow skirt flaring as she
stalked out of the room.  Megumi's eyes followed her before turning back to
Ayeka.  "Stop pouting.  Ai's never let us down yet.  She's right.  You're
acting like you're jealous.  Ai's had plenty of other girls and guys and you
've never acted like this."  She looked down at Kyoko and smiled, shifting
her hips.

Ayeka looked at her.  "Why shouldn't I be jealous?  That bitch has all the
guys in school drooling over her, and half the girls!  And ever since she's
come, Ai's barely even looked at me!"  She looked down at herself, running a
hand along her flat stomach and over her freshly shaved pubis, then sighing
as she sat on the edge of the tub.

"Zhu Shu's not even interested in any of them, Ayeka.  Haven't you noticed
she's barely noticed anyone other than Akane or Ranma?" Megumi said.  "I don
't think you need worry about Ai ditching us for the little tramp."  She lay
back on the table, her hands behind her head as she hooked one foot behind
Kyoko and pulled her closer, smiling as the brunette knelt.

"Besides, " Kaede added, coming up beside the tall, raven haired girl and
rising out of the warm water to press against her back as her arms encircled
her neck. "We all know how obsessive she gets over anyone challenging her
martial arts prowess.  Or any other prowess she has.  She'll figure out how
to counter those chi attacks, and then turn Zhu Shu into our personal pet."
Kaede's finger traced lazily down Ayeka's breast bone.  "Once she's been
broken in, she'll make a fine addition to the squad, just like you were,
Ayeka.  Just like we all were."

"Exactly."  Megumi added.  "Think about how much fun that will be.   Just
like it was breaking in Kyoko here." She reached down to stroke the curly
chestnut hair of the other girl.

Kyoko nodded, too polite to speak with her mouth full.  The motion caused
Megumi to gasp as her back arched and she moaned softly.

Kaede watched for a few seconds before concentrating on Ayeka.  "Just
 watch," She purred in Ayeka's ear as she rubbed her shoulders.  "Ai will
find some way to handle Zhu Shu."

Ayeka nodded, surrendering to the other girls kneading fingers.  "Alright,
but if that wench makes a move on our Ai, I'm gonna kill her."

* * * * *

Ranma looked around the dojo, then down at her watch.  "Okay, so where are
the girls?"

Akane shrugged, the motion making her rabbit ears sway.  "I don't know.  Zhu
Shu said they were going to come by and to give them their lessons this
week.  I don't know where they are."  Her ears twitched towards the house.
"Hang on, Kasumi's calling."

Ranma blinked, not having heard a thing.  "Okay."

Akane was back a few minutes later.  "Kasumi said Mr. Tsukino called to let
us know the girls apparently went to Hong Kong.  Something about a school
project."  Her frown showed annoyance.

"Oh, man.  Zhu Shu's gonna kill em."  Ranma shook her head.

Akane stepped up behind her and picked up Ranma's long braid , idly playing
with it.  "Especially after she made them swear they'd stay here until she
had a chance to scout it out."

"Oh, I take it you heard the girls went to Hong Kong?"

They both turned to see Luna coming into the dojo.  Ranma eeked and backed
up to the far side of the dojo in one leap, Akane fortunately having let go
of her braid.  "She talked!" the terrified redhead squeeked.

Luna gave Ranma a curious look.  "Usagi said you knew about the Senshi."

Akane laughed.  "Ranma does.  We forgot to tell him you talk though, and he
has a phobia of cats."

Luna gave Ranma a curious look.  "Oh.  I'll be quick then.  Sorry I'm late.
It's ever such a long walk on foot.  The girls tricked us and took off.  We
don't know what's going on, but they're okay so far as we've been
monitoring.  I just came to let you know that we felt a major surge of
Silver Millennium energy a few days ago, when you went to China.  Artemis
and I are sure it came from Zhu Shu."

Akane nodded.  "We were attacked at the Amazon village."  She pointed to her
rabbit ears.  "These are a remnant."

"Oh my.  I thought they were a headband.  Usagi has a pair just like those."

"Well, these are real.  Zhu Shu saved the village.  Shan Pu said that she
had run to Jusenkyo for water from the spring of drowned girl to turn
everyone back from being bunnies."  She turned to show the fluffy pink and
white tuft poking out the top of her pants.  "We're no longer rabbits, but
as you can see, there are still some issues.  I was in the village square
when Zhu Shu got back, and she just appeared on the dais in a small
explosion of light."

Luna blinked.  "Oh?  Interesting.  It takes all five of the girls joining
powers to teleport."

"She collapsed afterwards, exhausted." Akane said.  "The elders say she
overused her chi severely."

Luna nodded.  "Well, I just wanted to let you know what was going on.
Artemis is waiting outside and it's a long walk back."

"Why's he outside?"

"Said he smelled a strange cat."

"Oh, that's China.  She's mine.  Shan Pu gave her to me."

Luna looked over at the still cowering Ranma.  "And he's afraid of cats?"

"We're hoping repeat exposure will help him overcome the phobia."

"Ah.  Well, I suppose that's all to the good.  Anything I can do to help?"

"Don't really know.  Right now I guess not."

"Well, at least now we know why he had a fit the first day I came with
Usagi."  She tilted her head at the unmoving boy.  "Good luck with the
phobia, Ranma!"

"Gah!"  was the redhead's response.

Akane sauntered over to the smaller girl as Luna nosed back out the dojo
door.  "Well, it looks like we're stuck with no class to train.  Care to
spar?"

