Deep in the Bayankala mountain range, yadda yadda...
"Sirs, it very bad if fall in springs," the guide called out as his honored customers balanced on the bamboo poles sticking out of the Jusenkyou springs. Of course, they paid him no heed. The guide screamed on the inside as the older of the two was swiftly knocked off of his pole and fell towards the water below, but to his relief the man had grabbed hold of the pole and was just barely touching the surface. The guide still needed a moment to recover his breath, unlike his customer.
"Hah! You're getting sloppy, Pops," the younger mocked from atop his own pole, watching his father climb back up. Distracted as he was by his mocking laughter, he didn't see the fist coming until it was too late.
This time, the guide did scream out loud. This time, the Springs of Sorrow got their pound of flesh.
"Aiya, not Spring of Immersed Girl," the guide cried. "There tragic legend, very tragic, of young girl who drown in spring one thousand five hundred years ago," he narrated almost as a coping mechanism, watching the bubbles come up to the surface. Genma jumped down beside him as he continued, "Now whoever fall in that spring take body of young girl."
Genma gave the guide a puzzled look, then set his sight back on the pool. To his shock, what surfaced was not exactly his son. The guide had been quite right, even with his spotty grasp of Japanese -- his son Ranma Saotome was now a young girl. True to expectations, when Ranma looked down and saw two oddly recognizable lumps, that's when the real screaming started.
"Honored customers, don't despair," the guide pleaded as he led the angered parent and son-turned-daughter down a mountain path. "Could be much, much worse."
"How could it be worse than this?" Ranma demanded, adjusting her now ill-fitting but thankfully dry gi. "This whole journey was to make me a man among men! Ain't that right, old man?"
"Quite so. I too would like to know what could be worse than my heir turning into some weak little girl."
Ranma twitched at those words and she quickly gave her father a swift roundhouse kick to the back of the head. "This is no time for your usual sexism, old man. Bad enough this is supposedly permanent."
The guide chuckled. "Dear sir," he started, addressing Ranma that way as a concession, "father may be swayed when meet Niujie zu. Is village of warrior women, all of them strong as can be. And know more about Jusenkyou, could maybe help sir adjust?"
"Maybe. But ya haven't answered the question," Ranma reminded the guide. "How could it be worse?"
The guide shivered at the thought of what had almost happened. "Sir is still human," he summarized, imagining the elder customer as a giant panda. "Many different animals fall in springs." He paused to catch his bearings and pointed at a small valley. "Village just ahead, honored customers."
"Why'd we have to do thaaat," Ranma cried out as she ran like a sexy long-haired devil was hot on her heels. Now, Ranma was barefoot but the devil was indeed sexy and long of hair. None of that mattered, since said sexy devil wanted Ranma dead. Together with the guide and her father, Ranma ran the only way she knew; the way she'd come, back to Jusenkyou.
At least she'd had chicken.
Shanpu had almost caught up with her when Ranma reached the narrow paths separating the individual springs. She tried to disguise her position, using the ample bamboo poles and her school's trademark fancy jumps. This wasn't very effective, and certainly tiring, but that just boiled it down to who tired faster. Shanpu was strong, but she was also heavily armed and armored, while Ranma only had her gi.
It wasn't until after Ranma heard the tell-tale splash that she realized what she'd done to her opponent. The immediate regret was only pushed back down by a morbid curiosity. If the guide was there, he'd probably ramble about that particular spring, but he was still safely on dry land. It was a little shocking to see Shanpu's clothing surface with noone in it, but it was more shocking when Shanpu herself appeared again. Ranma had to admit as she helped Shanpu out of the pool, that Shanpu made a cute kitty.
Then she nearly fell in herself when a withered old crone suddenly appeared next to her, balancing on a walking stick. "Oh, that's a shame," the crone started in surprisingly good Japanese. "Poor great-granddaughter, to lose twice like that... Outsider?"
"Shanpu is your responsibility now," the old crone stated simply, then turned to the little kitty that stared at her with wide eyes. "Shanpu? Nin de jiatíng rongyu shi anquan de. Zhege nuhai hui zhaogu ni."
Genma arrived just in time to catch the important part. He silently thanked whatever god still cared to watch over him that Ranma hadn't gone more than one round of Nekoken training — the boy had taken Genma's training guide and read the next page, then confronted his father about it. Who knew what could've happened if he had finished the training?
"Screw it all," Genma muttered. "Boy, grab your bags and the girl. It's about time..." He sighed. "We're going back to Tokyo."
The three Tendou sisters sat at the table, opposite their father, Soun. "Yes," he confirmed, "the son of a very good friend of mine. The son's name is Ranma Saotome. If one of you were to marry him and carry on this dojo, the Tendou family legacy would be secure."
"Wait a minute," the youngest called out. "Don't we get some say in who we marry?"
