Splitting Heirs
by Jeffrey Vasquez

A refreshing breeze flew through the window of the shrine office,
causing a set of chimes to toll lightly in the late spring, morning air. The
serene beauty of Jurai had never held Yosho's fascination like the Earth had.

He wasn't sure whether it was because of his heritage, or because
of the rustic, romanticism that the planet held. His eyes roamed the small
valley that his home rested in from the vantage of the shrine office's
window. The maples were a lush green, and a tangy pine scent floated into
him on another errant breeze.

Whichever the case might have been, he had long ago given up any
desire to return to the planet of his birth. Unfortunately, for him at least,
the woman that sat quietly across the table had other plans. His now
young face wore a troubled expression at what he knew was coming.

"You will return to Jurai with us Yosho." Her voice brooked no
arguments, but that had never stopped the Crown Prince of Jurai from
confronting his mother before.

"Or what mother? Will I be disowned? Banished? Or perhaps become a
branded traitor?" The callous mockery that laced his voice caused his
mother to bristle slightly.

She looked at him coldly, and he knew that his words had stung
her. She would never condone such actions, nor would his father dare
insinuate such things. Not if he knew what was good for him at least.

Yosho calmly set his tea cup down before him. He hadn't meant
the harshness to enter his voice, but this was a very old conflict between
mother and son. A battle that had lasted nearly a millennium, and one that
Yosho had grown tired of long ago.

He sighed in exasperation. "Forgive me Mother. I do not mean
disrespect." At least he hadn't meant it toward her. She shouldn't have
been the one to make this demand. But the coward that he called "Father"
had refused to approach him. He was the Emperor of billions of sentient
life forms, and yet the man sent his wife to bully him into becoming the heir

Yosho had explained his reasons for abdicating the throne before he
set out to face Ryoko. He had yearned for their understanding, but
received nothing but badgering and frustration from all sides. They had left
him no choice in the matter, and so he made his own choice.

Funaho looked at her only child, cooly. But, the iciness of her
gaze melted under the agony that hid behind her son's eyes. Her baby was
fighting her tooth and nail, and from the way her heart was breaking she
knew that he was winning.

His arguments were sound, she knew that if the crown were forced
on him, both he and Aeka would suffer needlessly. And through them, the
Empire. That was something that she hoped to avoid at all costs. She
refused to let her emotions show, instead she attacked him from a new

"Tell me then Yosho, if not you," Her voice took on a dangerous softness
that caused the hair on the back of Yosho's neck to stand on end. " . . .
then who?"

Yosho looked at his mother calculatingly before answering.
"Tenchi of course."

"And if he refuses, or is found unworthy?" The Lady Funaho asked

"He is worthy Mother. I have trained Tenchi since his mother died. He
has accepted his heritage and will accept his place as heir to the throne."
The pride in his voice was evident.

Funaho hoped that Tenchi was all that her son promised and more.
It was going to take a miracle for her to be able to convince Azusa to
accept the boy in Yosho's stead.

"So all your hopes rest in this one boy —" She paused to sip her tea.
"That seems very unlike you son. It is a politically unsound strategy." She
eyed him over the rim of her tea cup. "I thought that I had taught you
better than that." Her frown caused Yosho discomfort.

This was an entirely new tactic for her, usually his father was the
one that questioned Yosho's every move. Her tactics were to lead you to
the conclusion that she felt best, and make it look as if it had been your
choice all along. To have her challenge him like this, when she had once
been his staunchest ally, was a cutting betrayal. The insult inflamed him,
but the flames only blazed in his eyes. When he responded, his voice was
neutral, and emotionless.

"Only a fool would place his hope so fully in one arena."

Funaho's eyebrow raised slightly. Yosho was indeed out of
practice if he was willing to give away so much, so soon. "So there is
another avenue that could be pursued if necessary?" Or perhaps he has
another agenda altogether?

Too late he realized that she had maneuvered him into giving away
information. He did his best to recover. "Perhaps, —" he said casually.
"If the need arose." But he knew that she would pump him for information,
and eventually get all that she desired.

