Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and
there's nothing I can do about it. I don't make any money on this and
if anybody does, don't. Unless you actually have the rights to Ranma
1/2, in which case there's not much I can do to prevent it.
DUCK AND PEACHES AT THE FOOT OF FLOWER MOUNTAIN
By Hans Holm
"I don't see why all of you had to come", Mousse muttered.
"Mousse not able to tell difference between tree and human. Never find
right stone by self."
"Hey, they kidnapped _my_ mother! There's no way I'll leave rescuing
"I think Ryoga's thinking along similar lines, and we don't want him
wander off on his own."
"Speaking of Ryoga, where did he go?"
"AAAGH! I thought you were supposed to keep an eye on him, Ukyo!"
"Me? I thought _you_ were supposed to keep an eye on him!"
"What's all this racket...Oh! It's you!" A girl with nearly waist-length
hair - a miko, judging by her clothes - suddenly appeared behind them.
"I think you need to keep a better eye on Mousse, Shampoo", Ukyo
whispered. "He's starting to look as bad as Ranma."
"Grrmble. And Ukyo know what Ninja-girl Boy is up to?", Shampoo hissed
"Calm down, you two. At least she hasn't attacked or thrown herself
him on sight", Akane whispered. "Like certain unnamed people did with
"I DID NOT!!", Shampoo and Ukyo screamed.
"Oh my! They...", the miko began.
"We're all kind of stressed out at the moment", Mousse explained. "It's
"Why don't you come inside."
* * * * * *
Shampoo didn't know how to react to that the miko had to remind Mousse
of her name. Michiko. Eventually she decided to give him the benefit
doubt and decided it was because she never introduced herself the last
time he was at the shrine, not because he had so many other girls that
couldn't keep track of them. Michiko seemed nice, but Shampoo really
didn't like the way she looked at Mousse. It wasn't that she was jealous
anything. It was the principle of the thing. Shouldn't priestesses
priestess-like? Not making moon-eyes at other girls' boys. Or any boys
all. Especially not Mousse, even if he was...unattached. It was nice
of her to
offer tea and snacks, though. And Michiko wasn't really Mousse's type
either. Hopefully. And why was Ukyo tagging along? She had happily
ignored every other big questish thing like the Musk and the Phoenix
tribe. It must be because of Hairspray, not because she'd suddenly
she wanted Mousse as well as Ranma...Or maybe Mrs. Saotome...Or
Akari. She had wondered about Ukyo. Everybody who came looking for
Ukyo was either a pervert, usually a cross-dresser, or just plain weird.
Ninja Girl-Boy...Kotetsu?...hadn't been around since Wu Jing and that
other ninja girl showed up. She would have to keep a close eye on Ukyo.
Not too close, though. She might get the wrong idea.
* * * * * *
Michiko wanted to hear the _whole_ story, from the beginning (after
discussion it was decided that Ranma's first appearance at Jyusenkyo
the best starting point), stopping them only occasionally to try to
who was who and who was doing what to whom.
"So, they kidnapped _his_ mother and _that other guy's_ girlfriend
_you_ to give them the stone you and your gi..."
"HAIRSPRAY'S MOTHER NOT MOUSSE'S GIRLFRIEND!"
"She's been sensitive to him and the word 'girlfriend' appearing in
sentence ever since she discovered that other girls might be interested
him", Ukyo whispered to Michiko. "Even if _she_ loudly and frequently
states her lack of int..."
The last sentence, which had been spoken aloud, was interrupted by
aimed tray of snacks.
"Ukyo not speak of things Ukyo not know."
"Calm down, both of you! What did Mousse and Tao Tao do here?", Akane
"You want _all_ the details?"
"Uh...No, just what happened to the stone", Akane said, glancing at
Mousse, who was turning an interesting shade of red, and Shampoo, who
was almost visibly fuming.
"Well...Not much, really. Tao Tao told me there were people looking
who probably shouldn't get hold of it and asked us to keep it safe..."
"How do you know we're not those people?", Ranma interrupted.
"You don't look anything like them."
"How...?", Ranma began.
"Is priestess thing, yes?", Shampoo suggested.
"Yes...And some of them was here before. White-haired guy in a Chinese
robe and purple-haired girl...Don't worry, I've still got the stone
"But you'll give it to us?", Mousse asked.
"Even though we're going to trade it to _them_ for the hostages?"
"You'll think of something...I mean you do this kind of thing a lot
Michiko struck a dramatic pose before continuing.
"A martial artist's road is fraught with peril!"
"But...But it's not something we actively look for", Ranma said.
"Not that we back away from it when we encounter it", Mousse added,
noticing Michiko's deflated statement.
"Shampoo? Will you come with me and help me get the stone."
"So I can tell you what Mousse and Tao Tao did here", Michiko
whispered. "Without the others hearing."
Michiko led Shampoo down to some tunnels under the shrine.
"Shampoo think we not be heard here. Now, what Hairspray's mother and
Mousse do here?"
"Calm down. Your boy-friend and..."
