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.
"It'd help if I actually knew the geography of the world nowadays," Ranma commented grumpily as he wove a gateway.
"Why should the geography be any different now than it was in the past?" Nabiki asked, half worried, half curious. If Ranma didn't know what he was doing with these portals of his, they could end up appearing in front of a bus or something.
Ranma tried to grin at the girl, but it looked more than a little forced. "A whole hell of a lot. Grandfather drew me a crude map once and explained how a meteorite had struck the planet and caused the tectonic plates to shift and sink. Even he didn't know how long it'd been since that happened, but it was a while. Now, there should be two large continents, a medium sized one with an enormous bay in its center, and a bunch of islands that used to be mountains. Trouble is, I don't know where we are in relation to anything on the whole planet, so I'm gonna have to search for civilization. Shouldn't be too hard."
He didn't say how time consuming it could be. Even back in his time, which Arin had said was more heavily populated and settled than the present, there was more empty space than anything. He didn't know how many times he'd have to shift the gateway to find someone who could get him in touch with his grandfather. The portal, unlike others of its kind, did not show its destination. Instead, its surface remained a dull, iron gray that became blue in small patches before reverting to gray.
"Okay, everyone, stand back. We're probably below sea level and I'm going to have to compensate so that I don't let half an ocean in here with us. If something goes wrong, there's no sense in all of us getting splattered." Before Ranma could begin the process, Kuno interrupted. Irritated, Ranma snapped, "What?"
"Forgive me, sensei, but what task do you plan to undertake?" Kuno had drawn the quasi-ter'angreal bokken that allowed him to channel around his block, just in case he was needed to aid his instructor. He glanced longingly at Akane, who stood a dozen or so feet away from the rest of the group, still upset over the argument she'd had with her Nabiki only minutes earlier.
"Just a little trick I learned. I'm going to cycle the gateway's destination from place to place really fast, instead of creating a new one for each attempt. No big deal; one of my Talents, I guess." Without further interruptions, Ranma braced himself before the portal and reached out, grasping more saidin in an iron fist of sheer will. The Power surged through his veins, burning through him like the heartfires of a star, washing away the mere warmth he'd felt at the earlier, miniscule weaving of the gateway.
With an effort, Ranma bent the Power to his bidding, weaving Fire to enforce the gateway and Spirit to spread his enhanced senses beyond the hole in space. The dull gray disappeared from the gateway, replaced by an aerial view of snow-capped mountains, their sides blanketed by hardy evergreens. Then a desert, unlike any desert the four teenagers had ever seen. There was sand, as was to be expected, lots of sand, but the rocky spires and jagged outcroppings seemed alien in their very harshness, otherworldly even. Clear blue ocean. Glaciers as far as the eye could see.
Twenty minutes passed before Ranma found any sign of human existence. He'd been harboring disturbing thoughts of being trapped in the distant past, before even dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It was a strange site. A large area of cleared land in an otherwise heavily forested area, surrounded by an impressive wall, housed hundreds of small structures, most of them too far away to be readily identified. Some kind of wilderness getaway for those tired of the hustle and bustle of city life? Ranma couldn't tell for sure, the distance between his gateway and the town was too great.
"It's too hard to say for sure," Flinn commented as he wiped his shiny pate with a dusty handkerchief. "The boy's as full of the Power as anyone I've ever seen, not including yesterday, of course." The grizzled old veteran turned to the fresh-faced Jahar, a boy who looked much to young to shave, let alone channel.
The Dedicated shrugged self-consciously. "If we were closer, maybe I could get a better feel for what he's doing. All I can say for sure is that he's doing something with that gateway that makes my skin crawl." He looked to Merise for approval, getting an encouraging smile from the Green who had bonded him as her warder.
Cadsuanne considered her options. Rand and Nynaeve were still unconscious, leaving Alivia as their strongest channeller. Even with Nynaeve's powerful angreal to draw from, she doubted the Seanchan woman would be able to reach the distant channeller. Then, attacking the boy and his companions without proof of their intentions was almost criminally negligent. Of course, they could be disguised Forsaken, or the newest crop of Dreadlords on some mission from the Dark One, but they could just as easily be refuges from Sharra or travelers from some distant land even farther removed than that inhabited by the Seanchan.
