Ranma 1/2 manga fanfiction
(with guest appearances from Oh My Goddess! and Maison Ikkoku)
by Gary Kleppe

The characters and storylines of Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku are the creation of Rumiko Takahashi. The characters of Oh My Goddess! (Aa, Megamisama!) are the creation of Kosuke Fujishima. All uses of these characters in this story is without permission or legal right. Permission is granted to copy and distribute this story, provided that you maintain credit to the above authors and myself, you do not alter it substantially without permission, and it is not made available on an internet site which carries commercial advertising or otherwise used for profit.

Thanks to Chan Wei Lik and KaraOhki for prereading the earlier sections of this story, and to FFIRC Hour Challenge group 1 in which most of the later material was written. As always, all feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

The phone rang.

Zhen Guairen ignored the noise, preferring to remain floating beneath the cool and still waters of his meditative state. Blind rage was a weakness he could ill afford, for his enemy (his most hated enemy, may his name be spat upon and reviled by a thousand generations to come) would surely use it against him. He needed the sharpness and clarity of mind that meditation would bring. When the time came, he would deliver his killing strike, as swift and precise as the deadliest predator, and the world would be cleansed of the presence of the hated one (may he burn for all eternity in the deepest pits of the underworld).

The phone rang again, and again. And again. Zhen picked up the receiver and placed it to his ear, but did not speak.

"Hello?" a voice came. "Hello? Is anyone there?"

"Tell the evil one that his existence is at an end!" Zhen shouted into the phone. "For soon he shall feel the sting of righteous vengeance!"

"Good evening, sir. I'm calling to let you know how you can save up to forty percent on your...."

"Bah!" Zhen threw the receiver back onto its cradle, with such force that it shook the table on which it stood. Such trivialities would not distract him. For crimes beyond measure, for evil beyond comprehension, the hated Master Happosai would soon perish. And Zhen Guairen's hand would be the one that slew him.

But first Zhen needed to complete the bargain he'd made. And for that, he needed Momotaru to undertake a mission for him. So where was....

As if on queue, the house trembled, as something slammed into the wall from outside. Chunks of plaster cracked off and scattered onto the floor. Another impact sent debris flying into the air, leaving a window-sized hole, and a third smashed the entire section of wall to rubble.

Zhen glared sternly at the hulking brute on the other side of the demolished wall. "Momotaru."

"Um...." The man's eyes momentarily narrowed, as if he'd just been asked a particularly difficult question. "Yeah?"

"Did I not tell you to use the door?" He continued before Momotaru could answer. "Were not my very words to you 'While I appreciate the value of an assistant who is strong enough to smash through a wall with his bare hands, nevertheless next time you are to use the door?'"


"And why, then, did you not do as I instructed?"

"I did."

Zhen eyed him skeptically.

Momotaru glanced back toward a pile of wood scraps which littered the ground where he had entered. "It broke the second time I hit the wall with it. I had to finish busting through by hand."

"I... see," Zhen said with a sigh. His own fault, he supposed, for having forgotten who he was dealing with. He had been told, by Momotaru's mother no less, that the boy had a mind like a computer. And in a way, it was true.

No matter. After all, the owner of this estate, one Inai Rusu, wouldn't be needing it anytime soon. Rusu had been scheduled to return from his vacation in Hong Kong on the tenth of the month; Zhen had met his flight at Tokyo airport, and, with one quick and decisive stroke, rerouted his luggage to Sao Paulo. By the time he managed to track it down, justice would be satisfied and Zhen long gone.

"I have a job for you, Momotaru. Go to the Tendo residence. I've already told you where it is." Giving directions would have been pointless; for Momotaru, a straight line was evidently the only path between two points. Fortunately, he always seemed to know which direction to head to get where he was going. "Once there, you will steal a personal item belonging to the hated Master Happosai. Anything which would have been kept close to his body enough to retain his scent. And I don't want you smashing another hole in the wall when you return. Is that quite clear?"

"Um, yeah." Momotaru scratched his bulky head. "What should I take?"

"Do I have to think of everything?" Stupid question. "Something like... like...."

All at once, the perfect answer came to him. So utterly appropriate. And it would be a message, a harbinger of the doom that would soon befall the hated one. And Zhen Guairen laughed.


Muted voices from the television echoed through the dimly-lit room. "Oh, please don't worry about me," said a kindly-faced middle-aged woman. "I'll be fine here alone while the rest of you are out. I'm sure that all that talk about a psychotic rapist-strangler at large is just a rumor. Nothing bad will happen."

Idiot. Akane reached into the bag beside her for another handful of rice crackers. Declaring that nothing bad could happen or that nothing would go wrong was like issuing an engraved invitation for something bad to happen. Whether it was a spiteful god, or just some sort of cosmic Murphy's law, she didn't know, but when people said things like that, life always seemed to insist on proving them wrong.

In her own case, it was true that Akane was home alone. But she wasn't going to say that nothing bad would happen. She fully expected that a freak typhoon would hit any moment, or that the furnace would explode, or some insane martial artist would come crashing into her living room. And because she was ready for these things to happen, they didn't.

She probably could've gone out with the rest of the family. After all, she'd all but recovered from the flu that had infested her body for the past week, and she certainly would've liked to see the ballet. But Happosai had insisted on going along, and that guaranteed that the audience would see a rather different sort of performance from what they were expecting. Sometimes the flu seemed like a blessing in disguise.

Something knocked against the wall behind Akane. She barely had time to turn her head before the wall exploded outward. A chunk of rubble thudded into the back of her head, and before she knew it she was sprawled face-down onto the floor. An astonished gasp managed to escape her lips as she tried to turn around, and she could barely make out a huge, hulking figure before the world faded from focus....


