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(Last time, on Ranma 1/2…)

  • The fridge was filled with Snapple and Jell-O.
  • Genma burst through the window, a carp silently biting onto his leg, and galloped over to the fridge, where he began to eat and drink.
  • Nabiki, deciding that Thursday wasn't a good day for this, gratefully passed out with a fever.

Chocolate Oranges II:
Peelings Reloaded

a Ranma 1/2 sequelfic
by Rylan Hilman (sabremau@yahoo.com)


On the third day, Nabiki awoke.

Things being what they were, she happened to wake up in the same place where she fell asleep. Not unusual, though she'd expected something a little more interesting after learning that there was some mysteriously vague problem with the world, or at the very least HER world. It was hard to tell much anymore, really. Still, in order to figure out what she COULD tell, she slowly got up and looked around.

Genma was still what and where he was before, a large shaggy-looking long-necked elk busily chomping down on apparently limitless bowls of Jell-O being provided him from the refrigerator. The carp on his hind leg, while seemingly quite annoyed at its host ignoring it, didn't do much else other than clamp its little fishy jaws on and look around a bit.

Nabiki slowly got to her knees and carefully looked at Genma. His face seemed… somehow different. Faint tinges of evil lurked in his fur, but it didn't smell like his evil. She felt she would have known if it was. Which could only mean one thing: something else had bought Genma. She thought back over the last full day she had spent awake, and slowly recognized this evil as something that had crept in and hung around in reality's backstage while nobody seemed to have paid it much attention.

And now it's up to me to fix it, she realized.

…but first, that drink.

"Um, excuse me, Genma? Can I have some of…?" she started to ask the elk in between his chomping fits.

Genma stopped eating, withdrew his head from the fridge, looked Nabiki in the eyes, and paused. A couple seconds later, he sucked his tongue up into his head and blew a raspberry at her out of both ears in stereo.

"…well, that clears up that, I guess. Evil," she concluded. At this, the carp dropped to the floor, flipped over to Nabiki, and spoke up.

"IF YOU WANT to help us, hear the words. Check your room. One."

It started to flop about to a more comfortable speaking position when, all of a sudden, one of Genma's tongues shot out from his ear, grabbed the fish, and pulled it inside his sizable head. The unexpected infusion of piscatorial matter seemed to muddle him somewhat, and he stumbled forward into the open fridge, which closed its door on him and vibrated loudly for a few seconds before shutting off completely.

Nabiki blinked. She wanted to be a little unnerved, frightened, or at least surprised, but strangely enough, the carp's words had left her remarkably clear-headed and filled with a sense of purpose. She got to her feet and headed for her room.

As she went upstairs and passed the bath, she could hear her father inside, still singing a loud bathing song. It didn't sound quite as evil as Genma's fur had smelled, but it still didn't seem that he would be much help in solving the dilemma that had chosen her.

"Besides," she reasoned, "he'd be too wet."

Nabiki went into her room and closed the door. She took a quick mental inventory as she looked around, and concluded that most things that used to be in it were still in it. In addition, some things that weren't in it before were in it now, such as the large pomegranate tree growing out of her bed. After thinking about it for a minute or two, she decided that that definitely wasn't there the last time she checked.

It looked healthy enough, and the fruit ripe enough to pick ("It's my bed, why wouldn't it be?" she later told Ranma in indignant explanation), but there was something built into the side of it. She walked up for a closer look and pried it loose. It was a rectangular panel with twelve gemstones encrusted in it. The top row glowed with an apparently natural light, curiously detached from any external energy source.

"I'm not sure why, but I think this is the key," she mused out loud. "Wait… the key to what?" Not sure how to proceed with this newfound knowledge, she looked expectantly towards the tree. It did not disappoint her.

