A Ranma ½ / Highlander crossover story
by Dark Phoenix
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
"Please! Mercy, please!" gurgled the man as he knelt on the ground, instinctively attempting to hold in the intestines that threatened to bulge out of the deep sword cut that had felled him. Blood and bile pooled around his knees, partially hidden by the ripped trench coat he wore.
"There can be only one," Ranma said softly. His silver sword of hardened air made a barely audible whisper as it arched through the air, decapitating the head of the downed man. "There can be only one," Ranma repeated in a whisper.
Within moments the air within the alley came alive with crackling energy. Ranma stepped away from the body of his victim, lowering his arm and allowing his blade to revert to a few stray wisps of air. Sparks ran up and down the steel grating of the nearby fire escape. The dumpsters, nearly overflowing with refuse, began to moan. Finally, with too much free energy to be contained, the alley exploded in a miniature storm of blue and silver lightning bolts, raking deep gouges in the brick walls and exploding the few remaining glass panes in the mostly boarded-up windows.
A sigh, almost a sob, escaped from Ranma's lips. Slowly, borne on the currents of power now flowing freely from the headless corpse, he rose into the air. The black silk pants and red shirt billowed outward in a non-existent wind. The first lightning bolt that struck Ranma arched from the lowest rung of the fire escape ladder. The next flew from a crumpled trash can lid. On and on the barrage continued, convulsing Ranma painfully with muscle-hammering electricity.
Nearly a minute passed before the alley once again went dark and Ranma floated to the muddy asphalt. He collapsed against the wall, invigorated by the quickening and exhausted by the ordeal.
"Ranma, we're going to be late!" Akane screamed shrilly, dragging Ranma from his less than pleasant dreams. It seemed that every immortal he killed brought him into greater harmony with himself, and consequently with the power of the quickening. Even now visions of three centuries worth of murder and rape appeared in his mind, courtesy of the immortal from the night before. He didn't panic; they would fade away within a day or two, and with them the emotions that they sometimes invoked.
He sat up on his futon and quickly checked to make sure the slash across his chest had healed without a scar. It would take more than a few months to become fully acquainted with the advantages of immortality. The door to his and his father's room burst open. Akane stood in the doorway, a bucket of water in one hand and a mallet in the other. "Tough luck, Akane. I'm awake," he said, climbing to his feet.
"Oh… Well, hurry up!" his fiancée shouted, tucking her mallet under the other arm so she could slam the door.
Ranma shook his head and sighed. Akane had actually looked disappointed. "Bitch," he muttered, gathering up his clothes and heading for the furo and a nice long soak. He could still smell the lingering coppery tang of blood around him. Best to get rid of it as soon as possible, before someone else noticed.
He stripped off his boxers and tank top in the dressing room. The door to the bathroom was blank; no occupied sign. Still, just to be safe, he let his senses slowly expand through the wooden door and into the room. No one was in. Someone had been there within the last few minutes, though, as indicated by the heavy dampness that hung in the air. Probably Nabiki; she was the only one that didn't have to face her own wrath over the electric bill. The habit of checking the bathroom had been burned into his mind less than a week before his first death. Never again did he want to see Soun and Ms. Hinako, Ms. chibi-Hinako to be exact, doing 'that'. Never again. The memory of it still made him shudder.
A hasty scrub with cold water activated his curse, but the subsequent soak in the near-scalding hot water took care of that. Breakfast would be served soon, whether he was at the table or not, and with his glutton of a father around, Ranma didn't waste any time in drying off. He was about to open dressing room door when it slid open on its own volition.
Kasumi stood in the doorway, a stack of towels nearly up to her chin. Her eyes widened at the sight of Ranma in the buff. Embarrassedly, she lowered her head but the towels stopped her in the process and left her staring at Ranma's crotch.
Ranma watched in a kind of shocked horror as Kasumi turned beet red. He followed her gaze. Damn! With a supreme effort of raw will, Ranma forced himself to stammer, "K-Ka-Kasumi, uh… uh, sorry!" Then he bolted around her and grabbed his neatly folded clothes off the hamper. He streaked through the house and into his room, thankfully going unseen by anyone else.
Kasumi blushed demurely as she served Ranma during breakfast. No one but Ranma seemed to notice, and his answering blush only made Kasumi's deepen.
"There was another murder last night," Soun mumbled around a piece of toast, reading from the newspaper all the while. "Says here that his head had been cut off just like all the other ones. Found another sword by the body."
"Oh Father, that's so horrible!" Kasumi exclaimed, almost dropping the platter that she was serving scrambled eggs from.
"I wouldn't be so sure, daughter," Soun continued. "The police have identified the body and found that the man was a very violent criminal."