Ranma's eyes stayed glued to the door until Luna's tail disappeared, then
let out a sigh.  "Dammit, I did it again!"

Akane tugged the smaller girl away from the wall and rubbed her shoulders.
"It's going to take time Ranma.  You did very well.  Especially considering
that we didn't warn you about her speaking."

"I hate this.  I used to like cats!"

"Give it time.  No-one but you expects results overnight."  She stepped back
and gave the redhead a mischievous look as she untied her gi top.  "Now, are
you going to spar with me, or not?"

Ranma watched as Akane removed her gi, admiring the curves her body was
developing, and smiling as Akane's bunny tail came fully into view.  Akane
noticed her watching and gave her rear a shake.  "So, do I have a nice
 tail?"

Ranma gulped hard.  "Umm..."

Akane laughed as she reached behind her back and pulled her swords.  Ranma
barely had time to blink as she blurred towards him, her long braid whipping
into a loud crack as she moved.  She stopped behind Ranma, her breasts
pressed against Ranma and her arms encircling the other girl, swords once
more put away.  Ranma gave the grinning girl a raised eyebrow.

"What was that about?" she asked, prompting Akane to giggle.

Then, her clothes fell off, the garment sliced neatly into pieces.

"I wanted you naked." Akane explained with a quirked eyebrow.

Ranma gave her the evil eye.  "You could have asked."

"It's more fun this way."  Akane smiled.  "Besides, it gives me a chance to
let my hands wander."  she added as her hands began to do just that, one
hand moving up, the other down.

Ranma blushed.  "Um, are you feeling okay?  I mean, Kodachi wasn't even in
school today, so I don't think she slipped you something."

"I'm horny.  It's a natural thing for most people, Ranma.  Especially people
in love."  Akane murmured as her fingers began playing with Ranma's curls.
"I've been horny since we left China, and this is the first time I've been
able to express it."

Ranma gasped as Akane's fingers found their target.  "Ah, okay.  It's just
your usually so- so-"

"Sexless?" Akane teased.  "I thought I broke you of that idea."  She tossed
her head so her braid wrapped around them both, pulling Ranma closer.

"Ah... yeah... um...  well... I...  just never expected you to be so
forward."  She leaned back against Akane as the dark haired girl's fingers
began provoking the responses Akane sought.

"So? I want to make out like bunnies.  I..."  Akane stopped and blinked.
"Oh my god." she  said, her lips right next to Ranma's ears.  "That's
exactly what I want to do."  Her ears twitched.  "I've been wanting to drag
you off and play with you ever since I got cursed."

The redhead blinked.  "Huh?"

"Since I got cursed, whenever I'm not doing something, I've been daydreaming
about having sex.  With you, with Shan Pu, even Zhu Shu.  Gods, I've been
fantasizing about just about everyone," She nuzzled Ranma's ear.  "And
getting hornier and hornier."

Ranma blinked.  "Everyone?"

Akane pulled her head back and gave the red head a sour look.  "Get over
yourself.  Like you haven't done it too.  I have noticed your tendency to
let your eyes wonder towards pretty girls."

Ranma blushed.  "Okay, okay."

"Besides, the only people I'd actually do something with are you, and
eventually Shan Pu."  She leaned back to start nuzzling again.  "I love you,
and I never meant to hurt you."

Ranma smiled.  "I know.  I'm sorry.  Just have a hard time accepting that
you really find me desirable."

Akane blinked. She leaned forward to look at Ranma's face.  "Jeez.  I should
have known the overbearing ego had a hidden insecurity problem."

"Hey, I ain't insecure!" Ranma protested

Akane giggled.  "Of course you are.  When it comes to me anyway.  I think it
's cute."  She hugged Ranma tighter for a second, then her hands resumed
their explorations again.  "Anyway, I wonder if being a bunny girl has side
effects, like an increased sex drive."

Ranma sighed softly as Akane's fingers slid deeper.  "Umm... I dunno.
Maybe.  I ain't complaining."

Akane nipped him lightly on the neck.  "Of course not.  You're the one being
molested."  She grabbed Ranma's hand with her unoccupied one and guided it.
"A fact that I expect you to correct immediately."

Ranma smiled as her fingers complied.

* * * * *

Nabiki growled as she closed the cell phone.  Tao-Ching still wasn't
answering.  And after she'd gone and spent so much effort buying clothes!

She looked down at the pair of stiletto heeled platforms she had bought, and
sighed.  All dressed up and no place to go.  Stepping in front of the
mirror, she examined the deep v front dress she'd bought, the neckline
plunging down so far that she'd had to shave, and the lower hem barely
hiding the fact she'd dispensed with underwear too.  The back of the dress
actually plunged below her tail, leaving the soft brown puff of fur fluffed
out behind her.   The black heels accented the ensemble, the open toes
showing off her candy apple red nail polish, and the extra two inches of
height from the platforms and the seven inch heels would have brought her
almost level with Tao-Ching.  The daringness of the outfit had left her
feeling incredibly sexy.

A shame Tao-Ching couldn't see it.  She lifted the dress to look at the
small tuft of fur she'd left as a teaser and pouted.  She'd so looked
forward to driving the furball crazy with tantalizing glimpses until he
couldn't take it anymore, then letting him take the dress off of her for a
little fun.

She sighed again and headed down to the kitchen to tell Kasumi she wasn't
going out after all.  Pausing at the kitchen door, Nabiki blinked, then gave
a slow smile.

