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Life's lessons: The sins of a mother

By HibikiRed

Fantasy / Drama

Chapter 1

As usual, the characters depicted in this story belong to Rumiko Takahashi, and I do not claim anything but the crazy situations I love to get them into.

As a side introduction to the theme of the story, I would like to express my sentiments towards women all over the world. They are what keeps this planet moving and yet, I feel so sorry for the way most men treat them throughout their lives.

I have relatives who have passed for situations like the ones I'm about to describe along these chapters which, together with the research it took me to understand our female counterpart, have helped me appreciate their struggle.

Now, on with the story.!

Life lessons: The sins of a mother Chapter 1

In the deepest, most secretive areas of the human mind, two beings meet each other for the first time in their respective existences. The first, a curious mind in search of discovery. . .Its name is simple, yet powerful. . .The reader. On the other side of this strange room, the second being sees him with curiosity, nodding in acknowledgement towards this reader, and proudly showing a name tag set on the right side of his chest. . .The writer.

Both, the reader and the writer, present themselves amicably as they wonder the reason why they were brought into this chamber without their previous consent. In the distance, a chair is visibly seen, and in it, an old woman holding a book on her hands. The pair of human beings walk towards the woman who they cannot recognize until her name written on a tag become clear as they walk closer. . .

. .I would like to start this tale like any other story about romanticism and heroics with respect to the legendary pair known as Ranma Saotome and Ryoga Hibiki, but the truth not only becomes stranger than fiction during this tale, but it teach us that a happy ending doesn't always mean "happily ever after."

In a far away land, where Sakura trees and Kimonos don't exist, a woman paces from side to side anguished about the eternal choice torturing her soul. Ayame Hibiki laments her ill conceived decision to have chosen her life long companion as the closest loving partner when their disorientation sickness began.

There are fears in the minds of young couples when they face a terrible rite of passage. Pregnancy is the most beautiful part humanity has to offer, and yet, it gives those who are involved in such miracle to question their love loyalties.

Ayame Hibiki fell in love with her husband a few years ago, and despite the happiness they had on the road, the young woman always questioned what could be more important than loving her life partner. Some would tell her "The love of a husband and the one from a son are totally different", while others would warn her with another sad truth.

"Ayame. . .Marriage is the most important matter for you. Love your children, but love your husband even more, otherwise your marriage is set to fall apart." Said her mother before the girl would get cursed with Kenta's disorientation illness.

The thought kept stuck in her mind ever since, realizing she wanted to stay with "him" above anything else, and after their union gave a handsome baby boy for them to care, the woman swallowed nervously and looked away.

She promised to love him just like a mother would love her son, but a tiny link which many people can't understand began to attach more to her husband, leaving certain magnetic connection severed with her child. After a few years and when that illness passed onto the little child, a lack of connection took the couple away from the boy.

"Oh Kenta!. . .Where could he be?. . .I miss him so much and all I have from my son is his sad face asking where was I going. . ." Asked with painful eyes Ryoga's mother to a disgruntled husband. "I'm sorry Ayame-chan. . .I'm sorry this turned out to be our downfall for our only child's sake, but cheer up. . .I've heard many good things of him and I'm sure we'll meet him as a young and handsome man one of these days."

Ayame's sin? One that only a mother could reproach with certain justification. There was a moment in their lives when the Hibiki family began to be affected by a lack of orientation wherever they went. The ill fated choice?. . .Her decision to love her husband out of fear to lose her family, weakening the link she had with her only son.

Ayame Hibiki damned the day she chose him instead of Ryoga, but when such connection is established it cannot be severed, thus, the tiny Hibiki child became the famous lost boy. "I hope you're right Kenta. . .I really do. . ."

As the days passed, the Hibiki couple roamed the earth with the hope to find him, but life seemed to have another plan prepared for this family. . .A plan she alone concocted out of the wrong choices they did, or were about to do.

The view from the open book suddenly changed, leaving the lamenting Hibiki family aside and focusing on the lost member trying to understand what had gone wrong in his life. The old woman smiled at the reader and the writer, raising a brow and silently asking them what could possibly happen next.

This morning like any other proved to be a hard day for a boy barely in his seventeen's trying to search for the meaning of life. It wasn't an experienced fighter looking for power by any means or an ambitious go-getter ready to take on the world like many other tales make them out to be.

Instead, this boy had become riddled with several uncommon ailments clouding his desire to be normal. For starters, that other boy mentioned in this story "accidentally" threw him into a magic pool, turning the already confused human being into a tiny piglet.

Now, there are girls who find his alternate form a delight, using him like a pet or a cute friend, so is not entirely bad luck, but when this boy traverse the confines of the land such curse makes a dreadful situation into pure hell. In the middle of his anguish, Ryoga Hibiki had only one thing to say.

"Damn it all!" Screamed the fanged teen to no one in particular, scaring the narrator from his focused mind telling the story and probably a reader or two who came in search of a happy story. With damp clothes, muddy shoes and a pack on his back, the teenager walked almost naked in the middle of the forest courtesy of such unavoidable transformation. With no other choice in his already rough life, he had been roaming forcibly at the same time he's curse was activated either from the dew of the morning or a puddle on his path, but thanks to his other problem, a lack in his sense of direction, his miserable impotence to see light brought him to a new low.

A wrong turn here, a tiny rock tripping his steps there and a river down his path transformed the delirious madness his life had become into a worst nightmare by the hands of predators finding that tiny piglet getting out of the current scrumptious and ready for dinner. He ran and escaped, but going back for his things proved to be another terrible challenge for an animal with a disoriented human mind.

"I swear. . .I will kill that bastard as soon as I find Nerima. . ." Bweed irritated the tiny black pork, but all people have their own problems in life whether you want to accept it or not. Call it daily living, work or family, we all need to defeat our troubles and move on. Ryoga Hibiki was tired of it all in his young age and here is were the big lesson life has for this boy begins.

