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All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan
Confrontation's and Expectations Pt 2
(A Different Viewpoint Pt 11)
When Johnathon woke in the early morning he was disoriented for a moment. Then he remembered where he was. < Oh yeah, I'm in China. I'm on the way to rescue Kasumi, with Ryoga, Mousse, and Shampoo.> He looked around and spotted the pig, duck and cat that were his traveling companions. Johnathon got up and got some food for them and a bowl of water.
Sheepishly Johnathon spoke to them. "I know this is tough living. I really owe you guys a lot for putting up with this."
Ryoga grunted and shook his little head. Shampoo meowed and shrugged. Mousse just looked at him noncommittally.
Johnathon looked gratefully at them. "You're the best, is there anything I can get for you?" Shampoo and Ryoga shook their heads in the negative. Mousse nodded. "You want to get some weapons right?" Mousse nodded again. "I had planned on it, let me run this by you..."
Johnathon drove deeper and deeper into China for the next three days. Finally, the roads went no further. He parked the jeep in a small village he had last seen seven months before.
Johnathon picked up Mousse. "Ok, you should be able to pick up some weapons in this village. Be very careful not to get spotted, I'm going to head out with Shampoo and Ryoga up toward that mountain pass." Johnathon pointed at a point between the closest mountains. "I'll light a fire each night, I suspect you'll be able to catch up the first night or the second, but don't rejoin us without very good reason. You'll be more useful as aerial recon. I suspect I'll be met and either escorted or captured, and brought to their village."
Johnathon frowned seriously. "Don't reveal yourself until after we reach Kasumi. If it doesn't look like the four of us can rescue her alone, it'll be your job to bring Ranma and company in for a rescue. We'll try to wait for you if we can't pull it off ourselves. Most important, don't get spotted! You'll have to make the decision on when to make your move. Mousse quacked in response, nodding firmly. The white duck flew off then toward the center of the village. Johnathon picked up his pack and put it on. "Time for us to get going!" There was a Bwee and a meow of agreement from his pack. He smiled and started to quickly hike toward the mountains.
Johnathon moved with determination. He had decided to be several miles into the mountains by nightfall. Several hours after dark Johnathon stopped and started preparing a campfire. He was glad for both the full moon and the lack of clouds. After getting a fire going he unrolled a sleeping bag and prepared for sleep. He opened his pack and checked on the two animals.
Johnathon peered in at Ryoga and Shampoo. "It gets cold up here at night, there is room here in my sleeping bag." Both of them appeared to think it over, then nodded. It was cold, and getting colder. All three climbed into Johnathon's bag. Johnathon frowned. "I hope Mousse is all right." He was surprised to hear Shampoo meow faintly in concern. He shook his head. "Nothing we can do about it now." Johnathon closed his eyes and was soon asleep. Ryoga fell asleep immediately as well.
Shampoo was finding it difficult to sleep. Something was keeping her awake. Was it sleeping in the sleeping bag with two males? No, she had been in Johnathon's pack with Mousse and Ryoga for over three days. As a cat it didn't matter that much. She found herself thinking about the last time she had been cooped up. In that cage she had felt helpless, at least this time she had a choice. She had been stuck with Mousse for most of a day. At least the stupid duck wasn't here now, smothering her with all his unwelcome attention.
Shampoo shook her head. < I don't miss him! There is no way I am worried about him!> A tiny voice inside her head ventured an opinion. < Maybe just a little?> Shampoo sighed and found herself reluctantly remembering him comforting her when she thought she would soon die. Slowly she fell asleep, somehow reassured by the memory.
Johnathon's watch alarm woke him just before dawn. The fire had gone out but the embers were still warm. He quickly shuffled through the embers and added some wood, getting it going again. He cooked some dried fish he had gotten at the last village and ate quickly, letting Shampoo and Ryoga have their fill as well. Less than half an hour after dawn Johnathon set off again, hiking quickly, determined to get into the mountain pass by nightfall. Later that after noon he spotted a familiar looking white duck flying far above.
Johnathon grinned. "Hey Shampoo, Mousse is flying overhead." In the pack, Shampoo refused to respond outwardly. Her heart lightened however and she found herself inexplicably cheerful. Johnathon hiked into the mountains for two more days. They were getting close and he decided to go straight in. "They'll find me anyway." He reasoned. "I might as well let them see me coming and make it easy for them. The surprise will be theirs though."
Early in the morning of the fourth day they surrounded him. Johnathon looked around at the men that stood about him. A dozen men with spears, wearing a strange variation on three thousand year old egyptian garb.