"Umm... Kasumi?"

Kasumi smiled at Nabiki.  "Yes?"

"Um... you did realize you weren't wearing anything but that apron, right?"
Nabiki took advantage of the fact to admire Kasumi's excellent curves.

Kasumi blushed prettily, but didn't seem too bothered by Nabiki's appraising
looks.  "Oh my.  I was... well... I took a break for a few minutes.  If you
must know, I was fantasizing.  I was so caught up in my daydream I didn't
notice I hadn't gotten re-dressed."  She took in Nabiki's clothes.  "That's
a new look for you."

Nabiki thought about it, looking down at herself.  "You're right."  She
looked around.  "Good thing Genma and Sandal aren't here.  I'm practically
giving a free show, too."  She shrugged.  "Though they'd probably run for
the hills in terror if they were.  The Ice Princess on the prowl."

Kasumi laughed, the motions making her breasts bounce rather enticingly.
Nabiki licked her lips, feeling a sudden urge to nibble.

"Mr. Saotome is currently rather... occupied, with Mrs. Saotome." Kasumi
confessed.  "She actually dragged Mr. Saotome into his room."  Kasumi nodded
out at the dojo.  "And if I'm interpreting the noises coming from over there
correctly, I believe Akane is entertaining herself with Ranma-chan."

"Ranma-chan?"  Nabiki grinned.  "How cute.  I can't wait to call him that."

"Her.  We really need to treat Ranma as a girl when he's female.  After all
she's not going to get rid of the curse any more than we are." Kasumi said
brightly.  She played with one of her ears, pulling it down to toy with
idly.  "We're bunny girls for life."

Nabiki nodded.  Then did a double take.  "Hey, wait a minute."

Kasumi nodded.  "You didn't realize being a bunny girl was throwing your sex
drive into high gear."  She smiled.  "Yes.  I noticed that earlier.  I was
going to warn you before you went out."  She looked down at herself and gave
Nabiki an amused grin.  "And as you can see I got distracted."

Nabiki laughed.  "So I see.  Nice to see you're normal in that regard too."

Kasumi blushed again.  "Well, I am human Nabiki.  I'm just not usually so...
blatant... about it."  She turned to finish draining the sink from washing,
her pale brown tail accenting her pear shaped rear.

Nabiki licked her lips absently thinking about how nice a closer inspection
would be.  She shifted her hips.  "Well, hopefully, if Tao-Ching isn't home,
he got some lead on where Herb is so we can get this damn lock broken."

Kasumi nodded as she wiped her hands on the apron.  "Well, I should
definitely get dressed before anyone comes in."

Nabiki gave her a evil grin.  "Want some 'help'?"

Kasumi raised an eyebrow.  "Nabiki!"

Nabiki shrugged.  "Hey, I'm incredibly horny," she admitted
unapologetically.  "And you were the one to kiss Zhu Shu.  And run around
naked!  Can I help it if the entire Tendo family has the trait of being at
least curious about lesbianism?" She stepped into the kitchen with a teasing
whirl, showing the dress off in full.  "Just watching you at the moment has
made me want to lay you back on the table and have you for a snack."

Kasumi wrung her hands.  "Oh my.  I can't say I'm not tempted," she
admitted, unable to hide the signs of that temptation behind her thin apron.
"But I know it's just the effects of being a bunny girl.  Besides we're
sisters."

Nabiki laughed.  "Don't give me that.  I heard you talking to Akane about
geisha stuff."  She stepped up to Kasumi and backed her against the counter.
"Did it ever occur to you that I might be interested too?" she asked,
reaching around Kasumi to grab the ties to her apron and pulled them loose
as she stepped back, drawing the apron up to reveal Kasumi's curly locks, as
impeccably trimmed as always.

"But Nabiki, Akane and I aren't doing any thing like what you're
 suggesting." Kasumi protested, gently tugging her apron out of Nabiki's
hands.

Nabiki laughed and hiked her skirt to reveal what she wasn't wearing
underneath.  "Does this tell you how horny I am?"

Kasumi blushed prettily.  "Yes, but we'd probably regret it later."

"Now you're rationalizing."  Nabiki sing-songed.  She continued pulling the
dress off and tossed it on the table as she sat down on it with her legs
spread.  "Now, I wanted Tao-Ching tonight, but he's not available, nor has
he actually even asked me to be his girlfriend yet, or out on a date, and I
am getting rather tired of waiting.  And in retrospect, he's not as safe to
play with as you are.  Akane is playing with Ranma, and even Genma is
getting some.  Now I could just go and find some random individual to play
with, I suppose.  But then I'd never be absolutely sure they wouldn't use
this little weakness I've acquired to blackmail me, and there's always the
possibility I'd get pregnant..."

Kasumi's apron sailed past her sisters head as she smiled indulgently.  "You
're terrible.  I just want you to know that." she said as she turned and
sashayed out of the kitchen.

Nabiki just smiled as she sauntered out after Kasumi.  "Of course I am, but
you love me anyway."

"Yes... but that doesn't mean I'm going to say yes."

"You haven't said no either."  Nabiki said as they headed up the stairs

Kasumi just laughed.

* * * * *

China watched the two girls disappearing up the stairs and laughed
internally.  She really hadn't meant to spy, having just come down to beg
some milk from Kasumi and catching the show between Nabiki and her sister.
She didn't think Kasumi was actually going to give in to Nabiki, considering
she'd seen the mischievous look in the older girl's eye as she'd taken off
her apron, but she wasn't sure why the older girl was being so resistant.
Must be another of those weird notions these Japanese had.

