Comes the Cold Dragon

Don Granberry

Chapter 14


Most of the characters in this piece and the setting for it were conceived of by Rumiko Takahashi for her Ranma 1/2 series of Manga. All such characters and the setting are the property of Takahashi-sensei and her licensees. All other characters, except those noted below, are purely fictional and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Ranma made his way to the back of the old farmhouse and dug around in the sack of coal. He settled on a piece that he found pleasing to the touch, then walked out to the center of the spacious back yard. A cold damp wind blew from the north. He could hear the grass rustling around him as he sat down cross-legged and placed the lump of coal before him.

(Well, this is good! We can't see it, Saotome.)

(Yeah, black on black is kinda hard to concentrate on. All I can see is the outline of it. I guess I'll hafta go get us a lamp or somethin'.)

{{Could we perhaps do this by feel, Saotome?}}

(Ya mean hold it and see if we can make it feel as though it's growin'?)

(It's a thought, Saotome.)

(Okay, but you do it. Your sense of touch is better.)

(It's starting to sprinkle rain, Saotome.)

(So you get to pilot and we don't use up any ki, Red.)

Ranma allowed the water to effect the change in his body then picked up the piece of coal. It was cold and hard, with only a few rough spots.

(This piece must be shiny in places. It feels slick.)

(Yeah, okay. Let's get down ta business. Think ya can make it grow, Red?)


After several moments of intense concentration, Ranma felt the piece of coal begin to expand. Its size increased only slightly at first, until suddenly it was the size of a softball, then the size of a basketball, then it became a large boulder. The sprinkling drops of rain became stinging little flecks of ice coated with water. Onna-Ranma paid it no mind, concentrating on the piece of coal he held in his hands. Onna-Ranma soon found himself in the curious position of holding a mountain in his hands as the sleet began coming down in a steady, freezing shower of ice. The sleet melted in short order over most of the yard, but a sheet of ice began to form around the feminine curves of his body.

(I just thought this thing was solid. Lookit all these cracks and stuff! And there's lotsa tunnels, too!)

{{Indeed so, Saotome. Let us try to follow one of these caverns into the heart of the stone. Perhaps there we will have fewer problems with nitrogen.}}

(Yeah, good idea, Scales. Wait! There's a big one! Can ya see it, Red? Let's go down into it.)

Ranma felt himself move forward and into the once microscopic cavern. It turned out to be very deep. It took him several minutes to travel its entire length.

(Whaddaya think, Scales?)

{{It seems we have traveled quite some distance, but I have my doubts about our actual depth, Saotome. We are easily misled when viewing things on this scale.}}

(Yeah, you're probably right, Scales. Let's go smaller, Red. It's the only way we're gonna be able ta go any deeper into this thing durin' a single night.)

The sleet continued to fall steadily. It began sticking to anything not in direct contact with the ground. Around Onna-Ranma, the sleet built itself up into a mound. The Saotome child's multi-faceted consciousness sank deeper into the piece of coal, completely oblivious to what was happening around his body.

(Haven't seen anything that had seven bands for a long time now, Scales.)

{{Indeed not, Saotome. We must be quite deep inside the stone now. I have seen some five-band objects, which we have been assuming are atoms of boron.}}

(But that stuff don't hurt nothin', Scales. Nabiki said blue diamonds are okay.)

{{Right over there is an object with eleven bands, and another with nineteen.}}

(Oh, yeah! What is that stuff? Somethin' ta do with lye, right?)

{{Sodium and potassium, if what we are seeing is indeed part of existence.}}

(I don't remember the book sayin' anything about what that stuff might do to a diamond's color.)

{{I don't believe it said anything about those elements, Saotome. Now that we think about it, that strikes me as being very odd. Sodium and potassium are both very common elements. They are, therefore, likely to be common contaminants of naturally occurring diamond.}}

(We haven't seen much of it though, right?)

{{We have not noticed much of it, but that is no assurance of its actual quantity, large or small. It may be concentrated somewhere, or it could be evenly scattered throughout the stone, but we simply neglected to take note of its presence. We were concentrating on the presence of objects with seven bands as we worked our way into this specimen.}}

(Yeah, I guess you're right. Yo, Red, make us a little smaller. It's time ta get ta work.)


(Is it bad?)


(Okay, we'll try to go fast. If we blow it, it's no big deal. We got lottsa coal ta play with. Try to cool this thing down while we drop in size, Red. I'm gettin' seasick.)

The bouncing motion diminished greatly as Ranma's consciousness strove to reduce its size even further. After several minutes of effort, the objects surrounding them were large enough for him to enter.

(Okay, last time Red just sorta popped these two inside ones and that made the outer ones jiggle in and out a few times, then all of sudden, the outer four bands stayed stretched out, right?)

{{Yes, but then things began to happen quickly. We can only vaguely recall what happened next.}}

(It was sort of like the Hiryuu Shoten Ha, but we did the spiral step in reverse and we stretched it out, kinda like we was flyin' up and down as we made the step. I remember it got real bright inside the charcoal after that.)

{{Yes, I do vaguely recall that, but we also began having trouble with large numbers of collisions.}}

(Okay. You watch and try to make us remember. I'll do the step.)


(Ready? BEGIN!)

Several of the glowing bands wavered and danced, but little else happened.

(What the hell?)

{{Perhaps the technique will not work on coal, Saotome.}}

(Or we forgot something!)

{{Mouko Takabisha.}}

(Oh, yeah! How could we forget that?)

{{We configured ourself differently last time. You conducted us in. The Scarlet one directed, and I supplied the power.}}

(Okay, we'll give it another try. You ready? BEGIN!)

{{Mouko Takabisha!}}

The two innermost bands of the object Ranma had entered surged outwards, then snapped back with great violence. As they did so, the outer four bands oscillated wildly, then settled down, but were now stretched out into a thinner and dimmer condition. Now there were four dark bands interspersed between the bright outer bands of his host object. The dark bands periodically brightened themselves out of existence. The object he rode in was now floating free from the three objects with which it had once been entangled.

(I don't remember these dark bands, Scales. Do you?)

{{I do not recall them, Saotome. Perhaps we simply did not notice them before, but it is also possible that they did not form in the charcoal.}}

(Maybe, but I'd betcha we just didn't notice 'em before. Let's dance!)

