Ranko , Part 10:
"Where is Fuurinkan High?"


<DING DING DING>

The alarms sound over a tiny Japanese forest village. Excited and frightened people are running through the streets (which is standard practice when an alarm is sounded - it doesn't help, but it's so much more dramatic). A wild boar is on the loose and it is smashing its way through the small community. Bashed and overturned carts are lying in its wake; cats and other people have been chased up trees; chaos rules. When the behemoth of a pig finally decides to run down a clear space for a change and turns into the main street, cries rise up. A seemingly unaware wanderer is walking right in the path of the monster boar.

Man: Hey! Careful there!

Woman: Look out! Run!

The young man on the street turns and sees the approaching animal. Yet he does not run. Instead he braces himself and when the boar is upon him and it seems inevitable that he will be slaughtered by the raging beast, he grabs its tusks and holds fast. Incredibly, the giant pig stops. Though it is desperately struggling against its captor, he wrestles it slowly down. Then the young man leans forward and says something that eludes the ears of the villagers. The pig "Bwee"s loudly in a frightened tone and when the boy lets go of its tusks, it meekly but hurriedly walks off, out of the village. Astonished the people of the village come forward

Man: That was incredible!

Man2: Amazing! Are you an animal trainer or something?

The boy does not answer. He looks young - 16, maybe 17 years - and his unruly hair is kept in check by a yellow-and-black bandana. On his back he carries a large backpack with a bamboo umbrella strapped to it. He pulls out a piece of paper that apparently contains a map. As he speaks it can be seen that he has CUTE LIL' FANGS. YAY! [Um, sorry. I got a little over-enthusiastic - I'll correct that in the next revision :) ]

Boy: Where is Fuurinkan high school?

A villager grabs the map and studies it. She then hands it back, shaking her head.

Woman: Gomen, but that map shows nothing in this area. It looks more like Tokyo.

Man: But that's five hundred miles north of here!

Boy: Very well. Please forgive my intrusion.

He turns back on the path and walks away without another word. The villagers look after him.

Man: Now, that one's really lost.

Man 2: He's walking south.

~*~

Boy: [thinks] Saotome Ranma! Soon I will find you and then you will no longer run from our man-to-man battle!

~*~

Meanwhile "Ranma"...

Ranko: Are you mad? I'm not wearing your clothes!

Kasumi and Nabiki have chased her down the hall and now confront a cornered Ranko who is just wearing boxers and a towel in lieu of a top.

Kasumi: But all of your own clothes are in the washing.

Nabiki: [inaudible] And sewing and disinfecting...

Ranko: But your clothes are all so frilly and stuff. How am I supposed to run in those things?

Kasumi: [arms akimbo] You're not.

Nabiki intervenes here.

Nabiki: You're not the same size anyway. Ranko, how about if you borrow an outfit from Akane? She's more your size.

Ranko stops and ponders this. Reluctantly she agrees.

Ranko: O-o-okay, I guess. At least she has some taste in sensible clothing.

Nabiki: [inaudible] I thought you would say that. [smirks]

~*~

On a field somewhere in Hokkaido. Cows graze everywhere and a man carries buckets of milk along. The boy with the bandana approaches him with his map.

Boy: Where is Fuurinkan High school?

Cowherd: Well, if that's Tokyo on the map, it's five hundred miles south of here.

~*~

It is a week later, three o'clock in the afternoon, when the bandana'd boy grabs a random guy from a schoolyard and questions him.

Boy: Where is Fuurinkan high school?

Student: Err...

The student wordlessly points over to a large sign on the wall, not five yards from the point they are standing. The sign proclaims this to be the yard of Fuurinkan High.

Boy: Ahh. Thank you. Where do I find Saotome Ranma?

Student: Uh, Ranma? I think he's... Oh, there he is. Over there with Akane.

The boy looks to the doors of the school building. Akane and Ranma have just exited and are walking along, chatting.

Akane: Ha ha, you wouldn't believe it! And of course she went on to tell me in detail just how wrong I was...

Ranma: Ha! I would believe it! That's just like her, to...

Suddenly Ranma freezes. Some small, half-seen movement has alerted him and he looks around, sensing impending danger. Just in time he pushes Akane back and barely manages to dodge, as the bandana boy falls from the sky, with his bamboo umbrella stretched out below him like a weapon.

Boy: Ranma, prepare to die!

Ranma just stares. As the umbrella impacts on the ground, tip first, only a hand's breadth next to Ranma, the ground gives way. A crater, at least a meter and a half wide, has formed at the point of impact and Ranma somersaults backwards out of range. He lands at the rim of the shallow crater and stares in disbelief.

Ranma: You!?

Boy: So, Ranma. Still good at running away. [pauses, stares] Wait! You're not Ranma.

Ranma: Sure I am. Saotome Ranma, that's me.

Boy: [narrows one eye] No. You look like him. You look a lot like him. But you're not him. You're to tall, your face is different, your voice too deep - you're not him.

Ranma: But I know you! You're... You're..

He waves his pointing finger at the boy as if that could coax the forgotten name to the front of his mind.

Boy: Don't strain yourself. I will leave now, [louder] but I will find the real Saotome Ranma and when I find him, he'd better be ready.

Refastening his umbrella to his backpack he takes off. Ranma looks after the departing figure, the pointing finger still extended, deep in thought. Suddenly he snaps his fingers.

Ranma: Ryouga. Hibiki Ryouga, that's his name. I knew him in my old high school.

Akane: But why didn't he recognize you? He came looking for you...

Ranma: I don't know... [slaps his forehead] Duh! Of course! [grabs Akane's hand] Come on home Akane, I'll tell you.

He zooms off, dragging Akane behind him. The shaken pupils of Fuurinkan high watch as the two depart. Perhaps now the afternoon will be quiet.

~*~

The Tendou girls are listening to Ranma's tale in the living room. Kasumi is slowly laying the table for tea, while Ranma changes back to Ranko with a kettle of hot water.

Ranko: It's so simple! He never saw me in boy form.

Nabiki: But you said he came asking for Saotome Ranma.

Ranko: Well... I was using that name even before I was cursed!

Akane: Huh?

Ranko: Back when I was a girl 365 days a year. I met him in our class in the boys' school.

Akane and Nabiki gasp and move back in horror.

Girls: Boys' School?!

-- End of part 10.


Part 11: "Quit acting like a girl"


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