Four

Title: Dragon Ball Ninbunnoichi
Plot, or Lack Thereof: The Nerima Wrecking Crew go Dragon Ball Hunting
Reason for Banishment: Weak characterization and major differences in setting and tone between series.


“Stupid Ranma!” Akane fumed, tears streaming down her face. “Stupid stupid stupid stupid!!!

“Akane?” Bulma placed a hand on Akane’s shoulder, who gasped with surprise and stopped.  “What’s Ranma to you, anyways?”

Akane tried to answer with her usual tirade about Ranma, but found herself unable to.  Bulma had asked a good question: what was Ranma to her?

Fiancée? Not by choice, or was it? Ranma had to marry one of the Tendo sisters to uphold his father’s pledge; why not Nabiki or Kasumi?

And what about Ranma’s other two ‘fiancées’?

“What’s the matter?” Bulma teased.  “Do you really hate him that much?”

Once again, Akane found herself speechless.  Sure, Ranma was infuriating at times, more so when they argued, and the most when he called her a ‘violent uncute tomboy’.  Not to mention when he ran away to Shampoo or Ukyou to avoid her cooking.  Ranma’s transgressions were too many to count.

But there were also times when Akane thought she liked Ranma: the time he said ‘you’re cute when you smile’; the time they almost kissed; the time (or was it times?) he risked everything to rescued her.

The time he said he loved her.

Two very good questions, indeed.

***

Goten and Trunks found an almost unconscious Ranma under the pile of rubble that used to be the wall of the neighboring building.

“Ranma!” Goten lifted the heaviest slab off of Ranma.  “You okay?”

I just got whacked out of a house by Akane with a mallet; what do you think?” Ranma struggled to his feet and dusted himself off with as much dignity as possible.

“You deserved it.” Trunks crossed his arms.  “Akane was already mad, but you just kept egging her on.”

“Excuse me,” Ranma also crossed his arms.  “But she was the one that started it.”

Trunks raised an eyebrow.  “The way I remember it, you were the one that yelled at her when she came in.  Not a very nice way to greet your fiancée.”

“I never wanted to be engaged to her in the first place.” Ranma muttered under his breath.

Trunks heard it.  “Well, if you ever decide to call off the engagement, there’s a chick with a giant spatula waiting for you,” He turned to Goten, pretending not to notice that Ranma had turned green.  “Let’s go back and check on Akane.”

“Ranma? You coming with us?”

“Forget him; he obviously can’t stand being around Akane.  Come on, Goten,” Trunks began to walk back to his house; reluctantly, Goten followed.  And after a few minutes, Ranma trailed after them as well.

***

The tension in the air was still pretty high when the boys returned, but at least Ranma and Akane didn’t start another fight.  They just sat and glared at one another while Trunks and Goten related their respective adventures.

Bulma listened in amazement to the two teens.  A girl with a giant spatula? An old lady that uses a cane as a pogo stick?

“Sounds like I missed out on a lot of excitement,” she commented after Goten finished.

Ranma winced.  “Excitement? It was more like ‘insanity’.  And it’ll probably get a lot worse, too.”

“Worse?” Goten gulped.

“Obviously, we’re not the only ones who have heard of the Dragon Balls, and if the other people in pursuit of them are who I think they are, then there are at least—” Ranma paused to count on his fingers, “Five other people looking for the Dragon Balls.” He paused again before adding: “and that’s not even counting the people who aren’t cursed.”

It was Trunks’ turn to wince; he had heard enough of his mother’s stories to guess what trying to find the Dragon Balls would be like with that many people going after it at the same time, each for his own purpose.  “Great.  Talk about high demand and low supply.”

“Why are we still sitting here, then?” Akane asked.  “Let’s go and get those Dragon Balls back!”

“Easier said than done—” (Trunks elbowed Ranma before he could add his usual string of insults.)

“Akane’s right; the sooner we get started again, the better our chances are of succeeding.”

Goten nodded in agreement.  “Should we split up again?”

“Definitely.” If it doesn’t make looking for the Dragon Balls faster, at least it’ll keep Ranma and Akane from arguing. Trunks thought.

“Right,” Goten agreed, thinking the same.  He turned to Bulma.  “Do you have any more Dragon Radars, Bulma?”

“I think so.” Bulma headed to her workshop and returned a few moments later with one.  “Sorry, this is the last one that I have; I won’t be able to put together another one for a few days.”

Everyone winced.  It looked like they would be traveling together after all.

“Before we go,” Genma piped up, startling everyone, “can I have something to eat? I’m starved.”

***

Shampoo trudged through the mountains with Cologne on her back.

“Must we do this, great grandmother?” She panted, struggling up a steep slope.

“Yes, Shampoo; this is only way to cure curse and get Ranma.”

Shampoo didn’t reply because she didn’t think that being a cat was too bad.  And although Ranma was Shampoo’s husband by Amazon law, she wasn’t sure she wanted to marry him; he was always so stubborn.  And rude.  And inconsiderate.  And a few other things she didn’t dare say out loud.  But her only other option was Mousse, who was sweet and kind but reduced himself to a groveling, sniveling, and downright annoying idiot whenever he was around her.  Talk about rock and hard place, Shampoo thought.

“Shampoo! My darling!” Mousse jumped out of nowhere and attached himself to the correct target of his affections.  Shampoo pried his arms off of her and launched him into lower earth orbit with a fierce uppercut.

Stupid Mousse. Shampoo thought.  Why he always do that? It never occurred to her that she acted exactly the same way around Ranma.

A little further away, someone watched Shampoo make her way to the next Dragon Ball.

“Shall we attack her now, Master Herb?”

“Not yet.  She only has two of them right now.  Wait until she has gotten the next one.”

“Understood.”

Even farther away, two other people were also seeking the Dragon Balls.

“It would only be fair to warn you, brother: as soon as all seven Dragon Balls are collected, I will do what it takes to get my wish granted first,” said one, a young woman in a gymnastic outfit with the picture of a rose sewed on the front.

“And the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High shall not hesitate to fight my own sister for the love of Akane and The Pig-Tailed Girl,” replied the other, a young man wielding a wooden sword.

Farther still, on the other side of the globe, Mousse managed to pull himself out of the crater he created upon impact.  He checked his sleeves to make sure that the Dragon Ball he had stolen from Shampoo were still there.

Forgive me, darling, but I have no other choice.

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