"I heard that you were collecting stories, and... I, well..."

"You've got something for me?" Oscir asked. The man's face was a triangle -- flat on top, narrowing towards the bottom into a scrawny neck. Big ping pong ball eyes looked nervously around the room at everything except Oscir.

"I-- I just thought that using the latest in technology would help you produce better results."

Oscir shook his head. "I don't *want* better results. The fics here are supposed to be bad."

"But... but that's what I mean. Here, let me show you." The man set a case, about the size of a telephone book, onto the table. Two latches on opposite sides of it unhooked, and the case flipped open to reveal a display screen and keyboard. "This is my laptop. It's got a Terabyte of memory, with dimensionally transcendental display, and...." His face colored with excitement as he spoke.

Oscir stared warily at this unnamed man. Talking about the computer seemed to... stimulate him. He didn't feel... that way... about it, did he? It was a disgusting thought; Oscir tried to banish it, filling his mind with a picture of Nuku-Nuku sprawling out over a huge box of kitty litter.

"Anyway...." Opening a yellow and black book, the man pulled a disc from the back cover sleeve and inserted it into his computer. "What I'm going to load is a fanfiction template wizard. It produces a story for you based on a time-proven formula."

Boxes flew by on the screen, appearing and disappearing as the man clicked buttons. To Oscir, this made no sense. Where was the wizard? A wizard was supposed to be an old man with a long beard wearing a pointy hat and robes covered by moons and stars.

The man turned to Oscir. "It's almost done. I need you to choose the character who'll be featured in this story."

"A character?" Oscir pondered. "From Ranma 1/2?"

"Yes. Though if you wanted one from somewhere else, we could go back three screens and check the box to include crossover support, and...."

"No, that's all right." Oscir thought a moment, then leaned over to type a name on the keyboard. "He he he!"


"That is a panda, isn't it?"

Passers-by paused, staring in disbelief at the giant animal. The panda spat casually, then raised his arms in a proper martial arts stance.

"Your move," Ranma said, readying his defenses. Though his father now wore a different body, he was still the same stupid old man. And this engagement thing was his dumbest idea yet. No way was Ranma going to be forced to marry someone who wasn't the one he wanted.

Air whished as the panda's arm zipped forward with blinding speed. Ranma ducked and weaved out of the way of the powerful strikes. He wasn't as strong as a girl, but dodging was easier with the lighter, smaller form. He hated being a girl, but it did have some advantages.

"Damn it, Pop, you know why I can't marry your friend's daughter!" Ranma grabbed onto the panda's arm and pulled, letting its own momentum carry it forward. The panda tumbled forward, flattening a "No U Turn" sign and landing sprawled across the rain-soaked ground.

Ranma turned away from his father, and found himself staring into his true love's eyes.

Her expression held no disapproval. She smiled at him with the same friendly, open-mouthed smile that she always used. But he knew, without her saying anything, that he had just done something wrong. He could always tell, just by the slightest change in the way she looked at him.

Sighing, Ranma nodded to her. She came over to him, and he felt the wet touch of her mouth on his cheek. His hand stroked her hair, wet and slick from the rain. She was right, of course. She was always right. The day they had met her had been the best day, the luckiest day of his life. That day, she'd joined them and followed them on their travels, even going all the way to China with them. Most every time Ranma had been about to do something stupid, she had stopped him and made him think twice. If only she had been there in time to stop him from taking the plunge into the Jusenkyo pool....

"Sorry, Pop." Ranma held out a hand to the panda, who rose to his feet. "I'll visit your friend."

Yes, he'd go along with it, for now. But when he got there, he'd explain to Pop's friend why he couldn't get married, because he already loved someone else.


"Well, I'm just glad you're a girl." Akane tightened the belt on her gi, looking back at Ranma with an embarrassed smile. "It's just... I'd really hate to lose to a boy!"

Ranma could think of nothing to say. Smiling vaguely, he turned to go. So Akane had some wrong ideas. Big deal. Was that his problem?

But what would his true love say?

"Look, Akane... there's something you should know. There's a really good reason why I can't marry you, or one of your sisters."

Akane turned around, her gaze falling on his breasts. "No duh, Ranma."

"I don't mean because of that!" Ranma sighed. "Lemme find Pop and we'll explain."


A hush fell over the room as all eyes stared at the now-male Ranma and his now-human father.

Mr. Tendo rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes...." He reached an arm around Ranma's back. "Still, your problem isn't so bad. You're really a boy, so you can marry one of my daughters. Choose whichever one you like."

"No!" Ranma shouted. "I told you, I can't! I already got someone I like!"

"Oh, I think I know who you mean, Ranma," Kasumi said. "She came into the kitchen a little while ago while I was cooking. I gave her some food. I didn't know she had one of those curses."

"Huh? What're you talking about?"

"You mean she... she isn't..." Kasumi put a finger to her lip. "Oh my!"

"She isn't cursed, Kasumi," Genma said. "The way you saw her is the way she's always been. And my son thinks he's in love with her."

Ranma glared at his father. "Whaddaya mean, 'Thinks?!'"

"Now, just a moment," Soun Tendo said in an authoritative head-of-the-household voice. "Just who is this person, Saotome?"

"I'll introduce her to you, Tendo." Genma raised his voice. "Come here, girl!"

A white, shaggy dog darted in through the opened door, coming to heel at Genma's feet.

"Saotome, meet Bess," Genma said. Soun reflexively held out a hand, and the dog raised one in return.


"Hmmm...." Oscir stared thoughtfully into space, then turned towards his visitor. "This has possibilities. Does this story have a title?"

The man glanced at his computer screen. "Yes. 'Altered Bess-tiny.'" He tapped out something on the keyboard. "Here, I'll show you some upcoming scenes...."


"The Pig-Tailed Girl is really who?"

"Woof! Woof!'

"And why did no one inform me of this fact?"


"Woof! Woof woof woof!"

"What? This is... oh my gods! You're right! This is vinegar, not white wine! I could've ruined my curry!"


"Miss customer, stop! That Xiaogouniquan! Very bad you fall in spring!'

"Sorry, sugar. If Ran-chan won't have me as a human being...."


"Aloha, keiki! I wen' pickin' all dese fruits jus' fo'..."

"Woof woof!"

"What? Contaminated by the legendary Aloha virus? How dare the Principal try to feed us this junk?"


The man pulled his disc out and slipped it back into the book sleeve. "What do you think?"

"Hmmm... it's interesting, I'll grant you, but I think I prefer coming up with my fics the old-fashioned way," Oscir said. "Technology is a good thing, but it shouldn't be used just for its own sake, no? There's a time and a place for everything, no?"

"All- all right."

The man picked up his computer as Oscir escorted him (rather forcefully) towards the exit. Good riddance. What sort of fool would want to....

"I won't bother showing you the template wizard for self-insert lemons, then."

Oscir zipped back to the center of his lair, dragging the man along by his computer.