Recipe of Disaster
Niki (NeeP) Paradis
Chapter Nine:  When Something Smells Funny...

     The citizens of Nerima cheered at the boy in red.  He grinned at the crowd and waved his thanks at their appreciation.  And appreciate the fight they did.  They figured that it was time in Furinkan for a newcomer and a new fight.  Of course that doesn't mean that they didn't enjoy the fights which involved the pig-tailed boy or the redheaded pig-tailed girl, they all figured that they get what they paid for.  Usually, Nabiki Tendou would be around offering better viewing for a nominal fee or taking bets on the outcome of the fight.  (Not that it really mattered--the pig-tailed boy and the pig-tailed girl always won.)  But this fight was free-- Nabiki Tendou was nowhere around.  Some people were disappointed that they couldnít bet on the outcome of the match-- not that it really mattered.  But ever since last year, Kunou had been on a losing streak like one wouldnít believe.
    The crowd watched as the boy in red muttered something to his unconscious opponent. They cheered as they watched him walk away towards an alley.  They watched and even chuckled as the winner was grabbed at the elbow by another boy with red hair and led the opposite way.

    Ranma looked at the downed Kunou, and a thoughtful look came to his eyes.
    "Is it just me or did Kunou seemed to be a little more of a jerk than usual?" he asked Ryouga.
    "You know, I think that you're right," replied the Lost Boy.  "I wonder why?"

    Satsuke approached his master cautiously.  "Kunou-sama?  Are you all right?"  He gently prodded the prone form of the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High.  At first the figure did not move.  He poked at his master again.  Finally, the figure twitched and moaned something.  "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you..."  Satsuke leaned over to hear his master's words.
    Kunou groaned and muttered.  One phrase was clearly understandable.
    "I curse you, my Twisted Sister," was what Kunou said.
    Satsuke understood.

    Earlier in the dayÖ

    It was a simple accident that started the whole mess, and the fact the maids were all whispering about how it was 'that time of month' for their mistress.  So that meant that an already hard to bear Kodatchi Kunou was made even worse. The whole household was in terror over the tantrums of the eccentric lady of the house.  Some people knew when the getting was good and --went.  Principal Kunou took one look at his daughter and left immediately for Hawaii.  The staff agreed that this was a pretty good move on his part.  However, Kunou didn't have the foresight or the brains to leave while he still could.  He had heard the gossip of the maids and simply figured that 'that time of month' meant that there was a sale at the local apothecary, where Kodatchi picked up her potions.  So instead of hiding out, he was practising his katas with his bokken and the pictures of his accursed rival, Ranma Saotome, which were liberated from his sister's bedroom.
    Kodatchi walked into the dojo while Kunou was slicing up her favourite picture of Ranma.  That was when she freaked out.  Any other time, Kodatchi would simply have returned the favour by destroying Kunou's pictures of Akane Tendou and the Pig-tailed Girl.  But today was simply different. Instead she started to chase him around and through things at him, but without the grace of the Rhythmic-Gymnastics that she usually attacks with.  She chased him into the main hallway and then she ducked into her room.  Kunou decided that he would take advantage of the moment and hide.
Tatewaki Kunou was taking shelter behind an expensive and ornate statue which was situated between himself and his younger sister.  However, this wasn't a simple game of hide-and-seek, as Kodatchi was throwing small hard, and sometimes, expensive objects at him.
    "How DARE you use my pictures of my dear Ranma-sama as a dart board.?!?" She shrieked as she threw small jars of exotic perfume, pearl-handled hairbrushes, and other rare nick-nacks at her brother.  Actually, Kunou would never have anything to do with the sport--being that it was so common, and tried telling his sister so.  But Kodatchi was too angry to care.  "You WILL pay, Oniisama, you'll pay dearly indeed!!!"  Then she stopped throwing things.  "I'll see you later, Oniisama," she said sweetly, with a wicked little smile on her face and returned to her room.
    The rest of the morning was spent with Kunou anticipating his younger sister's revenge.  He found it to be very nerve wracking.  Whenever he would come across her, in the household, he would cringe, and she would smile and greet him pleasantly.  It wasn't until later when he went into his room after practice with his bokken for a clean change of clothes, he discovered his sister's pet alligator, Midori-Kame-kun, in his bed.
    After that, Satsuke suggested that it might be prudent for his master to leave the house for a while until his sister calmed down and Kunou was able to get a hold of the situation.  Kunou agreed.  He figured that the best way to calm down was to find Saotome and smite him --after all, he was responsible for his sister's behaviour that day.  If the vile sorcerer, Saotome hadn't charmed his younger sister, then she wouldn't have been so upset over the pictures.
    So Kunou and his manservant were walking down the street on their way to the Tendou dojo to make the challenge when he was who knocked him down by an ignorant boy in red.  Fed up with the frustrations of the day, Kunou decided that even though the lout was not Saotome, he would be adequate to vent his frustrations on.
    (Well, you can remember how well THAT worked.)
    Satsuke winced as he remembered the outcome of the fight.