It was amusing watching some of the antics her Japanese sisters went through
about something as simple as sex.  Sex was a natural expression of love,
whether it was between sisters or mates.  Amazons kept it simple.  Sex for
fun was fine between fertility periods; procreation was reserved for
marriage.  Sex with a sister was always for fun, regardless of whether they
were blood or not.  Really, how else was anyone to learn the proper ways to
stimulate a partner without practice?  She'd been surprised that all Zhu Shu
's training had been rote memorization, and that she had never been trained
to read her body's own signs of when she was fertile, though she had been
trained in herbal techniques to control conception.  She'd remedied at least
that much during their two months hunting Ranma, teaching Zhu Shu how to
note the various signs of the feminine cycle.

Still, judging from the little exchange between Kasumi and Nabiki, and Akane
's concerns about playing with Ranma as a male, it looked like she would
need to educate her new sisters and Airen as well.  Some of these outlander
customs were just too silly.

She nosed the refrigerator door open and stood on her hindquarters to reach
the bowl of milk Kasumi had promised her she'd leave and drank.  Thirst
satisfied, she returned to contemplating, realizing she also needed to let
Kasumi know about the lecture her great-grandmother had given her about
avoiding being in her cursed form as she approached her fertile phase, as
the animals instinct's could become strong enough to overcome her
rationality.  The Tendo girls were unprepared for anything like this, and
were locked in cursed form.  And like most women who shared living spaces,
their periods were probably fairly close to each other.  This increase in
their sexual appetites was probably going to get worse as their periods drew
closer, though hopefully, being only half rabbit would mitigate it somewhat.
She'd learned the hard way exactly how overpowering that instinct was in the
animal form, and was glad Ke Lun had been nearby with hot water.  As it was,
she still had a problem with attracting felines when she was on her cycle,
even in human form, and went to great lengths to avoid cold water those
three days.

Luckily, that had just passed, and she had most of a month left.  Ke Lun
would be in Japan long before then and she'd be able to just avoid being
China during the danger period.

She wandered over to the dojo and climbed up to the sill of one of the high
windows, her sharp ears and nose having caught the evidence of loveplay
within.  She arranged herself on the ledge, watching as her two beloved
fianc´┐Żes played with each other, wishing she could join in.  Comforting
herself with the hope she'd learn enough about Akane and Ranma to win their
hearts, she laid her head down on her paws to study what her fianc´┐Żes seemed
to enjoy most, for future reference.

* * * * *

In another part of Tokyo, Ai was rummaging through the dusty shelves of a
curio shop, indulging in her secret vice, antique jewelry.  She had quite a
collection of rings and brooches, and one could never tell when one might
find something nice in a little shop like this.  She had been on her way
home from school grumbling about her squad complaining and the way Ayeka had
been bitching about her talking to the Chinese girl instead of fighting her.
If it hadn't been for the fact that Ayeka really was such a good sub...

She sighed.  The problem was, she did want to beat Zhu Shu, but she wanted
to do it more to save face for the cheerleading squad than out of pure
animosity.  As aggravating as losing to her had been, she had to admit that
Zhu Shu had fought fairly, and had been graceful enough to call it a draw,
when she could have possibly won.  Zhu Shu been tired, but Ai hadn't been
certain the metamorphosing girl hadn't had another trick to pull out of her
bag, and with the rest of her squad down, Ai had lost a lot of the mobility
she counted on in a fight.  She still had to be defeated, but Ai couldn't
make herself hate Zhu Shu like she did most of her rivals.  And it wasn't
because she was attracted to the Chinese girl, regardless of what Ayeka
thought.  Beyond making her a pet, Ai had absolutely no romantic interest.
Not in Zhu Shu anyway...

She had to find away to soundly beat Zhu Shu, to humiliate her like the
squad had been, so that there was no question of who the ruling beauties of
Furinkan were in the mind of the students, while still leaving a means for
her to talk the Chinese girl into introducing her to Sailor Venus!  The she'
d be able to tell the incredibly lovely blonde Senshi how much she
worshipped her from afar... and Sailor Venus would...

"Humm.  I sense a spirit searching for answers."  A voice said from next to
her, disrupting her fantasy.  Ai turned to see the shop keeper, a wizened
old man of indeterminate race.  "You seek to best a rival?"

Ai nodded.  "How did you know?"

The old man laughed.  "You get to be my age dearie, it's a lot of been
there, done that.  You're looking, but not at what your hands are touching.
Deep in thought."

Ai raised her eyebrow.  "Yeah, so?"

"I might have something that can help."  He waved at the back of the store.
"Come, let me show you my real stock, not this useless trash I keep out here
for the common herd.

"Curious, Ai moved in the direction indicated.  The old man took her to a
small room behind a curtain, and turned on the lights.  Ai stopped and
blinked.

The walls were filled with shelves containing a vast array of knick knacks
ranging from grotesque to indescribably lovely.  Rings, mirrors, daggers,
shrunken heads, and other less identifiable items crowded the various
displays, and the very air felt strange, like it was filled with static
electricity just below the level of lightning.

The old man crackled.  "Here, my dear, you will find a means for what you
seek."

Ai looked at the disarray.  "In here?  How?"

"Magick.  I have charms for all sorts of things."

