Part 4: Storms
by Christopher Jones
Hiroshi Tanaka was a meteorologist at the University of Japan in Tokyo. He taught a few classes, typed up a few reports, and wished he could get a higher paying job on television. His main concern, however, was to watch the radar weather maps for trouble that could affect the country. When severe weather threatened, it was Hiroshi's job to calculate the chance that it would actually strike. Currently, he was poring over a satellite map of the South Pacific. A little blob of white on a sea of black labeled '117' was his current concern. A coworker, the man who'd brought the map to Hiroshi's attention, looked over his shoulder. "It's one hundred fifty percent larger than this same time yesterday?" Hiroshi asked. The other man nodded. "Radar suggests that wind speeds inside are picking up as well." "Hmm... I really think it's coming in too fast to grow very large," Hiroshi noted. "Also, it should catch this current and turn North and curve away before it ever comes close to the mainland." The coworker nodded. Hiroshi stopped him just before he walked off. "Let's upgrade it to 'Tropical Storm' status and issue some sea swell warnings." "Right!" ---------------------------------------- Ranma's Apartment: 4 - Storms A Ranma 1/2 - Aa! Megami-sama Fanstory by Chris Jones ---------------------------------------- "Ms. Tendou, you can come back now." Akane winked at Megumi and hopped out of her seat. "Good luck, Akane!" Megumi whispered. She followed the nurse out of the waiting room and into the main office. "Step up here if you would," the nurse prompted, gesturing to a balance scale. Akane set down her book bag and stepped onto the short platform. "Hmm..." The nurse made the fine adjustments necessary to gauge the girl's weight. "Fifty-two kilograms and," she adjusted the level at the top of the scale. "152 centimeters. You've lost two kilos since your last checkup." "I've been training a lot lately," Akane offered in explanation. "My... boyfriend has really been putting me through the wringer lately." "The martial artist?" Akane nodded. "This way please." The nurse led Akane into an examination room and pulled a white cotton gown out of a low cabinet. "Go ahead and change into this if you would. I need to get some more supplies but I should be right back." After Akane had changed into the thin gown, the nurse returned with several evil-looking devices. Akane shivered nervously in expectation but tried to relax. It was just part of the exam. after all. A few minutes later it was all over. The nurse made a few cursory notes on her tablet and handed a sheet of paper to Akane. "These are the results of your tests from yesterday. No infections, no STD's and you aren't currently pregnant." Even though she had been expecting it, Akane breathed a sigh of relief. "I take it you were worried," the nurse asked. Akane shook her head. "Not really. My period's just not that regular. We... ummm..." "Had intercourse?" "Yes. That. We were using... protection, but I'm really not sure that either one of us will remember that very well." The nurse saved her from further embarrassment. "It's good you've decided to take steps. So have you decided what kind you'd like to try yet?" Akane nodded. "I've been looking at the literature you gave me, and I've been asking around a little. My sister just got on the pill because she's about to get married, but I'm a little forgetful for that. I think I'd like to try the shots." "Good choice. They're very reliable." Less than fifteen minutes later, Akane strode into the waiting room of the clinic with only slightly less of a blush than she had when she walked in. Megumi dropped her magazine and ran over to the girl. "Did you do it?" she asked of her friend. Akane nodded, trying to keep her blush from deepening. "I did it," she whispered. Exhaling noisily, she grabbed Megumi by the arm and dragged her from the clinic. "Come on already!" In the embarrassed rush, neither Akane nor Megumi noticed that the dark-haired receptionist watching them leave was not the same one who had watched them come in. *So,* the receptionist thought to herself. *The perverted Akane Tendou seeks to seduce my Ranma-sama with her pathetic body. This will not do...* The rest of the clinic shuddered in horror as a crazy laugh echoed off the walls. * * * "What really gets me is just how awful they make all the possible side affects seem," Megumi complained. Akane smirked her affirmation. "Irregular menstruation, bloating, bleeding, hair loss, possible stroke..." "It's rare, but it happens," Megumi informed her. "I've never actually *heard* of it happening, mind you." "Weight-gain..." Akane shuddered, and started trying to look behind herself as the two girls walked down the sidewalk. "What are you doing?" "Megumi, be honest with me. Do I look like I'm getting fat?" Megumi paused in midstride and guffawed. "Yahright." "Really... Be serious." "I am being serious!" Megumi retorted. "With the kind of training Ranma's been giving you lately, I wonder if you have any body fat at all." In truth, the lessons Megumi had been taking from her suitemate were doing absolutely marvelous things to her thighs and backside as well. Curves were a very nice thing to have, but when you had curves *and* the kind of fine toning Ranma's brand of training put on your body... "Look out, Nekomi!" "What?" Akane paused after only a few more steps, looking back at the girl with confusion. Actually, with girls like Akane and Belldandy around, the men probably wouldn't look twice at Megumi, she thought sadly. She groaned in mock pain. "I was just thinking..." "What?" "Don't worry about it. You look fine, Akane. Trust me!" They walked a few more meters. "Now that I'm... Now that I've taken the shot, would you tell me if you are..." Megumi grinned wickedly. "Actually, I've been on the pill since I was twelve." "WHAT?!?!" She chuckled in amusement. "I've never had occasion for it to be of any real use to me. It's not for lack of trying, though." "Megumi!" The girl's expression became a little more serious. "Actually, it's because I've got a weird cycle. Sometimes I just bleed for months on end if I don't take it." Akane made a disgusted face. "Bleh!!!" "I have a cousin who does the same thing," Megumi informed her. "The doctors all say that it's not really an uncommon problem." "I've never heard of it before." Megumi shrugged. "Say, does Ranma have a period?" Both she and Akane stopped dead in their tracks, staring at each other. "I... I've never asked." Akane admitted. "I honestly don't know." "Hmmm..." Megumi pursed her lips in thought. "He would be *very* upset if we asked." "Yes," Akane agreed. "Yes he would." The two girls resumed their pace, both trying to imagine Ranma's reaction to the question. Megumi shook her head at the thought while Akane just shuddered. They continued that way in silence for a few blocks. Finally, with a curious look on her face, Akane turned to her friend. "Do the goddesses?" Megumi was taken aback, but kept up her pace. "Well, Urd and Skuld are definitely moody enough sometimes..." She shook her head a little bit. "I've never heard them complain, though." Akane nodded in agreement. "Menstruation of the gods does seem just a bit far-fetched, I guess." "My turn," Megumi stated. "Since we're playing twenty questions all of a sudden. Have you and Ranma done anything since the party? Hmmm..." Akane's blush muscles were getting a definite workout. "Not... as much as we did at the party. We've gotten pretty serious, but not *that* serious." "I see. Now, has Ranma--" "I thought it was my turn!" Akane complained. "Just answer the question. Now, has Ranma ever been a girl when the two of you--" "MEGUMI!!!!" Akane shouted. In mock anger she chased her friend all the way to their destination. A few minutes of running brought them to Yang's Chinese, a medium-sized restaurant fairly near Ranma's apartment. They stopped in front of the enameled glass doorway to catch their breaths. "I can't... *huff*... believe you said that!" Akane complained. "How... *huff* could you?!" Megumi stood, bent over with her hands on her knees. "You never answered my question!" Akane just snarled and took a mock swipe at her friend. After the two had caught their breaths, they stepped inside the restaurant. They were greeted by a short, red haired waitress with a pigtail. She wore a pink and white dress and pink pumps. "Welcome to Yang's!" she chirped in a fake Chinese accent. "We have excellent dim-sum today, and special on won- ton. Only three hundred yen for dozen!" "Lay off, Loverboy," Megumi chided. "Unless of course you just feel like acting for us, Ranma," Akane teased. Ranma grimaced and jerked her thumb towards the serving window near the back of the restaurant. "Ahh, Old Man Yang's just got a bug up his ass. If he don't hear the spiel every time the doorbell rings, he goes ballistic. Booth okay?" Both Megumi and Akane nodded and the martial artist- turned-waitress led the two real girls to a booth under the restaurant's front window. "I'll be right back," Ranma promised. The girl soon returned with three bowls of ramen expertly balanced on her finger tips. "Okay, spicy pork for Akane," Ranma set the bowl of ramen down in front of the girl, impossibly balancing the other two on one hand. "Veggie for Megumi, and Saotome's Seafood Specialty for me." "Of course Ranma gets to make *his* own," Megumi chanted mockingly. "You don't get a fish sausage, then." Ranma dropped one of the round sausages in her own bowl and held the other out grasped between a pair of chopsticks. "Ranma?" Akane asked as the redhead held the sausage teasingly over her own bowl. "Well, do you want it?" "Give it to me, Baka!" "Take it from me." Megumi recognized the challenge. Ranma would take *any* opportunity to train Akane of late. With a cool, confident smile, Akane snapped at the sausage with her own chopsticks. Ranma responded by snapping the sausage back. Almost instantly the two pairs of chopsticks buzzed over the table. Akane sat calmly, focusing all her attention on the sausage, while Ranma kept making mocking expressions at the girl. All the while, the sausage hovered between the two, being held in the air by the chopsticks which were moving far too fast to see clearly. "Oww!" Akane yipped at one point, not taking her eyes away from the scrimmage. Ranma chuckled quietly, renewing her attack. Megumi couldn't even see what had caused the girl to cry out. "What is it?" she asked. "This jerk pinched me!" she said, lunging with her entire body. Ranma dodged back, away from Akane's attack, while the girl grabbed the sausage out of mid air and popped it in her mouth. She smiled smugly. Megumi shook her head in wonder. She had *never* seen anyone as fast as