A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
"Come on Ranma, we've talked about this before. You never know what you may run into on one of those other worlds, and you may not be powerful enough to handle it on your own," said Nabiki calmly, despite the worry evident in her eyes.
"Not a single one of those weapons can do anything but kill people," protested Ranma.
Nabiki stared at Ranma flatly. "Don't try that bullshit with me, Saotome. In the last few years you've killed dozens of men and women with your bare hands. Why should how you do it matter?"
Ranma shrugged. "It just does."
Nabiki shrugged. "It doesn't matter, one way or the other. You're the only person capable of surviving a chaos vortex, and since the last jump the higher-ups aren't willing to risk your life. You have to carry the weapons."
Ranma leaned back in his chair, idly fiddling with a pen that had sat on his desk. "It's not my fault that World War III was going on when I jumped in. Hell, that's only the second world that has had electricity." Suddenly Ranma's arm blurred and he drove the plastic pen several inches into the steel desktop.
"Wow, what a wonderful way to ruin a perfectly good pen," Nabiki commented dryly. "Ranma, you don't even have to use them. Just promise me that once you make the jump you won't bury them somewhere." She closed the short distance between them and invited herself to sit on Ranma's lap.
"Don't even try it." Ranma half-heartedly slapped Nabiki's groping hands away from his chest. "You're trying to make me feel bad. It won't work this time; my mind is made up."
"Damn it, how did she talk me into this?" Ranma growled to himself as he zipped up the gray and white combat fatigues. From there, he headed into the small alcove within the jump room that housed the advanced weaponry meant for use in the project. He had been thoroughly trained in the use of each piece of high-tech hardware, and needed no help attaching the various weapons and ammo payloads to his suit or the pack he carried.
Nabiki stepped into view. Her lab coat was smudged, and had a small tear near the right side pocket. "Now, that's impressive," she said, taking in Ranma's profile.
"I'm not going to use any of this stuff. You know it and I know it. Stupid people, sit behind a desk all day, don't have to worry about getting blown up…" Ranma's muttering became too low for even Nabiki and her practiced ear to hear.
"Quit whining, Ranma. The vortex is almost in alignment, so hurry up and follow me."
Ranma followed close at Nabiki's heels, and within minutes they had crossed the majority of the immense crystal-lined cavern that housed the giant particle beams that broke the boundaries of space and time.
"The preliminary probe managed to get enough readings to indicate that your destination is habitable. Oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other trace gases are well within tolerances…" Ranma's mind wandered as Nabiki briefed him on meaningless information that he never had found a use for. "…The temperature was minus ten degrees Celsius when transmission was lost. There was some kind of interference, possibly from abnormal solar activity, that scrambled most of the other scanning equipment on the probe, but we can say with relative certainty that there are at least two thousand humanoid beings within a kilometer of the vortex termination point."
"More aliens?" Ranma interrupted. Aliens always tried to kill him. The ugly bastards were probably just jealous that he had hair.
"No way to tell. Like I just said, the probe wasn't working at peak efficiency. This is a standard mission. Attempt to learn of the native culture, establish some kind of relationship with the natives for future colonization efforts, and get as many native voice recordings and texts as possible for the computers to analyze. You keep forgetting that not all of us are deemed important enough to get psi-implants."
"Yes, mother," groaned Ranma. By now they were in the more heavily attended area of the cavern and were surrounded by dozens of technicians and scientists.
"Dr. Tendo, t-minus sixty seconds until optimum alignment," reported a man sitting behind a glowing computer terminal.
"That's your cue, Ranma," Nabiki whispered.
Ranma turned to Nabiki, grinned, and swept her up into a full body embrace, kissing her passionately in the process. She had unshed tears in her eyes as he broke away. "I'll be back before you know it," he promised.
