Lost Library Email Form Lost Library Mailing List
Lost Library Home Page
 

Arc 1: A Shadow in Nerima

A Ranma ½ multi-crossover story
by Shade

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


Act Three: (In)Justice For All


Genma awoke suddenly. It was still dark outside, but he was aware that something wasn't right here. Every hair on his body was standing stiffly on end, and there was a strange chill in his bones that he couldn't seem to shake off.

"Growf? Growf?!"

Why was he a panda? He remembered going to bed as a man, so what had activated his Jusenkyo curse?

"Growf?"

And what was that smell? There was something oddly familiar about it. His sleep-fogged brain was sluggish to respond to the stimuli flowing up his nose. But like many dumb animals, Genma had an auxiliary brain to provide assistance in times such as this.

*gurgle**growl**feedmeSeymore*

His broad stomach rumbled.

"Growf!"

Now he had it! Soy sauce, wasabi, and freshly chopped green onion.

Yum, yum!

Now, where was it coming from?

His bleary bloodshot eyes gradually came into focus.

"Groo—?!"

HE was coated with the delicious marinade!

Was that Kasumi's best Ginsu knife stuck in the mat right by his leg?! What was that cookbook doing there?!

He peered down as the fading moonlight revealed which page was open.

"…Growf?!"

'Kansai Style Grilled Panda Steaks'?!!

"Groowwf!!!"

Now fully jolted awake, the wide-eyed panda fearfully eyed his surroundings, searching for any sign of the drooling, insane psychopath that must have snuck in here and tried to cook him in his sleep!

But the only person in the room was his son, peacefully snoozing away without a care in the world. Despite his best efforts, Genma could find nothing that indicated the presence of an intruder. His beady little eyes darted back and forth, as the room suddenly felt a lot bigger and darker then it should have.

"Grooowwwf."

Trembling and turning at even the slightest sound, the terrified middle-aged martial artist pulled his now quite damp blanket further over his shuddering form in a pitiful attempt to hide his bulky mass.

"Grooo…"

Genma did not get another wink of sleep that night.

He was still lying there, wide eyed and shivering, when the first light of dawn finally peeked in.


"Hmmmm…"

"How long is she going to do that?!"

"Quiet. You want matching boo-boo on head?"

Ukyo shot the other girl a dirty look as she applied more pressure to the bag of ice she held over the lump on the back of her head. The old hag really packed a wallop with that stick of hers.

"Hmmmmmm…"

To all appearances Cologne looked like she was meditating. Her eyes were closed, hips rested in lotus position, and she did that soft droning sound that the chef had always seen done in the movies.

The only problem with this picture was that the elder hadn't budged an inch all night. In fact, Ukyo was starting to suspect that the old bat was actually sleeping.

"Hmmmm…"

"This is just a waste of time!"

The brown haired chef rose to her feet.

"No need stay, Spatula Girl. Always can leave."

That stopped her. With a growl of pure frustration, the young woman turned back and sat down again.

"Tea, Spatula Girl?"

"Gimme that!"

She snatched the pot and poured herself another lukewarm cup. Ukyo would be damned before she let some two-bit Amazon hussy outlast her!


Soun Tendo rubbed his bloodshot eyes wearily as he looked into the bathroom mirror.

He looked almost as horrible as he felt.

It had not been a good night.


He'd gone to bed with his favorite dream of uniting the schools.

The one where Akane and Ranma were married, and the boy was forced by his loving wife to work long and hard like a dog to support his father and father-in-law.

It had started out normally, with Soun and Genma lazing about drinking beer and playing shogi while Ranma rushed around to serve them, Akane following closely behind with a whip and crowbar to make sure he didn't slack off his duties. She was even wearing the shiny black leather outfit that had belonged to his darling departed wife. Oh, she made a father proud!

Then the scenery gradually started to blur and darken and a strange, disgusting stench had pierced its way into the atmosphere of his comfortable dream.

And the nightmare had begun.

The glorious house, his pride and joy, had collapsed around him in rot and charred ruins. The dojo, sturdy and venerable, had melted before his eyes into a small mound that bore more then a passing resemblance to one of his youngest daughter's soufflés. The sign that bore the proud name shattered into a thousand pieces, drifting apart as the cruel winds carried them off.

But then he'd made the mistake of turning around.

The sight that awaited him would have sent a braver man running off and screaming for their mother. Soun, being a natural coward, had dealt with the situation a little more appropriately. He curled into a fetal position and started sucking his thumb while his terror frozen eyes refused all attempts from the brain to close shut and stop the inflow of madness.

