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The shadowy form landed on top of Nerima’s numerous rooftops and ghosted away, steadily moving farther from the Tendo dojo, his figure soon swallowed by the surrounding night.  Unknown to him, all-too-human eyes tried to track and follow his movements.  The stalker’s movements were soon made known to the young lord of the night, as he heard the thumping of the all-too-human heart, the labored breaths and the sound of sweat drops falling on the asphalt.  He knew, yet he paid little mind to the one following him; for he was savoring the moment, trying to commit to memory every single detail of the town he was to leave behind.  Tomorrow morning he would be traveling with his sire to Europe, never to return again.  A trip made necessary to facilitate adjustment, reflection, and the dulling of pain and memory.

Jiro Maeda presents
A Ranma ˝  / Vampire Chronicles fanfic

Disclaimer, The characters and situations of Vampire Chronicles are owned by Anne O'Brien Rice and Random House..  The crazy bunch of martial artists living in Nerima, their quirks and circumstances and the events involving them are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. The other characters exist only in the mind of the author and are not intended to resemble any person living, deceased or undead. No amount of money was made in the production of this fanfic.

Act 2a: Juliet’s Sonata

Ryouga struggled to keep up, his breath came in ragged gasps, and his feet were sore from running, trying not to lose his quarry.  Once, when Ranma was human, this would have been so easy.  Yet now, he was running full tilt, exceeding his limitations, yet he still had a hard time keeping up.  Fatigue was starting to creep into his muscles.  His legs, always used to traveling really large distances, were now screaming for rest.  Yet he knew deep inside that he could not give in, that he must not let his tiredness beat him.   He must confront the monster that he is following, for himself and for Akane; he must… keep… on.   He fell hard on the unforgiving street, his weary body forcing him to accept what his mind and heart could not; he couldn’t go any further. Tears began to fall from his eyes, tears of frustration, tears wrought from justice denied.  Suddenly, the one he sought was beside him.  Whisper-soft, Ryouga didn’t even hear him drop down.  He was so struck by Ranma’s presence that he failed to move.  There was an aura of something around him that made Ranma inhuman.

“I don’t know what you want with me, Bacon-breath, but you’re gonna stop followin’ me startin’ right now.” he said, annoyance evident in his voice.

The lost boy turned, looking the vampire in the eye, his hands shook with fury as his aura began to flare about him.  “I’m going to make you pay, Ranma. For hurting Akane, I’m gonna make sure you’ll regret ever coming back.  I’m gonna beat you so bad you’ll never bother Akane ever again.” he growled, each word filled with menace.

Ranma smirked at this; he shook his head to show his unbelief. “Hurt her?  That’s a laugh and a half.  The last time I saw her, Akane was anything but hurting.  As for bothering her, you don’t hafta worry ‘bout that neither.” he whispered as he turned away, each word softer than the last.  He walked a few steps before speaking again.  “I’m leaving this town, along with all the weirdness that’s in it.  I just visited the tomboy tonight to say goodbye.”

Ryouga was momentarily stunned, but his rage soon returned to him, seeing that his rival wasn’t taking him seriously.  “Don’t turn your back on me, Ranma. You ain’t off the hook yet, you’re not leaving till I punish you for making Akane cry.” he screamed, charging at the vampire.  Ranma merely dodged and swerved throughout the whole attack, an arrogant smirk was still discernable on his face.  He yawned, turned and kicked Ryouga into a nearby trashcan.

“I thought you were smarter than this, Ryouga. You can’t beat me; I’m no longer what I used to be.  None of your crummy moves ain’t gonna do nothin’ to me,” he said, staring at his opponent, who at that moment was getting up with murder in his eyes.

“So you say, Ranma. You’re a big talker for someone who can’t even kick properly, I hardly felt that tap of yours.” Ryouga yelled as he rushed towards Ranma like an out-of-control freight train.  He was surprised when moments later he was sent back to the same trashcan he fell into earlier.

“Thanks Ryouga, you’re a real pal.  I’ll remember this last match we had,” came the almost whispered voice of the vampire as he walked away.   Ryouga scrambled up and ran after him.

“Damn you Saotome, we’re not through yet. I still haven’t punched your face in for what you did to Akane.” He screamed, his battle umbrella held before him as he charged.  He didn’t see the pebble in his path tripping him and making him fall into a puddle that triggered his curse.

Ranma turned, a wistful expression on his face, his eyes showed regret and sadness as he spoke. “Whatever. Ryouga, do me a favor and look after the tomboy, will ya?  I can’t trust no one else to watch over her.” He took to the rooftops and disappeared as the first rays of the dawning sun began to appear in the horizon, a frustrated squeal breaking the silence of the night as he left.