Ranma stepped up onto the large glass platform and watched calmly as a blurry, red-tinged white haze began to form in the air a dozen feet from him. The haze became more substantial as the seconds ticked by, until almost a minute later, there was a sphere of reddish-white energy hanging in the air. Ranma flipped the heavily tinted visor of his headset down just before four black metal cylinders slid into view. From each cylinder a solid beam of indescribably bright blue light blasted into the energy sphere. When the beams first struck the sphere, there were no obvious differences in its physical appearance, despite the screaming of hundreds of computers as they picked up the fluctuating energy patterns.
This was where Ranma came in, besides the actual jumping into a big vortex of utterly chaotic energy, that is. He cupped his hands as high over his head as possible and with a loud, "Kiyaahh!" threw a jagged bolt of blackness into the sphere. When the bolt struck the now slightly wobbling sphere, it slowly sunk into its surface. When the bolt was completely out of view, Ranma braced himself for the coming shockwave. The magnetic field around the platform would protect everyone else. Then, without warning, just as the various energy scanners located within the cavern began indicating a slight drop in power, the sphere exploded into a horizontal vortex of the original red-tinged white energy. When the vortex disappeared a few moments later, Ranma was gone.
"One of those computer freaks is gonna pay for this when I get back," Ranma spat as he fingered his pony tail. What had once been jet black hair was now silver. Not grayish silver like old people's hair, but metallic silver. His head looked like a freakin' Christmas tree ornament!
After a quick check to make sure that nothing else had been damaged in the screwed up jump, Ranma set out in the direction indicated by the small map in his visor. Hopefully he would find some of the big-eyed aliens. They made pretty good targets if he kept his eyes shut and only threw energy bolts with his left hand. The snow was up to his waist in most places, though the infrared image on his visor showed the drifts to be easily over twenty feet deep in places. He would have to thank Nabiki for ordering the thermal regulation suit that he wore under his fatigues.
Approximately an hour later, Ranma finally slogged through a particularly stubborn patch of packed ice and snow to find a well-used road. That ruled out aliens. They always used those little flying Frisbee shoes to get around. Ranma shrugged. Maybe he could finally get a 'favorable colonization agreement', as Nabiki liked to say. It'd been too long since he'd gotten a raise.
Walking down the road, Ranma tried to keep his mind occupied, cataloguing the unusual trees he passed. He made a mental note to collect a sample before the return jump. Ranma didn't know of any trees that had leaves that turned gray and shriveled up in the winter. At the very least, Kasumi would like the chance to add another piece of greenery to the small forest that she called a garden.
Up ahead, around a bend, Ranma found his first sign of the level of technological advancement of this world. Between two sheer, ice-covered cliffs stretched a hundred-foot long, fifty-foot high wall of dark gray stone. It was pretty impressive, in a medieval way.
"Anyone home?" he called out loudly, allowing the microscopic chip imbedded in his brain to carry the intention of the words, via brain wave, to whomever stood watch on the wall.
With commendable speed, a dozen women were on guard and pointing drawn long bows at Ranma. "State your business," ordered an older looking brown-haired woman.
"Can't you see? Itís consort Creslin," a much younger blond said quickly to the first speaker.
Ranma doesn't know what a consort is or who Creslin is, but the words have obvious impact, causing all but two of the bows raised against him to be lowered.
"Fiera, look more closely. He has silver hair, but that is not consort Creslin," the brown-haired woman returned.
Ranma coughed loudly, attempting to draw attention back to himself. "I'm not consort Creslin, whoever that is. My name is Ranma and I'm a representative of my government. I come in peace," he finished, holding his hands high above his head, hoping that no one suspected him to be armed. If bows were the standard weapon on this world, who would recognize laser rifles and rail guns?
All attention was once again centered on Ranma, and with it all the sharp pointy things. "What country do you represent, stranger?"
"Japan," Ranma answered.
"I have never heard of such a land, perhaps you could relieve my ignorance of that, man," a very young woman, red-haired and heavily freckled called down derisively.
Oh, great, Amazons! "I'm not at liberty to discuss that with anyone but your leader, woman," Ranma shot back.
"This is getting us nowhere, and I have no wish to stand here and shout down to you all day. Step away from the gate," the original woman ordered as she turned and disappeared from view.
