A Ranma ½ / Tenchi Muyo! crossover story
by Jeffrey Vasquez
Disclaimer: "Ranma ½" was created by Takahashi Rumiko, and is licensed to Shogakukan Inc., Kitty, Fuji TV, and Viz Communications Inc. "Tenchi Muyo" was created by Kajishima Masaki, and is licensed to AIC/VAP, NTV, and Viz Communications Inc. All original characters belong to me.
Low orbit over Camarris Prime
Former Commodore Kohtetzu, Daughter-Heir of House Maiyabi, sat in her Ready Room tallying the latest reports on recruitment to the Henka Movement against Azusa and Jurai's Supreme Council. It had been a grueling seventeen years of masked movements and shadowed assaults on the hypocrisy of the Juraian government, but thanks to some well laid plans and secretive support from her "benefactors," Kohtetzu had done well for herself.
Well over two hundred ships from various colonies throughout the Imperium backed
her movement, and an estimated forty-five thousand supporters had pledged themselves
to her cause. Her superiors would be pleased with her rapid progress.
Prince Yosho was still in hiding, and the Succession was beginning to be questioned by several of the Great Houses. The Houses of the Root would soon begin to squabble over which of Azusa's cousins was worthy of assuming the throne, and then the Houses of the Trunk would fall in behind their favored House, leaving the Minor Houses of the Branch to pick up whatever miniscule scraps were left.
She shook her head, bewildered. A seven-hundred-year absence from the Royal Court was a tad much, even for Azusa's spoiled heir. Why would Prince Yosho abandon all that power for anonymity?
A faithful mole among Azusa's entourage had reported that the Emperor was currently visiting some backwater planet on the edge of the Imperium; information that was confirmed by one of her superiors. The big question on everyone's mind, though, was why?
She had her opinions, not the least of which being that the Emperor had finally found Yosho. But she was as much in the dark as everyone else about his majesty's true motives.
The Ready Room seemed to dim for a moment as the power of her ship fluctuated, causing Kohtetzu to leap from her chair and join her staff on the bridge. An Uni Scimitar was known for its stability and fortitude, which was why Kohtetzu had chosen it for her flagship. Power fluctuations only happened in the presence of Jurai ships. The thought of facing a second-, or even a third-generation battleship chilled the rebel leader to her bones.
"Status?" Her voice was steady and cold. The command cut across the
shock and fear that gripped the bridge crew.
Kohtetzu looked at the male standing below her with a raised eyebrow. Dennin was a part of the Nemuae, the leftovers of Jurai's ancient caste system. The Forgotten were, in the eyes of Jurai, little more than a disease that needed to be eradicated. For Kohtetzu, they had become the main body of her freedom fighters.
Dennin, like many of his kind, had become fanatical tools in the service of her cause. And while she thought of him in much the same way that the rest of Jurai did, she at least gave him and his brethren a cause and a purpose. "Markings?" She need not have asked. She knew that ship like the back of her hand. But pretenses needed to be maintained.
"STAND FAST!" she bellowed to her bridge compliment. "Bossan!"
A green-skinned beauty looked up from her tactical and swallowed hard. "Yes, ma'am?" her voice squeaked.
"Secure me an open channel, and patch it through to my Ready Room."
She glanced over her crew a moment before smiling. "The fact that we're still alive means that we might have found a sympathizer to the Cause, ladies and gentlemen. If all goes well here, the Johei will remain our secret." She sent a cold gaze sweeping the room. "Any wagging tongues will be cut out. Do I make myself clear?"
The bridge crew was silent, not daring to move.
"Well? Do I?"
Kohtetzu smiled again at her crew and nodded once before returning to her Ready Room. The time had finally come to start laying out the real groundwork for the reformation of Jurai.
The Masaki kitchen
A moment of panic surged through Ranma's body as a meaty purple tentacle wrapped itself around his throat and face, dragging him through the window. The monstrosity smelled like vanilla, and the oozing slime that coated the underside of the tentacle tasted a lot like… wasabi? Terror immediately filled Ranma's heart as he fought against the inescapable pull of the creature. Akane had been cooking again.
Ranma moaned, wondering what Gods he had offended as the creature tightened its embrace. He knew that it would have come to this eventually. He had tried to warn them, but did anyone listen to him? Hell, no.
Washu had seen nearly a billion different life forms, many of which she, herself, had created, but this… thing, for lack of a better term, boggled her mind. The thing was amorphous, but in a constant phase shift, changing from one element to the next at the speed of thought. Liquid titanium transformed into a dense gas that, from the way it still held Ranma, was very tactile. It made several more similar mutations in rapid succession before returning to its base rubbery purple form.
She called up her terminal and began to run a detailed analysis, drooling with envy at the complexity of the genetic material that she discovered. She had to know how this had been created! Her brows furrowed in disbelief as she began analyzing the data. She looked up from her terminal and stared long and hard at the creature, flabbergasted.