There was Genma, his best (and only) friend, arranged like a wild boar on a great ebony platter. His panda body was charred to perfection, while his still human head had been stuffed with a moldy maggot-infested apple. The overweight man's eyes had been plucked out and replaced with two gold coins, which leered back at him from the gaping sockets.

Behind the obscene dish had been arranged the table's centerpiece, his own sweet little Akane! The shattered form was barely recognizable as human, much less female, but enough of the face had been left on for him to just barely identify it as belonging to his youngest daughter. It looked as if some sick demented psychopath had beaten her with a large blunt object until virtually every bone and muscle in her body had been reduced to the consistency of warm Jell-O. Her hair and a large chunk of her scalp had been peeled off, revealing the dull white skull, while other portions of her skin appeared to have been alternately boiled off or sliced and diced with a rusty carving knife. But the worst part had been when her mouth had opened to reveal bleeding empty gums and a small, blackened stump where the tongue had once been. That had been when he realized that in spite of the horrific mutilations she was somehow still alive.

Bile had flooded his dry throat as he'd retched helplessly.

Yet it still hadn't ended there. The evil would not let him escape that easily.

And so he'd been forced to witness his two other daughters being broken into the service of the monster responsible for all of this.

Ranma Saotome!

The boy's eyes were filled with nothing but pure evil as he'd slowly turned the angels of Soun's eyes into mindless, fawning playthings one drawn-out scream at a time. His cruel laughter burrowed into the farthest reaches of Soun's brain, despoiling everything that had ever held any meaning to him. Like a dark plague, the very foundations of the Tendo father's world were engulfed and infested with corruption.

The pigtailed fiend suddenly turned toward him at the end, pinning the crumpled over man with his piercing gaze. His voice was soft but smooth, like cyanide-laced honey.

"Don't look so down."

Then he smiled.

"You're next."

Soun wound up screaming himself awake.


Soun kept telling himself over and over that it was just a dream.

Just a dream.

Ranma was only a simple-minded boy.

Once Akane married him, she would quickly teach the young man his place in the household. There was nothing to worry about.

If he repeated it to himself long enough, he might even start to believe it again.


Ranma felt good.

He felt really good.

He was at the top of the world, all cylinders fired up, ready to show no quarter and take no prisoners.

He hadn't felt like this since… ever.

The pigtailed boy was not one to question his good fortune. He walked right past the shivering fat hill of fur in the nearby futon, totally oblivious to anything but how great he felt today. His fuzzy memories of the previous day were pushed aside; he was feeling too good to be concerned about what he really couldn't remember clearly, so why bother anyway?

Even the state of the old, battered trunk that served as his makeshift closet couldn't ruin Ranma's mood.

He started going through his clean clothes, flinging aside various red and blue Chinese-style shirts in search of something he could wear.

"Crap."

*Toss*

"More crap."

*He shoots* *He scores* *Three points*

"Geh, what was I thinking when I got this one?"

*Over the shoulder and out the window* *Swish*

"Man, I never knew I had so much wussy crap before."

*Fling* *Scatter* *Tornado Warning*

"Ah ha! Finally, something with some style."

The unnatural gleam in his right eye grew stronger.


Breakfast proved to be… different.

Half of the household was bleary and red-eyed with fatigue.

Both parents looked like they were now on a first name basis with Hell. Soun kept darting hasty looks over his shoulder, as if expecting something scary to try and get the drop on him at any moment. On the other hand, Genma had found an effective way to deal with his own fear. He concentrated on eating.

"Snarf, gobble, gulp, chomp, swallow, munch…"

And he ate a lot.

Akane had awoken grouchy and unrested, and her mood hadn't improved since then. Her dreams from the night before, of being the best and rubbing her competition's faces into the dirt, had been ruined by a foul stench last night. Replacing her selfish fantasies had been nightmares about being a weakling and ugly, which had haunted her till the break of dawn. Her conversational abilities this morning were restricted to angry grunts and some evil looks; she was just too tired to muster any pretense at civility.

"Grumble, grumble…"

Nabiki was nervous. This was a first for her, and she didn't enjoy it one bit. Last night had been started weird then gone straight to disturbing and climaxed with—

"…"

She winced at her rather bad choice of words.

Kasumi, on the other hand, seemed to be undisturbed so far by the strange undercurrents lurking in the background. There was a strange serenity around her that refused to be sullied by anything so mundane as the sweet perfume that had crept into her room late in the night. It would take more then just the fragrance of cool ocean breezes and hot summer lightning to fluster the eldest Tendo daughter.

"Mmmmm."

She absently used a corner of her napkin to catch the faint moisture trying to escape from the side of her lips.

Of course, when Ranma finally showed up at the table things got really interesting.

"Man, I'm starving!"