The fanged teen finally found a dry place where to rest his weary self, setting up camp and hanging his smelly clothes to dry. Thankfully no one was around but a few animals here and there plus all the trees he could see so, using the hidden thermos and changing back wasn't really a chore. He proceeded by Starting a fire with whatever he had lying around and that was a nice trick he was forced to learn on the go.

The second great talent the boy had made him the perfect traveler, and again. . .It was forced to be learned by his constant journeys across the land. The strong boy had wood enough to last him a few days and hopefully, his senses would leave him in peace before he could get lost once again.

Now, this second talent he learned on the go was something not many survivalists have or they do after years on the field. With some careful search around his surroundings, Ryoga managed to find delicious mushrooms and wild vegetables he was able to turn into a nice and quick edible dinner.

How, would you ask about the way he learn such dangerous skill many Nihon people end up in hospital or even die. Well, let's just say the only "real" girl he made friends with swore to feed him during a training session in the wilderness.

Akane Tendo decided to follow him instead of her fiance into the forest and help the poor lost boy to learn a forbidden Amazon technique. The journey wasn't the point in this story, but her ill tempered decision to cook when she had no idea how.

Of course the boy who admire and maybe even loved her ate every single bite without choking or spewing anything out. Call it love or call it madness, but Ryoga Hibiki is a loyal friend and showing Akane her mistakes when cooking was something he would never do.

Thus, the boy ate everything. Became ill at first but didn't die when that same poisonous food made his stomach into pure iron. When the poor lost boy found himself hungry for real food, the need to "experiment" with wild mushrooms and herbs gave him the edge to find and catalogue the best from the deadly.

His recipe was simple enough, even better when he had several pounds of already mixed flour well packaged in his pack as a precaution. The teen learned from that training memory intricate techniques where his endurance and strength were of the most value and thanks to those abilities, cooking became no problem for the teen.

Now, why do I mention strength and endurance for cooking?. . .Well. Few of the most delicious and tastiest of foods in Japan come from hard dedication and perseverance to reach a specific point. Take Ramen for example. . .In America ramen is nothing more than a cup filled with lots of sodium, artificial flavoring and texture.

But for those experienced Japanese cooks who know how to knead and treat certain combination of flour and water, ramen would turn into the most tender and amazing string of dough ever created. Ryoga learned this when those who worked the materials always ended up with painful backs and aching joints from its painstaking preparation. Fortunately his training surpassed that limit, turning him into the perfect ramen kneader.

Ryoga took his ingredients, creating a small ball of dough and before a regular cook could do it, the teen kneaded the raw ball into the thinnest, more delicate strings of ramen only pure strength and careful handling were able to create. . .Like I said before, the pot came on top of the fire and a few minutes later, the teen had a steaming bowl of real ramen made from scratch and with nutritive mushrooms in it.

It was cheap taking into account that the flour was already prepared and ready to work on, but the boy learned to live off the land in more ways than just cooking. The rest of the rarest finds like white truffles or matsutake mushrooms were carefully packed deeper into the backpack and later sold to the local medical clinics or general stores for outrageous amounts of yen.

Oh yeah. Ryoga Hibiki was never one affected by money or food on the road, even when his provision made of cheap ramen bought on a store would run out. Anyway, all this crazy description about his skills are meant to teach part of his life's lesson. He grew increasingly angry at his existence, like he called it, unaware "she" had a power of her own and something was bound to break from his constant complaints.

"I can't take it anymore!" Kept screaming the boy, slowly burning his mind into the few tests his eternal journey forced him on the road. "I swear. . .If I die now, I'll be the happiest man alive. Throw me hungry bears or crazed men willing to shred me to pieces, but why do I have to get lost, specially when I turn into a damn pig!"

The day slowly died down, leaving behind a scared flock of birds flying away from the capricious teen's roars. Everything went wrong in his life, hell, he didn't even believed his life could be called that way. . .Again, as I mentioned before. At the end of the day, his negative feelings and depression took all his will to exist, leaving behind a husk of a man mindlessly walking into the tent and leaving no desire to ponder anymore, finding himself unable to sleep, empty and with tears flowing irremediably down his cheeks.

Dreams were more like escapades his tortured mind had with the only excuse to leave his host rest. But even deep inside, Ryoga wondered about the tiny gifts life always gave freely to the rest of the people, gifts he so endearingly wanted but did not received. "Why I can't find my parents. . .Why I can't get home when I want to, and more importantly, why haven't I seen my little sister Yoiko?"

Questions kept engulfing into his brain, forcing his mind to return back to reality and when it did so, the last question became the waking alarm he despised the most. "Wait a second. . .I don't have a sister!" With all his lungs a powerful howling cry scared the rest of the fauna away from the camp. "Ranma Saotome. . .I wish you were dead!"

It's so easy for that boy to eat whenever he wants, sleep in a cozy mat where people actually care for his well being. There are no predators ready in the morning save for maybe his father who love to throw him into the pond or so Akane told the boy.

Besides, a bit of harsh training never affected anyone. . .In fact, that was the reason Ryoga believed the pigtailed boy always won their fights over the years. What kind of training can the fanged teen have if half his life is trying to find his way back and the other doing his best not to vanish from civilization.

He was a master of his style because not matter how you see it, a father figure means a lot on a child's development, and Ranma has one. He may be lazy and annoying at times, but the Saotome heir didn't get this far by himself. Ryoga knew this because teachers granted him the chance to learn techniques, but if he were to be alone, Ryoga would have surpassed him a long time ago.

