From A Different Viewpoint Chapter 18

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications. Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Taeuchi.

                    A Different Viewpoint 18

    The five martial artists, Ranma, Akane, Ryoga, Shampoo and Johnathon, all headed for the Cat Cafe.  Each was quietly lost in their own thoughts.

    Shampoo was torn between her duty to uphold the laws of her tribe and her love for Ranma.        < Why don't I just let great grandmother succeed?  If she does, I'll marry Ranma.  Isn't that what I always wanted?>  She shook her head.  < But this way, I'll never have his heart.  Even if I win, I lose.>  Shampoo's logical side spoke up.  < It's still better than the alternative!  Exile, death, or life as a cat!  Why am I helping Ranma to kill myself?>  A small voice inside her told her why.  < It's the honorable thing to do.>  Again her logical side fought back.  < Ranma's kind of honor, or Johnathon's, not yours!  The honor of friendship, of sacrificing one's self for one's friends?  I go against tradition for this!>  Shampoo closed her eyes.  < I do.  I don't know why, but I do.>

    Akane was thinking about Shampoo.  < Why?  Why is she helping us?  What Cologne did to Kasumi was wrong but why is Shampoo helping us?  She's dooming herself!  Is this some sort of trick, or is she doing this because she really does love Ranma?  Oh Ranma, what are we going to do?  What am I going to do?>

    Ranma was in a black rage.  < That ghoul!  She won't get away with this!>  His anger slowly tempered itself as he thought about Shampoo's actions.  < She's changed since we first met.  The old Shampoo would be helping the old ghoul.  Now, however, she's willing to become a cat forever because, because...>  A small voice deep inside whispered.  < Because she loves you.>  Ranma's anger dimmed further as it slowly turned into despair.  < I can't let her do this.  I can't let Shampoo sacrifice herself for me.  But what can I do?  What about Akane?>  His face hardened in determination.  < No!  There has got to be another way!>

    Johnathon had already realized the impossibilities of the situation.  < It's just not going to happen.  One way or another we have to prevent Kasumi and Shampoo from being permanently cursed.  If a third option isn't found, that will cost Ranma, Akane and Shampoo their happiness.  There has got to be another way!>

    Of all of them, Ryoga was having the easiest time dealing with the stress.  < This kind of pain, I've felt many times before.  It's nothing I can't deal with.>  Ryoga felt detached and in control for once.   < How strange, me being the calmest person in a group.  Who would have thought?>  He looked around at his friends.  < I wonder if any of them would like to learn the Shi Hi Hokodan?  Their current depression could level half of the city if they could harness it.>

    When they got to the Cat Cafe, Cologne was waiting for them outside.  As the five martial artists approached, the few bystanders walking by quickly started to leave the area.  There was something dangerous in the air that even the most dense could feel.  The ancient Amazon elder was perched upon her staff, waiting.

    Cologne gauged the strength of the battle auras approaching her and was impressed, if not surprised.  < I may very well not live to see tomorrow.>  Cologne was faintly surprised at her own calm.  < Very well, I have accepted this price.  If I need to, I will pay it.>

    As the five young martial artists approached within easy speaking distance, they stopped.

    Johnathon Dwire stepped in front of the rest and put his hand out halting the group.  "We talk first."  The four behind him said nothing, although Ranma had to grit his teeth to restrain himself.  Johnathon looked squarely at Cologne.  "Cologne, you have cursed Kasumi Tendo, my fiancee.  Also we have been informed of the consequences to Shampoo should Ranma and Akane marry."

    Cologne nodded.  "It is simple.  Ranma must marry Shampoo.  Then both her and Miss Tendo will be saved."

    Johnathon looked at Ranma and nodded to him.  Ranma stepped forward with determination.  "Old ghoul, I challenge you!  Fight me.  If you win, I will do as you ask and marry Shampoo.  If I win you'll give Kasumi the Phoenix pill and..."  Ranma paused.

    Inside, Akane was screaming.  < No Ranma!  Don't do this!>  She held the words inside somehow, thought her heart was breaking.

    Cologne cackled, it was an unpleasant sound.  "And?  What of my great granddaughter?  Regardless of what I do, she is doomed if she does not marry you Son-in-law.  I will not accept your challenge.  Even you must realize that there is no choice.  It is on your head that the fate of Shampoo and Kasumi Tendo rest."

