(Tales From The Land Of Rand)
A Ranma ½ - Sailor Moon crossover story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.
Alarm claxons blared throughout the base as Mamoru ran to the H.V.E. hanger. He didn't know what the threat was— the audio warnings didn't seem to be working— but that particular sound combined with that pattern of flashing lights could mean only one thing; the base was under attack. He stumbled into the launch bay just in time to see Hyato climbing into the cockpit of his H.V.E.
"Hyato, what's going on?" Mamoru called out to the smaller man. The mechanized armor was fully armed with dual beam Vulcans and as many racks of various explosive payloads as they could hold.
Hyato stopped, nearly slamming his head into his weapon's armored torso. "Chiba, it's gone crazy, real fuckin' crazy!" cried the man before climbing into the H.V.E.
"What has?" Mamoru queried as he climbed into his own unit and began power-up procedures. The holographic displays came alive, already indicating that there were cargo pods on the surface that he and his squad were assigned to retrieve.
Hyato's answer came over the comm-system. "B.A.S.C. It's gone nuts. The thing's already cut life-support to most of the base and nearly everyone outside of the command and pilot areas are dead."
Well, there life went and got worse. Mamoru shook his head in amazement. How can a computer go crazy? Then again, B.A.S.C. wasn't exactly the most normal of computers. By the time Hyato's answer had come through, the rest of the H.V.E.s were manned and ready to go. "All right, men, the moon's going to Hell and we're not sticking around to see what Hell looks like," he shouted over the comm.
"Orders, sir?" A sudden explosion and a burst of static obscured the voice enough that Mamoru couldn't clearly make it out.
"Retrieve cargo pods at the end of landing strip E and evacuate into space. If we pull that off, I'll see about telling you the rest. Now move!" Moving itself wasn't a problem. The armor moved easily. The hangar doors, however, didn't. "Damn it, pull back and raise shields."
Mamoru made sure all of his men were at the back of the bay and that the distortion created in the air by the H.V.E.'s shield systems was active around each of them. As Commander, his H.V.E. had a few perks; stronger shields, thicker armor, more powerful thrusters, a quicker response time, and bigger guns. The big gun in question was a particle beam smasher that made up the entire mechanism of his armor's left forearm.
With gravity lower in the hangar and the overall power of the weapon, Mamoru had to brace his H.V.E. against a bulkhead and kill the power to its magnetic joints, turning it into a completely immobile piece of advanced hardware. The entire suit hummed for the four and a half seconds it took for the weapon to reach capacitance. The white beam of energy materialized a foot from the focus array at the end of the barrel, expanding to nearly the diameter of the H.V.E. itself.
Eight foot-thick doors, each made of the lunar titanium variant, ceased to exist as anything but energy as the enormous beam of energy struck them. The molten metal at the edges of the hole cooled quickly, a combination of the chilled vacuum of space and the titanium variant's ability to dissipate heat.
Outside, it was readily apparent that something was wrong. The lights throughout the base were dead and none of the insect-like mining drones that constantly plundered the moon's resources appeared to function.
Taking charge, Mamoru directed his squad to the cargo pods and they each assumed control of one of the large containers, via magnetic tractor beam. They assumed a holding altitude, maglev thrusters holding the massive exoskeletons and their burdens in place.
Mamoru got within range to use laser transmission and brought up the base command center on his main display. It was abandoned, as far as Mamoru could tell, except for Bill Gates, the Wizard of Gates. The man was pale and sweating, his hands shaking visibly. His head jerked up and he saw Mamoru's face on the monitor. "Go…" he rasped. "Escape while you still can!" he said more vehemently.
He'd never cared much for Gates, but Mamoru didn't really have anything against him, and he'd been a good boss, if a little… strange. "Sir, what about you?" he asked.
Gates laughed, a hollow, dead sound. "I'm already dead. It's sealed me in here, a tomb of my own making." That was good enough for Mamoru, but he waited to hear anything else his former employer might say. "The flux generators are in place; your squad will be able to function. Bring order to the chaos."
Damn, that sounded to Mamoru like something he would have said. He was about to say something kind, a farewell speech that would maybe sooth Gates' tormented mind, but over the command center's comm he heard: "Lunar Base defense system's going online. Particle beam cannons active in T-minus thirty, twenty-nine…"
Screw that. He had to get back to Usagi. Mamoru wasn't about to risk his life for the maniac. He used every ounce of power his thrusters could give him in escaping to his comrades. "We're going home," he told the men. "B.A.S.C. has control and it doesn't want us around."
