A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Running to school atop the fence was no big deal for Ranma, but even at his usual rate of travel, he would be late. Akane hadn't made more than a half-assed attempt at getting him up, leaving him to his own devices. Unfortunately, the only way Ranma ever woke up without help was if someone was trying to kill him… and even then only sometimes. Finally Kasumi had grown curious as to why Ranma hadn't eaten breakfast, and had gone to check on him.
Miss me? Asked a familiar voice.
Ranma missed a step, nearly falling of the fence in the process, but at the last second he regained his footing. Chiron, aren't you a little early?
No, I just forgot that Earth days are longer than Priziu days. So, what did I miss?
Ranma briefly described his practice sessions to Chiron then when finished told him of Satori.
You're coming along much faster than I expected you would. Well, I'm off to meet Shara and see what she wants to talk about. Have fun at school. And then he was gone again.
Wait! Ranma shouted mentally. Damn. Now he'd never be able to get any sleep at school as long as visions of Priziu, Chiron had called it, kept flashing through his mind.
Reflexively, Ranma flexed gravity around himself, crumpling the fence and throwing everything in a twenty-foot radius away from him. This had the effect of flinging Shampoo into a nearby dumpster and much to Ranma's horror, destroying a big chunk of the bridge he had been crossing. Then, as he let gravity return to normal, it caught up with him, so to speak, and he began to fall into the water below.
This time deliberately, Ranma used his power to teleport himself to the roof of Furinkan High. A dip in the canal was not what he needed at the moment. Needless to say, Ranma ended up in the hallway with a pair of water-filled buckets. He actually didn't mind. The buckets only started to be a strain after a couple days of holding them away from his body (a frequent training exercise in his earlier years) and the hallway was a good place to think; and Ranma really needed to think.
He didn't know when Chiron would get finished talking with Shara. What did computers have to say to each other, anyway? But Ranma didn't want to harm any innocent people whenever his life was threatened, and if he reacted like he had when Shampoo had approached him, he didn't even want to think about what he'd do if Ryoga suddenly smashed through the classroom wall with a lust for his blood.
Ranma, we've got a problem.
You're just now figuring that out? Ranma asked sarcastically.
If you're upset about the gravity bubble, tell me which self-defense mode you wish to have activated whenever you're caught off guard, and I'll set it up.
Self-defense mode? How come he hadn't known about that? Never mind. So, what is there to choose from?
Auto-teleport to a designated place; a spatial warp similar to, but more destructive than, the gravity bubble; or a personal distortion field.
What's a personal distortion field?
It's exactly what it sounds like. All matter and energy that comes in contact with the field will flow around it. This means that air is not available while you're using It, so it can only be used for brief amounts of time. Light will be distorted, giving your form a highly blurred effect, and unless you want to sink into the ground you'll have to suspend yourself with altered gravity.
It did sound like his best option, and Ranma could think of a lot of ways to use something like that in an attack. Okay, I'll take the distortion field. Hey, how do I make that thing come up whenever I want it to?
Just think about it. Now, on to more important matters. Like I said before, we've got problems, Chiron said seriously.
More crap to deal with. Like what?
Shara's host, Satori, has been contacted by a woman with the blue cube. Shara says that Nanami, the woman, all but threatened Satori with death if she didn't come and work for her.
That must have been why Satori had been so frightened when he'd confronted her. Work for her doing what? Asked Ranma.
Nanami went into quite a bit of detail, it seems, about her operation. She runs Kanzaki Industrial, and is secretly amassing an army of genetically enhanced soldiers with the goal of taking over Japan. She also has the men who activated the gray and crystal cubes working for her.
Ranma was amazed that it was only a national crisis. With his luck, he was expecting global warfare. So what can they do? The blue, gray, and crystal cubes? And how long has this crap been going on? For some reason he didn't get the knowledge spontaneously like when he had met Satori. Probably because Chiron was back.
Shara's been able to calculate, within a two day level of accuracy, that Tirna, Nanami's cube, has been active for seventy-eight Earth days, but we have no way of knowing how long Nanami has been building an army.
And? Ranma pressed.
The blue cube is a thermal exchange unit, meaning that it can absorb infrared radiation and redirect it into heat-based attacks.
So she can freeze stuff and she can cook stuff? What about the others?
