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Chocolate Oranges Zero:
Young Pereshte Cracks a Safe

A Ranma ½ prequelfic
by DannyCat (sabremau@yahoo.com)

Disclaimer: The characters of Ranma ½ are owned are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. The gerbils in this fic, however, are not. The events and persons in this fanfic are completely fictional and any resemblance to actual events or persons is completely unintentional, and the author is not responsible for any injury, trauma, or other detrimental condition resulting from proper or improper use of this fan fiction. Comments, suggestions, and other C&C will be greatly appreciated, and are accepted at: sabremau@yahoo.com. Keep circulating the fanfics…


A small leaf flitted silently through the skies over Nerima, drifting lower and lower. Shoppers in the crowded streets below paid it little heed; leaves falling through the air were perfectly natural for Tuesday afternoons. There was no wind to speak of, and the leaf was flitting in a particularly horizontal direction at rather unnaturally high and un-leaflike speeds, but these facts escaped them utterly, as they were meant to.

The occupants of the leaf waited patiently as their pilot, a young gerbil who was a middle-ranked lieutenant of the Order of Order, brought them in towards their headquarters in this reality; the one nexus point where they could safeguard the very lynchpin of all sense and logic for the world they alone were charged with keeping.

In order to keep prying eyes away from this closely guarded secret, it was located within the Tendo Dojo, where few would think to look for it.

"Is that where the control panel is?" asked the younger of the two passengers. His companion nodded, garbed in the same brown robes, yet with extra decorations to signify his experience and authority.

"Indeed, apprentice Pereshte. That is where your training with the Order of Order shall begin. Now hang on, the landing could get a little bumpy."

"'Tis fine, 'tis fine," Pereshte chuckled, grinning cryptically, "I rather like… bumpiness." He looked out the window, away from his teacher, who merely nodded again, cheerfully enthusiastic to begin teaching his new apprentice the ways of their order. It was unfortunate for the world at large that he was never awarded a decoration for great foresight.

The leaf, or, more appropriately, the interdimensional transport for transporting gerbil-sized passengers that was disguised to appear as a leaf, slowed its approach, and began to idly swing from side to side, lining up with the small hangar opening which appeared below Nabiki's window. With a final puff of wind, it shot inside and the hangar closed up behind it, leaving no trace of anything unusual.


Timelines are fascinating things. Even beyond the fact that, since they usually possess both beginning and ending points, they should be more accurately referred to as time line segments, the real interesting part occurs when time travelers alter them.

When one sits in front of a timestream, watching the twin flashes of a group of matter particles bursting out of the continuity then crashing back in at a different point, two things spring to mind. First, they can watch a propagation wave forming, rearranging space-time for each instant in reality from that time on forward.

For common inhabitants, such forced alterations wash right through them and they, offering no resistance, have no idea that anything strange has happened.

However, for those beings quite a bit more anchored to reality, being smashed through by a wall of moving time is a particularly unpleasant experience.

In fact, the entire purpose of the establishment of the Order of Order was to attempt to prevent such temporal tsunamis from wrecking the lunch breaks of visiting dignitaries to this particular dimension. By putting a lockdown on the coating of reality and keeping all attributes of physics under careful control, they could — in theory — prevent temporal incursions even before they happened, and therefore allow a strong sense or normalcy to prevail unchallenged.

The second thing one notices, as long as one has not been drinking too heavily, is that actually sitting outside of a timestream, as well as having a propagation wave traveling through it at neither a zero or infinite speed, implies the existence of metatime, but this fact can be safely forgotten for the moment.


Beneath the floorboards of Nabiki's bedroom, a modestly-sized chamber of meeting began to fill up with several very anxious-looking gerbils. With the announcement of the arrival of a new apprentice of the Order, Pereshte, it began to dawn on most of the elders that something new and momentous was upon them. They felt that one day soon, with his powers and abilities added to their ranks, they would be able to not only keep normalcy normal, but also, for the first time, make sense of the entire Ranma situation they had been living next to for several weeks now. Oddly enough, however, Pereshte himself was not in attendance.

