It has been eight years since Nerima has suffered the chaos that prevailed in the life of one Ranma Saotome, eight years of peace and quiet. Eight years of tranquil normality and serenity, and the citizens of Nerima welcomed it; a whole eight years since Ranma Saotome left Nerima and their lives.
A Ranma Ĺ story
by Jiro Maeda
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Prologue: Return to Chaos
A party was in full swing at the grounds of Furinkan high school, old friends catching up with each other and reminiscing about good times. Others basked in the borrowed glory of their now-successful friends.
Akane Tendo smiled as she was bombarded with questions from her old friends. She had returned to her hometown for a break from filming another of the martial arts drama movies that were the rage in Hollywood these days. Nobody had expected her to be an actress, not even her. She was discovered by one of the prominent directors in the States after winning a national tournament, and signed her up on the spot. Three years and several movies and awards later, she had begged for a break from the hustle and bustle of show business and came home just in time for the reunion. She turned to excuse herself and accidentally collided with someone. "Iím so sorry, I didnít see where I was going," she apologized; bowing low to the person she bumped.
"Itís all right, sugar. I donít think you broke any bones. But you still owe me an explanation why you didnít attend my engagement party," replied a very familiar voice. Akane looked up as she straightened from her bow and couldnít believe her eyes as she beheld…
"Ukyou! My god, I canít believe itís really you! You look positively radiant." she cried as she hugged the Okonomiyaki chef. Said Chef returned the hug, and then stood back and looked at her.
"You ainít lookiní bad yourself Ak-chan. And here I thought Iíd only see you in the movies."
Their reunion was cut short by a familiar and altogether annoying scream. "Where on earth am I now?"
"That jackass! One of these days Iím buying him a leash! Why I married that directionally-impaired moron is beyond me." Ukyo growled and then excused herself as she stalked towards the general direction of her husband, a flicker of chi creating a corona of light around her. A loud commotion was heard, followed by sounds of violence and pain, moments later Ukyo returned with a very bruised Ryouga in tow, pushing a baby carriage where a fang-toothed toddler of two years had watched amused as his mother beat up his father.
"Aheh. Sorry about that, honey. I sorta went to the bathroom and got lost." Ryouga said, scratching the back of his head as he apologized.
Ukyo frowned at him, causing the bandanna-clad warrior to back away. "Didnít I tell you to wait for me beside my old classroom? Whatís up with you, shouting like a caveman? Youíre lucky the babyís ears didnít get damaged by your noise," she berated her husband, who just smiled sheepishly as he murmured words of apology. The girls giggled at the sight of the heavily muscled martial-artist prostrating himself at the feet of his frowning wife. Then to show that she wasnít really angry, Ukyo grabbed her surprised husbandís face and engaged in lip lock right there and then. Ryouga promptly fainted to the applause of the people around them as Ukyo blushed at the attention she received.
Akane shook her head in amusement; a few years ago she wasnít certain things would turn out this way. With Ryouga married and Ukyo still pining for Ranma, nobody expected them to come together, until the day Akari was struck down by a disease she got from her Sumo-pigs, and Ryouga fell into a deep well of depression. It only took a few choice words from Ukyo to snap him out of it, and theyíd been together ever since. It was only two years ago that they decided to get married, an occasion Akane didnít hesitate to skip filming for. To see her friends like this made her so nostalgic yet at the same time so very happy… the only thing that would make this occasion even more perfect would be for Ranma to show up, but there was a fat chance of that happening. She sighed and tired to bring herself to enjoy the day.
Not so far away, two covered figures were walking towards Nerima. The hoods of their cloaks obscured their faces, and their clothes appeared worn and caked with dirt. They appeared to have been on the road for a very long time, and the short one appeared worn out as she leaned on the taller one.
"How much farther, nii-chan? Iím tired and hungry." She complained, and was evidenced by the growling sound that her stomach emitted.
The taller one patted her head and replied. "Not much farther. If you want, I can carry you piggyback. Weíre almost there, kid, donít worry."
The younger one shook her head; "I can make it. You did say itís just a bit further down the road, right? Besides, you canít carry me while carrying all our stuff." She replied, stifling a giggle as she imagined what her big brother would look like, appearing somewhat like a pack-mule.