    Jiro was only half listening to the discussions of Ranma, Ukyou, Yoiko-kun and her brother.  Instead she was looking at Kunou and his manservant.  She watched as Kanaeda Saotome led Iikiba Hibiki away from an alleyway.  They gotta be heading back to Ucchan's, she thought to herself.  And with Kanaeda's tight grip on his friend's sleeve, there was no way that he can get lost again-- unless Iikiba really, really tried.  She chuckled to herself, watching the two boys walk away.  Then she idly looked to the alleyway that Iikiba was originally heading to.  She was surprised to see a young woman walk out of the alley and purposefully towards Kunou as if she knew him.  The young woman stopped in front of Satsuke and Kunou and shook her head as if in disgust.  She picked up Kunou's wooden sword and handed it to the startled ninja.  Then she handed him what seemed to be a bokken of her own and grabbed Kunou from under his armpits and dragged him off.  Satsuke followed in what appeared to be some confusion.  Jiro blinked.  She was a little confused as well.  Who's that?  She looked to Ryouga to she what he thought of the situation, but he was busy threatening Ranma.  So she looked back to the spot where Kunou was and realised that he, Satsuke, and the strange young woman were all gone.
    The officer watched as the crowd dispersed.  He couldn't move.  What he just saw was astounding.  And the combatants were just kids.  He wondered if he should have arrested the boy in the burgundy shirt, for excessive violence or something.  But as the crowd dispersed, the boy was nowhere to be found.  In fact, neither was the other boy, the victim...  It was as if they both vanished.  And it appeared that none of the bystanders were upset or even concerned over the battle.  Instead, they were commenting on the movements of the two boys and on the fact that it was a free battle.  The young officer was starting to get really confused.

    Iikiba Hibiki and Kanaeda Saotome were moving through the dispersing crowd.
    "Why were you heading towards the alley?" asked Kanaeda.
    "I really don't know..."  Iikiba looked thoughtful.  "I had a hunch that it would lead somewhere..."
    "So speaks a Hibiki."  The redhead chuckled.
    "Shut-up, jackass..." Iikiba glared at his buddy.  Kanaeda ignored him.
    "Anyway, what was it like?" he asked.
    "What was what like?" asked Iikiba confused.
    "Beating the crap out of Kunou-sensei?"
    "Oh, that..."  Iikiba gave an evil little grin complete with fangs showing.  "It was so sweet."
    "You're the man, 'Kiba-kun."  Kanaeda punched him in the shoulder.  "Of course it would have taken me less time to lay him flat."
    Iikiba levelled a 'look' at his best friend that said: 'yeah, sure, whatever'.  He shrugged.  "I dunno.  You couldn't hit him hard enough to flatten him.  You're not that strong."
    "Wanna make a bet, Ga-chan?!?" challenged the redhead boy.
    "When we get back home, I'll take you up on that, Kan-kun," growled Iikiba in reply.
    "You're on!" grinned Kanaeda.  He looked around and saw Ranma, Ryouga, Ukyou and the others.  "Hey!  Ain't those your parents over there?" he asked, pointing to the group.
    "Hmmm?"
    "Yeah, that's them.  Let's catch up to them."  The boys changed directions and started to head towards the others.

