Chapter Ten: ...For San Fransisco Edit
Shampoo blinked. It wasn't as if she couldn't fight against the fatigue, but it was that she preferred not to. But it had to be done. Since Tarou had gone to sleep earlier in the night, she had made herself busy by practicing her kata, drinking nearly two pots of coffee, and sitting down to watch some american television.
She nearly spit out her coffee when she flipped to the asian news channel. It was covering a murder story in Nerima, Japan.
"With me here now is Detectives Hiroshi and Daisuke of the Nerima police. Detectices, can you tell us anything about the murder?"
"Well, Kumiko, last night we were called out to a scene not far from here," Daisuke began.
"You mean I was called out. You were still asleep when I called you," Hiroshi corrected.
"Anyways, we came out and found out there had been a murder. After some investigation on our part, we found the identity of the stiff... er... man, to be Gendo Satoni. Son of mayor Satoni, if you catch my drift?"
"Do you know if this was a planned execution Detective?" She placed the microphone in front of Hiroshi.
"Oh, definately. The head had been severed, the skull had been crushed, along with his ribcage."
"I don't really see any need to go into that much detail, Detective. Are there any suspects."
"Not at this time, Kumiko. The one suspect we did have is dead."
"Yes. About five years ago. A man from China we once knew."
"Can you tell our viewers anything more?"
"Hi, Mom!" Daisuke called.
"Very well then." Kumiko pulled the microphone away. "This is Kumiko Tosaka, from Nerima Ward outside of Tokyo, signing off. Back you you, Mitsuhara."
She blinked again. "Two idiots.... Detectives?" She muttered under her breath. "Aiya."
"Morning, Shampoo." Tarou greeted, stretching and walking onto the balcony to practice a kata.
"Morning, Kei." She muttered, nursing a cup of coffee.
"You know, that stuff will stunt your growth." He said, trying to make conversation.
"Shampoo not plan to do any more growing."
Kei shook his head and continued with his kata. "Ready for tonight?"
"Ready and waiting." She returned.
"Try not to get too wired on that coffee, Shampoo." Happosai said from behind her, causing her to drop her coffee and spin around into a defensive position.
"Why you do that, old man?" Shampoo asked.
"Making sure you were alert."
"I alert and <yawn> ready."
"Kenoru's men are strong, Shampoo. You may have to fight through them before we get to Kenoru."
"Shampoo can do."
"I sure hope so.'
"Why you not pervert?"
"You pervert before. Yesterday, Shampoo naked. You tell her get clothes on."
"People change, Shampoo."
"You change too much."
Happosai sighed. "I changed because I had to. Yes. I'm a pervert. I still am in some ways, but when theres a greater mission at hand, I can put those feelings of perversion aside." He winked at her. "Besides, ten years in a cave meant I had alot of built up tension to relieve!"
"So you steal underwear?"
"You'd prefer I did it in other ways?"
Shampoo thought for a moment of what other ways he could be talking about. "No. Underwear stealing is good."
"Good. Now, Shampoo. Tell me whats been happening in your life."
"Because I'm curious."
"Why you curious?"
"Because I am. Come on, Shampoo. Humour an old man."
"Alright. What you want to know?"
"How are things back at the village?"
Shampoo blinked. "I not know. I no have been there since after... Ranma die."
"Oh dear. What about Cologne?"
"Great Grandmother in village. She protect me when I come back no with husband. She tell them husband die. I... I banished until I kill Kenoru."
"Didn't Cologne do anything about it?"
"Yes. Great-Grandmother did. Village want send me to Jusenkyo for trial. Great-Grandmother said I already have curse. They send me away. Say I no come back until Kenoru dead."
"So you've been looking for him for five years?"
"No. I... I not look for him until not long ago. I train in Beijing."
"Yes. I... I no have enough skill to even beat Kenoru men." She put her head into her hands.
"Shampoo, don't worry about that. Kenoru's men are strong, they are trained to work together to defeat a foe. Apart, they are worthless."
"But they still defeat Shampoo."
"At least you don't have to marry them." Tarou said, trying to lighten the mood.
Shampoo glared at him.
"Do you?" He asked, unsure of himself.
Shampoo managed a slight laugh. "No. Shampoo not have to marry them. They use dishonourable technique to beat Shampoo, so law not apply."
"Well, thats good." Tarou sighed.
"Well, it's ten now. We have eight hours to prepare. The restaurant closes at five-thirty on Sunday, so we'll have no problem with customers."
"Eight hours." Shampoo nodded. She looked to Tarou. "We spar?"
"Not in here we don't. The landlord lives right underneath us."