Without further comment, they all headed for the orbital re-entry lander once meant to bring the first wave of conquering mobile suits, but now only served as a getaway ride.
"Wil, you've gotta promise me; if I turn into one of those things, you'll take me out," Buffy demanded, her voice pleading. The bite to her arm hadn't healed like it should have. Normally she didn't stay injured for more than a few days, but the vicious wound had only worsened, forming a slowly growing area of reddened, scaly flesh. Not to mention that it hurt like hell.
Willow shivered. She couldn't stand to hear her lover talk like that. "Buffy, don't be silly, that little old thing will go away in a few days, you'll see." She didn't sound like she even believed herself.
"Maybe we can find you a doctor," Ryoga volunteered. Buffy was a formidable fighter, and he'd been hoping to train her. That wound on her arm, though, was bad, worse than any he'd seen with the exception of the one on his chest that he'd received from one of Ranma's pet demons. He'd had proper medical care and time to recuperate, though. Buffy didn't have either, not even any antibiotics. Ryoga doubted that there were any antibiotics for something that turns people into zombies, but they couldn't have hurt.
"Yeah, sure, a doctor," Buffy sighed. She knew she was bad off. Her slayer powers were being slowly beat back by the infection; otherwise she would have been among the undead days earlier.
"Hey, what's that?!" Ryoga shouted, pointing into the darkening sky. It appeared to be a meteorite, but, as they watched, the falling object changed its angle of descent and braked, filling the air with the roar of powerful engines. As the fire of rocket engines lit the sky, the trio saw what appeared to be an oversized space shuttle making a vertical landing not too far ahead.
"Wow, do you think that astronauts have been in space the whole time Earth has been powerless?" Ryoga, again.
"Come on, Buffy, they may have medical supplies!" Willow exclaimed, tugging on her friend's uninjured arm excitedly. If only her magic was more powerful, or had she had time to learn more powerful healing spells. Willow couldn't help her love, but maybe someone else could.
"I know we've not gone out of our way to not kill them, but if you ever run across the Alliance, especially the Musk, try to get friendly with them," I explained. "You can't be everywhere at once, and the Alliance is powerful. They may know of Umbrella (I hope Usagi got the message through to the Elders, at least) already and be willing to help. You know what to do if they threaten you, though." We were standing on the outskirts of a burned out village. I could feel the residual traces of magic and chi that indicated a powerful Alliance force.
"Yes, mother," quipped the cyborg. Ryu rolled his eyes and continued, "And I won't mess with the Senshi. I know what to do." I've sorta started feeling responsible for those I take under my wing. I can't help it.
I shrugged. "Well, later then. Have fun and don't let the world go to Hell while I'm gone." Ryu nodded and we shook hands. I kicked in a flight spell and rapidly ascended. The first alternate universe, dimension, realm, plane, whatever you wanted to call it, that I'd chosen to travel to didn't have a very complex set of spell coordinates, but to use them I had to be traveling fast. Just under Mach one.
It's not much of an effort to go half that, but once you start to accelerate further, the energy burn begins to grow exponentially. I could have just used my new sword to do the work, but one of the main reasons I'd made the monstrosity was to keep myself from relying on that form of power. With full reserves, I'd be down to a little more than half strength when I crossed the barrier. That's not really bad, but I don't like to drop below two-thirds, just in case I run into nasty trouble.
Not really a big problem; I'll just replenish myself in the next dimension. This one wasn't like that fucked-up future Earth I'd visited where magic was locked away in a floating Chicago. As I built speed, I formed shields, shaping them to decrease the drag created by my body and to protect myself from the wind and friction encountered at such speeds.
The energy pattern for the jump was firmly engrained within my shield when I reached the required speed, and magic was visibly radiating from my body. Ah… right about… now! The sensation wasn't unlike that created by my teleportation spell, except for the subtle variation in the feel of the flowing energies that spoke of more profound travel than just that of inter-dimensional movement.
Oddly enough, when external awareness returned, I was stationary, floating at approximately the same altitude as before. Good, now I didn't have to worry about running into a mountain before I could kill my forward momentum.
