Solar Demise - or - Oblivion has Gained on Us
by Pink
A bit of warning first:
I think this story is going to be rewritten yet again, so I may as well try to solicit any kind of good C+C you guys may want to bestow on me. Bring it on, please! ^^/

Oh, and try not to take it too seriously, as I most certainly don't. ^_^

Part One - In Another Lifetime

We all thought it was a heat wave, therefore, nobody paid any mind to the rise in temperature. Hell, I was downright thankful for the heat. I never mentioned it but in truth, I wasn't too fond of hiding my figure under overcoats and sweaters. Then again, I never made much of an effort to show off my figure, anyway. Nabiki has told me time and time again that I should really check out the clothes in fashion magazines these days, they would flatter me. "We should make a trip over to Shibuya some time and invest in some real clothes... maybe even get something for you that shows off a little more skin, Akane-chan?"

"Nabiki Onee-chan," I would reply in an indignant tone, "I don't want people to see where my children will come from!" I keep telling myself that nothing earth-shaking happened that day, but it's something that sticks out in my mind anyway.

"Akane-chan, I never implied that we needed to show THAT much skin, just... something with a bit more excitement. You know, it IS socially acceptable to show your belly button these days." While marveling at Nabiki's persuasive powers, I wondered if part of her ability lied in the fact that maybe she knew people better than they knew themselves. Because of my past experience with boys who were unhealthily interested in me I remained a little wary of looking too cute, but another side of that me enjoyed the flattery.

"But..." I tried to argue but I was already convinced.

"And it's not like you don't have the figure to wear what you like, Akane." That was Nabiki's finishing blow.

The next day I sent my porcelain Seramyu bank to a messy death as I spiked it off of the floor. I counted enough money to buy an entire new wardrobe, and the best part was that I only saved that money because I frankly didn't have anything interesting to buy.

Nabiki was enthusiastic about accompanying me as my fashion consultant (at the cost of some new clothes, of course) when we finally got off the train and headed towards the nearest shops. In each store the routine was the same. We walked around collecting whatever looked remotely cute and I was pushed into the dressing room to weed out what I liked.

The day progressed and by the time we came home we looked as if we fell out of a fashion magazine. I pretended not to notice how Ranma'a jaw dropped when we walked in, and tried hard to suppress a big dopey grin. Before I could take both of my shoes off in the genkan, Shampoo showed up for her routine visit, which usually consisted of rubbing up against Ranma while I beat him to death. I felt my anger beginning to stew and made a break for my bedroom before my day was ruined. What separated this time from the others, however, was how deftly Ranma evaded her, twisting away from her grasp and leaping up some stairs to catch up to me.

"Akane, when did you start dressing like THAT?" I turned to blink at Ranma and noticed Shampoo making a second attack as Ranma peered into some of my bags. "What else do ya got in here? You actually look pretty decent." I made no effort to hide my smile this time, though part of me was a little disappointed at the fact that all I had to do was change some clothes to get attention. Shampoo reached the bottom of the stairs.

"Couple of dresses, shirts, pants, skirts, shoes... when were you so interested in women's clothing?" I grinned until Shampoo caught up to Ranma and held tight. Ranma wordlessly pushed her off of him and ran to the top of the staircase. I watched Shampoo cautiously, but all she did was glare and leave. She looked as if she were mumbling something under her breath.

"Um..." Ranma twiddled his thumbs. "Would you mind showing some to me?" He coughed indignantly and started to rub the back of his head. "'cause.. I don't really got anything to do right now, so... er.. I'm a little curious."

"You mean you want me to model them for you?" I raised an eyebrow.

"Er, uh, I was just curious about whatcha bought..." Ranma's face reddened a bit. "It's, ah, not like I want to gawk at you like some letch!"

It was weird, but so was the rest of the day. I laughed and led Ranma to my room.
Summer came after that unseasonably warm spring, and we had to wear less clothing in order to combat the heat. Some of the clothes that I bought with Nabiki were perfect for this weather. It was uncomfortable to be in the sun, even early in the morning when the air was supposed to still be cool.

A pair of cutoff shorts borrowed from Nabiki ended up being my favorite thing to wear around the house. Nobody will ever hear me admit it aloud, but I enjoyed taunting Ranma with them. While he was used to looking at his own naked body (in female form), looking at mine was a different story. More than once I made a point to bend over in front of him and to my delight he squirmed. Dad and Saotome Ojisan took this as a sign that Ranma and I were getting along and on the fast track to marriage, and spent time celebrating on occasion. I wasn't enthusiastic about humoring them on this but it was simply too much fun to pick on Ranma.