    Ranma was silent.  < On my head.  It's my responsibility, I, I must...>

    "Bullshit!"  Johnathon's voice echoed into the quiet like a gunshot.  "You've orchestrated this all to force Ranma into marrying Shampoo.  It doesn't have to end this way.  You say there's only two options.  That Ranma must marry Shampoo or she and Kasumi be cursed forever!  But there is another option!"

    Everyone looked at him with wide eyes, some hopeful, some angry.  He stood calmly.  "We do nothing.  If no one gets married, Shampoo still has a chance.  Nothing has been done for a year.  There's no time limit on your Amazon law right?"  Now everyone was staring at him in various states of disbelief.  Johnathon looked around at them.  "Ranma, Akane, you are only seventeen years old.  You can wait can't you?"  They nodded slowly, unsure of his purpose.  "Shampoo, Cologne, if they don't marry, you can still obey your laws and try to win Ranma, so Shampoo doesn't have to be punished.  You don't win, but you don't lose either."

    Everyone was silent.  Akane finally spoke up.  "But that changes nothing!"

    Johnathon nodded.  "That's right.  At this point, any change is for the worse, so no change is best."

    Cologne looked... annoyed.  "But the choice must be made!  Postponing it does nothing but drag out the conclusion."

    Johnathon sighed.  "Perhaps, but anything can happen with time, even a happy ending.  If we all work toward the solution we can beat this.  Nothing is impossible."  Inwardly he winced.  < Boy, that was corny, I hope they bought it.>  Johnathon looked around at them once more.  Ranma and Akane looked hopeful.  "We can find a way, if we all work together."  They nodded.  Shampoo was looking at him questioningly.  "I'll do everything I can to help you Shampoo.  We all will."  He looked at Ryoga who simply nodded his agreement.  Johnathon came around full circle to Cologne.  "Don't you see?  It doesn't have to end in tragedy, Cologne.  Give Kasumi the Phoenix pill and we can put all of this aside and..."

    Cologne cut him off with a harsh cackle.  "Fools!  Children!  You speak of happy endings as if we were all part of some fairy tale!  Nothing will change with time!  There are no miracles to save the day.  You but postpone the inevitable!"

    Johnathon took a deep breath.  "Cologne, don't do this.  Give us the pill..."

    She interrupted again.  "I think not.  I'll not sit ideally by for another year, and another.  If you wish your Kasumi cured, you will accept the inevitable!"

    Johnathon Dwire closed his eyes.  When he opened them his stare was cold, his aura menacing.  Slowly he drew his left hand out of his jacket pocket.  He had left his hand in his pocket since they had left the dojo, carefully holding upright the glass of water he had poured at the Tendo home.  Deliberately, he poured it over his head and dropped the empty glass to the ground.  The tall black felinoid's hands dropped to his sides and his claws came out.

    Johnathon's voice was softly menacing  "Kasumi made her decision before we came here tonight, old woman.  One life for three, she told me.  She will live as a cat, so that Ranma, Akane, and Shampoo have a chance at happiness.  I will not go against her wishes.  If you will not cure her, then I no longer have any reason to go on living.  I no longer fear either death, or you."

    On either side, Ranma and Ryoga's auras flared.  They went into ready stances on either side of him.  A second later Akane joined them, just as ready to fight.

    Cologne considered the odds.  < I cannot win this fight, and there is no purpose in doing so.>  Her decision made, Cologne moved like lightning.  She dived into the Cat Cafe and down through the trap door.  They followed in a rush, but she was nowhere to be found.  The five martial artists stood in the Cat Cafe and slowly let their anger fade.

    Johnathon signed.  "That's it then.  Cologne won't surrender the Phoenix pill."

    Akane hesitated before speaking.  "John-san, did you mean what you said?  That you've lost your reason for living?"

    He looked at the her and considered it.  "Kasumi has become the most important thing in my life.  I would die for her in an instant, if in that way I could save her."  Johnathon smiled sadly.  "I'll live for her as well, if she needs me, and I'll never give up hope.  I won't just give up and die if she's permanently cursed, but I'll never stop wanting to help her."  He shrugged.  "I wasn't exactly intending to die, so in a way I was bluffing... but I was willing to."

    Akane looked at him in understanding.  "Johnathon, Kasumi does need you.  Please be there for her."