"You believe that this young recruit is that reasonable?" the oldest gerbil of them all, Yanne, questioned of the young captain who stood before him in the middle of the chamber.

Captain Moba, who had flown in with Pereshte just a few scant minutes earlier, drew up to his full height and proudly declared, "I am certain of it. I even ran the spectrum of tests proscribed in Order rulebooks."

Yanne's aged ears perked up, as if hearing something off in the far distance but not quite ascertaining what it could be. "And which tests might those be?"

"Apprentice Pereshte possesses great mental power, surpassing even myself. On the GRP exams, he scored a full 87.5%." This statement provoked excited muttering among the council members. Yanne, however, merely looked around, twitching his ears to get a better lock on that rhythmic pounding sound he heard faintly coming from far below them.

"Indeed impressive… however, for the Order of Order, that's hardly an extreme—"

"And, if you'll forgive the interruption, his energy level for that mind of his is extreme; I ran the QQM test on his bloodstream, and it came back reading 67,000!"

This caused stunned gasps throughout the room. Two or three gerbils fainted, slumping onto the table in front of them, letting the hoods of their robes fall forward to cover their heads. Yanne froze, both in horror at the danger they were all in as well as at the colossal ignorance of pretty much everybody else in the hall.

"All that means," he spoke in a trembling voice, "is that he drinks at least five cans of Jolt a day! Where is he, anyway? Clerk! Where is Pereshte?!"

The clerk of the Order, bowing in respect of Yanne's authority, approached the council timidly. "Well, it's hard to say, exactly, but I did see him heading off towards the basement with a pickaxe in his—"

Yanne did not wait to hear any more. With a sudden burst of speed that belied his centuries of age, he picked up his nearby walking stick and leaped for the doorway, racing headlong towards the computer that was their whole reason for existing in this dimension.


Kasumi walked by Nabiki's room, carrying a basket of laundry from the bathroom. A faint reverberation from a distant future, triggered by both the smell of the clothes and the power of the ancient gerbil racing through the floor beneath her, triggered for an instant an absolutely clear picture of what was eventually to be. She saw, with photographic clarity, her great-granddaughter, saving not only the entire physical cosmos, but preserving the lives of an almost infinite number of people throughout every possible reality in existence itself.

Before she could remember any of it, the moment passed, and she stood still, merely confused and a little woozy. She blinked twice, then smiled in realization.

"Oh! Oh, well, that's all right, then," she said to herself cheerfully, continuing onwards to the laundry area.


Yanne passed through the unguarded entrance to the subterranean computer complex built into the ground beneath the dojo, which was unguarded only for the fact that the dozen or so sentries that were supposed to be denying access to anyone and everyone were strewn all over the corridors, so thoroughly confused by Pereshte's own unique sense of sense that their minds felt it would be simpler to just nod off and take a short break to recover.

The ancient gerbil steeled his mind and walked in.

Pereshte stood in front of the massive device, which was easily ten feet high and ten feet wide, and furiously hammered away at the keyboard panel with his paws, making hundreds of incorrect attempts per second on the security system. His pickaxe —- a dented and bent pickaxe after serving its purpose of getting him through the proper doors — lay on the floor behind him, and his pace slowed only slightly as he glanced over his shoulder at the silhouette of Yanne in the doorway.

"You've come to stop me, haven't you?" he asked in that bored sort of voice one uses when one doesn't care who comes to stop them or not.

"If you would kindly step away from that computer and stop trying to smash space and time with your bare paws, I'm sure we could work out a deal."

"Do you have any idea what it's like, watching the people in this town, day in and day out, but not being able to do a single significant thing about it all account of the fact you gerbils say that it's supposed to be that way?"