He excited four more of the objects in quick succession, using the same technique. The five objects emitted bright flashes then became entangled with one another. The flashes excited other nearby objects without help from Ranma. He flew about exciting the objects that had remained unaffected, spiraling outward from the first object he had touched. The objects continued to flash and sparkle as Ranma danced. He used the energy they emitted to help excite more and more of the objects. The diamond literally grew by leaps and bounds. A short while later, he lost control of the process. It was all he could do to supply enough ki to keep it going.

Tofu and Kasumi rose just before dawn. After they had bathed, Tofu helped Kasumi get breakfast going. Just as they sat down with their first cup of tea, the back door opened, then slammed.

"That was Akane," Kasumi said with a smile. "I'd know that slam anywhere."

Tofu chuckled then said, "Ranma must be pulling a new trick on her."

"I'm really worried about them, you know," Kasumi said. "They seem to be biting off far more than either of them can chew."

Tofu shook his head.

"That's just the Saotome style, Kasumi-chan. Fortunately, Akane's own style is a fair match for it. She goes all out at everything she does," Tofu said, then sipped his tea. Just as he started to set his cup down on the table, the back door opened again.

"Doctor Tofu, come quick!" Akane screamed, then slammed the door shut as she ran back outside.

Tofu and Kasumi exchanged glances then Tofu rose to his feet.

"You go see what it is, To-chan," Kasumi said. "I'll see after Nabiki."


"You don't want her struggling to get outside on her own, do you?"

"I suppose you're right," Tofu said as he pulled on his jacket. "Take your time. If this is anything like Ranma's usual, it will look far worse than it actually is."

Tofu stared in awe at what he found in the backyard of his ancestral home. He did not know what else to feel. Fear and dread should have been on the list, but those two rather negative emotions did not seem to fit for some reason. Sitting in the middle of the yard, and so heavy that it was actually sinking into the ground thus creating pressure ridges around it, was a solid block of ice nearly four meters tall. The block was roughly conical and looked to be four or five meters across at its base. It was lit from within by a by now-familiar coruscating blue light. Akane was running around the block banging on it with an enormous wooden mallet.

"Baka! Baka! Baka! Ba-a-a-ka-a-a!" Akane shouted.

Twin gasps from behind his back told Tofu that Kasumi and Nabiki had finally caught up with him.

"That idiot!" Nabiki said. "I told him it was going to sleet. He'll smother in there!"

"Oh, my!" Kasumi exclaimed. "Shouldn't we try to get him out?"

"Akane's trying already, Sis," Nabiki said. "It doesn't look as though she is having much luck."

"He hasn't smothered so far," Tofu said, "or we would not be seeing his ki."

"Why do I get the feeling that this is more dangerous to us than to him?" Nabiki asked.

"If what happened at the clinic is any example," Tofu said, "this almost certainly is more dangerous to us than to Ranma. He probably doesn't even realize that he has done this."

Nabiki gave out an exasperated sigh, then shouted, "Akane, stop that!"

Akane stopped in mid-swing and looked back over her shoulder at her sisters and Tofu.

"He'll die in there!" Akane shouted.

"Akane, surely you know better than to try helping a chick to hatch, right?" Tofu asked as he put on his best smile of reassurance.

Akane suddenly looked considerably less sure of herself.

"It's funny how often I have to use my bedside manner well away from a bed with this crowd," Tofu muttered. In a louder voice he said, "Why don't we give Ranma a little time to...Wait! He's trying to get your attention, Akane!"

Akane turned and looked at the block. The light inside had dimmed considerably and Onna-Ranma was making motions at her.

"Akane, he wants you to move away from the ice!" Nabiki called out.

Ranma made a fist at Akane then pointed towards the house. Akane could see that Onna-Ranma's face was turning blue. Her mallet vanished as she ran towards Tofu and her sisters. The glow inside the block of ice changed from blue to gold and pink as Onna-Ranma formed a fiery-red ball of ki between his hands. As he released his ki, it seared its way through the ice, leaving a large hole in one side of the block as it dissipated. The air around the block suddenly turned white with the tendrils of a frost-laden fog. Tofu and the Tendo girls stood and watched until, at last, Onna-Ranma emerged from the fog, gasping for air. He held a large piece of coal in his left hand.

Akane sprinted toward her fiance and all but tackled him as she wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. Onna- Ranma began turning blue in the face again.

"Ranma are you all right?" Akane asked.

Onna-Ranma, unable to speak, merely nodded his head.

"Well say something!" Akane shouted.

Onna-Ranma's eyes bulged, then crossed.

"Oh! I'm sorry!" Akane said as she loosened her hug.

Onna-Ranma greedily sucked in some much-needed air.

"Ranma, you're freezing!" Akane exclaimed.

Onna-Ranma gave Akane an incredulous stare.

Kasumi and Nabiki both giggled while Tofu shook his head.

"How do you feel, Ranma?" Tofu asked.

"I'm okay, Doc," Onna-Ranma said between gasps. "That was weird, huh?"

Ominous creaks and groans began emanating from the swirling white fog surrounding the block of ice. This was followed by a loud bang and then what sounded like tons of glass breaking. The fog swirled violently, then dissipated altogether, leaving behind a large pile of icy shards.

"Around you, Ranma, I think we will need to classify it as interesting rather than weird," Tofu said.

"Oh, that bad, huh?"

Tofu gravely nodded his head. "Perhaps fascinating would be a better description. What were you doing?"

"I was meditatin' on this piece of coal, Doc. I didn't think about the sleet too much until Akane started beatin' on that...that...chamber or whatever it was."

Akane, Tofu noted, was beginning to shiver, while it seemed that Ranma found contact with his fiancee uncomfortable.

"What's wrong, Ranma?" Tofu asked. "You look as though you're in pain."

"Well, Akane's kinda hot."

"Well, I assumed you have always thought that," Tofu said with a grin.

"Not that kinda hot, Doc! I mean hot, hot!"

"That's because you're freezing, you baka!" Akane shouted.

"Do you think you'll be able to come inside, Ranma?" Tofu asked. "You won't crack or anything, will you?"

Onna-Ranma looked vaguely panicked for a moment then grinned at his physician and friend.

"Naw, I don't think so. I guess we could give it a try and see though, huh? Might be fun."

The five of them made their way back into the house and settled around the table in the living room. White tendrils of mist began rising up from the piece of coal Onna-Ranma was carrying, followed in short order by similar tendrils of mist rising from Onna-Ramma's body.

"Kasumi? Could I have a pan of cold water?" Onna-Ranma asked.

"Yes, of course, Ranma," Kasumi said. "Are you sure wouldn't rather have warm water?"

