Chapter 3: The School of Hard Knocks

                     C&A Productions Presents

                  A Work of Ranma 1/2 Fanfiction

                        The Ties That Bind

                 Chapter 3: School of Hard Knocks

                     Written by Chris McNeil

           Original Concept Provided by Robert Morrison

     "School?" repeated Ranma, his voice a mixture of surprise and disgust.
Twisting in mid-air, he barely avoided a vicious dropkick and dropped to the
edge of the pond, wobbling slightly as he regained his balance.
     "I suppose it was to be expected," Panma remarked, landing lightly a few
feet away.  With a vicious kiai he rushed forward, throwing a flurry of jabs at
his already overbalanced brother, but Ranma dove to the side just in time,
coming up with a pivot kick that forced Panma back.  Then he charged in himself
and launched a powerful snap kick.  Panma grabbed the foot and used it to fling
himself over his brother's head, but Ranma had been expecting this counter and
simply continued with the momentum, extending a backfist to clip him as he
landed.  Panma staggered forward, but with a grimace dropped low and swung a
foot out in a sweep which neatly cut Ranma's legs out from under him.  With a
triumphant grin he pounced...but Ranma had not landed too heavily, and catching
Panma in the stomach with a outstretched foot, he flung his brother away.  Ranma
rose to his feet even as Panma twirled in mid-air and landed gracefully on the
rocks that were on the other side of the pond.
     "Not bad at all," smirked Panma, flexing his fingers.  "I guess I can't go
as easy on you this morning as usual."
     "Going easy on me?" Ranma scoffed.  "Is that what you call sloppiness
today, bro?"
     "We'll see who's sloppy when three-two-eight-six is mine, Ranma!"
     And then they were at it again, the question of school entirely forgotten.
Akane stared in something between shock and fascination as the two brothers tore
into each other like blood enemies.  Strike, parry, kick, elbow, leap...the
battle see-sawed back and forth as each brother performed increasingly
spectacular and risky manoeuvres in order to gain the advantage.  Unwillingly,
she felt a twinge of admiration.  They were VERY good...and just about evenly
matched, too.  Panma appeared to hold the slight edge on speed, as when he
charged in, ducked his brother's punch almost unbelievably quickly and slammed a
punch into his gut, but Ranma made up for it with strength, as he countered by
twisting with the blow and catching his brother's arm.  After a short struggle
of balance and power, Ranma won and slammed his brother down, twisting his arm
behind his back...but after a moment Panma wriggled out of the painful hold and
the fast-paced battle was on again.
     "Ranma, Panma, it's time for breakfast!" Kasumi called presently...and
Panma, his fist outstretched, was left balanced precariously on the rocks
without a target.  He waved his arms frantically for a moment, before finally
jerking back and leaping off the rocks, saving himself from a fall into the
water and a temporary sex change.  He breathed a sigh, his face set in a
relieved expression which switched to annoyance as he stalked into the house and
sat down, whacking Ranma - who was already eating - on the head.
     "Don't you think of -anything- besides food?" he growled irritably.
     "You should be...umm...grateful," Ranma said between mouthfuls.  "It saved
you from losing...mmm...didn't it?"
     "Yeah, sure," snorted Panma.  "If you hadn't pulled the Saotome Secret
Technique there, bro, you'd be all wet in more ways than...HEY!"  With a
disgusted expression, he snatched a slab of tofu back from Genma's chopsticks.
"Get away from my breakfast, oyaji!"
     "Well, you seemed more interested in talking than eating, boy..." remarked
Genma, calmly stealing some rice.  Panma growled and went for his father's rice,
but was stopped by Genma moving the bowl.  Then the older man tried to grab
Panma's miso, but was halted by a pair of chopsticks.  The two began to duel,
thrusting at each other with their chopsticks, trying to snatch the other's food
away or blocking attempts on their own breakfast.  Akane found herself staring
again.  This 'battle', if somewhat odd-looking, seemed hardly less vicious than
the one Ranma and Panma were in a few moments ago.
     "Don't they -ever- quit?" she exclaimed.
     "It seems not," replied Kasumi cheerfully.  Her father seemed content to
bury himself in his newspaper and try to ignore everything, whereas Ranma was so
involved in his food, and Panma and Genma their battle, that it was entirely
possible they hadn't even heard her.
     With an exclamation of triumph, Panma knocked Genma's chopsticks from his
hands, having distracted his father by feinting a head butt.  Smirking, he
turned back to his food...and gaped for a moment at the empty bowls.  Then he
glared at Ranma, who rubbed the back of his head.
     "You didn't actually -want- that, didja bro?"
     Genma, laughed uproariously.  "That's the spirit, my boy!  Strike when your
opponent is distracted!"  Taking up his chopsticks again, he poked down at his
food...and blinked as he caught nothing.
     "Do tell," Panma murmured, draining the last of his father's miso.
     "Oh my," said Kasumi, looking in the pot.  "There's only enough for one
more bowl.  Who wants seconds?"  Akane buried her head in her hands as Panma
prudently moved back and Ranma and Genma locked gazes...