"Good riddance," Nabiki said. She deftly spread strawberry jam across a piece of toast. "If this keeps up, Tokyo's crime rate may drop,"
Ranma tried not to look too obvious in his feigned look of curiosity and concern. It wasn't his fault that they kept trying to kill him. Stupid old bastards, they all thought that since he was so young, that he would be an easy kill. It was still amazing that not a single immortal he had faced yet had had any chi training, yet at least one had been over a thousand years old. Ranma knew that with a thousand years to practice, and build his power up through quickenings and normal fighting, he would very likely be invincible. There had to be a reason. Unfortunately, the only non-hostile immortal he had met had died before he could do anything but teach Ranma the rules.
"But-but it's just so… mean," Kasumi commented. "Why doesn't the man or woman just turn those people into the police? That would be so much nicer than cutting their heads off." The gentle girl's voice broke as she finished her statement.
Ranma thought that Kasumi would have changed her mind if she had been exposed to the inner thoughts of some of his victims. He was barely finished with his fourth helping of everything, and still trying to defend a last morsel of fried egg from his father, when Akane grabbed him roughly by the pigtail and pulled him to his feet.
"We have to hurry! Ms. Hinako's big test is today!" informed the girl, never relaxing her hold on his hair.
Ranma still couldn't look the English teacher in the eyes without thinking about her and Soun in the furo, but at least the teacher didn't do her best to make his life hell now that he had a pretty sizable bit of dirt on her. He wasn't lowered to the pavement for nearly half a block, and only then because Akane's arm was tiring.
"How do you think you did on the test?" Akane asked Ranma. She was much more cheerful now that the test was over.
Ranma groaned and said, "I'm pretty sure that I got at least three right." He attacked his bento with a force of purpose normally reserved for the battlefield.
"Ranma, there were fifty questions on the test. A multiple choice test," Akane chided him disgustedly. "By plain dumb luck you should have got at least ten correct."
Ranma shrugged. "Guess I don't have much dumb luck, eh?" he asked between bites.
"You're hopeless Ranma, absolutely hopeless. How you expect to ever make something of yourself, I don't know," she lectured. "It's embarrassing to have such a stupid fiancé."
Ranma didn't hear much after that, choosing instead to slow down and actually taste the food Kasumi had carefully packed into his bento. He knew that he had only three answers correct on the test. Another advantage of immortality: what languages you didn't pick up from those whose heads you took, you had plenty of time to learn. Ranma continued eating as Akane went on about college and children. Yet another advantage: no children. God how he hated children!
"Ranma! Ranma, are you listening to me?" Akane demanded, waving her hand in front of his face.
"Yeah, sure." Ranma was saved from a possible beating by the ringing of the bell that signaled a return to classes.
It was time to put his roughed-out plan into action. Any delay, and someone close to him could get hurt. Mind made up, Ranma steeled himself for at least one attempt on his life, and a bundle of Amazon energy that would no doubt attempt to attach itself to his person again.
The bell over the door chimed loudly as he stepped into the restaurant. Shampoo had her back turned to the door, carrying a stack of bowls into the kitchen. "Welcome to Nekohanten, be with customer in moment," she said.
Ranma sat down at one of the small tables. It looked pretty new, not at all like most of the others that had weathered so many chaotic fights. The old one had probably just turned to dust. It was entirely possible that Shampoo had used it to pummel Mousse with it, though.
"Airen!" came the excited squeal from the kitchen door.
Ranma just barely managed to duck in time to avoid the purple blur that was Shampoo. With her planned upon landing pad absent, the Amazon girl hurdled into another table, knocking it and the chairs around it over with a crash.
"Why airen dodge Shampoo? Airen no want to see Shampoo?" she asked, sniffling cutely.
Shampoo did everything cutely, even attempted murder. Ranma suddenly had the revelation that that was one Amazon technique that he would never be offered, and would never learn regardless. He had a tickle of memory, almost like a fluttering butterfly in his head. Hmmm, someone whose head he had taken had, at one time or another, encountered the Amazons.
"No, Shampoo, I don't want to see you. I came to talk to the old ghoul." Here it came. 3… 2… 1… bingo. Ranma grit his teeth as tiny silver tears welled up in Shampoo's lavender eyes and cascaded down here pale cheeks. He sighed. "Shampoo, it's really important, will you please not do that? I'll talk to you later," he promised.
The Amazon sniffed a few times, but the tears miraculously disappeared. "Shampoo find great-grandmother." She made sure to wiggle more than normal as she went in search of her elder.
By the time the ancient crone arrived, the only remaining customer had left the restaurant. "You wanted to see me, son-in-law?" asked Cologne. She hopped into a chair across from Ranma and somehow managed to look him in the eye, despite her diminutive size.