There was always Callandoor to consider. There wouldn't be any worries of mixing if it were used. Saidar still felt slightly jumbled and distorted to her senses. No matter what the Asha'man said, some of that must linger in saidin also, even if they couldn't tell because of the chaotic nature of the male half of the Source. Using the second most power sa'angreal, one never actually completed, in less than perfect conditions could end with the entire party, strangers and allies alike getting destroyed.
Indecision cost Cadsuanne the opportunity. The moment she looked back through the looking glass, the saw the tall, robed boy step through a gateway and out of her reach. Not altogether displeased with the whole business— there had been no fight, after all— Cadsuanne snapped the device closed and passed it to Lan. "Our guests have seen fit to leave, and so shall we. Flinn, if you will?"
The old man nodded. A moment later a gateway opened into the room the boy had had set aside for incoming Travelers in the palace of Caemlyn. Cadsuanne nodded to herself, admiring him for his resourcefulness, if not his manners. One of the gaidin ran ahead and unbarred the door to the small, closet-like room. Leading a small herd of horses through the palace wasn't exactly the most polite thing to do; neither was cutting someone in half because you opened a gateway in the middle of the street somewhere.
"Uh, Ranma, I thought you said there was supposed to be technology around here, something we could use to get in touch with your grandfather," Nabiki commented as they all walked down the small, cobbled lane. She wore a pair of Ranma's pants for warmth, though they were rather large on her smaller frame. To either side of the road, small, thatch-roofed, wooden houses sat nestled within short fences and the occasional vegetable garden.
Ranma had at first believed this place to be some sort of retreat when he'd first viewed it from the air. Now he had a very different idea. From all directions, the boy could feel saidin being used. Nothing made sense here. Why would there be such low quality glass in the homes when it was a simple exercise in channeling to create perfect, crystal clear sheets of the stuff?
Channellers went to large university-type schools, not only to learn to harness their abilities, but also to receive proper education. This place couldn't be an institution of learning. Well, it could be, it just wasn't very likely.
"Ranma? Ranma?! Are you even listening to me?" Nabiki snapped, her already worn patience pushed beyond its breaking point.
"Huh? Oh yeah, technology," he replied, not exactly mumbling. He tried not to stare as another woman walked by, dressed like one of those colonial re-enactors from America. The woman glanced at them, paying particular care to Akane's school uniform, before sniffing indignantly and walking off with her nose in the air. Ranma thought he heard a muttered, "Indecent," come from the woman, in Japanese. He didn't even stop to think about her command of a language he had earlier assumed no longer existed.
Something was so very wrong that Ranma couldn't even bring himself imagine what it might be. "Just stick close to Kuno and me," he cautioned, not wanting to further alarm anyone with his doubts. Though he felt saidin being used from all sides, there was a very definite concentration of the Power. He was bound to find someone there who could answer his questions, most notably the one about what in hell was going on.
"Today is a great day!" the tall, almost Japanese appearing man boomed, his voice enhanced by saidin so that it reached everyone in the large building.
Ranma had left Kuno with the girls, hoping they would get themselves in trouble, while he pushed and shoved his way through the crowd of men and women to get a better vantage. That nearly every one of the men was a channeller excited Ranma as much as it made him nervous.
"How many of you have dreaded the madness, feared that you, too, would eventually go insane, like every male channeller for the past three thousand years? I know I have. Well, my Asha'man, now we are free of the Taint that has corrupted saidin, and with it, free of persecution. The light accursed Aes Sedai will no longer hunt us down like animals, no longer cut us from the Source." This proclamation met with vigorous cheering from the men and almost as much enthusiasm from most of the women.
Ranma didn't hear anything else the man said for a while. He had to reach out and take hold of a support post so that his knees wouldn't buckle beneath him. So much was wrong, dreadfully wrong! The taint on saidin? Obviously the contamination that had forced Arin to flee his own time after the Dark One's imprisonment. Three thousand years?! Now his knees did buckle.