"I am listening, Pop." Ranma walked at the back of the group so he could keep an eye on Happosai. He was bound and determined to keep the old pervert from causing any more trouble for tonight.

"Don't be so insular, boy. Cross-discipline integration is the key to building an art which will not only survive, but grow and prosper. And it's the mark of a truly great martial artist to be able to build a combat technique out of any field."

Ranma sighed. "Yeah, Pop, I know that. But martial arts train-spotting is still a stupid idea."

"I expect those timetables to be memorized by Monday," Genma said. Soun Tendo nodded approvingly; walking beside him, Nabiki cracked a slightly bemused smile.

"We're home, Akane!" Kasumi called out as she pulled open the sliding door, casting a glance at the old man at her side. "I'm so glad you enjoyed the ballet, Master Happosai." To everyone's surprise, he had sat quietly in his seat during the performance, watching intently and never interrupting. But when it had finished, he had insisted on running into the women's dressing room to congratulate the performers in his own unique way. Ranma had then had to run in and drag him out, and that, naturally, had earned the both of them a beating.

"Who could fail to be moved by something so touching?" Happosai sniffled into his shirtsleeve. "An old man slipping hallucinogens to a little girl so that he could have his way with her... why don't they write stories like that anymore?"

"That's not what the Nutcracker is about, you old goat," Ranma grumbled. Though, Ranma had to admit, it did make a good deal more sense than the way Kasumi had explained it earlier. "It—" Ranma froze in his tracks as he saw the inside of the house. "Holy crap."

"Oh," Kasumi said. "Is Shampoo here?"

"Um, I don't think so. This looks way worse than what she'd do." A sizeable portion of one of the living room walls lay scattered about the floor of the adjacent hallway. Similar holes at the opposite side exposed Mr. Tendo's room and the outside of the house beyond. And lying in a heap amidst the debris.... "Akane!" Ranma rushed to his fiancee, who groaned and began to sit up.

Nabiki went to the phone. "I'll call the doctor. You better get the first aid kit," she said to Kasumi, who nodded.

"Tendo? Hello?" Genma waved a hand back and forth in front of his friend's face, who continued to stare ahead bug-eyed. "C'mon, it's not like your house hasn't been wrecked before."

"You might want to check whether whoever or whatever did this is still here," Nabiki said to him as she dialed.

"Eep. Me?" Genma's expression abruptly blanked out to match Soun's.

"Right." Ranma slipped cautiously but quickly over to the inner hole, senses alert, body tensed for battle. The path through the walls ended at Happosai's room; Ranma saw nothing inside other than piles of porno magazines and women's unmentionables, all of which had been there before. "Never mind. All clear," he announced as he stepped back into the living room.

Nabiki set the phone down. "Dr. Tofu's on his way over."

"Oh, my poor daughter! My poor house!" Soun sobbed. "Who would possibly want to do such a thing?"

Momentarily setting down the bandages she'd been applying, Kasumi raised a hand as if to count on her fingers. "Well, to begin with, there's—"

"Kasumi," Soun interrupted. "It was a rhetorical question."

"Sorry, Father."

A shout suddenly came from Happosai's room. "Aaaaa!"

Ranma and the two fathers bounded over to investigate, finding only a petulant Happosai. "What is it, Master?" Soun asked.

"This... is... an outrage!" Happosai fumed. "I've been robbed! They've taken my only other pair!"

The three martial artists stared at each other dumbly for several moments. "Um... pair of what?" Ranma asked, guessing that no one else was going to.

Happosai's voice lowered. "Briefs."

Soun blinked. "You're studying to become a lawyer, Master?"

"I'm talking about underpants, you idiot!" Happosai shouted, smacking his pipe against Soun's forehead for emphasis.

Ranma's tongue curled in distaste. "You mean to tell me that someone smashed their way into here just to get their hands on your...."

"It appears so." Happosai came back into the living room. "Such is the lot of a martial arts master, Ranma. There will always be those envious of our great power, resentful of the way in which we use it to uphold justice and righteousness."

"Uh huh," Ranma said, twice as disgusted as before.

Happosai strode back into the living room, where Nabiki sat gaping open-mouthed. "I can tell that you're shocked."

"I am," she said. "I never thought that you even wore underwear, much less had a change of it somewhere."

"This is no laughing matter!" Happosai shouted. "Mark my words, I will hunt down the miscreants responsible for this!"

"My goodness," Kasumi said. "Who would that be?"

"It's... I'll tell you who!" Happosai began pacing around the room, moving faster and faster, agitating like clothes in a washing machine's spin cycle. "It's... It's— I'm going to find out! That's who!" A sudden burst of speed, and he was gone, so abruptly that it took the other occupants of the room a moment to notice.

For a moment, Ranma could only stare, wondering what in the heck that old freak had gotten them mixed up in this time.


The hammer slammed into nails like machine gun fire, fixing in place the wooden board that now covered the hole in the wall.

Zhen Guairen stepped back to admire his work. Obviously it wouldn't escape notice if someone were to look closely, but a casual observer might pass by without knowing that the wall had been damaged. He cared nothing for his borrowed residence, of course, but for the time being it wouldn't do to call too much attention to himself. Not until he was ready.

The sheet of wood suddenly shattered, showering Zhen in sawdust and splinters. "Momotaru," he said, as his assistant lumbered in through the now-reopened hole. "Did I not tell you...."


"Never mind." I don't want you smashing another hole. This, of course, was the same one as before. Zhen quietly sighed. Of all the people who could have been helping him in his quest, why did he have to be stuck with such a mindless dolt?

"Can I get paid now?" Momotaru asked hopefully.

"I paid you yesterday. You already spent it."

"Oh." He pondered for a moment, then nodded. "Oh yeah."

Then again, Zhen thought, stupidity did have its advantages. He held out an open hand. "Did you bring back the item I specified?"

