For most, the Fuyuki Fire was a great tragedy that ripped apart their lives. For others, it was a chance to start fresh with an almost clean slate. And for fewer still it was a chance to grow up a second time.
Ranma Saotome was a twenty-something martial artist who had literally dedicated everything to the martial arts, even the most obscure and ridiculous-sounding ones in existence. (Who had ever heard of martial arts tea ceremony or martial arts calligraphy anyway?)
It had gotten so bad that his life was beginning to fall apart realizing there were almost no humans alive who could match him in the Art, save for two old ghouls who should have died centuries ago. Neither of which would train him further for the simple fact that he had to make a compromise which went against everything he believed in.
Happosai wanted him to become a pervert like himself, and basically abuse Ranma the same way he had Genma and Akane's father Suou. No a chance in hell and he was sick and tired of being blamed for the damn panty thefts.
Cologne, or Kon Long, wanted him to marry Xian Pu (Shampoo) and start pumping out babies to add to the collective gene pool of the Amazons. Considering the hell Akane gave him for the simple fact his father had set up so many arranged marriages, the idea of having more than one wife had been beaten out of him. Especially after the twice-failed marriage to the girl.
Ranma had consigned himself to a personal hell of former rivals, fiancees, and angry ex-fiancees...he really, really didn't want to marry Nabiki since Kasumi had finally been married off to Dr. Tofu after he successfully tricked everyone into believing the second marriage was actually for her and the man who'd had a crush on her for years. Akane was actually happy Ranma had more or less convinced everyone that the Tendo wedding was for her older sister and not her. And in the end no one could really make a fuss considering Kasumi deserved it for being the single most patient person in the whole mess, having learned to take things in stride and go with the flow after the first few months of the whole engagement nonsense.
In any event, the Fuyuki fire turned out to be a genuine blessing in disguise, as Ranma had more or less begged Ryoga to get him the hell out of Nerima for a few weeks, or at least until they found MORE of those stupid age mushrooms that Akane had mistakenly put into the food she had somehow managed to cook.
And that should have been the first clue she had done something horribly wrong. It actually tasted edible.
Ryoga had taken pity on Ranma and gotten him thoroughly lost, thankfully in Japan in the same dimension. Just not before Cologne tried to manipulate Ranma into marrying Shampoo and getting it over with by locking the pseudo-girl in her cursed form. Again. For the third time that month.
Ranma had spent two days stuck as a girl, having long since become resigned to spending far too much time in his curse form. At least it wasn't an animal that people ate or raised as domestic beasts. That would have been beyond awkward.
So when the fire started, she didn't think twice.
She started pulling people out, the phoenix pill she had swallowed years ago making her more or less impervious to the flames. She had absurd fire resistance...the same could not be said for her clothes.
By the time she managed to rescue a boy with red hair and vacant brown eyes, she didn't have a stitch on her.
Ranma had no idea that the flames were magical in nature, or that something was forcibly removing memories for each moment she spent in the flames saving people as fuel for her invulnerability to fire.
It wasn't a by-product of the pill, or her fight with Saffron before the first failed wedding, but part of the vindictive and pissed off force that fueled the unholy flames that claimed over five hundred lives.
Angra Mainyu was a god based on negative emotions, and Ranma's life had been shitty enough that the moment it sensed her aura it was drawn to it. It was a side effect of wanting to know more about such an arrogant force of nature, and it didn't care if she forgot the very things that made her so confident and arrogant.
As a consequence of this the girl who had once been known as Ranma Saotome, the heir of the Saotome Anything Goes Martial Arts, simply forgot.
That wasn't to say she forgot all the things she had spent her entire life training for...she still remembered all her techniques, her abilities, how to manipulate chi to a certain extent.
But personal information like who her parents were, her original gender, her fiancees, everything that made her Ranma was simply...lost.
She was a martial artist without a name, without a home, and with no reason to ever return to Nerima to fulfill an obligation she had never agreed to in the first place.
In a way, the fire and the consequences of attracting the attention of All the World's Evils to the point that it absorbed her past gave her the very start she needed to make a clean break from the rut that had become her life.
