A Ranma ½ / Wheel of Time crossover story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. The Wheel of Time and its characters and settings belong to Robert Jordan.
About time I got another chapter of something finished. Enjoy…
Kuno was much easier to get along with once he immersed himself in the Oneness, Ranma decided. It masked overweening pride, as well as arrogance and all the other annoying emotions his student seemed to possess in spades. Ranma had been surprised that Kuno was able to learn the mental exercise in a week— or at least the lesser Void form that required the visualization of a flame that consumed emotions. Unfortunately, most of the good things dried up too.
He insisted on teaching Ranma how to fight with a sword, even though Ranma didn't particularly care for one-on-one combat. Even with his lack of interest, Ranma was able to hold his own against Kuno for a few minutes at a time, the vestigial skills imparted by his father making themselves useful for more than increased stamina. An hour or two a day of hitting one another with sticks wasn't too much trouble, and if it helped Ranma get rid of Kuno quicker, he could handle it. Unfortunately, Ranma saw no end in sight for his instruction of Kuno.
The boy had what his grandfather called an aversionary blockage. That was a fancy way of saying that he couldn't willingly channel without certain conditions being met. Minor forms of the blockage could be simple hand gestures added in the shaping of a weave, an inability to see a particular flow of Power, or something as simple as not being able to channel around the opposite sex or a particular color. There were others his grandfather had heard of, but those were the most widespread. Major blockages were less common, and were mostly found in people who had been at least partially self-taught. Having one's weaves disappear when they passed farther than twenty feet away was a major blockage associated with a subconscious belief that the channeller couldn't affect anything farther away. Some blockages were documented, but no way to explain them was found, such as the inability to channel within several miles of any ter'angreal. His grandfather said that was a bad one. There had been very few places in his time that didn't have ter'angreal in one form or another.
Kuno's blockage was hard to define as major or minor. He had no unusual limitations as far as his channeling was concerned, and he showed all signs of learning to manipulate the Power as a channeller should, but he couldn't do anything without his bokken. The simple wooden stick served not only to shape the flows, but it channeled them also. Ranma had taken it to his grandfather, who was busy at an archeological dig somewhere in South America. As far as Arin could determine, the bokken was a primitive ter'angreal, created unknowingly by Kuno's subconscious mind and his latent spark.
The wood had crystallized, taking on a shiny appearance and gleaming if held to the light at a certain angle. Arin hadn't seen anything like it before, and couldn't see any benefit to using it over traditional methods of channeling, though he guessed that it could help keep Kuno from drawing too much power too early for him to control it. Neither Ranma nor Arin had any idea how to break the blockage, so Ranma continued his lessons with Kuno, spending nearly every available hour after school at Arin's country home.
Never minding that he would be helpless without his bokken, Kuno wasn't a bad student. He learned weaves quickly and efficiently, only needing to see the easier ones demonstrated a few times to pick them up. Ranma would have been happy, if he knew there wasn't so much more to teach the boy.
School wasn't going badly at all. Ranma was failing his classes and he didn't care. Especially since he hadn't seen his parents since they had announced the engagement, so they couldn't bitch at him about his grades. Akane now fancied herself as some kind of witch in training, taking time out of class to read occult books and stare into large crystals.
With Kuno keeping himself in the Oneness almost constantly, he no longer cared one way or another about Akane or the morning fight. The other male students were a different matter, ignoring Kuno's disinterest, and getting themselves pounded or blasted into submission day after day. That was Ranma's newest prank, making it appear as if Akane was shooting small bolts of lightning from her fingertips. Kuno even helped occasionally, if at first somewhat reluctantly.
Sara hadn't worked out as well as Ranma had hoped, though. She had seemed so sweet and innocent… Who could have known that she was a part-time dominatrix? Well, there were plenty of fish in the sea, and Ranma prided himself on his fishing skills. He was currently attempting a rather difficult catch. Nabiki was higher on the food chain than most fish— a shark, really— but that just meant that you needed better bait and a stronger pole.
Nabiki's eyes narrowed, and she didn't quite glare at Ranma. "So you're finally going to try to go through with the engagement?" she asked coldly. There wasn't much chance that their conversation could be overheard, but Ranma still wove a ward against eavesdropping around them.
Ranma couldn't help but chuckle. "Hardly. I haven't even gone home since my parents pulled that stunt."
Nabiki didn't even blink. "And your point is? That doesn't mean you don't want to try to force one of my sisters or myself to marry you. Of course this could all be some sort of plot to get Kuno with my sister. You two have been buddy-buddy lately, but I don't believe for an instant that he's given up on her. You going to try for a double date?" Nabiki decided that she sounded more than a little paranoid; not unlike her younger sister. With a mental sigh, she steeled herself to at least listen to Ranma without snapping his head off.