She wasn't sure how they had done it, but the science never lied. The creature was a giant mutating chocolate chip, Tabasco sauce, and Jell-O monstrosity.
Never in her twenty-thousand-plus life span had she ever thought of the domestic arena as a valid school of the sciences. But someone, and she had a good idea whom, had just proven her wrong.
It was either that, or a sign of the Universal Apocalypse. Ryoko grappled with the tentacles in growing frustration. This thing was almost as perverted as she was!
There had to be a way to turn this whole thing to her advantage… Another look in Tenchi's direction solidified her course. She inhaled deeply, and let out the most girlish squeal that she could muster. It always worked in the movies, so why not here?
Tenchi's shouting voice and Ryoko's squeal brought the other denizens of the house into the kitchen, much to Ranma's discomfort. He wished that his suit wasn't so… revealing. Ayeka, Kasumi, Sasami, and Akane stopped dead in their tracks as they entered the room and stared at Ranma. Their furious blushes didn't bother him. The feverish gleams in their eyes, however, did.
"…man among men…" Nabiki's voice was quiet, almost reverent, from her place next to Nodoka and Funaho near the door. Mother and great-grandmother nodded their heads in unison, as similar thoughts of little grandchildren scampered through their heads. The middle Tendo's steamy smile made Ranma want to run and hide.
Kasumi nodded her head absently at the remark, but her eyes were no longer on Ranma, but on something much, much more interesting.
She peered over Washu's shoulder and tried to catch a glimpse of what the little redheaded scientist was doing. The eldest Tendo was amazed to find a recipe for variations of a chocolate chip Jell-O mold, and a detailed chemical analysis of whipped cream. In no time at all, the self-proclaimed greatest scientific mind in the universe began dialoguing with a very curious Kasumi about the miracle of the culinary sciences.
A feverish gleam seemed to settle in Kasumi's eyes as the discussion took a more creative turn. Both women began trading tips and ideas on various desserts and pastries that would revolutionize the way the galaxy snacked. Kasumi didn't understand very much of what Washu was saying, but she made a silent vow to learn.
"RYOKO!" Tenchi's voice brought everyone back to the dilemma at hand. The young prince had finally made it through the window and took in the scene with growing horror. The Master Key sparked to life majestically in his white-knuckled fists, and the young warrior wasted no time in putting it to use.
Ayeka glared daggers at Ryoko, who simply allowed the beast to fling her around dramatically. Her fake cries for help sent Tenchi into a frenzy, and set Ayeka to boiling. The crown princess knew very well that the hussy could teleport anytime that she wanted to! She was just playing this up to get Tenchi! Unfortunately for Ayeka, there was very little that she could do without putting herself in danger as well….
A calculating gleam entered her lavender eyes, one that would have made Nabiki envious. She'd have to plan it perfectly in order to make it believable, but there was no way in hell that she was going to let that floozy get any of her Tenchi! Er… that was to say… any of his attention. That honor fell to her.
She blushed as a very sordid thought entered her mind, and a goofy little grin split her face.
Akane waved her hand in front of her new friend's eyes for a very long time before getting any response from the purple-haired princess. She had expected the other girl to look surprised, but the hungry look of determination that decorated Ayeka's face was the last thing Akane thought she would see. Ranma's family was turning out to be as weird as he was.
Not that this was any great surprise.
Speaking of Ranma, Akane's eyes tracked the thrashing tentacles until she located her reluctant fiancée. The poor boy was doing his best to hold off more of the creature's appendages, while working himself free of the ones that held him fast.
His active defense, combined with the skintight body suit, caused her cheeks to burn and her heart to pound. She quickly glanced around the room, hoping that no one had noticed, and found that the only two people that were even remotely looking in his direction were Nabiki and Sasami.
The youngest Tendo could tell by the glazed and flushed looks on the two girls' faces who — or rather what — they were looking at. She snorted at the way Ranma was displaying himself for the entire world to see! The pervert just had to show off!
Akane moved over to Sasami and covered the young princess' eyes, much to Sasami's hearty disapproval. This was getting way out of hand, and it was way past time to put a stop to it.
Ayeka sidled up next to Akane, seemingly of the same mind. The two women chose their targets, took a deep breath, and let their indignation and embarrassment find voices.
All heads in the room turned in unison to the commanding, imperial tone in the voices; even the Chocolate Chip-Jell-O monster. Ayeka smiled approvingly at Akane. The girl would make a wonderful addition to the family.
Low orbit over Camarris Prime
Kohtetzu sat in her Ready Room, tapping the hardwood arm of her chair anxiously. Her discussion with the Admiral had been brief, and to the point. As was the case when the man spoke to anyone.
"I will be boarding your vessel. Lower your shields."
