"Where it began? The restaurant?" Akane asked.
"No," Ranma said, his eyes narrowed. "He's not that stupid... He means... where they first got me."
"Where Mazuhara gave me their ultimatum."
"So," Ryouga asked. "Where is that?"
Ranma crumpled the letter in his hands. "Furinkan," he said. "It all started at Furinkan."
The rest of the night passed in a heartbeat, it was the day that took so long. The five of them made it back to the Nekohanten before dawn, and most of them took turns sleeping. If things were to end that night, they'd need their sleep.
Ryouga finally manage to heal himself up to the point where he could spar with Ranma, and so he did, during the day. The roof of the Nekohanten was secluded enough that nobody would recognize them, and allowed them enough room to move around.
As the day moved along, however, they could only sit and wait anxiously. The news had said sunset would be around 8:30, and each minute that passed seemed to drag on forever.
The call to Shuji went out around noon, and he had said he would be there.
Mousse made dinner with the supplies that were left over in the kitchen, and everyone ate heartily.
And then, the time came.
"It's almost sunset," Ryouga growled. "Are you SURE this is where he meant?"
Ranma nodded. "It was the start of everything. Hell, it was after a fight I had with YOU that they came up to me. Besides, where else would the 'start of it all' be?"
"He may have meant the restaurant," Akane brought up.
"No, too easy. It's covered by my Gumi, and besides... The police are probably still hanging all over that place. They wouldn't think to look here for Ranma," Shuji said. "He'll be here... just wait."
"Well," Ukyou began. "It's still... I dunno. I don't think it's gonna be as easy as that. They're gonna have guns or something, I know it."
"Guns or not," Ryouga seethed. "I'm not letting this end until Rin is safe."
Ranma looked over to his friend and sighed. He couldn't tell his intentions towards the strange girl, but... More likely than not, it was a sense of responsibility. Ranma himself felt more than a small bit responsible for what had happened to the girl and her family. But self responsibility was negligible. It was Mazuhara and Yamagami who were at fault, not Ranma OR Ryouga.
But still... It was laid on their shoulders to get the girl back safely... Or the guilt would eat them alive.
Still, her parents were dead. There was some responsibility there. There had to be.
And Ranma himself was going to take it out of Yamagami's hide if Ryouga didn't get to it first.
"Hey, are there cars allowed on school grounds?" Mousse asked, adjusting his glasses.
Ranma blinked. "What?"
Mousse pointed to the corner of the building just as a car rounded the corner. It was a black Lincoln, not too unlike the car that Shuji had parked outside of the school walls.
"Doesn't that... attract attention or something?" Ukyou asked. "I mean, driving a car into the school grounds?"
"I don't think he cares," Ranma growled.
Slowly, the car came to a stop about thirty feet away from them and someone stepped out.
It was Yamagami.
"YOU!" Ryouga exclaimed, and started to advance toward him.
"Look here, Saotome. You and your little Scooby Doo troupe had better back off, or--"
"Or WHAT, you sick fuck?" Ryouga growled. "What have you done with Rin?!"
"I'll do a hell of a lot more to Miss Tosaka unless you BACK OFF, kid."
"What is it you want, Yamagami?" Shuji asked, his eyes narrowed.
Yamagami smirked. "Well," he said. "I hadn't expected the Yakuza to become involved with this... Well done, Saotome. But it was pointless. Kill me now, and Rin will die a horrible, slow death. Let me go and I'll ensure she lives a long and fruitful life... In Hong Kong."
"What?!" Akane exclaimed.
"The kid is mine," Yamagami said. "Call it... spoils of war... She'll bring me a good price. She is very pretty, in case you haven't noticed..."
"What?!" Ryouga exclaimed. "You're going to SELL her?!"
"Well, did you expect me to give her to you and run off? No. Keeping her alive is the only thing that is keeping you fine folks from ripping me limb from limb. Now, my message is this... It's over, Saotome. You too, Hibiki. I'll no longer bother either of you, and I expect the same from you as well. The girl will live-- so long as she remains obedient, and will be well cared for at this time. Once in Hong Kong, it will be up to her what she wishes to do. Live as a whore, or die as a martyr."
"No deal, Yamagami," Ryouga sneered.
"Oh, but I'm afraid you aren't in that position. Are you so worried about your petty revenge that you would kill me, thus killing the very thing you are searching for? I think not. You may talk tough, Hibiki, but you're just a pussycat."