"Easy there, fellow. I'm a bit weak in the knees myself, but you won't catch me sitting on my ass in this mob. Liable to get trampled if you do," shouted the man who caught Ranma beneath the arm before he could fall. The short, gray-haired man had blunt, weathered features and a kind smile. He spoke oddly accented Japanese, not the common tongue he'd been taught by Arin.
Ranma nodded once he felt steadier on his feet. "Thanks," he said with a grim smile. It took a couple minutes for him to pick his was through the roaring crowd of men and women. He finally passed through the exit into the fresh, cool air. He took a few deep breaths and allowed himself to sink to the stone steps. By all that was holy, what had happened to the world?! The Aes Sedai hunted men who could channel, which meant they were made up solely of women. What had happened to Servants of All? Asha'man? Guardians?
"Sensei?" came Kuno's voice, just as Ranma felt that the world was spinning within his head. "Are you well? You seem overly pale."
Ranma mutely shook his head, not bothering to even look up to see where the others were. Finally, after more than a minute of silence, with the occasional cheer from those gathered in the auditorium, Ranma stood, if somewhat shakily. "Well, they speak Japanese, at least," he said morosely.
"What's your problem?" Akane asked, her voice still tinged with bitterness.
"Well, my problem is that we're stuck on this god-forsaken shitball of a world three thousand years after some sort of apocalypse or something, that's what." Ranma couldn't imagine the destruction a few million insane male channellers could wreak on the world. Fire and Earth, by far the most destructive forces of the Power, could move mountains and shift continents if abused. Apparently, they had arrived very soon after the contamination or Taint as they called it, had finally been removed. That would explain the fluctuations and surges in saidin from the day before. At least there was a bit of luck to be had out of this whole mess.
"What?!?!" Nabiki and Akane shouted in perfect unison. Akane looked to be working up a battle aura and Nabiki had something of a maniacal gleam in her eyes.
"Yep." Ranma wished he was more physically oriented, because now would be a really good time to just lash out and beat on a tree with his fists, or maybe kick a rock for a while. Doing it with the Power wouldn't help and would be too easy, besides.
"You bastard!" Akane shrieked. "You brought us here, and you'd better be able to get us back!" As expected, the battle aura flickered into being, a deep, angry red that pulsed like a beating heart.
Before Ranma could do anymore than gag the girl, Nabiki rounded on her sister and slapped her so hard that she fell to the ground. Nabiki actually kicked her sister in the ass once she was down. Ranma glanced at Kuno to see that the boy was watching in as much open-mouthed shock as he himself. Nabiki bent low to the ground and leaned in Akane's face, heedless of the danger. She was no martial artist. Akane could break her like a twig. Still, she ground out between clenched teeth, "You little bitch. If you weren't my sister, I believe I would kill you now. You drag me here against my will, then you blame Ranma when things go wrong? Get a clue, sister." Nabiki all but stomped off, coming to a halt near an ancient stone well. She leaned against the wall encircling the well and glared at her sister for all she was worth.
"Wow," Ranma breathed, his own depression momentarily forgotten, driven from his mind by Nabiki's extreme display. Even more startling was Akane. The girl's aura disappeared in a blink and she didn't even bother to get up off the muddy, ice-cold ground as she wept. She had refused to wear anything of Ranma's or Kuno's to keep warm in the winter weather, and now she would definitely be feeling it.
Kuno snapped out of his daze and rushed over to Akane. He pulled her to her feet and wrapped his long coat around her shoulders. Distraught, Akane wrapped her arms around Kuno's waist, causing an expression of sheer bliss to cloud the older boy's features. Ranma was really getting tired of the rapid shocks to his system.
A sharp click of boots on stone drew Ranma's attention back towards the building he'd exited only minutes earlier. A channeller, most likely, if the black uniform was only worn by those men who had access to the Power. A silver sword was pinned to one side of the man's collar and a red dragon to the other. Now was as good a time as any to talk to someone in charge. If this guy wasn't, he could take him to someone who was.
Unsure of exactly what he should say, Ranma waved the man over and asked, "Can I get some help here?"