"Where we spar?"
"Theres a park about two blocks away. I've never sparred there, but it looks like a big place."
"Good. We go now?"
Tarou looked out the window briefly. "Sure, but if it looks like rain, we're back here in a flash."
Shampoo nodded in understanding. "Right. You no want to scare anybody."
Tarou smiled. "Let's go."
As the two ran out the door, Happosai yelled out. "I want you kids back by three! Theres something we've got to talk about!"
He sighed as he heard a yell of acknowledgement from the hallway. He then closed his eyes and placed his hands in front of him. "Ancestors. Give me the strength I need." He sighed.
"This nice park." Shampoo muttered, looking around at the trees.
"Yeah. For an inner-city park, anyways."
"Pretty colours on wall."
Tarou laughed. "That's uhh... Grafiti..."
"Vandalism.. uhh.. property damage."
"Oh. Shampoo know all about that."
"Anyways," Tarou pointed over to an empty basketball court. "How about over there? That looks like a good place."
Shampoo nodded and the two of them ran over.
"Alright. No weapons, all hand to hand. No illegal use of curses, right?"
Shampoo nodded. "You turn into monster, I scratch eyes out. Understand."
Tarou laughed as he brought himself into a defensive position. "Oh yeah. And if I beat you, this is only a sparring session, right?"
"IF Kei beat Shampoo, Shampoo not give kiss of marriage. Don't worry."
"You mean when I beat you, don't you?"
"Shampoo not let Kei beat her." She smiled, circling her opponent. "Shampoo beat Kei before that happen."
"Let's go, then."
They went. It started with simple attacks. A test punch, a kick from each opponent. 'Testing the waters' and all that. After a moment, each of the started to get an idea of the other's strength. They increased their attacks.
The truth was, in human form, Tarou wasn't all that bad in the art. In monster form, he was even better. But Shampoo had been training as a human her entire life. The most recent years, she'd been experimenting with martial arts in her feline form. And it was safe to say, she was fairly deadly as a cat as well.
But as it was, they were at a stalemate. Each party was pulling punches, not using all the speed and strength they were supposed to be. But neither of them were aware of it.
Punch. "You know," Kick. "Shampoo, you're," Block. "Actually not that," Jump. "Bad..."
"Shampoo," Spin. "Glad you," Crescent kick. "Notice."
"Hey," Dodge. "Do you think," Thrust. "We're drawing," Smack. "A crowd?"
Shampoo pulled her attention away from the fight for long enough to see a crowd of people watching them. Some with concerned looks on their faces. Others watching in disgust, and another watching in excitement."
"You think," Dodge. "We tell them," Jump. "What we," Spin. "Doing?"
"I don't," Punch, "think it," Block, "would matter."
"Want to," Kick. "Give them," Jump. "A show?"
Tarou smiled. "What," Dodge. "Do you," Hit. "Have in," Parry. "Mind?"
"Follow Shampoo's lead." She smiled.
They backed away from each other, still in defensive position. Shampoo turned and bowed to the crowd. Kei followed her lead.
Many members of the crowd turned there faces from disgust and concern into interest. Shampoo turned to Kei and smiled.
"Here trick I learn from Great-Grandmother."
"BAKUTSAI TENKETSU!" She yelled, ramming her finger towards the ground. The concret exploded in a mist of rocks and dust. The crowd gasped.
"Hey, that's pretty good." Tarou smiled. "Heres something I learned from Rouge."
Tarou placed his hands together and closed his eyes. A moment later, he rose from the ground. He looked towards the same spot Shampoo had blown up and gathered something in his hands. When he released it, the fireball hit the same spot with a poof, and another explosion.
Shampoo chuckled. "So, you meet Rouge again?"
"Yeah. It wasn't fun at first, she was trying to kill me. It was at the monastery. Fighting isn't allowed at the monastery, so I just ran. By the time she realized I wasn't fighting back, I had managed to dump some hot water on her." He chuckled. "You know, she's a lot easier to deal with as a human. Anyways, I explained things to her, and we ended up as friends. Even her Ashura side warmed up to me. She ended up teaching me how to do that fireball thing."
"You think maybe you teach that to me someday?"
Tarou smiled. "Sure thing. I can't do it as well as Rouge, but then again, when she does it, she's a Goddess."
Shampoo smiled. She had heard all about Rouge from Ranma and Akane not long after she had given up on him.
"She still have stiff neck?"
"Yeah. I--" He stopped. "Oh shit."
"What problem?" She turned around.
Two policemen stood, one of them batting a baton into his hand.
(You two come out here.) one of them said.