Ranma *or* Akane. "Was that enough?" Akane asked in a teasing, petulant voice. Ranma placed her hands on her hips and nodded appreciatively. "Almost," she admitted. "You're faster than I was when I started." Akane did her best to keep the exultant expression off her face. Megumi could still see a proud blush rise to the girl's cheeks. Ranma gazed proudly at Akane, who was doing her best to keep from exploding. "All right, Akane!" Megumi congratulated. The mood was ruined when the rough voice of the chef sounded out from the kitchen. "Saotome! You got a customer!" "I'm off the clock, moron!" Ranma shouted back. "I have *got* to get a new job," she complained. * * * It took her some time to adjust to the dim, filtered light of the restaurant through her sunglasses. Glancing around, she quickly located the booth where Akane and the pigtailed girl were sitting. One other was with them, the same girl that had been escorting Akane at the clinic. She was presumably a minor member of their plot to steal away her Ranma-sama, or else a lover of one of the two perverted girls. Probably, she assumed, the girl was both. A waitress, who rattled off a formula greeting and sales pitch escorted her to a secluded booth, almost on the other side of the crowded restaurant from her enemies. She ordered dessert and coffee, and settled down to watch. She could not hear what the girls were saying. She could see their lips move, but nothing more than a suggestion of their voices rose above the din of the restaurant. Their behavior, however, suggested a happy gathering. The three joked and cajoled. They were no doubt already deep in their plans to snare her Ranma-sama, and were prematurely lording their victory over her. "Sirens!" she cursed under her breath. "Harridans! Whores!" Then she saw the pigtailed girl nervously peck Akane on the cheek. It was an innocent gesture... but she knew it for what it was. It was obvious that the two girls were lovers. They were forever touching... forever letting their gazes linger over one another... It would not do to have her Ranma-sama ensnared by such wanton women. She would make a much better, much more demure wife for him. She would never betray his love with another woman. As the three finished their meal, so did she. She left a large bill lying on the table, not bothering to wait for the change. There were more important things. Of this, The Black Rose had no doubt. Where Akane Tendou and the pigtailed girl led, there she would find her Ranma- sama. * * * "In other news, the Japanese Meteorological Bureau has upgraded tropical depression 'Mikado' to Tropical Storm status. While the storm is not expected to come overland, all Honshu residents who live in low lying or easily flooded areas are being advised to--" *CLICK* Tatewaki Kunou had no time for such trivialities. He asked himself why he had bothered listening to the radio in the first place. The classical strains were interrupted almost continually with commentary and commercialism. This was no way to calm his mind. That was the crux of the situation, he surmised. He had been ill at ease ever since the pigtailed girl had disappeared. It was true that the fair Akane was still in residence at the Tendou Dojo, but Kunou just couldn't help himself from thinking about why the pigtailed girl *and* the heinous Ranma Saotome had gone missing. Had he taken the girl to some secret hideout to molest her in seclusion? Was he having his cruel way with her as Kunou sat powerless to stop such a crime? "Save me, Kunou-sempai!" the crying red-headed angel seemed to plead from just in front of his eyes. "AUGGHH! The injustice! I'll not bear it!" But what could he do? he asked himself. Not only was the lovely visage of the pigtailed girl gone from his sight, but the divine Akane made herself absent from his presence as well. Her dress and behavior had changed drastically since Saotome left Nerima ward. Worse, she was gone from the area all day, most days. When he or his loyal ninja tried to follow her, all she did was ride the train all day, and get off at the end of the day without giving neither hint nor clue to her original destination. He was at his wits' end. *RING* He calmed himself. It was not meet to display any weakness before others. "Moshi moshi. Tatewaki Kunou speaking," he answered. The static hiss of cellular phone greeted him on the other end of the line. "Hello?" he asked once more. "Brother. I have found Ranma-sama." Kunou's heart skipped a beat. Where hideth Saotome, so lies imprisoned the pigtailed girl! "Where?" he demanded, scrabbling for something to write the address down on. Kodachi gave him the address tersely. Without even bothering to hang up the phone, Tatewaki Kunou grabbed his bokken and ran from his house. He didn't even notice the dark smear of clouds forming on the horizon. * * * "Do you think it will be a bad storm?" Akane asked, snuggling her back against Ranma. The pigtailed martial artist shook his head briefly and continued to kiss the back of her neck, just underneath Akane's hairline. He tightened his embrace around her slightly as she leaned toward the window they were both gazing out. The dark line on the horizon had grown noticeably since that afternoon, and large cumulonimbus clouds were starting to form, even in the coolness of the evening. "They said on the radio that it wasn't supposed to go inland," he responded. "Ummm... do that again..." Akane whispered. "What?" "When you breathed on my ne-- oh. That." Ranma smirked and buried his face in the short, thick hair. He inhaled deeply, savoring the fragrance, and exhaled slowly, sending the girl into shivers. "You did real good today," he said, complimenting her. "You're gettin' to the point where you can really start tryin' to master the Amiguriken." Akane did her best to keep from shivering again. Ranma's pronouncement thrilled her almost as much as his lips on her neck did. She had never felt so confident, or so alive as when she trained with him. It was there, in the athletics room on the ground floor of the building, or outside, in the courtyard when they sparred that Akane felt like Ranma really respected her. She found that she was almost addicted to that wonderful gaze he gave her whenever she mastered a new kata or blocked one of his blows. "I... got the shot today, Ranma." She said, allowing as much sensuality as she could into her voice for such a mundane subject. "The shot? The... That shot?!?!" "The one we were talking about." Ranma was left quite speechless. He had never quite regained the brazenness or the confidence of the night of the Halloween party. The night when Akane gave her virginity to him. He desperately wanted to make love to Akane again... but was unsure how to approach the situation. Whenever they approached that kind of heat together, something always seemed to come up. Even if nobody interrupted them, Akane always seemed to remember something that she needed to get home for, or something he needed to do the next morning. He suspected that she was as nervous about it as he was. He wanted to talk to her about it, but was afraid that he would end up pushing her away again if he rushed her. Finally, about two weeks ago, one of Megumi's close friends turned up pregnant with her boyfriend's baby. Neither Ranma nor Akane knew the girl very well, but Megumi spent quite a while helping her through the ordeal, and Ranma and Akane volunteered a weekend to helping the girl and her boyfriend move in together. Even though everyone put a fairly nice face on the whole situation, it was obvious that life was going to be fairly difficult for the two. Both were full time students, and neither really had much family to fall back on. They were going to be lucky, *very* lucky, if one or both didn't have to drop out of school to start working to support the baby. And it made Ranma and Akane stop and think. In quiet tones at the back of the university commons, they discussed what they had done at the party, and the risks they were starting to take. With Ranma's, and eventually Megumi's help, Akane decided to go to the school infirmary and start looking into a more reliable method of birth control. Just in case. Now, with the pronouncement that she had actually gone through with the shot, the question was out in the open. She had laid it on the table for Ranma to pick up. He started to tremble, slightly. He realized that Akane could probably feel his erection through his pants. She was trembling as well. Before anything could happen, she stood up abruptly. "What? Is something wrong?" Ranma asked. "No! No... It's just... everyone's going to leave for the trip tomorrow morning. You remember, right?" Ranma nodded, familiar, yet somehow sweet, disappointment setting in. In celebration of the upcoming wedding, Mother Ono had paid for both Kasumi and Tofu as well as Nabiki, Akane and both fathers to go to a resort hotel in Hawaii for a week. Akane declined politely, citing a nonexistent school project, but she *was* expected to help pack and see her family off to the airport. "If... If we do *anything* tonight, I'll probably end up missing them leaving... tomorrow morning... and father will be worried all week... and..." He stood, and silenced her with a kiss. "It's okay. You don't have to explain. I understand." Akane could see the disappointed acceptance in his eyes. It hurt... but it was something she might be able to fix. "While they're gone... I was thinking of locking up the house and the dojo and spending... the week... over here." Ranma's eyes brightened. He realized that he was probably blushing as deeply as Akane was now, but he didn't care. He carefully shifted his stance, hoping to keep his erection from showing. "I'd... I'd like that." "Do you think the dojo will be okay?" Akane asked, concern showing in her expression. "Oh yeah! Unless there's a typhoon or something!" he joked, pointing to the darkened horizon line. "It'll be fine, I'm sure!" He paused, clasping his hands. "So... You better leave pretty quick, huh?" "Well," Akane responded, a naughty gleam lighting up in her eyes. "I can stay... for a little while longer." * * * Kodachi and her brother watched. They waited in silence. They waited some more. Kunou started to expound upon Akane's beauty and Ranma's crimes in heroic couplets. Kodachi smacked him one and told him he had damn well better shut up. The two waited further in silence. Finally, Akane Tendou came out the front of the building. "See!" Kodachi hissed from her vantage inside the dense shrubbery near the courtyard.. "My goddess!" Tatewaki proclaimed. "I must go to her!" "No! You will do no such thing!" his sister admonished. "To do so will only let her know that we are aware of her little scheme." "But she is so near, and must surely know