Ai blinked, then grinned.  "That would be rather appropriate.  My "rival'
uses magic.  She turns into a dragon girl."

"A dragon girl?"  The shopkeeper chuckled.  "I've always appreciated a fine
piece of tail."

Ai sniffed.  "What am I, a side of beef?"

"Not at all. Not at all." the shop keeper chuckled.  "But I never molest
customers, however much I might want to.  Bad for business."

Ai nodded, mollified.  "So what do you have that can help me beat her,
without actually permanently hurting her?"

The old man rummaged the shelves for a few moments before emerging with a
flask.  "This.  Dragons are very magical.  This is the juice of a rare berry
that affects only dragons.  It will disrupt her magic, and cause it to
fluctuate wildly.  She will be unable to use her dragon magic for a time.
But be aware, its effect is short term.  A matter of fifteen to twenty
minutes, then she will experience a surge that she will not be able to
control.  It will leave her weak."

Ai raised an eyebrow.  "I see.  Will it harm her?"

"No more than you drinking an entire bottle of sake, sweet cheeks.  It'll
leave her with a huge hangover.  It's not called Dragon Wine for nothing."

Ai's eyes glittered.  "That will be perfect.  Imagine her trying to fight me
drunk."

"Make sure you give it to her in dragon girl form.  It won't work
 otherwise."

Ai nodded.  "That can be arranged."

* * * * *

Tao-Ching watched as the yacht pulled up to the dock at a slow pace and a
lone figure jumped to the dock.  His eyes narrowed as the yacht bounced off
the dock and veered off into night.  He studied the figure on the dock.

The figure turned.  "You may as well show yourself assassin.  I can sense
your presence.  You do not wish to anger me, as your friends aboard yon boat
found out."

Tao-Ching didn't move from the shadows.  "Saves me some money paying them
then.  Long time no see, Herb."

The cloaked figure turned more fully.  "Your voice is familiar, assassin."

"Yours is a bit higher pitched.  Mint's words make sense now, 'princess'."

The figure lashed out, a line of explosions crossing the dock to shatter the
crate Tao-Ching had been behind, but he'd already moved.  His last encounter
with Herb had taught him the value of not being seen until he was ready to
strike.

"You are quick, assassin, but you cannot hide forever.  I will kill you."
Herb said.

"You make a lot of threats, Herb.  Last time you swore you'd douse me in
Nannichaun and lock me as a woman for your amusement.  I see the worm has
turned."

The figured reached up and lowered its hood, revealing Herb's face.
Tao-Ching blinked.  Other than Herb's hair coloring, she could have been a
twin of Zhu Shu's cursed form.  Herb finished drawing off the cloak,
revealing the dragon scale armor she had always favored.

"Yes, I do indeed find myself in an unpleasant situation, Tao-Ching.  But I
am still more than a match for an orphan castoff that the Amazons took pity
on."

"I have found my family name, Herb.  But it seems you have lost yours.  You
were a fool to join with the Skorpion."

Herb turned further, her eyes probing the darkness trying to find Tao-Ching'
s hiding place.  "The Skorpion have their uses.  When I have retrieved the
Kaisufuu, I will dispense with them."

"It's much too late for that Herb.  They have already dispensed with the
Musk.  I slew Lime not four days ago when he dared to assault the Amazons.
Mint died two days after, sacrificed by your ally to keep us from
questioning him.  You are the last, Herb.  When I kill you, the Musk will be
gone."

Herb lashed out again, destroying a large pile of crates.  "You will pay for
this murder, Tao-Ching."

Tao-Ching laughed from another shadow.  "Murder?  You dare accuse me of
murder?  Your assault left twenty Amazon warriors dead, and half the rest of
the village cursed.  Ripping out Lime's throat with my teeth has barely even
begun to repay the debts you owe, Herb."

Herb lifted off the dock as the air swirled around her.  "So, have you
brought more Amazons to their deaths in a futile attempt to best me?  Even
as a woman, I am far your better!"  The wind lashed out, destroying all the
crates between the dock and the warehouse wall.

The warehouse groaned as the explosion shattered the wall as well, leaving a
huge cloud of dust.  The wind grabbed it and blew it away, leaving Herb a
clear view of the devastation, but no sign of Tao-Ching.

"Your fortress looked a lot like that as it slid down the mountain."
Tao-Ching's voice mocked from the depths of the warehouse.  "It was very
pretty how it fell apart."

Herb began to glow.  "I will slay you and every single Amazon who ever drew
breath for this outrage Tao-Ching!"  The glowing wind tore the warehouse
apart.

"I've heard your threats before, Herb.  Like your attacks, they're full of
flash and fury, but you keep missing the target."

"Coward!  Face me!"  Herb screamed.  "Fight me like a man!"

There was the sound of a metallic click.  "I see you've misunderstood the
situation Herb.  This isn't a fight."
A red pinprick of light touched Herb's temple and she started to turn as
Tao-Ching continued.

"It's an execution."

Tao-Ching's finger tightened on the trigger of the AK-47, and the first
three round burst of steel jacketed armor piercing rounds left the muzzle of
the machine gun, propelled by high velocity charges.  Blood sprayed from
Herb's temple as she was twisted around in the air, and the object she had
clutched so tightly in her hand flew away to clatter to the dock.  A second
round of bullets flew, striking Herb in the shoulder.  The glowing wind
around her flickered out as the bullet's impact threw the dragon princess
through the air like a rag doll.  She crashed into the waters of the bay and
floated face down, blood staining the water around her before she slid
beneath the waters of the bay, pulled under by the weight of her armor.