Out of practice. **You've grown rusty son.** Funaho looked at
her son knowingly. She hoped that Yosho understood that she loved him.
But, when that love was balanced against the well being of the countless
citizens that made their home within the Empire, she couldn't let that love
blind her to what needed to be done.

"That is very reassuring. I would like to meet with this hidden trump of
yours." Her eyes stared at him intently, gaging every subtle move of his
body, watching his eyes for the slightest message.

Yosho's brow shot up in alarm.

**You're an open book Yosho.** She thought disappointedly. It was a
problem for another occasion though. Now was the time to press him for
more information. "Is there a problem with that Yosho?"

"No Mother." He hedged. How could he tell her that his trump card had
been missing for the last ten years? There was no use for it. He would
have to use drastic measures to find Nodoka's boy. "I will make the
necessary arrangements for as soon as possible."

"That will be splendid. Your father and I cannot wait to meet another of
our grandchildren." Yosho swallowed the rest of his warm tea in one gulp
and prayed that Ranma was every bit the man that Nodoka claimed him to


Ranma sneezed loudly as he and Akane walked home from school.
A dread chill ran down his spine that caused him to look around anxiously.
Seeing nothing amiss, he shrugged his shoulders and continued home.


Splitting Heirs

Chapter one: To find a Prince


All characters portrayed in this story are owned by their respective creators
and companies. All others belong to me.

Nodoka Saotome hadn't heard from her father in years; not since
Achika had passed away. The deep rift that had opened between them
began with her marriage to Genma, had grown steadily since then. She had
thought that they would never speak again, and resigned herself to living
her life with her wayward husband and son.

To receive a telephone call from him warmed her heart. Perhaps
the years had buried their differences, and he would once again be an active
part of her life. She had tried to keep him abreast of all that was going on
in her family's life through monthly letters, but it was not the same when he
never wrote back. She missed her father greatly.

Now he was coming to visit, and "make amends" for his long
absence. Now all she had to do was whip her husband into shape and
make Ranma presentable for his first real visit from his grandfather. She
wondered at the fact that he was bringing guests with him. "Old family" he
had said.

Perhaps they were cousins from mother's side, for she knew that
father had been an only child. A migraine began to slowly ebb behind her
eyes as she pondered all that she had to do before her father arrived next
week. She offered up a silent prayer to the Heavens to be merciful.


Ranma watched as his father desperately packed all of their meager
belongings. His mad dash about the room they shared in the Tendo home
made Ranma smirk, not a hard task considering the fact that his father was
currently an obese panda with wide bulging eyes.

Nodoka from her position next to her son could only shake her
head in disgust. It was on occasions such as these, that she really
wondered if all of her sacrifices had truly been worth it. She had left her
father and her sister's family, for a fat, cowardly husband.

One look at her son though, justified her every loss. He might not
have been as refined as she had hoped for, but there was no doubt in her
mind that Ranma was a man among men. In spite of his "affliction." No
thanks to his father. Nodoka glared at the back of her transformed husband
in exposed disappointment.

The panda in question whirled on his son abruptly, and began
scribbling on a large wooden sign. <Why aren't you helping me!>

"Because I ain't goin' with ya, you old fart!" Ranma smiled smugly. "I
ain't never met Grandpa, and I ain't gonna miss out on this chance because
you're too much of a coward to face him!" Nodoka smiled up at her son.

<Traitorous child! To think, that after all that we've been through together,
you would abandon your own father!> The panda began to weep and moan

"Shoulda done it a long time ago and saved myself some grief." Ranma

Nodoka smiled to herself as Genma began his crazed packing anew.
Despite the example of her husband, her son had learned the value of family
and family honor. It made her pride swell. Now if only she could do
something about his manners and speech before her father arrived, all
would be well.



Yosho turned to his mother after hanging up the receiver. "They
are expecting us within the week."

"You could not arrange for something sooner?" Funaho asked.

"No mother. My daughter deserves time to prepare herself for our arrival."
He turned away from her, looking out the window of his office. "We did
not part on good terms, and I have never revealed the truth of her heritage
to Nodoka."