where the pigtailed-gir--OOF!" Kodachi whapped her brother sharply across the face. "Silence! You will never see either of them again if you act in haste, Brother. They will run from you like panicked deer." "Will you keep me from saving my darlings from that madman!?!?" "Look, she's leaving. Let us follow... *discreetly*." As Akane made her way from the apartment building, across the street, and toward the university campus, Kodachi leapt up on top of a nearby convenience store and peered down at her from the roof. Climbing a pile of crates, and heaving himself bodily onto the roof of the store, Kunou joined his sister. "I don't understand," he complained. "You never do! Watch," she said, pointing at the rapidly receding Akane. "It never works to follow her, because as soon as she sees you on the train, she just sits there like a frog on a log." Kodachi was rather pleased with her allusion. Akane *did* look rather amphibian. "Midorigame, however, will wait for the frogs to jump into the water before he strikes. By letting Akane pass without incident, and following her at a great distance, we will know the path she will take the next day." After almost a minute, comprehension slowly dawned across Kunou's face. "If we could find which stop she gets off at..." "You could meet her there tomorrow morning! You could easily delay her there, giving me time to figure out which of those rooms houses my darling Ranma-sama." "Oh, Akane Tendou! How I have longed to be re--" "Quiet!" Kodachi hissed, whacking her brother with a club. "Save your rantings for tomorrow morning, my foolish brother." * * * Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: "CPO E. McAtee"
To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Depression 117 X-Mailer: RIFLE v1.1.7 >possible, check out Depression #117 with American radar as >noted on the attached maps, if at all Possible. I need to Roshi, I took a look at the maps you gave me and pulled a few strings with the NWB in Oahu. A bud of mine at NWB agrees with your assessment. Tropical Storm 'Mikado' almost certainly will move out to sea and shift north again before hitting the Japanese mainland. I don't think you need to start looking for typhoons. As a matter of a fact, he said that there is less than 1 chance in 100 that the depress typhoon. Does this match your assessment? Ern... --- Cheif Petty Officer Ernest McAtee - USS Minnesota * * * Although it was getting kind of grey outside due to the gathering clouds, for Akane the day dawned bright and early. With more than a little bit of excitement, she rose and ran to the bathroom. She brushed her teeth, and ran her hands through her short hair. It only took her a few minutes to get dressed and ready for her day. Nabiki, on the other hand, did rather badly most mornings. "Wake up, Sleepy-head!" Akane demanded, poking her head into her sister's room. Nabiki groaned once, and rolled over, pulling herself in tighter under her down comforter. A few minutes later, Akane returned, and forcibly pulled the comforter off her sister. "Get out of bed, Lazy-bones!" she teased. "You need to start packing!" "Nnn..." Nabiki grumbled. "Someone is just too damn cheerful this morning," she complained, blinking her eyes against the harsh morning light. "You don't want to miss your flight, do you?" Akane asked, as she pulled open her sister's closet and began to rummage through it. "Flight's not till noon, Akane," Nabiki snapped, gingerly letting her feet touch the floor. "You know how father is," her sister countered seriously, selecting a sun dress from the closet and laying on the bed next to Nabiki. "The closer it gets to ten, the more worried he'll get that the plane is leaving early without him." "Don't remind me." Akane pulled a pantsuit from the closet and laid it on top of the sun dress. She pulled out a black skirt, but tucked it under one arm. "And this one is mine, Nabiki!" she playfully teased. "You know," Nabiki noticed. "For as cheerful as you're acting, someone would think *you* had a trip planned this week." Akane said nothing, merely selecting another short dress for her sister. "You do, don't you? You and Ranma, right? You little--" "Akane!" Kasumi's pleasant call came from downstairs. "Some of your friends are here!" "I'll be right there," Akane said, turning her back on her sister. "Wait, Akane! You didn't answer me!!!" Nabiki commanded, jumping up and running after the shorter girl. Waiting in the foyer downstairs, Megumi, Belldandy and Skuld stood patiently, or impatiently and scanning a nervous panda, in Skuld's case. "We've come to help everybody off," Megumi explained. "Growf?" "Kasumi-chan," Belldandy greeted her host. "I'll cook breakfast for your family this morning so you can pack for your trip." "Why, thank-you Belldandy-chan!" Kasumi exclaimed, lightly embracing the other girl. "That's so generous of you!" Soun looked up from his paper and goggled at the two girls. He looked back and forth suspiciously between the two for several minutes. "C'mon, Akane!" Nabiki demanded. "I *know* something's... What!?!?" she asked, looking down at the young raven-haired girl scanning her with a device that looked like it came straight out of 'Star Trek'. "Hmmm... no residual morphogenic signature," Skuld mused. "Still, there's only one way to be sure." She produced a glass of water and threw it into Nabiki's unbelieving face. "AAAAAA!!!! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!?!" Nabiki screamed aloud. "Now I think that should be perfectly obvious," Skuld answered. "C'mon," Akane gestured to Megumi. "Nabiki's not quite packed yet. Let's go help her while she changes." Sputtering, wet, and furious about being splashed, Nabiki altogether lost her train of thought that led to Ranma and Akane's plans. * * * Wearing his best clothes, i.e. his Chinese army uniform, Ranma sat on the brickwork just by the fountain in front of 'Yang's' where he was supposed to meet Akane for the day. Looking across the square, he glanced one more time at the 'Lacy Doll' just across the street, before checking that, yes, the wrapped package he held in his lap bore the same name and logo. He was having a difficult time accepting what he had just done. He honestly thought that there would have been a chorus of 'Hentai' and 'Lecher' as he purchased the garment. "I... I like this one," he had said, pointing to the lace garment. The saleslady gave him a naughty grin, but said nothing. "I really don't know what size to get," he admitted. He knew what size he would need if it were for him, he struggled not to say. "Do you know her measurements?" the saleslady asked, pursing her lips as she spoke. Ranma bit his lip nervously, and pulled the little slip of paper out of his pocket, the little slip that contained the three little numbers that were already burned indelibly into his mind. The saleslady rifled through the rack, until she came away with one of the long-sleeved body-suits. Ranma gulped nervously, seeing for the first time all the way through the belly and back of the garment. There were strategically placed clusters of denser lace around the cups and at the bottom, near the snaps that held the thing together. Ranma had no illusions about how much they would actually cover in practice. "Do you think she'd like stockings to go with it?" the saleslady asked, gesturing demurely to a featureless mannequin that was wearing nothing but thigh-high black lace. Ranma let his teeth to dig into his bottom lip, drawing a slight amount of blood. "Yes... I think she would, thank-you." He answered. So now Ranma sat, almost an hour early for the meeting, desperately trying to think of how to present this, the most intimate of gifts, to the woman he loved. If he was lucky, Ranma thought, then he wouldn't get pounded for being so provocative. "I've gotta quit thinking like that!" he hissed aloud. Akane had promised not to hit him any more. If he *was* going too far, then she would tell him, and he would... apologize, and all would be fine. He hoped. Ranma sighed, glancing at the clock in the middle of the square. "Eleven thirty... *sigh*" * * * "Shin, look at this..." "Hmmm?" The air traffic controller handed his supervisor a weather map. "What do you think?" the controller asked. Shin 'tsked' as he examined the report. He bit his lip and shook his head. "Well?" "Have the ground crews prepare to change the active runway," Shin advised. "Also, warn all pilots about possible wind shear conditions." "I'll do it, boss," the controller answered. Shin bit his lip again. There was always a little more chance of an 'incident' when weather was changing like this. Such a sudden shift in the air currents was a bad omen. * * * Elsewhere in the airport, a stewardess fretted over a problem customer. "WAAAAAAHHHH!" Soun bellowed as he was being bodily dragged along the boarding ramp by the stewardess and his best friend. "My little girl will be all alone!!!!" "She's got her friends, Tendou," Genma noted, gesturing to the waving Akane and the three girls who had accompanied them to the airport. "I'm certain she'll be okay." "But she'll be all by herself!!!" Soun lamented. "Akane's a big girl, Father," Kasumi comforted him. "Right, Tofu-sensei?" "Uhh... Heh... yes, of course Kasumi. I hope they serve the honey roasted peanuts as well!" "So..." Genma whispered in his friend's ear, just as the walls of the ramp blocked out view of the pre-boarding lounge. "Which one do you think is Akane's..." he let the question hang, relying on its suggestive nature to drill it in. Suddenly serious, but still being pulled up the ramp, Soun rubbed his slightly stubbled chin. "Hmm... Nabiki dear," he asked, pulling out his wallet. "Which one did you say you saw Akane with?" Nabiki's eyes lit up at the sight of her father's wallet, and was about to respond, until she caught Kasumi's firm expression. "I'm not sure, Daddy. I really couldn't say," she answered darkly. "Give me your wallet, Saotome," Soun commanded. "But--" the larger man protested. "I mean, Father," Nabiki corrected, "I *really* don't know who she is. It was dark... okay?" Soun grimaced, but accepted his daughter's story at face value. "It's the one with the facial tattoos," Genma whispered. "Hmmm... The younger one, or the older one?" His friend mulled. "Older... the younger one's *too* young..." Genma supposed. "You're probably right..." Soun admitted. Genma shook his head and took the opportunity to push his glasses up just before they boarded the jet. "You remember what the master always says about women with tattoos..." * * * Twelve fifteen. Ranma glanced nervously at the clouds that were building overhead. In the back of his mind, he was thinking that they were probably a result of the tropical storm. Up front however, he was trying to visualize