Chiron muttered something unintelligible about Ranma's summary of Nanami's abilities, but he did continue. The gray cube was meant to be an assassin. Its host can become invisible, change his appearance, phase through matter at will, and has a counter-measure to all known forms of detection. It can move through subspace, a type of alternative space. This is very closely related to your ability to teleport, but you can't choose to leave something stranded in subspace like the host of the gray cube can. His only weapons are a pair of gauntlets. Within each gauntlet is a nearly hundred-foot long nanofiber cord with a monomolecular edge capable of slicing through all matter, and passing through most energy barriers. It is mentally controlled by the host and will conform to any position he wishes. Also, for close range combat, there is a pair of retractable forearm-mounted blades on each gauntlet. They possess the same properties as the cord.
To Ranma the gray cube sounded like the perfect assassin. It made no noise, left no evidence, and could blend into the surroundings perfectly. He made a note to keep his awareness at its peak. Ranma chose not to mention to Chiron that he too could become invisible, but through the manipulation of chi and not technology. Come to think of it, he could freeze stuff like Nanami. He just didn't have the range and power that she did; not yet, anyway.
The crystal cube possesses the ability to alter space, but in a totally different way than you. It allows the host to create rifts in space close to his body, that can re-direct projectile and physical attacks. If he sets a spatial beacon ahead of time, he can also create a gateway, which he and others can use to travel. His only form of attack is a tachyon particle beam. Be very careful if you are ever confronted by this man, Ranma. The tachyon beam is very draining to its host and its strength can't be modulated, but it is travels faster than light, making it totally impossible to dodge, and will pass through any defensive barrier you erect except for the distortion field. The only chance you'll have against him, unless the distortion field is already in place, is to teleport to someplace where he won't be able to track you with the beam as soon as you see him begin to glow. The delay between firing and the gathering of energy is minimal, so be ready. The fastest that he can fire again will be about five seconds, so you should be able to counterattack.
Ranma was relieved that he wouldn't be facing an invincible opponent, but he suddenly realized that only someone with his ability to teleport had a chance against Nanami's ally. Ranma voiced his concern to Chiron. There are a couple more that are capable of teleporting, but those who aren't are indeed at his mercy.
What are we going to do now? Satori's not a fighter, so Nanami and her goons will be able to make short work of her and I can't let Nanami take over Japan. Did she tell Satori how big her army is and what it can do, by any chance? Ranma asked hopefully.
I'll go along with whatever you decide, and no, Nanami didn't give *that* detailed of a description to Satori.
Can't you talk to their cubes like you did with Shara and see what they have to say?
Remember what I said about my counterparts and I sharing a certain dislike for one another? That was because we were all programmed differently, but it turns out that that doesn't matter now. The process that forms our personalities was designed to work on another species' brain, and has had the effect of altering our programming significantly. We now form a personality that best suits our hosts, not the one best suited to our job. I, for example, have developed a sense of humor and a need to help others because of my interaction with you. Nanami has probably turned Tirna into a power mad egomaniac by now, just as Shara is slightly on the excitable side because Satori is very hyper.
So they won't talk to you even if you tried, Ranma summed it up.
They both descended into silence until Ranma remembered to ask Chiron about his visions.
Oh, shit! I can't believe it worked. Chiron— the scientist, not me— spent almost a decade trying to add that function to my systems, but it was eventually deemed a failure. Human minds must work differently enough from Priziun ones that it worked.
That's just great, Ranma snapped, but could you maybe turn it off until I can learn how to control it? Then something Chiron said dawned on Ranma. A decade?! How long did it take to make you and the others? he asked disbelievingly.
We are all extremely complex, and our programming is *the* most advanced ever, so, by Earth time, Chiron spent one hundred and fifty-six years building us. I took the longest because I'm more advanced than the others. Chiron said the last part with a lot of pride.
How could someone work on one thing like that for so long? Didn't he ever get bored? Chiron, didn't you tell me that the other Chiron made you because his King was losing the war?
How can someone be losing a war for that long and not have actually lost?
You have to understand that on Priziu, which is larger than Jupiter, war is fought differently than here on earth. The two continents are divided into inhabited and uninhabited regions. The uninhabited regions are where food is grown and minerals are gathered. In these areas, huge bloody battles are fought, but in inhabited regions, because there are so few of them, battles are fought by champions in one-on-one combat. If the defender wins then the region is safe; but if the attacker wins, a certain number of that region's inhabitants are executed as casualties.
It was weird, but made sense in a way. If Chiron lived in an inhabited region, how come his lab got attacked?
The enemy learned of his endeavor and knew that they would have no chance of winning any one-on-one battles, and since that was how they were winning, they became desperate. I'm sure the explosion that destroyed Chiron's lab was made to look like an accident.
The teacher chose this time to call Ranma back into the classroom.