"Nah, hot water might not be such a good idea for this," Onna-Ranma said, indicating the chunk of coal he still held in his hand.

Kasumi went into the kitchen then returned with a large shallow pan of cold water. The pan was of the sort commonly used as a wash pan on farmsteads and was made of steel coated with white porcelain. Akane placed a folded towel on the table. Kasumi set the pan down upon the towel. Ranma dropped the piece of coal into the water. The water immediately bubbled and hissed as white fumes rose from the surface. Everyone's eyes widened in shock. After a few moments of this, there were several creaking and popping noises as the water froze solid. Much to the amazement of all, the ice was crystal clear. They could see all the way to the bottom of the pan.

"Where did it go?" Onna-Ranma asked.

"It broke up, Ranma," Nabiki said. "See all those dark pieces?"

"Yeah, but there ain't near enough of 'em for that piece of coal."

"Ranma's right, Nabiki," Akane said. "There should be much more of it."

"Hmmm," Nabiki noised. "Were you trying to make diamonds this time, Saotome?"

"Yeah, but I don't think it went all that well."

"Well, I think I can see some pale blue pieces in there," Nabiki said. "We need more light."

"Why don't we pour some hot water on top of the ice and wait for it to thaw while we eat?" Kasumi asked.

Onna-Ranma vigorously nodded his head in agreement. "Sounds like a great idea to me, Kasumi. I'm starvin'."

The ice in the pan did not melt immediately. Tofu left for the clinic right after they ate breakfast. Ranma and Akane went out to the potting shed for more training. Nabiki made her telephone calls then got in some serious study time. Kasumi heated more water and poured it into a large pan, then nested the frozen pan inside it. Once that was done, she poured more hot water on top of the ice. Deciding that pressing matters any further would be a waste of effort, she set about her usual routine.

Ice still filled the bulk of the pan in a solid block by the time Kasumi called Ranma and Akane to come in for lunch. Kasumi insisted that they bathe and refrain from any further training that day, reminding Ranma of his doctor's appointment. All through lunch, Nabiki and Akane kept glancing at Ranma, then glancing at one another, then snickering. The poor boy was completely unnerved by the time they finished eating. Kasumi asked him to help with the dishes, as it seemed unlikely that he would be able to study.

"You shouldn't worry about this so much, Ranma," Kasumi said with a reassuring smile. "It's just an examination."

"Oh, yeah? Then why do Nabiki and Akane think it's so funny?"

"Well, I must admit, there are any number of things most girls would rather do than go see a gynecologist, but it IS necessary."

"Oh yeah? Does it hurt?"

"No, but it is...well...uncomfortable in an embarrassing way."

"Oh," Ranma said, then grunted. "Is that all? Embarrasssin'?"

"Yes, but it isn't that bad, really. After all, everything is done in the privacy of an examination room, and Tofu tells me that Doctor Takahashi is very gentle."

Ranma shuddered as he put up the last plate.

"I think I'll go get a nap."

"That might be a good idea, Ranma."

"We'll probably be late getting back, Kasumi."

Ranma was as good as his word. He slept while Akane and Nabiki studied. Tofu arrived, looking a bit tired, at half past two. The ice had melted by mid-morning in Tokyo proper, but the roads in the outlying areas around the metroplex were still something of a rather sore trial. Kasumi insisted that he sit down and have tea while Akane woke Ranma.

"Do I gotta dress like a girl?" Onna-Ranma asked as he walked into the room.

"No, I don't think that's necessary, Ranma," Tofu said, before finishing off his tea with a gulp. "What you're wearing should be fine."

Ranma was wearing his usual dark blue pants and his favorite silk shirt.

"We should get out on the road, though," Tofu said. "It's slow-going out there today."

Ranma followed Akane and Tofu out to the ambulance, trudging along like a condemned prisoner being led to the guillotine. The trip into town was a slow-motion thrill ride, but turned completely uneventful once they made it to the main highway back into town. The road crews had been working overtime. The closer to Tokyo they got, the more forlorn Onna-Ranma looked. Akane cuddled him and tried to comfort him as best she could.

"Cheer up, Ranma. It really isn't all that bad."

Onna-Ranma said nothing. He just laid his head on Akane's shoulder looking all the more forlorn.

"Poor baby," Akane said. "It'll be all right."

Everyone and everything ran late at Doctor Takahashi's clinic, thanks to the weather. Onna-Ranma waited patiently in the line to the receptionist's desk. It seemed to him to take forever and a day before he finally reached it. The receptionist was a fat cheerful woman in her middle years. She peered over her reading glasses at Ranma and cackled.

"First visit, dearie?" the woman asked.

Onna-Ranma gulped, then silently nodded his head.

"Well, don't worry, hon. You'll live through it," the woman said cheerfully as she handed him a clipboard with several forms on it. "Take this and fill it out as best you can, then bring it back and put it in this box right here, okay?"

Onna-Ranma took the clipboard as he again nodded his head.

"Oh, and take these with you," she said, handing Onna- Ranma a sizeable handful of slick pamphlets. "Doctor Takahashi's first order for everyone is that you get to know your own body."

Onna-Ranma gulped, then took the pamphlets with a shaking hand.

Ranma found Akane and Tofu sitting in the lobby and sat down between them. Tofu helped him out with the forms and they made short work of them.

"What are these?" Akane asked, pointing at the pamphlets.

"That lady said they are Doctor Takahashi's prescription," Ranma said with a nervous shrug of the shoulders. "She said I had to get to know my own body."

"Well, she's right, you know," Akane said. "You really should read them."

"I'll take this back for you, Ranma," Tofu said. "You go ahead and read. Think of it as your first step towards being a doctor."

Akane gave Tofu a puzzled stare. Onna-Ranma looked up at his friend and physician and blinked a couple of times looking for all the world like an orphan beset by a pack of wolves..

"It's pretty basic stuff all doctors need to know, Ranma," Tofu said in reassuring tones.

"Okay, Doc. I'll read it."

Tofu gave Onna-Ranma a reassuring smile then left.

"Doctor?" Akane asked. "The first step towards becoming a doctor?"

Ranma silently nodded his head as he began reading one of the pamphlets.


"Doc says I have the touch," Onna-Ranma muttered. "I promised him I'd think about it, but I wanted to talk to you first."

Akane stared at her fiance in startled silence for a moment, then said, "I think I'll let you read."

"'kay, Akane," Onna-Ranma said, sounding preoccupied. The pamphlet he had begun to read was both fascinating and frightening. The more he read; the faster he read. Before long, he had a second pamphlet open and was reading it.