The next morning was about the same. Ryoga would pack everything, carefully threading across the land until the river looked favorable enough to give him some peace. The boy set on his gloves all the way to his elbows and began to wash the stench of wet and dirty mud from the clothes.

Finally, a soap carefully attached to his belly let the teen jump into a calm corner of the river and lather his tiny furry pelt, rubbing the now bigger piece of solid detergent around. The thermos was ready at the side of the edge, and when P-Chan found himself clean enough, the tiny piglet would come out of the river, transforming back and resting a bit longer before going back to civilization.

Soothing waves of wind brought peacefully melodies of calming emotions once he settled on his tiny makeshift camp. There were no one around and since most animals fled in fear by his maddening howls, the teen had that peace of heaven to himself.

"You know. . .Complaints like yours aren't very nice for life. She is very patient but sometimes Karma comes and teach us a lesson we don't want to accept. You should apologize out loud and tell the world you can change."

When Ryoga twisted his head, he noticed a blue bird talking to him. He didn't know how was that possible nor even cared when everything was bad luck in his path. "And why should I listen to you!?. . .I have an idiot for a rival who loves to cheat on Akane-san with other girls. . .And she still loves him!" Declared rather sarcastically the boy.

"He has a family who loves him despite his lazy attitude and drive to just mess around the house. He has a curse he considers wrong and yet, the idiot uses it to trick me and others like if he was a real girl. . .Do you know how embarrassing and humiliating is to be reminded about a man behind a pretty girl saying she is my love!?"

The teen couldn't contain himself any more, telling the bird all the unfair things that boy did to him, from the incident on the magic pool to messing with his manhood in front of friends. "I swear, I hate him so much I'd prefer to die this instant than to see him ever again, but what I hate the most it's me!. . .Why do I fall in his trap every time. . .And most importantly, why do I keep returning there of all places!"

His painful rants sounded like he was justified to claim a better deal from life, but the bird shook his beak, reminding the boy how we learn and move on. "This is a last warning Ryoga Hibiki. . .Stop complaining about what you have or she will make you regret those words."

When the boy snapped from the dream induced nap, he turned everywhere noting no one was there with exception of the blue bird cawing on a tree. With all his anger the boy stood up, showing a closed fist into the air and demanding his fair share of good luck.

"I am not retracting you hear!. . .Go and tell everyone you know I got a bad life and I want a better one!" The bird flew scared by the nonsensical babbling noises the human made, moving hurriedly away and hoping not to see him ever again.

"Good. . .Run away you damn bird. . ." Ryoga shrugged his shoulders admitting it was all a dream, but after he walked backwards while still looking at the bird in the distance, the teen stepped on the soap, falling into the river and almost drowning by the hit. When he opened his eyes, a grumbling P-Chan saw his hanging clothes and backpack waving goodbye from that shore far from where the stream was taking him.

There he go again, tumbling like a pinball from rock to rock, hoping a branch or the current could take him to the edge but for some mysterious reason the force of the water kept him pinned right in the middle of the river until it drop him on a tiny lake several miles away from his camp.

P-Chan shook his head dazed by the rush of blood coming back to his head, but when he saw everywhere, there was no place to hide, leaving the tiny piglet at the mercy of wild wolves and other beasts ready to eat him.

Now as a pig Ryoga was strong enough, but what can you do when a pack of ferocious wild dogs chase you with no hope to fight them off all of them at once. He propped on top of a tree as best as his tiny hooves let him, but the day was just beginning and his predatory friends seemed really hungry for a snack. Bushes in the distance proved a sure bet to escape, and sure they did when it was easier for a tiny animal to scurry through thorns and holes underground than bigger animals.

After a while Ryoga peeked from within the tall plants, hoping to have tricked the wolves away, and he did so. . .Too bad the giant snake at his side was a worse opponent for a rodent size foe like himself. There he went again, running and evading its poisonous fangs until the snake feared several men shouting ahead when the small sized lunch managed to jump into the nearest bushes to civilization.

A growl among those same bushes made most villagers nervous, but as soon as the tiny pork showed his cute face, women awed by its cuddling looks while men would shout strange words a normal Japanese would never understand, but he was able to. . ."Food". . .!"

And sadly but true. . .There he went once again, avoiding spears, arrows and an endless amount of hunters swinging their sharp blades near his neck. At the end of the day the predators chose some other animal, leaving behind a fast moving piglet capable to scurry away from the group, but falling on the hands of merciless predators they feared even more.

It took pretty much all day for the tiny animal to evade capture, other beasts and finally arriving dead tired close to his backpack. With no time to make a tent or pack everything hastily, Ryoga found himself safe for now and doing nothing more but to rest from the ordeal, watching how the thermos was already cold with the only way for him to revert back into his manly form.

Tired, angry and careless, a tiny porcine decided to forget life. He pulled from the branches his clean clothes, setting himself with the rundown attire into the pack and hoping no other beast would bother his much needed sleep. It was cold, but it was his home or at least a place he knew very well by now.

When morning came a second time, a tiny gas stove clearly marked with tiny indentations was his last chance to heat the thermos directly. A good trick indeed, but one that had been repeated every time Ryoga found himself in the same predicament.

A moment later he was back in human form, full dressed and walking slowly away from the river afraid to fall again by some mystical trap set to make his life more miserable. An hour later, no birds or villagers remembered a strange teen roaming the wilderness when the fanged boy took a false step and suddenly was lost in the middle of the cold winter and with snow reaching knee high levels everywhere his eyes scanned.

"W-W-W-Why. . .D-D-Does this happen to me. . ." His clenching teeth rattled the top side against the bottom one when his still damp body fought to stay warm and avoid hypothermia. "R-R-R-Right now R-Ranma m-must be d-drinking h-hot cho-cho-chocolate or in the b-b-beach p-playing a g-girl h-hard to get."