"I say we torture it out of him," Ranma frowned.
"Another futile course, I assure you. If I am held up in any way, my men are instructed to blow the brains out the back of her head... In fact, I should be calling in about sixty seconds," he smirked. "But, it is your call."
Ranma stood with his fists clenched as Yamagami turned and walked back to his car.
"GRAH!" Ryouga exclaimed, punching the ground and sending dirt and rock spraying in every direction.
"This isn't OVER, Yamagami!" Ranma exclaimed.
Eichi Yamagami looked over towards Ranma and smiled. "Oh, but I'm afraid it is, Saotome." He stepped into the back seat of the car and slammed the door shut, and then the car drove off.
"Come on!" Akane exclaimed. "We've got to follow him!"
"No," Shuji said, holding her back. "He'll see us and then we'll risk Rin's life."
"We can't just let him win!" Ukyou shot out.
"Can't we look up his license plate or something?" Mousse asked.
Shuji shrugged. "I'll try, but it may be a dud. Yamagami's not stupid. Don't forget, he managed to realize we were coming for him at his apartment, and then knew that you would come for him at Yoshoto. No. Right now all we can do is wait."
"Hong Kong," Ranma sighed. "There's... no way we can let him go. He couldn't fly, but... by boat. That guard said he had a ship!"
"There are over fifty-three marinas and ship ports within the immediate Tokyo AREA, Saotome," Shuji said. "Not even with the help of my entire Gumi could we even hope to find the right one. And besides. What then? They'd likely shoot the girl the very moment you're seen."
Ranma sighed. "There's got to be something," he said. "Anything."
Shuji shook his head. "Nothing right now," Shuji said. "But it's far from over. We'll track him right down into Triad territory if we need to." He stole a glance at his watch. "I'll report back to Mr. Miyazaki. Perhaps he'll have an idea."
"Yeah, don't you guys have like... a special assault force or something?" Ranma asked. "I mean, seriously. We can't let this guy get away with it."
"Nothing I can do right now, Saotome," Shuji said, walking towards his own car. "I'll contact you if something comes up." He got into his car and started the engine.
"How could we just let him go like that?" Ryouga asked, growling to himself. "She'll die in his hand, I know it!"
"Death would be better than living as a... as a..." Akane began. "It's not right."
"God. I knew her for a MONTH. A month, and then... and then they take her," Ryouga looked to the ground. "DAMMIT!"
"Hush, Sugar," Ukyou said. "It's not your fault. It's Yamagami."
"And Shuji said he'd look it up, remember?" Akane pointed out. "It shouldn't be long."
"Shuji," Ryouga scoffed. "I remember him. He ate at the restaurant all the time... Mr. Tosaka was always asking about his family. Especially his brother."
"It's all right, Sugar. Shuji will think of something," Ukyou said, patting Ryouga on his back.
Ryouga paused. "Wait..."
Ranma looked back. "What? What's the matter?"
"Does the name Kowichi mean anything to you?" Ryouga asked, his eyebrow raised.
Ranma scratched his head. "What do you mean?"
"Kowichi. Does it mean anything?"
"It sounds familiar. Other than that, no," Ranma stated.
Ryouga sighed. "Oh well, it was worth a shot anyway."
"Well, Mr. Tosaka was always talking about Shuji's brother. How he was a big powerful man in Japanese business, and that he and their father were good friends before. He said his name was Eichi, so... I dunno, I guess I'm grasping at straws."
"Wait... Eichi Kowichi?" Ranma asked, looking at Ryouga. "Is... that?"
"Yeah, but... I dunno, it's just--"
"Bloody HELL!" Ranma exclaimed, and then brought his fist towards the ground, but stopped short. "Why didn't I see it sooner?! Ryouga, you're a genius!"
He turned back to the empty street.
"Ranma? What's the matter?" Akane asked.
"Don't you guys see it? I thought there was something fishy. How we were able to get out of the apartment so easily... How he knew we were coming for him at Yoshoto... It's Shuji!"
"What?" Ryouga asked.
Sighing, Ranma turned towards Ryouga, Mousse and Ukyou. "Don't you see? His brother *IS* Yamagami. Eichi Yamagami!"
"B-But Shuji's family name is Kowichi! We just covered that!" Ryouga exclaimed.
