A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Terry Brooks and the publisher of his books own all the characters and ideas that I use from them.
Author's Notes: This story will be crossing over with a trilogy of books by Terry Brooks: 'Running With the Demon', 'A Knight of the Word', and 'Angel Fire East'. Characters from these books may make short appearances throughout the story but it will mainly be Ranma with the concept of the trilogy.
Walking into the house, neither Nabiki nor Ranma announced their arrival. Laughter could be heard coming from one part of the house, and gentle humming from another. Everything seemed normal. Everybody knew that normal in the Tendo home and Nerima itself was far from the standard that the rest of the planet lived by.
"I'm going to go ahead and get packed. You should too," said Ranma, disengaging his hand from Nabiki's surprisingly firm grip.
"I've got to make travel arrangements first. Then I'll pack my luggage." Jeez, he acted like she had never been on a trip before.
"Just remember to pack light; this is a training trip."
Nabiki caught the slight emphasis on the 'training' part, and reluctantly admitted to herself that the plans she had formed in her head included no less than three suitcases. Continuing upstairs, Nabiki looked questioningly at Ranma's back as he moved towards the back of the house. Why couldn't he follow his own advice?
Closing the door behind herself Nabiki threw her school bag onto her bed and pulled a canvas duffel bag out of the clutter in the bottom of her closet. Behind her, she heard the door slide open. Before she could turn around her guest spoke.
"You can't have him," Nabiki recognized the voice as belonging to her sister, Akane. It was different though. There were no signs of emotion, not even anger, just cold detachment.
Nabiki slowly turned to face Akane and said, "Akane, I'm really sorry, but… I can't help it," she got all teary eyed. "I really, really love him and he loves me!" The distinctive ring of steel being drawn drew Nabiki's attention to the Tendo family sword grasped tightly in Akane's hand. Oddly, her first thought was how come she hadn't noticed it in the first place.
She moved with surprising speed, more than Nabiki had ever seen her display in any of her fights. Hardly at Ranma's level, but well above anything that Nabiki herself could avoid. As the blade arched cleanly to deliver the decapitating blow, Nabiki realized that she was screaming. But before help could arrive she would be dead. Would have if the blade hadn't stopped an inch from her throat.
Akane grunted as she applied increasingly greater and greater pressure to her attack. The blade wouldn't move. She knew something was holding her back, but it couldn't last forever. She would succeed. Her arms began to ache from strain and the sword started to tremble. Then, with a snap, the blade broke. With all the force finally released, Akane's body slipped past her sister and crashed into the closet wall. The broken point rebounded off of the opposing force and became firmly planted in the wall next to Nabiki's head.
Ranma wanted to pay one last visit to the dojo. For all he knew it could be his last time seeing it. His legs in a lotus position, but floating along with the rest of him, Ranma reached out with his chi. The world came into a new focus. He could count the individual grains of wood in the floor, feel the presence of the surveillance equipment that peppered the nooks and crannies of the training hall, and… hear a bloodcurdling scream from the house.
His feet never touched the ground; they merely unfolded. Then, like a rocket, he blasted through the door out into the backyard, through the back door of the house and around the corner that led upstairs. He was in Nabiki's room in no more than a few seconds, but he was already too late.
He watched as Akane's sword broke against some force that made his chi tingle. It was almost like someone was tickling him… Anyway, he ran over to Nabiki and scooped her up into his arms and carried into the hallway and away from her sister.
Nabiki threw shaky arms around Ranma's neck. She was trembling visibly and sniffling but not crying. "R-Ranma, Ak-Akane tried t-to kill me." Her grip tightened and her body became racked by sobs.
"Shhh, it'll be all tight." Ranma nervously reassured her. He still wasn't used to the now-frequent shows of emotion that Nabiki had been displaying lately. "Mom will know what to do." Carrying Nabiki down the stairs proved to be no challenge. Not running away when Nodoka started smiling at him and winking, after seeing him carry Nabiki, was much, much harder.
At first, when Nodoka saw him carrying his fiancée, she thought he was about to prove how manly he was again. A man can never be too manly, after all. Well, maybe Master Happosai… But when she saw him set her at the kitchen table and noticed that she was crying, Nodoka knew something was wrong. She and Kasumi rushed from the stove, where they were about to put a cake in the oven, and over to the couple.