"Akane's right, Daddy," the eldest, Kasumi, agreed. "We've never even met Ranma."
Soun smirked. "That's easily fixed. He and his father have been on a training voyage to China."
"Wow," the middle sister, Nabiki, approved. "Is he cute, though?"
"How old is he?" Kasumi asked. "Younger men bore me."
Akane just pouted.
"I've no idea, really," Soun admitted. "I've never met the boy."
At that moment, they heard the arrival of visitors outside. "That must be Ranma!" Nabiki cried.
"Saotome, my friend, we've been waiting!"
They'd guessed correctly, for standing there at the door were a very recognizable Genma Saotome and what they could only assume was his son, a short boy with a girly frame and an expression that at first glance seemed like a serious frown but looked more like a cute pout. He had his arms folded, and a purple-white cat napping on his backpack. From the red hair it seemed like he took after his mother Nodoka more than his father.
"You must be..."
"I'm Ranma Saotome. Sorry ‘bout this," the newcomer said, clearly trying to sound deeper than their normal speaking voice.
"Sorry about what, my boy?" Soun asked.
Genma stepped up. "We may have a slight problem, Tendou."
Back at the living room table, Genma sat and told the story of Jusenkyou, Ranma seated next to him with Shampoo on her lap. As he got to the big reveal, Nabiki leaned over and poked Ranma in the boobs.
"Um... could you stop that?" Ranma muttered. "Yes, they're real, and they're a pain."
To Ranma's mild amusement, Shampoo batted at Nabiki's hand when the girl declined to stop.
"So you understand that the whole ‘marry Ranma off to one of your daughters, unite the schools, secure the legacy' thing has... hit a little snag," Genma finished as Soun lightly waved around in his seat as if about to faint. "There simply can't be a marriage if they're both girls."
"Woah, hold up, old man. What's this about a marriage? Why wasn't I told of this?"
Genma sat in stunned silence for all of five seconds. "It must've slipped my mind. Didn't I tell you on the way back?"
"No, you didn't!"
To both newcomers' surprise, Soun laughed. "Well now! Family legacy and all that aside, you're certainly welcome to our home, Genma-kun, Ranma-chan."
"I'm a guy, dammit!" Ranma cried out, throwing off a surprised Shampoo who skittered away to the kitchen.
"Not anymore you're not," Nabiki asserted. "Y'know, now that I think of it, you and Akane might make good friends."
"And why would I want to be friends with her?" Akane blanched. Ranma rolled her eyes.
"Well, think about it, sis. You've got your hang-ups about boys, Ranma-chan has her own issues, and you're both into the Art, right?"
"Kinda am, yeah."
"She can help you get over your boy troubles, and you can help her come to terms with her new body and you get to beat the shit out of each other! It's perfect."
"Y'know, until I come to terms with it, generously assuming I ever do, I'd really wish you wouldn't say that."
"I'll try to not be quite so mean," Nabiki conceded.
Akane looked away. "You do look good though," she softly admitted. "Almost had me fooled."
Nabiki clapped her hands. "Right! So why don't you two new besties pop off to the dojo, hmm? I'll call when Kasumi's done with dinner."
Genma shrugged and watched the two girls leave. "They could've made a good couple, I think... but what happened, happened. Now where was I?"
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Kasumi had just started on dinner, feeling she knew enough about Jusenkyou to understand Ranma's predicament, when Shampoo got there.
"Ah, hello Shampoo. Are you hungry?"
"Well, I do like to take care of the neighborhood kitties." Kasumi crouched down and opened a little cabinet. "I'm sure I have something you'd like in here. Do you like kibble, Shampoo?"
"Oh my. I think I have some treats in here. Would you like a treat?"
Kasumi stood back up and looked at the kitty. "Then what would you like, Shampoo?"
Shampoo jumped onto the kitchen counter and gestured at the little bits of chicken meat that Kasumi was cutting up for dinner. Kasumi expected her to simply take the meat and run off with it, but instead Shampoo just pointed.
"You want some meat? Well, I suppose that's okay. Go ahead and take some, dear."
Instead, Shampoo raised a paw to her mouth and sat in thought for a second. She then remarkably carefully took a piece in her mouth and brought it over to the frying pan already waiting on the stove, then sat back and seemed to try and wash her mouth out.
"Oh, you want it cooked? Alright then!" Kasumi concluded, missing how the kitty fussed over possible food poisoning from handling raw chicken as she took the other pieces and gently dropped them into the pan, keeping Shampoo's piece off to one side.
When Shampoo's piece was lightly cooked, Kasumi took it back out of the pan and put it on a little plate. "Here you go, dear."
"You have a funny meow, Shampoo," Kasumi remarked as she watched Shampoo carry the piece of chicken back to the pan. "Did you know that?"
"Am nyot meowing."
"... Oh my."