Quickly, Ranma took several steps backward as the large, ironbound wooden gates swung open on huge but silent hinges. No less than thirty women stood on the other side, some armed with short swords and the rest sporting drawn bows. This sure was a friendly place.
"Follow me," he was told.
Ranma obeyed silently, mentally keying in the commands that would automatically activate the low-power shield in his pack if he were attacked from too many angles to defend. From his escort, he heard several whispers.
"…wouldn't mind a round or two with him in the…"
"…silver hair, just like Creslin, what do you think, Fiera?…
Ranma tried not to blush as the comments became more graphic. What kind of fucked up planet was he on? This was worse than Disney World— the real Disney World.
"Do you ride?" the older woman whom Ranma assumed to be in charge asked, pointing to a stone building with a small stable attached to the side.
"Horses?" Ranma laughed. "Well, enough that I would embarrass myself trying. If you don't mind, I would rather just run alongside you."
Ranma turned to glare at the same freckled girl who had mocked him earlier. "Screw politeness," he murmured. He turned back to the leader. "I don't know where I am exactly, or what you ladies have against men, but I really don't have the patience to put up with this shit much longer."
She looked slightly stunned for a moment and Ranma heard a few bowstrings being pulled taut behind him. If the men on this world were so whipped that it shocked a women to have one speak his mind, Ranma had all intentions of reporting that he had just found some more aliens when he got back to earth.
Instead of saying anything to Ranma, the woman turned to the freckled girl and said, "I suggest you apologize to Ranma immediately, that is unless you wish to spend the rest of your life at Northwatch." Her gaze swept the other women. "Until proven otherwise, Ranma is to be given the respect due to any other foreign envoy."
A few mutters from the women later and they were all heading toward the stable.
"I didn't catch your name," Ranma prompted.
"Guard Commander Heldra," Heldra answered.
"Nice to meet you, Heldra."
Heldra only grunted in response.
A few minutes later, six saddled horses were being led from the stables. Ranma said, "Heldra, it's pretty obvious that women are in charge around here. Am I going to be taken any less seriously by whoever is in charge because I'm a man?"
"The Marshal is the leader of Westwind," Heldra answered as she vaulted into her. "Despite your shortcomings, she will not treat you any differently than she would if you were a female. That silver hair you've got probably helps, too."
Once the other five women selected to escort Ranma to the Marshall were seated, Heldra said to Ranma, "We can't really push the horses too fast, not with the steepness of the road and all the ice built up on it, but if you start to tire out just call out and someone will let you double up with them."
Ranma nodded, accepting the offer, however needless it would be.
"Yes, Heldra?" asked a black-haired woman wearing black. Across the small table she sat at is a silver-haired girl in her late teens.
"An envoy has arrived from a place known as Japan. He has no retinue or baggage besides a small pack. He claims to have no knowledge of Westwind and was surprised to find that women were in charge. Also, his hair is silver like that of consort Creslin and Marshall Llyse," Heldra reported.
The Marshall carefully schooled her appearance, trying to hide the slight widening of her eyes with a passive face. "That is most unusual. Where is this Japan that it has not heard of Westwind or the Legend, yet it sends us an envoy?"
"He will only speak to you, ser."
"Very well. Call the senior guards and have them gather in the meeting hall. Llyse, perhaps you could find your errant brother for us," the Marshall suggested.
The hallway that Heldra had left him standing in— under guard of course— had several thin windows overlooking a large training yard where nearly a hundred women, ranging in age from fifteen to fifty, practiced killing each other with wooden swords. Many of the older ones were quite skilled, possibly even capable of taking on someone of Kuno's level back when they were in high school.
"Is it true," someone asked from behind Ranma, "that you have never heard of the Guards of Westwind?"
Ranma turned to see Fiera, the guard who had mistaken him for the Creslin guy. Ranma shook his head. "From what I can see, you guys aren't too bad," Ranma commented absentmindedly as he watched the women practice.