"What's wrong, son?" asked Nodoka. "Have you two already had a fight?"
"No, mom. Akane just tried to kill Nabiki," Ranma answered angrily. Akane really was a psycho bitch. Well, he had known all along.
Nodoka's mouth fell open and stayed open from shock, but Kasumi gasped, "Oh my," and fainted, falling over the table.
Eventually Nodoka asked, "Should I call the authorities?" She couldn't stand the idea of Akane being arrested, but if she really was homicidal, there wasn't much choice.
"No, Mom, I'll handle it." Ranma left Nabiki in the care of his mother and her sister. Upstairs in Nabiki's room, he found Akane in the process of pulling her head from the wall. Before she could get free, though, he rushed forward and struck a pressure point on the back of her neck, rendering her unconscious. Then, using some pantyhose that had remarkably eluded Happosai's capture, he hogtied and gagged Akane.
Carrying Akane down the stairs was a bit more awkward than Nabiki, who seemed to fit perfectly in his arms. He deposited the girl on the kitchen floor and went to check on Nabiki.
"Are you all right?" he asked her.
Nabiki had stopped crying in the short time that Ranma was gone, and now appeared calm and composed, except for the tear streaks on her face and her slightly bloodshot eyes. "Yeah, thanks to you. I'd be a few inches shorter if you hadn't stopped the sword."
Ranma suddenly remembered that something had indeed stopped the sword from killing Nabiki, but it wasn't him. "I didn't do anything to the sword."
Nabiki was staring at Akane, but asked, "Well, what stopped it then?"
Ranma bent down to whisper in Nabiki's ear. "I think you did." Before she could protest, he put a finger over her lips and continued, "I told you that in my dream you were a psychic. What's it called when someone can move stuff without touching it?"
Nabiki quietly responded. "Telekinesis, Ranma. It's called telekinesis, but I can't do that. It doesn't really exist." Ranma just looked at her flatly. "All right, it might exist, but I can't have it."
Before Nabiki could answer, Nodoka snapped her fingers to get their attention and asked, "If you two need some privacy, I'll take care of these two for a while." She pointed to Kasumi who was now in a chair sleeping and Akane's tied form. Whispering was just so impolite.
"Why not?" repeated Ranma once they were in the living room.
Nabiki couldn't actually think of a decent reason that she couldn't be telekinetic. "I don't know."
"Well in that particular dream, what I can remember of you, you were smashing stuff just by looking at it and had three swords floating around you, cutting up anything that got too close."
"We'll figure it out later. What are we going to do? What about dad?" He was in the backyard playing shogi with Ranma's father, blissfully oblivious of the world. He hadn't even heard her scream.
"We're leaving. Let everybody else deal with Akane," Ranma answered firmly.
"But Ranma, we haven't even got plane tickets yet, and I haven't told our teachers that we're going to be gone for a while," she protested.
"We can stay at a hotel until you can get a flight booked, and a letter to the school will work just as good as a phone call. If we stay much longer, something really bad might happen. Remember, Ukyou and Kodachi haven't taken their shots at you yet."
She did want to spend some time alone with Ranma before they had to go to Great Britain, and a few days in a hotel would be nice. "Okay, I'll finish getting packed and we can go ahead and leave."
"I'm gonna go tell our fathers what's been going on."
Nabiki left Ranma and went back up to her room. She packed a few changes of clothes in her duffel bag. It took her several minutes to find the case for her laptop computer, and even longer to find the charger and spare battery. Once it was all gathered, she fished her wallet out of her school bag along with her cell phone. She met Ranma downstairs. He'd already packed and dealt with their fathers.
Ranma jumped back, barely avoiding Soun as he lunged for Nabiki. The man was going to dehydrate himself one of these days. His goodbyes with his parents were much more subdued and less energetic, though his mother did seem like she wanted to crack his ribs.
"Yes, I promise to wash behind my ears," Ranma told his mother. Of all the things to worry about, she picked his ears. Sheesh!
Finally the taxi that Nabiki called arrived, and they made their escape.
"Glad that's over with. I can't believe that the last thing she told me was to wash behind my ears."
Nabiki grinned. "I'll make sure that you keep them clean. And everything else." She ran a finger along his ear.
Ranma turned bright red when he noticed the cabby looking at the in the rearview mirror.