"May I ask why?" Funaho asked in a miffed tone. To think that he was
ashamed of whom and what he was. It was enough to cause Yosho to
whirl on his mother angrily.

"What should I have said Mother! ‘No-chan, you and your sister are
actually half breed aliens that will be despised by my people, and feared by
your mother's.' Our lives were hard enough as it was, after their mother
died. I refused to burden them needlessly, by alienating them from their
peers." He turned away from her and let his voice drop. "This planet no
longer has ties to the Empire, Mother. They are not as enlightened as the
people of Jurai." The angry cynicism dripped heavily from his lips.

Funaho stared at him seemingly unruffled, but Yosho knew better.
She had never seen him like this, and he meant to capitalize on it. He
snapped his fingers dramatically causing her to jump.

"One slip and my family would have been hunted and caged, instead of
simply ostracized." His face melted and morphed back to the distinguished
face of his alter ego. Yosho's young eyes stared at his mother from the
wizened face of Katsuhito Masaki. "I gave them peace. Their ancestry
was a small price to pay for their happiness."

Funaho smiled at her son, despite the anger and regret that she felt.
It was a motherly gesture, devoid of queenly authority, that again took
Yosho by surprise. He had protected his daughters like a true father. That
one fact warmed the smile immensely.

"I thank you for that my son." She wiped a tear from her eye, and soon
found her son's arms around her. She looked up, his face was once again
young and regal. A handsome young man (by anyone's standards), that
made her proud. "You did for them, what I could never do for you." And
then the tears began to fall in earnest. The centuries of guilt poured from
her heart, and Yosho held her in the embrace of forgiveness.

He supported her for sometime, cursing his station and the people
that had shattered his happiness so long ago. He shook his head in shame.
He hoped that Tenchi and Ranma would forgive him for what he was doing
to them. He prayed that Nodoka would understand as well. The last thing
that he needed was another wedge between them.

Saotome Home, one week later.

For Nodoka, the week passed in one of those "Eternal Moments."
It took too long to assuage her impatience, and passed far too quickly to
accomplish all of her goals. She wanted everything perfect for this
meeting, and since Genma and Soun had left for their "training trip" there
was at least a small chance that all would go well.

Ranma had fought her coaching at first, but then seemed to catch
the importance of what was happening. It was enough to gain his full
attention and he caught onto the lessons quickly. She had asked Kasumi
and her sisters to help prepare the house for her father's arrival.

Thankfully they had accepted, for her father had called two days
before he was to arrive, saying that he was bringing a few "extra special
guests" with him, on top of those that he had already commented on. She
suspected that his companions would be her sister's husband and son, but
Father hadn't been forthcoming with any useful information. When she
pressed him about numbers, he simply laughed and said not to worry that
everything was taken care of.

That in and of itself worried her. What would her guests think of
their host if she was unprepared? The worry gradually faded in the flurry
of activity that followed his call over the next two days. She and Kasumi
set about preparing a feast fit for a king, and Ranma and Akane set about
preparing the guest rooms for occupation. Nabiki grumpily swept the
house, weeded the garden, and finished any odd jobs and running that
needed to be accomplished before their guests arrived.

The time passed by in the blink of an eye, and the Day of Arrival
was soon upon a very nervous Nodoka Saotome.


Akane smiled at Ranma. It was a rare and beautiful thing for the
young martial artist to experience, and for once he had decided to keep his
mouth shut and enjoy it for as long as he possibly could.

"This is so exciting Ranma!" Ranma nodded silently as he helped her
prepare the last room for Grandpa and his mysterious guests. "I never got
to know my grandparents before they died. I had a great-aunt that was
kind of like a grandma I suppose. But, it just wasn't the same as the real

"Yeah." He said lightly, folding a futon and storing it in the closet.

"‘Yeah'? That's all you can say?" She asked incredulously.

He looked at his fiancee quizzically. "What should I say?" He

Akane's posture shifted from excited, to extremely annoyed in the
blink of an eye. "Well, you could at least show some more enthusiasm!
You can be so insensitive sometimes!"