Tofu came back and sat down.

"The receptionist said your name will come up pretty soon, Ranma," Tofu said. "Doctor Takahashi has been looking forward to seeing your case."

Ranma merely nodded in silence, unable to tear his eyes away from the words and pictures he was soaking in. He had only read half of the third pamphlet when one of the nurses called his name.

"Saotome Ranma?"

"O-o-o," Ranma answered back the way a man would out of habit. The other women in the lobby gave him funny stares and Akane giggled even as she blushed. The nurse was a bit taken aback, but recovered quickly.

"Follow me, please."

Onna-Ranma slowly rose from his seat then trudged after the nurse, once again looking as though he were about to meet his executioner.

The nurse led him to a scale, then to an examination room, and began doing all the things nurses usually do to a first time patient. She stuck a thermometer in his mouth then wrapped a blood-pressure cuff around his upper arm. She did not seem to believe the results she got the first time and repeated the procedure. Onna-Ranma grinned. The nurse liked her second results even less and took his blood pressure a third time.

"I see," the nurse said, sounding vaguely annoyed. "How low can you go?"

"Yood dink I uz ded," Onna-Ranma mouthed around the thermometer.

"Dancer, right?"

Onna-Ranma shook his head.

"Margial Ardist."

"Oh, I see. I wish mine was this good," the nurse said with a sigh. "Too bad I'm too lazy to earn it."

The nurse took the thermometer out of Onna-Ranma's mouth, read it then noted his temperature on the forms.

"Can you control your body temperature as well?"

"A little, I think," Onna-Ranma said. "That's real tricky."

"I'm sure it is," the nurse said, then looked up at Ranma and smiled. "The doctor will be a few minutes. Take your clothes off and put on that robe hanging over there."

Ranma did as he was told, wondering if everyone hated hospital gowns as much as he did. He sat down on the stool, not liking the looks of the examination table at all.

Doctor Takahashi proved to be something of a surprise. She was a petite woman of about the same height as Onna-Ranma, but considerably lighter in frame with nothing like the musculature of Onna-Ranma. Ranma took an almost instant liking to the doctor. She had merry eyes that seem to twinkle with devilish fun.

"So you're the guy that gets blessed with girl's body from time to time, eh?" Doctor Takahashi asked, as she walked into the examination room, studying Onna-Ranma's charts.

"It ain't near as bad as it use ta be," Onna-Ranma said. "I can kinda control it now--most of the time."

"My name is Takahashi," the doctor said, sticking out her hand. "You may call me 'Doctor'."

Onna-Ranma grinned and shook the proffered hand. "Doc ain't good enough for you, huh?"

"Not until after your third visit and maybe not then."

"Oh, okay, Doctor."

"You said you can control it now. What did you mean by that?"

"Ah, well, I can become a guy or a girl whenever I want now--at least, most of the time. Sometimes it doesn't work."

"I see," Takahashi said. "I understood that water triggered your condition."

"It did, up until about a week ago, but now I can stop it unless I'm real tired or...or..."

"Or what?"

"I'm not sure. Sometimes part of me really doesn't want to change and then I can't."

"That is interesting," the doctor said, scribbling a note.

"Any odd problems you want to tell me about?"

"Huh! I didn't want ta tell anybody anything. Doc Tofu talked me into this."

"All right, any special things I need to know?"

"I got some questions for later, maybe."

"All right. Let's have a listen at your heart," Takahashi said, "and don't go playing tricks on me. I need to hear your natural rhythm."

"Okay, Doctor."

"You can call me Doc."

"I've been here three times already?"

"No, but I like you already."

"Oh, uh, thanks."

"You're welcome. My! What a metronome. You work out a lot don't you?"

"Yeah, especially right now. I'm teaching my fiancee the advanced stuff."

"I see. Breathe in slow and deep...that's it. Good. Again? Excellent. One more time. Very good. Your heart and lungs are in great shape. Hmmm, nice skin, too. How do you do it?"

"I dunno, Doc. It came with the curse."

"I'm not convinced it's a curse," Takahashi said. "Are there any other people like you that you know about?"

"Well, I know one other guy with this curse, and I know several with other kinds of curses."

"Oh? Such as?"

"My dad turns into a panda."

Takahashi's face registered alarm at this.

"And I know a girl that turns into a"

"Now THAT must be interesting, although I must say it cannot be good for her."

"Scares the hell outta me, Doc," Onna-Ranma said.

"Why? Are you afraid of girls that turn into cats?"

"Women scare me ta start with and can't deal with cats."

"Oh, yes! I remember now. Tofu said you had a bad experience with cats when you were very young."

"Yeah, you could say that."

Takahashi patted the examination table. "Up here, big boy!"

Onna-Ranma clambered up onto the table.

"Nope! Roll over onto your back!"

Onna-Ranma complied.

"That's it. Now, put your feet in these."

"Do I hafta?"

"We are going to stay right here until you do."

With a sigh of resignation, Onna-Ranma put his feet into the stirrups.

"Now, this isn't very pleasant, but it's necessary. I want you to do your best to relax, okay?"

"O-o-kay, Doc. I'll try."

Onna-Ranma did his best to maintain an even strain, but found it difficult.

"Aw, geez! Do ya really gotta do that?"

"Be glad these new disposable instruments are made of this nice warm plastic, child. The old ones were made of metal and were cold as hell."


"Who have you been having sex with?" Takahashi asked, sounding annoyed and vaguely alarmed.

Onna-Ranma turned beet red in the face and very nearly leaped up from the table. Had it not been for what the doctor was doing at that very moment, he would have fled from the room, putting on his clothes as he ran down the hall, but he was trapped by certain physical circumstances.

"Well?" Takahashi asked in ominous tones.

"Just my fiancee, Doc."

Takahashi raised her head so that she could look Onna- Ranma in the eye. "Your fiancee? How...never mind. I think I can imagine how. Did you enjoy it?"

Onna-Ranma's embarrassment choked off any hope of his being able to answer the question.

"Did you return the favor in your male form?"

Onna-Ranma shamefacedly nodded his head.

"Have you had sex with another male?"

Onna-Ranma's face caught fire with rage at this idea.

"I ain't that kinda guy!"

Takahashi chuckled at this.

"Good! I have serious reservations about what might happen if you did."

"I ain't got no reservations about it, Doc. I'd kill 'im."

"Try to hang onto that attitude for a while, Ranma. There are too many unknowns in your case."