That was all that he had said. But, that was all he needed to say. His presence here alone was proof that the timetable had been stepped up. It was an exciting but sobering thought. She hoped that the People's Liberation Front was ready to weather the storm that was about to be unleashed on them. The fact that their numbers were still short by sixteen percent was enough to set anyone's nerves on edge.
Kohtetzu's thoughts were interrupted by a tall, powerfully-built man materializing before her. The woman scrambled to her feet, and bowed to her commander reverently.
"Are your troops ready, Commodore?" His voice always reminded her of the Great Void: cold and empty of life, but hiding ruthless mysteries.
"My recruitment is ahead of schedule, Admiral Tozin, and their training exceeds expectations. I estimate that eighty percent of our force is battle-ready."
Tozin nodded, causing Kohtetzu to sigh inwardly. "This is favorable, Commodore. You are to be commended for your efforts." The compliment stunned the woman, almost to the point of collapse. The Admiral was a perfectionist, and a compliment from him meant something.
"I will be taking command from this point on. The situation is delicate, and the Brotherhood is expecting results." Kohtetzu bowed. "However, considering your record and your consistency in this effort, I would like to invite you to stay on as my assistant."
Kohtetzu could only nod.
"Very good. Now then, on to business. In the Emperor's absence…."
The planning lasted for four grueling hours. Complex schedules were drawn up, outlining where she and her assault forces were to be at any given moment. Despite the risk of the campaign, Kohtetzu knew that the PLF would control Jurai in the end. Her honor would be restored, and those that had destroyed her life would in turn be destroyed. As Tozin left, Kohtetzu began laying the groundwork of her own plans.
The Masaki Kitchen
Ranma and Ryoko turned at the sound of their names. The sight of Ayeka and Akane glaring at them with their fists planted firmly on their hips made the two groan. Ranma wondered what he was going to get blamed for now, while Ryoko flipped Ayeka an obscene gesture. The First Princess of Jurai ground her teeth furiously. Akane was forced to back away from her new friend as tiny logs appeared around the other girl's body. The logs alone didn't seem all that dangerous, but the energy that arced hungrily between them was a healthy deterrent.
The monster, feeling neglected, decided to make itself known by trying to use Ranma and Ryoko as hammers against the two girls.
Ryoko squealed in mock distress, crying out to Tenchi. "Oh! Tenchi! Save me!" Ranma howled in genuine frustration as he was repeatedly thrown against Ayeka's energy web; Washu snickered from her place near Kasumi at the images of gingerbread men escorts. The images being displayed on the holo-terminal made Kasumi's eyes boggle, while Misaki, Funaho, and Nodoka jockeyed for a better view. Nabiki and Sasami weren't far behind, but to their dismay couldn't find a way past the older women.
It was bedlam, plain and simple, and no matter what she did, Akane couldn't seem to escape it. The whole scenario seemed so reminiscent of home that she felt her body moving almost on autopilot. She dodged one tentacle after another and sidestepped a strike from the beast as it used her fiancé as a baseball bat. Two more swings and a fierce descending blow forced her to jump clear of her fiancé's plummeting body for the third time.
Ayeka, however, wasn't so lucky. Her attention had been riveted on the impromptu drama unfolding between Tenchi and Ryoko. Tenchi had cut his way to the cyan-haired pirate, and had his arms around her in an attempt to free her from the tentacles.
The whole affair was terribly aggravating to her, and was only made worse by the fact that the monster was completely ignoring her. No matter how hard she tried to get the beast to pick her up too, it just seemed to brush her aside… literally. She had even gone so far as to start tugging on the thing to get its attention!
The audacity of the creature was worse than galling, it was insulting! Why couldn't it just pick her up too? It wasn't like she was asking for very much! She just wanted to be on equal footing with that hussy Ryoko! Had Ayeka been paying attention, she might have evaded the Chocolate Chip Jell-O monster's human cudgel. Unfortunately, all of her attention was focused on wrapping one of the tentacles around her waist and calling out to Tenchi.
The momentum of Ranma's decent carried the martial artist and the princess to the floor in a jumble of grunting and squawking limbs.
Ayeka and Akane could have been twins in their reactions. Their faces turned bright red and their eyebrows began to twitch violently, but for very different reasons. For Ayeka, the whole situation wouldn't have been so bad had it been Lord Tenchi instead of Lord Ranma. Not that she had anything against Yosho's other grandson; he was certainly handsome enough, especially with that cute pouting grimace that played across his mouth; and the way his firm muscles rippled against her body…!
The Crown Princess shook her head to clear the images out of her mind. I must remain true to Lord Tenchi! she thought to herself stiffly. It was hard to keep her thoughts focused and… clear, due to the fact that Ranma kept squirming in an attempt to free himself from the monster's clutches. The sensations were… memorable, to say the least.
The voice was like thunder, and the force of a mighty blow rocked the house, causing Ayeka to bounce a little where she lay. The sudden sense of freedom left Azusa's eldest daughter feeling strangely at a loss. She allowed her bewildered gaze to climb slowly, taking in the stoically seething form of her newest friend.