Tall, with long black hair that curled down to his shoulders, the man was handsome, even Ranma could admit it. He had a strong presence about him, something like that exuded by his grandfather, but more charismatic where his Arin's had been more of wisdom beyond his two hundred odd years. "Yes?" he replied in the strangely accented Japanese. "Have you come to learn to channel the One Power? If you have, I can test you for the ability. Please follow me."
Ranma wondered what it must be like to know that one would eventually go insane. He couldn't really picture it, and was glad that he wouldn't have to. This man didn't seem like he'd let the inevitable weigh him down very much. "No, no, I already know how to channel. I just need to speak to someone in charge. Me and my friends are lost… well, really lost, and could use some help finding out where we are."
If Ranma hadn't been so addled by the events of the day, he would never have let his himself be shielded. The channeller was quick, Ranma gave him that, but he knew that he could have been a good deal quicker if he'd only been paying attention. This was not a good way to make a first impression, as he'd learned on more than one occasion, but he wouldn't allow himself to be cut off from the source and possibly severed. With a sigh, he glared at the man who was regarding him coldly, and drew deeply from the well in his sa'angreal.
He could have worked through the shield, and if he'd really felt like it, probably severed the man where he stood. Instead, Ranma chose to tear his shield down and see what the man's problem was. Spirit woven as a thousand tiny spikes blasted from Ranma's body, intangible to anyone but the man who had him shielded. He ignored the scream of agony that the technique tore from his victim's throat, focusing on removing the perforated shield. It tore apart like an old cocoon. He released his hold on the saidin within the well of his sa'angreal and drew on the Source as almost as heavily as he could without resorting to the device he wore on his right arm.
The pain had ceased the moment Ranma removed his shield and now his assailant leaned against the wall of the building, his forehead beaded with sweat and his eyes wide in shock. Before the situation could deteriorate to the point where the men in the auditorium could be alerted, Ranma forced himself to release the Power, feeling a longing ache in his bones as it fled his control.
Ranma regretted using the burst of Spirit, it was painful beyond imagining, but the only other way he knew to break a shield could have severed the taller man and that would have been infinitely worse than inflicting a bit of pain on him. "I think we've had a misunderstanding here," Ranma said as he walked up to the man and extended his hand. His guard was raised now. He would be the first to reach saidin if it came down to it, and if the man reached for the Source again, he would die.
Warily, the man extended his hand. Ranma grasped it and tried not to grimace as it squeezed his hand in a vice-like grip. At his full height, he towered over Ranma a full head and shoulders. "Ranma Saotome," Ranma said as he pulled back his throbbing hand.
"Logain Ablar." Logain wiped his forehead with the back of his coat sleeve. "Nice trick with the shield, kid. Did the Dragon Reborn teach you that one?"
"The who?" Now Ranma knew what Nabiki had complained about earlier. He could have gotten by in his grandfather's time with ease, so much had the man told him since he was a child. This time, era, Age, whatever it was, was as alien to him as anything he could imagine. He counted his lucky stars that these people at least spoke Japanese. "Never mind. I don't suppose you could tell me when the Dark One was released from his prison, can you?"
Logain looked down at him like he was daft, but did answer, "I don't know what game you're playing at boy, but I'll tell you. Before the Breaking," Ranma didn't miss the capital sound of the 'b' in Breaking, "three millennia ago, give or take a century."
Despite his doubts and certainty, Ranma had held a small sliver of hope. He felt that sliver slip away from him, and he had no desire to go after it. He really was trapped here in the mixed up world. "Damn it, sometimes I hate being right."
The wary look Logain had not lost increased in intensity. "Boy, how long did you say you've been channeling?"
Ranma didn't think as he answered. "Since I was nine. Oh, you're worried about the madness that other guy was talking about, eh? There wasn't any Taint where I lived, so don't worry about that."
There was the look again. He seemed to think Ranma had been sniffing paint fumes or doing crack. "Now's as good a time as any with Taim and most of the others occupied," he muttered to himself, so quietly that Ranma barely heard him. "Follow me. We might as well get out of this blasted cold if we're going to continue this game."
Ranma wasn't all that cold himself. Arin had taught him the trick of ignoring temperature as a birthday gift when he'd turned ten. He agreed with Logain, though, and motioned to the others, who were looking at him and Logain quizzically. Akane wasn't actually paying much attention to him, buried as she was in Kuno's arms, though Ranma didn't care one way or another what she did. "We might as well go with him. He can explain what we've missed."