Tao-Ching stood on the dock grimly watching as Herb sank, waiting nearly ten
minutes before lowering the weapon and putting the safety back on.  Finally
sure Herb wasn't going to re-surface, he walked over to the object Herb had
dropped, picking up the narrow bucket and fishing the ladle out from under
the boards it had wedged into.  He held up the bucket and laid the ladle
across the handle like Lo Shen had advised him, and smiled as a beam of
light shone off into the darkness.  With a smile, he took the bucket to his
Humvee.  With a guide like this, there was no way he'd get lost!  He'd have
the Kaisufuu back to the Tendos before morning!

* * * * *

As the lights of the Humvee faded into the night, silence reigned across the
devastation.  Hours passed before finally the scavengers came out.  Dark
shapes combed the wreckage pulling out whatever valuables could be found,
before scurrying into the darkness again.  One of the scavengers looked up
as a faint noise came to his ears.  He motioned to one of the others and
they moved off in the direction of the noise.  After several minutes of
searching they found the source.

Under the dock, tossed carelessly by the tide, was a naked girl.  Blood was
clotted from a bruised cut on her temple, a long line that creased her skull
just above her ear.  Another obvious bullet wound pieced her left shoulder
blade, the wound far cleaner than any the men had ever seen.    She was pale
from blood loss, and unconscious, but didn't seem to be in danger of dying
immediately.  The first scavenger grinned.  "Well.  This is a pretty
happenstance."

The other nodded.  "Indeed.  He'll pay nicely for a beauty like this."

"Truly.  But we certainly can't deliver her untested can we?" The first said
as he used his foot to roll the girl over and spread her legs to reveal her
virginity.

"Absolutely not." the second grinned nastily.  "Let me get the rope."

* * * * *

Several days passed without word from Tao-Ching, and Nabiki was starting to
get worried.

And even hornier.  Despite teasing her, Kasumi had so far been unbeddable,
and she was getting enormously frustrated.  She'd tried everything she could
think of, including outright begging, and all her older sister had promised
her so far was that if she was still that interested once the curse was
unlocked, she might consider it.  Nabiki had been amazed by the iron will
her sister hid under that calm, smiling exterior.  She knew Kasumi was
feeling the same effects of being a bunny girl that Nabiki was, and was good
naturedly putting up with them far better than either of her sisters... or
even Nodoka.  Both of the Saotome men had been wandering around in a happy
half daze half the time, and even though she knew Akane was making sure that
Ranma was female when they were playing, the fact that her younger sister,
who had finally discovered sex, was out doing Nabiki annoyed her.  So far,
she'd managed to maintain a modicum of control at school, though it took
almost every ounce of willpower she had, but it kept getting worse.
Tao-Ching needed to show up before she lost total control of herself!

It had become obvious that Kasumi's theory about her animal instincts
getting worse as she came closer and closer to her period was correct, but
it didn't make it easier to deal with.  She still had a few days to go
before her period, and the drive to mate was getting unbearable.  It was
rare that anyone perked her interest enough for her to feel attracted to
anything but their wallet, and she wasn't used to having her mind wander
constantly back to sex.  It was getting harder and harder not to look at
everyone around her as a potential partner.  Her reputation as an Ice Queen
was already in peril with Tao-Ching chasing her, but if he didn't get back
soon, she'd end up with a reputation as a slut worse than Ai!

Of course if she seduced Ai...

She sighed.  Maybe if she told Kasumi she was contemplating such drastic
measures, Kasumi would relent and give her a little relief.  It was far more
than just frustrating hearing Akane and Ranma in the next room, and even
with the fiber optic camera she'd drilled through the wall, she just wasn't
satisfying herself.  She just couldn't figure out how her older sister was
managing to deal with it so well.  Kasumi had specifically avoided Doctor
Tofu, and Ryouga hadn't been around, and while she might have suspected Zhu
Shu was helping... Zhu Shu wasn't back from Hong Kong.  And it wasn't that
she wasn't feeling it too.  Being a bunny girl had heightened more than just
her hearing, and some smells were impossible to hide from her nose.  She
knew she was getting Kasumi aroused, sometimes very highly, but her elder
sister would just smile, tease her back a little, then gently worm her way
out of the situation without giving in.  That one concession from Kasumi was
the farthest she'd gotten so far!  And if it weren't for the fact that Akane
had Ranma...

Ooooooh, when she got this curse unlocked, she was going to seduce Kasumi
just on principle!!!  It was totally unfair that she was being left here
horny as a rabbit in heat while both her sisters were finding ways to
satisfy their own urges!

The thought was broken off before it could lead into the inevitable fantasy
that would have followed by the sound of a vehicle pulling up outside.
Nabiki ran downstairs and threw open the door to see a weary, battered, and
bruised Tao-Ching coming up the short walk from an equally bruised and
battered Humvee.  She paid no attention to the muck as she threw herself on
top of him, actually knocking the solid man down despite his larger mass.

"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?"  Nabiki yelled.  "Oh, never mind where you've been!"
She grabbed him by the collar, straddling his lap as she half lifted him
from the ground.  "Are you ever going to actually ask me out officially?"
She drew his face close to look into his eyes.  "Are you going to be my
boyfriend?"  She shook him.  "And if the answer's yes, DO YOU HAVE A
 CONDOM?"