The youngest Tendo heard something about "excessive force not truly necessary" and "she could have waited just a little longer," and decided that everyone in the world excepting herself was depraved.
"You're just out to ruin everybody's fun, aren't you?" Nabiki said snidely.
Akane snorted and opened her mouth to protest, but couldn't find the appropriate words for her rebuke. "Shut up, Nabiki."
Ranma, stuck as he was from the tip of his head down to his waist in a slimy purple substance, tried to pry himself out of the monster's sticky forehead. His muffled curses were fairly clear even through the gooey membrane of the beast. The wiggling and jiggling caused Akane to blush beet red and to avert her eyes, which for some reason wouldn't stay averted.
Akane could see from the glazed looks on many of the female faces that they were enjoying the show a little too much. Poor Sasami struggled against Misaki, trying to get a look at what everyone else found so interesting. That, in and of itself, made Akane feel twice as self-conscious.
There was a groan from the beast and a great sucking sound as Ranma finally freed himself from its amorphous stranglehold. Akane had never thought that her fiancé's body would bounce. Especially not in such a… gratifying way. She cleared her throat in an attempt to restore her breathing, and proceeded to take it upon herself to get the slimy young man into some proper clothing before someone passed out from a loss of blood. "RANMA!"
The martial artist whirled on his fiancée, sending streams of slime across the kitchen. "WHAT?!" The vehemence in Ranma's voice caused Akane to back up a step.
She hated it when this happened. Here Ranma was embarrassing the daylights out of her, and now he had to lay into her to boot. Well, she wasn't going to back down. Not now, not ever. She would prove to him that she could be his equal; she would make him respect her like she deserved.
"Stop playing around and put some decent clothes on!" There was an audible moan from the rest of the women in the room. Surprisingly, Kasumi was foremost among the moaners. Something was mumbled about getting the proportions just right, and they only needed a few more minutes.
Akane stared incredulously at her eldest sister for a moment, and then chanced a look at the others.
Washu, Nabiki, and Misaki were all leering openly at Ranma's finely toned body, while Nodoka and Funaho giggled girlishly between themselves and started planning for grandchildren. All of this, plus the fact that Ranma was pointedly ignoring her, sent Akane over the edge.
"RANMA!" The boy in question swung on her again, whipping more slime in every conceivable direction, most of it finding its way onto his cousin's face.
"WHAT NOW!" he growled loudly, holding a tentacle at bay while trying to avoid the one that was sneaking up behind him.
"Are you listening to a word that I'm saying?"
"…no," he choked. He had wanted to yell, but that was difficult while something was strangling you.
"Why not?" Akane felt really stupid for even asking. Ranma was in the middle of a battle after all.
He was speechless, more because the creature had cut off his air supply than for lack of things to say. Of all the stupid things to ask! And now, of all times too! Ranma knew that for as long as he lived, he would never understand women or their logic.
The one thing that he did understand was how sick and tired he was of being browbeat, mauled, and generally abused by people that he should have been able to trust. The injustice of the whole situation hit Ranma like a ton of bricks, and the more that he thought about it, the more upset he became. He was tired of having to live up to the standards that everyone else set for him.
He pried one tentacle off at a time, with a strength born from his anger. The coldness in his eyes made even the creature wary.
"Why not? Why not?!" His voice was hoarse and dry with contempt. Just once, he would like to have lived his life for himself. But that seemed impossible. He was a prince now, which meant that he would have to do sissy prince stuff! Damn it! He was tired of being obligated to live his life a certain way!
Well, no more. From here on out he was going to be his own man. No more oppression. No more obligations. No more Mr. Nice Guy!
Nabiki shook her head and planted her face in her hand. Akane was an idiot sometimes. She loved her sister to death, but the girl just didn't know when to reign in her pride. Maybe that's why she and Ranma were such a good match. The pair had so much in common that it was scary.
As the scene played out before her, Nabiki could feel the tension build. That uncomfortable sensation of something big about to happen floated in the air, causing everyone to hang on Ranma's words. A monumental change was about to occur in their lives. Again.
She looked at Kasumi, and saw her own feelings confirmed in her sister's eyes. Maybe it was the way that Ranma was glowing with those strange little sparkles floating around him, or perhaps the way that Nodoka clenched her fists until her knuckles were white. It didn't matter. In the end, the change would still come. The signs were all there. And the look of righteous anger on poor Ranma's face was something that she had expected to surface long before tonight. She was surprised that he had lasted this long without cracking.
The big question on everyone's mind wasn't when Ranma would blow, but how bad the fallout would be.
Akane didn't like the way that Ranma was reacting to her question.