    Akari Unryuu was looking among the dispersing crowd for her boyfriend.  She managed to see him walking away with the Saotome boy, and the cheerful girl, Jiro, and the girl who ran the okonomiyaki restaurant.  There was also another girl, who had a very remarkable resemblance to her dear Ryouga, walking with them.  The five of them were heading towards the restaurant.  Heading towards them, were two more boys.  One of them was the victor in the recent fight, the other was a nice looking boy with brilliant red hair.  Akari was a little surprised that Akane, other contender for Ryouga's heart, was nowhere to be found in the vicinity.  She dismissed that little bit of incongruity as a bit of luck and she nudged Katsunishiki towards the group.
    "Ryouga-sama!" she called out, as the huge pig dashed towards the group.
    The boy in yellow and green looked up and saw her.  He hesitantly waved to her, after a glance at the dark hair girl dressed almost the same as him.
    "Hi Akari-san!" he called back to her.  Everyone else in the group looked towards her and her approaching pig.  They looked towards the approaching boy in red and then back at the girl in green and yellow.  The other two boys saw the pig approaching and the one in red, wearing the bandoleer with the spatulas in it started to run towards the group, pulling the other boy along.
    The young girl in green and yellow opened her mouth and was about to say something, but the kid in red reached her first and slapped his hand over her mouth.  He said something to the young girl, but his voice was too soft for Akari to hear.
    The huge pig reached the group and skidded to a halt.  Akari slid off his back.  She turned and faced Ryouga.  "You're a hard person to find, Ryouga-sama," she said as she went to hug him.  Ryouga's hugged her back, only with a slight resistance that was only slightly noticeable.  Katsunishiki growled in a low voice.  Akari wondered why. After all, Akane Tendou was nowhere in sight.
    "Who are your new friends?" she asked as she looked around the group.  The girl in yellow and green that looked almost exactly like Ryouga, had her eyes opened wide and her face was red.  But that might have just been the result of the hand of the boy in red with the spatulas covering her mouth.  "Will you introduce them to me?"
    Everyone looked nervous for some reason.

    A few moments before...
    Iikiba was trading shoulder punches with Kanaeda when he saw the huge pig.  He swallowed and started to head out towards the group and his sister at a run, dragging Kanaeda along with him.
    "Oh, shit," he muttered.
    "What's the hurry, 'Kiba-kun?" asked the redhead boy.
    "Gotta get to Yoiko before she says something stupid."
    "What the hell are you talkin' about?"
    "Look there."  Iikiba pointed to the huge pig.  "You know that pig, right?"
    "Yeah, that's Katsunishiki."
    "And on top of him is Auntie Akari.  See her?"
    "Yeah.  So?  What does that have to do with any..?"  Kanaeda took a second to figure things out.   "Hoo boy...  And Yoiko's been feeling a bit on the talkative side.  That could be a problem."
    "Exactly."  Iikiba kept on running, with his eyes focused on his sister.  He knew that as long as he could see the specific goal, he could not get lost along the way.  In a mere moment, he managed to reached Yoiko's side and slapped his hand over her mouth just as she was about to say 'Hi Auntie Akari!'  Yoiko's eyes widened in surprise and wounded pride.  She started to struggle.
    "Hush, Y'iko," Iikiba whispered in her ear.  "This is Akari, remember?  Do you remember the stories about her that Auntie Ji used to tell us?  Watch what you say here."
Under the present circumstances, the young girl could only nod her aquisciance.  Then he noticed Katsunishiki's piggish eyes look at him and growled.