Nabiki almost laughed. A few days to properly train Ranma would do him a world of good. Instead she asked, "So, what hotel are we staying at?"
"Why are you asking me? That’s your department."
"You’re kidding, right? It was your idea to stay in one in the first place." She poked him in the forehead for emphasis.
"But you’re always the one that handles that kind of stuff. How was I supposed to know that you expected me to?"
"Pardon me for interrupting, but what area are you interested in staying?" asked the man driving the cab.
"The airport," Nabiki answered.
"Ouch. The Star Trek convention has most of those filled up, but some of the more expensive ones may still have rooms."
"Ranma, you owe me," she said to Ranma, but finished by saying to the cabby, "Please take us to one of those."
Ranma was beginning to sweat. Already they had visited three hotels, and all were booked solid. Now they were at the last one that had any chance of having vacancies.
"Yes we have a few rooms left," answered the desk attendant.
"How much will that be?" Nabiki asked. She was going to ring Ranma's neck. She all ready owed the cab driver six thousand yen.
"45,000 yen per night."
Nabiki made a choking sound. Ranma helpfully smacked her on the back. It wasn't the smartest thing to do. She rounded on him, throwing his arm out of the way and reached up and grabbed his pigtail.
"Ow, that hurt!" he cried out after Nabiki had dragged him behind a huge potted plant.
"Do you have any idea how expensive this hotel is?"
"Um, no. How much?" he asked sheepishly.
"45,000 a night. 45,000." Nabiki answered fiercely.
Ranma sighed and relented the only secret he'd ever been ever to keep from Nabiki and her spies. "Okay, fine. I'll pay for it. Do they take checks?"
"Ranma dear, what are you talking about?" Nabiki asked him sweetly. She even managed to look innocent. All together it was a very good act.
Ranma, being Ranma, fell for it hook, line, and sinker. "Mom opened me this really huge bank account for emergencies. Who would've thought that she was rich?" he finished, asking himself the question more than he was Nabiki.
This ranked right up there with the most shocking moments of Nabiki's young life. There was finding out about Ranma's curse, falling in love with him and having the feelings reciprocated, having sex with him, and now finally, finding out that Nodoka had somehow managed to keep her money from her greedy husband. Strange how all the excitement in her life could be traced back to Ranma. "Just how much is in this account?" She surprised herself at how calm she sounded.
Ranma cringed, recognizing hidden emotion, most likely anger. "A million yen." He prepared to dodge in case Nabiki decided to test her new abilities out on him.
Nabiki was about to apply a devastating verbal assault on the importance of sharing such large secrets with each other, when she suddenly felt a wave of fear and doubt. It was so surprising that the whole argument slipped from her mind. Somehow she now she was experiencing Ranma's feelings. Why would he be scared of her? Looking at him, she saw that his muscles were tensed and his eyes were darting around furiously. He thought she was going to hit him. Damn Akane and her temper. "From now no more secrets, okay?" she ended up asking.
Ranma seemed as surprised as she was that nothing violent had occurred. "You're not mad? You know… about not telling you?"
She realized that she wasn't really mad at Ranma. What really upset her was that Ranma hadn't done anything and he'd gotten a load of money, where she had had to work her ass off for years to get hers. "Nah, it's no big deal. Don't worry, though, I'll pay for it."
Nabiki returned to the desk and accepted the room.
He couldn't believe that he had failed. It was such a simple job. Kill one defenseless girl. He'd snuck into the house and found her bedroom easily enough. It had the name on it, for hell's sake.
He'd only been under the bed when he felt a presence nearby. Nothing to worry about; no one could see him in the shadows anyway. Then he had felt such immense anger and pain, mixed equally with betrayal and jealousy, that he'd come as close to a climax as he had in the last hundred and fifty years since his body had changed. It was beyond description.
It didn't take much experience to know that the presence, a girl if his nose was correct, was projecting these delicious feelings towards his target. What could she have done to cause such suffering? Hell, he didn't even know what she had done to warrant his services, but it was an order and he'd been promised a little time alone with her as payment, so he didn't ask questions.
"How could you, Nabiki?" the girl had asked. "We were meant to be together." Then came the crying. Oh, how he loved to hear a girl cry. "I l-love him," she finished in a sobbing heap on his targets bed.