"Mousse _not_ Shampoo's boyfriend", Shampoo muttered. "And they
already done too much."
"Well, while they were _here_, they just talked."
"I don't know...I wasn't listening that closely. What he was going
now, where she was going to, things like that, I guess...I think there
some looking into each other's eyes deeply and holding back tears,
on her part...Now, where did I put that stone?"
"So why Mousse turn red when Akane ask?"
"Maybe he thought I'd make something up...Or maybe he did something
didn't see...Third door to the right, I think...Ask him."
Michiko opened a door covered in wards and they entered a room filled
shelves of boxed and unboxed artefacts.
"If I remember correctly, we put it in one of Gramps's old cigar-boxes",
Michiko said as she began to rummage through the shelves.
"No, it was thicker and there was an Egyptian cavalry soldier on the
Or maybe it was a little Cuban boy coughing his lungs out... _That_
contains either some flint arrowheads or a sleeping small Spirit Centipede."
"How Shampoo tell?"
"Shake it. If it rattles, it's the arrowheads. If it complains, it's
"How about this one? Look like Egyptian on label."
"No...That's a zouave. I don't think it's that one...Let me check..."
There was an audible growl when Michiko briefly opened the lid.
"No...No idea what it is, though...Ah, here it is."
Michiko pulled out a cigar-box, opened it and handed the thing inside
"This it?", Shampoo asked, looking at the figurine in her hands.
It was vaguely humanoid in shape, hunchbacked with differently sized
limbs and appeared to be made of flint.
"Well, that's what Tao Tao gave to me for safe-keeping."
* * * * * *
"Ah, she's finally asleep. I was getting worried...She's always been
behaved before", Nodoka said as she put Hairspray in the makeshift
"I think she misses her ducky", Akari said.
"Ukyo gave her a plush ducky almost as soon as she met her. She's become
very attached to it."
"Oh...For a moment I was afraid it was something like 'Ranko Tendo'
her pet panda."
"Ranma and Genma in disguise. It never happened to you? Do you want
"Ah. Well, Ranma, but not Genma. Right now, I think I'd prefer one
those kidnapping stories."
"We won't get much help from those, I'm afraid. I needed rescuing."
There was a knock on the door.
"Can I coome in?", Zelda asked.
"Be my guest", Nodoka replied.
"I have managed too find the nootess Ssimoon hass oon the sstoone.
thoought yoou might be interressted...", Zelda said as she entered,
a large and old-looking book.
"Well, it can't hurt."
"Noow, llet uss ssee", Zelda said as she opened the book. "Too begin
the sstoone oonlly woorrkss at cerrtain timess - it'lll woorrk rright
but in thrree weekss it'lll be tooo llate and it'lll be at lleasst
untill next time..."
"No wonder Simon's stressed out."
"...And it can oonlly be ussed oonce durring that perriood."
"Prracticallity rrarrelly pllayss a parrt in the llimitationss of magic
If it cooulld be ussed rrepeatedlly I have noo dooubtss Ssimoon woould
jusst wait forr oourr turrn."
"Our turn? What does it do?"
"It rremoovess currssess cooncerning sshapechanging or defoorrmity.
"Yess, that'ss why Mooussse hass it, issn't it?"
"He doesn't even _know_ what it does! He thought _it_ changed shape
"If he knew what it did it'd either be used or broken to pieces by
There's no hidden drawback is there? As far as I can tell there always
"Issn't the rresstrrictioonss oon when it woorrkss enough? And it dooess
change shape, it ssuppoossedlly rrefllectss the llatesst currse it
"So, how does it work?"
"I wass cooming too that..."
* * * * * *
Soun, Genma and Cologne sat around the table, looking at each other.
"No, even if he is the leader, which I doubt, Raggedy Man or his successor
isn't the kind to have a permanent base", Cologne said. "And as I told
kids, I wouldn't know where to find it anyway."
"They don't sound like they're related to any of Nodoka's enemies that
she's told me about", Genma said. "Granted, there is the ninja, but
a dime a dozen."
"They could be someone she didn't tell you about", Soun said. "After
you had asked me who would come back to haunt us twenty years ago,
wouldn't have guessed Chardin..."
"No...Inji, perhaps or maybe..."
"I think we can safely say that it's Mousse who's the main target",
said. "I don't know why they kidnapped Nodoka, but I assume that to
uninformed observer Ms. Unryuu has seemed a more natural hostage than
any of the other girls lately."
"But it doesn't really bring us any closer to finding out where they
He was interrupted by the phone ringing.
"They arre at Ssuperr Fun Crrazy Happylland", the voice at the other
said before hanging up.
* * * * * *
As they walked back Mousse found his thoughts wandering.