        Johnathon looked right into her eyes, his catlike features serious.  "Always."  He turned toward the door.  "I'm going to see her now."  Everyone started to follow him except for Shampoo.

    The Chinese girl stood alone.  "Shampoo stay, wait for great grandmother."

    Johnathon looked at her and nodded.  "I understand.  Tomorrow could you come by the Tendo's after school is over?  And bring your book of Amazon law?"

    Shampoo blinked.  "What for?  Shampoo can no show laws to anyone outside of tribe unless they apply to them."

    Johnathon frowned.  "I see.  Well, I understand, but could you come, and bring the book anyway?  I'll explain tomorrow."  < As soon as I can think of something plausible>

    Shampoo nodded.  "Shampoo not understand, but do as asked."

    Johnathon turned to go, then paused.  "Oh yeah, I almost forgot."

    Akane looked at him curiously.  "What?"

    He looked pointedly at his furred hands.  "Shampoo, could you get me some hot water?"

    Shampoo almost smiled.  She went into the kitchen and got a kettle.  She noticed Mousse, locked in a cage as a duck.  "So that where Mousse has been!"  She smiled at him, took the kettle and left the kitchen.

    Ranma looked questioningly at her.  "Did you say something about Mousse?"

    Shampoo handed Johnathon the kettle and blinked.  "Yes, Shampoo find Mousse in cage."

    Ranma sighed.  "Left him there, huh."  Shampoo nodded, and Ranma shook his head in exasperation.  "Oh brother.  Let him out OK Shampoo?"

    Shampoo nodded again.  "Alright."  Johnathon paused to put on his shoes and they headed for the Tendo dojo.  Shampoo went into the kitchen.  "Shampoo will let Mousse out!"  She announced to the duck, who happily quacked at the news.  She shrugged.  "Eventually."

    The four that had left Shampoo in the Cat Cafe arrived at the Tendo dojo with little conversation.  They all headed into the living room.  Soun, Genma, Nabiki and Kasumi looked at them expectantly.

    "Well,  what happened?"  Nabiki demanded.  Akane and Ranma looked at each other worriedly at this.

    Johnathon noticed their hesitation and spoke up.  "We didn't get the Phoenix pill.  It's been decided to postpone Ranma and Akane's wedding."

    Soun growled.  "Postpone!  For how long?"

    Johnathon shook his head.  "Until we can find a solution to Shampoo being exiled, killed or permanently cursed.  Cologne won't give up the pill until that happens.  If Ranma and Akane marry, she'll never give us the pill, it would be too late for that."

    Soun started to cry incoherently.  The only word anyone could make out was, "Kasumi!"

    Nabiki frowned.  "So until you find a way out for Shampoo, or Ranma marries her, Kasumi stays cursed?"

    Johnathon sighed and nodded.  Kasumi smiled brightly.  "Then we will just have to help Shampoo.  I'm sure you can find a way Johnathon!"

    Johnathon felt like he had just gotten a car or two strapped to his back.  The load was immense.  He smiled and nodded, hiding his anxiety.  "Sure, I'll think of something."

    Soun's crying slowed but he didn't stop entirely.

    Kasumi sighed.  "Johnathon, could we talk?  Privately?"  Johnathon nodded.  Kasumi smiled.  "Why don't we go up to my room."  She looked at her youngest sister.  "Akane dear, could you make sure we're not disturbed?"

    Akane nodded.  "Sure!  I'll make everyone dinner!"

    A deathly chill went through the room and Johnathon and Kasumi headed upstairs for Kasumi's room.  They went inside and closed the door, shutting out the sounds of pleading.  Kasumi sat on her bed and Johnathon took the chair in front of her night stand.

    "What is it Kasumi?"  Johnathon asked with a concerned expression.

    Kasumi sighed.  "Johnathon-san, about the wedding..."

    He interrupted.  "Yes, I know Ranma and Akane won't be able to join us, but we still can..."

    Kasumi broke in.  "Johnathon, I won't marry you."

    Johnathon Dwire froze.  "Kasumi, what?"

    The eldest daughter of Soun Tendo looked at the floor, unable to meet his gaze.  "I can't marry you Johnathon.  The wedding is off."

                    End part 18.... Just kidding...

    Johnathon stared at his suddenly ex-fiancee and his heart turned to ashes.  "Kasumi, why?"