a situation in which he gave the lingerie to Akane as a girl and didn't cause a fight. "I can't think like that!" he chided himself. It wasn't like he and Akane hadn't even experimented with... Ranma took a moment to calm himself, flashes of pink flesh and the red vinyl of their Halloween costumes roaring through his mind. Telling himself he was passing the time, Ranma started to pick out 'hiding' places around the square where he could stay dry. As the clouds above began to grow darker, he gave brief thought to hiding inside Yang's if it started to look like it was going to drizzle. Akane might not think to look in there, he reasoned. Perhaps it would be good to try to find someplace in sight, but out of the rain. Possibly, he could take shelter under the narrow awning of the video store across the street. Would Akane see him there when she came to meet him? Ranma shifted nervously on his brick perch. The first drop of rain fell on his cheek. * * * "Hiroshi!" "Hmm?" The weatherman sipped at his coffee before turning around. "What is it, boss?" "It look's like 'Mikado' is turning late," the weather bureau chief for the University of Tokyo stated, holding out several pages of printouts. "It's also starting to rain over in Nerima district." "Wha--" Hiroshi took another long gulp of coffee as he studied the satellite maps. "Shit!" he yelled angrily, slamming the cup down on his desk. "What?!?!" "I burned my mouth!" "Oh..." Hiroshi shook his head over the printouts. "Still, this isn't good. It was supposed to have turned North by now. It's getting too damn big." "You're not saying..." Hiroshi shrugged. "*If* it does hit, it'll be a class 1 or 2 until it peters out. That could take any where from twelve hours to five days." The boss sighed at length. "Do we issue a warning, Hiroshi?" "Well, that would mean calling the TV networks and everything and..." "'Yes' or 'No' answer, Hiroshi," his boss cut him off. Hiroshi thought carefully for several seconds. "Yes," he said finally and formally. "I'm estimating that there's a fifty percent chance that it will actually come overland at this time. "Those are bad enough odds for me," the chief replied. "Okay," Hiroshi acknowledged, "But you gotta call the networks!" * * * From the train station near the airport, there was only one connection to board the train that would take the girls to the station nearest Ranma's apartment and the university. Conversation between the four was light, until they started to notice the rapidly darkening sky overhead. "That just looks nasty," Megumi noted. The other girls nodded in agreement. "I wonder if Ranma's noticed this yet," Akane wondered, vaguely concerned for the martial artist. Skuld was doing quite a bit of work on a portable computer, Akane noticed, and occasionally aiming a sensor through the train window at the sky. "What's the forecast, Skuld-chan?" Belldandy asked. "Not good. The television networks are only now starting to issue weather warnings. They all thought that the typhoon was supposed to move back out to sea. Morons!" "Now, now, Skuld," Belldandy chided her sister. "Human meteorologists don't have quite the technology available to them that they really need for accurate predictions yet. Give them a little while, and they'll get better." Skuld nodded irritatedly. Akane and Megumi both had to work to keep from giggling at the girl's ire. The train slowed and pulled into a short tunnel that led into the train station itself. The girls gathered their belongings. For Akane, this was a full overnight bag. She was a little bit embarrassed about it, but the other girls hadn't said anything about the bag yet, even if she was fairly certain that both Megumi and Belldandy knew what it was for. The four girls hurried through the hallways of the station which were almost deserted due to the growing storm. They were almost out to the door when a dark figure leapt out in front of them from a darkened alcove. Megumi shrieked as she was startled but Akane dropped her bag and fell into one of the strong defensive stances that Ranma had taught her. The filthy figure raised his face and produced a bokken, which he leveled at Akane. Akane and the other girls made noises of disgust at his appearance and odor. It was Kunou, and he looked like hell. His clothes were rumpled and wrinkled and even from a distance, all four girls could tell that he was in severe need of a bath. His hair was mussed beyond recognition and there was a large grimy, sticky spot on his hakama where someone had spilled a soda on him several hours earlier. An old ice-cream wrapper was stuck to one of his sandals and one leg of the hakama had ripped almost to the knee. Worse, Kunou's face revealed his lack of sleep. He looked weary and tired, as if he had been up all night, but there was a fanatic burning in his eyes. Kunou's body looked tired, but his weariness and exhaustion cast a frightening, zealous glow. With a motion that was almost too quick for the humans in the group to follow, Kunou slashed his bokken back and forth once and held it at the ready position. Akane started, partly in shock, and a little in fear. She had to remind herself that even before Ranma's extensive training that she was usually more than a match for the Blue Thunder. "Kunou-sempai!" she stated nervously. "Did you spend all night here at the station?" "SILENCE!!!!" Kunou bellowed. His voice was unstable. "Know this, Akane Tendou! Now that I have at last followed your path to its conclusion, your days of servitude to the foul demon Saotome are over!" "Demon?" Skuld whispered. "Did he say demon?" "I'm sure he meant it metaphorically, Skuld-chan," Belldandy explained. "Nay!" Kunou shouted back, overhearing the private exchange. "For there is none baser nor fouler than the dread Ranma Saotome. Verily doth he thwart my every plan to free both Akane and the lovely Pigtailed Girl from his dire clutches! This effrontery has persisted for far too long. Now fight me, Akane Tendou. Should you win, I would allow you to date me! Should I win, I will gladly grace you with my presence." "Maybe you should go home and take a bath, Kunou," Akane suggested. "I'm certain the we can talk about this later." "The time for words is long past," Kunou ranted eloquently. "Now defend yourself, Akane, so that my tender mercies may discipline you away from the foul sorcerer." "Damn!" Akane hissed. "He's serious!" "He's seriously bent," Megumi commented. "I'm going to have to fight him," Akane responded, kicking off her shoes. "Try to get around him while I distract him." "Akane-san," Belldandy asked in concern. "Are you going to be okay?' Akane nodded. "I used to trash Kunou all the time before I started going out with Ranma. Seriously, this shouldn't be any big deal." It *was* a big deal, Akane found out as Kunou lunged at her. Ranma's training had driven into her a need and the ability to read her opponents, so as Akane dodged out of the way and attempted to drive a foot into Kunou's mid-section, she could tell that he was far, far beyond feeling any pain. He lashed out again, doing his best to knock Akane down, rather than hit or cut her. When Kunou shrugged off one of her best uppercuts, Akane began to tremble slightly. Megumi, Belldandy, and Skuld attempted to dodge past the enraged kendoist, but Kunou blocked their way with a bokken strike. Megumi skidded to a halt and nearly fell over backwards to keep from being hit. "Nay, fair ones! Do not flee the wrath of Tatewaki Kunou, for you shall bear witness to Akane's defeat at my hands so that no one may doubt to whom she truly belongs!" "I don't belong to *anybody*, Kunou!" Akane yelled out, striking Kunou in the face with the heel of her palm. He took the blow and bounced back, apparently never feeling it. "Fight me, Kunou!" Akane demanded. "And leave my friends alone!" "So be it, my tiger-hearted goddess. Now feel the fury of Blue Thunder. YAAH!" he screamed as he began madly slashing at Akane. Akane dodged what blows she could. Not nearly as many as Ranma, but more than she had ever been able to before. The bokken strikes she couldn't dodge, she turned aside with quick, glancing blows of her fists. The occasional slash that did get through hurt Akane, though. One landed on her shoulder, and the other on her ribs. She was certain that both would bruise horribly. "STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE..." Kunou was fighting insanely, Akane noticed. His strikes and blows followed no real pattern, and he was leaving himself almost completely open to attack while he fought. There was no help for it, Akane knew. Wanting to end the fight quickly, she took another glancing blow to the ribs, and dove forward towards Kunou's relatively undefended body. She drove her right knee into his gut and brought it up into his chin before he could react. Kunou spit blood and fell backwards. "Run!" Akane yelled at her friends. Nodding, Megumi grabbed Skuld's arm and led her past the stunned kendoist and out the door of the train station. Belldandy followed close behind. Akane took a few steps away from her attacker and stood just outside the doorway. "I... yield... not..." Kunou grunted, and struggled to his feet. A line of blood ran down his chin and onto his chest. He slashed back and forth again, as if he was cutting at the weariness that plagued him, and stumbled out the door after them. Akane narrowed her eyes. "Let's stop this now, Kunou. You're tired and dirty. I promise that if you go home, we can talk about this some other time." "Will talk heal my broken heart, Akane Tendou?" Kunou demanded angrily. "Nay, for only the possession of what is rightfully mine will soothe my savage breast." Akane shook her head. He beyond reason. She hoped that she wasn't going to have to injure him. "I'm not your 'possession', Kunou," she snapped back. "I never was, no matter how often you imagined it. Now are you going to go home?" "No!" "Fine." Akane lunged. Megumi gasped and Belldandy's hand went to her mouth in surprise. Akane had darted in to strike at the kendoist at a speed that defied description. She struck with both fists at once, hammering Kunou in the face and chest. Her blows were so rapid that he couldn't even raise his bokken to defend himself against them. They sought out all his vulnerable points and pounded them dozens of times over. Before he could react, Akane jumped back out of range and tried to catch her breath. She hadn't *quite* managed a true Kachuu Tenshin Amiguriken speed attack, but she was close enough. Kunou staggered, his bokken clattering to the sidewalk. "I.... *haff* yield..... not...." "He's not dead yet?" Skuld asked incredulously. "You know, Sempai?" Akane huffed in anger and frustration. "The thing I really *hate* about you is that you just won't