Lunch was going typically, right down to Kuno's daily attempt of Ranma's life, when Shampoo showed up. She was limping slightly, but had a glorious smile on her face.
"Airen, Shampoo so proud you learn new attack." She set a box of takeout ramen next to him, then sat down. Sternly she waved a finger at him, "But better not use on Shampoo again. It took Shampoo all morning to wash garbage smell out of her hair."
"Uh, sorry, Shampoo. It was an accident," Ranma apologized.
"Ranma!" Akane screamed across the yard when she saw Ranma sitting with Shampoo. She came charging at full gallop towards him, plowing through the unfortunate students who couldn't get out of her way fast enough.
"Violent girl mad at Airen. Shampoo go now. Don't want to make worse." As fast as she had shown up, Shampoo left a confused Ranma as she leapt over the outer wall. She hadn't glomped him once. Amazing!
Shampoo couldn't believe it! Her great-grandmother's advice had worked perfectly. Ranma hadn't once tried to get rid of her. Who would have thought that a man wouldn't want to be glomped by an Amazon? It was the highest form of praise a man could receive back home.
"I leave you alone for five minutes and I come back to find you putting the moves on that Chinese bimbo!" Akane screamed down at Ranma as he ate his sandwich.
Ranma chose a new tactic. As soon as his fiancée pulled out her mallet, he increased the force of gravity on it causing it to slam into the ground with a thud. Enraged, Akane spent the last fifteen minutes of the period trying to reclaim her mallet, and completely forgot about Ranma. He finally released it when the bell rang.
Akane, by then, had a raging bonfire of a battle aura going, as she used every ounce of strength she could muster to pull the mallet free. Her feet were already buried in the earth up to her ankles when Ranma released it. Needless to say, Akane learned what flying was like as she shot like a rocket into the air. She landed on the roof, and by the time she got to class, she was late.
Ranma watched Akane storm out of the classroom with a pair of buckets and had to use all of his willpower not to bust out in wild guffaws of laughter.
That was mean, Ranma, commented Chiron, but it sure was funny. He then filled Ranma's head with mental laughter.
"Mr. Saotome, maybe you could tell the class what's so funny about the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?" asked the history teacher when she saw Ranma smiling during her somber lecture.
Ranma blushed beet red and answered, "Nothing, sorry."
The teacher pointed to the hall, and Ranma sighed in resignation. Now he would be subject to Akane's incessant insults.
Across town, at a normal school where students came to learn and violence didn't occur on a regular basis, Satori Peterson, the daughter of a wealthy American businessman and an outspoken Japanese journalist, was in the fight of her life. Her friends and classmates watched in shock and awe as she wound her way down the field, dodging her opponents and their attempts to seize the soccer ball that she was so deftly maneuvering towards the goal.
"Satori! Satori! Satori!" they cheered, clapping their hands and stomping their feet on the bleachers.
With almost inhuman— unless you live in Nerima— agility, Satori kicked the ball high into the air, then followed it up. When they both reached their apex, Satori performed a spinning axe kick that drove the ball towards the earth below like a missile. It easily plowed the goalie over, bringing the girl's team up to two dozen goals, with the boy's staying at a respectable zero. The buzzer signaling the end of the game rang and a collective groan rose from the males in the audience and on the field as their pride took a severe beating at the hands of a cute, somewhat shy girl.
Nice game, Shara complimented her.
Satori found herself swept into the air, borne on the shoulders of her teammates as they exulted in feminine superiority. When they set her down at the end of the field and congratulations had been made, her two best friends ran over to her.
"Satori-chan, we're so proud of you!" Mishka cheered.
"I can't believe how good you are. We may have an Olympic candidate here, Mishka," Mary commented.
"Ah you guys," Satori said shyly, "it really was nothing. You shouldn't make a big deal out of it."
Her friends followed her towards the gym.
"You can't be serious. I've never seen anybody move like that."
Satori liked the praise, but couldn't help feeling that she didn't deserve it. It was Shara who had given her the ability; she hadn't worked for it.
Another girl came running up to them. "Hey, Satori, there's a woman waiting for you by the gym. It sounded urgent. Gotta go. Great game, by the way," she said as she ran off toward another group of girls.
Instantly Satori's good mood vanished and her smile slipped away. It must be that horrible Nanami woman again. Shara, what am I going to do? Satori asked desperately. Nanami had threatened to actually kill her if she didn't come and work for Kanzaki Industries, but she didn't want any part of Nanami's plan to take over Japan, and the way that man in the trench coat had looked at her body made her shudder.