Wu Jing had been there...at the shrine. He and whoever he was working
possibly the same person who had originally hired him and Tao Tao,
_known_ where the stone was all the time but had needed someone to
from Michiko. They had kidnapped Hairspray to get him to do it. Maybe
they had been behind it all the time?...They had left Hairspray at
Nekohanten to give them a hostage to use...Maybe Tao Tao was still
alive...What if she was involved in this too?...No, she couldn't be
wouldn't need him to get the stone...But maybe she was out there looking
for her daughter...Or maybe they had just stolen a baby and written
note...But Cologne could tell things like that, couldn't she?...And
had planted Hairspray to use as a hostage they wouldn't have needed
Akari...Or Mrs. Saotome...In any case he _had_ to rescue her...She
responsibility...Akari had been more helpful than...Than anybody could
ask for...She didn't even seem to mind when people thought she was
girlfriend or Hairspray's mother...Well, not until she was kidnapped
because of it, anyway...She had practically been an anti-Shampoo...And
she'd lost almost everything because of it...Her farm, her
house...Everything...But if they had known all along, why had they
destroyed the farm?...It didn't make sense...Nothing did
anymore...Shampoo seemed almost as upset that he didn't do anything
when he used to...harass her...Gods! That sounded like it was something
stopped doing years ago...It was barely two weeks since Hairspray
appeared...Had the village learned of it yet?...What would the Elders
when they learned?...Why had they kidnapped Mrs. Saotome as well?...If
they could snatch Akari from a train, they should have been able to
Hairspray on her own...On the other hand, Mrs. Saotome seemed quite
attached to Hairspray too...Like a surrogate grand-child...Or...She
_that_ old...At least there was someone to take care of Hairspray instead
the kidnappers...Hadn't Ranma said something about Soun saying
something about Hairspray acting like a Tendo?...Whatever that meant...He
didn't know anything about Tao Tao's family...Hell, he didn't know
about his own parents...Shampoo's mother had said that his father left
soon as they untied him and his mother some nine months later...No...
Cologne would have mentioned it by now...
"Mousse? Hey, Mousse! That wasn't so hard, was it?", Ranma said,
scattering his thoughts.
"Shouldn't we try to find Ryoga?", Akane asked.
"He could be anywhere by now", Mousse said.
"Besides, he does have a knack for turning up unexpected at the right
Ranma added. "He'll turn up eventually."
"Any idea where we'll trade the stone for the hostages?", Ukyo asked.
"I have no idea when you'll get them back", a voice said behind them.
we'll take the stone now, thank you."
The black-robed man stepped out of the shadows followed by a midget,
Indian who dwarfed even the Dojo Destroyer and a robed man wearing
barbed wire mesh mask.
"I'm flattered you remember me, Mousse. You know, this couldn't have
worked better if I planned it. Except for Kemuri, the clowns I have
with refuse to get any closer to the shrine and that little priestess
things that seriously contradicts the legends of the shrine. But she..."
"She beat you up."
She did _not_. Now, the stone."
"The hostages first."
"Oh dear, I seem to have left them in my other robe."
Mousse barely dodged the sudden punch.
Wu Jing followed up with a roundhouse kick as his companions charged.
Mousse dodged again and counter-attacked with a series of punches.
Wu Jing was barely able to block them. Mousse followed up with a kick
drew his opponent back. Wu Jing came back, lunging with a claw hand
tearing Mousse's sleeve. Mousse replied with a elbow to the back of
head, driving him to the ground. Wu Jing rolled out of the way of a
kick and back up on his feet.
"You've gotten stronger, Mousse...", Wu Jing said with a smile. "And
you're not even using your weapons. Farm Girl must have really affected
"If you've done anything to..."
"Mousse, Mousse, Mousse. What do you take me for? I haven't touched
- the Doctor has special plans for her. Still...If he didn't..."
Mousse interrupted him with a kick to the chest. Before Wu Jing could
recover, Mousse continued with several punches to the face and finished
with a kick that sent Wu Jing flying.
How was everybody else doing?
Shampoo was busy with the midget, who didn't seem to do much actual
fighting, but was frustrating her by constant dodging and tumbling.
And fondling, judging by Shampoo's invectives.
Akane and Ukyo had their hands full with the giant. They had little
dodging his attacks, but seemed unable to affect him with their.
Ranma didn't seem to have any real trouble with _his_ opponent, who
clearly outmatched but stubbornly refused to stay down.
"I got the sto-one!", the midget suddenly called out.
Wu Jing got back up and wiped the blood off with his sleeve.
"It seems I've underestimated you, Mousse. I'd say 'next time', but
won't be any. We got what we wanted and you'll never see any of us
Well...maybe I'll have your daughter hunt you down once she's old
Smoke enveloped Wu Jing and his companions. When it cleared, they were
* * * * * *
"How did it go?", Kasumi asked as they dejectedly returned to the Tendo
"We got the stone, but Wu Jing and his friends showed up and stole
we'd left the shrine", Mousse said. "And Ryoga has wandered off again."
"Fortunately, we know where they are now", Genma said. "I figu..."
He was interrupted by Cologne's stick and an elbow from Soun.
"Actually, somebody called and claimed they are at Super Fun Crazy
Happyland", Soun said.
"That's an abandoned theme park", Nabiki added. "It's not that hard
once you know it exists."
To be continued...