"Awww, what do you know!" Ranma said in confused annoyance. His
brain struggled for a witty come back, but drew a blank. His body made up
for the blunder by launching a pillow at Akane, followed quickly by an
intelligent: "Uncute tomboy!"

Akane caught the pillow, and threw it back rapidly with her own
rejoinder. "Baka!"

Ranma plucked the projectile from the air. "Flat chested, sexless,
girl wanna-be." The pillow flew across the room only to be caught again.

Akane was growing irked, and the pillow whizzed back at her
fiancee. "Thick-headed, muscle-brained, sex changing, pervert!" The
pillow was soon flying back and forth between the two in a complex game
of catch, amidst a verbal assault that would have destroyed lesser beings.
The barrage went on for a good ten minutes, escalating in volume and
fervor. The battle became so intense that neither of them noticed the door
open behind Akane.


Nodoka could hear her son, and soon to be daughter-in-law declare
war on each other. She sighed as she finished putting her hair up in its bun.
She knew it had been inevitable, but she had wished that they had chosen
to feud earlier in the week. To do so on the day that her guests were
coming was just asking for trouble. She smoothed out the fine green silk
kimono, that had been her mother's, and mentally prepared herself to
confront the bickering teens.

She left her room and quickly navigated the hall to the room that
the pair was supposedly preparing for the guests. The door made a poor
barrier to the sounds of the vocal skirmish that the couple had unleashed
against each other. Nodoka shook her head and wondered if the two
would ever set aside their differences long enough to settle down.

She reached out her hand and opened the door to enter the room.
She took one step into the room, before her eyes bulged and something
exploded in her face.


Ranma was having the time of his life. A bright, playful smile
spread across his face, and was mirrored intimately by his fiancee. The
insults flew with abandon, even as the pillow careened between them.
They had never had an encounter like this before, where they just played.
It was both liberating and fun.

The moment swallowed both combatants, helping them to throw
caution to the wind. Akane launched the pillow at her fiancee with the
force a wrecking ball, only to have it speedily returned to her. She knew
that she couldn't catch or deflect it, so she did the only thing that presented
itself. She dodged.

Just as the door behind her opened.

Ranma called out in horror as the pillow impacted and exploded in
his mother's face. She toppled with a squawk, as the eruption of white
downy feathers cascaded over her, coating both the kimono and her
meticulously styled hair in fluff.

Akane looked down at her mother-in-law to be, apoplectically.
Shock and embarrassment danced plainly on her face and in her body
language, as she rushed to help the woman to her feet. Ranma had turned
white and was tentatively edging his way back into the room. Nodoka
looked at the fear in her son's eyes, and the worried looking in Akane's
eyes and sighed.

"Are you all right Auntie?" Akane asked in a strained whisper. Ranma had
frozen the moment Akane had begun her inquiry, and looked for the world,
like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.

Nodoka began to reply when there came a knocking at the door.
She looked at Ranma sternly from her position on the floor. She crooked
her finger in a significant, no nonsense manner, motioning for the boy to
approach her. Despite the dread that he felt, the boy rushed to her side and
lifted her to her feet easily. He instantly began searching her head for

It did wonders for her hair, causing Nodoka to mentally curse her
luck. Two hours of tedious work, destroyed by a runaway pillow and an
over protective son.

Another knock floated up from the door, eliciting a growl from Nodoka.

Ranma quickly determined that she was fine, and then set about
repairing the damage that he had done to his mother's beautiful
appearance. His hands blurred for a moment, gathering the floating down.
When that was accomplished, he set about repairing her hair.

He thanked whatever gods that had exposed him to martial arts
hairstyling, without it Ranma knew that his life would have been in serious
jeopardy. Akane watched her fiancee, pole-axed. He never ceased to
amaze her. Every time she thought she had seen it all, he would go and do
something new.

Nodoka quickly scanned herself as best she could, and then shot
Ranma and Akane meaningful looks that promised retribution later on.
Both teens smiled sheepishly back at her. Below, the knock repeated itself.
When she was settled nicely, she made her way down the stairs to answer
the door. Akane smacked Ranma on the back of his head and then quickly
returned to the room to clean up the mess. Ranma grumbled darkly before
pitching in.



