Author: Ignabar PM
On hiatus.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - & Ranma - Chapters: 6 - Words: 15,418 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 41 - Updated: 09-23-12 - Published: 09-04-12 - id: 8497816
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is my try at the well-worn path of fukufics. Watch as I muck around in the universes of my choice, using the black hole of my ego to suck everyone and everything into my image. I am the pinnacle of arrogance, not only for creating my own universe, but stealing someone else's. The audacity! I do not own either Ranma 1/2 or Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon, which belong to Rumiko Takahashi and Naoko Takeuchi. Enjoy!
"Company halt," Ranma Saotome called to the procession of men behind him. "Take a break, guys." The twenty or so bounty hunters under his command and Akane Saotome, his wife, tentatively stopped walking and sat down heavily in the shade of a stand of trees. Ranma himself remained standing, undaunted by the day of hard marching. After the sub-atmospheric cruiser they'd been traveling in malfunctioned and crashed in the western wilds of China, all of them had been making as best time they could for the nearest spaceport of Xining. Unfortunately, the bloody Bayankala mountain ranges were taking their toll on the battle-hardened veterans, even Akane, who was certainly no slouch when it came to the physical arts. But Ranma was a man possessed.
"Dear, why are we stopping here? There's a nice series of springs just down in that valley, and it's far too hot to just march all day." Akane employed her most devastatingly effective weapon, her puppy dog eyes, and Ranma felt his inner defenses weakening. That overwhelming cuteness threatened to destroy his sanity should he so much as consider ignoring her demands.
"Because these mountains are cursed," he said weakly, although with some measure of hard seriousness. "I've heard legends, rumors. They say there're fiery demons dwelling in Jusendo, vicious kappa who live in the depths of the lakes, an entire tribe of man-hating Amazon warriors living in their own filth. You'd fit right in, tomboy," he added, teasingly.
"You really need to stop hitting the bars at Olympus Mons. I don't know what they serve on Mars, but it's stronger than sake." Akane waved at the mercenaries behind them, the poor unfortunates who signed on for the adventure and got stuck with a Qinghai nature walk. If nothing else, they deserved to be rid of the two Saotomes for a little while. Akane looked over the edge of the bluff, searching until her eyes alighted on a wooden hut constructed in the near corner. "Hey, look! There are people living down there! We should go talk to them."
The puppy dog eyes started up again, and Ranma folded like a house of cards caught in a hurricane. "Alright, we'll go, you macho-sexless-tomb-"
Akane pulled her husband into a deep, passionate kiss, effectively cutting off the end of his sentence. "And you're a pervert, but you're my pervert. Come on now, I think we're freaking your friends out." Laughing, she ran to the end of the edge of bluff and bounded recklessly down the steep slope of the valley towards the poor, unsuspecting targets of her attention. Ranma watched for a couple seconds affectionately, and then turned around to face the sweaty and exhausted people, who seemed perfectly happy with their shade, thank-you-very-much. "Eh-heh," he said sheepishly, "I'll just go get her. Wait here until I get back." Ranma skipped the jumping portion and simply executed a swan dive into Jusenkyo, reveling in the feel of wind blowing through his hair. Akane skidded to a stop just before the primitive door to the hut and watched, astonished, as Ranma hit the ground with a roll. It was only a vertical drop of about twenty meters, and Saotome hopped back to his feet laughing.
Ranma knocked hard on the door to the #Guide's office#, as the sign pounded in the ground proclaimed in messy Chinese pinyin. The door opened, revealing a mildly overweight native wearing an olive green uniform and beret, and a nametag identifying him as the #Jusenkyo Guide# in the same handwriting. "Welcome, honoured visitors!" he exclaimed in slightly accented Japanese, "This legendary cursed training grounds of Jusenkyo Springs. You come here for training?" Ranma nodded and accepted the guide's invitation to come inside. Akane shook her head vigorously and ran off to examine the actual site of the springs.
"Thank you for inviting me into your home," Ranma said politely. "My company was simply passing through after a minor accident with our cruiser, and we happened to break here on the way back to Silver Millennium territory." The room was sparsely furnished, with two futons, a small kitchen, an outdated refrigerator humming in the corner. But the most interesting bit by far was the wall-mounted map of the springs on the wall. Most of them were unmarked, but a few had gigantic red pins pushed through, with hanging strips of paper that recorded, apparently, the first thing to drown in that spring. Ranma shivered. What a weird hobby.