"Take me to Cliopatra." Johnathon said commandingly, pulling his canteen off his belt and opening it. He could tell they still didn't understand the language but they knew Cliopatra. "Cliopatra!" He said loudly and poured water over his head. Johnathon transformed in a blink into a threatening looking felinoid with black fur and they all took a step back. Slowly they started moving, staying around him, well out of arms reach, herding him toward their hidden village. Johnathon went along easily, expecting exactly this.
A couple of hours later they reached the village. Things had changed since he had left. He noticed most of the people carried weapons now, where they had not before. There were several dozen men drilling in the courtyard in front of the pyramid. Johnathon took a long glance at them, judging their level of skill. He frowned in concern. They looked pretty competent actually, no threat one on one, but definitely dangerous in groups.
Cliopatra was standing upon the raised platform in front of the pyramid, waiting for him. She had probably been informed as he had entered the village. Half a dozen large men flanked her. Johnathon walked smoothly toward her.
"Where is Kasumi Tendo?" He asked in English.
"She is safe, for the moment." Cliopatra said haughtily. "She will stay healthy if you do as I say."
Johnathon nodded. "I figured as much." He looked calm, but inside he was seething with anger. "You never intended to let her go." He made it a statement of fact.
Cliopatra smiled at him, it wasn't a nice smile. "Of course not, if you act up, I have her to, mistreat. So if you want your precious Kasumi to remain healthy, you will do exactly as I say."
Johnathon nodded, hiding his anger behind a mask of politeness. "Masterfully done, I will do as you say." He paused then continued. "May I see Kasumi for myself?"
Cliopatra nodded regally. "Of course."
Johnathon was led inside the pyramid and down into the labyrinth underneath it. He paid careful attention to the twists and turns. Soon enough they came to a stone doorway. It had a small window with metal bars set into it at eye level. He noticed that the bars were set about four inches apart.
Johnathon moved to the window. "Kasumi?"
The eldest Tendo daughter was indeed inside. "Johnathon!" She rushed to the window.
He looked at her in concern. "Are you alright?"
Kasumi nodded. "I'm fine, oh Johnathon, you shouldn't have come."
He grinned. "And miss all this fun? Never." He looked carefully at the door. There did not appear to be any hinges or handles. He reached through the bars and she took his hand. "I will get you home Kasumi, count on it. Stone walls do not a prison make." He poked the door with a finger in Kasumi's sight while quoting.
Kasumi blinked. "Oh my!"
Johnathon held the finger up to his lips and winked. "I will see you soon Kasumi-chan. I may look like a cat, but there is someone here more cattish than I."
Johnathon looked at his escort, who looked anxious to get going. He stepped forward and let them lead him away. Johnathon tried to memorize the turns they took to get to his room, murmuring each direction change quietly to himself. Shampoo's sensitive cat hearing caught every word. "Left, the second right, two guards, up the stairs..." He arrived at the chambers he remembered so well from his previous stay and was let inside. The door was locked behind him. Quickly Johnathon went to the bed, laid down the pack and opened it. Shampoo and Ryoga climbed out.
He looked at them sharply. "Will you be able to find her?" Shampoo nodded. "The door is six inches thick stone. Can you handle that?" Ryoga nodded. Johnathon grinned. "Ok, we'll wait till tonight. After dinner when they bring me back, I'll take out my guards after they open the door for me. I'll bring some hot water back from dinner. We'll go get Kasumi and get away." Shampoo and Ryoga both nodded eagerly. "Now hide until I come back. They might come in to check my stuff." The two diminutive cursed martial artists hid under the bed. Soon a knock came to the door and Johnathon was escorted to dinner.
Cliopatra was waiting for him in her room, a small feast laid out. She instructed the guards to wait outside and motioned for Johnathon to sit across from her. He did so and she sat as well. Johnathon looked levelly at her. Clio was wearing a beautiful dress that left little to the imagination, it suited her.
"You look beautiful tonight." He commented honestly, concealing his true feelings.
Clio smiled and preened. "I'm glad you noticed. You didn't seem very interested when you were here last... I was disappointed when you decided to leave me."
"It was a difficult decision." Johnathon lied. "I was greatly tempted to stay with you."
Clio licked her lips seductively. "This time I'll try to make sure you succumb to that temptation." Johnathon inclined his head to her and began to eat. Silence followed for some time before Clio spoke again. "Did you like my catacombs?"
Johnathon raised an eyebrow. "Honestly no, not my idea of a pleasure spot."