Kasumi broke from preparing the tea tray to answer the door.
Auntie would have answered it by now if she had been able, but more than
likely she was still getting herself ready. As she opened the door her bright
smile took in a nervous, elderly gentleman in a very nice brown suit,
followed by two beautiful women in stunning kimonos. Behind them stood
a handsome, bearded man in a set of flowing robes. His regal face was
stern and commanding, which caused Kasumi to want to kneel before him.

She brightened her smile more, radiating peace and welcome in a
way that was purely Kasumi. It caused the gruff looking man to smile
awkwardly, and the nervous gentleman to calm a bit. Both women
exchanged glances and smiled happily back at Kasumi.

"Good afternoon." She greeted warmly. She bowed deeply, without
knowing exactly why. She could only accept the fact that it felt right. The
group before her reciprocated the gesture (some more respectfully than
others). Funaho and Misaki elbowed Azusa sharply in his ribs, earning a
barbed glance for their trouble.

"Good afternoon young lady." The elderly gentleman responded politely.
"My name is Katsuhito Masaki. I'm looking for the Saotome residence.
Could you please direct me to it?"

Kasumi began to respond, when felt a familiar presence behind her
and stepped aside demurely. Katsuhito gasped as he saw his eldest
daughter enter his vision. Tears of deep loss and love filled his eyes at the
sight of Nodoka.

She resembled Katsuhito's late wife in almost every detail, from the
way she had fixed her hair to the noble presence that she commanded. In
his eyes, she was every bit the princess her ancestry claimed her to be.

With a grace that would have done both queens proud, Nodoka
bowed to her Father and then to her father's guests. "Be welcome in my
home." It was said with such love and tenderness, that Misaki and Funaho
immediately fought the urge to reach out and hug their granddaughter.

Well, it was more like Funaho and Azusa restraining Misaki. Both
queens fell in love with their grand-daughter instantly. Azusa looked
extremely uncomfortable and highly bored despite the fact that his second
wife was dragging him into the house.

Katsuhito fought for control of his emotions as his daughter
returned her attention back to him. The message was meant for his ears
only. All was forgiven, and would be buried with the rest of the past, if he
so chose. "Be a part of my life again." She silently asked. And he could no
longer hide himself away from her; he could not deny her any longer. With
a tender smile, he reached out and gathered his baby girl into his arms. A
deep sigh washed out of her.

"Welcome home Daddy." She whispered into his ear. Misaki was bawling,
clutching at a teary-eyed Funaho. Kasumi's bright smile radiated love on a
solar scale. Azusa shifted from foot to foot, agitated. All this mushy stuff
was putting him on edge.

Katsuhito sensed this and broke the embrace gently, but refusing to
let go of her hand. Nodoka pulled him into the house followed by the
other guests. All was right with the world.

Somewhere in the distance, thunder rolled through a clear sky.


Tenchi had gathered the girls together for a serious talk. One that
Ryoko just knew was going to cramp her style. She yawned as everyone
took their seats and looked up at Tenchi expectantly. All except Washuu
of course. The most brilliant scientific mind in the universe didn't seem to
need a lecture on social behavior. Ryoko's face twisted in disgust.

Why did they even have to go visit this cousin of Tenchi's? He was
just another one of Yosho's brood, and more than likely as uptight as
Aeka. She smirked at the thought. She could have had a field day with
this Ranma, but she knew what Tenchi was going to say; and it was going
to be a major wet towel on Ryoko's fun.

"Okay guys. While we're at my cousin's, could we please just control
ourselves?" Everyone looked at Ryoko, and in Aeka's case the look
became a glare.

The Space Pirate puffed up insulted. "What!" Tenchi smiled at her
in a way that made her knees go weak. Her head bobbed numbly.

"I've never met Ranma, so I want to make a good impression." Tenchi
looked a bit nervous, but excited at the same time.