He recalled the nap by the river, chuckling angry by his bad luck following him everywhere and with no desire to give him a chance, he opted to shut up and keep walking. Suddenly he got it. The boy searched everywhere with no luck in finding a populated area. This was his good luck finally knocking on the door and he didn't deny the chance to accept such a wonderful treat.

Ryoga dropped his pack, took off his damped shirt and dropped on the snow, accepting fate as the only friend in his so called life and admit defeat where there was no one who could judge him for doing so. "N-No one c-can't b-b-blame me f-for dying h-here. . .N-No one will e-ever know about it anyway. . ."

It was brilliant really, who could blame the kid for letting himself die in the middle of a snow storm when he wasn't the one traveling into it, but by being a victim of his senses, fate itself would only let people know bad luck finally caught up to him.

"Yes!. . .Time to die and move on to whatever I am destined to be. . ." His eyes became hard to keep open, so he opted to close them and wait for the inevitable. Well, it didn't happened either. An hour later the boy opened them again, staring at a cozy fire warming his frozen self back to regular temperatures.

"Merv!. . .The kid is up. . .Time to pay the bill!" When he turned around, a man had his open palm receiving several bills and coins he concluded were from some type of bet. The man loosing the wager looked at the teen with contempt, growling madly and walking away from the rustic wooden house.

"I can't believe my luck. I find a boy almost ice solid and still chattering from his teeth, I bring him here with the idea to buy all my provisions free of charge by making a sure bet and what do I get?. . .A stupid kid surviving the impossible for who knows how long buried in the snow."

"Damn brat. . .You should've died when you had the chance. . ." Chewed the man as he walked out the door. The other man cared even less for him, simply complaining carelessly and pointing towards the same exit. "Those are your things boy. . .Take them and get the hell out. I have no money, or free food for the likes of you!" The older and grumpy hermit spat to the side and drank some more before hurrying Ryoga away. There he was again, walking with no direction or goal in his miserable life, and yet death wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole.

"Guess I die 'til I drop. . ." He sighed tired by his constant tribulations with no apparent way to escape them. In the end, the teen moved on with his ailments very much making his life a living hell until a better idea would come knocking. "Maybe should I kill myself directly?. . .A bullet perhaps, or a sword like old times. . .Nah."

It finally made some sense dying freely like that was more of a cowardice manner a simple man would use instead of the young fighter he had become over the years. "Fine then. . .Life!. . .I'm right here and I'm not afraid of you. Throw me what you want and get this over with."

No one answered. . .Then again no one was around but the howling sound of the wind carrying a snow storm through the land. "There. . .My pledge is on and it's your turn to act." The teen growled annoyingly, but kept moving on with one idea in his mind.

No death would come by his own hands, but only by life which he considered non-exiting and thus leaving him stuck 'til the end of time. . .Too bad that's not always the case. A step ahead and ice cold temperatures met hot roasting winds when the boy moved from snow covered fields and into an active volcano.

A chuckle escaped his lips, amazed at how close he was from dying by falling directly into the pit, but just not there yet. Ryoga walked around trying to find a path leading him away from such terrible smell of sulfur and the tremendous heat burning his mind.

As he made his way far from the place, a tiny village ran by the lava's path forcing the teen to uphold his first and strongest of oaths. . .To protect and preserve innocent lives. Old and young saw the unfortunate mass of molten rocks gaining speed towards the only livelihood they had amassed over years of struggle in the land.

One odd thought crossed Ryoga's mind as he made his way down the village. "Is this it?. . .Are you trying to show me others have problems like me?. Well, I don't think so life. . .I get one bad thing after the next while idiots like Ranma get all the nice things he doesn't deserve. Where is Karma in all this!?"

But there was no time to ponder about philosophical nonsense now. Innocent people needed him and no matter how miserable he was, protecting the weak and innocent was the first and only priority the boy upheld high. Ryoga snarled at the speed of the molten lava consuming everything with ferocious hunger and despite how close he was from it, being burned meant nothing compared to see those poor folk die for no reason.

Suddenly men and women looked at a boy rushing in. He was not a super-powered being that's for sure, but mindless training and his peculiar way to treat solid rocks made him the perfect tool for the job. While the townsfolk were petrified, the teen began to use one of his talents, creating a gigantic groove running along the village, but strong enough to force the fiery threat away.

All the natives saw with awe how that strange looking teen kept smashing his way through tons of rocks, screaming some type of muffled sentence they were able to understand. "Bakusai. . ." Kept repeating itself as the canal led the massive molten magma away from harming them.

All cheered by the heroic boy who saved the day, but when they searched for his tracks at the end of the path, life pulled her old tricks on the boy who vanished from the land and appeared exhausted near a shoreline. "No!. . .What if the people isn't safe. . .I must return. . .I must. . ." But nothing could be done now, leaving his tired body to rest on the sandy land by the ocean.

"Why?. . .I don't care for fame or praise, but they could use my help to survive. . .I could. . .I. . .Who am I kidding. I am a tool for life so she can use me at her will and then toss me aside so I can burn like the idiot I always am."

It really is funny how your mind acts depending on the mood in your soul. Ryoga Hibiki laid on the sand defeated, even when his good deed amounted to nothing in his head. The boy felt the warm sand caress his face, the warm ocean water unable to transform him raining like a dew made of salt water over his saddened features, and the only thing he thought was suffering and pain.

"What does Ranma thinks about my pain. He is nothing but a pervert acting up on his physical responses. Hell, even accepting treats from older men while disguised goes against his "man among men" mantra he chants every single time. . .And yet he becomes stronger. . .He defeats me with tricks, and everyone sees him as the hero and only appealing man a woman would be so lucky to be married with."