"Yeah." Momotaru reached into a pocket and pulled out a piece of dirty white cloth. "Here."

"Ah. Excellent." Zhen snatched the underwear from the brute's hand. A smell not unlike three-year-old eggs immediately assaulted his senses; he ignored it as he began to dial the telephone. For revenge against his hated enemy, he would endure any indignity, any discomfort.

The phone rang once on the other end, and a recording picked up, "You have reached the Demon Assistance Relay Network. If you wish to speak to a sentient being... too bad for you! What do you think this is, heaven? If you know your party's extension—" Zhen touched the three digits he'd been given, and the voice gave way to more ringing.

"Yeah," the demoness answered, with the weary and wary tone of one who expected that a superior was calling to chew her out. "Mara here."

"This is Zhen," he said. "I've got it."

"Already?" Her voice perked up. "Great! I'll be over with the contract in five minutes."

Zhen chuckled silently to himself. Soon, Master Happosai. Soon.


Kasumi eyed the offering which her sister held out to her. "I really don't see why I should wear that, Nabiki."

"You do know that Doctor Tofu is here, right? Examining Akane, out in the family room?"

"Yes, I do." Kasumi glanced around the kitchen, almost praying that something needed her attention. "All the more reason it would be silly of me to...."

Nabiki glared back sternly. "You remember how he acts whenever he sees you, don't you?"

"Well, yes, but—"

"Do you want him flipping out like that while he's got his hands on Akane?"

"Of course not. I—"

"Then put it on if you're going out there." Nabiki pushed the item into Kasumi's hands, then spun around and strode away with the cool assurance of one who had just indisputably won her argument.

Breathing an understated sigh, Kasumi lowered her head and pulled open the grocery sack.

"How does that feel, Akane?"

"Okay, I guess." Cautiously, she fingered the bandage that lay taped over the lump on her forehead. The pain had subsided to a dull stinging; hopefully it would let her sleep. "Thanks, Doctor."

"Don't mention it." Tofu smiled warmly. "You'll need to take another day off from school, Akane. Stay home and rest. I'll...."

Tofu's words trailed off as his gaze drifted upwards, fixing behind Nabiki, who had just stepped in from the kitchen. Akane turned to look, and then boggled. Why was Kasumi wearing a grocery bag over her head?

"Hello, Doctor!"

Tofu's glasses began to steam up. "Ka... Ka...."

"No, Doctor." Nabiki thrust her face in front of his. "That isn't Kasumi. It's, er, Ranma."

"R— Ranma?" Tofu blinked several times. "Why does Ranma...."

"... have a bag on his head? Well, it's perfectly simple." Nabiki's eyes wandered aimlessly for a moment, then she nodded to herself and turned back to Tofu. "It's a new curse."


"Oh, yes. Ranma went back to China, hoping to get cured. But unfortunately, he managed to fall in the Daizinyurenniquan — the Spring Of Drowned Woman Wearing A Bag Over Her Head."

"Very tragic story," Akane added obligatorially.

Tofu's brows lowered thoughtfully. "How do you suppose a woman with a bag over her head ended up drowning in a spring in rural China?"

"Oh, come on, now." Nabiki rolled her eyes. "How easy do you think it would be to swim while wearing a bag? Anyway, our Ranma isn't about to let a little thing like a new curse daunt him. Isn't that right?" She gently elbowed Kasumi in the ribs. "I said, isn't that right?"

"Oh." Kasumi's voice deepened into a parody. "Heck yeah! Who cares about some dumb bag? Yo, Pop! Let's go kick some butt!" She broke into a giggling fit.

"Um, thank you, 'Ranma.' Let's get you some hot water, all right?" Nabiki ushered Kasumi back to the kitchen, hurrying as the real Ranma stepped in through the hole in the wall.

"I guess I'll be going, then," Tofu said as he got up and made his way toward the exit. "I'll be back first thing in the morning to check on you, Akane."

Akane nodded. "Good night, Doctor."

"Seeya, Doc. Thanks for comin' over," Ranma said. "Hey, Akane, I checked outside, and whoever did this left a pretty clear path. There's a whole bunch of stuff knocked down. I'm gonna follow it and see where it goes."

"Okay." If the trail was that obvious, it might well be a trap, Akane thought. But even if it was, Happosai was already out there, and in any case, waiting until morning might give the attacker the time he needed to get away. "Be careful," she added, as if saying that meant anything.

"Hey, no sweat. By tomorrow morning, I'm gonna bag me one nutcase."

"Well, you've already got the bag," Tofu called from the doorway, and chuckled.

Ranma looked back at Akane. They stared at each other for a long moment, then exchanged shrugs.

"I just don't get his sense of humor," Ranma mumbled, shaking his head slightly as he walked out.


Long after dark, a solitary light burned in the second-floor study of the Rusu estate.

Hunched over the desk, Zhen browsed through page after page of laser printer output, poring over paragraph after paragraph of demon legal jargon. His pen, clutched in his hand, hovered over the paper like a cat's paw, poised to strike its unsuspecting prey. Just one stroke is all it would take to assure the doom of his hated foe.

"Look, you've been staring at that for nearly four hours," a weary-voiced Mara said from the chair beside his. "Are you going to sign or not?"

"Just a moment," Zhen responded, flipping back to page one.

With a heavy sigh, Mara hefted the gallon-sized mug from the desk to her mouth and guzzled several mouthfuls of coffee.

"What's this part here?" Zhen pointed to a line in the contract. "'Seller shall provide Buyer with contracted Services (as described in Section Twenty-Seven) not later than twenty-four hours after the signing of this Agreement.' Twenty-four hours? I want it right away!"