     Akane quickly stuffed books and papers into her bag.  Maybe if she could
slip out before anyone saw her...
     "Akane-chan," said Kasumi sweetly, poking her head inside the door, "Ranma
and Panma are almost ready to go.  You'll show them the way to the school,
     Biting back a few extremely unladylike comments, Akane allowed herself to
be led out of her room.  "I don't see why I have to take them," she grumbled.
"If they even get to school before they kill each other, I'll be surprised..."
     "Well, he is your fiancee..." Kasumi began.
     "She's not -my- fiancee," came a cool voice, cutting off Kasumi's statement
and Akane's hot retort.  Looking up, she saw Panma leaning against the wall, a
bag casually slung over his shoulder.  His face expressionless, he continued,
"But then, I didn't notice my lovely bride-to-be around here this morning,
     "Umm...she said she had to go in early for...because she had to do some
work," Akane said, then immediately fought the urge to blush.  That wasn't
exactly the agreed-on story, but she had been caught somewhat off-guard by
finding him there.
     "Indeed," Panma said, seeming to dismiss it.  "Well, we'd better go if
we're going to be there on time."  He began to walk down the hall, then turned
and looked back at her, smiling the first genuine smile he had at any of them.
"Since you asked so nicely, I won't hurt Ranma too badly.  I'm sure he'll be
touched by your concern."
     Chuckling to himself, he turned again and headed towards the door.  Akane
fought the urge to stick out her tongue at his back.  "Oneesan, you owe me for
this," she muttered.


     By the time they were halfway to school, Akane was vowing to never let
Nabiki wriggle out of walking with them again.  It wasn't just that Ranma and
Panma were involved in another - literally - running battle.  That was bad
enough, but they were doing it on top of the canal fence, running, leaping, and
apparently trying with all their might to knock each other into the water.  If
she was one of the spectators - and there were more than a few people watching -
it might have been enjoyable, even astonishing.  As it was, she felt torn
between throwing them both in and dying of shame.  After some deliberation she
had settled with resolutely not looking at either of them and muttering "I don't
know them, I don't know them..." under her breath.
     After a few moments, though, even this wasn't enough.  Red- faced, she
turned to them and bellowed, "Would you two please KNOCK IT OFF!?"  Ranma jerked
to a halt, looking over at her...and then immediately regretted it as Panma's
fist slammed into him.  He toppled off the fence, but desperately grabbed the
bar on the top, halting his fall.  Panma walked over and smirked down at him for
a moment.  Ranma, virtually helpless in his precarious position, grimaced, but
then blinked as Panma reached down and roughly jerked him up.  There were a few
scattered jeers from the crowd, which began to disperse.
     "I'll let you get away with that one, bro," Panma grinned, "but three-two-
eight-six'll be mine in no time if you keep getting distracted by cute girls
sweetly calling you."
     "Well, if any girls were -interested- in callin' you, you might have the
same problem," retorted Ranma as they both jumped down.
     Slightly curious despite herself, Akane let Panma's comments pass and
asked, "What's this 'three-two-eight-six' you guys keep talking about?"
     "It's our scores," explained Ranma.
     Panma nodded, and added, "On Ranma's tenth birthday, we had a fight.  I let
him win..."
     "Sure you did," sneered Ranma.
     Nonplussed, Panma continued, "...and he got a bit of a swelled head over
it.  So, just to keep him from floating away with his ego, we started keeping
score of our fights.  Thus, every year on Ranma's birthday, whoever's ahead is
the winner for that year.  Anyway, right now both of us are at 3285, though that
won't last long."
     "Yeah, only about as long as it takes until someone doesn't interrupt the
fight and save you."
     "In your dreams."
     "Wait a minute," interrupted Akane.  "You guys had THAT many fights?  Like
the one this morning and right now?"
     "Yep," Ranma said.  "There wasn't really that much else to do...except
fight with Pop, of course, but nobody bothered to keep score with him."
     "And it won't matter once I turn him into a fur coat anyway," growled
     Akane shook her head.  It was too much.  These two were even nuttier than
the boys at...she looked reflexively at the giant school clock.  "Oh no!  We're
going to be late!"  She took off at a dead run for the school; after a moment of
startlement, Ranma and Panma followed too.