"A woman. . .Like Akane." His thoughts turned dangerously close to his most treasured of loves. Akane Tendo was his first real interest in girls, or so he believed until her wedding proved he was nothing but a good friend. "I may respect her, but I must admit she always belonged to Ranma and I was playing the fool by thinking otherwise."

"No. . .I'm afraid she isn't even worth my feelings at all. Who am I but an animal clinging from her love as a pet. . .Forget it. I am no fool after all. . .I may be a loser but not a fool." His fang popped angry at the stupid idea to fight for her, protect her from Ranma like if she deserved it.

"No more nice Ryoga "the tool" waiting to go at her rescue and then move to the sidelines watching that bastard take credit for it all. My madness stop now." He didn't feel better by the silent promises by a long shot, but it helped him see in retrospect how embarrassingly stupid he had been with people who call him friend and use him to their own purposes.

A third chuckle escaped his lips as he thought about his rival and his now ex-love interest. A tiny crab walking backwards made him contemplate his whole life like the crustacean. . .With no meaningful precedent but to exist so others can feed from him.

A tear escaped his eyes, mingling with the salty water, but unaffected by the looks of others when he was alone. In a last attempt to understand his life, Ryoga Hibiki screamed his lungs out, letting all his frustrations into the sand and crying openly for life herself to see.

"Is this what you want!. . .Am I supposed to bend at your will and accept my surrender like the tiny animal I really am. . .!?" The boy stayed there, waiting for an answer of any kind but receiving none. When the ocean made its way high up thanks to the moon, he realized it was darkness surrounding his body.

He did not cared one bit, staying there for as long as life would let him, but while he stared at the big, round asteroid staring back from the heavens, his mind opened up towards the meaning of it all. "Fine. . .I accept defeat but not death. . .Tell me life. . .What can I do to end this emptiness. What can I work on to be worthy of company and loved ones I can call family?"

The soothing wind carrying sand and salty water this time became his friend, letting the boy fall asleep and his mind ease by all the hell raging inside. There was no magic fairies popping announced or powerful Chi artifacts turning his life around. . .No. In this tale, life herself worked her way into a boy dominated by his negative feelings and she "will" change him into what he wished. . .For better or for worse, depending in what life considers a change.

A life lesson is one that rocks your world, and Ryoga Hibiki will soon find out what hell really is despite its use to teach him how to value what others don't have, and help him understand what he's going through are means to an end. . .Whether he likes it or not.

On the other side of that world, another teen ran across the street with problems of his own. Ranma Saotome rushed among busy streets and annoyed bystanders, searching after an old man who could be barely seen behind a pack filled with women's underwear on his back. "Hey you, old man. . .Stop so I can beat the crap out of you!"

The oldest master in the Anything goes martial arts school loved to entice the boy for one purpose only, and although the teen knew this, Ranma needed to teach the old geezer a lesson about messing with other person's belongings. "Hurry M'boy!. . .The girls at school are almost out into the field. . .We should be able to pack more pretties for the collection."

Ranma found the old man annoying, and he thought of leaving him alone, but Akane and the other girls were never a match for his tricks and as the future heir for the school, the recognition to be a panty raider didn't sit well with the boy.

"Damn it. . .Where did he go!?" Asked annoyed by the sudden disappearance. "SLAPSH!" came the wet and loud sound of water covering a now redheaded girl from head to toe. She could do nothing but to look up and see a demented old man falling from the sky and right against her damped chest.

The same embracing dance made the girl tense her bent fingers upside down, reverting her hatred into a disgusting feeling when his hands grasped every inch around her torso. "D-Damn it old man!. . .Get the hell off!" Finally demanded the teen right before kicking the smart Sensei into the air.

Too late she realized her teacher had only one direction to fly into, snarling at the heads up she gave him from where she stood, Ranma skipped most obstacles with grace and rushed even faster towards Happosai's destination. "I need ta hurry before 'kane and the rest get their underwear stolen." With a last ounce of strength, the pigtailed girl darted into the street hoping to catch up sooner rather than later.

As she moved gracefully through the town, Ranma couldn't help but notice something a lot different this time. . .Everyone stared and laughed at her with pointing fingers. She had been a clown on the past and sure enough, that would attract the laughs from the old folks, but this felt like another kind of condescending looks.

She had no time to stop and inquire about their gossip, but what made her rush slow down was a child pulling his mother's skirt and pointing at the girl with innocent looks on his face. The now girl decided to eavesdrop this time, hoping to get a glimpse of their chatting.

"Look mom!. . .That pretty lady is running on top of the fence. . ." Announced marveled by Ranma's ability to move where no other girl would be able. The grown woman turned to see a redhead stepping fast on top of the thin metal barrier dividing the canal from the street, forcing her frown into a sarcastic stare.

A big laugh escaped her lips, covering them immediately when she told the boy. "Oh no honey. . .He is really a boy. One of those perverted ones who like to dress as a girl and prance with other boys as if she were in love. . .Don't worry, I'll tell you all about those type of people when we get home."

The explanation reached Ranma's ears, forcing her eyes to squint in anger. She knew some of her tricks with men and boys alike either to get food or treats were well known, but her sixth sense told her, this time, they were aiming much lower.

She restarted back on her trail, hoping to get the old man in time, but another couple up ahead saw the redhead jump from the fence to the road almost graciously like a tomboyish teenage girl with no demure at all, they gossiped in the same way, making her chase a lot uncomfortable. "I swear honey, if that boy wasn't a boy I would had never guessed."

The girl turned to see Ranma with jealousy in her eyes, scoffing the girl's prominent features as a lesser issue compared to a real woman. "There's no doubt about it honey. . .He can act and look anyway he wants, but a real girl he will never be." That was a statement Ranma easily agreed with, the next part was the point she was most puzzled about though.