Mara shook her head. "Not a chance, sport. You aren't asking for a night with a succubus or something simple like that. To get what you want, I'll need to call in some pretty valuable favors. I'm not about to do that without a signed contract already in hand."

Zhen pondered. No doubt his enemy was already on the way here; even a blind and deaf man would have little trouble following a trail as obvious as Momotaru's, and Zhen had, in fact, been counting on Happosai to do so. But now that plan would need to be changed.

"I'm not going to stiff you on the deal, if that's what you're worried about. Look here." Mara pointed out another section in the contract. "If I don't come through, your payment gets refunded."

Still, the situation could be salvaged. Zhen called through the opened doorway: "Momotaru!"

The floor shook as the brute thudded up the stairs. Momotaru's head poked into the study. "Yeah, boss?" he mumbled through a mouth full of food. Yellow crumbs and white cream filling stained his face.

"I want you to go somewhere immediately."

"Okay." He stepped into the room, headed in the direction of the window.

"Stop!" Zhen shouted. "Let me rephrase. I want you to go somewhere immediately after I finish telling you where to go."

"Oh." Momotaru halted in his tracks, took a bite from some sort of dessert cake, and began to chew rather noisily.

Zhen unfolded a map. Noting his own location, and that of the Tendo home, and borrowing a page from Mara's contract as a straight edge, he drew a line. "Here. Ichi's sporting goods, corner of Shukanteki and Detchiage streets. After that, go wherever you like. Be back here in exactly two days, and not before. Understand?"

"Yeah." Momotaru trudged over to the window. Mara winced, shielding her face with her cloak as the shattering of glass resonated through the air. With a muted thud, Momotaru hit the ground chest-first. Methodically, he stood and resumed walking, taking another bite from his now-soiled pastry.

Zhen laughed. Now when his adversary arrived, he would pass by this house, thinking it simply one more that happened to be along the path. It would be hidden in plain sight. They might well find Momotaru, of course, which would only leave them with the problem of what to do with him. Certainly he wouldn't be able to articulate any useful information.

"You know, I could get a succubus here, if you want one," Mara said. "Throw it in, no extra charge."

"That's all right. I'll sign it as is." Pen once more in hand, Zhen began initialling the blanks on each successive contract page.

"At last." Mara's eyes rolled downward in an expression of gratitude. "Oh, and if you're thinking of stiffing us on the payment, think again. Demonic contracts are enforced by the Infernal Force itself. Once you sign and I deliver, your payment's gone automatically."

"Ah, yes. My 'possession of greatest sentimental value,' you said. Not...." He sniffled into his sleeve. "You can't mean my precious Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits CD?"

"That's right. I can't," she replied, unamused. "Nice try."

"My Conway Twitty CD boxed set?"

"Nope. It isn't any kind of CD. All that time, and you didn't even read the whole contract? Your price is stated explicitly in Section Hundred-And-Fifty-Two."

Zhen's stomach quavered as he pulled out the page in question, and a quick glance confirmed his worst fears. It was so unfair. Eliminating Happosai was a service for which he should be rewarded. To instead be forced to give up his precious collection of... so utterly, utterly unfair.

Yet he had no choice in the matter, none at all. Here was his opportunity to enact revenge — revenge for which he'd spent more than ten years, seething, planning, waiting for the right moment. That moment was now, and he had to take it, no matter what the cost.

The pen flashed out. Zhen kept his head turned as his hand scrawled his signature across the paper, thoughts of what he was giving up rendering him unable to even look.

"Oh, that's nice. Say, I don't suppose you could do one more little thing for me?"

Zhen sighed. "What?"

"Sign the contract, now that you've signed your map of Tokyo."

"Oh." He looked. "Yes, of course." And so he did.

"Thaaank you," she said, a musical lilt in her voice that almost sounded like a cash register. From under the dark folds of her cloak she produced a gun-like device, and with a loud ka-thunk it embossed a circular seal onto the page. In a space marked "Notorious Public" she signed her name, and in the next marked "My Commission Expires" she crossed out the last word and wrote in "is eternal."

For Zhen Guairen, it was the destruction of a lifetime's work in an instant. But he could not allow himself to dwell on that now. What mattered was his plans. Nothing could stop them now.


By the time Ranma arrived back home, breakfast was already in full swing. He caught a brief glimpse of Nabiki and Kasumi as they disappeared into the kitchen, his sleep-deprived mind briefly wondering what was with those two. He pulled up to the table next to Tofu, and Akane handed him a plate and a bowl of steamed buns.

"Oh, there you are, Ranma," Tofu said. "Got rid of your sack again, I see."

"I didn't get to hit the sack at all tonight, Doc," he mumbled through a mouthful of food. What was he talking about? "Spent the whole night looking for the guy who attacked Akane, and crapped out. I saw lots of walls knocked down and stuff, but not the guy who did it."

"Well, let's not lose heart." Soun passed Ranma a cup of steaming-hot tea. "We'll just have to wait for this attacker to make his next move. I'm sure whoever he is, he'll give himself away eventually."

"Yeah, you're pro'ly right." A big gulp of tea soothed its way down Ranma's throat.

"Your thinking is too limited, boy." Genma regarded him sternly, then cracked a slight smile. "Confined to its own narrow track, one might say."

"Forget it, Pop." Ranma waved a hand dismissively. "I'm not gonna develop 'Martial Arts Train-Spotting,' and that's all there's to it. Besides, trains are supposed to stay on their tracks."

"I see," Genma continued, unperturbed by what Ranma thought had been a pretty good rebuttal. "Constructing a useful martial art out of such an obscure discipline is too much of a challenge for you, then?"

"No, Pop." Sheesh, Ranma thought. Did his pop really think he wouldn't see through such an obvious attempt to push his buttons? "I just got better things to do, that's all."