     With a savage kick, Akane sent the last boy - some hapless member of the
dance club - sailing gracefully through the air, whereupon he made a less-than-
graceful landing on his head and lay prone.  Breathing heavily, she flipped her
hair back over her shoulder with a grimace. The sky was grey, and low,
threatening rumbles of thunder echoed throughout the heavens, suiting her mood
perfectly. "Honestly," she muttered.  "Every single morning..."
     Meanwhile, her two companions had held back and were watching her; Ranma in
astonishment and Panma with eyes narrowed speculatively.
     "She's pretty good against multiple opponents like that," commented Ranma
as she demolished the final boy.
     Panma snorted.  "Of course she is," he said in a low voice, "she does
Kyokushinkai.  Didn't you see the way her movements went?  I was pretty sure
yesterday, but this settled it."
     Ranma shrugged.  "You know that kind of stuff better than I do, bro."
     "Well, you -should- know.  Being able to identify an opponent's style is
the first step towards victory."
     "To you, maybe," Ranma replied with another shrug.  "I prefer to just go
with the flow and figure out weaknesses during the match."
     "Yeah, well, what happens when you're overmatched too quickly to improvise,
huh?  But with a good plan..."
     "Truly, such a boorish lot," came a deep, cultured voice, causing the
brothers and Akane to look at its source.  He was a tall boy, obviously an
upperclassman, with handsome features and carefully styled brown hair.  Oddly,
he wore a blue and white kendo outfit and gripped a bokken lightly in one hand,
while in the other, he carried a single red rose.  "Evidently," the boy
continued, "each of them intend to ask you out on the dawn that one finally
defeats you."  He smiled faintly, indicating his contempt for such wasted
     Akane sighed.  "Oh, sempai.  Good morning."
     "And now, Akane Tendo," continued the boy, flipping the rose to her and
bringing his bokken to bear, "might you fight with me?"
     Akane scowled.  A few steps behind, Ranma slapped his fist into his palm.
"I know!" he whispered excitedly to his brother.   "I'm almost positive that guy
does Kendo!"
     "What -ever- gave you that idea?" Panma replied flatly, rolling his eyes.
But Ranma was already walking forward, even as Akane tossed the rose away and
assumed a battle stance.  "Pretty popular, aren't you?" he commented.  "What's
all this about, anyway?"
     "Mind your own business!" she growled, but it was too late.  The boy,
having observing the exchange with a raised eyebrow, shifted his aim slightly so
that the tip of the wooden sword was pointing at Ranma.
     "You there!" he said sternly.
     "What?" asked Ranma blinking.
     "You are being quite familiar with Akane.  What gives you the right to
speak to her so?"
     Instead of answering, Ranma threw a questioning glance at Akane, but she
merely sniffed and moved a step away.  Noting this inattention, the boy's scowl
     "Ignore me, boor?  And whom might you be?"  Ranma looked over and opened
his mouth, but before any sound could emerge the boy continued, "But then, is it
not the custom to give one's own name first?  Very well; if you wish mine, you
shall have it."  As Ranma blinked, the boy took up a straighter stance, his
voice swelling with pride.  "My name is Tatewaki Kunou, age seventeen.  I am the
undisputed captain of this school's kendo club, and have been hailed by hundreds
as the rising new star of the high school fencing world.  But my peers call
me...the BLUE THUNDER OF FURINKAN HIGH!"  A coincidental bolt of lightning split
the skies at his last statement, emphasizing it even more than Kunou himself
did.  Ranma, somewhat overcome by this, could only stare in astonishment.  Panma
snickered loudly, but Kunou, intent on his foe, did not appear to notice.
     Meanwhile, small crowds was gathering at the windows of the school as
people noticed the upcoming confrontation.
     "Hey, it looks like somebody's gonna fight Kunou-sempai!"
     "Poor guy.  He's kind of cute, too..."
     "Have you seen him before?"
     "Hey, since when has Kunou been calling himself Blue Thunder?"
     "Didn't you know?  He announced it the other day..."
     Back down below, Ranma finally found his voice.  "Well...uh...I'm kinda
staying at the Tendo training hall, but that's 'cause..."
     Kunou had heard enough.  "Staying with the -Tendos-?" he demanded, charging
forward.  "Under the same roof as AKANE!?"  He swung his bokken in a mighty arc
which probably would have split the unfortunate Ranma in half, if it weren't for
the small fact that the boy rather easily leaped out of the way.  While still in
mid-air, he pulled off his schoolbag and tossed it back.  Panma caught it
easily, but looked up at the looming sky with a frown.
     "Alright, pal," said Ranma as he landed, casually flexing his fingers.
"I'm Ranma Saotome, of the school of Anything-Goes martial arts...and if you
want a fight, you've got it!"


