Author Note: Disclaimer, no contents of Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon have been thought up or invented by me. This is purely a work of fan fiction and is not meant for promotional or finical endeavors. This is meant to be made in respect and admiration for series' of Rumiko Takahashi and Naoko Takeuchi and all the contents of Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon belong, respectively, to them.
Please respect the fans, and fandom of the series by remaining polite and open minded while reading.
Gentle silver moonlight danced and played as it sparkled through the crests of each wave of water that lapped against the coast. China's Yellow Sea was calm this night. Its waters only made half hazard attempts to crush the mountainous land standing in its way – after all both parties involved had all the time in the world to play their game of soil and sand.
Watching the timeless battle play out below him was the currently short and girlish figure of Saotome Ranma, man amoung men. The young martial artist had made her camp on a low lying cliff and her tent and gear was shielded from the coastal breeze by a ring of short, dark green shrubs. The red-haired-sometimes-black-haired teenager tried to pull a grin at the sheer tenacity nature could put into such simple plants, but as she reached a hand up to wipe more water from the back of her head her expression froze.
Forcing herself to move again Ranma's right hand continued dislodge droplets of water from her hair. Her hand glowed with a faint green sheen of ki as it combed through the roughly hacked, short mass of hair that ended sharply at the girl's neckline.
The boy-sometimes-girl was completely devoid of the trademark pigtail that had been with him on his entire adventurous life – whether he had been a boy or a girl.
Pulling her hand away from her head and shaking the final vestiges of moisture from her hair the martial artist pulled a large circular iron pot – already filled half way full with water – from out of her weapon space and hooked its handle to the tripod she had set up above the small fire pit.
Ranma then picked up the two rocks she had pulled up during her last trip down to the shore and struck them together in a shower of sparks. A series of quick strikes followed with larger and larger gouts of shimmering light until the dried driftwood she had gathered caught ablaze.
The teenage frowned at the quantity of smoke that was puffing forth from her fire, but then shook her head sadly.
No one would be looking for her so she didn't need to hide – after all, she was already hiding.
The martial artist turned her back on the camp and looked out at the open ocean far off in the distance. She couldn't see it but she knew that even further off was the place she had strived so hard to call home.
Ranma turned back towards the camp as she felt a bitter laugh build in his stomach. The teen knew very well the direction to her homeland as, for the second time in her life, she had traveled to China on nothing more than the strength of her own two arms. There was a kind of symmetry there – after all Ranma could now say he had completed that trial once when male and now once as female.
Clamping down on the outburst that was fighting to escape her body Ranma momentarily let her mind fall into the Soul of Ice.
The redhead didn't want to hear any voices at the moment – no less one of her own.
Peering into the pot she had set to boil Ranma found herself once again toying with the back of her head. Her hand almost fearfully brushing against the short spikes as they clustered together almost in memory of the tail they had once formed the base to.
He had left everything behind.
Saotome Ranma, man amoungst men, had stood up one day without a word and walked out of Nerima and didn't stop until she had dragged her form out of the waters of the Yellow Sea and climbed up the cliffs to her current camp.
She had been sitting alone for less than an hour and already her mind had gone more places than it had in the last three days of repetitive, monotonous movement.
Guilt boiled inside the boy as he remember the last time he had been in Nerima. He had walked home from school – late from a fight that had ended up involved Ryoga and all three of the Kunos – and stepped into the Tendo household.
Kasumi had smiled and returned his tired greeting with a cheerful one of her own.
Nabiki had smirked and flashed pictures of him as a girl from the fight he had just finished – how she had gotten them while seemingly having been home all the time he would never know.
Akane had sniffed and turned her back on him.
Ranma stretched back and let himself fall against the hard ground. The martial artist looked up at the stars floating in the night sky above him and let his thoughts rest as he concentrated on the crack and pop of the fire.
After Saffron and the wedding and... and even his confession Ranma had hoped for more. The youngest Tendo didn't yell 'pervert' at him every three minutes anymore and every time she had pulled out her mallet she would go in for a strike and stop it just before connecting.
Instead of her previous outbursts she had started to lapse into long periods of silence where no matter what form Ranma would show up in she would respond by denying his entire existence.
While ignorant in more fields than he could count the martial artist had seen enough of the world that he knew that silence – more than anything else – was a precursor to death.
So that day he had returned Akane's silence. The man amoung men had walked up the stairs to his room grabbed his pigtail with his right hand and severed it with his ki-laced left. He had almost stopped there as he stomach had rolled upon seeing the thick braid fall to the ground with a silence that had mirrored his and Akane's earlier exchange.
He remembered the pricking pain that had been in his eyes as a dread whelmed up in him and he had just wanted to fall to his knees and let himself for once feel his full spectrum of emotions without having to hold someone he thought was dying in his arms.