"I see," Genma repeated dubiously, then went back to his food.

"You're pushing this idea of yours awfully hard, Saotome," Soun remarked.

Genma nodded. "That's my job, Tendo. As the boy's parent, it's my responsibility to make certain that he's fully trained."

Ranma resisted the urge to collapse face-first onto his plate.

"Say, Ranma, there's something I'm curious about," Tofu said.

"What's that, Doc?"

"When you change back to male form, where does your bag go? Does it just disappear?"

"My, uh, my 'bag?'"

Tofu looked apologetic. "I hope it isn't too personal a question?"

"No, um, I don't mind. Yeah, it just goes away." It was pretty obvious what Tofu was referring to. "I'm just kinda surprised to hear you call it that." Still, it wasn't as bad as a lot of things he could've called it. Especially... Ranma suppressed a shudder at the thought of the "P" word. "I mean, I thought you'd use you'd some technical medical term, or something."

"It's just an ordinary bag, isn't it? The kind women are always carrying back from the supermarket?"

"Um, yeah. Those women all got 'em. Far as I know, anyway." Ranma began to feel rather uncomfortable with this conversation.

"Or is there something magical about yours, because it comes from that spring in China?"

"I sure hope not." Ranma pushed a bun into his mouth and started chewing noisily, hoping Tofu would take the hint.

The door slid open. Everyone turned to see Happosai enter. Behind him trailed what looked like several folded bedsheets, tied together at the ends, each one stuffed full of something. Speaking of trains, Ranma thought, but didn't say it out loud, not wanting to get his pop started again.

"Did you find your underwear, Master?" Soun asked hopefully.

"No, I didn't," Happosai admitted with obvious reluctance. Ranma could almost feel sorry for the old goat. He'd been kicked where it really hurt — in the ego.

One of the sheets fell open. Ranma peered at the contents. "Bras and panties? Why am I not surprised?" So much for sympathy.

Happosai smacked his hand. "Leave those alone! I brought them back to check them for clues!"

"Clues." Ranma rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right."

Ignoring him, Happosai jumped onto the table to face Soun and Genma. "The two of you will have to go and look for the person who took my underwear."

Soun backed away. "Us, Master?"

"Yes!" Happosai stamped his foot. Ranma and Tofu reached out and gripped opposite ends of the table to steady it. "This is a matter of honor! The Anything Goes School has been attacked, and as members of that school, all of us must rally to its defense!"

"Very well, Master. Are you with me, Saotome?" The two stood, striking proud poses. "For the honor of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts!"

Ranma blew a raspberry,

Genma shook his head disdainfully. "Does our honor mean nothing to you, boy? Whatever you might think of Happosai, he is the master of our school."

"Yeah, right. I bet he probably stabbed the guy ahead of him or something to get that job."

"How low do you think I am, Ranma?" Happosai said. "I didn't kill anyone for my position. I simply bribed the rules committee to name me the heir!"

Ranma raised an eyebrow. "We have a rules committee?"

"We used to." He regarded Soun and Genma. "Let's go, boys! Time's a-wasting!"

"Right, Master. Ready, Saotome?"

"Ready, Tendo. For the honor of the Anything Goes School!"

"Indeed! May the blessings of the Almighty be upon our school."

Happosai smiled contentedly.

"Well said, Tendo. And may He also bless the master in his quest!"

"Of course, Saotome. And may—"

"Enough with the speeches already!" Happosai said, kicking them out the door. He scraped his hands across each other, as if to brush away dirt. "I tell you, Ranma, this is what a martial arts master has to put up with. There's always someone envious of your prowess, jealous of the respect that you command, and is willing to strike at you in an underhanded manner because of it."

"Uh huh." Ranma turned to Tofu. "Hey, Doc?"

Tofu glanced up from the newspaper he'd been reading. "Yes?"

"You're a martial arts master, right?"

"Yes, I suppose you could say so."

"Did anyone ever smash his way into your house? To steal your underwear?"

Tofu chuckled. "No, no one's ever done anything like that to me."

"Well, how about that." Ranma smiled down at Happosai. "The doc's never had his underwear stolen."

"Of course he hasn't." Happosai nodded to himself. "And there's an important lesson there."

"What lesson is that?"

"That all of you should be grateful to have me living in your neighborhood. Obviously, my mere presence keeps these people too frightened to attack the rest of you."

Ranma slumped down in his chair, and was vaguely aware of his head hitting the table.


The supreme being of the universe drummed his finger on the Enter key. The monitor screen remained blank, as implacable as a rock too heavy to lift.

He buzzed the call button. His current administrative assistant entered the office. "Sir?"

"Mister... er, Mister...."

The assistant adjusted his tie. "Yotsuya, sir."

"Yotsuya." The Almighty flushed slightly with embarrassment. "Sorry about that. Why the heck is it, with all the sentient beings in the cosmos, that the one I'm talking to is always the one whose name I can't remember?"

"I don't know, sir. Just one of life's mysteries."

"Anyhow...." The Almighty pointed to the screen. "Looks like my workstation's died."

"Might it be unplugged, sir?"

"No, no, I checked for that this time."

Yotsuya peered around the back of the computer. "Sir, the power source appears to have burned out."

"Oh. I guess it was a bad idea, then."

"What, sir?"

"Increasing the input voltage. You see, I was trying to calculate the background cosmological energy density of the universe, and my answer was coming out about a thousand times too small. I figured I could compensate for it."

"I'll have to call in a repair order." Yotsuya produced a steno pad from the pocket of his immaculately clean business suit and jotted down a note. "It may be some time before one of the techs is free to look at it. Three Yggdrasil nodes are already down with the Dutch Elm Virus."