The proverbial light bulb had flickered then, and the idea came to him. Her emotions were already in upheaval, and he sensed an immense temper. So, with a little tweaking he'd sent her into a slow boil with homicidal rage as the goal. Too bad it hadn't worked.
How was he supposed to know that the girl had such a powerful magic? And the boy! What in creation was he?! Just being near him had been agony. No matter. Now he knew where they were staying, his target and the boy, and this time he wasn't taking any chances. It was ridiculously expensive hiring a gang these days. And heavy weaponry; now that was a bitch.
"This is nice," commented Ranma as they entered their room. The huge bed with a mirrored ceiling especially drew his attention.
"It ought to be."
"I did offer to pay for it, you know." Nabiki tossed his backpack onto the bed where it bounced two times and landed on the other side.
"Sorry." Much more carefully she sat her bag on the bed. "Well, if I'm paying for it, I might as well enjoy it. How about some room service?"
"Not that I'm turning down food, but we did stop at that burger place before we came here. If you do order something, though, how ‘bout getting me some ice cream?"
Nabiki smirked. It turned into her evil grin. "I was thinking more along the lines of champagne and some strawberries with whipped cream."
Ranma didn't know what Nabiki thought was so funny, and he surely didn't think anything of her choices, so he said, "That's cool, but can you get some chocolate on them too?"
"Why, Ranma, I didn't know you had it in you." She laughed to herself. He probably had no idea what he was getting himself into.
Ranma stumbled out of the room several hours later, clothed only in a half-open bathrobe. Where was he supposed to find extra towels?
"Can I help you sir?"
Ranma whirled around with just enough force to completely throw open his robe. "Eep!," he screeched, quickly tying it shut. "Heh heh, sorry about that, but, um, I was just looking for some towels, all of ours are dirty."
"Oh, sure, just a minute." She walked around the corner and soon returned pushing a cart full of cleaning supplies. From a bottom shelf she pulled several folded white towels and handed them to Ranma.
"Thanks a bunch," he told her, resigning himself for what was to come once he walked back into the room."
Before Ranma could go the maid said, "Someone'll be by in the morning to collect the others."
Nodding, Ranma opened the door and ducked back inside. He found Nabiki fully dressed with her hair dry, and looking like it had never been disturbed. Wow, that was pretty quick. "Found some."
"Great. Now go take your shower, and we'll go see if there are any movies in that theater downstairs worth watching."
With Ranma in the bathroom, Nabiki took out her laptop and plugged it into the telephone jack. Within a few minutes she had found Japan Air's website. By the time Ranma was finished, they had two roundtrip tickets to Great Britain booked. Nabiki made sure that they would have a few days in the hotel before the flight.
"So, what are they showing?" asked Ranma.
"In the theater. Remember, you mentioned it a few minutes ago?"
"Oh. I'm not sure."
Ranma shrugged and began dressing in an outfit that Nabiki had laid out on the bed for him. It was his 'nice' one, consisting of a blue silk shirt embroidered with dragons running around it, and matching black pants. "Do you think we should call home and tell our folks that we're okay?" asked Ranma once he was fully clothed.
"Are you kidding? If we do that, then they'll be able to find out where we're staying. I sent Kasumi an email. She should get it when she goes online tonight."
He couldn't have heard that right. "Kasumi? She has a computer?"
"Yeah. I bought it for her a few months ago. She spends a couple hours every night chatting with people." She laughed. "You wouldn't believe how much of a different person she is. She'd die if she knew I spied on some of those 'conversations'."
"Don't you think that's a bit low? Spying on Kasumi?" he asked disapprovingly.
"Don't try to get all moral with me. If I hadn't spied on her, then the last few hours would have been a lot duller."
It took a few seconds for what she was saying to sink in. Then Ranma began hitting himself in the head repeatedly. He couldn't think about Kasumi like that. She was like his mother!
"Yeah, it shocked me too."
Ranma escorted Nabiki downstairs, his arm, not by choice, entwined with hers. "So, where is this theater at?"
Nabiki looked around and somewhat embarrassedly said, "I think it was at the last hotel we visited before this one."
"All dressed up and no place to go," commented Ranma.
Before Nabiki could respond, all hell broke loose. Gunshots rang throughout the spacious lobby and people ran around in a panic, screaming.
