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A Ranma 1/2 Story
by Jonathan Rosebaugh

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.

It was going to be different. Everything was going to be different.

Those thoughts are on the forefront of my mind on the last day of my life, a day which should have come far sooner then it did. I stand in the Tendou Dojo. It looks a lot different now, compared to when it had been practically demolished and rebuilt every week. That hadn't happened for almost twenty years, now. I'm going to change that.

Nobody would bomb the Tokyo Tower, they said. After all, it's practically a cliché, considering how often it happens in movies and anime. Which means that nobody was expecting it. The two terrorist groups who each decided to make a statement certainly hadn't planned to share their target. In the aftermath, investigators said that it would have held up if only one of the bombs had gone off. The accident, the deadly, unplanned combination of the two hadn't been planned for when they constructed it, and so the Tower came tumbling down. And everyone died.

Some of them made it to the hospital, of course, and I think even one or two of them lived, but most people's luck had run out. Even a super-powered martial artist is next to useless against a rain of heavy steel, and the Anything Goes School works at ten meters up in the air, not at two hundred and fifty.

Ranma held on for three days, kept alive only by machines. He wouldn't have lived much longer anyway, but when Akane died, he decided to go with her. Not the best way to demonstrate your love, I imagine, but I'd hardly say that I'd done better. Their ghosts don't haunt me. I almost wish they did.

I couldn't tell you where I was when I heard the news. They found me in a crater in what used to be Furinkan High School's athletic field. It seems that once again I managed to execute the full Shi Shi Houkodan. It has tremendous potential power, power which I had only tapped in the smallest amount during my fights with Ranma. They saw the flare from the Chinese mainland. I was unconscious for a week, afterwards.

It had been my directional curse that saved me, that for once in my life did something good for me. I really don't know how we all ended up at the tower, except that it must have been Ranma's fault. After all, the fiancées were all chasing him around there, and of course I had to be present to protect Akane. Naturally, I failed. I had somehow gotten to Osaka by the time the bombs detonated. I sometimes wish that my string of bad luck had been complete.

I don't know when I decided to do something about the bombing, either. I think it was sometime while I was being treated for the depression; it gave me a mission in life, which was something the doctors said was important. If nothing else, it kept me from having to take drugs for the rest of my life.

If the future is always in motion, then so must be the past. And so, the past can be changed.

My first thought was for the Nanban Mirror. But no, it was broken, and dealing with damaged magic is never wise. I found that out the hard way. The mirror never actually took me anywhere, but it pulled my mind through the wringer. I think I would have snapped if I were still in the condition I was when Ranma had been around.

Cologne had gone back to China; with Ranma, Shampoo, and Mousse dead, there was nothing to keep her here. Somehow, I found my way to her village. She had nothing for me. There were other artifacts that were supposed to be able to grant wishes or transport the user, but they were all lost, and I'm not exactly the best person to send on a quest.

Nor did Jusenkyo hold anything. To be sure, I got my curse cured, but I wasn't there for that. I'd hoped that their spirits might somehow be tied to the pools. Plum, the new Jusenkyo Guide, smashed that hope as well. Even Akane, with her very own pool, could not be brought back through the Valley of Sorrows.

For once my ability to get lost came in handy. I wandered through the world, seeking the knowledge of every culture's mystics. I almost tried necromancy. I thank whatever gods exist that I didn't. I have trouble enough without the undead on my hands.

Finally, the wheel came full circle. It came back to the Nanban Mirror. The mirror was still destroyed, but here's the key: it existed, whole, at some point in the past. I found a little-used, little-known technique that can use the power of the mirror to travel without the mirror actually existing in the current place and time. Perfect, except for one little thing, the reason it was so infrequently used. Since the mirror is not actually present, the body does not actually travel. Only the mind travels, and you become, in essence, a ghost, or a mass hallucination, and you can never return. To use the technique, then, you must die.

So I stand in the dojo, making preparations for my death. Kasumi and Tofu wait nearby. They think I am crazy to do this, and perhaps I am, but nonetheless they want to help me.

My will is quite short. The only possessions I own are the ones I carry with me. They will be burned along with my body, and the ashes scattered over the bombing site. If all goes well, the instructions will never be carried out, because I'll have changed history and I'll have no cause to make them.

The spell is simple. A wooden replica of the mirror lies in front of me. I say a few words of power, and the wooden effigy changes. It's still wood, but I can see my reflection in it. A tear, a command, and I am gone.

The sensation is strange. There are the sorts of things that people say you feel when you die: a disconnectedness, a bright light. But I'm not moving towards it. It hangs there for a moment, and then I fall. Time rolls back. Somehow, I see the seasons undo themselves, people walking backwards through the dojo, in and out, in and out.

It stops. I stand in the dojo for a few minutes, joy filling my heart at the sight of the patches in the walls and roof. I am here. I am going to make a difference. I walk out through the closed door.

Ranma is doing his customary early-morning mid-air sparring with his father. When he sees me, he looks as if he had seen a ghost. His reaction is justified, since he had. His father takes the opportunity to dunk Ranma in the pond. As she stands up and gapes at me, I walk over.

"Ranma, there's something I need to talk to you about."


Author's notes: I was sitting down in my first hour class on Tuesday, when someone turned on the TV. I didn't feel shock, or horror, or anything. This wasn't real. This is the sort of thing that happens in Tom Clancy's novels. I don't know when it became real. I think it was around the time that I saw the second tower collapse on live television.

The towers mean nothing to me. They're just chunks of metal in a faraway city. But I am cursed with a vivid imagination, and oh, my god, the people.

That night I dreamt of time machines.

But there won't be that kind of heroism, that kind of salvation. There is no deus ex machina. Instead, we honor the people who dug through the rubble, who sacrificed their lives to keep themselves from being used as a weapon. Perhaps that's a greater form of heroism.

The subject of retribution and revenge will come up. I doubt my opinion would be asked by the US Government, but if they did, I would say this. The bastards who did this ought to be tried by their own law. Murder carries one and only one punishment under the Koran. I think perhaps that that would make a far greater statement than detonating a nuke over the terrorist camp or sending in commando teams to wipe them out.

I hope only that there will be some sort of closure, and, obscene as it may sound, that we can put this behind us and carry on. I am afraid that this might not be the case.

Jonathan Rosebaugh
9:33 PM, Central Standard Time, 13 September 2001

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