The Almighty sighed. "Who's responsible for designing this lousy system, anyhow?" His assistant didn't answer, looking on as if expecting Him to continue. I must have meant it as a rhetorical question, He thought. "Say, I don't suppose my insurance will cover the cost of fixing this?"

"Who broke it, sir?"

"I did," He admitted sheepishly.

"In that case, I'm afraid not. That standard exclusion clause."

"Darn. Well, I'll tell you what. Why don't you get this sorted out here, while I take a little time off?" He mimed a golf swing. "The eighth plane of Nirvana just opened a new ninety-eight-holer that I've been just dying to try out."

"I'm afraid not, sir. There's business that can't wait." Yotsuya flipped to another page in his notebook. "Since you can't get my emails, I'll have to go over it with you in person."

The Almighty's head drooped for a moment. "Why is it that I'm the only one who never gets a vacation? All right, lay it on me."

"Well, first of all, sir, your daughter Urd tried introducing object-oriented programming into the Yggdrasil system, and ended up creating new sentient life without proper authorization. She's waiting outside for disciplinary review."

"Keep her waiting for another fifteen minutes. Better yet, make it twenty." The Almighty rolled His eyes. "That young lady is such a screw-up. Must be her from her mother's side of the family."

"No doubt, sir." Yotsuya quickly scribbled a note into his book. "On another matter, your new redistricting plan for Heaven seems to be quite a success. The coalition of residents has not only dropped its grievances, but also issued a statement praising your infinite wisdom."

"Well, why shouldn't they?" He smiled self-approvingly for a moment. "Redistricting plan?"

"Yes, sir. Actually, you issued orders to 'do something about all those complaints.' I took the liberty of filling in the details."

"I see, right. Guess I'd better send them a thank-you note, then."

"Good idea, sir." Yotsuya glanced down at his notebook. "Oh, and there's been a request from the mortal world for your blessing."

The Almighty sighed. "Y'know, I am just fed up with people telling me what to do. You'd think I didn't know my own job, or something. I mean, if it isn't 'bless this' or 'forgive me that,' it's Al Einstein telling me I'm not supposed to play dice with the universe. I like dice. I dunno what Al's problem is."

"Yes, sir," Yotsuya responded neutrally.

"So who do they want me to bless, anyhow?"

"A martial arts master by the name of Happosai, sir. Head of what's known as the Anything-Goes School."

"Happosai." The Almighty rubbed His chin. "Japanese. What is he, Shinto?"

"No, sir. According to his file, he's a worshipper of women's undergarments."

"Ahhh, a Pres-bra-terian?" The Almighty grinned widely at His own joke, then His jaw dropped as He stared into His assistant's stony glare. "So, he worthy of a blessing?"

"Perhaps, sir. I heard a fair amount about him during my recent assignment to Japan, and he sounded like a most interesting fellow."

The Almighty's fist slammed down onto the desk. "Darn it, I am sick of everybody else deciding what gets done around here. These are decisions that I'm supposed to be deciding to decide! I'm the one in charge here, and my decision is to... to...."

"To refer it to committee, sir?" Yotsuya offered.

"Right! Refer it to committee. That's exactly what my decision is. Clear?"

"Absolutely, sir."


His shift over, Yotsuya lay back on his couch, idly contemplating the many places he would prefer to be.

It was almost enough to make one believe in divine punishment. During his last undercover assignment to Earth, he'd committed what could be termed psychological abuse against the locals for his amusement, and had enjoyed, albeit passively, vices of which the management here would surely disapprove. Said management, of course, was in reality nowhere near competent enough to even be aware of his transgressions; but even if they had tried they could not have come up with a punishment that better fit the crime.

Yotsuya's three-dimensional web-cam pulsed into life, its light coalescing into a figure. He didn't need to look up to know who it was. "It is considered proper manners to seek permission before entering another's place of residence, madam."

"Well, now, if I were a proper-mannered person, that might mean something. Besides, y'know, I'm not really here. This is a just a super-holographic image of me." Mara's gaze panned around the room. "So this is where you live, huh? Geez. Won't they give you anything bigger?"

"I'm sure they would if I were to request it," Yotsuya said. "Given the importance your kind places on such shows of status, no doubt the space allotted to you on your home plane is far larger."

"Hm. Of course. Well, larger, at least." The eyes of Mara's image scanned along the perimeter of the room, as if to note its exact dimensions. "Anyway, I've come to deliver my end of the little bargain you and I made."

An image formed on the screen of Yotsuya's workstation. He clicked to sift through the layers of the image, each one showing a magazine.

"There you gotcher Playhouse, your Lesbian Lust, your Shaved Nuns in Bondage Quarterly — all five of this year's issues — and I even threw in a copy of the Pretoria's Secret lingere catalog. I had an extra." Mara chuckled. "I'm all set up to YTP these over as soon as you deliver on your end of the bargain."

"Very well, madam," Yotsuya said, embarrassment showing through more than he would have preferred. His fingers reached inside his robe, emerging a moment later with a computer diskette clutched between them. "This contains all the access codes you'll require to, er, borrow that which you've expressed an interest in." He placed the disk onto his computer's transfer port.

Mara stretched out an open palm. "We have a deal, then?"

For a moment, Yotsuya pondered. To agree would be a betrayl of the trust placed in him by the Almighty and his other superiors. But was that really any skin off his nose? Was it not their fault in the first place that he had been sent down to Earth for reasons that were still largely mysterious even to him? Was it any surprise that by his mission's end, he had acquired a taste for the pleasures that the mortal world had to offer — pleasures that the oh-so-lofty realm of gods would never condescend to allow within its borders? True, he had no regard for the demon Mara, and did not wish her to succeed at whatever deal she was ultimately making. Yet considering the woman's obvious incompetence, it seemed that anything she tried to do would likely go awry without him going out of his way to hinder it.