    The anguish in his voice tore at her heart, but Kasumi remained firm.  "I won't let you marry a cat Johnathon.  Soon enough that's what I'll be.  I can't avoid cold water forever, Ranma's proved that.  I won't be able to change back.  I can't let you do it."

    Johnathon scowled.  "Kasumi, don't say that.  Your curse doesn't matter to me.  Besides, we will get the Phoenix pill eventually."

    Kasumi looked wistfully at him.  "What if you don't?  What if I am stuck as a cat forever?  Don't tell me you'd love me the same as a cat.  It's just not true and I know it."

    Johnathon looked away.  "I, I won't lie to you, Kasumi-chan.  It's true that as a cat, I love you differently then when you are yourself, your human self."

    She nodded sadly.  "We could not truly be man and wife, such a marriage would be a sham."

    Johnathon shook his head.  "No!  Even if just in spirit, I want you to be my wife.  Even if you are a cat, you are still the one I love.  I would prefer to stay at your side, all my life, no matter your form.  I can see nothing else I'd rather do."

    Kasumi's eyes were moist.  "Johnathon..."

    He looked back at her, the hint of tears in his eyes as well.  "Yesterday, I was willing to wait...  Kasumi-chan, tell me, is there any other reason you do not wish to marry me?  Because if there is not, I still wish to have you as my wife.  I don't see my life in any other way."  He paused.  "Yes, yesterday I was willing to wait, but today things are different.  I want, I wish to remember you like this forever, I want to..."  He closed his eyes.  "Kasumi, I'm not sure how to say this..."  He opened his eyes.  Kasumi was smiling at him, her eyes were full of tears but her smile lit up the room like the sun.

    Kasumi nodded softly.  "Say it.  Johnathon, I want you too."

    He smiled back, his heart aching.  A tear started to fall from his eye.  "I want our marriage to start right.  On our wedding night, I want to make love to you.  Even if it's just the once, it matters, it's important."

    Kasumi nodded.  "Yes, Johnathon, it is important, and for as long as we have, we'll make each day count."

    Johnathon froze again.  "Kasumi..."  His voice was gentle with love and hope.  Somehow her smile became even more dazzling, it was like his soul was on fire from it.

    "Yes Johnathon, I will marry you."  Kasumi's eyes glinted.  "Tonight if it's possible."

    Johnathon's face took on a crafty look.  "Oh, it's possible.  Come on, we've got to tell everyone, and get married!"

    They hurried down the stairs together.  Kasumi went to her father.  "Father, please stop crying.  I've got a wonderful announcement to make!"

    Soun's sobbing came to a halt.  "Y-yes, Kasumi?"

    Kasumi beamed at her father happily.  "Johnathon and I are getting married, tonight!"  Soun immediately started to cry again.

    Johnathon sighed.  "Well, at least he sounds happier.  Nabiki, can you get that priest tonight?"

    Nabiki pretended to look indignant, but couldn't hold it.  "It'll cut into my profit margin, but..."  She broke into a delighted grin.  "I'll get him over here in an hour.  Sis!  Congratulations!"

    The next hour passed in a haze for the bride and groom.  Seemingly without transition Johnathon found himself in a tuxedo standing next to Kasumi.  His bride wore a beautiful western wedding dress and he was nearly mesmerized by her.  In front of them was a priest, behind them was Genma, Soun, Ryoga and Nabiki, who was busy snapping photos.  On one side was Ranma, appointed as best man, on the other Akane served as maid of honor.  The wedding was simple, the words familiar.

    It was as if in a dream that Johnathon heard himself say the words.  "I do."

    The priest turned to Kasumi.  "And do you, Kasumi Tendo, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

    Kasumi was beaming at Johnathon.  "I do!"

    The priest smiled.  "Then by the powers invested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife."  He paused.  "You may kiss..."  Johnathon and Kasumi had beat him to the punch and were kissing passionately.  "the bride."  He finished with a chuckle.  "Didn't need my permission for that, did you?"  He chuckled again.  "Congratulations."  He shook his head, the newly married couple hadn't heard a word.  "Looks like I'm no longer needed.  Be happy you two."  He went over to Genma and Soun.  "So, where's the sake?"

    When they finally broke the kiss, they noticed Nabiki standing nearby, waiting to talk to them.  "Since Kasumi can't leave the house safely, we're going to give you two your honeymoon here, by going over to Aunty Nodoka's house for a few days."