Three spit-takes hit a gagging Akane as she started turning green with nausea. The sickening odor from last night had returned. In one of Kasumi's hands, the rice paddle slipped a notch as she accidentally poured boiling hot tea onto her father's lap with the other.

Soun started screaming a moment later.

"AAAAAAAAAAH!!!"

"Oh my! I'll get a towel right away!"

Ranma blinked for a moment in confusion, then shrugged and let it go as being that the others were just being weirdoes today. He slipped down to his usual place at the table and immediately started devouring every edible substance within range. Rice, fish, pickles, noodles, fowl, if it was food into his mouth it went, with the occasional gulp of hot tea to help wash it all down.

"Itadakimasu!"

*Munch**Chew**Gulp**Lather**Rinse**Repeat as needed*

Breakfast had never tasted so good.


{What the heck happened to him?!}

Nabiki stared openly. Their houseguest seemed completely different today. A strange confidence that she had never seen in him before now seemed to infuse every fiber of his being. Every time she glanced at his oddly colored right eye, she could feel a cold shiver run down her back.

Something about it didn't seem… human.

The effect was magnified by the younger Saotome's current apparel. His normal pigtail had been drawn out and retied into a full-fledged ponytail, while the silver locks on the right side of his face gave him an almost rakish appearance. It was fortunate for Nabiki that her self-control was formidable, or else she might have disgraced herself by either cringing or drooling.

And his clothes…

Where Ranma had found that jet-black Chinese-style shirt Nabiki didn't know, but she was forced to admit he wore it well. Combined with his normal dark pants, the young man looked every inch the part of someone that anyone with any hint of common sense would not want to mess with.

Too bad Genma Saotome didn't have any.

The target of his son's plate proved to be too much of a temptation for the glutton.

Akane was busy wiping her face when all of a sudden she heard the sickening snap of human bones being deliberately rearranged. She looked up from the napkin she'd been using to clean herself off with.

"Aaaaaah…"

A white-faced Genma looked down at his shaking left hand. The middle finger of which had been forcibly rotated 180 degrees in order to give him the bird.

Soun and Nabiki seemed frozen with shock.

Ranma continued eating without pause.

"Ranma?"

What was wrong with him? How could he not notice this? And who had done such a mean thing to Mr. Saotome?

"Gouchisousama."

Ranma set his bowl and chopsticks down and rose to his feet. He brushed past the seated family members like smoke, moving from the dining room to the front hall before any of them could regain their wits.

"I'm heading out to school now."

And with that he vanished out the door.

"…"

"…"

"…"

"Medic!!"

Now that the shock had worn off, Genma could feel his rapidly swelling digit's message that it was in a position it had never originally been intended for. Decades of martial arts training were forgotten as he clutched at the blackening appendage, rocking back and forth on the floor in pure animalistic suffering. This was no ordinary injury to be endured through discipline and fortitude; the nerve clusters in his hand had been manipulated for maximum exposure and resulting agony in the dislocation of his middle finger.

"Oh my! Mr. Saotome, did you hurt yourself? You need to see to a doctor right away."

Somehow the rest of the family resisted the urge to fall out of their sitting positions.

Kasumi just looked innocently around the room from where she'd come back with a towel for her father.

"Did Ranma leave already?"

This time they did facefault.


"Hmmmmmm— oh!"

Ukyo blinked her tired eyelids. Could it be? Was the old bat finally going to help them out?

"Shampoo."

"Yes, Great Grandmother?"

"Its time to start getting ready for the morning customers."

With a defeated sigh, Shampoo surrendered to the inevitable.

"Yes, Great Grandmother."

Ukyo hit the floor face first.

"Ah, Miss. Kuonji. Shouldn't you be preparing as well?"

With an uncontrollable twitch in her blazing red eyes, the okonomiyaki chef suddenly loomed over the Amazon elder with her Spatula of Doom held high.

"You… dried up… monkey—!"

"Let me help you get back in time."

The tip of Cologne's staff came up and contacted the front of the brown haired girl's rumpled uniform.

*BAM*

"I'll get you for thiiiisss…"

As Ukyo's flailing form fell in the direction of her own eatery, the smirking crone turned her attention towards the dining hall, where her great granddaughter had started wiping down the tables.

"Shampoo!"

"Yes, Great Grandmother?"

"Go tell Mousse we've got another hole in the roof that needs patching."

"Yes, Great Grandmother."

"And why don't you prepare a nice hot lunch to go? I have a feeling that Son-in-law is going to need it."

"Yes, Great Grandmother!"


"My breakfast is gone?!"

"Mine too!"

"Waaaaaa!!"

"Hey! My Kerokero wallet?!"

"My cigarette money?! Waaaaaaa!!"

"My secret stash of gambling takes and bribe payments?!"