"You not here to train, yo here to cool off in our springs, right?" Ranma nodded absently. 'How did a woman even drown in a spring? They're supposed to be shallow, I think.' The pins suddenly seemed even more ominous than before, like tiny omens of doom for each and every person who entered the valley of cursed springs. Cursed springs…
"How are these springs cursed, again?" It fell from his tongue heavily, and even as the guide was answering him, Ranma was walking stridently for the door.
"Honoured guest, these springs are fed by both water and the magic of the Earth Kingdom. Each draws the spirits of an unlucky soul to them and immerses them, and then anyone who falls into the spring is cursed to take on the form of… honoured guest?"
Akane surveyed the springs. There were narrow strips of land between each pool, the grass ground away by some long-gone force and yet to return. The 'training' aspect of the area was evident from the massive bamboo stalks hammered into the ground in the centres of each spring. Akane let her boundless imagination take over, allowing her to see the battles that may have happened, between old rivals, between adventurous sparring partners, between master and apprentice. She turned and spun between the poles, dancing to beat only she could hear and growing gradually closer to a certain extra-wide pool just feet away. Her eyes glazed over, one could almost hear a demonic laugh as a fatal misstep sent Akane plunging into the cold water.
Evidently, her initial judgment of the area was dead wrong; the pools were very deep. The sunlight was fading rapidly as ghostly force gripped Akane's ankles and dragged her gently towards the silt at the bottom of the spring. Akane Saotome's penultimate thought was 'I can't swim!'
Her last was 'Ranma…'
'Akane can't swim!' Ranma thought frantically as he broke from his brisk walk into a dead run. A splash from a far-off pool drew his attention, making his heart stop. Tracking the noise, he jumped fluidly from the ground to the top on the nearest bamboo shoot and kept on running, jumping rapidly from bamboo to bamboo. When he got to the pool, just able to make out the spinning form of his wife, Ranma shucked his red shirt and dove headfirst into the pool.
Halfway down, a wave of concentrated Earth magic washed out of the bottom of the spring, pushing Ranma back towards the surface. Swearing bitterly in his mind, the Saotome doggedly inverted himself and fought against the current, heedless of the magical changes sweeping through his body. Reaching out one hand, Ranma swiped at Akane's halo of hair, but came up short. Running dangerously low on air, he managed to get a firm grip on the floating black strands and yanked hard. The two of them shot out of the pool like a cork out of a champagne bottle.
Ranma was unsure of how long he was unconscious, but when he came to, the concerned face of the Jusenkyo guide loomed over his, swimming in and out of focus. "Wha… my head," he said blearily. "Wha' happn'd?" He rolled over onto his side, and frowned when something hit the ground. Something that really had no right to be there. Slowly, Ranma brought one hand up and poked her breast. "Oh shit!" she exclaimed, hauling herself to her feet. She stumbled, but was soon up and running again, focused on the motionless form of his beloved, wet clothes plastered to her frame flatteringly.
Because if the springs bestowed the form of that which drowned in them, and Ranma had become a girl, then the spring she'd jumped in had previously drowned-
'No, please don't be dead! Oh pleasenopleasenopleaseno- NOOOOOOOOOO!"
Ranma grabbed Akane's shoulders and shook her. Hard. "Akane?" she asked loudly, desperately. "Akane, answer me! ANSWER ME!" she screamed, holding one hand to her throat to check for a pulse. One that was not forthcoming. "OH GOD PLEASE! AKANE!" Ranma broke down in gentle, disturbingly feminine sobs on her beloved, deceased Akane.
"Silence, Ranma Saotome, or you will be found in contempt of this court," Queen Serenity said mockingly. The young man in the accused box fell sullenly quiet, glaring up with dark rage at the three people before him. He'd never met any in person, but the face of Princess Serenity II was stamped on every coin minted in the solar system. The princess sat on a small wooden stool to the left of her mother. Queen Serenity resided behind a miserably small chrome desk, covered with a few pertinent papers, and she looked thoroughly bored. But on her right was her most trusted advisor, Sailor Pluto. It was the green-haired senshi who'd summoned Ranma to the aid of the falling empire in the first place.
One could hardly call it a trial. One moment, Ranma had successfully activated the complex reincarnation device and input coordinates for mainland Japan, several years in the future, and the next a gas canister was crashing through the apartment window and shock troopers wearing gas masks and moon kingdom insignias were breaking down his door. After awakening in some godforsaken cell in the Palace of the Moon, Ranma was escorted to this claustrophobic little courtroom to be judged and found guilty. Or so he thought.