     "All right," Nabiki Tendo said to the small group before her, "all of you
are here because you owe me something, be it money or favours.  Now it's time to
collect.  If you follow my instructions properly, your debts will be paid least, part of them will." The group listened in stoic silence.
Although they knew the tasks would most likely be dangerous or at least
unpleasant, they also knew it would almost certainly be more unpleasant to cross
     Nabiki handed out typewritten sheets to each one, explaining as she did so,
"These contain your assigned tasks, -and- the names of several other people who
you are supposed to find and recruit.  Don't worry, they all owe me as well, so
simply mention why.  Do NOT show these sheets to anyone besides your group, and
don't tell anyone else either."  She waited a moment as her audience read their
instructions, and then added, "Is there any questions or problems with that?"
There was dead silence, and Nabiki smiled.  Panma was as good as gone.
     As she left, one of the boys looked at another.  "What do you think this
poor sap did to get her so mad, anyway?"
     "Got me," said the other with a shrug.  "I'm not even sure what she's
trying to do.  My instructions are kinda weird..."
     "Well, I'm just glad it's not me," added a girl, carefully folding the
note.  "And I'm not going to chance messing up by keeping her waiting."  She
walked out.  After a moment, the other students exchanged glances and left as
well...there was, indeed, no use in taking chances.


     "Blast!" cried Kunou in irritation as the tree toppled over.  Ranma landed
a few metres away, in a casual stance.  His eyes narrowed.  Whoever he was, this
kid was certainly slippery.
     On the other side of the lot, the other boy looked up at the even darker
sky and grimaced.  Looking over at Kunou's foe, he called, "Ranma, it's going to
rain!  Finish off this clown already!"
     Ranma looked up at the sky as well, eyes widening slightly.  Kunou was
incensed.  How dare this...this -pup- ignore the great Tatewaki Kunou?  With a
growl, he lunged forward to teach the insolent cur some manners.