go *DOWN*! KUNOU NO BAKA!!!!" She ran in and drop-kicked the kendoist. Kunou was unconscious by the time he landed. "Come on!" Akane commanded as a light drizzle began to dampen the four girls, trying to put the fight behind her. "We need to find Ranma before it really starts to rain." Skuld shook her head. "If there's a typhoon coming in, then we need to get back to the temple and board up the windows." "I'm certain that Keiichi-san is already working on it," Belldandy noted trustingly. Akane nodded. "I should do the same for the dojo. I'll find Ranma and we'll go board it up together." "I'll help board up the temple," Megumi offered. "And once we're done, I'll help you and Ranma, too!" Akane nodded, and the four girls took off in two directions. * * * "Damnit..." Ranma muttered as she ran through the rain that was now pouring through the town. She held the bag of lingerie under her bowed head to keep the water from getting into the bag and soaking through the paper wrapping. There wasn't any help for it. She might have even waited in the rain for Akane, had she not had the gift with her. As it was, she didn't want Akane's present to get ruined. She wasn't certain if rainwater would harm the delicate fabric, but was unwilling to take the chance. She also didn't want to present Akane with a soggy gift. Ranma grumbled, but soon approached her apartment building. She ran in the front door, taking time to shake the rain out of her hair. In the elevator, she took the paper wrapped package out of the bag to ensure that it had not gotten wet at all. She breathed a sigh of relief and stepped out of the elevator at the her floor. She walked into her room and tossed the package on the futon. Leaving the door unlocked in case Akane showed up, she stepped into the bathroom she shared with Megumi to shower off and change back. A few seconds after the water began to run in the bathroom the front door opened, ever so slightly. Almost half a minute passed. The only sound in the room was the gentle hiss of running water behind a closed door. The door opened more fully and Kodachi Kunou stepped inside. She smiled broadly, biting her lip to keep from laughing in triumph. She had followed Ranma back from the square in front of the Chinese food restaurant where she had seen the pigtailed girl and Akane making their diabolical plans. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, she lost track of the pigtailed martial artist when it began to rain and concentrated on catching a glimpse of the green uniform her most beloved had been wearing. After only a few seconds, she came across the pigtailed girl wearing a uniform just like Ranma's. She wanted to be with Ranma, but this was too good an opportunity to dispose of one of her rivals to ignore. Besides, where Ranma went, the pigtailed girl usually followed. Chances were that wherever she wound up in following the wicked harlot would leave her in close proximity to Ranma. Kodachi carefully closed the door behind her and discarded her raincoat. Wearing a pretty dress, she stepped in and began to examine Ranma's prison. It was tiny and ugly, surely not befitting a proud warrior such as her beloved. Worse, in quite a few places there were pictures of that horrible little beast, Akane Tendou! They were left, no doubt, to remind Ranma of his captivity. Her eyes finally came to rest on Ranma's futon, and the package she had seen him with earlier. "Hmm..." she wondered quietly. It could be nothing, she supposed, but it might be a present for *her*! Akane or the pigtailed girl would no doubt confiscate and destroy the gift once they realized that Ranma had bought it, so she stepped over and opened it without a second thought. Kodachi reddened once she saw what was inside the package. "Oh, Ranma-sama, you daring, wicked man! Of course I'll accept your gift!" * * * Kunou came to a painful consciousness once the rain began to pound down on him and ran up his nose. He shook his head and pushed his wet hair out of his eyes and began to look around for Akane. He was a little ways away from the train station where Akane, like a shy schoolgirl, had run away from him. He grimaced in pain as he tried to stand, remembering how exuberantly forceful her running away had been. "I am quite impressed, Akane Tendou!" he declared out loud, using his bokken as a crutch. "But you shall be mine, no doubt!" Now if only he could remember where the foul sorcerer Saotome's apartment was... * * * Ranma stepped out of the shower and began to towel himself off. Happy and male, he used the towel to strip the water off his arms and legs. Dry, he wrapped another towel around his waist. He heard the door open while he was in the shower, so Akane must have made her way into his room when he wasn't at the meeting place. Ranma shook out his bath towel and hung it on a hook next to one of Megumi's and opened the door to his room, holding the other towel up with one hand.. "Hey, Akane. I'm sorry I--" What lay on his futon was most definitely *not* Akane. "Ohhhh, Ranma-sama!" "Oh, hell..." Kodachi lay on his futon. Ranma's brain seemed to not want to recognize that fact. No matter how he looked at it, however, there was no mistaking the situation. Worse, Ranma thought in shock, she was clad in sheer lingerie and thigh high stockings. Her nipples and thick black delta were clearly visible through the transparent lace as she sensuously ran her hands down her torso and over her hips. Starting in anger and ripping his eyes away from her delicately exposed body, he saw the 'Lacy Doll' package torn open on the floor next to his futon. Ranma clenched his fists in fury. Kodachi had broken into his apartment and was wearing the bodysuit and stockings he had bought specially for Akane! "Kodachi..." he growled, his rage growing. "Oh, my darling Ranma," she breathed back. "What a wonderful man you are. How could you have known just what I wanted? Mmmmm..." she purred, lifting one stockinged leg into the air and running her hand along it, offering Ranma a naughty glimpse of what was only concealed by a thin wisp of sheer lace. She pulled her hand back and cupped her breasts through the lace embroidery, making appreciative moans and fixing Ranma with a seductive stare all the while. Ranma's face twisted in rage. He was so mad that he wanted to strike at the apparition in front of him. She... she was ruining everything! She had taken Akane's gift and... and... and... "Get out..." he growled again, his fists balling up and his shoulders hunching over in anger. He turned his head so that he didn't have to see his gift ruined. "Get out, NOW!" "You're so playful, Ranma-sama!" Kodachi exclaimed. She rolled forward and hopped onto her stocking feet. She took a step towards Ranma, her arms out to embrace him. "Come to me, my love," she pleaded. "GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!" "Don't refuse my love, Ranma-sama," Kodachi begged, throwing her arms around the angry martial-artist. "DAMNITT! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!" Ranma struggled to get away, but Kodachi was more intent on rubbing herself against Ranma's frame than avoiding being pushed or prodded. She wasn't about to let go. Then, to Ranma's horror, the door opened. * * * Lightning struck off in the distance, and the winds were picking up. Akane was thoroughly soaked, and not getting any dryer. It was a good thing her bag was watertight. She *really* wanted to get to a radio or television to hear the weather report. As it was, she was going to be satisfied getting to the safety of Ranma's apartment. After several minutes of running in the now-horizontal rain and winds that were threatening to knock her light body over, Akane finally made her way to the stark grey building. Maintenance workers were boarding over the glass front doors, so Akane darted into a service entrance on the side of the building and ran up the steel stairs. At the fifth floor, she opened the door into the main building and ran down to Ranma's room. She was keyed up from the violence of the storm outside and excited about seeing Ranma. She was fairly trembling with one kind of arousal or another. She stopped, and put her hand on the doorknob. It was unlocked, so Ranma must already be there, away from the rain. Smiling, she pushed the door open. Akane's smile fell. She gasped, dropping her bag. Her hands went to her face in terror. "No..." Akane breathed. Kodachi was there... She was... almost naked. Akane's jaw worked in disbelief and horror. She was wearing sheer lingerie and her body was draped over Ranma. Ranma, from what she could see, was mostly naked as well. He might have been wearing his boxers, but Akane couldn't tell since one of Kodachi's legs was wrapped around his waist. Ranma's... hands.... Akane gulped, not wanting to believe what she was seeing. Ranma's hands were on Kodachi's body. "No... please... no..." Akane began to cry. "OHOHOHOHOHOHOH!" Kodachi laughed merrily. "But it is true, Akane! Ranma-sama is mine now!" "NO!!!" Akane screamed. "Oh God no, Akane, this isn't what it looks like!" Ranma declared. Her eyes wide and staring, Akane took two trembling steps back from the doorway. She turned and fled. "NO! AKANE!!!!" * * * "What are you doing, Daughter," Soun asked. "It's the latest thing, Daddy," Nabiki explained, holding up the flat screen she was holding. "You can get one of these from the stewardess and play videos or watch TV." She turned in her seat to afford her father a better view of the gadget. Behind her, Genma poked his head up over her headrest to gaze on it as well. "Quite an invention, eh, Tendou?" the bulky martial artist commented. "Why, when I was flying back from Hong Kong, the only real entertainment we had was a squawking chicken!" "I thought you said that was a JAL flight, and that they played a Pauley Shore movie, Saotome," Soun countered. "Like I said... a squawking chicken," Genma defended his answer. Nabiki grimaced, but continued her explanation. "You can get movies, cartoons, sports--" "See if there's a sumo basho on, Tendou," Genma suggested. "And Japanese and American news," Nabiki finished. "See?" "And in other news, typhoon 'Mikado' has crossed onto the Japanese mainland over the island of Honshu. While the storm is considered relatively light in severity, all Tokyo residents are being advised to take shelter and stay away from windows." Soun, Genma and Nabiki stared in shock at the tiny news broadcast. "As previously forecasted, the typhoon was expected to turn North and drift back out to sea. This unexpected turn of events is not expected to cause severe damage to Tokyo, but light to moderate damage is possible and expected." "MY LITTLE GIRL!!!!" Soun began to wail. "Calm down, Daddy!" Nabiki hissed. "It's only a bad storm." "We have to turn the plane around right now!" Soun pleaded. "We have to go back now!" Genma grunted in displeasure and concern. "What's wrong, Father?" Kasumi asked from across the aisle, where she and Dr. Tofu were sitting. Carefully checking the 'fasten seat belts' sign, Kasumi undid hers so that she could see what had upset her father so. "We have to go back to save Akane!" Soun wailed hysterically. Kasumi examined the news broadcast on the tiny screen. "Oh, it's too late, now, Father. They've closed the airport. The best we can do is make sure Akane is okay once we get to the hotel. The storm has already started." * * * The horrible image of Kodachi and Ranma together was burned into Akane's eyes as she ran aimlessly down the hallway. "AKANE! NO!!!!" A voice called out behind her. Paying no heed to the voice, Akane careened into a concrete support column near the side of the hallway since her eyes were bleary with tears. She was knocked on her ass, but felt no pain, since the pain in her heart was already overwhelming. She staggered to her feet and continued her flight, more running from the image in her mind of Ranma's hands all over Kodachi's near-naked body. *His hands roamed up and down her lace clad torso with wild abandon as Kodachi began to obscenely lick his neck. All Akane could do was stand nearby and watch helplessly.