Ranma narrowed his eyes. "And I heard Mazuhara call Yamagami that on several occasions. It just never leaked through!" He went over to punch a nearby tree. "DAMMIT! How could I have been so stupid?!"
Mousse removed his glasses for a moment. "If he's Yamagami's brother," he began. "Then that would mean..."
"The Oyabun?" Ukyou gasped. "Is he in on this?"
Akane shook his head. "I... I don't know."
Suddenly, a sharp crack was heard. Ryouga massaged his knuckles as his expression changed.
"We'll find out."
"Kintaro?" the girl called from the other room. "Are you coming?"
"Ahh, yes, my dear! I'll be right in... just allow me to fix up a few things for you," he called back.
Kintaro wiggled his way around the small room adjoining the jacuzi room and picked a bottle of sake and a couple glasses from the table. He was in for an interesting night, after all.
The girl was just over twenty, and extremely overexcited at meeting an actual Oyabun. Needless to say, it didn't take long for Kintaro to feel the same way about a nubile young--... err, anyway.
He made sure the towel he wore was on tightly and peeked his head out the door. He left two guards to watch for trouble and keep Kintaro and the young woman out of harms way.
"Don't come in unless it's life threatening," Kintaro said. "You got me?"
The guards both nodded as he closed the door.
Only moments later, he heard a small commotion from outside of the door, and it took all of two seconds for both guards to come flying into the room.
Kintaro turned just to see the doors shattered to splinters and two distinct shapes with their foots up in the air.
Suddenly, he recognized them.
"Okay, Oyabun," the one on the right began, cracking his knuckles. "It's time for an explanation."
"Hey!" Kintaro exclaimed. "You're... uhh... Saotome... What... what are you doing here?"
The other one, who Kintaro recognized as Hibiki, stepped into the room and grabbed Kintaro by the chest hair.
"Where's Rin?" he exclaimed.
"Settle down, Ryouga," Ranma said. "He may not know."
Ryouga growled and released him to the floor.
Ranma knelt down to Kintaro and produced a hand. "Now. I want you to tell me all about Shuji Kowichi, and I'll try to keep Ryouga away from you."
Kintaro scrambled back toward the wall. "I... He's my kobun!"
"Yeah, and? I want to hear about his brother," Ranma said.
"His... his brother? He's an only child!"
Ranma shook his head. "Look, he's NOT an only child. We have reason to believe he's Yamagami's brother," he said. "Now... what do you know?"
"Yamagami's... brother? But..." Kintaro blinked. It was fully possible, he thought to himself. He had checked Shuji out himself just a few years previously, and he rose through the ranks to become one of Kintaro's most trusted advisors. But... to be Yamagami's brother?
"Look, where is he?" Ryouga growled.
"He's... I thought he was with you!"
"Well, he's not."
"No, I TOLD him to stay with you guys until she was found! I TOLD him!"
Ranma motioned toward the other three people standing in the hall behind them. "Do you SEE him here?"
"Hi, Mr. Miyazaki," Ukyou waved.
Kintaro furrowed his brow. Suddenly, he stood up. "If he's not with you, then..." He brushed himself off. "I know where he'd be."
"About six months ago, I bought him a boat. He spends all of his free time there, and I know someone else has been using it, but he hasn't explained who."
"Where is it?"
"I'll take you there," Kintaro said.
"About time," Yamagami said, his back facing Shuji. "I'd have expected you to be out of there right away."
"Sorry," Shuji apologized. "Had to turn them off of the idea of following you... or me, for that matter."
Yamagami turned around and smiled. "Hong Kong looms on the horizon, brother... well, figuratively."
"What about the girl?"
"I'll dump her off the boat once we're in international waters. She's become too much of a complication, and I doubt Saotome or Hibiki will let the idea rest."
"Is that wise?"
Yamagami sighed. "You have so little faith in me, brother?"
"It's not that. You started this to get Saotome and Hibiki out of the way."
Yamagami smirked. "And I'll still do it."
"What?" Shuji said. "You told them--"
"I told them what they needed to hear. With those damn... kids in the way, I'll never achieve Mazuhara's level of power."
"Mazuhara died because of those kids, Eichi."
"Mazuhara died because he got stupid and cocky. He involved those kids, and left the disease behind for ME to cure. I'll cure the disease, Shuji. And once it's cured, I'll take Mazuhara's place. Screw changing the world! That was some pathetic pipe dream from a die hard imperialist."