    Satsuke was very confused.  He wondered who this young woman who can so quickly take charge was.  He has never seen her around Nerima before, yet there was definitely something very familiar about her.  There was a bit of resemblance to Nabiki Tendou, but her regal bearing seemed much like that of his master's.  He looked at the bokken that he was holding.  It was the same shape and size as Kunou-sama's but it belonged to the young woman.
    "Hey."
    Satsuke looked up.  The young woman had had stopped before the manor.  She was still holding up the young man by the shoulders and was now looking towards the diminutive ninja.
    "Yes?" asked the manservant.
    "Are you going to open the door or arenít you?"  The young woman raised an eyebrow.
    "Sorry..." Satsuke hurried to comply.
    "That's better," murmured the girl as she dragged poor unconscious Kunou through the doors of the gate.  "What I wouldn't have done to have Tam here..." she muttered as she went by the startled manservant.
    Once they made it into the house, the young woman stopped.  "Now put the bokken by the door and give me a hand here.  For crying out loud, hurry up!  This is your lord here."  Satsuke did as he was told then went to help the girl.  He gingerly picked up Kunou's feet and together, he and the girl hauled the noble master to his room and put him to bed.
    Once covered with the quilt, Satsuke had to admit that his master didn't look quite as pathetic as before --even a bit more noble, as if he was in repose and not just beaten up by a boy a year his junior.
    Apparently, the young woman did not share the same thoughts.
    "Good Grief," she was addressing the unconscious form.  "You really are pathetic, aren't you?"  She shook her head.  "But then you didn't know better than to twit Iikiba-kun about his colour choice.  He got you good, didn't he?  Okaasan was right.  You really do need someone to look after you all the time, don't you?"
    "Excuse me?" interrupted Satsuke.
    The woman looked up.  "What is it?" she asked.
    "You know the young man who defeated Kunou-sama?"
    "Iikiba-kun?  Yeah, I guess you can say that I do.  Why?"
    "Uh, no reason..." stammered the small ninja.
    "Oh.  I know.  So that your lord will know the name of the man who humiliate him so that he can take revenge later."
    "Uh..." Satsuke was surprised.  No one else really knew Kunou-sama that well.
    "Well, I'm sorry, but I can't give you more information than that.  I helped simply because it was my duty to do so.  That's all.  Now that I'm done, you can give me directions to Ucchan's Okonomiyaki shop."
    "Yes, I can do that..."
    "I hear a but."
    "Yes.  Before I give you the directions, this lowly servant wishes to know the name of the noble young woman who helped him out..." Satsuke went onto his hands and knees and bowed very low.
    The young woman smiled.  "You grovel well, I will give you that.  I am called Kitana.  You will get to know me better in the future."

    Ryouga almost groaned as Akari slid off of her pig.  The last thing he needed was for his girlfriend to know that his future children were visiting and that they weren't hers.  He watched nervously as Iikiba removed his hand from his sister's mouth.
    "Will you introduce them to me?" asked Akari.
    "Um, ah..." Ryouga was at a loss for words.  Luckily he didn't have to find them.
    "I am called Iikiba," said the boy.
    "I am Yoiko," stammered the girl.
    "I'm Kanaeda," grinned the redhead boy, trying to take some of the attention off of his friends.
    "Please to meet all of you.  My name is Unryuu Akari," the pig trainer smiled.  "Iikiba?  Yoiko?  Are they relatives of yours, Ryouga-sama?"
    "Um..." said Ryouga.
    "Distant relatives, you might say," supplied Iikiba.
    "Very distant," muttered Yoiko.

    Ranma didnít know what to say or do.  He knew that he had the perfect opportunity to embarrass the hell out of Ryouga.  He chuckled at the thought, but when he looked around, he realised that everyone who was not speaking with Akari was looking at him, as if they were daring him to say something about the actual relationship between Ryouga, Iikiba and Yoiko, not to mention Ukyou.  Their eyes also mentioned possible punishment if he did.
    He opened his mouth.
    Then he closed it.  And for one of the very few times in his sixteen years, Ranma wisely kept his mouth shut.  He didn't want to upset Akari any more than Ryouga did; after all, the pig trainer was a very nice person, kind of like Kasumi.
    Not to mention that there were a bunch of well-trained martial artists just waiting for the chance to jump him.  He sighed, then grinned.  Perhaps he couldn't say anything, but it didn't mean that he couldn't enjoy the present discomfort that Ryouga was already in.