Another of the women left to guard him snorted, "'Aren't too bad'?" she repeated. "We are the greatest warriors in the world."
Ranma couldn't help himself, he had to brag, it was almost a compulsion. "Maybe one of you was until I got here, anyway." He chuckled. From the way all the women tensed, Ranma saw that their superiority was majorly important to them.
The door that Heldra had left through opened and the woman stepped back out. "If you would follow me, Envoy Ranma," she said, gesturing down the stone walled corridor.
Hmmm, Envoy Ranma. It almost sounded like there was some respect mixed in with the words somewhere. Ranma followed Heldra as she led him down the corridor and up a torch-lit spiral staircase. It opened onto another corridor, this one with marble-faced walls and hung with tapestries of events that Ranma didn't really care about. Most of them involved bloody battles with an inordinate amount of dead men in them. Servants, at least Ranma assumed they were servants, all of whom were men, hurried about their tasks as him and his escort neared the end of hallway. A pair of guards, standing on either side of the polished wood door, reached out and took the black iron handles, pulling both halves open smoothly.
Hard faced women lined the dark gray walls of the large room that Ranma entered. Wide windows filled the room with sunlight. Trying not to yawn, Ranma studied the woman sitting on a throne-like chair carved from the same dark gray stone that everything else at Westwind was made of. She was probably of an age with his mother, though her skin was darker and her hair was black, as were her eyes and the baggy leather clothing she wore. Behind and to either side of her were two teenagers, one male and the other female, both with the same silver hair that he had somehow acquired. That must be Creslin.
They didn't stop until he and Heldra were only a dozen or so feet from the raised dais that the throne sat on.
"Envoy Ranma of Japan, to see Marshall Dylyss of Westwind," she announced clearly in a voice that most likely carried down to the training yard.
Ranma didn't really know what to say, or how to act for that matter. The only other time he had encountered royalty on a jump hadn't been anything like this. He doubted that the Marshall would appreciate being treated like a giant talking mouse.
"Um, hi. Like Heldra said, my name is Ranma and I represent the nation of Japan." Oh that was just great. "What I have to say is supposed to remain private until an agreement can be reached…"
The Marshall didn't seem offended by Ranma's lack of formal greeting or proper behavior. She nodded and said, "No one here will talk of this meeting without my permission. You may continue."
"This may be hard to believe, but Japan isn't anywhere on this world. That's why you haven't heard of it before. I have proof if you need it." No one had even laughed. Actually, no one had even blinked.
"Yes, proof of your claim would be appreciated," the Marshall said without cracking a smile.
Ranma reached into the one of the deep pockets of his fatigues and drew out a golf ball sized model of earth. He twisted it along a barely noticeable seam and set it on the floor, making sure to back away from it in the process. When the much larger holographic image of the earth appeared in the air, Ranma finally managed to get a response from a few of those in the room. He heard a few gasps from the women along the walls and both of the silver-haired teens were staring at the image, their mouths agape.
"This is earth, the world I come from." Ranma mentally guided the rotation of the image until Japan was directly facing the Marshall and made it flash blue. "The blue islands are Japan."
"Is that all?" the Marshall asked.
What did it take to convince these people? "That's all they gave me to prove that I'm telling the truth. The only other things I have from earth are some weapons, a few days worth of food, and my gear. What would it take to convince you?"
Creslin bent forward and whispered something to the Marshall. She nodded. "How is that," she gestured to the hologram of earth, "illusion manifested without magic?"
Magic? "You believe in magic here?" Ranma asked. The Marshall nodded. "That's a comfort. Most people on earth don't. Anyway, about the hologram, I don't know how it works. My wife created it, but I know it doesnít use magic. I do know that she mentioned something about crystals and light, but…" Ranma shrugged. "The only reason I'm here instead of someone who could explain to you better is that I'm the only person on earth that can survive the chaos vortex that was used to transport me here."
"You mentioned weapons?"
Well, maybe the things would be useful after all.