And then his eyes had slid over to his father's pile of belongings and the walls in his mind had straightened as if they had been a pile of mud suddenly injected with solid concrete. He has been rasied a man amoung men and did not cry – even if Genma had long since decided to view him as nothing more than 'boy' for as long as they both lived.
Stepping over the lump of hair splayed against the wooden floor Ranma had grabbed his bag and let it disappear into his weapon's space before smoothly sliding the widow open and hopping out. Unlike the tumultuous events that had started with his arrival in Nerima and continued on a daily basis for his entire stay it had been completely quiet when Saotome Ranma walked out.
Sitting up the redhead girl pulled her mind from out of her memories. She was here now and not there and while there wasn't any plan for what to do next in her mind...
Well, it was pretty simple, since anything goes.
Flipping to her feet Ranma did smile slightly as she saw that the water in her pot had finally started to boil. Pausing as she started to reach into her personal storage dimension for a ladle or cup or really anything the girl shrugged and thrust her hand into the roiling liquid directly.
With a hiss the girl pulled her arm back out and winced. Her heart started to beat and a low groan crawled out from her throat as she noticed she hadn't changed back.
Glaring at her red skinned arm the martial artist approached the pot again and widened her stance. She refused to believe that anything was wrong and if the first time didn't work – well, just like with the breaking point training you could always try again.
"I really wouldn't go in for a second dip – but of course you're not quite me now, are you?" Ranma paused with her arm poised right above the lip of the iron container as the voice rang out behind her. It was a voice that her mind knew shouldn't be possibly speaking to her.
You just simply couldn't speak to yourself without opening your mouth after all.
Turning on her heel the teenage martial artist kept her body lax, ready for any movement.
Movement which happened rather quickly as she took a step back at the sight of what had addressed her.
Sitting on a stump – one that had without a doubt not existed when she had set up camp – was nothing more than a silhouette of a person. The figure was an inky black that was marred by twisting pools of grey and slashes of white that bloomed and disappeared across its body.
The head was an eyeless, hairless oval with only one feature – that of a flat grey line that bloomed into a wide crescent as Ranma moved backwards.
"Why, hello!" The inky figure greeted Ranma with her own voice and then followed itself up with a quick 'tut, tut' as the girl tensed her muscles again. "I really wouldn't do that unless your planning on stepping back forward – I'd really hate to see you burn yourself again."
The shade paused and then it lost the crescent... smile on its face. "Especially when that would make both times my fault."
Ranma glared, but could indeed feel the heat of the fire behind her brush against her body uncomfortably. Instead of moving the young martial artist allowed herself to fully embrace the Soul of Ice. The chill that suddenly radiated out from out of her body snuffed the fire into nothing and sucked enough heat out of the pot to make it ring with stress.
"You." Ranma stated coldly and took a step forward.
"Me." The silhouette responded with a nod as it was suddenly leaning comfortable against her back.
The red haired teenage spun only to find herself looking at the shade standing casually on the other side of her now super-cooled fire pit and facing her.
"If ya' looked my curse I ain't going to lie an' say this will end well fer yah." The corner of Ranma's lip twitched and the girl cracked her knuckles. She had only been out her trying to find some peace of mind and this... something just had to have followed her to make her life a living hell.
The shade looked up from where it had been scuffing an inky foot at a patch of frost on the ground. "Lock? Curse?" The silhouette's head craned to the side at a disturbingly deep angle and then popped upright like it had never even moved. The grey line of a mouth smiled broadly as the figure let out a long 'Aaaaaaah' in its borrowed voice. "You'd like to be a man again then?"
Ranma was about to snarl and leap onto the figure that dared to mock her at a time like this when she felt her body shift like it had just been dropped into a hot spring. The now black haired boy stood rooted to the ground as he had changed forms while completely dry.
The teen's fists curled and uncurled into fists and back again at his side as he looked up at the moon and had to fight to calm himself even while in the grips of the Soul of Ice. His eyes snapped down to the inky figure – who was simply waiting around unmoving for once – and he let out one final, measured breath,
"Who tha' hell are yah?"
The shade moved again, barely a flicker before it grabbed Ranma by his shoulders, twisted him about and then moved away from him and was offering its shadowy hand to shake before the martial artist could even think to react.
"I'm chaos." The creature spoke with Ranma's male voice now as it kept its hand offered in greeting. "And you have been friends with me for a very long time Ranma."
Ranma thrust his hands into his pockets as he eyed the proffered hand suspiciously. "Chaos?"
The shade shifted its head to the side once more and then back again and laughed. "If you wish to take it so formally I will oblige you of course. What is a friend if they aren't tolerant of another's quirks?"
Ranma frowned heavily – it seemed even when he dealt with demons they had to be the odd-balls of the lot. Pulling one hand out of his pocket the martial artist stared at it a moment before glaring back up at this 'Chaos' fellow. "Well then, what tha' hell did ya' do to my curse – an' I ain't going to shake your hand so you'd be better off putting that away somewhere."