    Ukyou also had instantly realised the reason for Ryouga's discomfort.  Hell, she felt it too.  The last thing that she wanted at the moment was for Ryouga's girlfriend to learn that there was a future where it was she, Kuonji Ukyou, who bore the lost boy's children.  It was obvious that Yoiko was related to Ryouga.  And it didnít take too much for anyone to make a connection between brown hair Iikiba and herself either.  At least not with his skills at cooking okonomiyaki.  She knew that she had to get away.
    "Ryouga, we got to go," she said loudly.
    Ryouga practically jumped.  He spun away from Akari and faced her.  "We do?" asked he asked.
    "Yes, sugar, we do.  Now."
    "Uh, okay...  I think."  Ryouga looked very confused.  "I've got to go, Akari-san," he said.
    Akari looked hurt.  "But, why?" she asked.
    Ryouga didn't know how to answer, especially since he didn't know the reason to why he had to leave, either.  But before he could tell his girlfriend that, Ukyou had managed to drag him away.

    Here's a little know fact...

    Despite being on the lower end of the food chain, pigs are not stupid.  They also possess an excellent sense of smell.  And a very good memory.

    Katsunishiki was smarter than the average pig.  He was also bigger, and he was also very loyal to his mistress.  And he was really, really pissed off at the moment.
    He was observing the group of people that mistress was talking to.  Most of them he knew and had long ago ascertain that they were no threat to Akari.  He knew that Ryouga, the human that occasionally turned into a pig, was his mistress' intended.  He knew that Akari wanted to have a litter with the young man someday.
    There were also three new comers.  One of the young men, the one called Kanaeda, had a smell that seemed similar to that of Ranma.  Kanaeda's smell also seemed to be that of Akari's rival, Akane.  It was obvious that the boy was part of a litter between the two.
    Then there were the other two newcomers, a male and a female.  Both of them smelled a bit like Ryouga, and they smelled a bit like one of the other girls, Ukyou.  The huge pig was shocked.  The young man had a litter with someone else besides Akari.  How dares he?!?  Katsunishiki growled.  How dare that other girl steal his mistress' intended away from her?!?  There was only one thing to do.  He had to get rid of the other girl so that Ryouga could be free for his mistress again.
    He watched as Ukyou took Ryouga's hand and tried to lead him away.  Katsunishiki was certain that she was leading him away so that they make another litter together.  Katsunishiki decided that it was a very good time to kill off the threat to his mistress' plans to mate with Ryouga.

    "C'mon, Ryouga!" growled Ukyou as she pulled Ryouga away.  "We got work to do!"
    "Like what?!?" Ryouga was exasperated.  He really didn't want to have anything more to do with the okonomiyaki chef at the moment.  Iikiba and Yoiko were enough.  He didn't want to upset Akari either, but now he realised that it was too late.
    Ukyou stopped.  Why was she tugging Ryouga away from Akari anyway?  It's not like she was jealous of the pig trainer or something.  But she decided that she didnít want to leave him alone with the kids from the 'future' either.  She didn't want them to give Ryouga any weird ideas.
    "Ukyou!  Answer me!  What kind of work do we have to do?!?"
    "Something..." she answered lamely.  She really didn't know, but was loathe to tell him that.
She was just starting to tug on Ryouga's sleeve again when Akari's huge pig gave a vicious squeal.  Both teens turned to look in time to see Katsunishiki starting to charge towards them.  They saw that Akari was back up on the back of her pig, trying to stop him.  She was barely hanging on.
    "Katsunishiki!!!  Stop!  What has gotten into you?!?" she shrieked.
    "Quee!!!" queed the pig, ignoring his mistress as he picked up speed.
    Ukyou stood shocked, like a stunned rabbit, until Ryouga pushed her out of the way.  She recovered enough so not to fall, then she turned around to yell at him.
    "Ryouga!  You Jackass!!!  What the hell do you think you're doing?!?"
    "Saving your neck!" retorted the Lost Boy.  "Like you're able to stop a two tonne pig from running you down!  Now get outta here!!!"
    Ukyou paused to give Ryouga a dirty look, then scampered out of the way.  But to the surprise of them both, the sumo-pig changed his course to follow her.  A ninety-degree turn managed to throw Akari off by surprise.  She looked surprised as if it had never occurred to her that Katsunishiki would toss her.  Luckily, Iikiba was there to catch her.