She laughed at that. "No they're not very nice, especially with all the traps. I wouldn't recommend going down there without a guide. The traps activate in a rotation, different passageways are safe every hour. It's really quite complicated."
Johnathon frowned. < That makes things difficult.>
Clio was continuing to gloat. "If anything larger than a cat goes down the wrong hall at the wrong time... well lets just say it would be unpleasant."
Johnathon digested this news while drinking a glass of water. < Larger than a cat?> "Oh? Mechanical devices fascinate me, tell me more."
Clio laughed again. "Why not? I don't see what good it would do you... except to convince you of the futility of a rescue attempt."
An hour later Johnathon came back to his room with a pot of hot tea. He didn't bother to attack the guards and meekly let them lock him inside. Shampoo came out of hiding and went up to him. Johnathon went to the bed and sat down. He went through his pack. Shampoo and Ryoga watched him, obviously wondering what was going on. He brought out a thermos and set it in front of him.
He spoke quietly, as if to himself. "It's no good trying to get Kasumi out without someone to guide us past the traps." Johnathon carefully explained how the traps worked, still talking as if he was alone. "Only four men know the pattern, and none of them would reveal the secret, they are fanatics, they'll die before betraying their queen." He shook his head. "Even if her door could be opened somehow..." He looked at Ryoga. "Kasumi couldn't get out without setting off the traps." Johnathon picked up the thermos. "Only Cliopatra herself could convince her men to lead Kasumi out safely."
Johnathon looked at Shampoo. "Perhaps I have a gift that would get her to change her mind." He continued to softly talk, pretending to reminisce. "I got the same gift once from a purple haired Chinese girl, it was very costly indeed." Shampoo's eyes widened. She pointed at herself with a paw then at the thermos. Johnathon nodded and tapped the thermos and pretended to pour it on himself. He shrugged. "I wonder if she'd free Kasumi, if she got my gift."
Shampoo nodded slowly, she understood Johnathon's plan. He planned on using the drowned cat water as a threat to turn Cliopatra into a cat, and thereby blackmail her into releasing Kasumi. It was a risky plan, especially for Johnathon. Shampoo began to think of a plan of her own. Johnathon wouldn't approve, but it would probably work, and everyone would be able to make it out alive. She thought about it for awhile as Johnathon laid back trying to get some sleep. No, Johnathon wouldn't like it at all.
Johnathon fell asleep quickly, and Ryoga did as well. Shampoo waited till they were both out, then tipped the kettle of hot water over on herself. Human now, Shampoo got a pen and a pad of paper out of Johnathon's bag and some rope. She would act tonight. As Shampoo wrote a note in her barely adequate Japanese she decided exactly what she would do. She would leave the final decision to Kasumi. It was her choice after all.
Shampoo waited till the tea had cooled, then went over to the door and quietly knocked. As Johnathon had assumed there was a guard just outside. He opened the door and was very surprised to see a gorgeous naked girl. Shampoo used his state of shock to move up to him, and sharply tap the pressure points on either side of his neck. She caught the guard as he collapsed. He was unconscious and would remain so for some time. In addition he would not remember exactly how he had fallen asleep. It was a useful technique, unfortunately it wouldn't work unless the subject was surprised, his chi disrupted. It was useless in a fight.
Shampoo worked quickly, she slipped into her short Chinese dress, and collected the kettle and thermos and a short piece of rope, about ten feet in length. She left one note for Johnathon, and took the second one with her. Shampoo slipped out and closed the door. She placed the guard in front of it, slumped naturally as if he had fallen asleep on duty. Shampoo snuck quietly down into the catacombs. No one would be in the catacombs save Kasumi, it would be too dangerous to guard. Shampoo took off her dress, and ripped off one sleeve. She tied one end of the rope around the thermos, after covering the thermos with her sleeve. Shampoo tied a loop in the other end. Putting the thermos on the ground, Shampoo knelt and lowered her head so the kettle would not have far to fall.
Shampoo poured the cold water over her head and shrunk instantly, just dodging the kettle. Now a cat, Shampoo listened carefully to see if anyone had heard the faint sound of a kettle falling a couple of feet. No one came to check, and Shampoo dragged the kettle and her dress, minus a sleeve over into a corner were they would be easily overlooked. Shampoo slipped the loop of rope over her head and picked up the second note she had written in her teeth. She headed into the catacombs, supposedly the traps were triggered by weight. As a cat, she wouldn't trip them, hopefully.