"Ah! Life is good."

Ranma chuckled as he counted his take. His old man and the old fart's stash had proven slim pickings, but Akane, Nabiki, and Soun had turned out to be pretty well loaded for such a bunch of losers.

"15000, 25000, 35000…"

The wallets and purse had been tossed into the nearest trashcan of course.

"*Guzzle* …Ah!"

No sense in leaving any unsightly evidence around.

*Crumple*

The young man casually tossed the crushed juice can over his shoulder into a trashcan.

*Pop*

*Guzzle*

The first few vending machines he'd come across on his way to school provided him with all the drinks and munchies he could carry. The hungry martial artist had already made a sizable reduction to the amount of snacks he had on his person.

*Splash*

Ranma sidestepped the ladle of cold water without missing a step. He didn't have to look to know that it was that stupid old lady out doing her morning cleaning of the sidewalk.

Too bad… for her.

*Crumple*

He hefted the crushed can in the center of his hand for a few seconds, getting a feel for the weight and general shape.

Then he tossed his makeshift projectile underhanded to the side with an extra snap from the wrist to give it a little more kick.

*BLAM*

A battered tomcat that had often sent Ranma into the Neko-ken dropped dead from the top of a wooden fence, as the spinning bit of aluminum caved in its skull. A thin scraggly mutt under the fence was quick to take advantage of the unexpected bounty.

*KERPRANG*

The can bounced off walls, telephone poles, and various other bits of scenery, ricocheting around like a deadly hummingbird on LSD.

*Clong*

The little old lady never knew what hit her.

She staggered forward into the open street, dazed by the unexpected blow from behind.

Right into the path of a small utility truck.

*Honk*Honk* *Screeeecchh* *Crash*

Ranma's smile grew at the sound of mayhem and suffering.

Yes, things were certainly looking up today.

The brown stray, its scraggly muzzle stained with blood from its first meal in days, came up to its benefactor with its stump of a tail wagging happily.

Ranma paused for a moment to reach down and pat it softly on the head.

"Good boy."

The crumpled bit of aluminum bounced unnoticed into a recycling bin, its mission done.


They were ready.

Armed minions were stationed all along the wooded perimeter, the only direct path to the house had been mined, and the inside of the building itself was a fiendish deathtrap.

All that was missing was the expected victim.

"He's late!"

They'd settled in and waited. And waited. And waited!

For six hours they'd endured the heat, the flies, and the dire need to use a restroom, just for the chance of eliminating one of their Goddess's detractors. But it mattered not, for mere discomfort could not sway them from their divinely ordained task.

"I gotta take a leak!"

"Can't you hold it?!"

"No! It's coming out already!"

"Oh, for crying out loud! Let's take a five minute break, it's not like he's going to suddenly show up while we're away."

"Yay!"

"Praise Her Short Hair and Mighty Fists!"

Naturally, once they were out of sight of the road, a lone figure walking toward the house and cursing the rumpled printout that bore some vague resemblance to map in his hands showed up.

"Who the hell drew this piece of crap, Ryoga's dyslexic retarded inbred offspring?"

While Shade had a minor problem with getting lost, the first time he went anywhere new, he had a knack for remembering just about any route he had traveled before. This talent made him an excellent designated driver for friends. Unfortunately, his natural inability at exploration was compounded by this mockery of a map and directions. Exactly how was he supposed to "turn right at the big bunch of trees" when there were clusters of evergreens and softwoods all around him?! And really, was it too much to ask for the basic bearings of North, South, East, and West? At least Shade had been smart enough to bring along a CD player, he didn't know what he would have done without his favorite anime soundtracks to distract him from his predicament.

It was a miracle that he'd found this place at all!

Absently stepping his way through the unusual mounds on the road, Shade failed to notice the little blue sundress shaped flags that were planted on the top of each little hill that read, "There are no landmines under here". The young man was focused entirely on his destination, which he'd finally reached no thanks to whatever fool had sent him those directions.

Humming to the beat of the Lost Universe soundtrack with his eyes half-closed, Shade stepped back and forth, moving in time to the beat. It was a good day to be an otaku.

Something shiny caught his eye on the ground.

"Oooh! A quarter! Lucky!"

As Shade bent down to pick it up, he felt a sudden breeze pass over where his back had just been.

"Hmmm?"

He looked up.

"Must have been my imagination."

Behind the thick bushes to his right several rusty steel saw blades quivered from where they were embedded deep inside the thick trunk of a young oak growing there.

Truly, the Knights lived up to their patron's reputation.

 

To be continued.

Arc 1, Act 4
Layout, design, & site revisions 2005

Webmaster: Larry F
Last revision: May 21, 2007

Old Gray Wolf