I reached out to grab the energy needed to restore my reserves, and while it wasn't difficult, it was an unusual experience. The energy, normally just a kind of aetheric raw energy, kept wanting to separate into five more-defined but weaker energies. Once within my body, though, the energy obeyed the sorcerous laws of my own dimension, and remained as it should.
It'd be interesting to see what the Talented people in this universe were like. To have evolved their power and skills to work in such a weird medium, they couldn't possibly practice the same brand of magic as that of Earth.
Other than the energy, not much seemed different about this world than Earth. The gravity felt the same and the air and sun smelled and looked the same. Well, I'm here. Where should I begin? Answered easily enough. This plane had to have its own version of Hell, all I had to do was find someone, or something, that normally resided there, and I could get some directions.
Unless I'm luckier than should be possible, evil isn't widely accepted (I'm not evil and you know it; the bad guys just like me, that's all), anywhere. So, I can't just go around asking for the nearest demonic stronghold.
Firing up the old location spell (this thing is a lot more complicated than that, but I prefer one word descriptions for my spells), I managed to pick out a few places where magic was concentrated and regularly manipulated. As a side note, electricity seemed to be limited to natural lighting and that created by sorcery.
I decided not to take any chances. With magic only regularly used in a handful of places, I doubt that many people here are accustomed to seeing someone fly. I hope that there are 'people' here. I've seen some of the TV shows; there really could be a Smurf Land. How did the poor bastards get by with just one female in the whole village, anyway?
And now back to the subject. Instead of hoofing it, I just camped out in the woods during the day, hunting as needed, and flew at night. This went on for almost a week. There were a few villages reminiscent of those in China, but less ramshackle. By the way, there were people. They were a little short, but they were people.
I passed a few larger towns, probably considered big cities here, and something that looked suspiciously like that arch thing over in America— St. Louis, I think. Then, on the seventh night here, I crested a low hill and caught sight of a real city. I snapped a few quick mental pictures of the place from a distance (things like that make great postcards) and made a mental note to bring Ami here when she recovered.
The city was situated on an island in the middle of a river. The city's lanterns and torches turned the sky a soft yellow, and I could just barely make out the detailed structures that comprised it. Unlike the towns from earlier, I couldn't see any signs of squalor or poor maintenance, and perhaps more importantly, I couldn't smell it from miles off, even while upwind. This was close enough, I'd catch a few hours sleep before dawn and pay a visit to the impressive tower that radiated power.
And, once again, things go to shit for me. I mean, is it so much to ask for a lucky break or three? Sigh. I was surrounded by at least a dozen men, all armed and giving off all kinds of body language that just screamed 'I'm a trained killer'. Nine women, if I saw all of them were included with the men but none of them were armed or armored. They all wore red in varying styles that reminded me of medieval Europe and were all Talented.
This world's version of Talent was more mutated than I'd previously thought possible. Each of the women was Talented, of that I'm sure, but the Talent didn't reside within them, it sorta floated around their body and soul. I couldn't really see any advantages to this, but several disadvantages were quite noticeable.
The Talent could be easily lost with such a tenuous link to the owner's soul (it'd have been nice if those Amazons of old had gotten their newborn soul from here). All I had to do was lash out with some specifically shaped white magic and poof, burnt out Talent. If all Talented folks here followed the same pattern, not a single one of them could actually store energy within themselves. That made it oh-so-easy to block them off from all power.
That's what they were trying with me now. A woven pattern of what felt like the white/light factor that some of the magic was separated into wrapped around me tightly, cutting off my access to ambient magical energy. Right now they're probably thinking that I'm damned near harmless. Heh.
I stood up, pulling my sleeping bag and pillow (roughing it doesn't have to be too rough) into my spatial pocket. That act alone got a few gasps and muttered curses. Those had been in English, and while not sounding like any swear words I know of, they had the emotion and sound to get the message across.
"Hey, nice morning, eh?" I asked, playing groggy while shielding and priming a few unkind spells. My English is pretty good. Demons have this really useful ability to speak any language (have no idea how they got it), and for some reason, like to speak English, so I picked it up in my childhood. The men tensed, readying to draw swords or slightly raising those already drawn.
"Of all the nerve," spat one of the women. What's up with those faces? They look kinda tight, like they're drawn back or something. Another Talent mutation?