"Ya mean about what happens when I change forms and all?"

"Yes," Takahashi said as she got up and threw several scary looking things into the wastebasket.

"I got no interest in guys if that's what you're worried about."

"You don't like it when they stare at your girl form then?" Takahashi asked as she stripped off her gloves and threw them away.

Onna-Ranma did not answer immediately.

"Well?" Takahashi asked.

"It's handy sometimes," Onna-Ranma said as he got up. "In fights and stuff."

"I see. What about other times? You may get up now if you wish."

"Well, I don't think they can help it much, to tell you the truth, but I really hate it when they KNOW I'm actually a guy and stare anyway."

"I think I can appreciate that. I bet it leads to some interesting misunderstandings once in a while."

"I don't know how women put up with it."

"Well, some of us enjoy it once in a while."

"Yeah, I guess...that's one of the things that worries me."

"How so?"

"Don't get me wrong or nuthin', I like ta look at girls mostly, but every once in a while a guy will look at me and I...I.."

"Enjoy it?"

"Yeah. It's flatulating."

"Flatulating?" Takahashi asked then guffawed.

"Or whatever the right word is."

"You mean flattering, maybe?"

"Yeah. I ain't all that good with words, but I'm gettin' better."

"Do you become excited when men look at you?"

"Mostly I get real nervous. I'm a guy most of the time and I know what they think about when they look at a girl."

"I gather then that you are not really attracted to men."

"I...I..." Onna-Ranma stammered and stared at his feet.

"You can tell me. The only person I will ever discuss anything with will be Doctor Tofu, and then only because he takes care of you most of the time."

"Sometimes I wish Akane could be a guy...sometimes."

"Akane is your fiancee?"

Onna-Ranma nodded his head.

"Would you like to become a mother someday?" Takahashi asked softly.

Onna-Ranma turned red from head to toe and kept staring at his feet.

"Part of me wants that--sometimes."

"Have you told your fiancee that?"

Onna-Ranma shook his violently from side to side.

"No way! She'd either get mad and try ta kill me or do somethin' really stupid."

"I gather, then, that there is a spring which can change a woman into a man."

Onna-Ranma nodded his head.

"You're afraid she might bathe in it just to make you happy."

Onna-Ranma nodded his head again.

"But I don't want Akane to ever go through anything like this. It's's been..."



"She doesn't like it when you act like a girl?"

As usual, Onna-Ranma failed to recognize a loaded question when it was asked of him.

"Not at all! Well, I take that back. Sometimes she does, but a lot of the time she doesn't. It all depends."

"So when does usually become the most angry with you?"

"Ah, well, she gets especially mad at me when I compare our figures."

Takahashi cocked an eyebrow at him then said, "I don't blame her for that."

"And then she gets really mad when I use my girl form to con some guy into buyin' my lunch or somethin' like that."

Takahashi rolled her eyes then giggled.

"Well you must admit, Ranma, you shouldn't be teasing boys that way."

"Hmmph! You don't know what runs through some of their sick little minds the way I do. I hear 'em talk all the time. They don't fall in love with a girl because of her looks. All some of 'em want is know. And if a guy's willin' to throw a bunch of money at a girl he don't know, he's one of the sickies. I could never do somethin' like that with a girl unless...unless..."

"You were in love with her?"


"Well, that makes you a real man among men."

"Would you write my mom a note and tell her that?"

"Oh, you poor dear!"

"Hey! You don't know the half of it. I think I'm startin' to get used to bein' a girl. Maybe I'm even startin' ta like it a little."

"Ah, we need to talk about that later, but I want to talk with you and your fiancee at the same time."

Onna-Ranma stared at the doctor and blinked in alarm.

"Ah, okay."

"Right now though, I think we had better get your breast exam out of the way."

"Breast exam?" Ranma asked cupping his ample bosom with both hands. "Ya mean these might not be good enough?"

Takahashi snorted.

"Now you're showing off."

"Hey, I didn't want 'em, but now that I got 'em ..."

"Do they ever bother you?"

"The truth? They can be a real nuisance sometimes-- especially in a fight. Akane's got a grip like a vice and she don't hesitate to use it."

"I can just imagine," Takahashi said opening the door to the hallway. "Let's go down here and let the machine have a look at them."

"Machine?" Onna-Ranma asked as he followed the doctor out into the hall. "Ya mean Happosai invented a machine?"

"Who, or what, is Happosai?"

"Ah, I'm not sure," Onna-Ranma said, suddenly sounding puzzled. "Never mind. It was a weak joke."

"Actually, I think a Doctor Kuno brought the first one of these devices to Japan."

"Oh, that figures! A Kuno and his hentai machine!"

"Actually, it is a special kind of X-ray machine."

"Oh, that makes even more sense! It looks right through your clothes, huh?"

"Well, no, not quite."

Tofu and Akane sat waiting in the lobby. Akane was dying to ask her long-time friend and physician about Ranma's newly found ambition, but resisted the urge. She decided it would be best to talk with Ranma about it first. She read the pamphlets instead. They reminded her of things she very much preferred to ignore, but was well aware of the need to think about them once in a while. The lobby was very quiet except for the occasional scraps of small talk between the other patients sitting in the lobby. Suddenly, a distant howl of female outrage rent the air of the room.

"I don't believe this goddamned thing!" Onna-Ranma howled, causing the paneling of the lobby to vibrate in sympathy. "What sort of sick hentai bastard would invent a piece of junk to do his molestin' for him?"

Akane and Tofu exchanged significant glances.

"Mammogram!" they chorused then laughed. The other women in the lobby tittered as well.

"This ain't dignifite!" Onna-Ranma's distant voice shouted.

"Miss Tendo. Tendo Akane?" the nurse called out.

"That's me," Akane said, raising her hand.

"Doctor Takahashi would like to speak with you for a moment, if you could come to her office?"

Akane looked up in alarm at Tofu. He shrugged his shoulders.

"She probably wants to talk to you about Ranma, Akane," Tofu said in a low voice.

"Do you think anything's wrong with him?" Akane asked in an alarmed whisper.

"I'd be surprised if there were any serious physical problem, but his is an unusual case. Doctor Takahashi probably needs some information from you."

"Okay," Akane whispered. In a louder voice she said, "I'm coming!"

"Please have a seat, Tendo-san," Doctor Takahashi said as Akane entered the room. "Your fiance is dressing at the moment. I'm sure he will be along shortly."

An obviously unnerved Akane sat down. Onna-Ranma walked into the room, still fuming over his recently completed mammograms, and sat down next to his fiancee.