The short black haired teen muttered under his breath about fiances before snapping his mouth shut and waiting on his counterpart's response.
"I'm simply exerting control over something that belongs to me – nothing more and nothing less." Chaos responded, his voice almost dripping sorrow as he withdrew his hand and the entire arm seemed to almost collapse into his body.
Ranma's eyes blazed and he took a step forward as the Soul of Ice broke with a snap and the temperature returned to normal – an action which caused a thick wind to swirl around the pair. "If yah are tryin' ta' say I belong to ya' this is only gonna end one way – and that's something yah can ask your buddy Saffron about once 'e learns to talk again."
The teenage froze as he suddenly found himself with Chaos standing behind him again with an arm thrown across his chest. The martial artist knew that the shade hadn't even moved. He had simply ceased to exist at one point where he had been and reappeared where he was now.
"Saffron wasn't a friend of mine and you aren't anyone's property my dear Saotome." The shade gave a gentle squeeze before it once more appear sitting on the stump it had started the night on. The creature's inky black arms reached up and folded behind its head as explosions of grey and white fought across its nearly invisible muscles. "Jusenkyo on the other hand is without a doubt mine. Always and forever."
The black haired martial artist snorted and turned his back on the shade. "Fix yer damn curse an' leave me alone then."
As Ranma finished turning so he was facing the fire pit he found Chaos sitting on the other side on an identical stump. The silhouette was shaking its head – possibly in mirth, possibly in sadness since there was no other movement to the creature's entire body.
"I can't do that." Ranma did his best to ignore his own voice talking to him as he set about trying to relight the wood he had gathered – he was hungry and as weird as things were going he was most definitely not having the first meal he had in days be cold. "The Guide did tell you that it was permanent and I would imagine that your... investigation of that claim so far has proved that to be concretely true."
Looking up from his efforts at lighting the now-damp wood Ranma's face showed his annoyance very clearly. "'s what ya' doin' here botherin' me for if yah ain't nothing but a crazy ol' charlatan." The martial artist looked back down and banged the two rocks together again in a shower of sparks.
"I'd like to offer you a job." Ranma's own voice told him in a tone smoother than he had ever spoken himself. "And believe it or not I'd like to see you make some friends that would last you a life time."
The black haired teen didn't even bother to look up from his ministrations towards fire this time. "Uh-huh." The short haired boys eyes turned hard as he concentrated on his task and pushed out thoughts he rather wouldn't think on again tonight. "I don't know if'n ya' could tell, but neither of those are somethin' I could ever be good at."
"Depression does not suit you Saotome Ranma." The martial artist refused to rise to the bait and instead continued to try and light the fire that he knew to be a futile gestured with the supplies he currently had.
A single pellet of darkness streaked into the teen's vision and slammed into the wood causing it to burst into a roaring blaze. Ranma placed both his rocks carefully onto the ground and looked up at Chaos with smouldering anger in his eyes.
"What tha' hell do ya' want?"
The shade smiled and clasped its hands in front of it – a movement that made its whole body seem to indistinctly ripple. "I want to take you to Juuban."
Ranma snorted. "That's in Tokyo."
Chaos quirked its head to the side and rocked forward on the stump it was using as a seat. "It is."
"Ya' must be crazier than yah look – which is sayin' somethin' in itself – if ya' think I'll do that." Ranma frowned and rubbed his hand through the back of his hair once more. He had made a decision and he wasn't going to go back on it just because some demon thought he could make him his toy.
"And if I told you what I'm trying to ask you to do is save lives? That all I want to do is protect the weak?" Chaos's said each word clearly and as flat as possible. The shade itself moved once more, now sitting with its back pressed against where Ranma crouched and the martial artist knew that if someone had been watching now the two of them would be mirroring each other.
Ranma sat and listened to the soft crackling of the fire Chaos had made sitting before him. The young man didn't even bother to move – somehow knowing where ever he went right now Chaos would flicker to mimic his position.
"Because your the only one who can truly protect them from me." Ranma's own voice responded to his question once again.
Ranma swirled around on his heel and he and the shade were face-to-face, only inches apart. The martial artists didn't flinch as he watched the utter chaos that drifted across the figure before him. "This some kinda joke? You playin' some game where ya' want'a play villian while I hav'ta go hero an' keep things from gettin' too out'a hand?"
Chaos folded his hands underneath his chin and brace his elbows against his knees. His body seemed to melt together as he took up the casual position and the warring bursts of light and dark in his body slid easily from one section of skin to another. "Things are already out of hand my dear Saotome." A frown curved out of the grin line of a mouth on the shade's face. "I told you were are friends and we are – for the whole time you have drawn breath we have been – but, soon I will try to kill you just as I have tried to do so before. That is the nature of my existence."