She had never seen him look so… so scary. She had expected him to be angry, to throw barbed insults, or lash out in some other way. But he just sat there, not saying a word, glowing a bright blue. The soft white sparkles seemed to fade in and out about him, looking terribly odd, yet pretty at the same time. The temperature in the room seemed to drop a good ten degrees, causing the Jell-O monster to become just a little more lethargic.
Great. The jerk had just invented a new technique.
Funaho touched Ayeka's arm and motioned for the young princess to back away. The look of concern on the woman's face should have made Akane pause, but the intensifying glow coming from Ranma stole her attention back. The tension grew greater as the monster tried exerting more pressure on its former captive. Ranma countered its attacks unconsciously, dancing and weaving on an unerring path toward Akane.
He mouthed something that Akane couldn't hear, which frustrated her to know end.
"What did you say?" she asked impatiently. He had no right to act this way over a simple little question. He was the one that was embarrassing her.
Azusa and Yosho watched their grandson with eyes the size of dinner plates. The speed of the beast's attacks had increased ten-fold, and yet the boy moved reflexively evading every one. Yosho grinned at his father, and the Emperor found himself grinning back. The kid had the moves, that was for sure, but did that mean he could rule a kingdom?
"I SAID, you ain't got nothin' to say that I wanna hear!" Ranma knew that he had hurt her the instant that the words had left his mouth. He couldn't take them back, and he wondered if he really wanted to. A cold blue aura sprung up around Akane's body, more than matching Ranma's in intensity.
"Is that so?" All eyes turned to Akane, Washu's especially, to regard the young woman with amazement. A new window popped up on her terminal that began collecting data on this unexpected manifestation. She had been sure that Akane had tested negative as a metahuman. This was going to take more research.
"Yeah!" Ranma said ducking under a wild swing by the monster. "Yer always yellin' at me, callin' me names and stuff. Even when it ain't my fault."
The gathered spectators were flabbergasted that the pair could argue during a battle. Misaki was really impressed with Ranma's reflexes as he hopped over yet another flurry of futile strikes from the creature.
"Not your fault!" Akane said in disbelief. "You mean to tell me that Shampoo wasn't your fault?" Everyone looked to Ranma for his response.
"How the hell was I supposed to know what the sign said? I don't read Chinese!"
The group's gaze shifted to Akane.
"As if that's an excuse! You had the guide there as your translator!"
Ranma could feel the collective stares settle on him again. "It looked like a buffet! The old man started eating, so I thought it was okay! Besides, I'm not the only one who doesn't listen when it's important!"
Akane was getting really perturbed with the way Ranma was dragging this out. This wasn't the time or the place to be arguing about their semi-private lives. The others were treating this like some sort of tennis match, and it was totally getting on her nerves. Why couldn't Ranma ever stop and think about how his actions affected her?
"Is that so?" she said, crossing her arms. "Prove it."
Ranma stared at her for a moment, and then at everyone around him. He blocked an incoming strike with his forearm, and then danced out of the way of the monster's reach. When his body came to rest on the ground again, he simply closed his eyes and hung his head. He didn't want to be here. He wanted to run, but the presence of his mother and grandfather stopped him. He wasn't a coward. He would face this battle like he did any other: head on. He lifted his eyes to meet Akane's, forcing her to look away.
The room fell silent, as if the world had stopped.
"You never listen to me."
Akane turned back to him and opened her mouth to offer a biting retort, but the way Ranma just stood there stopped her.
The Chocolate Chip Jell-O monster was tired of the chase. He was hurt and hungry. The fast one was more work than it was worth. Oh, sure, it might taste scrumptious; but that was just conjecture. For all it knew, the thing might be sour or stringy. It might enjoy playing with its food, but the Jell-O monster drew a line at food that bit back. No, it was time to focus on different prey.
It looked at the spiky one in its grasp and unceremoniously dumped it to the floor. The monster was sure it would get indigestion with that morsel.
Hmmm. What else?
Its gaze passed over Kasumi quickly. Too sweet. It took in Washu next. Too spicy. Heartburn for sure. Ryo-Ohki… too furry. Besides the hairballs that it would get from that little snack would be horrendous. Next… Too small. Perhaps that one would do for an after-dinner mint, though; it had the right coloring. Sasami was very thankful that the creature seemed to move on. As its gaze fell on Misaki, the whole thing's body quivered in revulsion. Whoa! Waaaay too sweet! For the love of pudding! If it ate that one, he wouldn't sleep for weeks! How could anyone put that much sugar into anything? Nodoka and Funaho didn't even notice the thing as their attention was fully on Ranma and Akane at the moment. Hmmm. No. Too pretty. Those two would work well for garnishes, though.
So many choices left, though! The thing hated smorgasbords! Its optical receptors were always bigger than its stomach. Sigh. It would have to take this slowly and pace itself. Now then, where to start the feast?
Its gargantuan stomach grumbled loudly as Akane came into view. Plump, without gristle… this morsel would be the perfect start to its eating marathon.
