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Demonbane Ltd., formerly AngelSpirit Co., presents a work of Ranma ½ fiction
by Griever

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ characters property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.

Warning: This is vague: just enough to hint at things. The other parts will be vague, too, but they're also gonna be dark, gloomy, and occasionally very, very red… with a whiff of citrus, if everything goes as planned. I'm working on the concept right now, in between other things, so it's not plotted. Just something I thought up in the way of entertainment while other ideas brewed that came and bit me in the ass demanding attention.


This is a story. The basic premise is pretty normal for a story:

A cursed prince who is the hero.

A quest.

Going off to save the world.

The basics, ne? What if it happened this way?


Griever sat on a cushion suspended over a scrying pool… Well, actually it wasn't much aside from a simple pond-shaped hole fashioned in white marble and filled with water. It had a constant "Remove algae" enchantment going, so it was a little magical.

The man didn't care about having a magic pond that constantly showed future, past or alternatives. A short-term scrying spell cast on it in conjunction with a small dimensional gate weave would suffice, and was less costly and draining than the upholding of a constant enchantment.

The magical/mechanical construct that overlapped and replaced his right eye glowed as his senses expanded through the pool.

This was interesting, he smirked.

Ooohh.

Interesting indeed.

"Now where'd I put that manual?" he grumbled, hands rummaging through the subspace store that kept his game booklets handy.

A hand fell on his shoulder, and he turned to the face of Saotome Ranma, who'd seated himself on a floating cushion of his own.

"And what," the younger man asked, "were you going to do with my analogue?"

"Heh… Nothing much," Griever said sheepishly, then frowned and shrugged. "All right, I was going to test something of a theory of mine."

"What theory is that?" Ranma asked dangerously. He was well aware of his fellow agent of Chaos' moods and ideas, and while they were entertaining most of the time, they could just get too bizarre.

"Ah, but that is a secret!" Griever smirked. A medicine ball appeared in a puff of smoke with the words 'Ano, quit stealing my lines, taichi!', and falling from midair clocked him on the head. "All right, I deserved that."

"So tell me already!" Ranma was getting irritated.

"Oh, hush! Watch this!" the older man said.

"What… Oh shit! You basta— Hey, this is interesting, at least." Ranma blink-blinked at the image, where his counterpart stood freshly after having had a little… accident.


Prologue: Thirty to One or What's in a Year?


A silver-haired youth with his hair braided in a long pigtail that reached the small of his back walked along the streets of Hong Kong. He did so with an ease born of an awareness that he was too much trouble to be worth messing with. The other pedestrians seemed to sense this, and wisely vacated his intended path.

His blue eyes were somber as the golden flecks that swirled in them moved in a slow-but-sure spiral pattern, and were one to examine his pupils they would be found most… odd. Then again, the near flawless ivory of his skin and the immaculate clothing he wore were more than a little unsettling. The fact that it was raining bothered him little, not since that time he'd discovered and drank from the appropriate Fountain.

It was surreal, to have one year encompass an entire life, a life in a world so different. And to return with hated certainty to the curse he now possessed. In another way it was a good thing. He saw clearly for the first time what a fool he'd been at times, in both lives. He was wiser and older, and certainly more powerful than before. Again, in either life. Of the names he'd born, he decided to keep the first one he'd been given. It seemed more appropriate in this world, and the other would just have caused uproar had he decided to turn to it.

The backpack he was lugging held all he had now, and that was quite a bit. The long wooden box strapped to his back contained one of the most dangerous items in this or any world. He'd hated it, always, but it was best out of the equation back where it came from. The old bastard would have a fit when he found out.

In one of the breast pockets of his shirt lay a carefully folded piece of paper, detailing the whereabouts of his "target". The grim smile that graced his lips would have been sign enough for the "target" to tremble.

"Damn," he muttered as he rounded a corner. "Too many stares."