With the sound of a hundred ram's-horn trumpets blaring forth from behind her closet door, and one linen-muffled quack, the tree shook to the music, then slowly reached over until every branch, flower, fruit, and leaf was pointed towards her window. She jogged over to it and looked out, slightly surprised that her room was now at ground level instead of being on the second floor, as she was quite sure it was before.

Sliding down the street was a colossal black cube, polished and shiny, plowing up the ground as it went. Curious at the sight of this new and unexpected one-shape procession, she climbed out the window, bringing her panel with her, and walked to the edge of the road just as the cube started to pass by her house.

With a burst of static, two holes opened up on the front of the cube, and Ranma and Shampoo stuck their heads out to see what there was to be seen. Nabiki hurried over to the front and started to walk backwards while talking so as to keep up with the two.

"Ranma? Shampoo? What are you two doing here?" She couldn't smell any evil on either of them, so she felt a lot more comfortable in engaging them in conversation.

Shampoo looked Nabiki in the eyes, her expression one of enthusiastic — if slightly blank — joy and excitement, and declared, "It's Airen! He THE REAL THING! Shampoo travel for weeks! Two!"

Ranma quickly glanced over at Nabiki, nodded twice in a knowing way, then withdrew back into the cube, taking Shampoo with him. The holes irised shut, and the cube came to a sudden stop. With an eerie silence, it slowly started to rise into the air, got about ten meters above the ground, then audibly muttered, "Eh, why bother?" and burst into flames, jumping across the sky and disappearing over the horizon.

"…okay, that was a LITTLE unsettling," Nabiki decided. A small part of her was slightly relieved that her detachment from her environment seemed to be wearing off, but she was distracted by a slight buzzing in her hand. She looked down and noticed that the second row of gemstones on the panel had started glowing.

Next, Nabiki felt a slight buzzing from her feet. She looked down and, not seeing anything out of the ordinary down there, realized that there was a slight buzzing from the ground, which soon shifted over to a slight vibration, then a slight trembling, and finally a full-fledged minor earthquake. As she looked around for cover, it dawned on her that, aside from the recently departed Ranma and Shampoo, she hadn't seen a single person since venturing outside. That, as evidenced by the colossal figure of Happosai rising over the horizon, was about to change.

He noisily stomped across the city, flattening entire houses with each step, and bellowed a masculine screech of defiance. He wore a blindingly fresh aura of evil that Nabiki could see from across Nerima, but it wasn't his own. She had experienced his original one before, and this, it definitely wasn't. She quickly consulted her gemstone panel once more to see if anything else had been unlocked with his screech, but it remained only half-lit.

"I have to fight THAT…?" she bemoaned as the giant pervert turned and started to bound in her direction.

"Young woman! Do not fear him!"

Nabiki looked around in confusion to see where that last line had come from, and saw an unfamiliar figure standing upon her house. He wore a judo gi, and as soon as she recognized him, his heroic theme song started.

"DON'T GIVE UP! Your quest shall not be hindered by this monster! I shall personally see to his glorious defeat, for great justice! Three!" With that, he leapt at Happosai and kicked him in the head.

| Asobi no michi ni tamashii kometa
| Hitori no otoko ga kyou mo yuku
| Majime ni asobanu yatsura ni wa
| Karada de oboesaseru zo!
|
| SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGATA SANSHIRO!
| SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

His fearsome kick knocked Happosai off-balance, and the ancient master went flying across the country, finally tumbling into the Tokyo Tower, which promptly collapsed. Sanshiro, not one to leave a task half-done, raced towards his fallen foe and proceeded to toss him headlong into the sea, where Happosai exploded. His victory nearly complete, Sanshiro picked up the crumpled remains of the Tokyo Tower and flung it at the defeated creature, who obligingly exploded once more.

Segata Sanshiro, having saved Nabiki and assisted wholeheartedly in the agreed-upon scheme to restore love and order to the land, walked off towards the setting sun, where he met Shinguuji Sakura, played a short game of hide-and-seek with her, and founded a dynasty of warriors for truth, justice, and quality dramatic adventure sagas to spread around the world.