No, he thought as he slowly lowered the diskette into the range of her reach, it was no skin off his nose whatsover. And he had made sure that when the theft of the prototype was discovered, no evidence would point toward his guilt. Most probably, any investigation would be quietly disposed of in any case, to keep too many deities from asking why the Wolf was being reconstructed in the first place.

"You do know that what you are getting is an experimental redesign, do you not?" Yotsuya said. "The original Fenris Wolf was destroyed by the Almighty's three daughters. This new version as of yet lacks anything close to the full power of the original. It is nothing more than a prototype, really."

"Yeah, I know. You told me that already." Mara snorted. "It'll be enough to do the job. And even if it isn't, so what? My client contracted for the Fenris Wolf, and I intend to fulfill that contract to the letter."

"I see." Yotsuya smirked. "And you aren't worried that delivering the goods as promised, but not as expected, will lead to dissatisfied customers, thereby perhaps injuring your reputation?"

"My reputation?" Mara shot him a look of haughty superiority. "Listen, buster. When somebody wants the job done right, I mean really done right, they call the demoness with the proven track record, the one they can be absolutely sure will come through. Understand?"

"Oh, absolutely. And when you put it that way, it makes perfect sense."

She grunted in satisfaction. "Well, good."

"Anyone fitting that description wouldn't have hired you in the first place."

The virtual Mara faded into a cloud of oily black smoke as the transfer port hummed into life. "Everybody's gotta be a smartass...."


Nabiki glanced up from her kneeling position to see Happosai saunter into the living room. Finding nothing in this to be concerned about, she returned her attention to the magazine article that she'd been reading.

"I see you're doing a little reading." Happosai came to a stop a respectable distance away from her, and began to stare. "One of those business journals, I bet. Gonna make a killing in the market?"

Nabiki lifted the magazine enough for him to see that it was an issue of Women's World. She went back to the article on summer fashion trends, hoping he would take the hint and go away.

"I see." Happosai grinned. "A little market research, eh?"

She sighed as curiosity fought with better judgement, and the latter came out the winner. "Is there by any chance something I can do for you, Uncle Happy?" It wasn't the right honorific for him, of course, but she liked the way it sounded.

"Now that you mention it, there is." Happosai zipped over to stand beside her. "I've got a little job that I was hoping you could do for me."

Nabiki let out a short, derisive chuckle. "I don't think I'd be interested." She'd heard from her dad just how well Happosai treated people under him.

"That's a shame," Happosai said. "Because I dug into my collections for a few things that I was going to offer in return." He held up a bracelet; Nabiki's own face gaped out at her, a distorted reflection in solid gold, framed by flawlessly-cut gemstones.

"That is to say, I don't think, I know I'd be interested." She became aware of how far her eyes were bulging out, and pulled back. Poker face, she told herself. "Er, depending on what the job is, of course."

"The job, m'dear, is public relations."

Nabiki raised an eyebrow.

"You see, this underwear thief is not only despicable and underhanded, but obviously quite clever. Locating and capturing this person might prove impossible to do through normal means."

"Have to admire those underwear thieves," Nabiki quipped.

"Well, of course." Happosai nodded proudly, then looked dubious at her for a moment before continuing. "Anyhow, there's more than one way to deal with this sort of person. I've decided to carry this fight to the battlefield of public opinion. I want this... this pervert to be branded public enemy number one, to be the lowest of the low in the eyes of the masses, and I want you to make it happen."

"I see," Nabiki said thoughtfully. Instinct told her that getting mixed up with Uncle Happy would inevitably mean trouble. The man was a sea captain, inviting her to take a luxury cruise aboard his ship, the Titanic.

On the other hand, the fee he was offering would keep her in spending money for quite some time, and what he was asking her to do was straightforward enough. She could try, anyway; considering the difficulty involved in making Happosai seem like an innocent victim, no one would blame her if people didn't buy it. And if, or rather when, whatever overall scheme Happosai was involved in came crashing down, well, by that time she'd have taken the money and gotten quietly out of the way. Women and children first.

Akane's head poked into the room. "As long as you're dipping into your savings, how about kicking in something towards fixing the living room wall?"

"Huh? Not a chance," Happosai replied petulantly. "Let Tendo fix his own wall. I'm not running a charity here!"

"Charity? It was your fault that it got broken, y'old freak," Ranma called from behind her.

"If you want it fixed, take some initiative yourself," Happosai replied, ignoring the allegation. "Take up a collection or something!"

"I'd be happy to donate this week's grocery money," came Kasumi's voice from the kitchen.

Nabiki paid them no mind as ideas began to form in her mind. She'd give Happosai his little publicity campaign. Though if anyone ended up actually buying into it, she'd be positively amazed.


Two girls chatted as they walked off the grounds of Furinkan.

"Did you read the article in the school paper?"

"The one about the old man whose underwear was stolen?"

"Yes, that one. How awful!"

"Yes, I really hope they catch the criminal responsible."

Behind them, Nabiki hmmmed. Okay, she thought, consider me positively amazed. But now she needed to do the same thing on a larger scale. This would take a little thinking, and a little research.


A disgruntled Mara stepped into the living room of the Rusu residence. "Two lousy square meters! I can't believe his is bigger than mine by— Oh, hi!"

Zhen Guairen considered for a moment, then decided he was probably better off not knowing.

"Well, everything went through as planned. Your little package is waiting for you in the garage."

"Excellent." Zhen paused for a moment to savor a mental image of his hated enemy pleading helplessly for mercy as fangs the size of telephone poles snatched his head from his neck. "The garage?"

"Well, you don't expect me to leave it outside where everybody'll see it, do you? Or bring it in the house? I don't think it's even newspaper-trained."