He reached inside his essence, drawing out a spark and letting it fill him. The skin took on a darker, healthier tone, the hair went from startling white to raven-black, and the eyes from flecked with gold to simple deep blue.

"Better," the young looking man noted with some satisfaction. "I can keep it up long enough. Now, where's that damn airport?"

For some reason he liked the autumn, though for the life… Heh, he thought, Ironic, ain't it? …of him he couldn't say why. It was just something that seemed to draw him, the wonderful tapestry of gold and auburn in the branches of the trees, the soft moist feeling of a drizzle on the skin.

The dying time. Perhaps that was it. An analogy of his own existence… Still vibrant and alive in one way, and nearing the end in another.

He shook his head with a small snort. It wasn't any good, getting all philosophical about the facts of life, whatever those may have been. It just set a gloomy mood. But as much as he liked autumn, there were few trees along his path now. The growth of concrete and glass, of steel and alloy, had few places of natural beauty left.

Though it was a wonder in itself, the city. How its life blood that was its people flowed through veins that ran along at the oddest angles, in the oddest places. A contrast between chaos and order, and a study in opposites.

"Gah, drawing too close to analogies again. Best leave it as it is."

It was still good to see a city like this after all he'd been through. A return to civilization was quite the change. For one thing, there were far more people here.

The man snorted again. There his mind went, falling into the old tracks, analyzing… he had little need for that. He knew what he was and who he was, there was no sense in justification. His nature was more than enough of one. Still, it was quite liberating not to have worries about where he would get the next chance to eat in peace. One person, more or less, would be easily missed in the sea of the city's massive population.

Again, a heavy sigh. What was with all the introspection all of the sudden? He'd left that life behind, even if its most morbid reminder remained with him in this world. He could live with it, and more importantly, he could let others do it too. Control was a fine line to balance upon, and a fair price for the power he held. Right now he was going home, or at least to the place that had been his home for the few years he'd lived there.

Maybe he'd find his mother there. That would be nice. She'd probably want nothing to do with him now, but he hardly minded. Hell (been there, done that, by the way), he wanted nothing to do with himself.

Maybe he'd find his father there. That would be nice. He looked forward to the eventual meeting. There was so much he needed to tell the old man. And show. Definitely show.

"There we go," he said as he emerged from a less frequented street, maneuvering between discarded bottles and heaps of newspapers. The airport was in sight. "Now…"

Understandably, he wasn't detained along the way. Dressed as he was in traveling clothes, though they looked a tad light for this weather (Black shirt — check. Black pants — check. Slippers — check. Windbreaker — check.) and with his appearance altered to what it was now he was quite non-obtrusive if he wanted to be.

Go to counter, wait in line, get a ticket… Oh, yes, pay for ticket. Must remember that last bit. All in all, it hadn't gone that badly. He was sure he'd not go hungry on the flight, having packed some rations in the windbreaker and pack. He didn't think he'd need them, though, as he'd eaten just hours ago. He didn't need much nowadays, even if it was nice to "pig out" once in a while. He could get by without nourishment for a week if nothing serious had to be done. Altering mana flows around himself to attain that result had been tricky, but it had worked. It would have been much, much easier to get the same from altering his ki in the right way, but the problem was he didn't have any ki, at least not the kind that could be used in the usual manner. So mana had to do. He'd been perfecting the spellweaves for a month before he dared use them, nearly dying when he did so for the first time. The second try ended well enough, though.

Negotiating his way past the customs office had taken a little more effort. After all, lugging a fair five feet — or more, he hadn't really checked that precisely and that was without counting the hilt — of steel on one's back, even in a wooden box, was not something you usually did when getting aboard a plane. He'd made do, though, even if a little "special" prodding had been required in order to get a wave-through.

Useful little trick, the man chuckled, if only I'd known it a year ago… or thirty, for that matter.