Kasumi found it odd that a monster could blush, but she remembered the time that she had been shopping and had forgotten to eat her breakfast. Her tummy had grumbled almost as loud as Mr. Jell-O Monster's; she had been embarrassed too.
Maybe she could make him something to tide him over until breakfast. The way that it was eyeing Akane wasn't good for its health. Nope, not in the least.
Akane took one look at her fiancé, and saw that she had lost the battle. The fact that Ranma was right made it even worse. Not that she would ever admit that he was right; his ego was big enough as it was without her helping it along.
She looked around at her sisters and Ranma's newly extended family, and cringed. Why did he have to do this to her? Boyfriends weren't supposed to embarrass.
Boyfriend! Since when had she started considering him her boyfriend?
The silence was deafening as the crowd watched Akane expectantly. The monster took this distraction as a sign to gorge while its prey was stunned. It reared up, roaring loudly and flailing its tentacles about. It was a nightmarish sight that would have sent the average mortal howling mad.
Unfortunately for it, this group was anything but average. Funaho and Misaki glared up at the descending creature and silenced it… forever.
Few acts of violence have ever been so swift and viciously final. Washu was more than a little disappointed at the tiny, floating motes of glowing matter that were left over. There was no way that she'd ever get a good enough sample for study.
Akane tested the word uncertainly. It tumbled around in her mind, refusing to go away or be ignored. The whole concept was forcing her to see the young man in front of her in a new light.
Sure, he was crass and insensitive at times, but she had never met a more loyal person in her life. He was backward and naïve, but vigilant. He had always been there when she had needed him most. She had fought so long and hard to remain aloof, but as she looked deep into Ranma's piercing eyes, Akane realized that she had lost this battle long ago. Perhaps, even, that very first day.
Is this what she really wanted, though? There were so many new variables to think about now. Ranma was an alien, or at least his grandfather was. He was also a prince, and possibly heir to a throne. She didn't even want to think about the problems that went along with these new issues. She was still having enough problems dealing with all of his other quirks.
Ranma's battle aura guttered the same time that Akane's slowly faded away. He was not the kind of man that she had always dreamed of. The jerk didn't have a romantic bone in his body, and his ego could eclipse the sun. Akane shook her head, but did not take her eyes off of her fiancé. The goofy, clueless look on his face made her want to laugh. No. No one would ever mistake him for Prince Charming. Yet, he was a prince.
A loyal, self-sacrificing, alien prince.
A thoughtful look blossomed on her face and quickly turned to an expression of wonder. The universe is filled with magical and miraculous events: the birth of stars, the conception of planetary systems, and new forms of life. None of these could compare to the radiance that accompanied the acceptance of a love long denied.
He had sacrificed so much for her. He had bled for her, he had thrown away freedom to keep her whole, and he had even offered to walk away from the engagement to ensure her happiness. Three words, impossible to verbalize, had never been necessary at all. He had shown her how he felt. His actions had been louder than words, and yet she had been deaf and blind.
Boyfriend. No. That wasn't right. He was more than that to her. She wasn't ready to accept it fully, at least not openly, but maybe she could follow his example.
Actions spoke louder and meant more than hollow words anyway. For the first time since the failed wedding, Akane smiled at the thought of a relationship with Ranma Saotome. She took a deep, cleansing breath and tilted her head to the side to get a better look her fiancé.
Her fiancé. She liked the sound of that.
Ranma waited patiently for Akane to respond, doing his best not to fidget beneath the united attentions of those gathered. The frenzied look in Akane's eyes should have brought him some sort of satisfaction, but it didn't. He wasn't truly sure what he felt.
He looked away wondering why all of this was happening now. Why couldn't she say something, or hit him? Anything was better than this silence. He let his eyes drift back to Akane, and was startled by the change that he found there.
The smile that he had faced death for time after time graced her lips, making Ranma's heart pound in his chest. There was a subtle shift in the delicate balance of power between them with that smile, and Ranma could feel that he was no longer in control here.
Akane knew it too, and her smile deepened.
The whole change unnerved him to no end. He had expected her to lash out, to yell, and at the very least inflict an unwarranted amount of physical pain on his person. This tactic was entirely new to him, and he had no idea how to defend against it. He wasn't sure if it was a good thing or not. Her smile seemed awfully… possessive to him.
Akane decided that she liked Ranma like this: slightly off balance and unsure of himself. The look of nervous bewilderment, coupled with the way that he scratched the back of his head, was just too adorable.
As much as she wanted this to go on, Ranma had challenged her and there was no way that she was going to walk away from that. She took another cleansing breath and walked over to him slowly. She could tell by the way that his eyes widened that he was contemplating bolting for the nearest exit.
That was unacceptable.