* Akane's world was shattered. Every last foundation came crashing down on her. Not really caring that she bruised her arm running into the elevator, she punched several of the buttons and collapsed in the corner to cry. Ranma, having finally worked himself free of Kodachi's embrace, tumbled out into the hall just in time to see the elevator doors close on the dark-haired girl. He stood and straightened his towel. Kodachi knelt in his doorway, still clad in only the lingerie that he had bought for Akane. If looks could kill, Kodachi would have been vaporized on the spot. As it was, she misinterpreted his burning glare as intent. "Oh, take me now, Ranma-sama! Now that that annoying little alley-cat is out of the way, we can be together with no interruptions!" Ranma's lip curled in unholy rage. He felt the feelings building again like they had so many months ago when he first abandoned the Tendou Dojo. It had been a mistake, he realized darkly, to stop being so careful about guarding his location from all his old... acquaintances. His entire body trembling in almost uncontrolled fury, Ranma raised one open palm. "Oooh! Do you want to play those kinds of games, Ranma- sama?" Kodachi asked, rising to her knees and stretching her arms behind her back to provide her love with the best view of her barely concealed assets. "Punish me, Ranma-sama! Punish me until I displease you no more! Show me the measure of your love by your discipline. Love me harshly, Ranma-sama!" Ranma blinked. He couldn't do it. His hand fell uselessly, impotently to his side. He couldn't bring himself to hit her unprovoked like this. The sexual manner in which she begged disgusted him. How could she be so-- "That little Tendou whore will never know your love, will she, Darling?" Kodachi asked, running one hand down her side and over her hip. Ranma dropped her with a single blow to the temple. The girl collapsed in an unconscious heap at his feet. Much to his relief, Kodachi twisted as she fell so that her assets were mostly hidden underneath her. "That's for calling Akane a whore," Ranma declared. "And this," he stated as he trod roughly on her back as he walked back inside the apartment, "is for stealing her present. Rot in hell, Nutcase." Ranma quickly located and donned his clothes and ran back out into the hallway. If only he could get Akane to understand what had happened... By the time he reached the elevator, the floor indicator read 'PG', which led Ranma to believe that Akane had made her way down to the basement parking garage underneath the complex. Ranma ran in and hit the button. * * * Akane ran out of the front of the building and into the storm. It had gotten much worse since she first went inside. Even the maintenance workers were gone, no doubt safe in some sheltered area. The rain poured down in blinding sheets and she staggered against the wind, desperately trying her best to keep her tiny body upright. "Oh God, why?" she wailed out loud, her voice lost in the howling wind. She staggered almost a half block away from the apartment building, fighting the wind and rain every step of the way when a dark shape loomed up out of the rain. "No..." Akane hissed. "Akane Tendou!" Tatewaki Kunou shouted over howl of the rain and wind. "Now you will be mine. Submit yourself to me!" Akane lurched back, horrified. Kunou's wet hair whipped all around him in a terrifying nimbus. His bruised body stood upright, unmoved by the elements. His eyes were totally devoid of anything even close to reason. Worse, he had abandoned his wooden bokken in favor of a steel katana. Akane gulped upon seeing the razor edge of the sword. "Now, Akane Tendou!" Kunou cried out, striking with his blade. Akane dodged, barely avoiding the cutting edge. She cried out in horror. "Take this!" Kunou bellowed. "And this! And this! Let my blazing sword be the light of my love for you!" He backed her up against an alley wall in almost no time. "Now, Akane Tendou, I will take back from Saotome what is rightfully mine!" he cried, reaching for her blouse. Akane ducked and rolled under his arm, barely avoiding having her blouse ripped away. Kunou lashed out, catching Akane on the ribs with the back of his sword as she rolled past. Akane cried out at the painful blow, but staggered to her feet and ran weakly back to the apartment, the wind blowing her along and causing her to stumble. She had never felt so weak or so powerless. * * * Ranma grimaced and growled in anger. Akane wasn't in the parking garage, and when he returned to his own floor, Kodachi was already missing from his apartment. Realizing that Akane must have left the building, Ranma reentered the elevator and went down to the ground floor. He was just about to open one of the boarded over doors and start to search outside, when the door flew open and Akane darted inside. "Akane!" She was terrified, her eyes opened wide with panic and pain. She was breathing in great, heaving gasps and clutching her side just below her breast. Ranma didn't see any blood, but from he way the girl was moving, it looked like she had been badly bruised. "Get away from my Ranma-sama, you little hussy!" Kodachi's voice declared from above. "What the--?" Ranma and Akane both looked up. Still wearing the sheer lingerie, Kodachi burst out of the ceiling tile, gymnastics clubs at the ready. "In the ceiling?" Ranma wondered out loud, stunned. Akane noticed a dark lump on Kodachi's forehead. Had somebody hit her? At almost the same time Kodachi hit the floor, the doors burst in, the howling wind blowing rain and broken glass into the lobby of the building. Kunou stood in the open doorway, his body soaked, his wet hair streaming around his head and his mouth almost frothing. "Wonderful," Ranma hissed, dropping into a defensive stance. "Blue blunder has gone bye-bye. Stay sharp, Akane!" Ranma shouted as he faced Kunou. Kunou lunged in, trying to seek out Ranma's blood with his katana. Kodachi, her eyes narrowed in anger, lashed out at Akane with one of her clubs. Still confused, Akane dodged to one side and chopped Kodachi's wrist, sending the club flying. "You horrid little girl," Kodachi hissed, drawing out a ribbon. "Why didn't you just stay away?" Akane didn't dignify the girl's barb with a response. It was funny, she thought to herself as she dropped into a defensive stance similar to Ranma's. It seemed like all her strength was returning as she fought back to back with Ranma. The image of Ranma and Kodachi pawing each other was still burned into her mind, but it seemed abstract somehow, as if she had imagined it. She was cold, wet, and scared, but she didn't want to be anywhere else than where she was. Kodachi sent her ribbon ripping towards Akane. Akane let it snap around her arm, coiling and bunching like a python. She twisted her arm and caught the ribbon with her fingers. Kodachi, refusing to let go of the ribbon, was drawn in towards Akane when she began to pull. There was an odd, expectant expression on the gymnast's face, as if she thought she was invulnerable. Her expression shattered into disbelief as Akane drove her tightly clenched fist into Kodachi's gut. The girl was thrown back and lost her grip on the ribbon. Akane threw it to one side. "*Haff*... How dare you?!?!" Kodachi choked out in protest. Fight by the rules, commoner!" Akane just reached around and backhanded the girl across the face as hard as she could. Kodachi went down, splashing in a large puddle of rainwater on the floor. Dazedly, she probed at her lips, which were bleeding. For a second, she looked around in disbelief as if she didn't understand what was going on. "You... YOU... YOU.... DIE, TENDOU!!!" she screamed. Kodachi launched herself at Akane and began to pound on the girl with her fists like a child pounds the floor in a tantrum. It was obvious to Akane, who was easily dodging or blocking the blows, that Kodachi was quite useless without her gymnastics tools. Akane suddenly realized how badly she was out-classing the taller girl. It must have been Ranma's training. Kodachi wasn't landing *anything* that Akane couldn't easily block. Confidence and strength surged through her. Akane smiled, knowing that she had already won the fight. Akane blocked an angry fist and tagged Kodachi's face hard enough to make her spit blood again. "That does it! KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF ME!!" Kodachi screamed. She jumped into the air, her fists aimed at Akane's face. Time seemed to slow for Akane. Kodachi seemed to be floating in front of her. With one arm held in a guarded position, Akane lashed out with her other fist, hitting a vulnerable spot on Kodachi's ribcage. She lashed out again, blackening the girl's left eye. She lashed out again... and again... and... "KACHUU TENSHIN AMAGURIKEN!!!" Akane screamed, unleashing dozens of blows to Kodachi's vulnerable points in just a few seconds. Kodachi flew back and impacted the wall behind her. Ranma couldn't help but whip around when he heard the battle cry and felt the rising aura behind him. Akane's fists cut the air like knives. He smiled at Akane, but paid for it with his distraction as the hilt of Kunou's katana caught him against the side of the head, bruising his ear. Back in combat-mode, angry at himself for being distracted, Ranma turned and dealt the kendoist a vicious uppercut. Kunou went flying, but picked himself back up off the ground and charged Ranma again. *This