Shampoo dragged the thermos, hoping it wouldn't set off any traps either. Wrapped in her sleeve it made only a little noise. She was confident she would escape detection. Shampoo was much less sure about the second part of her plan. If Kasumi agreed to do her part this would work. Shampoo wasn't exactly sure why she had decided to give Kasumi a choice, but it seemed right to do so. Until awhile ago she wouldn't have cared. Recently however, she had started to have a change of heart. When exactly it had happened she wasn't sure. It must be Ranma rubbing off on her. Some things he did seemed foolish and weak.
Ranma had explained his actions to be directed by his honor. Shampoo had finally started to understand his sense of honor. Perhaps that made her weak as well. Shampoo wondered if she cared. It was slow going, dragging the thermos, but half an hour later Shampoo had arrived at the cell. She looked up at the window, and back down the rope. < There should be just enough slack.> Shampoo dragged the thermos under the window and moved so she was under it as well. She gathered herself and leapt straight up. Pulling herself halfway through the bars Shampoo meowed at the woman sleeping in the cell until Kasumi woke up.
Kasumi rubbed her eyes and sat up, looking at the window. "Who is it? Shampoo is that you?" Shampoo nodded and meowed again. Kasumi got up and walked over to her. "Is that a rope tied around your neck?" Kasumi looked down and saw that the rope hung over the window's edge. "What is this Shampoo?" Shampoo dropped the note she held in her teeth and Kasumi picked it up. She read it by the light of the oil lamp in her cell. "Passages are trapped. Yes I know that Shampoo. Cat's can walk in and out." She looked at Shampoo. "That does seem to be true, but what difference does that make?"
Kasumi read the rest of the note. "Here is water of drowned cat... Oh my... If Kasumi is cat can get out without anyone dying in traps." Kasumi faltered and sat down heavily on her bunk. "Oh... Oh my." She sat still for several minutes, not making a sound. Suddenly she stood. "I understand Shampoo." Kasumi went to the window and took Shampoo into her arms. She grabbed the rope and pulled the thermos up to the window. Kasumi set Shampoo down and eased the thermos through the bars. "This is it isn't it?" Kasumi asked, already knowing the answer.
Kasumi went back and sat down on the bunk. She untied Shampoo and the thermos and held it in her hands, regarding it. Shampoo sat beside her, patiently waiting. Kasumi slowly opened the top. It had a tight seal and she had to strain to get it open. She laid it's double layered cap down next to Shampoo. Shampoo stepped back, deciding that she didn't want to find out what two exposures to the spring of drowned cat would do. Kasumi lifted the thermos over her head and poured it deliberately over herself, completely soaking her head and shoulders.
Kasumi vanished into her clothing and the thermos fell, narrowly missing her. Shampoo went over to check on Kasumi. suddenly remembering that Mousse had gotten splashed several times with the water from the spring of drowned duck. His curse hadn't changed. Why? Oh yes, the curses merged with each other, but one curse could only change you so far. Once cat, twice cat, no difference. Kasumi climbed out of her clothing and looked quizzically at Shampoo, who was sitting with a thoughtful look on her face.
Kasumi meowed to get Shampoo's attention, it was a quiet sound. Kasumi meowed again, listening to her new voice. It was somehow very disquieting to her thinking that she could no longer speak, that her voice along with the rest of her had changed so completely. Reality sunk in very quickly, she was now a cat, and so she was likely to remain for some time. Kasumi sighed heavily, then forced herself to perk up, drawing upon her inner strength to accept this and go on. She looked Shampoo in the eyes, and the Amazon was amazed to find a measure of calmness and strength reflected there.
Shampoo had never really understood Kasumi before, but right now she was impressed by her. She nodded once and hopped to the floor and ran over to the door. Shampoo leapt easily to the window sill. She looked back and down from her perch. Kasumi had followed, a bit clumsily in her new body. She stopped at the door and looked up at the more experienced cat. Shampoo jumped back down, then up to the window again, showing Kasumi how it was done. The white and pink cat looked over the room, wondering if there was anything she had forgotten.
Shampoo's eyes passed over the room, alighting on the thermos and Kasumi's clothing. Shampoo jumped back down and ran over to the bunk. She leapt up and started tugging Kasumi's skirt off the bed. Kasumi looked at her in confusion then realized what Shampoo was doing. She started to help, stuffing her clothing in a corner under the bunk bed. Finally, Shampoo pushed the thermos down and together they rolled it into that same dark corner. Shampoo looked carefully at her handiwork. It was almost right except... Shampoo went over to the note she had written and shredded it thoroughly, pushing the pieces into a convenient crack in the wall.