    Akane shot a glance at Ranma.  "Ranma and I will be staying, in case of..."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Cologne.  Thanks, that's fine."  He looked at Kasumi.  "I think, we'll hardly notice you."

    Kasumi smiled.  "Johnathon-san, let's eat supper first."  Johnathon blinked.  Kasumi giggled and whispered in his ear.  "You'll need your strength."

    He blushed and Nabiki laughed.  "Go for it you two!"  She turned to the fathers and Ryoga.  "Come on you guys!  Lets get out of here and give the newlyweds some privacy!"

    Soon they had indeed gone and Johnathon and Kasumi headed up the stairs together, leaving Ranma, Akane, and the two cats downstairs.  Johnathon let Kasumi open the door to her room.  Then he swept her off her feet, carrying her inside and closing the door with one foot.  He carried her to the bed and laid her down.

    Johnathon sat next to her.  "Kasumi?  Are you ready for this?"

    She nodded.  "Yes.  Somehow I thought I'd be nervous, but I'm not, not at all."

    Johnathon smiled.  "I'm nervous, but that's not going to stop me."

    Kasumi moved in for a kiss.  "I most certainly hope not!"  They kissed, and they started fumbling with each others clothing.

    Downstairs Ranma and Akane sat uncomfortably.  Ranma indelicately brought up the subject that had been on their minds.  "Do you think they are?..."   Akane blushed and nodded.  Ranma shrugged.  "If Cologne hadn't come back early, tomorrow we would have... gotten married."

    Akane nodded again.  "It's alright.  We wanted to wait for a while longer, didn't we?"

    Ranma looked at her with an unreadable expression.  "Sure.  We're still in high school, no reason to rush."

    Akane sighed.  "Ranma, about what happened tonight."  Ranma continued looking at her, not sure what to say.  Akane struggled on.  "Shampoo, what are we going to we going to do about her?  Ranma, what are you going to do?"

    Ranma looked trapped.  "Akane, I, I don't know."

    Akane looked at him earnestly, her gaze unjudging.  "Ranma, she really does love you, and she'll..."  Akane started to cry.  "She's willing to sacrifice her life for you Ranma.  Kasumi is too, for both of us.  Ranma, what if Cologne's right?  What if there really is no other way to save Shampoo?"

    Ranma looked away.  "Akane, I..."

    Akane controlled herself with an effort and stopped crying.  "Ranma, please tell me the truth.  I need to know."

    Ranma lowered his head.  "Akane..."  He seemed unable to speak.  < How can I say it.  I can hardly think it, but if there's no other way to save Shampoo and Kasumi.  I'll, I'll...>

    Akane moved over till she was leaning against his back.  "Ranma, it's alright.  I, I can take it.  You'll have to marry her, to save her and Kasumi... Ranma, you'll have to!"

    Ranma shuddered.  "Akane, I, I, love YOU!"  He closed his eyes.  "But... you're right, if we can't find another way, I will have to marry Shampoo."  He turned around and looked at her.  "Akane, I don't want this.  It's you, you that I love.  I've loved you, for a long time now.  I don't want to lose you."

    Akane put her head against his chest.  "I don't want to lose you either, Ranma."  They sat silently after that, there was nothing left to say.  After half an hour they finally stirred.

    "It is getting late."  Ranma noted.

    Akane sighed.  "We'd better get some sleep.  Tomorrow is going to be interesting."

    Ranma nodded.  "Yeah."  He stood up.  "Hey Luna, Artemis, come on.  You can sleep in my room."  The two cats responded to their names and followed Ranma.

    Akane stood and headed for her room as well.  As she closed her door a shadowy figure entered the Tendo home.  He had listened in on the wedding ceremony, and chosen now as his time to strike.  Quietly he snuck upstairs and slipped into Nabiki's room with the ease of long practice.  Long practice at sneaking into girls bedrooms that is.  Happosai crept over to the safe and carefully checked it.  Wired with alarms and made very sturdy it looked like a tough nut to crack, but he'd cracked tougher ones.  Happosai started to check it for weak spots.  He put his hand out to check the door and received a nasty electric shock.  The old letch tore his hand free with a small cry of pain.

    Happosai swore quietly to himself.  "Damn that girl.  She's gone too far, electrocuting innocent old men."  His twisted little mind was now firmly convinced that Nabiki was at fault for his recent shock.  Happosai remembered what she had said after the ceremony.  "The Saotome home eh?"  Happosai slipped out of the Tendo Dojo as quietly as he had entered.  "Soon, I'll have everything I wish for."