The training yard that had earlier been filled with women was now cleared of all but Ranma, the Marshall, and the others in the meeting hall.
Ranma released the magnetic lock that held the laser rifle firmly attached to his right thigh. "I don't like to use weapons. The only reason I brought them with me on this trip is because my commanders ordered me to." He slid his finger down the strip of metal on the side of rifle, passing a small amount of energy into it to activate the weapon. With a click, the barrel extended and the stock snapped from the side into position. "This is a laser rifle. I don't really know how it works either, but it has something to do with crystals and light, sorta like the hologram of earth."
"What does it do?" asked the Marshall as she studied the weapon.
"Can I demonstrate?" She nodded. Ranma drew the rifle to his shoulder and peered into the scope. Once he had a wooden training dummy targeted, he squeezed the trigger. The flare of green light lasted for less than an instant but left a fist sized hole burnt through the dummy's head. This got gasps, a few mutters about magic, and a scream from someone.
"Want to try it?" Ranma held the rifle out to the Marshall.
Ranma handed it to her and was pleased to see that she held it properly without any instruction. "Get a general idea of what you're aiming for then close one eye and look through the tube. There is a set of crosshairs inside of it. Wherever they meet is where the laser will hit. Pull the trigger when you're ready."
The Marshall's arm was steady as she lined the rifle up with the dummy. She pulled the trigger and burned most of the right arm off of the dummy. "A most remarkable weapon," the Marshall commented.
"I'd let you have it, but I'm the only person who can activate it and I'd get in trouble if I left it here. So, do you believe that I'm not from this world?" Ranma asked as he accepted the rifle back from the Marshall and returned it to its place on his thigh.
"Tell me, do the terms 'angel' or 'demon' mean anything to you?" she asked flatly.
It was getting kinda unnerving, her acting like a robot. "On earth angels are the messengers of God in one of the major religions. I haven't ever met any of them, though. I've fought a few demons, though. Well, more than a few, but less than two dozen, I'd say," Ranma answered with complete sincerity.
The Marshall nodded, a thoughtful look on her face. "Creslin, give the envoy a tour of the grounds. I have much to think about." Her command given, she turned and headed back towards the entrance to the castle. Only two other women remain behind.
Silence reined for a few eternal moments until finally Ranma asked, "Has your hair always been silver like that?"
Creslin's jaw is clenched tightly, Ranma noticed, but he allowed it to relax so that he can answer. "Yes, why?"
"Mine used to be black before I came here. I was hoping that it was temporary, but I guess I'll have to live with it. Maybe Nabiki will like it." They hadn't begun the tour yet, and Ranma wasn't really eager to. Instead he walked over to a nearby bench and sits down."
"Do women control this whole world?" Ranma asked loudly enough for Creslin to hear over a sudden gust of wind. He really felt sorry for the guy.
Creslin looked at the two guards, standing impassively against the wall near the entrance to the castle, then he walks over to the bench and joins Ranma. "No, just the eastern part of this continent," he answered.
"Not that I have anything against women being in charge, but… they don't really seem to treat men all that well. The Amazons on my planet were just like here, except there were only a few hundred of them and they didn't all act like their brains were frozen solid."
Creslin laughed bitterly. "You can blame that on the Legend."
"It's the story of the angels falling from Heaven when they fought the demons. All the angels were women and they blamed all their troubles on men. So now we have the Legend. Men are all weak and incompetent and women are better at everything."
"Ouch. Glad I'm not in your shoes." Ranma really felt very sorry for the poor guy now. It was even worse than the Amazon village; they had half a freakin' continent here.
Creslin's shoulders sagged and he went silent.
"At least you're not engaged to marry one of them. When I was your age I was supposed to marry one of those Amazons I mentioned. She looked pretty good and was a great fighter, but they treated the men in their village about like here."
The silver-haired youth looked at Ranma with wide eyes. "I'm leaving tomorrow to wed the sub-Tyrant of Sarronnyn."