"You're quite defenseless now," said another woman. She was the only one to have gray hair, hair gray with age, yet her face remained young and unlined. "Why not make things easier on yourself and come peaceably?"
I was going to scratch the back of my head, this time not in nervousness, but a gesture to convey the emotion falsely. I like to make people underestimate me, then spring it on them just how outclassed they are. My arm never made it to the back of my head. One of the sorceresses, using another woven thread of power, this one with an elemental feel of air to it, locked my arm in place. Jeez, these bitches weren't any fun.
"Don't move!" snapped yet another woman in red.
I left the arm in place. Why mess up the game when it's just getting good? "What have I done to get such wonderful treatment from you lovely ladies?" Hey, it worked on Sailor Jupiter that one time. Makoto is so gullible.
They actually started growling. Well, damn, time to change my approach. "Ah, I get it, you all are a bunch of muff divers?" And not a single one of them understood.
"This grows tiresome. Seize him." That was the gray haired woman. I can't blame them for underestimating me. I wasn't armed and was making an effort of masking any outward sign of my physical prowess.
Only three of the men stepped forward. Each of them moved with the grace that only those of us who are really good at kicking other people's asses can. Thing is, when you're that good, you know it and only walk like that when you're trying to show off. These guys should just come at me with a relaxed gait like anyone on the street would.
Shredding the air that bound my arm, I materialized my sword. They seemed to like swords. I wonder how they'll like mine. A casual flick of my wrist and I threw up a dome of white magic that would serve the same purpose as these sorceresses' barrier field, or whatever it was. The men could enter to fight me, and the women too, if they wanted, but they wouldn't be throwing any spells at me until I wanted them too.
The warriors stopped short when my vorpal bladed sword appeared, eying the wickedly curving weapon with caution. They only missed that single beat, then, in unison, returned to their previous pace. Three at a time was an optimal number. Four could be done, but there was a chance that they would get in each other's way.
There was some shouting and muffled cursing in the background. I didn't pay much attention to it. This was about utterly humiliating some guys who were totally too impressed with themselves.
I slid the first strike to my left, forcing the point of my attacker's sword into the ground. A spinning axe kick and he went flying back over the heads of his companions, sword still in hand. He was tough enough that he should only be stunned by that. The next two came at me from the right and left. Their strokes were quick, efficient, and powerful. Their styles were different, kinda, and flowed well, but it was still easy to see how they were trained in particular sword strike patterns. Once I had the proper defense pattern set in my mind, I turned that part of the fight over to autopilot and sent my senses out to the others.
The guy I'd kicked was stalking towards me from behind and the women were in a tight cluster, arguing heatedly. Heightened senses allowed me to smell and sense the fear, anxiety, and astonishment in the air. Good. They'd never seen anything like me before, and even though I still didn't know why they wanted me, I now had a good idea of how these people operated, Talent- and Martial-wise.
Coming back to myself fully, I disengaged the automatic defense and took the offensive. The swords used by these men weren't exactly enchanted, but they had been forged with magic. They could take a surprising amount of punishment. Normal steel would have been pathetic against them. My sword wasn't normal. I was carving slivers of metal from their weapons every stroke I made and they didn't seem to notice.
Right before being stabbed in the back, I lashed out with my foot, catching the still woozy and unsuspecting man in the crotch. That had been mean, and I mostly try to avoid doing that to guys (sympathy, I guess), but I would have really liked to finish that dream about Ami. Bastard— it was his own fault, really.
To be continued.
Author's Notes: And I'm going to stop here. Ranma's in Randland and the Aes Sedai are never going to be the same again (grin). I really hate them. Ranma is REALLY gonna hate them, especially when they won't leave him alone, no matter how many he kills. I'll probably introduce Ranma to Rand in a few chapters, but first he's gotta decimate the bitches and pay a visit to the Dark One. For once, Ranma isn't going to get along with the bad guys (I'm going to use an idea for some of the stuff in The Wheel of Time that I've had for a couple years now, but have never really mentioned. It has to do with the One Power and the Dark One's existence). I didn't even think about it until I was about halfway finished, but Callandor, the sa'angreal that is the second most powerful ever made, and acts likes a lens for the male half of the One Power, is a lot like Ranma's new and improved mega-athame. Can't you just imagine the Aes Sedai, Asha'man, and Forsaken drooling over it? Well, that's all for now. Please send me C&C at firstname.lastname@example.org
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