Five years ago…
Punch, kick, duck and turn.
Ranma Saotome, heir of the combined schools of Anything Goes Martial Arts, executed the deadly yet beautiful dance, high atop the Himalayas. His breathing was steady as he executed a difficult upside-down spinning snap-kick and then kippuped to ready position. He wiped the sweat from his face as he went over the whole exercise in his mind, searching for holes in his defense and finding ways to make his attacks more effective.
He had left Nerima three years earlier to sort out his feelings, as well as to get away from all the madness that constituted his life. The pigtailed martial artist sighed deeply as he recalled the chaos that had surrounded him every single day.
He had turned to head back to his campsite to begin preparations for lunch when suddenly he heard a scream. He ran towards the direction of the scream and found a little girl surrounded by several large men. He leaped into the air and came down in front of the girl.
"If you want to take her, you're going to have to deal with me first," he declared as he shifted to a slouching, loose stance. Several of the men smiled sardonically and charged the lone defender of their quarry. Ranma smirked in reply as he rushed them, disabling most of them before they even got close. "If you guys don't want to get hurt, leave now," he cried, flaring up his battle aura. Instead of being frightened, the men began laughing, those that were downed earlier getting up as if nothing happened. They then began to glow with a strange eerie power and then began changing. Scaly skin emerged from human flesh, sprung out of once-human hands. Several demonic creatures stood where Ranma's enemies once stood. He gulped as they steadily advanced. "This is going to be a bit of a problem," he said as he charged forward again.
A Ranma ½ story
by Jiro Maeda
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video
Chapter 1: Calm Before the Storm
The little girl closed her eyes as she heard the screams of pain of her defender. A thud nearby made her realize that her protector had fallen. She peeked at him and saw that he was bleeding all over from various wounds. He had successfully dispatched of three of the monstrous beasts, one with a hurricane that sprung full-grown out of nowhere, the other he blasted into bits with a golden ball of light, the last one he sliced with blades of vacuum. That was when they ganged up on him, using their superior strength, speed and numbers they slowly slashed him up. The little girl didn't know what else to do. She knew that her life depended on the young man's survival, but she was still too weak to help. She was suddenly reminded of one of her earlier lessons. A bonding spell, her master called it. It would bind her protector's soul to a more powerful creature's. Stealthily she drew a mandala on the snowy soil around her and quietly uttered the prayer, each syllable louder than the next until the last word was shouted.
"Sword of Justice, I call upon you. Shield of Truth, I beseech you. Aid your humble servant in her time of direst need. Give my protector the strength, the skill, and the power of the supreme warriors of all time. I call upon you to lend your strength, your skill and your power. Grant it unto mine guardian so that he may aid this humble servant of Light. Come forth, grand defender. Come forth, steadfast protector. Paragon of warriors, I summon you. Come forth, Orion!"
Ranma wanted to stand up, but his limbs refused to cooperate with him. He had difficulty breathing. ‘One of my ribs must be broken,’ he thought as he painfully moved his body to a more defendable position. In his mind, he raged that he would die up here, alone, without telling Akane that he loved her, without a chance to even say goodbye. Suddenly, he was infused with power. He felt his bones re-knit themselves into a semblance of working order. He felt his wounds close up, fading away into nothing. And then he felt the power infuse him. His mind was suddenly bombarded by knowledge of strategy and tactics from warriors of long ago. Spells and techniques he didn't know existed suddenly were revealed to him. He stood up and leveled a glare at the monstrosities that were, moments ago, about to finish him off. "Ready for round two?" he asked as he cracked his knuckles and came at them, letting fly deadly combinations of punches and kicks that sent the beasts reeling. Finally tiring of the sport, he raised his left hand, middle and pointer finger pointed upward and chanted in an unknown language with his eyes closed. When he opened them, his eyes were smoldering, infused with an unearthly power. He lowered his hand to chest level and screamed, "Inferno!" Columns of fire erupted from beneath the fiends and they screamed as the cleansing fire form beneath the earth consumed their flesh. When all was quiet once more, Ranma stared at his hands and then promptly fainted.
Akane stalked towards the pigtailed martial artist, the fists at her side clenching and unclenching. She stood right in front of the now panicking warrior and slapped him hard. "That was for leaving without saying goodbye," she said, her eyes burning with rage. She then grabbed her stunned fiancé's face and proceeded to give him a long passionate kiss. "And that… was for coming back when I needed you," she murmured, tears were threatening to fall from her eyes. She hugged her beloved's form to her as if not daring to let go. "Oh God, I missed you," she murmured, her words muffled by his shirt.