Ranma grabbed Nabiki and dived behind a large stone column, just as the area they had been standing in was riddled with bullets. "Stay down!" Ranma shouted so that he could be heard over the noise.
Before Nabiki could stop him, he pulled away and before her very eyes seemed to fade out of existence. Ranma was using the Umisenken, she realized.
Even hidden, Ranma knew that he was in danger. He could sense the bullets flying through the air. They were everywhere, coming from all angles. Reduced to a creeping pace, it took him nearly a minute to reach the first gunman, and about two seconds to disarm and incapacitate him.
The screams were noticeably decreasing in frequency. Ranma hoped that the cause was simply people escaping, but he knew the truth. There were enough bodies strewn around. A second gunman— a gunwoman really— fell just as quickly as the last. Turning around, he saw something that nearly made his heart stop. A massive man, a shotgun slung across his shoulder, was dragging a kicking and screaming Nabiki by the hair into the open. Another man had just put another magazine in his machinegun and was preparing to shoot her.
With a wordless roar Ranma launched a massive ball of fire at the men. Before they knew what was happening, nothing remained of them above their waists. Ranma dropped the cloak of chi that kept him unseen and immediately brought up his shield. By the time he reached Nabiki, she'd already gotten clear of the mass of legs that had fallen on her. He quickly extended the shield to encompass her.
Bullets began to ring off the shield, causing slight ripples along its glassy surface. Even when what could only have been a grenade exploded against the barrier, it held up.
"Are you hurt?" asked Ranma while padding Nabiki's body down, searching for bullet wounds.
"No," she replied, slightly flustered thanks to Ranma's ministrations. "I'm fine."
Nabiki wasn't about to tell Ranma that she wasn't okay at all. All those people's fear and pain had been shared with her for one moment, and her mind still felt clouded and dull after the intensity of the feelings that she had experienced. That brute certainly never would have surprised her if it hadn't happened.
At least a dozen men and women surrounded them now. Nabiki hoped that Ranma's shield didn't collapse. She yelped and bit her tongue when Ranma grabbed her around the waist and shot toward the high ceiling of the lobby. The guns went silent a couple seconds later. Nabiki looked down through the hazy bubble's bottom and saw their attackers all arranged in a neat circle. Fortunately for her and Ranma, and unfortunately for them, they were all dead, killed in the crossfire when Ranma moved their target.
Ranma didn't let them down immediately. He floated them across the dead bodies and into an empty elevator. Nabiki took the liberty of mashing the ‘nine’ button to take them to their floor.
"We were never down there," said Ranma sternly.
Nabiki nodded and said, "We never left the room."
They trudged into the room, ignoring the sound of sirens in the distance, and eventually fell asleep in each other's arms.
"Let's see it," commanded a man in a black business suit. He wore a pair of mirrored glasses that hid his eyes, but couldn't hide the ugly scar that ran from his scalp, through his right eye, and down to his chin.
"Yes sir," a weasely man answered. He walked to the front of the room and placed a videotape in the VCR.
The wall-mounted TV began to show a peaceful hotel lobby. After nearly a minute though, several armed people ran in and opened fire on anybody they saw. One couple in particular dived out of the way. Then the man seemed to disappear.
Different camera angle—
One of the men was beaten into unconsciousness by a ghostly blur that soon disappeared. The scene repeated itself with a woman attacker.
Original camera angle—
A large man was dragging the woman into the open. Before another of the armed men could shoot her, a ball of fire killed both of them, leaving the woman unharmed. The man from before helped her to her feet, then they were surrounded by a shield. The shield was bombarded for nearly a minute before it moved so quickly to the ceiling that the gunmen killed each other before they could stop firing.
"As you can see," the man in the glasses addressed the others gathered in the room, "we have another subject to bring in."
"I recognize him," a woman in her middles years says. "He was at the school where Takahashi was captured."
"Are you saying that he is the one who defeated the most powerful psychomancer on record?" asked another man.
"It's possible. By his demonstration at the Continental, he too is a psychomancer, albeit one gifted with a wider range of abilities."
"He cannot be allowed to slip through our fingers again. Have him brought in immediately," ordered the scarred man.
"He's already boarded the plane, sir."
"Well, have our British division waiting for him at the airport. Dismissed."
To be continued.
Author's notes: I have started writing again and chapter eight is about ten percent done, so expect it in a couple of weeks.
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