Ranma shivered involuntarily as he felt Cologne's senses sweep through him, analyzing every last fiber of his being. He hoped it didn't take three hundred years for him to become that sensitive. "I just have a question to ask, that's all. Nothing really important."
Cologne nodded, most likely acknowledging his truthfulness. "Go on," she prompted.
"If I were sterile, you know, where I couldn't have kids, would you still try to make me marry Shampoo?" he asked cautiously.
Cologne's eyes narrowed and she scanned Ranma once again. "Son-in-law, you haven't gone and done something stupid have you?" she questioned him, her voice as hard and commanding as he had ever heard it.
"You think that I would… Ugh, that's sick!" Ranma protested heatedly. He didn't mind marrying the Amazon that much.
"Nevertheless, you are indeed sterile. The last time I checked, you were as virile as any man I've ever seen. That was less than half a year ago." Her glare made Ranma slide his chair back slowly. "Are you trying to make a fool of me?"
Ranma waved his arms nervously, almost hysterically. This wasn't going well at all. "No, nothing like that. Honestly, something just happened and poof, I'm shooting blanks." He almost slapped himself for using Hiroshi's crude analogy.
Cologne nodded. Was he that easy to read? She nodded again. Damn! "You are being truthful," she conceded grudgingly.
"So, what about my original question?"
The elder leaned over onto the table and steepled her fingers, taking on the appearance of someone with a lot on their mind. "The decision wouldn't be mine alone. Several factors have to be taken into account. First, Shampoo's bloodline must continue. You wouldn't be willing to allow another into your marriage bed, would you?" Ranma shook his head. "Second, the Council of Elders would have to decide that having an essentially useless male wouldn’t be worth the trouble of feeding him." Ranma didn't even protest, knowing how prejudiced the Amazons were. "Lastly, I doubt you would willingly be made a eunuch."
Hell fuckin' right he wouldn't willingly be made a eunuch! "Eh … sorry," Ranma apologized. His mental outburst had relaxed control over his inner energies enough that part of the chair he was sitting in had been charred and a semi-circle of the wooden table had been burnt away.
"My point exactly. You are far too powerful to be treated in such a way, no matter the views of those within the tribe or myself."
"What you're saying is that I don't have to marry Shampoo?" Ranma asked hopefully. This day wasn't going too bad after all. He would have tried his luck and stopped by Ucchan's too, but luck wasn't something he had much of to spare.
Cologne shook her head slowly, sadly. "The chances are so slim that enough elders would agree to force the issue, that I doubt it very much."
Ranma jumped up, knocking his burnt chair over in the process, and bounced off the ceiling. "Yes! One down, three to go!" he exclaimed ecstatically. It was so simple! More than a year of Amazon meddling and one little question was all it took to get rid of them.
"Have we been such a burden to you, Ranma?" Cologne asked.
Ranma stopped his gleeful shouting and threw himself into an undamaged chair. "Yes. Yes, you have," he answered truthfully. "And I'll be glad when you're all gone."
Cologne nodded, but before she could speak a loud crash issued from the kitchen. A moment later, Shampoo stomped through the swinging doors that led to the kitchen. Her face was streaked with real tears and she was dressed in full Amazon battle apparatus. "Who make Ranma not able make babies?" she demanded. The upset Amazon didn't wait for an answer, though, instead shouting, "Kitchen destroyer, I kill!" She was gone out the door into the dwindling light of evening before Ranma could blink.
"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit," Ranma muttered. "Gotta go, gotta save Akane!" he called to Cologne as he too sped from the restaurant.
Outside, the streets were mostly deserted, as usual in Nerima whenever potential conflict would arise. It wouldn't be too hard to follow Shampoo. Ranma did know where she was headed, but she had the advantage of a bicycle. A bicycle that was evidently in use, as Ranma leapt from one rooftop to another. Along the sidewalk there was a bike-tire-width layer of rubber laid down for nearly three blocks; but from there on out, only gouged concrete. The enraged girl was making exceptional time, even with the tires of her bicycle worn away. From his higher vantage point, Ranma caught sight of sparks up ahead of him, but a series of apartment buildings, all higher than even he could jump, interrupted his pursuit, forcing him to the ground where Shampoo had the advantage. At this rate, he was going to be way too late.
The only person at the Tendos' capable of fending off an upset Amazon of Shampoo's skill was his father. It was much too much to hope that the panda would risk himself to stop her.
"Nabiki, have you seen my walkman?" Akane asked. She'd noticed a slight widening in her hips and was determined to do something about it before Ranma could start teasing her. A few extra kilometers in the afternoon combined with her morning jogs should take care of the problem.