So when the man who rescued her and the boy she had more or less been carrying outside of the range of the blaze offered to adopt them both, well, she didn't hesitate to say yes to the idea.
After all, she couldn't remember who she was.
Two years later...
Iris Emiya was annoyed. To put this into perspective, one must go back to a month prior when her father Kiritsugu promised to be there for her tournament against another school.
Her brother Shirou wanted to become a hero, like he believed their father to be. He wanted to smile the same way Kiritsugu had the day he carried them both into the arms of the paramedics treating the few survivors of the fire.
Iris wanted to become the number one martial artist in Japan. She was already captain of her team, and she had asked Kiritsugu if he could delay his regular trips so he could be at the tournament.
Instead he had forgotten the promise he made to be there for her, and she was pissed.
However she managed to hide that fact successfully to the point Kiritsugu fully believed she had accepted that he had forgotten.
During one of his trips, she had convinced Taiga to get her a proper passport so she could follow her father onto whichever plane he boarded and find out what the hell he was doing for months on end.
Considering her surrogate older sister had been more than peeved as well for him leaving them alone for weeks at a time, she helped Iris get a passport without his knowledge. She also made a point to track whichever flight Kiritsugu would get on and would buy the ticket.
Hiding from him long enough to get on the plane was up to her though.
So she took her time, made a travel case so she could have her own clothes to wherever Kiritsugu vanished to, and waited.
It was a scant two months after he came back, and suddenly he was preparing for yet another 'trip'.
Alerted to the obvious signs he would be gone for days, Taiga set her grandfather's men on the hunt, and they came back with a ticket to the Black Forests of Germany.
Iris managed to slip under Kiritsugu's radar, even passing him once on the way to the bathroom without him even recognizing her, and by the time they landed it was far, far too late for him to send her back.
She would have raised one hell of a stink had he tried.
Kiritsugu barely avoided shooting his adopted daughter when she dropped down from the window without any prior sign she had followed him.
He stared at the smug red head with disbelief.
"Taiga tracked down the airline you used, and she helped me get a passport. The fact that there weren't any seats near you helped the stewardess believe you had to get separate seats in different isles," explained Iris.
"You shouldn't be here."
"And you shouldn't have forgotten about the promise you made. Besides, I'm sick and tired of having to deal with explaining to the damn teachers that you're out of the country, again, for weeks at a time," Iris shot back irritated.
"Iris, if they find out..."
"Who is they? And why are you in Germany?" she said, crossing her arms and tapping her foot in warning.
Kiritsugu winced. Iris was as stubborn as a mule, if not more so. If she didn't like something, then she was likely to charge in a full frontal attack and damn the consequences.
It had nearly gotten her killed when she almost successfully broke in to the Matou mansion to help out her friend Sakura, who had a bit of hero worship for the older girl because she managed to beat up a few bullies.
If she knew about the worm pit, she definitely wouldn't have let it stand and would have tried to sneak out to save her friend. She was loyal like that.
Recognizing there was no way he was getting out of this without a massive argument, he slumped slightly.
"I have a daughter who's being held as leverage by her grandfather. Even though my wife did her job and died for it, he decided to take the fact I failed to do mine personally so he's kept her from me. I've been trying to reclaim her ever since," he said reluctantly.
"THAT'S why you've been leavin' me and Shirou alone for weeks on end? You're trying to get our sister back? Why didn't you just say something?" said Iris.
"Because I didn't want either of you following me! Look, just stay put while I try another tactic to get Illyasviel back."
"What does she look like?" asked Iris, sounding openly curious.
Kiritsugu had one photo of Illya. Iris memorized it before handing it back.
However she didn't stay put in his hotel room like he ordered her too. No, somewhere deep inside her mind the remnants of her original self stirred into action. Fragments of memories involving years spent in the wilds, even in forests practically saturated in wolves and other creatures started to waken.
Iris didn't even think about the consequences. She didn't think of the danger she was putting herself in.
Somewhere in the forest was her adopted sister, waiting for their dad to come find her and bring her home. Only their dad couldn't get to her because of the security and the fact her grandfather was an asshole.