Ranma looked at Nabiki strangely. How had she gotten something so convoluted and involved out of a simple enquiry about whether or not she wanted to go out Saturday night? "Not really. I'm teaching Kuno some stuff, and that's all there is to him. The reason I asked you out is because I thought we might get along well together. Your attractive, I'm attractive. Aren't the beautiful people supposed to hang out together?" Blunt didn't even begin to describe this. Ranma just couldn't get the image of Sara out of his mind. The leather bikini and corset really had looked hot on her, but once she started cracking the bullwhip, Ranma had run for his life.
Nabiki's face was still a mask of suspicion, but she asked, “Just a date?" Ranma nodded. "You're paying?" Ranma nodded again. "No sex?" Ranma nodded again, if somewhat reluctantly. Nabiki shrugged to herself and said, “Okay, pick me up at seven sharp." She snapped her fingers and a business card appeared in her hand. Nabiki tucked the card into Ranma's pocket and left to join her friends.
Nabiki spent much of the day trying to figure out Ranma's motives. She didn't believe for an instant that Ranma just wanted to get to know her. Her reputation wasn't the best, after all. Not that she was easy or anything, she was just high-maintenance. Boys tended to shy away from a girl who wanted the best of everything and expected the boys to get it for them. Oh well, maybe she could use the opportunity to learn more about Ranma. He hadn't appeared exceptional in any way except for maybe being cute, and he had showed no signs of wanting to follow through on their parents' ridiculous engagement plans, so Nabiki hadn't gone to any trouble to learn anything about him. At the very least she could get a free meal out of him.
Nothing could tip over a dimensional doorway and Arin was more than a little thankful for that. If it were possible, and it moved out of alignment with any of its focus planes, all kinds of things could form, ranging from black holes to dimensional rifts. They didn't react well to Traveling, either. Being outside of the Pattern for even that barest instant that occurred when passing through a gateway caused the devices to explode. Violently. The first successful doorway was destroyed in the attempt, due to ignorance of the scientists who had created it. Several miles of surrounding countryside how also been destroyed; reduced to atoms, really. If the monitoring ter'angreal hadn't been properly shielded against interference, no one would have even known what caused the explosion.
Just because it couldn't be transported by gateway didn't mean the doorway wouldn't be at the site when Arin needed it. Chartering transport planes and helicopters wasn't cheap, but he had a few patents in his name, and plenty of money to burn. The partially standing temple was Mayan, Arin believed, but all he really cared about at the site was the Portal Stone it housed. The coordinate markings were in a completely different language than those Arin had worked with, so that meant laboriously mapping out every destination the stone held within its memory.
Ranma stepped through the gateway into his room and let the portal close behind him. Two weeks and he hadn't seen his parents once, only stopping by the house when he was sure they were away, or sneaking in when he had to retrieve something or other. Nodoka had been talking regularly with his grandfather, and she was still adamant that Ranma go through with the prearranged marriage. Thankfully, the woman hadn't decided to show up during school or wait for him after the session was over for the day.
Arin didn't even have a television, and Ranma was getting tired of plundering around the man's lab. Reception wouldn't be all that great out in the wilderness of Montana, but Ranma could make do with his DVD collection.
*Cough*Cough* Ranma turned around and frowned when he saw his mother sitting at his desk. She wore her bathrobe and had her hair down, letting it fall nearly to her waist. There was a half-eaten salad and an empty bottle of water sitting on the desktop. Great… How long had she been waiting?
"Hello, dear." It sounded more like a pronouncement of judgment than the greeting it was. "I trust you've been well. Of course a mother doesn't have a right to know these things, does she? No, for all I knew, you could have run off and got yourself killed."
Ranma sat on his unmade bed and waited for the lecture to run its course. This one was a real doozy, and almost an hour went by before the woman ran out of things to complain about. Once she got to that level, Nodoka finally brought up the engagement and his honor and all that crap.
"You're being stubborn, Ranma. All of those girls are very attractive, not to mention perfectly built for having babies. Your behavior has shamed your father and I, and sullied your honor as well as ours. I hate to bring this up, but you and your father signed an agreement when he first took you on your training voyage that you would be a man amongst men. You are hardly acting manly, my son." Nodoka drew a rolled up scroll from her pocket and handed it over to Ranma.
Ranma untied the ribbon holding it closed and scanned through the document. Blah, blah, blah… bunch of stupid shit… blah, blah, blah… commit seppuku if not satisfactory to his mother… blah, bla— What in fucking hell?!?! Ranma carefully reread that particular passage. It was signed in Genma's hasty scrawl and for Ranma a blue handprint had sufficed. The Oneness throbbed within Ranma's mind, and only when he felt the sensation did he realize that he had sunk into the emotionless state. What was wrong with the woman's mind? Nodoka had always seemed a little weird, but that was just how parents were. Ranma shook his head and channeled. Fire alone would have been more dramatic, but instead he wove Fire and Earth, and the contract crumbled to dust in his hands. Nodoka shot to her feet, a picture of righteous indignation. Ranma had her bound and gagged with the Power before she could even draw breath to berate him. With the residue of the gateway still fresh, the portal snapped into being quicker than normal. Ranma wasted no time in channeling his TV and DVD player, along with his box of porns and DVDs, through the portal and into his room at his grandfather's place. He ignored his mother's red face and glare of death. The flows that held her would dissolve in a few minutes, but that didn't mean she wouldn't be as angry as if he had left her restrained for a week. Halfway through the gateway, Ranma turned around and channeled his posters off the walls of his room. The scantily clad women followed him in single file. Just for fun, Ranma had each of them turn towards his mother and appear to wink at her before following him through the portal.