"Welcome aboard. May I see your ticket?" the voice was quite pleasant. The woman in question was dressed in a rather tasteful blue stewardess uniform, hat included. Made her look cute. Well, cuter. A bit on the short side, but nicely filled out regardless. The blond streaks in her black hair might have seemed tacky at another time or place, but fit her just fine. It went with the gray eyes, he guessed. She was very attractive, but the man beat that attraction down with an effort of iron will trained to do that specifically. He could not allow himself lapses in that regard.

He handed her the ticket, putting a slightly mocking smile on his face. Maybe that would deter interest. Uh, oh. Wrong. Guess she found it charming. Damn. Keep cool. Keep control. You've done so well until now.

She smiled brightly at him, and he kept the same expression.

"Well?" he asked after a moment had passed, snapping her from whatever fantasy world she'd been in. He was well aware that he was considered attractive, but had never thought the glamour would let that penetrate. He'd made it as unobtrusive as possible. Damn. Still, he'd never have thought that he'd ever envy Moe (the man had always gotten furious at that short of his name, even when he'd died) for looks, if only for a moment because of convenience.

The woman shook her head, as if to clear it, and led him to his seat.

"Hmm, nice," he said in a murmur. It was loud enough for the stewardess to hear, and clear enough for the touch of boredom to penetrate. He was going to play "snob" up to the hilt. The young man sank into the first class seat, letting the bags he'd brought aboard rest in the one beside him, and taking care to deposit the wooden box under the seat. It just barely fit, lengthwise. "Do wake me when we're there. I've a busy schedule to keep." He waved her off with the most disdainful expression he could muster. It worked, making the woman frown in distaste. She was probably wondering what she had done to him to deserve something like this, and figured he was just a total asshole. All the best for both him and her, really.

He didn't need trouble… Yet.

The flight itself was rather peaceful, and he faked sleep throughout the duration. That wasn't hard either. When he was "woken up", he still played the asshole, and got off the plane with little trouble. A short time later he was walking along the streets of Tokyo, having breezed through customs and pass-checks with ease equaling the wave of a hand… which was much of what he'd done. A simple SEP field-weave around his person was more than enough to deter any inquiries.

His guise still up, the man started along the busy streets of the Japanese metropolis and capital, the city he'd been born in. A year later than intended, but the man who had once called himself Ranma Saotome was finally coming home. Whether they'd take him or not.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

 

To be continued.


Author's notes: As I said before, it's vague. It implies several things, but the crux is pretty hard to spot, I think. I keep my cards too close to my chest sometimes. Anyway, yes, it's a year after his coming to Nerima in the original timeline of the Ranmaverse. I'm using the basic "dimensional warp at Jusenkyo" premise for it. This Ranma is older though, wiser (or seems to be), and has the motto of the Crusader series of computer games deeply ingrained into his being (No Remorse, No Regrets). What made him that way? Why can he do magic now? What's this about him living another life in the span of one year (title's a clue here^^)? What curse? He doesn't change with water after all, ne? Why doesn't he have ki and why does he hide his appearance? And yes, that is a sword in that box.

Teaser:

Ranma (white hair mode): So, I'm going home. It'll be weird. As weird as getting used to this modern stuff.

[Ranma walking along a sidewalk, packs and wooden box on his back.]

Ranma: I'll manage. I may not be Balance anymore, but I'll manage. Sunglasses help a lot, though.

[Ranma atop a roof, staring into the sunrise through a set of mirror specs.]

Ranma: In the next part, I try to find my family, someone bites off more than they can chew, and I do my good deed for the year. I correct my table manners too.

[Ranma sips from a heavy goblet, a wine bottle with the label facing away from the screen stands on the table next to him.]

Ranma (smug smirk): And answers to some questions regarding my past shall be given. I bet you have some of it figured out already, ne?

[Ranma standing in a set of black and red armor, with an iron longsword in his hand, his silver hair glinting in the moonlight. He's facing what appear to be nine marble columns that seem to reach into the sky, going on and on into eternity.]

Ranma: All in Crimson: Chapter One. It's red, and it runs in the family.

Chapter 1
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