"I see." It wasn't important. "At long last, Master Happosai will be destroyed, and his soul shall rot in the deepest pits of—"

"Yeah, yeah," Mara said. "Let's get on with it, already."


They stepped out of the house. Zhen approached the garage and peered through the side window.

"Where is it?" he asked. "All I see is a French poodle."

Mara just stared back at him, half-smirking.

Zhen slowly shook his head. "You are not going to tell me that this is the Fenris Wolf. Because if you do, I just might have to hurt you."

Folding her arms, Mara glared back nonchalantly. "Don't judge by appearances, sport."

"To believe I traded my life's work, my priceless collection of you-know-whats, for this." Zhen sighed.

"I promise you, this really is the Fenris," Mara said. "Look, you've heard the story of how it was destroyed by the three goddesses, right?"

Zhen grunted.

"Or so they thought. Only thing is, it turned out that being something of a primal force, it couldn't be destroyed. Not completely. Knowing this, Heaven was faced with a choice: re-create the Wolf, or it would eventually re-create itself somewhere else, out of their control. Not surprisingly, they decided to do the former.

"But a huge wolf isn't Heaven's style. So when they rebuilt dear old Fido there, they altered the design a bit. They made it... nice. The Fenris Poodle. Suitable for Saturday morning cartoons."

"Nice doesn't serve my purposes," Zhen said, with resignation.

"I only meant they made it look nice." Mara sighed. "Look, I'll show you. Got anything edible around here?"

Zhen looked up at her, a malicious smile creeping onto his face.

"Don't even think about it, buster."

"Umm. Ah, I know." Zhen zoomed to the kitchen, returning only a moment later bearing a small pastry wrapped in cellophane. "Here. This is Momotaru's. I believe it's referred to as a 'Twinkie.'"

"It'll do. Toss it in there, would you? And be sure to close the door after you."

Zhen did as instructed, and watched through the heavy glass of the window. Before the confection could even hit the ground, wooly white curls zipped through the air in a dizzying flurry. Teeth gnashed with a sound like rapid-fire machine guns, and in moments only a few scraps of cellophane meandered through the air where the.pastry had been.

"Excellent." Zhen grinned. "You have my apologies."

"He'll do the same to your Master Happosai if you order him to," Mara said. "Which reminds me, you'll need one of these." Her hand clutched two small identical objects, one of which she gave to Zhen. It was a cookie in the shape of a bone. "This is what they use to control the Wolf. Give it to him, and it'll obey the next command you give it."

"I see." He glanced over at the identical item still in Mara's hand. "There are two."

"That's right, there are. But all you need is one. I'm saving the other as insurance." Her eyes rolled downwards. "When I deal with gods, whatever plans I make usually end up backfiring on me." She shoved the object into a pocket. "This is to keep that from happening."

Zhen flung open the door to the garage.

Razor-sharp teeth in blood-red gums bared, and the dog tensed as if about to pounce. Zhen held up the treat, and the poodle immediately came to heel, standing on its hind legs, mouth open in eager anticipation. He threw the treat; the dog leaned over, gobbled it up, and came back to attention.

Averting his nose, Zhen held out Happosai's underpants. "You are to attack the owner of this pair of underwear," he said to the poodle. The dog went back to standing on all fours, a low growl emanating from its

"Nice going, bonehead." Mara snorted.

Zhen blinked. "Surely my instructions were specific enough?"

"Yes, but you didn't tell it to go find Happosai. So now it's just going to sit here until he happens to drop by."

"Hmmm." Zhen pondered for a few seconds. "So I need to lure Happosai here. That doesn't seem like it will be insurmountable." Ideas and plans began to bloom in his mind, and he laughed. No, it wasn't insurmountable
by any means.


Nabiki strode past the receptionist and through the frosted-glass doors, where a familiar face awaited her.

"Well, well, well," Nabiki said. "If it isn't my old beau. Kinnosuke Cashew."

"Nabiki Tendo. How nice of you to visit."

"I just happened to be checking into the local radio stations. Imagine my surprise when I found out that you were running this one."

"And why not?" Kinnosuke smiled. "The Cashew school is based on spending other people's money. When you, ah, bankrupted us, we needed a new source of income. What more natural than working within the broadcast media, which survives by finding sponsors to pay for everything? It's exactly what we've been doing all along."

Nabiki nodded. "The best possible career move, was it?"

"Well, not quite the best. But government is harder to get into."

"Anyhow, what I came to talk with you about—"

Kinnosuke lifted the puppet on his hand to Nabiki's face, and spoke in a raspy, throaty voice. "Don't listen to her, young master! She's obviously one of those bleeding-heart socialist nazi tree-huggers!"

Nabiki's eyes rolled slightly. "My gods, you really don't know me very well, do you."

"Please forgive Eipuriru," Kinnosuke said in his normal voice. "He's been through some rather difficult times since we last met, and I'm afraid it's changed him quite a bit. I've considered dismissing him, but I don't have the heart, not when he's been my right-hand man for so long."

He switched back to the Eipuriru voice. "I bet you're a lesbian, aren't you!"

"I bet you're not anatomically correct." Oh, real good, Nabiki, she thought to herself. You're arguing with a dummy. Literally, yet. She turned to look Kinnosuke directly in the eye. "Anyway, let's let bygones be bygones, shall we? The client that I represent would like your help. He's interested in persuading the public to think his way on a certain issue. If you're willing to assist us in doing so, he'll make it well worth your while."

"Madam, I am appalled," Kinnosuke said in his normal voice. "You think that the integrity of this station is so thin that you can slip its management money under the table and make us adopt your views? We are members of the modern media!"

"Meaning what?"

He handed her a looseleaf binder. "Meaning that if you want to pay us off, you have to do it by the book."

"Ah." Nabiki scanned the opened page, and began checking off commercial time slots to buy.