Logain's home resembled all the others they'd seen so far. It was small and cozy, with cloudy glass windows and a thatched roof. The furniture inside appeared well made, if a little battered. Logain preceded them into the home, calling, "Gabrelle," loudly as he did.
By the time everyone entered the front room, an attractive woman with dark brown hair and odd green eyes stood in a doorway leading farther into the house. "Yes?"
"Fix some tea for my guests and have Toveine bring it out." The woman nodded curtly and hurried out of sight.
Logain and the other seated themselves on an assortment of armchairs and a small sofa. Ranma chose to stand, taking the opportunity to pace from one end of the room to the other. He didn't know where to begin. The bound woman had thrown him off a little, too. He couldn't stop thinking about what she must have done to be required to use a binder. That meant she was most likely a channeller. It would be an ironic kind of justice if a woman who hunted male channellers was herself bound to serve one.
"Damn it, Ranma, I'm not in the mood to sit here all day." Nabiki still hadn't calmed down since her attack on Akane.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm not exactly happy myself, you know?" Ranma snapped. Still pacing, he began, "This is all so screwed up, Logain. The world, I mean. How could the doorway have been so far off? What happened to my grandfather?" This was another time that he felt like hitting something.
"Slow down, Ranma," Logain said. He didn't know what was going on with these people, but Ranma had shown himself to be a very powerful channeller and it would not hurt to gain such an ally if he could manage it. "Start at the beginning."
"When the Dark One was sealed up at Shayol Ghul, my grandfather detected the contamination of saidin and used an altered doorway ter'angreal and a Portal stone to travel back in time. He was never sure just how far he went, but it had to be several Ages, at least. Eventually I came along and ended up having severely early Power Acquisition Syndrome. He trained me to use the Power and I helped him recharge the doorway so he could come back and prevent Lanfear from releasing the Dark One in the first place. We used it yesterday. When I came through there was no sign of my grandfather. The doorway is nothing dust now and we have no way of going back." Ranma took a deep breath and continued, "I heard some of what that other guy was saying about the Taint and stuff. If you could fill in the gaps, I'd appreciate it."
Logain didn't make his opinion known on whether he believed Ranma or not and his face was unreadable. "The Taint drove the men of the Age of Legends insane. They destroyed most of the civilized world. We never have recovered even a fraction of what was lost. Ever since then the Aes Sedai have controlled most of the governing bodies, either by manipulation or open command. The Red Ajah make a point of hunting down men like us and cutting us off from the Source. I myself was stilled by the Reds over a year ago, but Mistress al'Meara repaired the damage. Can't really blame them. If they hadn't done it the Breaking may never have ended." He stopped and raised a questioning eyebrow. Ranma was staring at him in complete disbelief.
"You were severed?" Ranma whispered. Logain nodded. "How could you possibly channel?"
Logain shrugged. "I know little of Healing. There are a few others here who could explain it in detail if you wish to learn more. Now, as I was saying. The Forsaken have been freed from their prison at Shayol Ghul and the Dark One will soon roam the Earth once again, if the prophecies are to be believed. The Dragon has been reborn to lead us against the Dark One and his forces at the Last Battle. And as of yesterday, there is no longer a Taint on saidin. That's a very abridged history lesson, boy."
Abridged indeed. Three thousand years squeezed into a double handful of sentences.
"A likely tale," a woman's voice commented. Ranma looked up to see another bound woman standing in the room, a tea service held before her. She, too, had the overly smooth features of a person who had been bound for a good number of years. Who was this Logain to have two captured Aes Sedai servants while his home was so plain and simple? Then, Ranma told himself he could be jumping to conclusions. They could have bound the women with a chair, or they could be channellers who weren't affiliated with the all-women Aes Sedai.
"Toveine, how nice of you to join us," Logain said, no hint of reproach in his voice. "If you would serve the tea, please?" She went about passing teacups around and filling them with steaming tea. Ranma declined the offered cup. Still not making his opinion known, Logain asked Toveine, "Perhaps you could poke some holes in the lad's story?"