     Akane, meanwhile, had been watching the fight with some chagrin.  She had
been hoping a fight with Kunou - which had been almost sure to happen - would
bring her fiancee down a notch or two, but instead, he had dodged everything the
kendoist had thrown with apparent ease.  He hadn't landed any attacks of his
own, either, but Akane had a sinking feeling that was only because he hadn't
really been trying.  It was an effort to keep from growling.  What gave
this...this BOY the right to be so good?
     Like Ranma, she reflexively looked up at Panma's warning shout.  It did
certainly look like rain, especially with the periodic rumbles of thunder and
flashes of lightning.  Picking up her schoolbag, she was about to head in -
they'd be late if they didn't get in soon anyway - when she was distracted by a
cry of anger.
     Looking over, she saw Kunou raise his bokken and charge forward.  He was
definitely serious this time...she could tell by the determination in his face.
And from his angle, he could stab at whatever direction Ranma went in almost
instantly.  Ranma seemed to realize this too.  His mouth tightened and he leaned
back...and suddenly spun around as Kunou brought the heavy wooden sword down
with thundering force, swinging his leg in a lightning-fast kick.  His foot
snapped against the side of Kunou's bokken, seemed to hold there for a
moment...and then continued on, sending the top half of the wooden sword flying
     There were a few gasps from the windows and balcony of the school as Ranma
swiftly pulled into a defensive stance.  However, Kunou didn't seem about to
renew his fact, he merely stared, his eyes bulging unnaturally, at
the splintered remains of the bokken he still held, as if the mere force of his
gaze could undo the damage.  Ranma, after a moment, relaxed his stance and waved
a hand in front of Kunou's eyes, but got no reaction.  He shrugged, and opened
his mouth to say something...just as the first drops of rain began to fall.
     With a yelp, he dashed inside, meeting his brother - who had walked in
after his earlier statement - and apparently receiving some sort of sarcastic
comment.  Akane, feeling herself beginning to get soaked, snapped out of her
shock and hurried in as well.  Just as she reached the door, she glanced back;
Kunou, quickly becoming drenched in the now-pouring rain, was still staring at
his broken weapon.  Akane wondered if he'd still be there when they left this
afternoon.  With a sigh, she walked after the two boys, who were loudly arguing
and appeared to be on the verge of another impromptu contest.  Maybe Nabiki
could do better.

                        To Be Continued...

Author's Notes: First, I thank everybody for being patient for this
computer was gone, and I haven't been able to do any major Net-work or writing
for some time.  Now, as to the nitty-gritty: several pre-readers have mentioned
their disbelief of the name "Panma"; however, I'm afraid it can't be changed.
There IS a story-based reason, which will be revealed in due time.  Also,
because it literally means "horse-bread", there will be opportunity for some
truly atrocious puns later...and don't we all love those? >:) Finally, as Scott
Jamison so kindly pointed out to me, the name has a certain appropriateness.
Read properly in Mandarin, "Panma" means "Rebellious Horse", which, I think you
may agree, seems to fit with his character.  As an aside, I thank everyone for
their C&C and commentary over the last few chapters...the considerable positive
response I've gotten has surprised and delighted me, not to mention helping give
me the inspiration to continue.


Miso: a spicy soup, with vegetables and tofu, generally served with rice.  Very
common Japanese breakfast.  Very good, too. ^_^

Kyokushinkai Karate: In the manga, the school of martial arts Akane's fighting
style is based on.  The style is very strength-oriented, and a lot of the
training revolves around smashing things (like cement blocks and training
dummies) with your hands and feet.  This style, which uses many circular motions
and blocks, is excellent against multiple attackers, but not really suited for
one-on-one confrontation.  Hence Ranma, even though he had easily beaten Akane
in the first episode/issue, was still impressed by her performance against the
boys the next day.

Sempai: An honorific denoting respect towards one of higher status than you;
Kunou expects (rightfully) to be called this by the other teens, but Nabiki
("Kunou-chan!") and Ranma generally don't, or are sarcastic about it.  Usually
translated as 'upperclassman' in the Viz translations, which has a fairly
similar connotation IF one is familiar with the term.

Kendo: Japanese fencing, so to speak.  Usually practised with a bokken/bokutou
(wooden sword) or shinai (bamboo sword); in actual competition, contestants wear
armour (a good thing, bokkens are heavy and you can easily kill someone with a
powerful strike); Kunou's outfit is the underclothes of that, and is sometimes
worn when practicing with a shinai.  Although it is a martial art, it is not
really intended for combat, and at any rate swords are poor weapons to use
against martial artists.  This is part of the reason why Kunou, who IS a superb
swordsman, still performs poorly against most of the Ranma cast.

As always, any comments and criticism (e-mail: are VERY
much appreciated!  Jya ne...

All content unless stated otherwise is ©2021 Chris McNeil. He can be contacted here. The banner picture is courtesy of Jason Heavensrun. You can find more of his stuff at Checkmate Studios.