In reality, there had been no trial. Ranma was unsure why the princess was there, but evidently the Queen had her priorities severely out of whack. How else could she possibly attend the sentencing for a petty crime while the Moon Kingdom burned? Then it hit him: if Sailor Pluto had been the one to request his aid in the beginning, and it was normally her job to administer this justice, perhaps her liege was worried…
"Hey Pluto," he called lazily, "weren't you the one who wanted my help here? Something about your military commanders being incompetent?" Princess Serenity looked at the Guardian of Time incredulously, as if it was beyond her to conceive that the Kingdom wouldn't recover from the betrayal of Beryl and the Earth Kingdom. "Setsuna, I know he's supposed to be a brilliant tactician, but the Saotomes aren't exactly the most, uh, reliable people in the galaxy.
"Well it's true!" she exclaimed, seeing Pluto raise one eyebrow in condescending disbelief. "I mean, his father kept hold of a group of asteroids for a bit, but he got eaten by a rabid panda on Jupiter. Don't give me that look, it's not funny." The princess frowned and turned back to the faintly bored Ranma.
Queen Serenity rounded on her advisor in anger. "You contracted help without consulting me? An act of rebellion against the crown during wartime is treason, Sailor Pluto. I demand an explanation for this behavior of yours!"
Ranma leaned forward as far as the small box allowed, genuinely interested in what the enigmatic Setsuna Meioh had to say on the subject. Beyond an initial, nondescript but desperate plea for as much manpower as he could muster, the intents of the last senshi were a mystery to him as well. The clock hung on the back wall of the antechamber stopped ticking.
"May I be blunt, Your Majesty? We are fighting a loosing war. We are besieged on all fronts by the Dark Kingdom's youma, we suffer defection and betrayal from nearly half of our senators, and the Sailor Senshi will only be able to hold off our attackers with magic for so long. I estimated that we had scant months left before we would have to resort to using the Ginzuishou, and that time is rapidly approaching." The royal advisor took a deep breath. "Hence Ranma Saotome. The men under his command are some of the most highly trained mercenaries that money can buy, and would have made a valuable addition to our flagging troops.
However, the main reason I contacted him was because Ranma Saotome is a military genius. His track record literally speaks for itself. He was in charge of the Heavy Brigade in the recent battle for a series of settlements on Saturn's second ring, and despite his family's, ah, failings, we can't afford to be choosy with our allies at this point. I propose that we grant a pardon for the use of relatively low-class contraband technology in lieu of service for the duration of this war."
Ranma buried his face in his hands. Not a stranger to the diplomatic field, Sailor Pluto's obvious mistake was appealing to logic in a monarch under pressure. Not only that, but belittling her ability to effectively fight off the invaders, right or not, had basically sealed his fate. "Your Majesty, I-"
"Hold your tongue, criminal. We are still deliberating your sentence." Princess Serenity II cringed at her mother's tone. "You are guilty of heresy by way of suppressing the flow of souls to the world, and as such you will be-"
"Serenity, I implore that you consider my proposal. Even without a pardon, Ranma Saotome may still be of use to us."
Queen Serenity was livid. "You question my reign, Meioh? I am perfectly competent in the defense of my own territory from godless monsters and petty infidels, and we do not require the aid of bounty hunters. Should the remainder of those formerly in Saotome's employ still be on the moon, I will commission warrants for their arrest following this meeting. Do not presume to question me in the future."
At this point, her daughter chose the most inopportune time to chime in. "Mother, we should finish this posthaste, our kingdom needs us." The Queen nodded sagely. "Sentencing, then. Ranma Saotome, you are found guilty." Ranma could hear the impatience in her voice, like the opinion of her daughter had totally reversed the direction of her train of thought.
"You are sentenced to the Void for a period of time as yet undetermined, for reflection on your crimes against the universe. May God have mercy on your soul." She raised one palm, revealing the shining Imperial Crystal. The Princess and Sailor Pluto backed away slowly as the gem started to glow brighter and brighter, the dust particles in the air around it glittering prettily before igniting in a small firestorm around Serenity's fist.