Ranma slipped into the rented suite and noticed that all his clothes have been packed and his casket, as well as that of his sire, was also ready to be transported.  A pitcher of cold water was on the table and a white sundress was laid out on the bed.  It seemed he— or rather she— was to travel first class rather than baggage class.  He upended the pitcher and began mechanically changing his— now her— clothes.  He hadn’t realized until his recent change how powerful Jusenkyo’s magic actually was.  Fully clothed, Ranma stepped out of the suite and headed towards the lobby. Felix was already there, settling their bill.  They left the hotel and headed for a rented limo that was waiting for them outside, ready to take them to Narita airport.  As they walked towards the automobile, Ranma silently thanked the gods for the curse that she had acquired in Jusenkyou.  Without it, she mused, she would never have experienced watching another sunrise or the feeling of the sun’s rays on her skin; something she regretted she could not share with her sire.  A tear fell from her face as she mentally said goodbye to her life in Japan.  Felix opened the door for her and she went in, wiping the tears off her face.  Her every movement was so ladylike that no one would mistake her for anything other than a refined heiress of a very rich family.

“Did my mother say which part of Europe we will be visiting?” she asked Felix, her French unaccented like before.  They were now on the road to the airport. Felix was driving the limousine; the suitcases and Ranma’s casket were sent ahead.  Pandora’s casket was inside the car trunk.

“It appears there had been a slight change of plans, young mistress. Your ‘mother’ said we were going to America,” the old manservant replied, his voice calm and monotonous, nothing to indicate the sorrow he felt for his young charge.

Ranma nodded, digesting this information as she delicately drank her juice using a straw.  “I wonder why the sudden change of plans,” she said, switching unerringly to English as she brushed imaginary lint from her immaculately white dress.

“The mistress mentioned something about visiting a friend of hers,” he replied as he parked the vehicle at a spot reserved for them.  A Lear jet was waiting in the runway, and Ranma’s various possessions were at that moment being loaded in it.  Felix motioned to the workmen and they assisted him in loading the casket bearing Pandora into the plane.  All of these men were trusted agents; all knew the Lady Pandora for what she and her “daughter” really were, and all were fiercely loyal to her and her youngling, for they had been assisted by the gracious lady at one time or another and each of them would have gladly exchanged life and limb for her. Ranma went up to the walkway where she was greeted by a flight attendant.

“Lady Juliet, welcome aboard. We shall be leaving shortly,” she said, smiling as she led “Lady Juliet” to her seat. Ranma looked out the window and pressed her hand against the glass, this time she couldn’t stop the tears that fell from her face. Her expression tightened as the aircraft began to ascend, the airport soon becoming nothing more than a speck.

Soon Japan would be nothing more than a memory, and Ranma, known to the old ones as Pandora’s beloved daughter Juliet, would meet the one who would create a lasting impression on the young vampire, the person who would change his life yet again.  The brat prince, the vampire Lestat.

Act 2b: Dance of the dead

Dark, so dark, not even a pinprick of light was in this place.  She blindly sought out her way as she tried to seek something familiar.  Without knowing, she realized she could see more and what she had been traveling in was a tunnel, a very huge and long tunnel.  She felt moisture around her knees and saw mist, mist that was beginning to rise higher and higher.

She ran, faster and faster until she collided with something, something warm hard in some places and soft in others, she heard a muffled ‘oof’ and then an annoyed voice say “Ow. Jeez, tomboy, ya could’ve hurt somebody.”

She looked up and saw the concerned face of her fiancé, Ranma Saotome. He smiled at her, bent and offered a hand to help her up.  She smiled in gratitude and got up using his hand as support and then hugged him, so hard she heard another muffled “oof!”

“Oi, Akane, you’re acting like we haven’t seen each other in years.” he said, his eyes twinkling in amusement. She merely buried her head in his shirt and wept silently.  Ranma’s features softened as he began to lightly caress her hair. “I’m sorry, Akane, that was a bad joke.  I’ll never leave you again.  I promise, we’ll be together always,” he said as he opened his mouth and revealed fangs, “from now till eternity…” he murmured as he sank his teeth into Akane’s neck.

Akane woke up screaming.  Her heart pounded against her chest as she reminded herself that it was just a dream… wasn’t it?

Akane went to school as always, coming to Tokyo University ten minutes earlier than the first bell so that she could prepare for her first class; at least, that’s what she usually did.  The events and the dream of the previous night, however, made her somewhat distracted.  Thus, when someone touched her on the shoulder, she screamed and jumped from her seat.