Shuji nodded. "What's the plan?"
Eichi put his arm around his brother and walked up the boarding plank to the boat and began to explain.
"This one?" Ranma asked as Kintaro's limousine pulled up to the pier. "Isn't this a little close to Nerima?"
"Nobody ever blamed him for being the most intelligent of the species," Ukyou quipped.
Kintaro reached is arm out the window. "Three piers down. The boat is called the Kiyonoshi Maru. It's a 60-foot yacht."
Ryouga squinted his eyes as he looked out the window. "You mean that boat out there?" he said, pointing at a boat as it pulled away from the pier.
Kintaro blinked. "Dammit!" he exclaimed. "He DID take it out!"
"Come on," Ranma said as he nearly removed the limousine door from its hinges. "We've got to catch it!"
"Wait!" Akane exclaimed. "You can't do it alone!" She turned to face Kintaro. "Are there any boats here we can use to catch up with them?"
Kintaro nodded and fished through a small box of keys in the back seat of the limo. He pulled out a keychain and threw it to Akane. "The motorboat, it's right next to the Kiyonoshi Maru's docking space."
Akane nodded, then motioned for the others to follow as the bunch of them ran out to the pier.
Kintaro narrowed his eyes as they met with the retreating Kiyonoshi Maru. Gritting his teeth, he picked up his cell phone and dialed in a number.
"Hello, Shiro? I need a favour."
"Well," Yamagami chuckled. "Will you take a look at that?"
Shuji looked back toward the pier, where his brother pointed and let his jaw drop open. "My God," he exclaimed. "They must have gotten to the Oyabun!"
"That fat bastard isn't a threat. And neither are these idiots," Yamagami said as he watched the whole troupe pile into a motorboat and start the engine. "I can take care of this... Hey, Genji, bring out the RPG."
Shuji's eyes popped open. "What? Are you nuts? We're not even in international waters yet!"
Yamagami frowned. "We're not even out of Tokyo Harbour yet, Shuji. But it doesn't matter. They'd catch us before we reached International waters..."
"Yeah, but the police! They'll be alerted to it and--"
"It's too dark," Yamagami said, motioning toward the quarter moon that hung in the sky. "Nobody can see which boat fired it. All they'll see is the explosion... And I ask you, what's better? Facing down a few wounded martial artists, or facing a whole gaggle of perfectly healthy martial artists?"
Shuji gulped as the Rocket-Propelled Gun was pulled out from it's case and loaded atop Genji's shoulder.
"Got the aim right?" Yamagami asked.
"Yes, sir," Genji confirmed.
Yamagami waited for a few moments, until the boat that they had taken reached about fourty feet away from their vessel.
"Fire," he said.
"This one?" Akane asked, poking at the motorboat.
Ranma grabbed the keys from her hand and hopped in, putting them in the ignition and starting the engine. "I'd say that was a yes," he said.
Mousse waited until the lot of them had climbed into the boat and then pulled a dagger from the confines of his robe, then cut the rope tying the boat to the dock in one clean slice, and then jumped in himself.
Ranma pushed his foot down on the pedal and aimed the small craft towards Yamagami's yacht.
"What if they see us?" Akane asked.
"From the way they're looking over the bow, I'd say they CAN see us, Sugar," Ukyou said.
"Err..." Mousse began. "That's not a good thing."
Akane, Ranma, Ryouga, Ukyou and Mousse looked at each other for a moment before realizing the implications. Of course, the very moment they realized it, a sharp flash of light appeared from the bow of the yacht.
"Oh shit," Ranma said. "JUMP!"
Ranma grabbed Akane and jumped overboard, taking the both of them as far down as they could go. Ranma knew he was female now, but could care less. The explosion lit up the water underneath the boat, and pieces of shrapnel were sent flying about.
Luckily, because he and Akane were underwater, it didn't affect them. At all.
Quickly, while the light was still shining, he looked around to try and peg down the others. Ukyou was only three feet away from him and Akane, and gave Ranma a thumbs up to indicate she was all right.
Mousse swum around in his small duck form and stayed underwater for as long as he could. He was among the first to return to the surface.