    In Kasumi's bedroom the newlyweds lay entangled with each other under the covers, their clothing scattered about on the floor.

    Kasumi sighed contentedly into her husbands chest.  "That was wonderful Johnathon."

    He smiled down at the top of her head.  "You are wonderful."

    Kasumi sighed again.  "I was thinking, Johnathon."

    "Yes?"  Johnathon slowly stretched his limbs.  "What about?"

    Kasumi slowly stroked his chest.  "Two things actually."  Johnathon was silent but smiling.  "You know..."  She continued quietly.  "There is an option if I can't change back to human."

    Johnathon blinked.  "You mean, the water of drowned girl?"

    Kasumi sighed.  "Um hmm.  If I'm going to be stuck in a cursed form, I might as well be able to talk and, um, do other things."

    Kasumi's husband grinned.  "Sounds like you want to do some "other"  things right now."

    Kasumi nodded,  "Mmm hmmm!"

    Johnathon grinned wider and started to snuggle down for a kiss.  "Oh yeah, what was the second thing you were thinking about?"

    Kasumi blushed.  "Oh, well, I was just wondering what it'd be like, being a half cat, with you..."  She paused.  "I was wondering if you wanted to try it... that way."

    Johnathon's eyes went wide.  "You mean...?"

    His wife nodded.  "The water is off in the house, but you could get some from the pond and come back..."

    Johnathon gulped.  "Oh my."

    Later that night, Happosai, master of anything goes martial arts, crept once again into a young women's bedroom.  This time the lady in question was present.  He smiled evilly upon seeing Nabiki's sleeping face.  Pulling out an incense burner, he lit it and let the smoke drift over her.

    He grinned in anticipation.  < It wasn't easy to get, but this magic hypnosis incense is exactly what I need to get what I want.>  Nabiki wrinkled her nose a bit when she breathed in the fumes but she did not wake.  Happosai quickly extinguished it, careful not to breath any of the fumes himself.  < This special incense will cause anyone who breaths in the fumes to become highly susceptible to suggestion, if it works like it's supposed to.  Now for the real reason for my visit here.>  Happosai fought off a sudden temptation to use Nabiki's trance for actions best not mentioned, before continuing.  "Nabiki, listen carefully, you need to open your safe.  What's the combination?"

    Nabiki mumbled quietly in her sleep.  "Secret, only I know."

    Happosai continued, subtly.  "No, someone else knows, they're going to get into your safe and steal..."  He left it to her to fill in the blank.

    "No, it's mine..."  Nabiki murmured, starting to stir.

    Quickly he reassured her.  "No, no one will steal it, because you'll open it first, open the safe and keep it safe."

    Nabiki breathed slowly.  "Yes, I'll open the safe."

    Happosai grinned.  < This is too easy!>  "What was the combination?  You didn't forget did you?"

    Nabiki shook her head very faintly.  "No, I remember, fourteen, thirty two, twelve, twenty seven."

    "That's good Nabiki, that's very good."  Happosai grinned maliciously and he started to speak carefully.  He slowly implanted a number of entertaining subconscious suggestions that he would happily enjoy to the fullest... later... For now, Ranma and Akane were alone in the house, it was most definitely time to act.  < I'll get my precious Ranma-chan, all to myself.>  Happosai turned to go, then hesitated.  < It wouldn't hurt to test out my subconscious suggestions first.  Afterwards I can just make her forget what happened...>  Lechery won out over common sense.  < I'll just stay for a few minutes.>

    Much later, Happosai crept back into Nabiki's room in the Tendo Dojo.  It was only a couple of hours till dawn and he was in a bit of a hurry.  He immediately went to the safe.  Happosai used the combination and opened it easily.  Various valuable items lay there, but only two interested him.        < Ooh!  Pictures of my sweet Ranma-chan... not now you idiot, later!>  Only two items interested him.  He gingerly removed the two thermoses and placed them on the floor.  Happosai took a good look at each and grimaced.  < There are no labels!  How am I supposed to tell them apart?>  He hefted one then the other indecisively.  < One has drowned man water, one has the water from the spring of drowned girl, but how to tell them apart?>

    Happosai considered the problem.  < I want to use the girl water on Ranma, so she'll remain a cute girl forever.  Once I've done that, I'll use the incense to make her completely girl, and she'll be all mine!  All I have to do is awaken Ranma's hidden girl side.  I just need to find out which bottle is which.>  He grimaced and shrugged.  < Only one way to find out.>  Happosai made his way stealthily to Ranma's room.  < I wonder if Akane likes girls?  She'll soon be engaged to one!>  Happosai crept in silently, closing the door behind him.  He slipped over and jabbed Ranma's sleep shiatsu spot to ensure he would sleep thoroughly.