"You can count on us Tenchi!" Sasami and Mihoshi cheered. Ryo-oh-oki
"meowed" and the rivals nodded their solemn agreement.

A dubious look formed on Tenchi's face, but the emotion was short
lived as Washuu exited her lab. A small object rested in her hand that
reminded Tenchi of a cross between a calculator and a portable cd player.

"Are we all ready?" Washuu-chan cried out enthusiastically.

"YES!" They all cheered (and meowed).

"Then gather around me and hold onto whatever's not nailed down!"
Techi's face paled dramatically. The reaction did not go unnoticed by
Washuu. "Come on Tenchi! Have a little faith! After all, I am, the
greatest scientific genius in the Universe!"

Tenchi's face went from a light grey-green color, to a pasty shade
of grey. An audible gulp could be heard coming from his throat by all.
Washuu smirked and re-calibrated her teleporter a bit. With a mad laugh
she hit a green button, opening a large, black hole beneath everyone.

A feeling of weightlessness gripped everyone, followed by a great
sucking of air below them. Everyone screamed loudly, with the exception
of Washuu, who was laughing so hard her ribs hurt.


Ranma felt like a bug in a jar. Everyone was just staring at him.
Grandpa and the other man, Azusa, were weighing him pound for pound
like some kind of horse or something. The dark-haired woman that
reminded Ranma of his mother seemed to distill him with her eyes alone.
Every move he made was being catalogued for future reference and study.
To what end, he had no idea. But, he could tell that Funaho was a woman
of high expectations, and for some reason he did not want to disappoint

The blue-haired woman, Misaki, reminded Ranma of that Shiatori
chick. He just knew that she was going to sweep him up at any moment
into a hug and name him Pierre or Jean-Paul, or something. Out of the
entire lot, she scared him the most. Well, not scared, exactly. More like,
put him on edge. Yeah, that was it.

The attention that he was receiving from his mother and the Tendo
sisters ranged from barely restrained pride to open amusement. Akane was
smiling, and had this really goofy look in her eyes that gave the young
martial artist the willies. It was with great relief that Kasumi began serving
the tea with Nodoka's consent. Ranma was out from beneath the
microscope for the moment, and he quietly heaved a grateful sigh.

Grandpa looked at him with a twinkle in his eye that drove
whatever comfort that Ranma felt to the four winds. It was the same look
that Genma had right before he initiated some hell bent, life threatening,
training regime. The glance didn't last long, as the old man directed his
attention back to his daughter, who was helping Kasumi to pour for the
women next to her.

Katsuhito allowed the silence to blanket the room for a short time,
reveling in the peace that he knew was about to be driven from the room.
He felt his father's weighty gaze at his back, and heard Funaho clear her
throat meaningfully. He took one last sip of the wonderful tea, before
setting the cup down on the table.

For a week he had agonized over how to approach his daughter and
grandson. He had hoped that he could do it on his own terms, and in a
delicate manner. But that option was taken from him by his parents. They
had said that if he didn't have the courage to tell them the truth, then they
would. Poor Nodoka and Ranma wouldn't stand a chance against the
combined might of the royal family. Their old lives would be swept under
the carpet and they would be taken back to Jurai in the blink of an eye.

He silently cursed Azusa for his rejection of Tenchi. The boy was
relieved, and a little disappointed; not to mention how Aeka had reacted.
She had forced "Daddy" to reserve his judgement of Tenchi until after they
had met Ranma. Misaki and Funaho agreed, and Azusa caved in beneath a
three pronged assault.

The pompous, old, stuffed shirt didn't like the boy because of the
love his baby girls showered on the boy. He never could share with
anyone, or so one of the Emperor's brothers had said. And so, now the
burden fell to Ranma to impress the egomaniac. He looked deep into
Nodoka's eyes and tried to convey all of the remorse that he felt. Her
beautiful hands clasped his calloused ones lovingly, breaking his heart.

The illusion that he wore, would soon fall away and he would see
his betrayal mirrored in her lovely eyes. He wished that a mountain would
drop on him.