Ryouga was nowhere to be seen, however. The bulky bundle of clothes he wore dropped like a lead weight to the bottom of the bay. But the lost boy was nowhere to be found. Ranma knew he was a pig, but where--
The clothes. Ranma acted quickly, checking on Akane quickly to ensure she was still conscious. She was, although she was looking at Ryouga's clothes in sheer confusion.
Damn. Ranma couldn't tell her now... but...
Damn bushido, he had a life to save.
He pulled Akane down with him, fully knowing that she, too would sink if he let her go. He grabbed the bundle of clothes and pulled them apart as quickly as possible, and then grabbed the small pig that was struggling to breathe inside of them.
Then, he started toward the surface.
Akane blinked in shock. P-Chan was there? Underwater? In... in Ryouga's clothes?
Years of misunderstandings flooded Akane's mind as if the floodgates had been let loose. It made sense. All of it. Ryouga WAS P-Chan. He was with her through all of it.
Akane knew she should be angry. She knew she should have been steaming, both at Ryouga AND Ranma...
But the situation was far too dire.
She gasped for breath as she broke the surface of the water, next to Ranma and... Ryouga. Ranma looked over to her right away, in an effort to regulate the possible anger.
Akane was angry, all right. But she was far more angry at being shot at with a rocket launcher.
"We've got to get aboard the boat," she said, not paying any attention to Ryouga.
Ranma looked toward the boat and nodded. Looking back and noticing Ukyou and Mousse, both treading water on the surface, although one more... naturally doing so.
"Ukyou, I need you to watch Akane," he said.
"Nuh uh, Sugar. I'm in on this one, too," Ukyou said. "Besides, we stick around in the water any longer, and they're liable to launch another thingie at us."
Ranma growled. She was right.
"All right," he said, looking around. "Mousse, fly up there and be subtle about it. Do some recon. The rest of us... We've gotta get aboard."
Mousse nodded and took flight.
Mousse hoped that by some miracle the bad guys didn't know about Jusenkyo curses.
"I think we nailed two of them," the man holding the big gun said.
"Look at Saotome," Shuji said. "When was... I swear, he looks..."
"What, you just noticed that now?" Yamagami laughed. "Another thing with Mazuhara. He had such a closed mind. As far as I can figure, it's some kind of genetic mutation that occurs with cold water. Hibiki has one too."
Mousse looked down to the surface of the water. He KNEW that Ranma and Ryouga had curses... but not him? This would work to his advantage. He reared one wing back and extended the knives from within his feathers. One strike and it would be all over.
"When is the bombing happening?"
"They're ordered to bomb the place in about ten minutes, whether they get a hold of me or not."
A bombing? Where?
"The Tendos won't expect it," Yamagami smiled. "Now drag those three up and we'll have a little fun."
Mousse quacked in frustration and hid the knives in his feathers. He looked off toward the horizon and sighed. Suddenly, he took flight.
"Hey, where the hell is he going?" Ukyou asked, pointing toward Mousse as he took off overhead.
Ranma looked up toward Mousse and growled.
"He's... is he leaving us?" Akane asked.
"It doesn't matter," Ranma said. "Come on, let's get up--"
He was interrupted by a small rope ladder draped over the side of the yacht.
"He's... inviting us up there?" Ukyou asked.
Ranma narrowed his eyes. Chances are, they could see Ukyou, Akane and himself... but they may not have seen Ryouga in the blackness... A small black pig in pitch black night, in black water... what were the chances?
He saw the telltale sign of a light appearing over the edge.
"Hold tight, bud," he said, and then tossed Ryouga at the side of the boat. He oinked in protest to begin with, but as he sailed right through an open porthole, it became silent.
"I suggest you and your friends start climbing, Saotome," Yamagami called from above. "We DO have more ammunition, I'm afraid."
Ranma grabbed a hold of the rope ladder and hefted himself up, making sure that Akane was directly behind him. He then began to climb, reaching over the top.
Ryouga sailed through the window effortlessly. Thank God Ranma had good aim. Ryouga wasn't sure he wanted to deal with another wall in his face.
He landed on the floor in the small, pitch-black room. He could tell it was small simply because of the way the sound of his landing carried.
It was like a... closet.
"Who's there?" he heard. A small, whimpering voice.
Ryouga turned toward the source of the voice and walked onward, smelling the air. It smelled of... blood and tears.
He oinked experimentally, seeing if it would get any reaction. Was this... was it...?