Tao-Ching blinked, and calmly smiled, unaffected by the shaking.  "Nice to
see you too, Nabs."

"DON'T CALL ME NABS!  You have left me here for days with a rabbit's
sex-drive!  DON'T GRIN LIKE THAT!"

Tao-Ching gave her a long looking over, taking in the extremely short skirt
and top she was wearing, as well as the evidence she wasn't wearing anything
under them.  Nabiki felt the reaction under her and knew he liked the look.
Finally, he held up an old brass kettle.  "Will this help?"

Nabiki looked at the kettle and blinked.  "Is... is that it?"

Tao-Ching tipped the kettle over and a stream of hot water poured on Nabiki.
Instantly, she felt a twist as her rabbit ears and tail vanished.

Along with the overwhelming urge to... well you know.

Nabiki sighed in relief.  "Gods.  Thank you.  You have no idea how maddening
being a bunny girl is."  She released his collar and sat back, realizing the
change hadn't apparently dimmed her appeal to Tao-Ching.

He shifted his hips under her.  "I turn into a smilodon, Nabs.  I do have
some idea.  I can smell a feline in heat for miles."

A cleared throat caught their attentions and they both looked to the house.
Soun was standing there with his arms crossed, Kasumi peeking over his
shoulder.  Soun was giving them a hard look, and Nabiki slowly realized what
he was looking at so sternly.

In the process of knocking Tao-Ching over, Nabiki's really short skirt had
ridden up even further, and the fact that she was sans undergarment was
extremely obvious.  She blushed as Soun took out a cigarette and lit it,
taking a long drag.

Finally, he spoke.  "Well, young man.  I think I need to ask what your
intentions are towards my daughter, since it seems she's made her intentions
towards you rather clear."

Nabiki rolled off Tao-Ching and pulled her skirt down.  "Umm."

Tao-Ching waved her to silence as he stood and bowed.  "My intentions are
the same as they have been since I first met her, Soun-sama.  I intend to
woo her and win her heart, and eventually to win her hand."

Nabiki blinked at him in shock.

"I see."  Soun said, taking another long drag on his cigarette.  "Very well,
I approve the engagement.  It's a suitable one for Nabiki, as you come from
a fine family, and Akane has accepted her familial duties to the School."
He took Tao-Ching's hand and pumped it.  "Welcome to the family, son."

Nabiki's stared at her father in even more shock.  They were deciding on
this FOR her? "Hey... But... What... "  she sputtered.

Tao-Ching grinned.  "You've been waiting to do that since I got you drunk to
tell you about Shan Pu, haven't you."

Soun puffed his cigarette, not saying a word.

"DADDY!!!!!"  Nabiki yelled.  Soun gave her a calm glance.

"Yes, daughter?"

"You can't just engage me like this!"

Akane poked her head around the door.  "Why not?  It's what happened to me."

"But, but, but..." she sputtered.

"Nabiki, you asked him if he had a condom, and you were sitting on top of
him, giving every indication you wanted to engage in certain activities that
should only occur between a wedded, or about to be wedded, couple.  That
certainly tells me you wanted to marry him."  Soun tossed the stump of his
cigarette into the street.  "Now, I try to be a modern and liberal father,
daughter, but there are proprieties that must be observed.  At least I'm now
certain that one of my daughters will be in something approaching a normal
relationship.  Now kiss him for pity's sake and drag him upstairs.  I'm not
getting any younger, you know."

Nabiki raised her eyes to heaven.  "Am I the only one in this family who's
sane?"

"So far, I haven't seen anyone who matches that description." another voice
broke in.

Tao-Ching straightened like he'd been shot.

The rest of the group looked over at the woman who was casually leaned
against the Humvee, dressed in a simple Amazon style tunic and breeches.
She was fairly tall, and whip thin, with long hair tied into a crest that
rose above her head, and fell almost to her feet in a cascade that shifted
through various shades of magenta.  She was holding a long shaft topped by a
massive blade, kind of like a naginata, but the swordblade was almost
eighteen inches wide and nearly four feet long, making the over all weapon
nearly ten feet in length.  Despite its size, the woman carried it like it
weighed nothing.

Tao-Ching turned slowly.

"Mother?"  he whispered.

The woman smiled, her soft expression a warm contrast to the obvious shock
and dread on Tao-Ching's face.  "Long time no see, Son.  I hear you've been
a bad boy.  Lo Shen sent me to collect you, and the Kaisufuu." she said
lightly.

"Oh shit." Tao-Ching groaned.

The woman moved in a blur, bapping Tao-Ching on the head with her spear.
"What did I teach you about cursing!"  She asked, the amused lilt still in
her voice.

Tao-Ching rubbed his skull.  "Alright, okay.  I'm sorry.  I went after the
Kaisufuu alone because I wanted to get it for Nabiki and her family.  I was
afraid if I told Lo Shen first, she'd demand I bring the Chisuitton back to
the village first and that would take forever.  I've seen the elders work,
Mother.  They'd have debated for days on who would need to be sent to
retrieve this."  He shook the kettle.

"That was not for you to decide, Son.  I have been sent to bring you back to
the Council.  Don't make me have to tie you up and spank you."

Nabiki decided the most disturbing thing about the woman was the air of
ineffable good cheer, like she would smile as she was cutting your head off.

"Alright.  I submit, mother.  You know I can't beat you." Tao-Ching raised
his hands in surrender.