As for the other events of Segata Sanshiro's reign, all he did, and his military achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Sega? Sanshiro rested with his fathers, the kings of Sega. And Gorokuro his son succeeded him as king.

And lo, Nabiki looked, and there was the Nekohanten, which had approached near during the chaotic period surrounding the War of Happosai, and now stood boldly before her. She debated for a moment or two whether or not to go inside, until a grand celestial event made up her mind for her. With a majestic and rather unexpected "whop", a rapidly approaching wall, spanning the heavens, materialized and began to draw ever closer to the unassuming Earth.

It was an infinitely wide wall of boiling fire.

It was the End of the World.

It smelled almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a large wet dog.

Having this new apparition to help focus her resolve, Nabiki hurriedly entered the Nekohanten. The restaurant, save for the wizened old form of Cologne slowly rotating on a bar stool, was deserted, and many a bowl of gomoku ramen lay uneaten as mute witness to the approaching disaster.

"Yo, little sister," Cologne greeted Nabiki, remaining on her stool with eyes closed and hands folded, "Perhaps you should go and consult YOUR FACULTY ADVISOR and learn about the matrix." She stopped spinning, opened her brownish-green eyes calmly, and started to stand up.

Nabiki waved her hands and frantically shouted, "No, wait!! Don't go! Don't go and leave me! Wait!!"

Cologne paused for a moment, then grinned and replied, "Fear not, I can dig it."

Nabiki took a deep breath, walked over to the window to verify that the fiery stellar wall of doom was still on its scheduled approach, and returned to the counter of the restaurant to ask, "What exactly did you mean, the Matrix?"

"No!!!" Cologne leaped onto the countertop, visibly indignant. "Not the Matrix! Listen to me!"

"No,   no,   no,
no,   no,   no,
no,   no,   no…"

She stopped yelling for a moment, reached down to detach her left leg, and began to slam it on the counter in time to the final stanza.

"No,   no,   no!!!

"Do not you understand the mathematical properties here?! Not a Matrix! Just remember to speak the words! Matrix!! Honestly, little sisters these days… feh!" She sighed deeply, then sat down and looked sadly at the empty restaurant.

"I don't get it, Cologne… why do you call me sister?" Nabiki asked skeptically. In her mind, it wasn't that such oddities appearing on this Saturday weren't wholly unexpected, but it was just she didn't feel… right… having this particular oddity present itself all of a sudden. "You mean, are you…?"

Cologne said nothing for several moments. The wall of fire outside the restaurant marched steadily on, beginning to absorb some of the higher- orbiting artificial satellites surrounding the planet, and making the weather outdoors a tad bit unpleasant. The stock market, showing a remarkable amount of optimism, rose 43.62% and bought a great many shares in Nabiki Tendo. On Wall Street, a good time was had by all.

Back at the Nekohanten, Cologne finally looked straight at Nabiki, then reached her hand up to her neck and pinched hard. A musical popping sound emanated from her throat as she pulled up and over her head, revealing her skin to be enclosing a giant zipper, and the withered visage of the Chinese matriarch gave way to the noticeably smoother and gentle face of Kasumi Tendo, age 19.

"Ka… Kasumi?!" Nabiki was taken aback, not only by the fact that her sister stood before her, but more for the fact that, possessing the rest of Cologne's body other than her head, she was a fair sight SHORTER than she used to be.

"Help us, Nabiki. You're our only hope." With that, she pointed to the ground, and a manhole cover which had previously laid there unnoticed suddenly sunk away, revealing a dark and deep tunnel leading out of the restaurant. Kasumi hopped over next to it and beckoned Nabiki to follow. "Down here is where your quest ends, and you alone hold the key to halting Pereshte and returning all."

"Huh?" Nabiki commented.