"Ry... Uncle Ryouga? Is... is that you?" Rin stammered.
Ryouga ran toward the source of the voice, rubbing his face against Rin's back, oinking happily. He had revealed his curse to Rin, mainly by accident at first, but she was somewhat accepting of it. In fact, she thought it was cool.
"How did you find me?" Rin cried, trying to remain silent.
Ryouga oinked, in an effort to keep her quiet, and then found her bounds. He then worked on trying to chew his way through them. He had to get her loose, and then find some hot water.
Ranma sneered at Yamagami as he topped the edge, but Yamagami could only smile at the girl.
"My, my, Saotome. Talk about a quick change. I had no idea you swung that way," he joked.
"Shut up, Yamagami," Ranma growled, pointing at him. "You're going down, now!"
"I think not," Yamagami said, lifting his gun.
Shuji smirked as he joined his brother, holding a gun of his own.
Ranma smiled. "You should know by now that I'm quick enough to disarm the both of you without a single shot hitting me."
"Let me think," Yamagami said. "There's a good... what, twenty feet between us? Considering you're a tad quicker as a girl, you could probably dodge the bullets and disarm us before we could shoot YOU... but I guess poor Akane and Kuonji here would have a little problem, wouldn't they?"
Ranma paled. With Akane and Ukyou there... Damn.
"Now... I thought I warned you, Saotome," Yamagami began. "Don't try to follow me... I guess you can't hear so well, eh?"
"I hear just fine," Ranma growled. "And what I heard is that you were a sneaking, lying bastard. You would have killed her anyway."
Yamagami shrugged. "Probably. I would have let my men have a little... fun with her first. It's not like they haven't already had their way with her."
Akane and Ukyou gasped as Ranma continued to growl.
"You ARE a sick fuck."
"Maybe," Yamagami said. "But at least I'm an intelligent sick fuck. Now, I believe it's come time to start the show."
"What show?" Akane asked.
"Live, via broadcast over cellular airwaves, I present..." he sneered. "The Death of the Tendo Family."
"I would have some tea," Tatewaki Kuno bellowed out loud, and struck the practice dummy before him, which bore the face of Ranma Saotome.
"Yes sir," one of the Kuno servants replied, and retreated back into the house.
Tatewaki levelled his gaze at the practice dummy and pointed his bokken toward it. "Ranma Saotome... You may have fooled the populace of this fair city with reports of your heroics, but now your plan to worm your way into the hearts of Akane Tendo and the Pig-tailed girl has become flawed! Fugitive of the law, you shall face the wrath of justice at the hands of Tatewaki Kuno!"
Tatewaki struck the dummy in the stomach with a direct run, and literally shred the stuffing out of it. A moment later, he lay the bokken over his shoulder and scoffed.
"Indeed," he began. "You were no true match for Tatewaki Kuno..."
Mousse was tired. Incredibly tired, but he was almost there. He knew the general direction of the Dojo, but the exact location? He'd have been better off trying to run through a maze in pitch dark.
Suddenly, something caught his attention. It was below. A familiar voice.
Exactly how familiar, he couldn't tell but it--
Mousse quacked out loud. Of course, if anyone would know where the Dojo was, he would. If only Mousse hadn't lost his glasses... But then, looking from above, it still would have been hard to find the Dojo.
Making a quick decision, Mousse dove towards the man holding the bokken.
"Here is your tea, sir," the old servant said as he came out with a cup of hot tea, and a kettle.
"Ah, Kojiro. You have my thanks. Set it upon yonder pedestal whilst I soak in my magnificence."
"Yes sir," he said, and then walked back into the mansion.
Kuno looked towards the sky with a smile-- and then a look of shock.
"Wha--?" he exclaimed as a duck struck him straight in the face. Suddenly, he dropped his bokken and tried to grab the duck.
"Begone, foul fowl!"
The duck, however, kept flying around his head, quacking and trying to peck at his hakama.
Kuno finally got a good hold of the nuisance and grabbed it, throwing it off in the direction of the pedestal, knocking the hot tea over and on to said duck.
Tatewaki Kuno could only blink in surprise at the naked man who now sat in the place of the duck.
Mousse looked up. "I need your help," he said.