"So, how long have you two been having sex?" Takahashi asked, carefully watching their faces. Both of them immediately blushed.

"You told her?" Akane asked in hoarse whisper.

"It wasn't like I had a whole lotta choice, Akane. She could tell from lookin' at me that somethin' had been goin' on."

"I guess we got a little carried away, huh?"

Onna-Ranma's blush deepened considerably.

"Well?" Doctor Takahashi asked.

"Just this week," Ranma said.

"Only the one time," Akane added. "I...I..."

"Started your period?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Young lady, do you know what they call women who use the rhythm method of birth control?"

Ranma and Akane both gave Takahashi blank stares.

"Mommy," Takahashi said.

The young couple's response to this startled Takahashi. The Tendo girl seemed a bit embarrassed, but seemed pleased with the idea of having a baby. The Saotome child was embarrassed, but also seemed a bit forlorn.

"In their infinite wisdom, our political leadership prohibits doctors from prescribing birth-control pills, so you will need to take other measures. Does either of you have a clue?"

"Ah, condoms?" Akane asked.

"Yes, Ms. Tendo, condoms. Did you use them this time?"

Akane shook her head.

"Why not?"

"I didn't think the ones I had would fit him," Akane said.

Onna-Ranma had long ago begun staring at the ceiling, but at this statement he turned his head and stared at his fiancee.

"Whaddaya mean they wouldn't fit?"

Akane exasperatedly rolled her eyes to the heavens.

"Now we've done it!" Akane said with a sigh. "It'll take me a month to get him off his ego trip!"

"You bought condoms?" Ranma asked.


"I'm not THAT big."

"Oh, yes you are, too."

"WAIT!" Takahashi said, then held up a chart. "Pick the one that seems to be the right size."

Akane pointed at the next to the last figure on the chart. Onna-Ranma pointed at another figure. It was roughly two sizes smaller. Takahashi gave out an exaggerated sigh.

"This is no time for false modesty, Saotome-san."

"I ain't bein' modest! That ain't one of my faults."

Akane rolled her eyes. "He's modest whenever he feels embarrassed. He's bigger than that."

Takahashi opened her desk drawer and pulled out four thin packages, then got up and walked to one end of the room and opened a door. It led to a small bathroom.

"Go in here and try these on, Saotome-san."

Ranma did a double take.


"I...I...uh...don't know if I can...uh..."

"Oh, believe me, Saotome-san. At your age things will just happen when you start to put one of these on. Now, get along with you. We haven't got all evening!"

Ranma trudged across the room, glumly accepted the packages from the Doctor Takahashi, then silently went into the bathroom and closed the door.

Takahashi looked over at Akane and could see that she was about to burst out laughing. She smiled, but put her finger to her lips as a warning for Akane to remain silent.

"I keep the larger sizes on hand," Takahashi said. "They can be hard to find sometimes."

"I bought the largest ones I could find, but to tell you the truth, I really didn't think we needed them that night."

"You did start your period?"

Akane nodded her head.

"It's normal?"


"You were lucky this time. Have you ever had sex with anyone else?"

Akane shook her head emphatically.

"Good, what about your fiance?"

"I know now he hasn't."


Akane nodded her head. Takahashi smiled and let the matter drop. The girl probably had good instincts on the matter and she could tell that the subject of sex made Ranma extremely uncomfortable.

"How interested was he in having sex as a girl?"

"Oh, Ranko loved it," Akane said, the clapped her hand over her mouth.

"Ranko?" Takahashi asked, looking suspicious.

"It's what we all call his girl form sometimes," Akane said. "It's a long story."

"Ah, does he undergo a change in character while in his girl form?"

"Not much of one and not very often, but every once in a while he...well...he becomes very vulnerable in a girlish way."

"So he has never shown a serious interest in other men?"

"Other than conning them into buying food for him? No."

"Does he really do that?"

"Oh, he is shameless about it when a guy hits on his girl-half. I think he does it to them for revenge. At least he isn't as bad about it as Nabiki is."


"My sister."

"Is she cursed?"

"Her name gets taken in vain a lot, but she doesn't have a Jusenkyou curse."

Takahashi laughed. "I went through a spell like that when I was a teenager. She'll grow out of it. I do worry about your fiance though. The sudden change in hormones must be very difficult for him to cope with."


"I'll know more when the lab results are back. The tests Doctor Ono had run were enough to make me worry."

"I'll be strong for him," Akane said.

Takahashi raised an eyebrow at this. "Has he always responded to you in a manly way?"

Akane giggled then, said, "From day one."

The bathroom door opened a crack.

"Are you guys through talkin' about me, yet?" Onna-Ranma asked without coming out into the room.

"Did you find one that fit?"

Onna-Ranma walked out and sheepishly handed Doctor Takahashi an empty foil pack. It was the size Akane had chosen.

"Hmm, well these are fairly hard to come by. Several of my patients come here for condoms this size rather than buying them at the drugstores. I must be selling them too cheap."

Onna-Ranma stared shamefacedly at his feet.

"What's the matter, Saotome-san?"

"I guess I'm just a regular freak, huh?"

"Well this," Takahashi said, indicating the package Ranma had given her, "isn't so terribly unusual. That is why I keep these on hand."

"So how come the drugstores don't have 'em?" Ranma asked.

"Because so many men are shy about buying them, it doesn't pay for the drugstores to stock them, that's why."


"Their wives and girlfriends are even worse," Takahashi said, sounding annoyed.

"I bought the largest ones they had on the rack," Akane said.

"But you did not ask for larger ones, did you?"

Akane blushed.

"I'm going to give you a dozen of these. That should hold you until Saotome-san's next visit," Takahashi said. She bundled up the condoms with a thin pair of paperback books in a furoshike and handed them to Akane.

Akane managed to grin, but Onna-Ranma stared around the room as though looking for a way out.

"The receptionist will set up your next appointment for us," Takahashi said, as she opened the outer door of her office. "I look forward to seeing you again."

Onna-Ranma rolled his eyes. "Don't get me wrong or nothin', Doc. I like ya and everything, but I hate this business."

"Welcome to the club, Saotome-san," Takahashi said with wry grin. "I have a gynecologist too, and I hate going to see her."

Onna-Ranma and Akane turned to go when Doctor Takahashi called Akane back. She motioned for Akane to lean close.

"Be sure to use a little lubricant the next time you do that to him."

Akane blushed. "He didn't seem to need it."