is getting bad,* Ranma thought to himself. He was using almost-crippling blows to attack Kunou, but the kendoist was so far gone in rage that he wasn't feeling any of the injuries Ranma was handing out. Taking a cue from Akane, Ranma unleashed an Amaguriken-speed volley of punches and kicks that put the taller boy down for a second or two. Feeling a throbbing in her skull and chest, Kodachi blinked her way back to consciousness. She was slumped against the wall, lying in a puddle of dirty rainwater. She hurt like she had never hurt before and Akane, the girl who had done this to her, wasn't even looking at her. Instead, she was watching Ranma-sama fight with Kodachi's brother. Ranma dodged underneath a swipe of Kunou's blade and rolled towards the open door. A blast of cold water from the storm outside blew in, drenching the martial artist. Kodachi blinked, unsure of what she had just seen. Did Ranma-sama just... *become*... the... "No..." she cried, her voice just barely above a weak whisper. "PIGTAILED GIRL!" Kunou screamed, his katana still at the ready. "Verily, I have come to nobly free you from your cruel enslavement!" Ranma eeped and dodged back away from the groping kendoist, moving through the doorway and outside the building into the brunt of the storm. Kunou leapt after her and managed to grab her roughly around the midsection, groping crudely at one of the girl's breasts. "Free this, Kunou!" Akane yelled, running out into the storm and throwing a punch at the side of the distracted kendoist's head. Kunou took the hit and stumbled in the driving rain, losing his grip on Ranma. He turned around and lashed at Akane with his katana. Akane screamed in pain. She was too close to dodge the swing. Kunou sliced open her forearm in a long, shallow gash. Driven by the rain, blood began to pour down Akane's arm. "Hold, fiery Akane! Your turn to battle Blue Thunder shall come anon! I must first capture mighty pigtailed girl before I can turn my attention to you, fair one!" "Akane!" Ranma cried out, panicked and enraged. "I'm okay!" Akane shouted over the roaring wind. She gripped the wound with her hand, holding it closed and applying as much pressure as she could to try to stop the bleeding. "Just put him out!" she yelled, running back into the building. Kodachi blinked, not believing what she's seen. Ranma- sama had just become the pigtailed girl and her brother had seriously hurt Akane, a girl he claimed to love. What madness was this? She staggered to her feet. "Okay, you asshole," Ranma screamed. "You just did the one thing that's gonna earn you a trip to the morgue." She leapt for Kunou, easily dodging the katana strikes and driving her foot into his chin. Kunou was knocked down, but staggered back to his feet. "I fight on!" he yelled back in defiance. He raised his katana and started a vicious slashing attack that crossed back and forth in front of Ranma. Unwilling to risk being caught with Kunou's blade, Ranma allowed herself to be backed into the building. Eventually, Kunou's katana slashed into the wall and stuck. Steaming water from the boiler line behind the surface of the wall began to spray out, mixing with the cold rain. Ranma was caught in the spray once again, this time changing back into a man. "What have you done with the pigtailed girl?!?" Kunou screamed, his rage increasing as he tried to dislodge his sword from its metal trap Kodachi boggled, falling back to her knees. Ranma's fighting movements didn't even change when he transformed. It was true... and her brother couldn't see that. Akane glanced at her as she clutched at her bloody arm. "This is for tearing up my place," Ranma hissed, driving his fist into Kunou's face, bloodying the kendoist's nose. "And this is for grabbing me," he yelled, punching Kunou again. Defiantly, Kunou strained, trying to pull his sword out of the wall. "And this is for cutting Akane, you asshole!" Kodachi had never seen a blow so powerful. Her brother was bleeding freely from his nose and mouth as he fell away from Ranma's fist, his hands finally losing their grip on his katana. Exhausted, Ranma staggered over to Akane and peered at her wounded arm. "Are you okay?" Akane nodded. The wound was not life threatening, but it would definitely need medical attention soon. She would be lucky if it didn't leave a large scar. Kodachi crawled over to her brother and checked for a pulse. He was still alive, but his face was bruised beyond recognition and he was bleeding from both ears. "Ranma-sama," she called out. Ranma ignored her. He had ripped a piece of his Chinese shirt away, dampened it in the warm stream of water from the boiler line, and was using to clean Akane's wound. "Ranma-sama." "Haven't you done enough?" Ranma asked angrily, whipping around to face her. "What? Did you think I'd be *happy* you intruded on my personal life and tried to hurt the woman I love?" The stream from the broken boiler line suddenly went cold and surged, splashing both Ranma and Akane with chilly water. Ranma changed again. "Moron," she insulted the gymnast in a cold voice. Kodachi stared on in quiet horror. He... he... she... was angry. At her. At Kodachi. The gymnast, wearing the tattered remains of the lingerie... that Ranma... had... had *not* bought for her, began to feel ashamed. "I... fight... on!" Kunou shouted, lurching to a sitting position. Kodachi grabbed one of her discarded clubs and rapped him across the back of the head. "Sister... dearest?" he asked just before he passed back out. "You really do have no idea, do you?" She asked in a haughty, accusing tone. Still, inside, she felt horrible. Ranma *hated* her. Kunou burbled, as the bleeding from his nose started to wane. "Is he okay?" Akane asked in concern, still holding her injured arm. Kodachi scowled, her face red with embarrassment and misery. "I'm certain he'll survive, and if he doesn't, would you really be upset?" Akane raised her eyebrows at the statement. Ranma just stared at her coldly. Kodachi turned away, not able to face either one of them any more. Feeling more horrible than she ever had before, she reached down and hefted her brother across her shoulders. Staggering under the weight, she lurched out into the storm. * * * "Who knew?" Hiroshi Tanaka wondered out loud as he watched the bulk of the storm approach the Japanese mainland on radar. 'Mikado' was going to top out as a Class 1 typhoon, so even though there was no evacuation warning, there probably wouldn't be any real damage or injury caused by the storm. It was a big blowhard, and nothing more. He sipped his coffee and swore as he burned his mouth again. * * * "MY LITTLE GIRL IS ALL ALONE!!!!" Soun wailed. "Really, Daddy," Nabiki complained, glancing around at all the other travellers in the Honolulu International Airport. There were a good number of Japanese there that could understand what he was saying and knew enough about the storm to understand why he was upset, but there were more Americans and people from other countries that just stared in awe at the raving Japanese man. "You need to calm down. I'm certain that Akane's okay." "It's official, Tendou," Genma stated as he walked up out of the crowd. "They've canceled all flights into or out of Narita for today and tomorrow. The girl at the JAL counter wouldn't even tell me when the first flight back was scheduled." "We'll hike back, then!" Soun declared, defiantly shouldering his back-pack and hefting his small travel-bag. "I won't allow my baby daughter to face this horror all by herself!" "There is the small matter of a few thousand miles of ocean to cross, Daddy," Nabiki reminded him. "You don't mind swimming, do you?" "It's pointless, Tendou," Genma protested. "Even if we did manage to get a boat or *ahem*... swim, it would still be faster to wait here for the next flight." "WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!" Kasumi, Tofu and his mother walked back over to the group from a cluster of pay-phones. "I can't reach Akane at the dojo," Kasumi explained, putting a finger to her wailing father's lips. "But that probably means that she's found shelter with her friends," she concluded. *She's with Ranma,* Nabiki guessed, *and Kasumi knows it.* "Really, Father," Kasumi said, comforting the man. "Akane will be just fine. She has angels watching over her, you know." * * * Akane did indeed have angels watching her. As a matter of fact, she had two. Only moments after Kodachi and Kunou disappeared into the rain, a certain BMW motorcycle drove up, protected from the rain and wind by a magical bubble. On board were Keiichi, Megumi, and Belldandy as well as Skuld in miniature form. Trying to keep from getting more soaked, the four rushed into the damaged lobby of the apartment building. Upon seeing what had happened, Belldandy instantly took Akane's arm and began to examine the cut. "Is she going to be all right, Onee-sama?" Skuld asked. "Of course, Skuld. Do you want to help me heal Akane- chan's injury?" Skuld nodded nervously and stepped forward. As Belldandy began to chant quietly, Skuld began to glow. Both seemed a little tired afterwards, but Skuld quickly pulled out an ice cream crunch bar and began to snarf it up. "They're really using too much power," Keiichi commented, "But Skuld's providing a lot of the energy so that Bell-chan can do more in the way of control. It's still exhausting--" "But this is an emergency," Belldandy cut him off. "I'll be all right. Your home still needs to be protected against the storm, doesn't it, Akane?" The girl nodded. "I couldn't ask you to help, Belldandy." "It's okay," Megumi said. "Skuld made these for us!" She pulled three rifle-like devices from the sidecar of Keiichi's motorcycle. They had tanks on the top that sloshed back and forth with a thick green liquid. They looked rather like water guns. "We can use these to cover the windows and doors," Keiichi explained. "Right, Skuld?" The smallest goddess nodded confidently, still chewing eagerly on her ice-cream bar. The ride was tight, but after making sure Ranma and Megumi's apartment rooms were locked up tight, Akane and Ranma crammed into the side car, while Megumi latched behind her brother on the motorcycle's small 'passenger' seat. Belldandy and Skuld both shrank down, partly for room and partly for the sake of conserving energy. Once again, Belldandy cast a spell that created a bubble around the motorcycle so that high speed was not a problem, even in the driving rain, which was rapidly getting worse. They leapt out in front of the Tendou Dojo and went to work, using Skuld's devices to coat all the windows and doors with a kind of super-tough lightweight adhesive foam. It was quick work, even though Ranma and Akane both had to be careful to stay on their feet in the high winds. They also