The taller one chuckled softly as he took her hand and proceeded on their way, not noticing the shadowy creatures that followed in their footsteps.
"Nii-chan, tell me again about Akane." The girl asked again as she settled her head on the folds of her companionís cloak, who placed his hand around her shoulder drawing her to a hug. He was about to indulge her request when all hell decided to break loose.
"Oh shit!" he said as they began to run.
Back at Furinkan, the party was going full swing. The awards ceremony had just finished, and they had named Nabiki Tendo Ďmost outstanding alumnusí for her achievements in the corporate world. Tatewaki Kuno began to rant that he should have been the one to receive the award for being the best kendoka of all Japan. He didnít get to finish his spiel, however, for it was at that time that the wall behind him burst apart, revealing hideous monster-like creatures that should have only existed in science fiction movies or sentai shows. Hideous mutated things that belong in nightmares and not in the waking world now walked the halls of Furinkan, sowing terror and death wherever they were. The crowd at Furinkan began to panic, running to and fro like headless chickens, trampling over each other in their need to get away.
Ukyo, her husband, and the Tendou sisters were lumped together as the frightened mob fled around them. Ryouga silently handed Nabiki his kid as he and his wife got ready to fight, Akane right beside them.
"I wish I brought my spatulas, Ryo-chan." Ukyo exclaimed as she bashed one of the monsters into the wall.
"Get over it, honey. You werenít expecting trouble, and neither was I, or else I would have brought my new umbrella with me," Ryouga replied as he calmly dismembered a nearby monster, using his superior strength to pull the abnormal creatureís arm out of its socket.
Some moments and countless mutilated fiends later found the martial artists still standing, although they sported bruises, cuts and wounds in numerous places. Both the baby and Nabiki were safe behind them. The warriors struggled on as they began to tire. Yet for every one monster they put down, three surged to take its place.
"I donít think we can take them all, Akane. Thereís just too many of them. Maybe you better take Nabiki and the baby and get out of here," Ukyo remarked, wiping an errant trickle of blood away from her eyes.
Her friend just shook her head. "Iím not leaving anyone behind, Ukyo," she remarked grimly. She was breathing heavily, fatigue obviously catching up to her.
Ryouga just frowned, wishing he still had his depression to draw power from. Ever since being married to Ukyo, he couldnít find it in him to get depressed; he was too happy, and now it was going to cost them. Suddenly he heard a gasp from his wifeís direction, he looked at her askance and found her staring at him as if seeing a ghost.
Ukyo pointed a quivering finger at him and said, "Ryo-chan, youíre glowing!" Her voice was shaky and full of fear and hope, both at the same time.
It was then that he noticed it; the despair that this situation had brought about had awakened the latent power sleeping inside him. He smiled, there might be a slight chance after all, but he wasnít betting on it. "Stand back!" he ordered as he proceeded to concentrate, driving all of his despair into him, collecting its power, making it grow bigger and stronger, until…
"SHI-SHI-HOUKODAN!" The chi-ball wasnít as big as he hoped it would be, yet it worked just the same, plowing into the ranks of the humanoids, making them look like sprawled pins after the rush of a huge bowling ball. But, just as soon as they were cleared, even more monsters filled the gap.
Just when the tiny group of martial artists were giving up hope on getting out of it alive, they were startled when the window nearest them broke, a shadowy figure hurtled through, carrying what appeared to be a body of a young girl.
The stranger gently lowered the girl to the floor and stood up from his crouching position. He then stretched out his left hand, palm out, ring finger and thumb forming a circle, he murmured something beneath his breath, and the rune symbols on the golden bracers he wore began to glow. The force of the technique ruffled his cloak, as if battered by an unseen force. He pointed up and bellowed. "RAI-HA!" The sky then proceeded to darken and bolts of lightning began to rain down on the hapless humanoids, frying them where they stood.
The rest of the dread host, upon seeing most of their member being decimated in such a manner, began to flee in earnest, and soon all was quiet once again.
The stranger sighed and lowered his hood, revealing to the observers a face that they havenít glimpsed for over eight years.
"Hi guys," Ranma began, "Sorry about this." He then grinned sheepishly.
To be continued.
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