    Ryouga ran to catch up with the huge pig.  He managed to get in front of him in time to block the charge.  Both pig and young man skidded to a halt, as Ryouga wrestled the huge pig to a standstill.  He quickly looked around to make sure that no one was close enough to hear, then he began to communicate with the pig.
    =What is your problem?!?= he demanded of Katsunishiki.
    (The language of pigs involves facial expressions, body posture, certain movements as well as the rare grunt or squeal for emphasis.  Pigs usually don't make much noise unless they want to catch the attention of someone else.)
    =It's those whelps of yours,= snorted the huge pig.  =I can smell the stench of that other human sow on them.  They are not of Akari's litter, but they are of yours.  Now, get out of my way!=  If anyone were close enough, they wouldn't hear a thing.
    =You can tell?!?=  Ryouga was shocked.  Then he began to curse at himself under his breath.  He had forgotten about the acute sense of smell that a pig can possess.  He decided to try and reason with the pig.  =But they are too old to be of my litter!= he protested.
    =It doesn't take long for piglets to mature,= retorted the huge pig.
    =But it takes years and years for human litters to mature!= protested Ryouga.  He quickly thought about explaining the story about Iikiba and Yoiko, then decided against it.  He realised that it would be pointless trying to explain time travelling to the huge pig.  Besides, there was no word for 'time-travel' in pig.
    =You are trying to deceive me!= bellowed Katsunishiki.  =I know what I smell!  I must kill the human sow that has mated with you to make room for Akari!=
    =You can't do that!= muttered Ryouga.  He switched back to Japanese.  "You can't hurt Ukyou like that!  Not for what might be!"
    =Now get out of my way, so I can do what I have to,= ordered Katsunishiki.
    =Over my dead body,= countered Ryouga.  =There's no point for anyone to die, simply for what might happen in the future.=
    =I will defeat you this time.=
    The huge pig charged.