A petite body practically flew through the trees, silent as the night and faster than most native species. Wolves would look up after catching her scent, but she was too fast.
She didn't even feel the bounded field around the area, but she saw the castle in the moonlight. A few miles away, Kiritsugu was attempting to get past the castle homunculus, who were under strict orders to keep him away from his daughter.
So it was only natural that when she came face to face with the girl in question, Illyasviel was naturally suspicious of the fact that her adopted sister was there.
Especially considering the sheer amount of overkill when it came to security. She had had to go invisible a few times to get past the idiots walking around like they owned the place.
"Who are you?" asked Illya.
"Are you Illyasviel Emiya?" she asked cheerfully, hanging upside down much like a monkey would from the rafter above. Considering how high up it was, the albino girl was silently impressed with the red head. And more than a little disturbed.
"My name is Illyasviel von Einzbern," she said curtly.
"Are you the daughter of that idiot Kiritsugu or not?" said Iris.
"How do you know my father?"
"Our father actually. And the idiot is trying to break in, but he sucks at being subtle. He's going to be pissed I got in before he did," said Iris smugly, dropping down like a cat. Though if you said that to her face she'd freak out and start looking for said feline.
Iris was terrified of cats for some bizarre reason.
Illya's attention was fully on the red head.
Iris held out her hand.
"Hi, I'm you adopted sister Iris. Shirou's back home."
Illya stared at her, her mind currently going blank.
How was one supposed to react to their adopted sister showing up out of nowhere like this?
"What do you want?" she asked finally.
"Well dad's been trying to get you back for a while now. So since I'm here I figured I'd ask if you wanted to join me and head home to Fuyuki. Unless you like this drafty ol' castle," said Iris. She had her hands behind her head, completely at ease despite the situation.
Illya stared at her.
"And how were you planning to get me out of the castle without having the homunculi chasing us down?"
"Like to see them try," smirked Iris, her arrogance at full force. "I can take on some sissy maids like them any day, and their mission won't be to target you buy me anyhow. Makes it easier to take them down."
Illya gave her a look.
"I don't kill unless I have to. And most people have trouble getting up from multiple broken bones and several concussions. When I want something to stay down, it had better stay the hell down or it's going to be in for even more hurt," said Iris smugly.
Illya weighed her options, then decided purely out of boredom to go with her.
If only for the entertainment of watching her die if they got caught.
"If we're captured I'm claiming kidnapping and you had better knock me out," said Illya flatly.
Making it look like she kidnapped Illya would at least insure that her sister got away with the fact she had gone willingly if they were caught. And it was easier to carry an unconscious person at high speeds than it was to carry someone screaming in your ears and trying to choke you.
Illya packed her bag and once she was securely on Iris' back so she wouldn't fall off, Iris hit a pressure point knocking her sister out cold.
After that she carefully managed to sneak out of the castle...even if it took her four long hours and another application of the pressure point to get out of the forest successfully.
Kiritsugu couldn't help it. He was staring at a very smug Iris...with Illyasviel firmly secured on her back with some thin rope and a bag slung across her shoulder.
Seeing his disbelief and shock, Iris was very smug indeed. She even held up two fingers in a classic "Victory" sign to show that she was fully aware she had done what Kiritsugu had begun to believe was impossible.
She had successfully absconded with his biological daughter.
Illyasviel woke up a little stiff, but the second she saw him her eyes filled with disbelief. Iris quickly unbound her sister and after a few wobbles Illya tearfully hugged their father for the first time since he left.
He looked at Iris and said flatly "I don't know whether to ground you or give you a raise in your allowance."
"You could always look the other way when I do something that isn't entirely legal," she offered.
The girl was obviously a master thief and adept at survival. It was the only explanation of her infiltration and escape from the well guarded castle.
"...I'll start your training on how to break into bounded fields when we get home," he said finally.
She would never be an assassin, but a thief? That she could do.
Iris loathed the idea of using her skills to kill. However she didn't hesitate to start fights that she usually ended up finishing with gusto.