"You hypocrites," Ranma snarled, throwing himself against the restraining plexiglass. "Magic is evil and wrong only when it suits you, but now that your little fiefdom is collapsing, suddenly it's your divine right to push back with the bloody Silence Glaive?" Seeing Setsuna's shocked face and Sailor Moon's horrified expression, he snorted contemptuously. "Yeah, I know what really happened to Planet Janus. You killed, what, twelve trillion people, and you call me a criminal?"
Suddenly, a white beam of light lanced out of the Ginzuishou and hit Ranma square in the chest, enveloping his entire body in searing radiance. The last thing he saw was the eternally sorry expression of the Senshi of Time, and then the whole world was white.
Queen Serenity barely got one foot out the door when one of her generals, Sailor Moon guesses it was probably Endymion, teleported her to the command room of the palace. She frowned at the mortified Sailor Pluto and asked, "Why did Luna ask Queen Serenity to attend this matter personally? Really, reincarnation is pretty trivial."
Pluto swallowed hard and flicked through the possibilities in her head. "Uhhh… My best guess is that she wanted to make sure he was locked up in the first place, considering that if I had my way, Ranma would be a free man by now. As for why, maybe she just wanted to test the sealing technique. We both know she's never going to kill anyone herself, so if it comes down to self defense, our illustrious Queen is going to banish them to a sealed dimension for all of eternity. Makes you wonder what the difference is, eh?"
Sailor Moon turned it over in her head. "Great. Wait a minute, isn't one of mom's backup plans reincarnation? Wow, no wonder he called us hypocrites!"
Sailor Pluto glanced over her shoulder at the empty hallway, and then leaned in close to whisper in the heiress' ear. "Permission to speak candidly, Your Highness? Your mother isn't exactly stable right now. Somebody daring to copy her plans, or any other triviality that you or I might ignore, especially given this crisis, will set her off."
The Princess clapped her hands over her ears and started humming the national anthem nervously. "Setsuna! Please keep your opinions to yourself!" Sailor Pluto sighed and teleported away to oversee the final touches to the Time Gate. Pluto's engineer's had made their crowning achievement in time technology for the express use of future Sailor Plutos, so the current one made as much time as she could to observe their progress, in case repairs had to be made. Sailor Moon sat down in the hallway and stared blankly at the wall opposite her until the Palace of the Moon began to shake with the force of dropped bombs.
After the world went white, it never went back. Ranma recovered from the shock fairly quickly and waved his arms around experimentally in front of his face. Then he looked around. Terrifying whiteness stretched as far as the eye could see, until a sharp black line running close to the ground marked the near edge of the pocket dimension. Hurrying up to the wall and feeling it for weaknesses, Ranma turned right and started running as fast as he could. Hours and days didn't seem quite right in this place, because he seemed to be awake for much longer than was normal. He didn't need to eat or drink, or apparently use the bathroom either.
Eventually, Ranma realized that he'd gone fully around the interior of the giant white cube. Not infinite, then, but big enough to give the illusion. Akane was dead, and nothing else occupied the place, as far as he could see. That was okay, Ranma reasoned. If he was to live out the rest of his life in this weird prison, at least he still had the Art. The young warrior had heard tales of martial masters who lived for centuries on mountain peaks in states of meditation.
What kind of mastery that would take, and how long it would take to reach without formal instruction eluded the Saotome, but that was okay too. 'After all,' he thought with a grin, 'I have time enough to think. Time enough to master the Art, time enough to be the best. Time enough for anything.' With that, he began one of the most basic katas he knew, working up through the ranks until he was at his pinnacle. Then he stopped, and did it again. And again. 'Good enough place to start.' It was going to be a long eon.
It was a mistake on the behalf of one of the shock troopers. One of them, in brushing past the strange and esoteric device with its multitude of stainless steel capsules and empty rubber tubing, stopped its ominous flashing lights and glowing power crystals. After that, the technology endured the long and terminally boring process of being sealed away within the Moon Kingdom's vaults. Vaults that just so happened to be blast proof.
The timer on the device was set to reincarnate the soul and memories of Akane Tendo in the year 964 SM, later in that year. After the eventual fall of civilization in the solar system, the royal storehouses remained untouched. And years in the future, the device began to buzz again, searching for an ideal host for its troubled soul on the planet far below. You see, the timer hadn't been stopped. The display was cracked, and the power source hidden, so none of the technicians who'd commissioned it even suspected that the device was now set to go off in 1964, C. E…
I hope this actually turns out right. My first try and all that. R&R please!