"But even if you respect "their kind". . .It's hard to deal with his games like when he pranced around with the other bandanna clad boy." Her boyfriend gaped at the memory forcing a chuckle by the way the teen acted. "Can you believe it. . .A boy flirting with another so openly, not to mention washing his clothes and cooking for him on a public park. . .Disgusting!"

That made the girl stop mostly lost by the stuff they were talking about. She stood in the middle of the road blinking pensive about the two choices in front of her and deciding if it would be Ok to find the old man or go back and ask them what were they talking about. Time ran out when the couple left apprehensively by her approach. "Damn!. . .I need ta know what's all that 'bout. . ."

Ranma went back in pursuit, finally arriving to a raided place where a piece of underwear could be seen here and there by the school grounds. "Ranma!. . .Why am I not surprised. . ." Accused Akane after reaching the exhausted girl.

"W-Wha?. . .Wait no!. . .I was just. . ." But nothing else could be said when the mallet appeared and the girl flew through the air. "Leave the explanations for another sucker. . .Happosai told us you'd be here to help. I knew that lie about a Japanese magic pool was only a pretext. . .Pervert!"

The rest of the girls followed her behind, finding the redhead's punishment enough consolation. A few blocks away, on top of a roof, the redhead pondered the reasons why she needed to put up with a fiancée so ugly and pushy when it came to explanations, but again. . .A tiny purple nuisance kept running away with a bigger pack and several pieces of undergarments falling behind.

"He is so dead!" Said before jumping back into action. The race was on and best of all. . .The geezer had no idea a girl threaded lightly but quickly on top of the roof ready to pounce on his head. The master started to slow down, stopping in a crossroads leading away from either his regular hunting grounds and the comfort of home.

"I got you!" Screamed Ranma mere inches from the old man, but in the last second she crashed against the ground with a dummy tightly grasped in her arms. "Oh foolish girl. . .You are three hundred years too young to catch the likes of me!"

Most of the people passing by could see a dusty teenage girl staring daggers at a tiny man running in the distance and showing nothing but her clenched teeth in exchange. "Damn old man!. . .You will pay for this. . .!" Ranma could do nothing but stare at him while the hearsay people murmured around slowly engulfed her already annoyed mind.

"Can you believe that boy!?. . .First he flirts with that poor guy who's always lost, then he acts like a real girl and entice him with all manner of dresses and glasses. . .I think he is perturbed or something. We should call the cops now that he is bothering the elderly. . ."

Ranma couldn't find any reason why this was happening but her ears hurt from all the gossip going around. Finding no point in staying and listening to their ranting, she left the area with the idea to exact her revenge in a more appropriate place. . .At home. As she ran mindlessly across the streets, a recognizable boy walked aimlessly with a giant backpack and immersed on a map.

"E-Excuse me. . .Do you know what way is Nerima city?" Asked the teen a bit flustered to a man who simply rolled his eyes and grumbled something before walking away angrily. Ryoga just grabbed the back of his head, laughing dumbly and apologizing.

"Sheesh. . .I wonder why the hostility. . .Anyway. Um. . .Excuse me!" Asked again to a strange girl looking away and snickering about something. "Um. . .Could you tell me where can I find Nerima city?" The girl sure looked pretty from the back, giving the boy a tiny blush when her curvy frame accentuated her flaming red-hair. . ."Now that I think about it. . .There seems to be a lot of redheads in Japan lately" Thought the boy without realizing who may that be.

"You are in Nerima city Mr." The voice sounded somehow familiar for Ryoga, but if this was Nerima then why the place looked so differently. "Is that so?. . .W-Well. C-Could you tell me which direction would the Tendo dojo be?"

At this point his nerves betrayed the rest of his sanity, finding the girl too much of a pressure his head couldn't deal with after all he'd been through. She giggled delightfully for the teen who found the sound enthralling and scary at the same time.

"I-I think I can manage to find it on my own. . .Thank you Miss. . ." Said while he tried to walk away, but stayed in place instead, hoping to hear her name. "Well, I will be happy to take you there of course. . .Oh, and my name you already know. . ." As she said that, the redhead turned round and moved so close to the boy, he could do nothing but jump back, falling on his butt.

The distance helped a lot to see her standing and laughing at his misfortunes. "R-Ranma?. . .Ranma!. . .Prepare to die!" He hated being treated like this, specially when people watched from the sidelines. "What's wrong P-Chan. . .I thought you were nervous by standin' close ta me?"

That did it. Ryoga snarled at the cursed boy, forcing himself up and launching his trusty umbrella at full power against his irrefutable way to use his female tricks. They kept fighting as usual, she darting and taunting, while the boy tried to keep up with her antics.

"Damn it Ranma!. . .Stay still and die!" Their dance took several minutes the redhead enjoyed as a way to forget either Akane and the old man, but what she couldn't get rid off, were the babbling stupidities most of the town's folk argued right in front of the pair.

"Can you see it!?. . .I don't care if he is a boy. That bandanna wearing teen is too strong and is not nice to fight with a perverted teen like him." The girl was now interested in their gossip, dropping her attention from her opponent instead.

"But she is a man!. . .You know how those perverts like to dress up and put fake things "up there". . .He is doing the same so, just leave them alone." Both the wife and the husband argued between his feminine looks and who was he in reality, making Ranma look in the people's eyes like a cross-dresser or a freak.

"Damn it!. . .Stop talkin' 'bout me an' leave me the hell alone!" Screamed the girl tired from the chatting. That's when Ryoga's closed fist connected with the girl, sending her sprawling into the floor in a heap. "Ouch!" Complained the girl almost out by the strength of the fist, but able to withstand the punch when the boy realized she was distracted.