“Whoa. Steady there, princess, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Tetsuya remarked; grinning from ear to ear like the proverbial cat that ate the canary.

“Tetsu-kun, you startled me.  I watched a scary movie last night and it still reverberates in my head, I guess,” she replied, smiling, thinking that if she told him the truth he’d just laugh it off and call her silly.

Tetsuya smiled and shook his head, hiding the joy he felt on being called by such an intimate moniker.   “Well, I guess I’ll leave you to your thoughts for a while. I still have to work on Professor Izuma’s assignment.”  He waved to her as he walked back to his desk.  Unknown to them, a pair of eyes monitored their every movement.

P-chan watched them from a nearby tree branch; his features were obstructed by the numerous leaves, hiding his black porcine body from view of the occupants of the classroom.  His snout curled in a snarl as he observed that prick Tetsuya, making moves on Akane again.

Akane had been talking about him a lot these past few days, interspersed with crying over Ranma.  His eyes narrowed in remembrance of the humiliation he suffered from the young vampire. The worst thing was… he knew that Ranma was holding back.  But he’d do what the undead bastard asked— not because he’d asked, not that he was afraid of the jerk or nothing— he was doing it for Akane. Who knew if the bastard’s companions would decide to make a meal out of her?

Not that he’d mind if he were there to save her, making him a hero.  “Oh Ryouga, you’re so brave for saving me from those monsters.” he imagined her saying.  His porcine lips curled in a smile as he indulged himself a few moments of fantasy.

So absorbed was he, that he didn’t notice a pan filled with hot soup fly towards him.  It hit him squarely in the face and proceeded to soak him, triggering the change.  The tree branch he was on couldn’t support the new weight, so it broke and fell, carrying an au natural, blissfully unawake Ryouga with it.

Akane yawned. She found herself having difficulty staying awake; that dream had totally shaken her to the core. She rubbed her eyes and stifled another yawn. The damned professor with his droning monotone didn’t help, either.  She resolved that she would go to sleep later, maybe after this class.

She was about to doze off again when she heard a thud near the window. The students nearest to the window opened the panes and peeked out.  The professor didn’t even notice, still continuing the lesson as if he hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary.  Akane shrugged. If he didn’t notice half the class going to take a look at the window, he wouldn’t notice a single student taking a nap, would he? With that in mind, she proceeded to try to catch some z’s and was interrupted by the impact of a chalk stick on her noggin.

“Ms. Tendo, I would insist that you pay attention to my lecture. This is a classroom, not your bedroom.” The professor droned in what he hoped to be a stern voice, but was only an ‘I’m bored out of my skull’ tone.

Akane blushingly apologized while inwardly thinking that this sort of thing only happened to Ranma.  The thought was apparently too much for her and she fainted, the room going black all around her.

When she reopened her eyes she saw that she was in the clinic.  A hand firmly grasped hers, one definitely belonging to a certain Tetsuya Yamamoto.  She was about to thank him for staying by her side when she heard a soft snoring coming from his direction.  She snickered at that, remembering that Ranma was also a sleepyhead.

She shook her head to prevent the tears that threatened to fall. She still couldn’t get over him; everything around her brought him to mind. Anything could evoke a memory of him, nowadays more vividly due to the fact that he was still alive— or what passed for it. Her quiet sniffling stirred Tetsuya into wakefulness.  When he asked what the matter was, she just shook her head in reply and he, not wanting to force her to speak, just let the matter drop.

Outside, Ryouga was peeking through a dirty windowpane, his once again porcine body still feeling the pain of the fall. It wouldn’t have bothered him a bit if it were an ordinary fall, but not even the Bakusai Tenketsu training could prepare him for the experience of falling from several stories high.  He pressed his snout unto the windowpane, trying to see more than the dirty window would allow him to.   His eyes widened when he saw Tetsuya holding Akane’s hand, and she sobbing as if… as if…

Ryouga’s mind overloaded upon the numerous possible reasons on why Akane was crying and so he let out a loud 'bwee' of anguish.   He trotted away on all fours on what he assumed was the path leading back to the Tendo Dojo, not knowing that he was on his way once again to Hokkaido. He had to think. He had to be calm and stable, for Akane’s sake.

Akane had decided to return home, and Tetsuya decided to accompany her, his hand holding hers, lending comfort and strength.  They had reached the bus station without incident and Akane gave him a peck on the cheek for being supportive of her.  He was still waving, still wearing that goofy smile when he got home.  He went to bed thinking he was the luckiest man alive.  That night he dreamed about her, not knowing that outside his tranquil world, things that only spring form the worst nightmares walked the streets, all seeking the one who held the heart of Pandora’s son.


To be continued.

Act 3
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