"What does HE know about being a girl?" Takahashi asked.

Akane giggled, then nodded.

"I'll take care of him."

"Be careful going home."

They stopped by the receptionist desk and got Onna- Ranma's next appointment, then made their way out to Tofu's ambulance. Just as he started the engine, Onna-Rama spoke up.

"Ice cream!" Onna-Ranma said in a voice that carried the notes of iron determination.

"Huh?" Tofu asked. "Ice doesn't scream."

"Hey! I just escaped from the foul clutches of a slavering gynecolumnist! I deserve ice cream."

"It's gettin a little late, Ranma..."

"Kasumi said she wanted us to bring home a gallon of that chocolate stuff with the walnuts and marshmallows in it," Onna-Ranma said in a rush.

"Well, okay!" Tofu said with a grin. "What Kasumi wants, Kasumi gets!"

"I knew you'd see it my way, Doc," Onna-Ranma said smugly. "I wanna banana split!"

Akane leaned over to her fiancee and kissed his cheek.

"Feeling better now, Ranma?" Akane whispered.

"Ice cream!" Onna-Ranma said with a shiver. "Must have ice cream!"

"We're home!" Tofu called as he walked through the door of the old farmhouse.

"Oh, welcome home, To-chan," Kasumi said, as she stood up on her tiptoes and gave Tofu a peck on the cheek. He blushed.

"Oh, my, Ranma!" Kasumi exclaimed as Onna-Ranma waddled through the door. "What on earth happened to you?"

"Can't you see, Kasumi?" Nabiki asked. "He's pregnant. How'dja do that, Akane?"

Akane stuck her tongue out at Nabiki. Akane was pretty full herself.

"Come to think of it, you look to be a month gone, Akane," Nabiki said with smirk. "Is it a boy or a girl, Ranma?"

"Twins!" Onna-Ranma said with a grin. "Strawberry and Chocolate."

"You forgot the Vanilla Swirl Dream, Ranma," Akane admonished.

"Oh, triplets then," Onna-Ranma said with an outrageous belch. "I'm gonna go lie down. I think my ankles are swelling."

"That's because you overloaded your hollow legs," Akane said with a snort. "Honestly, I've never seen anybody eat that much ice cream in one sitting."

"You forgot the watermelon, Akane," Tofu said with a grin as he handed Kasumi the gallon tub of ice cream they had brought back.

"Ooh, mind the seeds!" Nabiki interjected. "You guys are in real trouble."

"I don't suppose any of you want any supper, then," Kasumi said.

"I'll eat!" Tofu said. "I just sat and watched the show. It was like watching them feed the sharks at the aquarium."

"More like a one girl school of piranhas!" Akane exclaimed.

Onna-Ranma gave out a loud groan as he waddled down the hall. "Eyes, everybody!" he called out. "I'm gonna see if my guy half has more room."

"Do something, Ranma," Nabiki said. "You're waddling around like a redheaded penguin."

After the flash dissipated Ranma said, "Well geez, now I'm hungry again."

"I'd fall out of my chair but I might make my ankle worse," Nabiki said with a groan.

Akane just rolled her eyes as Ranma walked by her and Nabiki. He joined Tofu and Kasumi at the dinner table.

"Would you like some rice, Ranma?" Kasumi asked.

Nabiki motioned for Akane to follow her down the hall to her bedroom. Rather than simply follow Nabiki along, she pushed her injured sister's chair. Once there, Nabiki motioned for Akane to close the door.

"Look at this, Akane," Nabiki said, holding out a neatly folded handkerchief.

Akane picked the handkerchief up, unfolded it, and then gasped.

"Is this one of the ones he made last night?"

Nabiki nodded her head.

"It's perfectly white!"

"But hold it up to the light, Akane."

"Now it's pink!"

"Yeah and it weighs a little over ten carats. I don't dare show it to a cutter any time soon."

"Why not?"

"We've got to find one we can trust, first. This stone will become famous the day after if we sell it, then everybody and her sister will want to know where it came from."


"What about the rest of them?"

"Most of them have a very faint touch of yellow and there are two bluish ones. All of them are four carats or smaller. Selling them shouldn't be much of a problem, but I think we should hang on to this one and those other two large stones he made on his first try."

"Okay. When do you think we'll be able to find a buyer?"

"Ask Doc Tofu when he's going to take this cast off. I can't find one until I can move around. This isn't something I can delegate. Word would get around."

"I thought you knew a lot of jewelers, Nabiki."

"Jewelers, yes, but very few of them cut their own stones. They have it done or buy stones that are already cut. If I walked into a retail store with an envelope of these, they would start asking questions and making telephone calls. We have to find someone who cuts diamonds and sells them to retailers."

"We'll make less money that way though, right?"

"Sure, but it will still be a lot of money, Akane," Nabiki said. "These have to be cut before they can be sold to anyone interested in owning them for jewelry, you know."

"Too bad we can't find someone we could just pay a salary to cut them," Akane said.

"Hmm, the only way that might happen is if I were to run into a cutter who is down on his luck, or is in a position where he doesn't have the cash to buy stones. The diamond dealers never sell on credit, you know. It's a cash business."

"Cash?" Akane asked as her eyes widened with surprise.

"Yeah, cash up front," Nabiki said.

"That could be tricky, couldn't it?" Akane asked.

Nabiki shrugged her shoulders. "It can be, but it isn't as bad here as it is in other countries. Almost no one uses checks or credit cards here. Elsewhere, if you use cash the government gets suspicious."

"That's weird," Akane said.

"Not really," Nabiki said with a smirk.

"But what if the guy doesn't pay us for the stones?" Akane asked.

Nabiki gave her little sister a bleak stare before responding.

"I'd ask Ranma to have a talk with him about it," Nabiki said as her eyes grew cold. "I don't think our putative diamond cutter would repeat such a mistake."

"You know, Nabiki, Ranma doesn't feel that way about money. Knowing Ranma, he'd just start feeling sorry for the guy."

Nabiki gave out an exasperated sigh.

"We'll have to train Ranma to look mean, I guess," Nabiki said. "I'll do my best to find somebody who is reliable, but if whoever I find turns out to be rotten, we'll need a way to change his tune."

"I don't know, Nabiki, it just...Ranma just isn't like that, you know."

"Akane, this could become deadly serious. Ranma has to be willing to back me up on this or it's a non-starter. If word got around that he can make diamonds, everybody in our family and probably even Shampoo would become targets for kidnappers."

Akane's eyes widened at this.