"Good."  She turned to look at Nabiki.  "So, my son has chosen you as a
mate?"  She stepped around the younger girl, looking her up and down.
Nabiki got the impression that the woman was  highly amused by the short
skirt and halter top.  "Well, she has a nice body, but she's not a warrior
is she?"

Nabiki let out a "Hey!" in protest as Tao-Ching smiled.

"Actually, she is Mother.  A warrior of the mind and intellect.  In our
first battle, she bested me in fair combat, mind to mind.  Rather easily I
might add."

"So what's this business about engagement?  You should have begged her to be
your wife already."

Nabiki gulped.  "Oh my.  You mean those rules apply to the men too?"

Tao-Ching smiled.  "Yes, but you didn't know, and I wasn't about to try and
force them on you, regardless."  he turned back to the Amazon.  "This is
Japan, mother.  I can't apply all the Amazon laws to modern life."

The Amazon raised her eyebrow, the dark violet blending into her pinkish
lavender hair.  "Since when, Son?"

Tao-Ching sighed.  "Since I'm a legal citizen of Japan.  I don't have the
diplomatic immunity you have.  Bribes only go so far.  I can't just insist
Nabiki marry me because she beat me in a deal.  And besides, I want her to
have a chance to make her own fortune, so she won't feel like I'm richer
than she is anymore."

Nabiki blinked at him while the Amazon nodded approvingly.  "At least you
haven't succumbed to these foolish outlander notions of female inferiority.
I'd have had to beat you senseless."

"Mother!"  Tao-Ching rolled his eyes.  "I may not be living in the Amazon
village these days but I haven't lost my senses."

She ignored him as she stepped around to face Soun.  "So, you are the father
of my new daughter-in-law?   I am Rin Se, daughter of Lat Her.  Mother to
this mannerless lout."

Soun blinked.  "Um... Pleased to meet you."

"Is Tao-Ching in trouble?"  Kasumi asked.  "He did get the kettle, after
all."

Rin Se shrugged.  "I don't know.  Lo Shen was hopping mad when she ordered
me to retrieve my son.  He's always been trouble ever since I found him.
Makes me wonder sometimes why I adopted him." She gave Tao-Ching a fond
smile.

"Because you could never be bothered with any of the Amazon men, mother.  It
was either adoption or nothing."  Tao-Ching said with an air of something
said a million times.

"Paugh, weaklings all.  I brought Tao-Ching up to be a real man, almost the
equal of a woman.  Not a shy retiring man like most males."  Rin Se said
dismissively, patting Tao-Ching on the head proudly.

"Well, that explains most of the arrogance."  Akane muttered.

Nabiki poured water from the kettle over her head, far more than was
necessary to unlock her curse.  "You're one to speak."

Akane glared at her as she moved on to Kasumi.  A few seconds later all the
Tendo girls were back to normal.  Kasumi took the kettle back to the kitchen
to fill a bottle with the water to unlock Nodoka and for emergency purposes
before returning the kettle to the Amazon.

"Is Tao-Ching going to be punished for bringing this to us first?"  Nabiki
asked finally.

Rin Se gave Tao-Ching a mock stern glance. "I don't know.  I suspect that to
gain the Chisuitton he had to kill Herb..."

Tao-Ching shrugged.  "He deserved death.  The Warleader was going to kill
him anyway."

"Which, as my son is not an accomplished enough fighter to meet him in a
fair fight, means he has acted dishonorably and ambushed the Prince."  For
the first time, Rin Se's smile turned into a small frown

"Princess."  Tao-Ching noted.

"Ah.  Still, you were ordered to report to Lo Shen and instead took matters
into your own hands.  None of the Elders have much tolerance for that.  I'm
sorry, Son, but you brought this on yourself."  Rin Se shook her head.

"Yes, Mother."

"What will happen to him?"  Nabiki asked worriedly, visions of executions
running around her head.

"The usual.  An impossible quest, righting some great wrong in repayment for
his transgression.  Slaying a demon.  Rescuing a princess.  Something no
sane person would ever attempt, or something no-one can succeed at doing."
Rin Se shrugged.  "Still, he's a male.  They'll go easier on him than they
would a Warrior.  Don't worry daughter-in-law.  They'll leave enough of him
to make sure I have grandchildren."

"Mother!"  Tao-Ching said exasperatedly.

"What?  Your mate's father is correct.  We're not getting any younger."

Tao-Ching shook his head.  Stepping up to Nabiki, he reached out and took
her hand, raising it to his lips.  "Don't worry Nabs.  I'll be back.  If
they were really all that mad, they'd have sent a whole troop instead of
just my mother.  Whatever punishment they set, it was still worth it to
repay Herb for the debt he owed Shan Pu for her curse, and for nearly
killing me.  And if they punish me for bringing you the Kaisufuu first, well
that was worth it too, considering the greeting I got."

Nabiki smiled.  "Don't get used to that.  I wasn't entirely myself."  She
blushed.  "I'm not a full time rabbit anymore."

"I'll see about that."  Tao-Ching said with a grin.  "You're way too cute
with those ears."

He turned back to the Humvee to leave, only to have his mother push him
towards the passenger door.  "What, you think I trust you not to get us
lost?  Lo Shen said with all haste."

Tao-Ching rolled his eyes before giving a "what can you do" shrug and
climbing in the Humvee.  Nabiki watched as they drove off, hoping he wouldn'
t be gone too long.

Then she did a double take.

Shan Pu's curse?

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