Kasumi smiled pleasantly. "Don't worry, you have all you need. We'll see you on the other side." She gently picked up Nabiki's fully-glowing gemstone panel, gave it back to her, then forcefully grabbed her by the arm and flung her headfirst down the hole, cheerfully shouting out, "FOUR!" right before the tunnel entrance sealed itself.

After a bumpy yet mercifully short ride, Nabiki found herself sitting awkwardly (which, in this context, is understood to mean, "upside-down") in a dark and soggy antechamber, illuminated only by the twelve-gem board that landed next to her.

"Oww…." She got up gingerly, making sure that her panel, which was apparently(judging from her sister's words) even more important than she had thought, was undamaged. Upon closer inspection, and determining that it indeed was, she finally noticed the fact that all twelve stones, in four rows and three columns, were now glowing just as the first rows had started to earlier. What that meant, exactly, remained just slightly beyond her understanding, though she kept faith that she'd know when the time was right.

A muffled THUD shook the cavern from above, and she quickly realized that the wall of fire must have impacted on the planet's surface, and she so hoped that her father had gotten out of the bath and at least gotten dressed, so as to stand a fighting chance. Still, if Kasumi was right, she theorized, she would complete her task down here and it wouldn't matter much at all in the end.

"Wait… What task?"

Shoving that thought aside for a moment, she got up and stepped towards the only visible door out of the chamber. It had a standard wooden doorknob, not at all the sort of thing you'd expect to find in a cattle slaughterhouse, and she turned it quite easily. The door itself, behaving as if weightless, silently swung inwards, and she stepped into a very familiar room.

"Hey, this is my classroom from school!" Indeed it was, every desk and paper right where she remembered it being, all those many hours ago, back when there WAS a school. "I guess this is where it ended up. But who would…?"

Nabiki didn't get to finish her train of thought, as a dozen vines suddenly whipped out from within the desks, binding her arms and legs and dragging her over to a spread-eagled position in front of the blackboard. She struggled against the horde, but it easily overpowered her and held her in place, suspended several inches off the floor.

The lights turned on, and Nabiki winced, not having her arms free to shield her eyes. As they adjusted to the brightness, she saw a dark-suited and helmet-clad figure standing on the far side of the room, smoky fog billowing around it. With methodical, echoing steps, it slowly crossed the room until it stood face-to-face with Nabiki.

"What do you want?!" Nabiki angrily demanded, not able to move her arms or legs, let alone sit down at her desk, which she suddenly thought of as a very comforting idea, given the circumstances. Her panel had landed facedown back by the main door, and she just now realized that there was an inscription of some sort on the back, but she was in no position to read it from where she was.

The figure tilted its head slightly, in apparent puzzlement, then slowly reached its hands up to remove its helmet, showing her captor to be none other than Akane Tendo.

"Hello, Nabiki. I'm your sister," she spoke in a reassuring monotone. "Don't you like my world?"

"You're not my real sister!" Nabiki responded forcefully, her eyes beginning to moisten up with tears from the pain of having the vines squeeze her ankles and wrists so tightly.

Akane tilted her head the other way, then reached down into the fog surrounding her feet to unstrap and step out of her boots, looking back up at Nabiki to continue her soothing monotone, though in a slightly higher tone of voice this time, "I'm your sister. I made our world for us."

"No!! You're not my real sister!" Nabiki closed her eyes tightly, not wanting to believe that her admittedly strange Saturday had come down to this torment.

Turning away with a sigh, Akane walked a few steps towards the middle of the classroom, before stopping, forlornly turning her head back towards Nabiki, and quietly whispering, "I'm your sister."

"NO!!! You're NOT my real SISTER!!!" Nabiki all but screamed, wishing everything would just go away and leave her be, having a nice comfortable breakfast back home, with rice and miso soup, perhaps an orange or two, and a relaxing cup of coffee, or possibly chocolate milk, depending on her mood that morning and whether or not there was any in the house at the time.