She scooped up his hands before he could move to prevent his escape, and looked him squarely in the eye. She wasn't sure whose hands trembled more, yet his touch sent electricity arcing through her body. She had never been so bold before! The crowded room seemed to disappear, as she looked into those beautiful blue-gray eyes. Her voice, when she spoke, was little more than a whisper, meant for his ears alone.
"I'm listening now."
Ranma blushed, and started to stammer incoherently.
Washu was fascinated.
Ranma and Tenchi were so very much alike it was uncanny! She looked from one to the other and back again, her finger tapping her lips absently. She knew that Juraians were generally uptight, but these two boys were ridiculously shy.
There had to be some sort of genetic quirk involved. Yosho had never been this bad, and considering who Tenchi's dad was… Well, Washu just knew that there had to be some other force at work here. Then there was, of course, Akane to consider… Moulin's Ghost! She needed real samples!
Everyone in the room who saw the feverish, glazed look on the scientist's face cringed and prayed for Ranma and Tenchi. But before her plans could really gain any momentum, they were scattered to the four winds by a loud siren and a flashing red light that filled the entire house.
There was only one thing that could set off that alarm. One thing, that when named, sent a foreboding chill and a sense of dread through Washu.
She didn't want to name it. Acknowledging its presence gave it power over you. But like the moth mesmerized by the flame, the mad scientist opened her mouth and whispered with terrible reverence, "Mihoshi."
Everyone in the room shuddered in unison.
Ranma tried to collect his thoughts as Washu slowly walked from the room. He had no idea what was going on, but had a feeling that if Mihoshi was in on it, it was bad. Still, Mihoshi wasn't his problem. The young woman holding his hands was.
Why was it that every time a girl got this close, he lost it? It wasn't fair! Well, his Art was all about adaptation, he wasn't about to let her corner him like this! He was through doing what other people expected and wanted! If Akane wanted to play like this… Fine! He was going to make sure that she never forgot tonight for as long as she lived! He'd see soon enough if she was listening to what he had to say.
His face schooled itself into a mask of seriousness to hide the turmoil that her dark eyes and smile was causing him. Ranma was glad to see that a bit of uncertainty undermined her confidence.
"Fine. You're listening. Well, listen to this…" He stepped forward, dominating the space between them. Akane couldn't help but take a step back.
"I'm tired of being your punchin' bag." Akane frowned and bit her bottom lip. "I'm tired of you accusin' me of stuff that ain't my fault. I'm tired of bein' the butt of everyone's jokes." Nabiki and the other women were forced to step aside as Akane kept backing up towards the counter.
"…and I'm sick to death of bein' the root of everyone's problems!" His anger was starting to take a free reign, but he did his best to keep it leashed. "I'm my own man, damn it! I got enough problems without you and everyone else in the world dumpin' theirs on me too!"
Akane's retreat was halted as she bumped into the counter by the sink. With
nowhere else to turn she looked back at Ranma's cold, hard face and began to
wonder if she had bitten off more than she could chew this time.
No. That wasn't enough. Ranma needed to come to understand that she was his equal.
When Akane stopped, Ranma stopped too. The defiant look in her eyes fueled him. "I'm tired of bein' everyone's scapegoat. It ends here! I'm gonna make my own decisions from here on out!" He jabbed his thumb into his chest. "And there ain't nothin' you or anyone else can do ta stop me! If I wanna hang out with Ukyo, then I'm gonna hang out with Ukyo! If I wanna pound that stupid pig, I'm gonna pound that stupid pig!"
At the mention of P-chan, Akane's defiance darkened to a scowl; but to her merit, she held her peace.
"Got it?" He poked Akane's collarbone to emphasize his point. Akane's eyes narrowed dangerously and every woman in the room seemed to be scowling at the young man in turn. Ranma tried his best to ignore the weight of those disgruntled stares.
"Are you through?" Akane asked more calmly than she felt. Ranma opened his mouth, but no words formed. "Good." Akane stood up straight, and stepped forward forcing Ranma to retreat. Her own finger shot out and jabbed Ranma in the chest repeatedly as she responded to his words.
"First: touch P-chan and I'll make you wish you hadn't." Ranma scowled, but Akane's forward momentum kept pushing him backwards. Her anger was cold and scary, not that he would ever admit that. "Second: who do you think you are? Just because you're some hotshot alien prince now, that doesn't give you the right to order me around!"
Ranma stopped dead in his tracks, forcing Akane to stop as well. His scowl matched her own. "Oh, yeah?" he growled.
"Yeah!" She was going to make him see that she was his equal! She was going to make him see that she loved him just as much as he loved her!
Unfortunately, Ranma wasn't in the mood to cooperate. "Fine. Do whatever the hell you want." He turned and walked away with a tired wave over his shoulder. "I'm going to take a bath."
"Darn it, Ranma! I'm not done with you yet!" Akane started to follow him, but was brought up short by Lady Funaho's gentle hand on her arm. As a queen, the woman didn't have to say a word; her presence was enough to command a legion of courtiers. Akane never stood a chance.