"Apprentice, I'm afraid that what you have said is precisely the point. What needs to be, needs to be. We cannot pick and choose the aspects of the people and places here to suit our wishes; the timestream—"

Pereshte stopped, turned around in exasperation, and began tapping keys with his tail at nearly the same rate as before. "You know, I've gone right off this timestream."

"Ah, but that's the thing, isn't it? You haven't. You can't."

"Not yet, but I do possess a sound strategy." He stuck in hands in the pockets of his Order of Order robe and spoke in quite a different voice, mimicking the weathered vocalizations of elder Yanne. "This computer is, by definition, the most logical device in this dimension. It defines that which is. Therefore, the password must be the most un-logical combination ever! And that… is precisely what I excel at."

"What? Never yet! That makes absolutely no sense! You cannot hope to crack the fabric of space and time by—!"

The hammering of keys halted abruptly. "Just did."

Yanne's jaw dropped open in shock, and several critical instants passed by before he recovered enough to shout, "…say what?!"

"Bye-ie!" Pereshte grinned, and promptly vanished.

The older gerbil rushed in and tried to recall Pereshte to three-dimensional space, but he was too late. The system had been relocked with a completely different password, and the barriers safeguarding reality systematically began to fall. Yanne shrugged in defeat and trudged back to the council hall, trying his best to ignore the rumblings beginning to resonate throughout the universe.


Even before Yanne had returned to the main hall, the Order of Order had a very clear sense that something had gone very wrong. The spectrum of visible light, for several seconds, had rapidly alternated between inverse monochrome and a palette of exclusively bright pastels.

Occasionally, gravity seemed to be taking a holiday, leaving the gerbils and a load of paperwork to go floating off towards whatever direction they happened to want to go in. The most troubling occurrence of all was when Lieutenant Frungy, who had previously received the job to ferry Pereshte and his intended master in on the leaf transport, suddenly and inexplicably transformed into a large rabbit, shredding his robe and causing no small deal of embarrassment when he suddenly returned to his original form.

Yanne entered the hall, and the gerbils who were not still floating around managed to stand at attention to hear what their respected elder had to say regarding the Pereshte situation. He reached his chair, sighed deeply and spoke, "My friends, I am afraid that our mission has failed."

"WHAT?!" the crowd shouted back at him.

"Pereshte has cracked the computer's security, and he is now loose within the system."

"WHAT?!"

"Our mission has failed, but let us not despair; we are all capable and versatile gerbils, and I have a plan!"

"WHAT?!"

"The results here will now be the same no matter what we do, so I propose we leave this dimension, and go our own ways…."

"WHAT?!"

He fixed them with an intensely inspiring and rodential glance. "I said go our own ways!"

"WHAT?!"

"'Cause Yanne said so!" he concluded, triumphantly.

At that moment, as if Pereshte himself was personally spiting the entire Order of Order — which he was — the ceiling exploded off of the chamber and exposed the entire council to Nabiki Tendo, who was sitting in her bed and most definitely not expecting to see a group of robe-clad gerbils standing or floating underneath her floor.

"WHAT?!" she screamed in complete surprise.

"WHAT?!" the gerbils chorused back at her.

Yanne's left lower eyelid began to twitch, so he waved a furry paw in the air and muttered, "I think it's time we go."

With that, each of them flung off their now-obsolete Order of Order garments, concentrated deep within themselves and, with one loud *pop* per gerbil, vanished from Earth and scattered to various other worlds throughout the multiverse.

Nabiki didn't get any time to think about what she was seeing before the house lurched violently sideways, causing her to tumble out of bed and hit her head quite hard on Yanne's desk. Luckily, he had already placed his cloak on it, and that both cushioned the blow and protected her slightly from what happened next.

Unfortunately, as she passed out, she happened to completely miss the wave of timestream changes that washed over her.

 

To be continued.

Chocolate Oranges
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Last revision: May 21, 2007

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