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A Ranma ½ story
by Brian Randall

Disclaimer: All hail Takahashi-sama, for creating the fine works she has. In that vein of thought, I am using her creations without permission from her, Viz, or anyone else who actually does own the rights to Ranma.


Introduction


In an alley in Sakai, not far from the heart of Osaka, there was a slight scuffling noise. From the depths of a quiet alley, a single man squared off against a united trio of opponents.

The man seemed singularly unremarkable. Fairly generous girth, mostly muscle, thick beard, and a determined set to his eyes. Were it not for those details, and the keibo he wielded, he would have been impossible to remember in a crowd, standing out no more than the next nameless nobody.

The weapon was roughly 38 centimeters long, but spoke of swift death in the man's hands, it was wielded so deftly, spinning across his fingers seemingly of it's own accord. The combat spatula that was his family's stock in trade had failed him some time ago, and he doubted the weapon's ability to rival his current armament, given the circumstances, though he would have preferred the comforting grip of the spatula, and the anonymity of being just another yattai owner. His name wasn't even that memorable. Kuonji Akira.

The three men confronting him seemed to be average salarymen, except that they moved with a subtle grace that showed their martial skills. One of them gestured his companions back, drawing a tanto from his suit sleeve.

Akira grimaced at the salaryman, baring his teeth. The entire scene was surreal in the extreme, for no words had been exchanged. Seemingly frightened of breaking the silence, the apparent-salaryman lunged, hoping to stab his opponent before he could react.

While the first was lunging, the second snapped his arm towards Akira, launching a barbed needle-like blade towards Akira, taking advantage of the distraction. Burying itself in the ball of his left shoulder, the flat needle halted his arm movement, a stinging/numbing sensation telling the man that it was poisoned as it lodged into the bone.

He ignored the slowly blossoming pain in his shoulder, responding to the salaryman's lunge swiftly in a rush of adrenaline and raw power. The salaryman was too slow -- he received a crushing blow on his wrist, shattering the joint and sending sharpened fragments of bone exploding through his skin to strike the ground with sickeningly moist impacts. The salaryman's eyes widened, but he allowed himself only a hiss, cradling his wounded and bloodied hand protectively, while his companions exchanged a silent glance. It had only been a feint, in truth, and the projectile had struck him. Glinting in the moonlight, the tanto descended towards the pavement, seeming to slow of it's own volition as, the other two men drew their own blades and advanced, setting into their opponent savagely.

By the time the dropped tanto had reached the ground, Akira seemed to shift and… blur… more than actually move. The second salaryman received a crushed collarbone and several ruined ribs, while his companion barely dodged a blow that would have destroyed his pelvic arc, still receiving a blow that shattered his kneecap on the back swing.

The man was good. Probably much better than all three salarymen. And the time for games was long past, as the poison began to eat away at his nerves, sapping the feeling in his left arm. He gritted his teeth, sweeping the keibo backwards quickly enough to make the air snap, a startlingly loud noise in the night. He couldn't help but liken it to the time that a damn had bust near his home when he was a child, sending a two-by-four flying within mere inches of his head, screaming as it rent the air and continuing onwards to pass through a cement pillar. The pillar was split, snapping like a brittle bone and sending bits of masonry exploding away. Indeed, the men fared little better, their bodies ripped rudely open, leaving ragged and gaping wounds.

For a long moment he stood there, holding the pose and readjusting the flow of his chi, staving off the effects of the poison. The men fell, landing in horribly mutilated pieces with large portions of their midsections simply torn out, spreading viscera and torn, ragged bits of flesh across the alley, their mingled blood tainting the pavement.

Akira was already gone, hurrying into the night, and thinking to himself, 'You've failed, you've failed, you're a dead man, and Genma Saotome is going to join you! The entire strength of the Gounomono-no-Hogosha cannot save him now! Oh, you fool, you fool, you fool!'

He hesitated on a street corner and jerked the barbed and jagged piece of metal from his shoulder, unmindful of the cartilage and bits of ligament that were torn out with it in the ever deepening haze of shock, adrenaline, and poison. 'Oh, why do I have to pass this burden on to my child? Why!?'

The tingling and burning sensation that he could feel slowly overriding the numbness as his arm slowly grew cold. He concentrated his willpower on his thoughts, his body already failing him as he slumped to the ground near the beginning of a long row of torii, signifying that he was near a shrine to Inari.

Smiling grimly, his arm too numb for him to feel the slow trickle of blood along it as he lurched towards the red wooden structure, dragging himself with the one arm that sill responded. Beneath the first of the torii.

'Blood of my ancestors.'

The dry scent of the earth beneath him, in a place where a shrine to Inari should not be, was pleasantly offset by the scent of the sea air from the harbor, wonderfully free of the stench of pollution in his poison dulled senses. Another torii, and his palm was raw, while he could no longer feel his ankles.

'Hear my plea.'

A slight night breeze swept through, and with it, a flood of sakura petals, woefully out of season. Even with his senses dulled as they were, he recognized that fact, but paid it no heed, working his arm mechanically, while his body worked to keep the poison away from his heart as only the powers of the Gounomono-no-Hogosha could. Another torii, and he barely crossed beneath it, resisting the slowly overpowering urge to lie still and rest, just a moment to catch his breath, surely…

'Seal then this place and night, with the mark of Zocho, hide my child's ward. She is not yet ready…'

His vision began to blur as he relentlessly dragged himself further towards the fourth torii. He couldn't see past it, but knew what awaited him, and did not intend to fall short of his goal.

'Inari, hear my wish and bear my message to my master, I beg of you…'

It wasn't right, but his mind was too jumbled to supply him with the correct words. He grunted, his lips having become painfully dry with dirt as he dragged himself along. Clear of the fourth and final torii, he gasped one last time, letting his otherworldly sight fade.

'Ukyou, I'm sorry…'

All that was left to be found in the morning was a dead man in the empty streets of the harbor town, surrounded in an eerily concise circle of cherry petals and rice grains.


Across Japan, in a quiet restaurant, a slumbering girl suddenly suffused with a dull red aura, shot through with creeping black tendrils. She gasped in pain, sitting up sharply. Her pupils dilated in the darkness of her room, faintly illuminated by the glow, and she dropped her face into her hands. "No…" she whimpered. "Daddy… don't… I'm not ready for this yet!"

She sobbed into the unforgiving night, her body wracked by the force of her emotion. "Why? Don't leave me, Daddy!" Curling up into a ball on her futon, she wept, "I don't want to be alone again…"

 

To be continued.


Author's notes: Diverges just before Ryugenzawa.

Gounomono-no-Hogosha: Literally -- strong warrior's guardian.

Inari: Shinto god of rice. Often depicted as a fox, which are affiliated with fox-spirits and illusion.

Keibo: a handheld weapon, basically an iron club, commonly used in law-enforcement efforts.

Zocho: One of the four guardians who keep the world safe from attacks of demons. He is known as the guardian of the South

This came out of the result of a long and heated debate with Ginrai. Well, that's not true, but it sounds a lot more interesting than admitting I took this fic idea up on a dare. I strive for accuracy, if I make any errors, please tell me. Any/all C&C is appreciated, though the bulk of this story isn't going to be written until after the UC is complete.

 
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