"Come with me, Akane-chan." Her voice was velvety, and her smile filled with wisdom. How could Akane deny her request? Funaho draped an arm around the youngest Tendo's shoulders and began directing her towards the baths.
"But Ranma…" Akane protested.
"Will need some time to cool off. Don't you agree, Nodoka?" Nodoka nodded and slid on Akane's other side. "In the meanwhile, this will give us some time to talk."
Nabiki felt sorry for her baby sister. Well, not too sorry. If those two had their way, Akane was going to married to Ranma and pregnant before the month was out. Not that Nabiki minded. Ranma was royalty, which meant that if Akane became a princess, then that would make Nabiki… What, a duchess or something like that?
The young opportunist smiled and dry washed her hands on her shirt. The idea of being a wealthy noble held great appeal for her. Lots of appeal.
Segota sat in a plush chair that practically swallowed him. Being royalty had its perks, and as he gazed at the holo-emitter that the Myraian had sold him, he had never been so haunted by a woman before. He had been in the company of powerful people before, but she had something that was… primal. He couldn't categorize her.
"Your newest acquisition, I presume?" The deep baritone voice caused Segota's eyes to close in irritation. The last thing that he wanted to deal with right now was his father.
"Perhaps something more, Father," he said carefully, causing the elderly gentleman to raise an eyebrow. "But pray, tell me what brings the Lord of house Gotan in from the country estates?"
Lord Gotan looked a bit put out by his son's bored tone, but this form of banter had been the status quo since Segota had reached puberty.
"If you must know, I had a dream." Segota's father smiled as his son sat up straight in the plush chair.
The power of the Goddess ran strong through House Gotan, and the Lord Gotan had been gifted with the power of foresight. His visions had directed the empire for three millennia, and they had never failed to come to pass. What he saw was, and there was no way around it.
Segota watched the old man as he walked over to the room's bar and pour himself a drink. "Well, Father? What did you see?"
Gotan downed the stiff Sartesian brandy in one gulp and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Segota noted the dark circles under the old man's eyes and the weakness in his step. It was a sobering sight for Segota, who saw a mirror image of himself four thousand years from now, standing across the room.
Lord Gotan smiled darkly at his son as he tottered over to the couch opposite Segota. "What did I see? Let me tell you what I saw…" he sneered.
Segota never saw the hand strike, but he did feel the pain exploding in his jaw. Gotan towered over his son, despite the feebleness that Segota had noted earlier.
"What I saw was my son," he spat the word as if it were the most vile curse, "…betraying his family and his people to traitors. Not once, but twice! All because of that, that… woman!" He thrust an accusing finger at the holo-emitter, and spat on his son.
Segota was stunned and appalled. But the truth of his father's visions could not be disputed. The grief in the old man's eyes was terrible to behold.
"You are no longer my son. I strip you of all title and rights that are associated with the glorious name of Gotan." His voice broke at the end, and the august Lord of Gotan slumped into the couch heavily. "Gather your belongings and leave my home."
There was little else that the Minister of Science could do but stand and leave. The title meant nothing now, but it was all that he had left. No. Without his house, even that was going to be stripped from him. Segota breathed in deeply and stood. If nothing else, he would leave with all the grace and dignity that he could muster.
Lord Gotan watched his son leave through his silent tears. He wanted to tear his eyes out for the nightmares that he had seen. The thunder would come, and Jurai would fall. And his son was going to be in the thick of it. He should have told him the rest of the vision. It would have made parting easier.
But could Segota do what must be done with a full knowledge of his future? Gotan turned his eyes to the heavens, and wept. "How many sons must I lose to you, Goddess? You took Kagato from me, and now I will never see little Segota again." He shook his head sadly. "Your gifts carry a heavy burden."
Mihoshi didn't understand what the problem was. The door back to the house was around here somewhere; she just had to find it. She bumped into something and set off a number of loud, shrill alarms. The noise woke Ryouga up, and the two looked up at the flashing red crystals that had begun pulsating rhythmically.
P-chan looked down at the button that the blonde woman had bumped and then up at the ridiculously large sign above the machine. It too was flashing menacingly, repeating one singular message over and over again.
"Mihoshi, you idiot! Mihoshi, you idiot! Mihoshi, you idiot! Mihoshi, you idiot!"
Ryouga and Mihoshi looked down at one of the panels and cringed. Mihoshi read the sign out loud, tasting the words, but not really understanding what they meant. "Quantum Flux Balancer."
The Galaxy Police Operative and the tiny black pig exchanged worried glances. It sounded awfully important, and the way the lights kept flashing meant that Mihoshi had done something bad again. "Uh Oh."
Ryouga "bwee'd" nervously and buried himself deeper into Mihoshi's arms. Something dreadful was about to happen, and somehow, some way Ryouga knew it was all Saotome's fault.
To be continued.
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