"Serves you right for side tracking your mind away from me Ranma. . ." Ryoga scoffed at the talkative neighbors, shrugging carelessly as he walked away. "Is of no consequence to me how the people see you Ranma. . .After all, you were a pervert hiding behind your curse while I politely asked you a question."

He turned away, walking proudly until tiny feet stomped him with force on the ground. "W-What happ. . ." Tried to ask the teen, but as he hoped to see his assailant, a group of several girls ran him over, leaving only one schoolgirl standing on his back.

"Oh man. . .I'm sure he went this way. . ." Said defeated the raven haired teen whose feet decorated Ryoga's blade shoulders. "Oh. . .Um. . .Hi?" Asked the boy under her feet. "Oh!. . .Ryoga-kun. I didn't see you there. . ." uttered the girl apologetically, but still standing on the teen.

"Well. . .Get off of him 'kane?" Inquired the still dizzy Ranma from the other side of the corner. Akane moved away immediately, letting the fanged boy stand up and laugh nervously after so many girls were together in one place.

"I-I see master Happosai is still on the loose. . ." Asked nervously, trying to change the subject. The girl laughed endearingly, admitting he was a big problem, but one they could handle. "The bigger threat is Ranma since he decided to help the master with his raids. . ."

Ryoga raised an eyebrow wondering if what she said was true, but the redhead just dusted off her clothes and walked away from the pair. "I don' care what you saw before. . .I wasn' helping the old man, but chasin' the freak back into the house. . ."

Most of the girls including Ryoga stared at the two suddenly arguing alone, screaming insults and scoffing angrily at each other regardless of the present company. "I don't understand how can they be together after every fight they have for no reason" Wondered Yuka. . .One of Akane's closest friends. The lost boy stayed out of the fight for the first time, accepting after the wedding how their relationship was meant to be solved between them.

That pretty much stopped the fight though. Out of no where, the two teens said nothing more, turning around and staring quizzically at the teen. "Well pork chop?. . .Aren' you goin' to intervene for your friend?"

Akane waited for a late reaction and a sorry, but Ryoga shrugged again, sitting beside his pack and resting from his own problems. "Why would I?. . .Either I get in trouble or you two make up. Even your friends find hard to believe this union could be real after so many fights between the two of you."

Ryoga was too tired to deal with others when his own mind melted into putty after the last tests life gave him on the road. Both Akane and Ranma's mouths fell, unconvinced of his change of heart, but while the girl tried to forget his attitude and led him to the house, the redhead stayed back listening to the rest of the gossipers talking about her.

"I swear. . .That boy is going to get someone killed if he keeps impersonating a girl, specially after the way he teased "him" in the woods playing around like a real schoolgirl in the middle of the night." Ranma couldn't believe such lies, turning madly as a response and attacking the problem from its root.

"Listen you!. . .I've never done those things you hear!. . .You have me confused with someone else." When Ranma started to leave, so did the couples witnessing the last fight, but not before the woman said. "You'd like to think that pervert, but if it wasn't you than how come we saw that poor girl getting beaten when we told her you were behind the school grounds making out with that kid?"

As she said that Akane blinked by the response, admitting they were the ones telling her where Ranma was that day. Ryoga swallowed tensely when the incident with the rod was almost like a memory Ranma had lost thanks to the spell, but afraid what would happen if that couple would tell him what really happened during those days.

For the redhead that made some sense when after the spell broke, an enraged Ranma heard Ryoga express his love which incidentally made her snap at the boy stomping him into mulch and walk out of the school that precise night. "She was so worried about you and when we saw you defending that fanged teen from her, we knew you tried to get intimate with him."

The man hushed his wife, asking her not to get in trouble with strange fighters who knew their way around mortal techniques. The woman scoffed carelessly from any danger the redhead might posed, but walked away not caring to make a scene of her own.

"Whatever. . .Once a pervert, always a pervert." Said finally before they moved on. Ranma kept staring angry at them, but the fact remained. . .What was she doing in the forest with Akane and Ryoga always evaded her mind until now.

"I got to find out why those people keep talkin' like that 'bout me. . ." Mumbled to herself Ranma. Tired from arguing, the redhead left on direction to the training hall, and who knows, maybe she could meet Ryoga as a pig and have some fun beating the stuff out of the pet before going to bed. . .Now that sounded enticing.

The life in Nerima kept its course, letting its residents deal with either magic curses or martial art fighters on their own. Elsewhere, another meeting went underway which mattered most to the lost boy than the Saotome heir in respect to those curses and their repercussions.

Four men walked assuredly across a path leading to a medical facility on the outskirts of Tokyo. These men had something important to deal with a doctor who had plenty to lose from the history between the group. Dr. Saito Takeshi developed several advanced data respect a lost and mystical land where legend speaks of magic pools.

He worked for years in the research and study of those subjects affected by the curse, and after powerful investors were interested in his theories, their relationship took a turn for the worse. The good doctor was employed to understand such legends and find a proper use towards the rest of the world.

But something was amiss. His research was composed from written data other universities in China sent him through boring files. His interpretation of the effects were merely points of view from a distance so, he decided to request real evidence.

Thus, Ranma and Ryoga became the main project for the men, giving them total access to a boy who could turn into a girl, and the teen who seemed to adapt better to his porcine alternate. They waited anxiously for this day and when it came, the shadowy men traveled from China to Japan in search of their long time investment.

As they walked into the building, students traversed the corridors left and right busily rushing towards other classes in campus oblivious of the reasons they had to be here. When Dr. Saito welcomed them in, he knew his most important experiment was about to be unleashed.

They followed him at the bottom of the classroom where most of the young minds left in a hurry, leaving them freely to talk about business. The older man, well in his fifties ushered his briefcase and several documents ready to be graded later on over the desk, forgetting his normal responsibilities and focusing instead on the matter at hand. "Oh yes!. . .We are finally ready to proceed. Please, go ahead."