"What we do?"
Tarou narrowed his eyes. "Do as they say. I don't want to cause any trouble."
"Shampoo no want to cause trouble either. But no want to be arrested.'
(Out here. Now.) The other cop said.
(Alright, we're coming.) Tarou yelled out.
"You speak good English."
"And Chinese. And Japanese. Hell, I speak a mean scottish!" He smiled.
The two of them stepped out towards the policemen.
(There problem?) Shampoo asked.
(What happened in there?) One of the policemen asked.
(Sorry, Officer. We kinda got out of control.)
(With what? C4 and a jackhammer?)
The one with the PR-24 pointed at the ground in the basketball court. "That smoldering hole in the ground over there. Explanation. Now."
(Shampoo apologize. She not think of actions. Hole in ground her fault.)
(Not just her,) Tarou interupted. (If I hadn't been showing off my new trick, it wouldn't be as big.)
One of the policemen blinked. (New trick? What the hell kind of trick does that?)
(That's it. Search 'em.) He said.
Shampoo narrowed her eyes. (You no want to touch Shampoo.)
(Well, I'm afraid, girlie, that I'm going to have to.)
(Look, if its the hole in the ground, don't worry. I'll pay for it. I'll repair it myself if I have to.)
(Pay for it? You know how much that hole will cost?)
(A few thousand to pave over.)
(Don't worry. I've got enough.)
(It doesn't matter. We're bringing you in.)
Tarou shook his head. (You can't bring us in. We've got somewhere to be tonight.)
(Well, it looks like you're not going to be there.)
One of the pulled out handcuffs. (Read 'em their rights.)
(You have the right--)
(Shut up.) Shampoo narrowed her eyes.
(Shampoo say shut face.)
"What are you doing?" Tarou asked.
"They going to arrest us. We can't be arrested or we never get Kenoru."
(Just a second.) Tarou muttered.
"We can't stay here. We can outrun police easy. Even if in car, we outrun."
"It's not that easy." They've got guns.
"They shoot us because we run? That silly."
"You stay here if you want, Kei. Shampoo go. Now."
"Wait." Tarou blinked in thought for a second. "Fine. You take the north route, I'll take south. We'll meet back at the apartment building."
They bounded off.
Two very confused policemen could only sit and stare at each other.
(Where'd they go?)
(I think they just jumped away.)
(You wanna report this?)
(Oh sure. We didn't catch them because they jumped away.)
(I thought so too.)
(How about some donuts?)
"I don't like doing that. They were only trying to do their job."
"At least we no hurt them. We just run away."
"Are you two done bickering?" Happosai interupted.
"Good. Now. Heres the plan. Shampoo, you will go in first. Followed by Tarou. The Ryukaze's and I will wait down the block until we get the signal."
"What is signal?"
"Simple. Break a window."
"Yes. One of the Ryukaze's will be waiting near the restaurant. When a window breaks, the rest of us will file in."
"Then we all fight Kenoru."
"Right. We can't underestimate him, though. He's smart. Smarter than one would imagine, and powerful. You, me, Kei and the Ryukaze's may be enough to overtake him. But if he's got him men there, it may be even harder."
"So what we do in that case?"
"Retreat. Theres no point in dying prematurely. We can regroup and try again at another time."
"No. Shampoo kill Kenoru tonight."
"Shampoo, do you want to kill him and live, or not kill him and die?"
"I vote for live!" Tarou interjected.
"Very well, now may I continue?"
"Now. When you find Kenoru, break a window. Make it look like an accident, though."
"Yes. Shampoo will."
"Now, Tarou. You follow behind her. Be discreet, though. And bring some water with you. We may have better use for your cursed form."
"But he may also be suspecting you. It's safe to assume that he knows all about Jusenkyo."
"Carry extra cold water. You'll need it."
"It's 4:30 now. We meet the Ryukaze's in an hour. Make sure everything is ready."
The meeting came and went. The Ryukaze's were ready. Interestingly enough, one of them got a pedicure.
"Are we ready, guys?" Ake asked.
"I want you all to know I've got plans for next weekend, and all of you are included. We all go in alive, we all come out alive. Got it?"
Ake smiled and turned to Kei. "So, Shampoo goes in, then you follow. She breaks a window and that's our cue, right?"
Kei nodded. "Yes. But be careful."
"Not to worry. Carefulness works."
"Are we ready to go?"
"The restaurant's closed. All the workers have left. Kenoru is still inside. I'm not sure if he's alone, though.' Happosai mentioned.
"Alright. Shampoo go now."
Ake walked up to her an shook her hand. "Good luck." She smiled.