"Okay, fine, I'm not your real sister." Akane looked away dejectedly, before abruptly spinning back around to face Nabiki, eyes wide in shock and hands reaching to grasp her throat, gagging at something climbing up her windpipe. She staggered around, knocking over someone's chair that had been sitting in front of their desk, and collapsed onto it, heaving and twitching.

Nabiki looked away as best she could, not at all wanting to see her sister, even one that admitted it WASN'T actually her sister, being in this much pain. After a long silence, she cautiously looked back at the prone form of the fake Akane, and the creature emerging from her unconscious mouth. It shook itself free and began to float in the air under some otherworldly form of propulsion. Its dark beady eyes seemed to gaze right into Nabiki's soul, and it glistened with residue from its recently departed host. It looked, smelled, and sounded as evil as an entire warehouse devoted to rugs made from the fur of Genma the elk, and had the sort of aura that would cause an ordinary person to collapse in shock just from being in its presence.

Nabiki held up decently enough under its onslaught, mainly owing to the fact that it was, paranormal qualities aside, a common Mongolian gerbil.

"I am Pereshte," it stated matter-of-factly, still using the higher- toned version of Akane's voice. "Perhaps you've heard of me?"

"Oh yeah, I remember now. I think my other sister mentioned you…" Nabiki said nonchalantly, trying to stall for time while she frantically tried to figure out what it was she came down here for in the first place.

"It's a great pity you weren't included in my original plans. Quite honestly, I completely forgot about you, which is why things had to come to this. Greatly sorry, but you know how plans is plans. Now, shall we get started?"

"Wait, just a second… What have you done, exactly?"

"Oh, you know. This and that. Some of the other thing, but not TOO much. I like to be tidy. Now, calm down, this will only pinch a bit." Pereshte settled down on a nearby desk, reached back and snapped off his tail, which quickly morphed into a bamboo drinking straw that he then pointed at Nabiki. With a regally important "foop", it shot forward, extending itself until the far end embedded itself just above the center of Nabiki's chest.

It only pinched a bit, just as Pereshte had claimed it would, but Nabiki didn't mind that so much as what she knew, deep down, would happen next, which so terrified her that she could hardly describe it, yet quite effortlessly think of nothing else. This was very nearly a great and tragic event, except that she DID manage to think of something else. A few something elses, in fact.

"One."

"Two!"

"Three!"

"FOUR!"

"Not the Matrix! Listen to me!"

Ruby, topaz, beryl. Turquoise, sapphire, emerald. Jacinth, agate, amethyst. Chrysolite, onyx, jasper.

"Besides, he'd be too wet."

Nabiki opened her eyes suddenly, seeing Pereshte about to drink through his straw, which surprised him somewhat. "Is something the matter?" he asked calmly.

"…I know how. I don't know how, but I do," she whispered in awe. A grin slowly spread across her face, and she shouted, "I know how to solve the puzzle!"

"What puzzle? What are you talking about?" he questioned, looking confused, or at least as confused as a gerbil can look when he's preparing to drain the soul from a teenage girl through a drinking straw.

Nabiki mentally ran over the day's events quickly a couple times, just to be sure, then shut her eyes, took a deep breath and shouted with all her strength:

IF   YOU   WANT
THE   REAL   THING
DON'T   GIVE   UP
YOUR   FACULTY   ADVISOR!!!

Exhausted, she slumped down in her restraints, then slowly looked up, noticing, with no small amount of triumph, that the straw embedded in her chest had vanished without so much as a small pinch. Pereshte stood there, jaw hanging open in abject shock. He honestly hadn't expected anyone to actually guess his system password, and here this mere child, completely overlooked for days, had somehow, without any apparent slicing skills, managed to crack his code down to the most secure levels.

"How…. HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?!?!" he all but exploded in consternation. Leaping forward off his table, fully intending to repeat his question from close range while floating before Nabiki's face, he experienced a quite painful power drain mid-way through and plopped to the floor. It felt quite a bit more intense than a small pinch.