Ranma chuckled. "I'd take you back with me if you could survive the trip. It would probably screw up any hopes of working out a deal with the Marshall, too. Sorry."
"There's no use fighting a battle that you can't win," Creslin sighed and stood up, adjusting the sword harness that he wore across his back.
Ranma's eyes went to the sword Creslin wore. "You know how to use that?" he asked.
"Adequately," Creslin answered, following Ranma's gaze.
"I don't really care about a tour. How about we spar? I haven't used a sword in a while, but I should be able to manage."
In response, the younger man walked over to the rack holding the wooden practice swords. Ranma shrugged of his pack and accepted the weapon.
"I believe he speaks truly," Llyse said.
"As do I," confirmed the Marshall. "But the question is not whether we believe him. Instead, we must consider what danger Ranma represents. The weapons he possesses are extremely powerful. If Japan can produce such weapons, could we hope to stand against them?"
"The envoy claims that he is the only person on his world capable of surviving the journey here. Perhaps if we knew why this is so, we could make a better judgment," Aemris, the senior armsmaster, commented.
"What of his claim to have fought demons?" Heldra asked.
"True." The Marshall almost cracked a smile at the incredulous looks she received from her senior advisors and even her daughter. "Both White and Black mages can discern lies from the truth."
"If you knew the Envoy was telling the truth, why then did you ask for further proof?" Llyse asked her mother.
The Marshall shrugged. "I was curious. Back to the subject; what does Japan want with us?"
The table was silent until finally Llyse said, "You never bothered to ask, Marshall."
The Marshall shook her head ruefully. "I don't know where my mind is today. The shock of seeing another silver-haired man who so closely resembles Werlynn, and then holding that laser weapon…" She shook her head again. "I apologize for my mishandling of this situation."
Llyse swallowed deeply at the mention of her father.
Someone knocked on the door to the small study. "Yes?"
A junior guard quickly stepped into the doorway and reported, "Marshall, ser, the guard captain on duty in the training yard requests your presence as soon as possible. It involves consort Creslin and the envoy."
"You've got some real skill, Creslin. It wouldn't take much to teach you to utilize your chi," Ranma said, all the while easily deflecting Creslin's lightning-quick sword strokes.
The silver-haired youth is flushed and panting. With his attacks now faltering and proving even easier for Ranma to deflect or otherwise avoid, Creslin backed away and waved Ranma off. "I yield, I yield." He stumbled over to the bench and plopped down heavily. After a few quick breaths, he asked, "What's chi?"
"Spirit energy. It's kinda hard to explain, but a person can do a lot of different things with it. Watch." Ranma looked around and found a small piece of wood from a broken practice sword. He kicked it up into the air and sliced through it with his own practice blade. When the two pieces of wood fell to the ground Ranma picked them up and handed them to Creslin.
"It's as smooth as glass," Creslin said, examining the edges of the cut that bisected the wood.
"When I infused chi into this plain wooden sword, I made it stronger and sharper than steel," Ranma told him.
"Most impressive," said the Marshall from the entrance to the training yard.
To be continued.
Author's Notes: Yay, I finally wrote something again! Hopefully I'll be able to get back on track soon, but I'm sorta in a bad situation with my mother right now so there aren't any guarantees. This fic crosses over with the second book, The Towers Of The Sunset in the Saga of Recluce series by L.E. Modesett, Jr. Most of the books are pretty good. The Ranmaverse isn't really an alternate, just a continuation that picks up maybe seven or eight years after the end of the anime. C&C welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to crappy Internet connection here at home, and a lack of patience on my part, I haven't replied to any e-mail in a while, so here are answers to the most asked questions:
(Not in any particular order) 1: If you want to host my fics, that's cool. Just copy them from someone else's page. Phu (http://phu.anifics.com, I think) is up to date. 2: No, I don't maintain a web page of my own. 3: Sorry, don't use prereaders. 4: I really have no idea when any of my fics will be updated. I have been writing much more sporadically over the last month than I used to and have to go where my mind tells me. 5: And yes, as you can see, I am alive.
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