Misaki laid her long fingered hand on his shoulder, and favored her
sister's son with a warm, encouraging smile. He nodded and turned his full
attention back to his daughter. "No-chan, there is something that we must
discuss." He looked up at the Tendo sisters meaningfully before
continuing. "It is a family matter."

Kasumi smiled sweetly and stood from where she knelt near
Nodoka and gestured for her sisters to follow her as she made her way to
the kitchen. Nabiki tried unsuccessfully to bury her curiosity, and left the
room with the intent of eavesdropping at the first opportunity. Misaki
smirked knowingly and tapped one of her bracelets, before returning her
attention to the conversation. Nabiki was in for a rude surprise to be sure.

Akane looked at Ranma worriedly. Whenever someone said
"family matter" it normally involved a new engagement for Ranma. She
saw Ranma look to his mother, and so shifted her gaze to Nodoka.

"Father, Akane is Ranma's fiancee." This caused a few eyebrows to shoot
up, accompanied by a large grin from Katsuhito. "Since she is soon to be
family, may she remain?"

Funaho again cleared her throat, drawing the attention of those in
the room. Her serious eyes bore into Akane's soul, chilling her. "On your
honor Akane-chan, you must promise not to reveal what you are about to
learn — at least until permission is given." The look intensified causing
Akane to swallow audibly. ". . . to anyone. The consequences for
wagging tongues are . . . unpleasant." Funaho allowed Akane to fill in her
own blanks. The power of the imagination was a more effective deterrent
than any real threat.

Akane gulped again and stared wide eyed at Funaho. Her brain
already busy at work creating tortures for her wagging tongue. Misaki
stifled a giggle. Ranma didn't like the open-ended threat one bit. Funaho,
satisfied that she had Akane eating from the palm of her hand, signaled for
her son to continue. Katsuhito shook his head again, and returned to his

"No-chan, it is passed time that you and your son learn the truth of your
ancestry." His voice was calm, but his heart raced nervously. He and his
daughter had been apart for so long, that he had no idea how she would
take this news.

Nodoka, for her part, looked calm and unflappable. Ranma's face
wore an anxious look of certain dread. The boy could tell a bomb was
going to be dropped. The grandfather watched his grandson intently, and
easily read the "Why me?" that passed Ranma's lips. The response piqued
Kastuhito's interest, but circumstance prevented him from pursuing his

Nodoka waited for her father to continue, before prodding him to
continue. "What truth is that Father?" The look that he gave her was
apologetic, and her heart raced. What was he going to say? Her mind ran
through the possibilities, each more far fetched and distressing than the last.
She did her best to contain the worry, but she knew by the concern on
Ranma's face that something had leaked out.

Ranma reached out his hand to comfort his mother. Despite his
own worries, he tried to give her his support. She squeezed his hand
reassuringly. To his surprise he felt Akane wrap her hand around his in the
exact same gesture. Katsuhito smiled at the combined front that he was
facing. A strong family could weather any storm.

"Perhaps it is best if I show you."

Nodoka looked from her father to the people behind him, and then
at Ranma and Akane. When she turned her gaze back to her father, her
breath caught in her throat. A mark, consisting of two distinct slashes that angled toward the bridge of his nose, lit up with a light of its own. He stood straight and tall, and a set tiger stripes slashed upward from his refined jaw. His clothes changed from the handsome brown suit that he wore, to a set of white and blue robes that seemed to flutter in a non-existent wind.

The moment Grandpa's face began to change, Ranma was moving.
The change had taken but an instant, shocking both Akane and Nodoka.
Ranma pulled them to their feet and lashed out with a kick to the table that
sent it flying into the royal family. Their startled yells drew the attention of
their Guardians, and two giant, floating logs with weird Kanji materialized
in the middle of the room. This seemed to be enough to snap Akane out of
her stupor.

Ranma and Akane's ki flared, mingling in a beautiful dance of blue
and gold. The floating logs began to move forward, intent on neutralizing
the threat to their masters. But Ranma wasn't about to let whoever or
whatever it was get away with impersonating his grandpa like that and
began to move forward himself. He motioned for Akane to get his mother
free of the room, and she nodded.