The first think you're going to do is calm down. Try to breath slowly. Good. Now make an excuse and gets your friends out of danger.
Following Shara's advice, Satori said, "Um, guys, I think that it'd be best if you went on home. Ms. Nanami probably wants to take me to see my dad," she lied.
They agreed, and with one last round of congratulations, departed.
Now, I'm going to get you some backup, but it may take a while for him to get here, so I want you to watch out and be ready to fight back if Tirna's host tries anything.
Okay. Nervously, Satori walked to the gym. She found Nanami in the parking lot leaning against her black convertible BMW. Nanami was as beautiful as ever in her immaculately tailored dark blue business suit, and her shiny black hair only served to set off the milky perfection of her skin.
"Satori, so good to see you again. Have you thought about my offer?" she asked in a voice as smooth as silk. Her smile, Satori knew, hid a very ugly individual, personality wise, behind it.
"Y-yes, yes I have," she replied.
"And do you accept it?" Nanami's eyes glinted like polished mirrors.
Satori was too scared to answer. She couldn't say yes, but if she said no the woman could very well destroy her. From what she had learned from Shara, and her own experience in the construction yard where she had met the legendary Ranma, Satori knew that she could possibly beat Nanami if it came down to a fight, but the idea of killing someone made her sick.
"Well, girl, what have you decided?"
It's all right, came Shara's voice, you can tell her no. It's taken care of.
Satori breathed a sigh of relief and with more strength than she thought she had, said, "No. I'll never help you."
Nanami scowled down at the smaller girl. If that's how she wanted to play it, then so be it. "I warned you, and gave you ample time; but you've made your choice, so I must make mine."
Ranma! Satori's in trouble. Shara says that Nanami has returned to find out her answer, and she's afraid that Nanami will carry out her threat. You have got to help her.
Ranma was in the middle of gym class, meaning that he was watching a group of boys killing themselves in the attempt to impress girls a group of girls. No one would probably notice if he slipped away. He was right. It also helped that he moved too fast to be seen. Once he found a suitable tree to hide behind, he teleported to the location that Chiron had fixed in his mind.
Satori was trembling in fear thanks to Nanami's announcement. What was she going to do? Why hadn't she questioned Shara about the backup? What in the hell was the backup?! She was well on her way to doing Nanami's work for her, by heart attack, when she felt an odd sensation and saw Nanami's eyes widen a bit. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Ranma—Ranma, of all people— floating a foot off the ground a few feet behind her.
"So, you're Nanami," he said nonchalantly. "I've heard a lot about you."
"And who might you be?" Nanami asked curiously.
"Forget about me. Let's talk about you, and how you're going to leave Satori alone."
Nanami's eyes hardened and her voice carried malice to a new level. "Why, exactly, should I do that?"
Satori felt that same odd sensation in the back of her head and in response to Nanami's question saw the beautiful car she had been leaning on begin to crumple. Like a tin can it crumpled in on itself, slowly at first, but then faster, until nothing but a softball-sized sphere of super dense metal and plastic remained. As soon as the sensation ended so too did the force that was supporting the suspended car. With a *thud*, the remains of the car struck the asphalt and sunk in a couple of inches, as well as creating a spider web of cracks in the surface.
Smirking, Ranma allowed himself to float to the ground. Damn that had been fun! He reached out and laid his hand on Satori's shoulder, then teleported her and himself to his mother's currently empty house.
Glaring at the remains of her car, Nanami reached into her coat and pulled out a small cellular phone. She called someone, giving them directions to the school, then hung up.
Nanami, that was the command unit, Tirna informed her.
The what? Nanami snapped.
The boy who just turned that primitive scrap of metal you call a transport device into an even less useful scrap of metal, has activated the command unit, the most dangerous of us all.
Nanami smiled to herself. Despite his attitude, she liked the boy's personality— and his power, of course. All she needed to know was who he was, and with a little creative deception, she could have another weapon at her disposal.
"Where are we?" Satori asked after catching her breath.
"This is my mom's house," Ranma answered. "I think it would be better if you stayed here for the next few days until we can find a safe place to hide you," Ranma told her even though he knew it was bound to cause him a world of trouble.
Satori damned near got little pink hearts in her eyes. He had, in a way, asked her to stay at his place. She fainted.
Poor girl, Ranma thought as he carried her upstairs to the spare bedroom. The stress must have caught up with her.
To be continued.
Author's notes: This is turning out better than I hoped.
Nanami is property of John Surber (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here are (very) brief character descriptions.
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