Shampoo smiled in return. "Shampoo no need luck."
And then she walked off.
Getting in was the easy part. Getting in silently, however was slightly harder, but she pulled it off either way.
The restaurant was dark. Unlike the day before when she had come in in broad daylight and issued a challenge to Kenoru. Kenoru, however was upstairs in his den above the restaurant, and she had to get by his men first. Not wanting to hurt anyone, she led them into an alleyway and they fought.
That was the last thing she remembered before waking up in the presence of Kei and Happosai.
She moved swiftly through the rows of tables, past darkened booths and old pictures. She knew where she was headed.
Aparently, so did someone else.
"Bitch of Joketsuzoku..." The voice taunted.
Shampoo spun around. Standing there. Sheathed Katana at his side, and smiling widely, was Kenoru.
"Kenoru." She scowled.
"I'm surprised with you, Shampoo of Joketsuzoku. I had originally thought I had killed you. It was a major blow to my self esteem that you were left alive." He smirked. "I shall have to remedy that."
"Shampoo kill you first, Kenoru."
He smiled and shook his head. "Ahh, idle threat. How I've missed them. You were... what, eighteen when I had first fought you? Look at you now. A young woman. If not for the scars, I'd say you were a beauty worthy of me."
"No woman deserve that kind of punishment."
"Oh, but thats not true. Women flock to me, Shampoo. You would have too, if you had seen the other side of me."
"Whatever side of you is all the same."
"Not true, Shampoo. When I was young, my brother and I were kind, gentle souls. I was hardly capable of harming a fly."
"Yes, Shampoo, Brother. But thats beside the point. One day, he left me to die." He smirked. "He left me to die, shampoo. At the hands of a powerful sorcerer."
"Good. You deserve it."
"Ahh, but the sorcerer didn't kill me. He saw my inner strength. How determined I was to get away alive. It wan't long before he made me realize it was impossible. So he trained me."
"He trained me in his art. His magical arts. His martial arts. You would be surprised at how accurate a martial artist can be when touched my particular kinds of magics."
"Why you tell me this?"
"Allow me to continue. Years went by, and I wasn't strong enough to defeat him. Even more years, and I still wasn't strong enough. He taught me everything he knew. And one day, I beat him. I defeated him."
"What difference that make?"
"I killed him. Because of what he had done to me over the years. Finally, I was in charge. I held the cards. I could rule the world if I so chose to." He smirked. "But I did not. I simply ruled my part of it. I recruited strong warriors to do my bidding in exchange for... services. If they refused to, I killed them. It was that simple. Ranma was among the strongest I've ever encountered. But it was, in the end, as it always had been."
"Kenoru. Ranma and Mousse were good people." A raged voice came from behind them.
"Ahh," Kenoru smirked. "Could this be the monster of Jusenkyo?"
"Damn straight." He jumped up and stood beside Shampoo. "We're taking you down."
"I know not what grudge you hold with me, monster of Jusenkyo. But it is safe to assume that you were a part of Ranma's little troupe back in Japan."
Tarou narrowed his eyes. "Are you going to talk or fight?"
"I suppose the Ryukaze's are waiting for the signal, are they not?" He smiled.
Both of them nearly lost balance. "What?" Tarou asked.
"Dear, dear Ake. If she were not my wife, I wouldn't know what to do with her."
Tarou's eyes widened. "You lie."
"Ake, you can come in now." He called out.
The doorway crowded. People piled in. Tarou recognized each of the smirking faces as ryukaze members.
"Did I do good, honey?" Ake asked, walking up to Kenoru.
"Indeed." He looked at Tarou. "Doesn't that just get to you? Four months of training, planning, and it's all over?" He smiled.
"The old one got away." She informed him.
"That's of no consequence. These two are the ones to be gone. Shall I leave them to you, dear Ake?"
"Yes. I want them."
"Very well. I shall watch while your men take them down."
The Ryukaze's started to surround them.
"What we do now?"
Tarou narrowed his eyes. "Only thing we can do." He reached down towards the water bottle at his side. "Fight." He splashed himself.
The fight began. Shampoo started taking down gang members one by one as Tarou swiped an entire group away with one hand. Kenoru stood and laughed.
"STOP!" The voice cried from the darkness.
Kenoru stopped laughing. "Ahh, the old man? I can handle this one."
"Not quite." The figure stepped more into the light.
Kenoru's eyes widened. Tarou and Shampoo were too busy fighting to notice.
"You." He said. "It can't be you. You're dead. I'm certain I killed you."
"Well," Mousse replied, "I guess you were wrong."