    Happosai opened one of the thermoses.  < How to do this.  I could test it on Akane, if she stays female it's right, if she turns male I use the other one on Ranma.>  He frowned.  < But turning sweet little Akane-chan even partially male seems a shame.  Although it would be amusing...>  Happosai paused in thought, then suddenly turned around.  Two cats lay on the floor, one white and one black.  Happosai considered.  < Test subjects?  Why not?>  He walked quietly over and poured just enough water to soak one cat on the white cat.  In an instant it grew.

    Luna screeched and clawed as she was suddenly smothered by something quite heavy.  The weight left her and and Luna blinked her eyes at the sight of a naked teenage girl awkwardly trying to roll over.  A small figure cackled and walked away towards Ranma's futon.

    Luna looked around wildly.  < What is going on?  Where is Artemis?  Where did this strange girl come from, and what is that little man doing with that cylindrical object?>

    With a lecherous giggle Happosai pulled back the covers over Ranma.  He slowly brought the thermos over Ranma's head, enjoying the suspense.

    Luna decided that the strange girl was not currently a threat.  She leapt at the little man, who was obviously up to no good.

    Artemis had woken to Luna's screech and the pain of small claws digging into his side.  He quickly rolled to his feet, or attempted to, as his body wasn't working properly.  Artemis thrashed about in a panic, strange sensations going through his body.  < Everything is off!  My legs look wrong, and the room is too small, and...>  He saw a tiny Luna run past him and slowed down.  Artemis took a second look at his front legs.  < Hands, arms, I'm, I'm...>  Artemis's realization was cut short by a yowl from Luna.

    Luna had jumped on a little figure and was clawing and tearing.  Artemis tried to go to her aid and managed to fall flat on his face.  The little man, distracted by Luna, accidentally dropped the thermos he was holding.  Miraculously it landed upright.  His hands free, he grabbed the cat and threw it off his back, and right into the thermos.  Luna crashed into the thermos, knocking it over and getting drenched in the process.  She grew instantly and Happosai screeched and grabbed for the water, but it had all drained out.

    Angrily he turned on the gorgeous naked female that had ruined his plans.  "Sweeto!"  Happosai's anger vanished as he planted himself firmly into Luna's ample bosom, which had not existed until mere seconds before.

    Artemis watched all this incredulously.  < Luna has been turned into a human girl?>  He slowly got up on all four limbs.  They were different lengths, but he managed and took a quick glance down at himself.  He confirmed the sinking feeling he had had for the last few seconds.  < I'm a human too... and a female one at that!>  Artemis hissed angrily at the little man who was even now attacking Luna, and clumsily tried to pounce on him.

    Luna had been stunned by her collision with the thermos and her sudden transformation.  She was aware first that her perception had changed.  The room had shrunk, and it was darker.  Second, she noticed that her limbs were awkwardly long and strange.  And third, a small creature had grabbed her and was giving her the most peculiar sensation.

    Luna's reality took a sudden shift as she realized the truth all at once.  < I've become a human girl, and the small man I attacked is nuzzling me in between my breasts!>

    Then, before Luna could react, the strange girl that had been laying on her, pounced on the small lecher, knocking him off her.

    Happosai turned toward Artemis and flipped the girl into the wall with his pipe.  He approached the girl, to determine whether she was conscious or not, and to take a good look.  She was exotically beautiful.  Her hair was a silky white, her body perfectly proportioned to the old lechers eyes.  She was unconscious from her flight into the wall.  Happosai sensed the black haired girl attacking and easily dodged, tapping her sleep spot.  She slumped and Happosai started to go back to Ranma.

    He looked at the sleeping martial artist thoughtfully.  < My plans are not going quite as I wished.  All is not lost, however, I still have my second plan.  At the least, Ranma will act and think like a girl, and be mine, forever.>

                        End Chapter 18


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