Before Ranma could respond to the suddenly grim apparition Chaos had flickered away and was now standing on the edge of the cliff looking down at the waves crashing against the land below. "Ranma." The shade called back, its voice sounding no less strong despite the new distance between them. "Out of all the beings in this universe you are my conscious. In many other realms you do not exist and as a consequence I do not walk as free as I do with you now." The shade flickered once more and all of sudden Ranma found himself standing up with Chaos kneeling before him.
"I would have you be my saviour."
The shade looked up and all the colour drained from his body as everything that made it what it was stood shockingly still. Chaos was pure inky blackness, devoid even of the slight grey line that had represented its mouth.
"Saotome Ranma I would have you be my knight – for I have lacked one for so long."
Ranma stared and then he felt a small grin tug at the corner's of his mouth. "Y'know I ain't no Kuno right?"
Chaos's body flickered and the war returned two-fold across its body as it stood – its movements natural for once – and laughed. The voice that rang out from its gently curved grey slit wasn't Ranma's this time but something else.
It seemed to infinitely echo until it cut off with such suddenness Ranma finally started to think he might have been hallucinating the whole time from drinking too much sea water.
"No, you are most certainly not." Ranma's own voice addressed him again. "But you are who I am in need of and that is all that matters."
Ranma raised one eyebrow up as Chaos once more proffered his hand out to be shook by the young martial artist. The black haired teen stared at the hand and folded his own arms across his chest.
The way that his life had gone so far Ranma was pretty confident that there was a fifty percent chance that he was just getting played by this demon for his own amusement – the other fifty percent was that he was getting played by the demon for its own advantage.
But, before everything else, Saotome Ranma was a martial artist and that meant protected people and if he could actually save lives by allying himself to the creature before him there was no way he could say no.
Looking up towards the sky and remembering the single moment of peace he had been allowed to have earlier as he had laid back and watched the moon and the stars Ranma unfolded his arms. Staring down at his right hand as if it had all of a sudden turned into a shark waiting for him to begin to bleed the martial artist reached out and clasped hands with Chaos.
It was a firm but cold grip that met his hand.
"Thank you." Ranma's own voice told him before the shade pulled him in and the teen found himself literally falling into the figure before him. As the inky black body enveloped his own Ranma once again heard the odd, echoing voice that Chaos had used to laugh earlier.
"Oh. I forgot to say – you do know that you make a most wonderful tomboy, right?"
Ranma opened his voice to shout back, but as he moved the darkness now moved into him and he almost choked as he felt nothing more than shadows slither through his body.
Then, the teen's vision was blown away as light exploded around him painfully. He felt himself falling and any action he could take was cut short when something slammed into his side.
Ranma groaned and the voice that matched to his action only caused him to let out another, even less happy sigh. The painful bloom of light that had burned into his eyes receded and darkness returned – but the martial artist quickly realised it was the natural blackness of him having his eyes tightly squeezed shut.
Righting herself under the – Ranma grabbed the object she had landed awkwardly against and was pretty sure it was the side of a desk – the desk the short, red haired girl opened her eyes.
Looking around at the solid bookshelves filled with unmarked, non-descript volumes and the subdued brown colouring of the walls and pairing it with the desk she had landed the martial artist was pretty sure she was in either a very small library or an office.
Staring at the one window that wasn't heavily swathed with curtains in the room Ranma was surprised to find that it looked to be about mid-day where ever he had appeared.
There was a gentle cough behind her.
Ranma sighed as her day just got better and better and turned to find herself facing a man that had just entered the small room – definitely an office, probably his – and shut the door calmly.
He had short white hair, but despite that only seemed to be middle-aged. He wore a light blue button up with darker blue stripes, a blue tie that matched the stripes, blue suit pants and what Ranma recognized as a Doctor's long white overcoat.
All-in-all he would have been pretty normal if it wasn't for the fact that one of the lenses of his glasses looked like it was both impossible to see out of and like it had been designed by someone with about as much artist brilliance as Gosunkugi Hikaru.
Pushing herself off the desk and ignoring the now faint twinges of pain coming from her eyes and her ribs Ranma brushed her bangs back into place and straightened her red and black Chinese silks.
"Ah, sorry 'bout this." Ranma felt herself blush but forced her eyes to keep contact with... well with the older man's one visible eye. "I'm Saotome Ranma."
So, hrm, there we go. Before anyone starts making assumptions on how this is gonna go I'd like to say people exist before their plot-line shows up in things so we're probably a lot earlier on than you might think things are.
To everyone that reads A Stitch Through Worlds, you aren't being left gliding and will have a chapter at some point today. Not sure when this will next update but I wanted to write it out to here so I could work on other things without it driving me crazy.
As always, thank you for your time.