"Of course I cannot prove him false, Logain, for there is no evidence. I fear I overestimated your intelligence, though, if you allow yourself to be taken in by these children. Time travel. Not even the Aes Sedai from the Age of Legends could manage such a feat. No one has ever heard of a channeller experiencing acquisition syndrome before they were twelve, and that is in females. Male channellers acquire their power even later."
Ranma felt inclined to interrupt. "Time travel hadn't been attempted until my grandfather did it, and since he left no record, there is no proof, except for them and myself," Ranma pointed to Kuno, Nabiki, and Akane, all of who hadn't uttered so much as a peep since Nabiki's one impatient comment. "I experienced the sickness early and almost died from it. My grandfather said that even in his time where channellers were common that a case like mine was rare. There are certain weaves that can force an individual to tell the truth for short periods of time. Do you know of it?"
"There is no such thing," the woman replied waspishly. She looked at Akane strangely for a split second and Ranma had a bad feeling that the girl was going to get her wish, as unlikely as that seemed.
"I should have thought of it sooner," Ranma said to Logain. "I can teach you the weave and you can use it on one of the girls. I don't trust you enough to let you use it on me, sorry, but you never can be too careful."
Logain waved his hand dismissively. "Teach me the weave later. I believe you. You can go now, Toveine. You can come in, Gabrelle," he finished, and the women from earlier stepped into the room, an almost sheepish expression on her face. Logain chuckled and said, "Tell no one what you learn of Ranma or his companions." He nodded and they both left for parts unknown.
Ranma introduced the others, barely mentioning Akane, who seemed zoned out, and paying particular attention to Kuno. "It's a block of some sort. My grandfather couldn't figure out how to remove it and I don't have a clue myself. The thing is harder than any metal I've ever come across, though, and he can use it pretty damned well, too, so it isn't much of a hindrance."
"How good are you with that stick, Kuno?" Logain asked, referring to the boy by his last name like Ranma and almost everyone else who had ever spoken to him.
Modestly, Kuno replied, "I have never met my equal, sir."
"Good, I can get you a place helping old Haslin with the arms training. You'll be accepted more readily if you have something to offer besides just channeling." He turned back to Ranma and said, "You'll have to simply be a new trainee until I can get word to the Dragon Reborn. How do you feel about being married?"
"What are you talking about?" Ranma asked before any of the others could beat him to the punch.
"Enemies in the camp, enemies 'running' the camp. Ranma, you can't imagine how lucky you are that you ran into me and not Tain— the M'hael to you, from now on— or one of his lackeys."
"The leader?" Ranma asked, translating the phrase into the common tongue of his grandfather's Age.
"He's either a Dark Friend or working against the Dragon Reborn, either of which makes him the enemy," Logain answered.
He'd trusted Ranma, so now Ranma was going to trust him. That kind of thing worked both ways. "That makes sense, but what about the marriage question?"
"Married couples get their own homes," Logain said, looking meaningfully at them. "You don't have to take advantage of the situation, of course, but I assume you would prefer greater privacy than that offered by the barracks."
"Ah, heheh, I was worried for a second there. We'll have to talk about that one amongst ourselves."
To be continued.
Author's notes: I don't know when I'm going to have Ranma and the gang actually meet up with Rand and his cadre, but it won't be for at least another couple chapters. Anyone think Nabiki's reaction was too extreme and OOC? I do, a little, but she is only human, not totally emotionless like she's portrayed so often, and Akane really need a good bitch slapping, IMO. It just seems so fitting for her to eventually hook up with Kuno, not that I'm saying that will happen. It'd just be worth a laugh or ten if it did.
I took a WoT personality test once and it said I was most like Logain. I can see it. He's probably my favorite character, too, since Rand is an arrogant asshole now and slightly bonkers to boot. So, no getting upset that Ranma didn't kill him or do something really bad. It would have been stupid and can Ranma act rashly on occassion, but he's not that dumb. What's up with Akane? She's not really in shock or anything. Kuno's just got a weave of Spirit over her to keep her docile, or at least that's what I'm planning to use for the excuse next chapter of why she was so calm and nonconfrontational.
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