"I hadn't thought about it that way," Akane said. "I'll talk to him."

"Please do," Nabiki said with a grim face. "Otherwise, I'll just flush these down the toilet and tell Ranma to never make any more of them."

"No way!" Akane said.

"Oh, I love money and I am not the least bit ashamed of that, but this is just too damned dangerous, Akane. We have to handle this the right way or not at all."

"That bad, huh?"

"Worse than you know, baby-sister," Nabiki said. "You and Ranma have had to deal with some rough customers, no doubt about that, but there are people out there who are just plain nasty. They're nasty in ways that you can't even begin to imagine. So we have to be careful."

"How do you know about nasty people, Nabiki?"

"Easy, unlike you and Ranma, I take an adult's interest in the news."

"You're worried about the yakuza, aren't you?"

"And others who are likely a lot worse."

"Worse? Who could possibly be worse?"

"People who work for foreign governments."

"Oh, but why would spies be interested in diamonds? I thought they worried about military secrets and stuff."

"There are lots of different kinds of spies, Akane. Some of them specialize in economic matters."


"Think you can help me get this across to Ranma?"

"Sure," Akane said, suddenly sounding confident.

Nabiki looked a little surprised by Akane's sudden change in attitude.

"It's easy," Akane said with a grin. "I'll just talk to him about it as though it were a martial arts problem."

"Hmm, that might work, especially if you can make him think of it as a challenge."

"You didn't see his face when he talked to you on the phone that day Pansuto Taro grabbed you," Akane said. "Ukyou and I made Ranma promise us that he wouldn't kill that stupid jerk."

"He was that mad about somebody grabbing me?" Nabiki asked in surprised voice.

Akane nodded her head.

"He sure was."

"Ooh, just what you needed, more competition," Nabiki said with a lewd grin.

"Hmmph! Just be careful where you go with that, Nabiki," Akane said. "He's mine."

"I know, Akane. I gave him to you fair and square," Nabiki said, as she dropped her gaze towards the floor, "but don't you ever mistreat him. I'll be right here waiting if you do."

"I wondered when you were going to admit it," Akane said.

"I have trouble believing that he really cares for me at all," Nabiki said, "but I know he does."

"Ranma loves everybody, Nabiki," Akane said, then paused to control her voice. "He'll go way out of his way to avoid hurting anyone. You know that."

"Which means you don't really have to worry about me or any of the other girls, right, Akane?"

Akane made no answer. She was too busy grinding her teeth.

"It's time you stopped underestimating him, Akane," Nabiki said. "He's so in love with you he has a hard time even talking about it."

Akane's eyes widened with the light of sudden realization and she gasped, "You made a pass at him!"

Nabiki nodded her head as she answered, "I had to know for sure."

"Had to know what?"

"If he loves me as much as I love him," Nabiki said. Akane could see that she was fighting to hold back tears. "He doesn't."


"Nothing, Akane. You don't owe me anything. Certainly not an apology."

"But I never dreamed that you really..."

"That the Ice Queen would fall for her little sister's dumb jock of a boyfriend?"

"He isn't a dumb jock!"

"So I've begun to notice. Congratulations, Akane."

There was a long oppressive silence as each of the two girls did a bit of desperate soul searching. Akane, true to her nature, broke it first.

"I can't believe you made a pass at him, Nabiki. It's the last thing Ranma or I need."

Nabiki smirked at her sister, then said, "Well, don't worry, Akane. He passed with flying colors. I was disappointed, but you needn't be."

"Why, Nabiki? Why did you do this?"

Nabiki took Akane by one wrist, then placed the palm of Akane's hand against the bracelet Tetsugo had given her. Akane gasped aloud.

"How long have you had this on? I don't remember seeing it."

"I've had it on for several days, but nobody has noticed it, even when I waved it under their noses."

"It's beautiful! Where did you get it?"

"Testsugo-sama gave it to me."


Nabiki explained how Ichiro Tetsugo had come to Tendo- ke and why, then said, "So when Ranma started making diamonds, I had to wonder if he was the guy Tetsugo was talking about."

"There's more to it than that, Nabiki."

Nabiki smirked at her younger sister.

"Sure there is! Ranma gives me a bad case of hot pants."

"Which half of him?"

"Hey, we're a lot more alike than you want to believe, little sister."

Akane blushed. Nabiki settle back into her chair and closed her eyes. After another long silence Akane spoke up and asked, "So now you're wondering who it is that's walking around with your rocks in his pocket, right?"

Nabiki began giggling and Akane joined her.

"Some tall stranger?" Akane asked between giggles.

"A stranger in his own land," Nabiki added. "I guess that means I'm as doomed to have as weird a life as you are."

Both girls suddenly shivered as something unseen and unheard but definitely felt by both passed through the room.

"What was that?" Nabiki asked. "I just felt as though someone stepped on my grave or something."

"I don't know," Akane said as she rubbed the gooseflesh on her arms. "I thought a ghost had drifted by or something."

Both girls stopped and listened for a moment, hearing footsteps in the hall.

"Ranma, is that you?" Akane asked.

"Yeah! I'm goin' out back for a little while, Akane," Ranma said, his voice muted by the closed door. Akane got up and opened the door.

"Ranma did you just get an awful chill as though..."

"Don't worry about it, Akane," Ranma said. "It's just Haabu lettin' me know that he's somewhere close by."

"So what are you going to do?"

"I'm gonna let 'im know I got the message," Ranma said with shrug of his shoulders. "Don't panic or nothin', okay?"

"O-okay, Ranma."

Ranma turned then walked out the back door. Akane closed the door to Nabiki's quarters.

"What the hell is he going to do?" Nabiki asked.

"I have no..." Akane's speech was cut off by a sudden rumble.

Akane and Nabiki stared at one another in wide-eyed shock.

"Did Ranma do that?" Nabiki asked.

There was another rumble, this one louder than the first. Nabiki's face turned faintly green.

"If that happens again, I'm gonna be sick," Nabiki said with an involuntary gulp.

Something cold seemed to creep through the room again and both girls shivered. They waited for several moments, to see if anything else strange was going to happen. Akane broke their silence.

"I'm for bed, I think. You want me to tuck you in, Nabiki?"

"No, I'm not sleepy yet. I think I'll do some reading first. Besides, I can get into bed on my own."

"Are you sure?"

"Good night, Akane."

Akane gave her sister a grin and a thumbs-up.

"Okay, Nabiki. See you in the morning."

End of Chapter 14
Copyright © Don Granberry