Nabiki, lounging as she was on the couch, reading a manga and listening to Akane's walkman, didn't hear the question all that well. "What?" she asked, pulling the headphones off just as Akane walked up to her.
"I need my walkman," Akane repeated.
Nabiki shrugged and passed the article in question to her younger sister. "I put new batteries in it. That'll be—"
"350 yen," Akane answered for her.
WHOOSH. The entire wall facing the street disintegrated into a cloud of choking dust. The sound of glass hitting the floor and breaking echoed through the room.
"Too, too violent girl, Shampoo kill!!!"
So much for not knowing who decided to remodel their house. Akane managed to find Nabiki in the dust cloud, and staggered down the hallway into the clear air of the backyard.
"Shampoo," Akane shouted angrily, "you've gone too far!" The thought of that Chinese bimbo wrecking her house was more than enough to ignite Akane's battle aura; as unfocused as ever, but there nonetheless.
The sight of the Amazon walking slowly out of the choking cloud that had been wood and plaster, wisps of it still clinging to her lithe frame, created a very dramatic backdrop to the murder she had in mind. The vicious purple battle aura made her pale skin appear almost white, and the glowing eyes added to her menacing appearance.
"Akane, I believe you should run away now," cautioned Nabiki as she wiped her eyes and coughed raggedly.
"Stay out of this, Nabiki," her sister warned.
"Mercenary girl no interfere, or Shampoo kill," added Shampoo.
Nabiki, never one to risk herself, made herself scarce.
"Violent girl pay for making Ranma no have babies!" She stepped closer.
Babies? Ranma, Shampoo, babies?! "What did you and that pervert do?!" the youngest Tendo shouted.
"Shampoo do nothing but kill you," she said, finally deciding to attack. The Amazon had closed the distance between herself and her prey to less than ten feet. In one fluid movement she launched herself at Akane, not unlike the way she had at Ranma a few minutes earlier, drawing her sword in mid-flight.
Due to more luck than she deserved, Akane was saved an instant before she would have been impaled the end of Shampoo's sword.
Ranma didn't know how he made it in time. Shampoo was far enough ahead to easily finish Akane off before he arrived, but somehow he was in time. He didn't think as he reached out with his chi and grasped the air around his right hand, instinctively forming it into a blade so thin that it became impossible to see when looked at edgewise. The blade gave him just enough extra reach to deflect Shampoo's sword, causing it to bite into the flesh of Akane's arm instead of the intended target, her heart.
Akane screamed as the sword stabbed into her arm, but the gasp generated by Ranma kicking her back out of her huntresses' range cut it off. A flick of his wrist, and Ranma had cut the blade away from the hilt of the Chinese sword.
"I'm not going to let you kill her, Shampoo," Ranma panted, holding his silver blade ready.
She didn't speak. She did, however, reach behind her back and retrieve her bonbori from somewhere. "Kitchen destroyer must die!" Shampoo spat when she saw that Ranma wouldn't budge.
"You're not good enough to even try getting past me," he declared.
Shampoo raised her maces as if to strike at Ranma, but he was faster and for an instant he blurred, then returned to his guard position over the whimpering Akane. The disembodied heads of the bonbori clanged as they struck the ground.
Amazon or not, Shampoo knew when to back down and wait for her enemy to lower their guard. She couldn't punish Akane with Ranma around, but he couldn't be with her every hour of every day. She glared at Ranma reproachfully, but the glare she turned on Akane held nothing but black hate. Shampoo seemed to hesitate for a moment. Only a moment, though, and after a second of thought, pursed her lips and blew a kiss at Akane. A single leap carried her over the wall of the backyard.
"Get away from me!" Akane screamed weakly as Ranma knelt beside her to assess the damage to her arm. It didn't look too bad, but she had lost a lot of blood. Maybe enough to go into shock. Ranma couldn't be sure. He needed to get her to a doctor.
Everyone chose then, after they could have been of some use, to run out of the house. Genma just looked dumbly at Akane as Ranma lifted the barely struggling girl into his arms.
"Oh my," came almost belatedly from Kasumi.
"OH, MY GOD!!! MY BABY GIRL IS GOING TO DIE!!!" wailed Soun's demon head.
Ranma shook his head and turned to Nabiki, the only levelheaded person left. "Call Dr. Tofu. Tell him to expect us." He didn't wait for her response, jumping over the wall and into the darkening streets.
To be continued.
Author's Notes: Saw Highlander II and got the idea for this. I know I'm a bastard for starting another series, but maybe if I do enough of these new ones I'll be able to write some on my older fics. C&C welcome at email@example.com
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