"Indeed? Then if what you say is true--" Kuno said, his jaw open. "But Saotome--"
"Look," Mousse shot back, after having put on one of Kuno's spare hakamas. "Saotome is trying to STOP this guy. If you still wanna do the sorcerer routine with him, that's fine, but right now we have _GOT_ to warn the Tendo's."
Tatewaki stood up and pointed his bokken skyward. "Very well. Kojiro! Contact the Tendo home and warn them of the impending disaster! Sir Mousse and I shall depart and--"
"You wouldn't think of leaving me alone here while you have all the fun, would you, Brother-dear?" another voice called from a nearby doorway.
Tatewaki grit his teeth. "Of... course not, sister..."
"Look, let's _GO_," Mousse said, already heading out the door.
"Very well! We are off!"
"Okay, are we all here?" Goro asked, checking his and the other car.
"Yeah," Jinjiro said, hopping out of the drivers side of the second car. "When do we launch?"
"I dunno," Goro said. "I'll call."
Goro and his crew had been with the Paved Future for little more than a few months. Goro joined up for the sole purpose of being able to handle heavy weapons and explosives. He could only assume his crew joined for similar reasons.
It had been a stroke of luck after the arrests the previous week that his crew had been with Yamagami. If they hadn't, who could have guessed where they'd be? Probably some large government penitentiary.
Goro picked up his cell and pressed the redial button.
"Hello, Mr. Yamagami?"
"I'm busy, Goro. What's the status?" Yamagami asked from the other end of the line.
"We're at the Dojo," Goro replied.
Goro could almost HEAR Yamagami smile. "You know what to do, Goro," he said.
"Yes sir," Goro said, and flipped the phone shut.
He walked to the back of his car and opened the trunk. "Okay, here's the plan. We'll throw a grenade or two to get them out, and shoot them down when they leave the grounds. Understood?"
Jinjiro and the rest of his crew nodded.
He pulled a single grenade out of the trunk and pulled the pin. "When this goes off, get ready," he said. Without wasting another moment, he threw it over the outer wall of the Tendo Dojo.
Eichi flipped his phone shut and placed it in his pocket. "You hear that, Saotome? You've got minutes until all your friends and family are gone. How's that?"
"They'll get out," Ranma said, gnashing his teeth together. "They ain't gonna be sitting ducks."
"Oh, but I think they are, Saotome. You see, I'm not like Mazuhara."
"Yes you are. You're just as demented as that prick," Ranma said.
"Oh? Mazuhara had a closed mind, Saotome. Otherwise, how could I know that YOU'RE Saotome? Hmm? I've seen the change happen, on video. Mazuhara always thought you were someone else, but I knew. I just never said anything."
"Yeah, well. That don't make you any more sane."
"Sanity? Mazuhara wanted to rule Japan! The idiot thought he could take over Japan from the inside out, and probably make his way to the rest of the world."
"Yeah, so? He didn't."
"That's right," Eichi smiled. "And I knew he wouldn't. But what Mazuhara failed to notice was the power."
Ranma kept her eyes narrowed. "What are you trying to say, Yamagami?"
"Screw ruling Japan. Too much chance for failure. Now, the money and power... That plan is foolproof."
"Even the revenge?" Akane asked, her brow furrowed. "Was that a smart move?"
"Probably not," Yamagami said. "But Mazuhara was a key figure to the group. Without him... well, needless to say, you've cost a lot of money to the.... auxiliaries, as it were. Besides, how long would it have been before you saw my face in a newspaper and... well, I'll let you figure out the rest."
"So why Ryouga?" Ranma asked. "Why him? What did he do?"
"He was there. At the time, he was the easiest target, and I knew that getting him would get to you. Especially if you knew that I had been responsible. However, his escaping alive didn't quite fit in with the plan."
"What about the apartment?" Ukyou asked, looking toward Shuji. "Why risk your own brother in that explosion?"
Shuji laughed out loud. "I knew about that beforehand. I can't believe you'd be so stupid as to assume otherwise. Why do you think I stayed near the doorway?"
Akane growled. "Kintaro won't stand for this, you know."
"What can that fat piece of excrement do? It's bad enough he knew where I was... I suppose we'll have to kill him, eventually. But right now there is nothing he can do. We've got Triad protection now."
"Scum like you would need to be protected by scum," Ranma said.
Eichi sneered and raised his gun, training it on Ranma. "We'll see who's the better scum then, won't we, Saotome?"