The vines holding Nabiki suspended quickly slacked off, and she dropped to the floor. Unfortunately for her just-conceived plans to interrogate the little gerbil, determine what exactly he had done, why he had done it, how best to reverse the effects on reality, and whether or not those really WERE real gemstones embedded in the panel that she'd accidentally left facedown by the door to the classroom… She happened to land directly on Pereshte, and he behaved quite like a common Mongolian gerbil, one very much lacking in paranormal qualities.

*sqloosh*

Immediately following that 'sqloosh', several million other sounds of various intensities, most of them leaning towards the loud end of the spectrum, flooded into the classroom. Nabiki clapped her hands over her ears, which proved to be a very poor defense against the audio onslaught, and struggled to keep conscious. Glancing around the quickly darkening room, she looked down at the broken body of Pereshte. It was quite clear that he remained mortally wounded, but hadn't quite stopped moving, giving a twitch now and then, as if his wounded mind was lashing out randomly inside his cracked shell. Desperate to stop the wail which felt was just about ready to liquefy her brain, Nabiki jumped into the air as high as she could and landed with both feet stomping into the rodent's back.

Silence.

Blackness.

Carpeting?

Nabiki groggily opened her eyes, and noticed that she seemed to be lying on the floor next to her bed. Waking up a little bit more, she deduced that she had apparently fallen asleep still wearing her clothes from yesterday, a REAL yesterday, and that she was drenched with sweat. She also noted, with no small amount of relief, that there was no tree growing out of her bed, pomegranate or otherwise.

She contentedly murmured, "There's no place like my floor…." Pausing to collect her thoughts, she amended that with, "…but not right now." She got up, checked her clock, and determined that today, if it was a school day(which, things being what they used to be, she wasn't quite sure if it was or not), she was up and awake in plenty of time to not be late.

Deliriously happy in the security of knowing she was home, in her own reality, in the happy place where only standardly weird things happened to her, she pirouetted daintily around in the center of her room a few times. It was one of the happiest mornings she could think of in recent or distant memory, save one or three nagging distractions. She encountered the first such distraction midway through her fourth pirouette, as she saw Akane standing in her open doorway.

"Um, Nabiki? Is something wrong? You…."

"HUH…?!" She froze in surprise, and stammered a bit. "Er, well… Uh, yeah… I mean, no! No, everything's fine! It's just, um… Why do you ask?"

Akane looked around hesitantly, then softly said, "Well, I… I just had a weird feeling, that's all. I thought maybe you knew something about the… Nabiki? What happened to your shirt?"

Nabiki frowned, and looked down at her sweater and her undershirt, both with cleanly punched holes through to her unharmed chest, right below her throat. She paled slightly, searching for a suitable answer, but not having any come to mind.

Akane, eyes wide in concern, silently excused herself and closed the door. Nabiki, no longer feeling quite so overjoyed, wandered over and sat down heavily on her bed, then quickly got up again after feeling something in it. She pulled back the covers to reveal the same rectangular gemstone panel she'd somehow brought with her. It wasn't glowing anymore, but now seemed as perfect a time as any to read the inscription she saw earlier, which she subconsciously knew was still there, even an entire reality away from where it had been written. With trembling hands, she tenderly picked it up, turned it over, and read what was written there.

 

"THE BEGINNING."


Disclaimer: The characters of Ranma ½ (Nabiki, Ranma, Shampoo, Cologne, Akane, Kasumi, Genma, Soun, Ryouga, and others I didn't use) are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. The character of Segata Sanshiro is owned by Sega Enterprises. 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 are greatly appreciated, and will be accepted at the email address of sabremau@yahoo.com. Keep circulating the fanfics…

"Egnaro Eht Saw Okkay, Egnaro Eht T'nsaw Luap."

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