Shampoo meowed in satisfaction. That would make it difficult to figure out what happened. With luck, Kasumi's clothing would not be found for some time, and hopefully they would not figure out the truth. Shampoo ran up to the door and looked up then looked at Kasumi then back at the window. Shampoo made a come here gesture with her paw and pointed at the window.
Kasumi gulped. < She wants me to go first!> She nodded and approached the window. Kasumi looked up at the window, gathered herself, and jumped. She managed to catch the sill with her claws but lost her grip and fell back down almost immediately. She landed feet first and stood amazed for several long seconds. < That was incredible!> Kasumi couldn't believe how easy it had been for her to leap that distance, and the fluid grace of her landing had been surprising as well. Shampoo meowed at her and indicated that she should try again.
Willingly Kasumi gathered herself and leaped with greater effort. She landed in the window between two bars and immediately started to overbalance forward. To keep from falling face first she jumped down to the floor outside her cell. < I did it!> Kasumi exulted, there were definitely advantages to being a cat. Shampoo joined her moments later and nodded approvingly. She then took off down the corridor, looking back and meowing quietly at Kasumi. Kasumi took the hint and followed her, quickly getting the hang of running as a cat.
It was easier then running on two legs, her body adapted easily to a running stride. Shampoo kept it slow enough for Kasumi to keep up easily and led her through the catacombs. In just a few minutes they were headed up the stairs to the level of Johnathon's room. Shampoo led Kasumi to Johnathon's door and the sleeping guard. Shampoo frowned, this would be tricky. She could make a lot of noise and wake Johnathon up, but that might wake the guard prematurely and even attract other unwanted attention. She looked up at the door handle, and decided to try it.
Shampoo leapt up to the handle and turned it with her weight. She held it in place in the open position but was unable to open the door without letting go. Kasumi watched, impressed by Shampoo's athletic feat, and quickly realized her dilemma. She walked up to the door and putting her front paws on it, slowly pushed it open a crack. Shampoo jumped down and helped, together they got it halfway open and then slipped quickly inside, letting the door slowly swing shut behind them.
Kasumi saw someone sleeping in a comfortable looking bed. She followed Shampoo up unto the bed and recognized him immediately. Johnathon's catlike features were unmistakable. She started over to his face but Shampoo stopped her. Kasumi looked at her in confusion and tried to move around but Shampoo got in her way a second time. Shampoo pointedly looked at a note at the foot of the bed and brought Kasumi over to it. Kasumi looked at the note, in the low light of the room it was difficult to read but she could make out most of it. It was a note to Johnathon, telling him to wait for Shampoo to return, then Shampoo would explain.
Kasumi looked at Shampoo in sudden understanding. Johnathon didn't know what Shampoo had done. He probably would be shocked and angry at first. Shampoo jumped off the bed, motioning for Kasumi to follow. Shampoo pulled up the covers under the bed and nodded at the hole. She wanted Kasumi to hide under the bed! Kasumi sighed and did so. Shampoo then jumped back unto the bed and meowed in Johnathon's face.
He woke up instantly, calming down when he saw Shampoo. "Ah, Shampoo. What's going on?" Shampoo meowed again, commandingly and Johnathon sat up. "What is it?" Shampoo ran to the foot of the bed and got the note, showing it to him. He took it and went over to the lantern to read it. "Hmmm, you went out? What did you do?" Shampoo nodded and meowed. Johnathon looked frustrated. "Um, do you need to turn human to tell me about it?" Shampoo nodded vigorously. He hesitated. "Are you sure? I only have enough water to turn you human once or twice." Shampoo nodded again. "It's important huh? Ok, I'll heat some water."
Johnathon got out his canteen, a large metal cup and a one shot stove he had made from a sardine can. He got out his lighter and lit the can, it's specially prepared contents would burn for an hour or so. Plenty of time to heat up some water. Soon enough he had the cup full of hot water and poured it on Shampoo. She changed to human and grabbed the bed sheet to cover herself., while Johnathon politely averted his gaze.
Johnathon spoke first. "Ok, what have you done Shampoo? I noticed that the thermos of water I had is missing, what did you do with it?" The purple haired Amazon bit her lip, suddenly wanting to hide behind the sheet she was holding to cover herself with. No, Johnathon was not going to be happy about this, not happy at all.
End Confrontations and Expectations Pt2
Hope you like it, C&C is always appreciated!