Ranma Traveled, his destination a jungle somewhere in Brazil. He opened his gateway almost flush with the tent wall that was his grandfather's and stepped through quickly, letting it close almost as soon as he was through. It wasn't very late, though the sun had set. He knew he would find Arin at the Portal Stone, tinkering away at it with a tripod-mounted ter'angreal. It looked like a fortune teller's crystal ball to Ranma, but Arin assured him that it was a highly sophisticated patterning device, whatever that meant.
There were other people around as well. Men hired to help clear the site and archeologists and their students bustled around the camp, all looking busy. Ranma couldn't see what was so important over bits and pieces of broken clay pots, but he didn't care how other people spent their time as long as it didn't affect him. Powerful floodlights illuminated the entire area of cleared jungle. Walking through the humid night air, Ranma momentarily wondered why there were no insects buzzing around the lights or attempting to drink his blood. Jungles were notorious for that kind of thing. He felt the wards of saidin before he saw them. The obvious answer is almost always the correct answer, or so the saying went.
Ranma found his grandfather exactly where he had expected him to be, sitting before the massive Portal Stone. The ter'angreal before him glowed with saidin that only a male channeller could see, and from it ranged impossibly thin flows of Spirit and Fire, each entwining itself around the stone and doing whatever it was supposed to do. Ranma could fine his flows down to a nearly atomic level, where seeing them was more of an awareness of where they were than actual sight, but these were even thinner, if that was possible.
He was about to jump down to the level his grandfather was on, when he caught sight of Kuno out of the corner of his eye. Kuno? What was he doing here? Ranma changed course and picked his way through the barely cleared rubble and debris to where Kuno was leaning on his bokken, staring out into the cloudless night sky.
"Fancy meeting you here," Ranma said lightly, still unsure of how his student had ended up in the jungle.
"Ah, Saotome-sensei, I trust you are well this fine evening? Beautiful, isn't it? All the stars, I mean." Kuno shook himself and looked over to Ranma who stood several inches shorter than him yet somehow seemed of equal height.
"Yeah, no pollution and no lights. So, how'd you end up out here?" Ranma had an idea, but he wanted Kuno to confirm it before he started screaming.
Kuno somehow managed to look sheepish. "Earlier today I experienced one of those increases in strength you spoke of. It was enough to allow me to create a Traveling gateway of my own. I had hoped to find you at your grandfather's dwelling, but you weren't there. Your grandfather found me before I could return home and asked me to accompany him. An amazingly spry man, considering his age."
Ranma had been correct. Kuno had made a gateway without supervision, something he had been expressly forbidden to do. For some reason, though, he just didn't feel like shouting at Kuno, or even telling him he was wrong. The rebuke would most likely just bounce off his thick skull anyway. Besides, Ranma preferred to save his anger up for his insane parents. "Just this once, and only once, am I not going to say anything about you not following my instructions. There are dangers involved in Traveling that you can't yet understand." Arin had once shown Ranma what an unraveling gateway could do. They were like small tactical nukes, but without the radiation. Ranma had even secretly experimented with creating small gateways, little larger than mouse holes, and purposely disrupting their weaves. The attempt had left him deaf for a week and doubled the size of the rock pit near his grandfather's home.
Kuno nodded seriously and asked, “Would you like to practice the sword for the time being, while we wait for your grandfather to finish his work?"
Trying to beat Kuno to death with a stick did sound like a good way to relieve some stress. Ranma wasn't actually able to beat Kuno, or even hit him, really, but he could keep himself from getting pounded on. He nodded and Kuno pulled another bokken from within his baggy kendo garb and tossed it to his teacher.
Arin ignored the clatter of sword striking sword in the background, focused entirely on the crystal sphere that rested before him. It allowed him to perform amazingly complex and delicate feats of channeling, then analyzed various data it collected from the returning weaves of Fire and Spirit as they looped through each destination symbol carved into the Portal Stone and returned to the ter'angreal.
He hadn't made study of Portal Stones an important part of his research, like some scientists who sought to unlock the mysteries of their origin and creation, but he was familiar with several dozen destinations they could transport a channeller to. None of them were found within this stone, not even the most basic symbols that did nothing but hold the traveler in stasis and then deposit him at the same stone a certain amount of time later, depending on the amount of Power used.
There was plenty of time for some investigation, at least. The doorway still needed enormous amounts of energy to finish priming it, and even if Kuno progressed to a level where he could aid Arin and Ranma, there would be dozens of sessions charging it.
To be continued.
Author's notes: Nothing to say really. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Nabiki, but it'll come to me eventually. Does anyone think I mishandled the situation between Ranma and his mother?
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