The heat wave continued beyond the end of summer vacation. At first, I had to wear sun block to school and carry extra deodorant wherever I went. Ranma and I went to school with either a water bottle or extra change to buy ice in order to stand the walks home. I had to hide my blushing on days we bought ice. Ranma would carefully run it along his body, careful not to activate his curse. When he wasn't looking I would watch the ice melt into drops that rolled down along his neck and disappear under his tank top.

The first year of the heat wave, we were forced to wear our winter uniforms for gym class, despite the heat. Each day I prayed for class to end quickly so that I could wear a nice ventilated dress.

Around springtime of the following year, we received news reports saying that there was something wrong with our solar system. It was a known fact that the sun was always slowly expanding and would eventually swallow up some of the inner planets of the solar system, but something like that was supposed to take thousands of years. Scientists were unable to explain why the sun was swelling at such an accelerated rate. The planet Mercury was already close to being obliterated and it was only a matter of time before it would be too close for our planet to be livable.

There were nothing but scientists on TV after that. They talked about all the possible things that could be done to save ourselves, but every theory came down to the fact that we didn't have the means, the technology, or the resources. Nobody wanted to admit that we had to count on the fact that we were going to die within a handful of years.

To describe what happened to people after they realized this was all in understatement. Companies closed in waves, along with many small shops and businesses. When I asked the owner of a takoyaki shop, Iruka-Ojiisan, why he shut down he patted me on the head and chuckled. "Akane-chan, the world is going to end soon. Would you spend the rest of your days doing menial things you don't enjoy? Isn't there something you've always wanted to do, Akane?"

I shrugged my shoulders in response. I never saw myself as anyone with a mission in life. Sure there were some... ...annoyances in my life but they were nothing too serious. I was relatively happy where I was, no matter how many times I grumbled and exploded in fits of anger in the past.

A number of retail stores that closed gave away their extra merchandise. People flocked to shopping centers all over Tokyo in order to take advantage of this. Just as predicted, Saotome Oji-san left one day, glee spread thick all over his face and mumbled something about watching "the crazies duke it out over paper plates." Nobody was surprised when he came home late that night, hauling in junk by the crateful.

Communication suddenly became a valuable commodity, and the people who worked for phone companies, ISPs, radio, and television were paid handsomely in commodities like fresh water and supplies. Clean water and electricity were appreciated more than ever, and running water was a downright luxury.

Most schools shut down. Very few dedicated teachers and students held classes outside of any school district's jurisdiction. Furinkan was one of the schools that shut down permanently. Without much to do besides hanging out with Yuka and Sayuri on occasion, I spent my time trying to polish my martial arts skills.

When I did go out, I noticed trends in the way certain people acted. Some splurged on everything as if there were no tomorrow (I hate that phrase). They threw extravagant, lavish parties and burned away massive amounts of water, food, and electricity. Overly-conservative types would use everything sparingly, staying in their homes as far away from the outside world as possible.

The habit of adjusting to strange and new situations caused our family to live as "normally" as ever. By now it was a conditioned reflex. I wondered how Ranma saw this situation. Did he still care about being the best martial artist he could be? I wanted to look to him for an example of what I was supposed to feel, or what I was supposed to want out of life now. Unfortunately for me his feelings were as hard to read as some of his moves. Ranma, what will you do?

...when I forced myself to think about it, I realized what I truly wanted. It was best not to think of it.
Author's Notes: (September 2002)
Years after writing the original verson of this story I recently took the time to reread it. Blech, it was crap. The same mindset I had in the beginning was changed due to things I experienced in real life. The thoughts and feelings I originally gave Akane were random and sometimes irrelevant in the earlier chapters. I thought I had carefully thought out how she was going to act but it still wasn't very good when I reread it.

In short, the story sucked. I'm trying to make it more bearable; maybe even enjoyable? ^^;

Hm. Either way I only do this for fun. I'm not a real writer unlike some of these other fanfic-weavers, muah hah hah hah! XD If I go crazy maybe I'll quit this silly WRITING thing and turn it into a manga since my specialty is with an inking pen as opposed to a writing pen. ^_~