Ranma's eyes bulged with surprise at his fiancée's uncharacteristic display of affection as he shakily enfolded her body with his arms. He kissed the top of her forehead and murmured words of affection into her ear.
The moans of the wounded intruded into their tender moment, reminding the two lovers that there was work to be done. They disengaged from one another and, side by side, looked after their classmates in need of attention.
Nabiki, used to taking charge, soon established a semblance of order with the help of her former associates. Hospitals were called, mats were unfurled to serve as temporary resting places for the weak and wounded, and facts were put to order, ready for the authorities that were bound to question the alumni about the earlier incident.
"Onii-chan?" the little girl known as Yumeko whimpered as she scrubbed her eyes. She turned and scanned her surroundings. She was distressed at what she saw; numerous people were moaning in pain, some even had parts of them missing. She saw her worn and tattered cloak lying where she rested and put it on. She got up from the cot she was laying on and started to look for her missing protector.
Ranma was startled to find his sleeping charge tugging at his pant-sleeve; he smiled as he lifted her so that they could converse face to face. The little tyke's face was scrunched up as if worried.
"Onii-chan, these people need help. There's so much pain here. Please, can't you do something about it?" Yumeko pleaded. She had adopted a puppy-dog look that was certain to turn her 'big brother' to her way of thinking.
Ranma shivered as he felt his little ward turn up the charm. He almost regretted that she knew he would never turn her down, especially when she acted cute. "You know I'm doing everything I can, chibi-chan. We just got here too late for most of 'em." Ranma answered as he wiped the grime off the little angel's face. He panicked when she smiled mischievously.
"We both know you could do more, onii-chan. If you want, I'll help you call her." Yumeko said with a knowing smile. She was certain that her guardian's resolve was weakening.
Ranma winced when the small magus reminded him of another persona that would indeed help the people in the gym. It was a power that to him was very, very embarrassing. "But you know how much I hate using that…" he whined as he gently placed the child on her own feet.
Yume decided to up the ante by increasing her considerable innate charm. She beamed at her protector, the smile she essayed as bright as a pleasant spring day. It made her cuteness factor increase by leaps and bounds. Her guardian never had a chance.
"Fine. But just this once." Ranma relented as she prepared the incantation to alter his form. "Seraphim… come forth," he whispered. A circle of light sprang under his feet. The circle slowly revolved; faster and faster it went as it gained size and height, until the caster was encased in a solid pillar of light.
Crowds began to gather as they noticed the strange phenomenon happening in their midst, yet they kept a safe distance. Only the martial artists and the little girl with them dared to come near the ethereal pillar until finally the light flared into unbearable brilliance. When the light faded, a golden haired angel stood, Gossamer wings framed her tunic-clad body, and a shiny gold breastplate covered her ample endowments. Her shapely legs were encased in soft, white boots. Golden bracers adorned her arms while a silver girdle enfolded her very small torso, and a bejeweled sword hung by her side. A simple tiara decorated her brow, while a complex earring set hung beneath her left ear.
The unearthly being opened her pale blue eyes, smiled and began to sing. Those who heard the song felt very tranquil and refreshed as, unnoticed, their wounds slowly began to heal. Scabs vanished almost instantly; bones began to re-knit themselves as if by magic. Limbs that were torn off grew back in seconds.
The angel ended her song, smiled and closed her eyes. In a heavenly voice she said, "Heaven's symphony completed." She fell on the ground, exhausted and promptly changed into a small buxom redhead wearing the same clothes Ranma wore.
Ryouga, who witnessed the whole thing, still couldn't believe his eyes. He closed his mouth with a click as he observed Akane cradling Ranma's unconscious form. "What on earth is going on here?" he asked no one in particular. He assisted Akane in carrying the unconscious martial artist back to the Tendo dojo, Ukyou carried the kid Ranma cared for, and Nabiki carried little Ryou, trailing after them. He fervently hoped Ranma could explain everything to them when he woke up. But even if he did, the fanged martial artist doubted he would believe everything. "And here I thought today was going to be peaceful," he murmured as he followed Akane to the Tendo Dojo.
To be continued.
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