    Akari watched in amazement from her position in Iikiba's arms.  She has never seen her pig so angry, or go after a girl in the way he had.
    "What's wrong with Katsunishiki?" she asked herself out loud.
    "I don't know, Akari-san," replied the young man in red as he set her down.  "I wonder if Ryouga-san needs help...?"
    "No!" exclaimed Akari.  "You can't all team up against him like that!"
    "But I can't just leave him there!" yelled Iikiba.  He was about to leave the pig trainer when he heard another voice from behind him.
    "Oniisan!" cried out Jiro.  "I'm coming!"  She dashed right by them both and went on towards the new battle.
    Both Iikiba and Akari followed.
    "Katsunishiki!" called out the pig trainer.  "Stop, please!  Ryouga-sama!  You both have to stop this!!!  What has got into you two?!?"  She ran to as close to the fight as she dared, without getting in the way.
    Unfortunately, both boy and pig refused to heed her.  They grappled and seemed to be unaware of anything else.  Jiro reached the two, and paused, unsure of what to do next.   Then she went to the back of the pig and started to haul on his tail, in an attempt to pull him away from her foster brother.  Iikiba went to Ryouga and tried to pull him away from the pig.  Both struggled to separate the two combatants.
    "Why is he doing this?" Jiro called out to her brother.
    Ryouga grunted.  "He wants to kill Ukyou!"
    Akari gasped.  She heard Ryouga's accusations.  Katsunishiki wants to kill Ukyou-san?!?  Why?  No one else heard her, though, as totally focused as they were on the fight.  She knew that Ryouga-sama was an honest person, and wouldn't make false accusations, but she also knew the pig that she raised from birth.  And Katsunishiki would never do anything like that unless he had a very good reason.
    "How come?" asked Jiro.
    "He knows about Iikiba and Yoiko!" grunted Ryouga.  "Let me go, Iikiba!"
    "He does?" gasped Jiro as she gave another yank at the sumo-pig's tail.  Katsunishiki struggled to get away from the blonde girl and to get to Ryouga.
    "How?!?" asked Iikiba, using more of his strength to haul Ryouga away from the pig.
    "He smells a mixture of Ukyou and me all over you..." Ryouga replied.  "Would you let me go?!?"
    What's so important about those two that Katsunishiki has to kill Ukyou over? Akari asked herself.  And what does Ryouga-sama mean that Katsunishiki smells Ukyou-san and him all over Iikiba-kun?  She looked towards the okonomiyaki chef.  Ukyou was starting to edge back towards the fight scene.  Akari decided to intercept her.  She walked up to the other girl.
    "Do you know what is going on here?" asked Akari.
    "What do you mean?" asked Ukyou, confused.
    "According to Ryouga-sama, Katsunishiki wants to kill you and that it has to do with Iikiba-kun and Yoiko-chan."
    Ukyou became wary.  "Where did you hear that?" she asked.
    "He was telling Jiro-chan."
    "What did he say?"
    "He said that Katsunishiki can smell both you and Ryouga-sama all over Iikiba-kun and Yoiko-chan."  Akari made a funny face as if she was trying to digest the odd information given to her.  "Do you know what he means?"
    "Uh..."  Ukyou took a deep breath.  "Do you believe in time-travel?" she asked.
    "Isn't that something from science-fiction films?" asked Akari in a perplexed voice.
    "That's what I thought too, sugar.  Or at least until Iikiba showed up."
    "Explain that to me, please.  Who is Iikiba-kun?"
    The okonomiyaki chef led the pig trainer a little ways away to explain.

    Ranma was simply watching the fight.  He knew better than to butt into one of Ryouga's battles.  Jiro may be the only one to get away with it, from time to time, and apparently she had found one of those times.  He turned to Kanaeda and Yoiko.
    "Tell me something," he started to ask.  "In your timeline, What is Akari's status?"
    "Um..." started Yoiko.  "It's kind of hard to describe..."
    "I really don't think we should be telling," commented the future Saotome.
    "Auntie Akari is all right, really" commented the young Hibiki girl.  "She had only been in for treatment a couple of times..."
    "Yoiko!" snapped Kanaeda.
    "Treatment?" asked Ranma.  "What for?"
    Kanaeda clapped his hand over Yoiko's mouth.  "Nothing," he said.
    "Manic depression," said a new voice.  All heads turned to face a young woman who was walking towards them.  She was about seventeen years old, with chin-length brown hair.  She looked a little bit like Nabiki, but she was carrying a wooden bokken, akin to Kunou's.
    "Who are you?" asked Ranma.
    "Kunou Kitana," replied the young woman.  "Anyway," she sighed, "Okaasan told me this once.  It's kind of tragic.  Akari had trouble understanding the reasons why Ryouga chose Ukyou over her.  After all, Akari was more than willing to love Ryouga just the way he was, pig curse and all.  She couldn't accept that he preferred the love and violence, as she saw it,  that Ukyou provided to what she considered perfect love.  It took her a long to time to realise that Ryouga  would have been smothered by her love."
    Ranma blinked at the information that he was just given.  KUNOU KITANA..?
    "You talk too much, Kit," commented Kanaeda.  "Did Aunt Nabiki send you here?"
    "No.  Ukyou did."
    Ranma looked towards Ukyou Kuonji, who was sitting with Akari under the shade of a nearby tree.  "Her?" he asked.
    "No!" snorted Kitana.  "Not that Ukyou!  Hibiki Ukyou, not Kuonji!"
    "Whoa..." Ranma was at a loss for words.
    "Hey!" commented Kanaeda, pointing to a shady area under some trees.  "Speaking of Ukyous...  What is that one doing with Akari-san?"
    All heads turned.
    "Man..." muttered the redhead boy.  "Hang on for a sec, guys," he said, then ran off to the girls.