The tension in the room elevated greatly, as the "guests" extracted
themselves angrily from beneath the table. Misaki shook tea from her blue
hair, and glowered at the young man. She was impressed at what she saw
before her, the boy had a great deal of potential to be sure, but right now
she wanted to spank him. Hard. Funaho calmly brushed some crumbs
from her kimono, the only sign of her distress was the stiffness in her
posture. Azusa tried to restrain himself from throttling the boy as he wiped
the chocolate cake from his face and beard.

Yosho had a beaming smile across his face at Ranma's
demonstration. He hadn't even sensed the boy move, and by the look of
his ki, the crown prince knew that he was dealing with a master of the Art.
He wanted to test the boy, but now was not the time. Best to calm the
fires that he knew, before he tried to control the raging inferno that was

"Azaka! Kamidake! Stand down." Both Guardians stopped and Asaka
turned to his master.

"But Yosho-sama —" Yosho gave him no chance to finish.

"I SAID STAND DOWN!" The command in his voice cut through the
room like a wet blanket. Akane's ki guttered involuntarily and she sat
down on the floor with a loud thump. Nodoka flinched and her body
followed Akane's by some long buried reflex.

Misaki and Funaho looked up at their shared son and their jaws
dropped at the man's powerful display. He could run from what he was,
but they knew that he could never truly escape. Azusa radiated a father's
pride, now more determined than ever to put his son's behind firmly on the
throne. Regardless of whether he wanted it or not. Fathers knew best at
any rate.

The only one untouched by Yosho's display was Ranma. He stood
loose and ready to move, his ki flaring brighter than before. Yosho looked
into the boy's eyes and saw a fire that was eternal. Nothing could douse
the flames that danced in Ranma's soul, he wagered not even death.

Nodoka had named him well.

"Wild Horse" fit the boy perfectly, and he knew in that moment that
Azusa would have a more difficult time bending Ranma to his will than he
would Tenchi. He had to diffuse the boy's apprehension before he got
himself hurt. If he fought, he would give a good account of himself, but he
would still fall.

"Ranma." Yosho held out his hands in a gesture of peace. "I mean
your family no harm." He bowed low to Ranma, yielding himself to the
boy. "Please forgive my carelessness in handling this matter." Ranma
lowered his ki, slightly, but remained in his loose ready stance. Trust was
never easily gained, and Yosho knew that he would have to work in order
to prove that he was worthy of Ranma's. He nodded once in Ranma's
direction before looking down at his daughter. Nodoka's eyes were wide,
but not fearful. "Forgive me No-chan, I didn't know how else to tell you."

Nodoka looked up at the marked face that had been her gentle
father's just a moment ago. She studied it intently, seeing a cold iron
buried there that she had only witnessed once. The day she had told him
that she was marrying Genma.

Her gaze passed over each feature, but finally rested on the man's
eyes. Something undefinable reached out through those handsome eyes and
touched Nodoka.

"Daddy?" She reached out cautiously. Ranma started forward but
checked himself at the last minute. Yosho took his daughter's hand and
held it gently as he knelt down next to her.

"Yes, Snow Pea." If there had been any doubt in Nodoka, it was driven
away. No one had known his secret name for her. She threw herself from
the floor and into his arms. Ranma waited a moment, before relaxing his
stance, but his eyes roamed the room watching and waiting.

Akane was stunned, Misaki and Funaho looked pleased, and Azusa
reminded Ranma of a lion ready to pounce. The way that he was eyeing
Ranma every now and then, sent a chill down Ranma's spine.

It was then that the air opened up above Ranma's head and a mass
of flailing appendages engulfed the martial artist. All was silent for a
moment, and then voices raised in surprise and anger began sounding off.
The tirade went on for sometime, accompanied by some squirming and of
all things giggling. Soon the noise died down as the group realized where
they were. Silence fell again as everyone smiled up at the staring group of
people around them. A cute meow came from somewhere deep within the
pile, followed immediately by a guttural scream of primal terror.

End Part One