The group of investors paced through several rows where students sat, deciding to take a seat near the blackboard where the man in a lab coat erased all the scribbling from the past lesson. "I see you have come a long way to get this report." Said the doctor matter-of-factly while holding a yellow folder.

"I have worked for you what. . .Twenty-five years?, and until now you decide to come and check on my research. Tell me. . .What changed?" One of the men stood up, accepting the lead from the group and proceeding to explain the situation.

"Mr. Saito. . .We'll go directly to the point. Part of the more reserved departments from the Beijing Normal university are interested on special studies and data from many different sides in humanities and science. As you were reported more than two decades ago, our investors met these. . .So called magic pools in Jusenkyo."

"We decided to give this project to someone not in the premises of the school as a way to avoid political incidents with other denominations. Well, we recently found a tribe of women who used several of these pools to their advantage."

The man pushed Dr. Saito's notes aside, dropping on the desk his own set of documents with the other research data made by their own scientists. "There are very specific curses we had catalogued and preserved, but the waters affecting males into women are forbidden not only from our government, but those Amazons as well, who refused any shared knowledge about it."

"We gave you the chance to study that boy who accidentally fell into the pool, but there has not been any concrete progress in some time. . .We are tired of waiting Mr. Saito. . ." Finished a bit dryly the man. The doctor fixed his glasses, unimpressed by the speech, and answered their questions according to the facts.

"Gentlemen. . .You can't expect me to go and examine that boy when he is part of society. This teenager has declined his curse openly, using it to his advantage as a tool to gain sympathy from men of all ages. . .He is not a good subject for our studies when that curse turn him into an easy woman flaunting that naked body recklessly."

The old man used that moment to pull a folder from his desk, offering it to the guest with a much more appropriate idea. "This on the other hand has proved very reliable in aspects like human relations and civil rights. . .I'm very pleased to have studied him for the past months and I consider him the best subject our data is after."

The five men saw some potential after all, agreeing this was the next step to take after years of research. "Very well, take this boy and as soon as he accepts the deal, sent all the data back to headquarters." All five left the Tokyo University grounds, moving to a secluded area right next the main buildings.

Dr. Saito took them into the premises where several rooms comprised a full equipped centre filled with chemical and medical labs. "We are prepared to receive the subject for a long time duration. In fact, Ranma Saotome was ready at some point to be studied until we found out his attitude to show off as a girl was merely a disguise for the teen to win at everything, but as a woman, the curse has given him nothing worth preserving."

Highly impressed by all the data and paperwork he had accumulated, all five congratulated him, promising a juicy grant to keep his research safe as long as his results could give them a better understanding of how powerful can this curse be from the rest.

They disclosure the main goal in the matter, describing a high descended level of male and female fertility all over the world. "We may be facing a very possible extinction if we can't find the reason why humanity is degrading so fast, but if there's a way to understand fertility through this magical source, we might be able to preserve mankind."

The doctor too had studied certain decline in the genetic material passed from father to son, slowly reaching dangerous levels of sterility throughout many regions on the world. Realizing that concept as his drive to research and experiment, Dr. Saito was convinced certain men could be "re-programmed" into the opposite gender by the circumstances shaping their lives.

The Saotome brat proved a failed test subject when he rejected the curse instead of embracing it, but something about the lonely boy who always gets lost gave the man the confidence to make the effects real without pressing his weak mind further than he can withstand.

"All our test subjects have been nothing but negative results showing the same values than this Ranma Saotome." Added the man as he started to leave. "We trust Mr. Ryoga Hibiki will be the difference." As they agreed, the men walked out of the premises, leaving a satisfied scientist chuckling madly by his drive to study a real human specimen.

"Soon Mr. Hibiki. Hopefully things will go my way and all this will serve for the good of mankind." Life tilted her head towards that man, seeing how every piece in the board began to take its place. A boy protesting for his life, another excusing his behavior but rejecting the results from it, and now someone who watched them from the shadows and was finally moving around with a purpose.

As the old woman with silver hair stared into the book, the writer and the reader noted how fate began to knead them all together. Dr. Saito fell on the back of the chair relieved from his long anticipated dream finally coming into fruition.

A knock on the frame of the door alerted the teacher of one more man interested on the teens. "Oh!. . .Headmaster Ikio. I knew you were eavesdropping on the conversation." Warned the old colleague to yet another ambitious man in search for fame.

"How could I not. After all, one of those subjects is the famous Ranma Saotome. . .Tell me Takeshi-san. Will I be able to exploit him like we agreed?" The teacher exchanged looks between the yellow folder containing all the recent data about the pigtailed teen and the hungry eyes from the school's supervisor.

"If anything goes according to plan you should have your champion." The headmaster smiled and bowed, accepting the offering while his steps too him away from the classroom. "Good. . .I foresee many advances on this faculty will take it to the next level.

Dr. Saito chuckled by his presumptuous ambitions, but he had some of his own, and in order to fulfill them, the older man grabbed a landline phone well hidden inside one of the drawers. He dialed to another line off campus which belonged to the most important piece for Ryoga's new experiment.

"Hello?. . . Yes, It's me. Miss Mitsushi. . .I believe the time has come. Gather all the student body willing to follow a new course I'm preparing about Jusenkyo curses. . .Yes. I finally have the two subjects we will study from. . .Remember this is a private examination, do not get any immature boys looking for a fast grade. Fine, I will see you soon."

When the old man hanged the device, the writer and reader saw the old woman chuckle openly. "Now my little friends. Don't you think I have a way to teach important lessons to my sons and daughters?. . .Soon my Ryoga Hibiki, Ranma Saotome and I will meet for the hardest of tests they are not prepared for.

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