"Goodness, look! A postcard from Fathers!"

Kasumi handed me a card. A picture of some nubile scantily-clad woman was on the front, an advertisement for some beach resort. I turned the card over and recognized Mr. Tendo's writing.

"The master's retraining program is proving especially rigorous. He's been demonstrating to us the Anything Goes Bikini String Pull attack. He builds our stamina and determination by allowing us to deal with the angry crowds of women that are the inevitable result. The master has also been kind enough to allow us to work at the resort to pay for his meals and his liquor consumption. We are proud to partake of his genius.'

"My, it almost makes you wish you were there!" Kasumi said with a grin.

"Heh. I'd have to be an idiot to want to be there." Pop and Mr. Tendo just couldn't ever say no to that old freak. Happosai didn't have much time left. He was doing what he thought might be his last romp before going to that great big house of naughty pleasures in the sky. Not a guy I wanted to be around. Although if I did go, I thought, I'd show Master Happosai how I partake of his genius. I'd partake my fist right in his genius face...

"Hey, Kasumi, do you want to do something tonight?"

"I am going to be doing something tonight, Ranma. I've got the laundry to do, and the floors, and..."

"No, I mean, y'know, go out and do something for fun."

"That new equipment for the dojo needs to be picked up tonight, Ranma."

"Oh yeah." Always something to do.

Kasumi picked up her empty teacup and mine and took them into the kitchen. I had a little while before my first student would be in today, so I settled down to read the paper. The headline caught my eye: 'Martial Artists Defeat Mysterious Creature'.

According to the paper, some sort of ice demon had been on a rampage across Tokyo. The team led by Akane and Ryoga had taken it on and eventually destroyed it. There was a picture of 'Ms. Tendo's pet P-chan' saving some old woman from drowning in all the melted ice from the battle. It figured that the news media would be the last to know that P-chan was really Ryoga.

My mind went back to the first time I saw Akane fight...


"I... despise... men!"

With that as her battle cry, Akane jumped forward to meet the horde of boys who were charging out of the Furinkan High School gates. I sat on the sidelines and watched her. I have to admit I was impressed. I had never seen a girl who could fight with as much power and speed as she had. Well, there had been one, but I didn't want to think about her.

Akane tore through the crowd of boys like a mower through grass. The boys never had a chance. They spent more time pushing each other around for position, and shouting at Akane to attract her attention, than they actually did fighting her. Those who did get her attention were rewarded with a fist in the gut, a foot or a schoolbag in the face.

Akane stood amidst the pile of her now senseless schoolmates. "For Pete's sake. Every morning! What a drag!"

"Hey, you're not half bad at this," I said. "But I think I could give you a few pointers when we get back home."

Suddenly a voice called out, "Ranma Saotome!"

"Yeah, that's me, what's up?" I turned around to see a guy whose clothes and bokken identified him as a kendoist. He carried a single red rose, which he casually tossed over to Akane. He glared at me powerfully, suggesting that I was invading his territory and he wasn't going to put up with it.

"My name is Upperclassman Kuno. Junior Group E. Captain of the kendo club. Undefeated new star of the high school fencing world. But my peers call me..." he paused for dramatic effect, "the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High!" The sky rumbled along with Kuno's pronouncements. Just a coincidence, although I wasn't sure of that at the time.

Kuno pointed his bokken toward me with an air of superiority. "Nabiki Tendo informs me that your parents have arranged an engagement between you and her sister. Is this true, worm?"

"Well, yeah, but..."

"Never! I shall never accept your engagement to Akane!" Kuno swung his weapon at me, but I jumped up out of its path easily enough.

The crowd of Akane's would-be suitors were meanwhile picking themselves off the ground, with desperate cries of "What?! Engagement?!" which totally drowned out Akane's and my attempts to explain that Kuno had the wrong sister. Nabiki had neglected to mention which of her sisters I had been engaged to; probably some scheme of hers to make money off of Kuno.

Nevertheless, I wasn't about to let a guy like this push me around. "I'm Ranma Saotome, and I accept your challenge!" I knew right away that this Kuno guy was going to be a big pain in the neck.

A few minutes later I had another big pain in the neck, from where Kuno's sword had gotten a little too close. That was okay, because Kuno was lying on the ground with my bootprints all over his face. I was the winner. But it still hurt.

"I'd better take you to the doctor," Akane said.

We let the school people know that there'd been a little... accident... and I followed Akane. She hurried through the streets, as if dealing with me was a bother that she really wanted to get over with.

"You didn't have to take me, y'know," I said, "you could'a told me where it was and I could'a gone there myself."

"I don't have anything against you, Ranma," she said. "But I'm not going to marry you. If Dad is going to marry you to someone, it's not going to be me. Understand?"

"Hey, sure, no way would I wanna marry you," I said. She stopped outside the clinic we had just arrived at and glared at me. "Uh, I mean that I don't want to get married. To anybody!" This seemed to satisfy her, and we went inside.

A pleasant-faced, soft-spoken man greeted us inside. "Hello, Akane! This must be your new houseguest. I'm Doctor Tofu Ono, it's a pleasure to meet you."

"Oh! Doctor! Good morning to you! This is Ranma Saotome!" Akane's usual macho tomboy exterior was now gone, replaced by some cute schoolgirl I didn't recognize. She was obviously sweet on this doctor.

Doctor Tofu looked at my neck. "I have a balm that works wonders." He started applying some substance to my neck, and the throbbing went down to a tolerable level. "So, I hear you're Akane's finace."

"No!" Akane and I both cried in unison. "No," I said. "My Pop and Mr. Tendo engaged me to Akane's sister Kasumi."

There was a KRRAK sound, as Dr. Tofu involuntarily bent my neck at a ninety degree angle. "Kasumi? Engaged?!?"

"We better go, Ranma." Akane grabbed my hand and ushered me out of the clinic.

"Oh, I get it," I said as I was being dragged down the street. "This Tofu guy likes Kasumi. That's why you set her up with me!"

Akane made a sudden stop and turned around. "You shut up! That is not true! I just didn't want to be engaged to a jerk like you!"

My head fell back into its proper position. "Hey. Hey! I'm cured! You like Dr. Tofu, though, don't you? I could tell by the way you acted around him."

"That is none of your business!" Akane seemed about to either cry or rip my lungs out. But at least I was provoking a reaction, getting around her defenses. "I don't care who you get engaged to. You can marry Kuno for all I care! Just as long as it isn't me!"

"Yeah, well, I bet if I went to Tofu's place as a girl, he'd think I was more attractive than you."

That provoked a reaction.

Much later, I was home studying a book on do-it-yourself chiropractic.

"Isn't your neck better yet?" asked Pop.

"It was, Pop. It was."

Some dialog for this story was taken from the original Ranma 1/2
series, translation and English rewrite by Matt Thorn and Gerard Jones
for Viz comics.