    Akari was having trouble believing the incredible tale that Ukyou-san was telling her.
    "You mean to tell me that Iikiba-kun, Yoiko-chan and Kanaeda-kun are all from an alternate dimension?" she asked.
    "That's right, sugar!  And get this!  Both Iikiba and Yoiko are the children of Ryouga and..."
    "Ukyou-san!" interrupted Kanaeda, running in between the girls.  "Don't tell me that you actually believe that sci-fi garbage that 'Kiba-kun is spewing out?!?"
    "Garbage?" asked Akari.
    "What do you mean by 'garbage'?" demanded Ukyou.
    "Iikiba's been known to do that from time to time..." Kanaeda drawled.
    "Huh?!?" asked both girls.
    "You see, um, Iikiba has been pulling this stunt on many people from time to time.  He does a bit of research on some people, like teen couples and then he shows up pretending to be the son from the future.  You won't believe how many people actually fall for this stupid gag of his."
Akari was confused.  "And Yoiko-chan...?" she asked.
    "Ah, he cons her into playing along, poor kid."  Kanaeda shook his head.  "It really isn't fair to her."
    "But the smells...?" tried Akari again.
    "Well, that's not hard to figure out..."  He pointed to Iikiba.  "You take a look at 'Kiba-kun there.  You see that bandolier that he's wearing?  Well, it's one of Ukyou-san's spares, I bet.  Probably swiped from the storeroom for this job.  And the outfit?  Look at how similar it is to Ryouga-san's...  That's probably what your pig smells, Akari-san."  He sighed.  "And look at how he got Y'iko-chan wearing the same thing too.  That's just too low..."  The redhead shook his head.
    Ukyou was simply too stunned to speak until now.  "But what about the pic..." she started to ask, until Kanaeda slapped his hand over her mouth.
    "That's enough, Ukyou-san," he said.  "You don't really want Akari-san to be as confused as you are, right?"
    Akari was getting more and more confused.  But when a look of realisation came across Ukyou's face, she understood everything.  Ukyou was just played for a fool and she had just realised it.  Then Kanaeda removed his hand from the okonomiyaki chef's face.
    "I got it now, sugar," she said darkly.  "I'll be sure to give that guy a piece of my mind."
Akari shook her head in disbelief.  "Why would anyone want to play such a cruel gag?" she asked.
    "Who knows?" muttered Ukyou, looking at Kanaeda.
    The pig trainer turned towards the fight.  She marched right up to the group and assumed her trainer's stance.
    "Katsunishiki!  Ryouga-sama!  Stop it right now!  Both of you!"
    Both pig and teen paused in their fighting.  Jiro and Iikiba turned to face the commanding girl.
    "I have talked with Ukyou-san and Kanaeda-kun," Akari said sternly to the huge pig.  "And they have proven that Ukyou-san is not a threat."
    "Really?" asked Iikiba.  "How come?"
    Akari levelled an icy gaze at him.  "Your friend, Kanaeda-kun, has told me about the little games you play."
    Iikiba looked confused.  "Games?" he asked.
    "Don't play innocent, please.  Admit that you are not Ryouga-sama and Ukyou-san's son!"
    "Say what?!?" asked Ryouga and Iikiba together.
    "What are you talking about, Akari-san?" asked Jiro.
    "What did Kanaeda say?" asked Ryouga.
    "He said that you are wearing stolen stuff to confuse poor Katsunishiki's sense of smell."
    "He is?" asked Ryouga.
    "He is?" asked Jiro.
    "I am?" asked Iikiba.
    "You are!" accused Akari.  "Now just stop this fighting!!!  All of you!"
    Reluctantly the three teens and the huge pig let go of each other and stood shamefaced.  Akari glared at them all, spun around and started to walk away.  As she stomped off, she could have sworn that she could have heard Iikiba murmured something.
    "I'm gonna kill Kanaeda," he muttered.
 
 

Chapter Ten


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