had to be careful to try to keep the green goo from getting on their hands. It tended to drip down the spray guns and stick to their fingers. After trying to help each other peel the substance away, Belldandy had to cast a spell to unstick them. After less than a half hour, even with minor problems, the house and dojo had both been secured and the group was on their way to Belldandy's temple. Ranma and Akane were nestled together in Keiichi's side- car again as Keiichi began the long drive across town. Ranma was in back, holding Akane in front of her. Ranma could feel how tense and upset the girl still was. It was a few minutes into the ride when Akane turned and pressed her face into Ranma's red hair and began to whisper. Even with Belldandy's shield, the wind whipped howlingly around them so that only Ranma could hear her. "So... So why were you in there... naked... with Kodachi?" Akane asked. Ranma gulped. She could hear the pain and uncertainty in her voice over the roaring wind. She knew that if she answered wrong, then she stood the chance of truly injuring Akane and tearing the two of the apart. What to do? How was he supposed to get out of this one? "The... The uh... lingerie was supposed to be for you," Ranma admitted, a blush creeping up her face. She decided to tell the truth and see what happened. Akane relaxed somewhat against Ranma's damp chest. Once the words started out of Ranma's mouth, they were almost impossible to stop. "I... wanted it to be a surprise for you when we met, but then it started to rain, and I was so keyed up that I didn't realize she was following me. I guess I forgot to lock the door on my room and..." "So what I saw was--" "Kodachi tryin' to rip my towel off, just after I got out of the shower," Ranma finished. "I can't tell you how pissed I was right then. I... uh... I hit Kodachi," Ranma admitted guiltily. Akane blinked in surprise. "I really shouldn't have. I feel horrible about it," Ranma said, a self-loathing expression growing in her eyes. Akane couldn't help but smile. True, it was rather unfair for Ranma to hit Kodachi in his anger, but Akane couldn't help but feel like Ranma was defending her *and* their relationship. "Well, tell me next time, and I'll hit her for you," Akane offered, a smile playing across her lips. "Ranma... I'm... I'm sorry that I jumped to..." "'S okay," Ranma said. "I'm sorry your nighty got trashed. I'll... uh... I'll get you... a new one," she said, blushing furiously. Akane's smile widened. Impulsively, she twisted and pecked the red-head on the lips. Ranma started, but returned the kiss. "You should have told me you wanted to see me in lingerie," Akane whispered into Ranma's ear. Ranma could feel the girl's hot breath flowing over her skin. It tingled in the cold air, and Ranma couldn't help but shudder. "Oh?" she asked, trembling slightly, even though she was quite a bit warmer than she was a second ago. "I have some at home that I've been wanting to model for you for quite a while," Akane admitted. "Maybe after the storm?" she suggested. Ranma was speechless. * * * Kodachi was not quite sure how she had gotten home. It had taken her a few hours to cross town on foot. She guessed her brother's weight had kept her from being blown away. Now, as the storm outside had turned almost completely black in the early evening, she was nursing a low-grade fever and a runny nose in one of the sitting rooms in the Kunou mansion. Most of the windows had already been boarded over, but the one next to her was in the lee of the bulk of the mansion, protected from high winds and flying debris. As she listened to a weather report on a battery operated radio, she watched the rain hammer down and the brutal winds roar through the trees. The storm outside mirrored her mood. Even as the howling winds tore at the grounds of the Kunou Estate, so did the winds of uncertainty tear at her fevered brain. Ranma loved her, didn't he? How could any man resist her charms, elegant and dark like midnight? Wasn't Ranma attracted to her body, toned by years of gymnastics and martial arts? Didn't he know that she would do anything to please him? Yet Ranma had rebuked her. As the lump on her forehead attested, he had done so rather forcefully. Another blow: Ranma *was* the red-haired pigtailed girl, Kodachi thought after a few seconds. It was a difficult conclusion to come to, but she simply couldn't rationalize what she had seen any other way. She had heard rumors of a dark curse that plagued the man she loved, but she had dismissed them as poppycock. Now... Now she wasn't so sure. Was it because she had treated the pigtailed girl so badly that Ranma was wroth with her? Perhaps... Perhaps it was because she had treated the Tendou girl so poorly. Ranma seemed to be rather affectionate with her. Lightening crashed fiercely. Kodachi couldn't tell from the volume, but it sounded as if it had struck somewhere close by. The power went out, robbing Kodachi of the light of the small lamp next to her. The battery powered radio continued to play, interrupted only by brief surges of static. On a sofa next to her, Kunou sat up and began to rant in a delirious voice. "Whazz? Nuh? Drat! The foul sorcerer Saotome has spirited away the Pigtailed Girl and Akane Tendou once again! The letch!" He staggered to his feet, clutching at his aching skull. "I... ooh... I shall vanquish him this day! I swear that... uhhh... swear... ugh... Blue Thunder doesn't feel so good." Kodachi lit a candle, casting her flushed face in an eerie mix of light and shadow. "I'm not surprised, my buffoon of a brother. The 'foul sorcerer' gave you a *richly* deserved concussion." "Untrue!" Kunou declared, lurching around the room, looking for his katana. "Ranma Saotome could never... uhhhhgh." Tatewaki dropped to his knees and clutched at his head. "I feel *very* bad, Sister." "You're lucky you got off so easily after you hurt Akane, you moron." Kodachi said, snapping at her brother. It felt good to say it, after Ranma had used that same insult on her. It still didn't ease the persistent ache in her heart, however. "I fight on." Kunou stated, rising unsteadily back to his feet. "Where is my noble blade?" "I have *no* idea, Brother," Kodachi admitted. "I do know that you will probably not survive if you venture back out into the storm. Why don't you wait for it to subside before persuing your specious romances." "Yes. Of course. Even the indomitable Tatewaki Kunou must take time to rest and heal from his harrowing ordeal. Hold tightly, my loves. I shall come to rescue you soon!" "And Akane and Ranma-sama will be just as happy to pound you into oblivion later rather than sooner, I would think," Kodachi said out loud to herself. Unfazed by her words, Kunou staggered off into the recesses of the mansion, probably to soak his aching head. Kodachi sighed deeply and considered going to find the emergency generators deep in the basement of the mansion. Instead, she rose from her seat and used her candle to light several more around the room, casting a warm twilight against the dark fury of the storm. For some reason, the weak candlelight seemed more comforting than all the impervious bulk of her family's estate. After several seconds, she reached into a nearby shelf and took down a pen and paper. "My dearest Ranma-sama... No. That's not right. It would only upset him further." She put the tip of the pen to her lip and looked out into the storm in thought. After a few seconds she began to write. "Dear Ranma. I have been a fool. For of all the ways I wanted to show my love for you, I never intended to hurt your feelings..." Kodachi sighed, suddenly very unsure of herself and what she had written. She wasn't sure what she wanted to say, but at least she had a start. * * * Author's notes: Let's see a show of hands in the audience, who knows what a 'Freeze Plug' is in relationship to a car. (Jones nods, seeing a few of the more mechanically inclined members of the audience wincing in sympathy.) Well *I* didn't, not until mine cracked and started spraying water all over my engine block. If you can't imagine the sound that would make, imagine the sound on any given planet just after Kei and Yuri have visited. It's also the sound my checkbook made when I spent the majority of Friday afternoon and evening at the local Mazda dealership looking at the prospect of getting myself in beucoup debt. After a family member's wedding I attended today, I managed to polish up the second draft and post it. It's a good thing because I wouldn't have had time to do it tommorrow, either. ("Ahem, excuse me, Jones-san," a young woman in the front row asks. "Why are you apologizing for *this* delay, when it's been more than a year since you posted "Guises?") Ahhh... Uhhh... Sore wa himitsu-des! (The Audience is *not* amused.) Okay. First of all, I've been writing 'The Clan'. Most of the 20+ chapters were written between the first half and second half of 'Storms'. On top of that, in the last few months, I've experienced the wonder of a high-speed personal internet connection. I've gotten rather heavily into the online-fansub trading scene and have actually been *watching* more anime than I've been writing fanfiction. Doing so has finally eradicated my unfulfilled desire to write Eva fanfics. Now I want to write 'Kodomo no Omocha', 'Tenshi ni Narumon' and 'Love Hina' fics. Hmmm... 'Kodomo no Omocha ni Narumon' (I'll become a Child's Toy!) What's next for Ranma's Apartment? Part 5 will *definitely* be the last chapter. Look forward to Shampoo and Ukyou looking for answers from Ranma. There may also be a Lemon side story that covers the rest of the duration of 'Mikado'. What's next for me? Probably more 'Clan' if I can get to it. There may be a one-shot or two in the works. One last thing: I posted a few of my stories to fanfiction.net and have already seen some reviews generated by the site. Has anyone else on the FFML had good or bad experiences with fanfiction.net? If you're not familiar with fanfiction.net, they host thousands of fanfic stories of all genres. Did you know there was a thriving Harry Potter fanfic community? Finally, I'd like to thank Vincent, David, Steven, Allyn, and MWhaleK (and everybody else I forgot...) for prereading. In particular, Vincent shredded my story and made me repolish it. I'd also like to thank everyone who's written in about chapters 1-3. I'll try to get back to everybody, but it may take a few days. (Just for the record, Skuld's change triggering device burned out between 'Guises' and 'Storms'. ^_^) Vincent Says: "What? What DOES the master always say about women with tattoos? Whaaaaat?" ...as Megumi might say. :)" C. * * * C. Jones - firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.furinkan.net Watashi ha ultra-relakusu!