A/N: Okay, so... I redid it so that all of the chapters are separate, so now all of the chapters aren't under chapter one... if that makes any sense. Anywhoo, so I want you to know that this is my first fanfiction. I update when - a) I have time, or b) I feel like it. So my schedules pretty tight. . I really enjoy reading your reviews, wether they bear good news or bad. I love comments and compliments, but I love well placed criticism even better. (I believe they call that critiquing...) I don't normally write much of the author rambling, but the first chapter's an exception. Um, let's see... if you do manage to "critique" me while I'm writing it (which shouldn't be too fantastic a feat, seeing as how I update once in a blue moon), then I will be sure to argue or incorporate your point within the story. I value everyone's opinion. Unless you plan to flame me just for the hell of it. That might just make me mad. Anyway, I'm starting highschool in about a month, so I'm not guaranteeing any schedule for updates. Hope you can have patience with me!
Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma ½, the Declaration of Independence (obviously), or any other quote I use in this story unless of course it reads "by author". That would be me. And now might I say I'd appreciate it if no one use anything I created myself... not like you would. I'm such a moron. 'K. On with the show!
In the Midst of Battle Chapter One: In the Pursuit of Happiness
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." - Declaration of Independence
A young girl shuffled along the side of her two elderly sisters and father, and clutched her mother's hand timidly. It was the year 1931 in a small town on the west coast of the United States. The train station was deserted, save a few scraggly men hunched over against walls and stairwells. A five year old Akane Tendo turned fearful eyes to the world outside of the home she new and loved, the home she would never see again. The Tendo family traveled far from Japan into the promising world of the United States, where all men were created equal, and treated as such. "Come, Akane dear. It's not much farther to the bus stop." Her mother soothed gently, offering the frightened youth her hand again. Akane grasped it like a lifeline, and allowed herself to be dragged to the bus stop, attempting a brave face and strong composure. She could be strong. She WOULD be strong for her family.
The bus arrived shortly after they reached it's stop, gliding along the street like a great white shark stalking it's prey with crafty deceitfulness. Akane hesitated only a moment before she was pulled onto the bus, and into her mother's protective lap. She turned sullenly to the window beside her, and pressed her small face up to the glass, watching as the countryside whizzed by, and watched the colors blur for what seemed like hours before falling into a fitful slumber.
Eleven years later in the year of 1941, Akane Tendo sits contentedly on her front porch in California as she watches the cars on the street pass by. She smiled wistfully as her mother's soft humming drifted through the open doors to the kitchen. Akane's eldest sister Kasumi stepped outside and heaved a great sigh. Akane glanced curiously at her as the older girl flopped beside her on the porch.
"What's wrong Kasumi? Is something troubling you?" Kasumi gave her a weak smile and sighed once more. "Oh, it's that silly father of ours. He just won't leave that Go board alone! I can't even get him to go to the market for me while I help mother." Akane returned her gaze to the busy street. "I'll go for you, if you want." She replied easily. "I mean, that is why you came out here, right?" Kasumi immediately brightened and exclaimed, "Oh really, Akane? Thank you so much! I'll go tell mother!" Akane shook her head dully after her sister left for the kitchen. It's the same to her one way or another. She really actually enjoyed leaving the house every once in awhile. Her life was so dull.
The somber youth shoved herself up from the cold stone of her porch and strode into the kitchen. Kasumi greeted her with a few dollars and a paper list with several scribbles on it.
"This is the money it should cost you, and here is the list of things we need for dinner tonight." Akane nodded and turned to leave but was called back by her mother's sing song voice, "Oh, and Akane dear, don't forget your jacket. It's cold today." Akane nodded mutely again and headed for the wooden coat hanger on the wall.
Stepping out the door, Akane hurriedly pulled on her button up coat over her crisp looking dress with buttons trailing down the front, a stark white double-layered collar tied together with a small bow right above where the buttons begin, and a knee-high billowy skirt that floated gently around her in softened pleats as the wind blew. She fussed over the wind blowing her neatly curled hair as she strode briskly down the side walk, trying desperately to keep her skirt from blowing too high at the same moment.
It was all too frustrating going through the every day ritual of prepping for society. The process alone took over several hours, and then she hardly had time for breakfast before she headed off toward school. Akane specifically disliked trends and styles, for she spent so much of her time after school doing homework or training in her families' martial art style that she could just slap on a pair of sweats and a cotton shirt, and no one would be around to know. Besides, her hair was so long and unruly, it took two years and a day to get it to curl properly and stay that way.
"Besides, I don't care what other people think of me. I don't care what MEN think of me." And it was true. Her strong contempt for men came at an early age when her childhood friends demanded more from their friendship. Instead, they courted her at her doorstep at every opportunity, an chased her around school for maybe a date or two.
Now, just because she showed great disdain for those slobs that call themselves men, doesn't mean she turned her compassion toward women. No, she was as straight as they come, but that didn't mean that she had to choose to spend her life with one. Hell, she'd rather not waste a few hours on a date with one! She opted for a single, independent life, devoid of false love and unhappiness. Akane figured that if she kept up her training, she would be experienced enough to train students of her own, and could support herself that way.
After all, things could only get better right? After they immigrated to America, Akane's father always told her that "This is the life we've been waiting for. A chance to start over, and make a name for ourselves! We're going to live it big here, Akane! I'm telling you, it's this strong feeling in my gut." Well, so much for living it big. It turned out that feeling in his gut was only gastric cancer, a form of malignant tumor that was otherwise undetectable. That is... until it was far too late to change her father's fate.
Now he suffers from a spreading demon in his cells, often vomiting blood or becoming unnaturally weak and exhausted. Akane shook her head clear of all thoughts. Just go to the market, buy the food, and go home to train.
Akane hardly noticed until she was upon it, that she had just barely reached the market place. There was a loud commotion a few feet behind her, and Akane turned her attention to the crowd gathered by a store's window. A woman's blood curdling scream was heard, and Akane rushed to the woman's side and caught her prone form before her faint landed her on the ground.
A man, probably the woman's husband, thanked Akane and took the limp woman. Akane nodded in acknowledgment and turned her attention to the darkened black and white screen in the store room window. On the screen was a far away view of some kind of explosion... the smoke billowed toward the heavens in large black clouds.
Akane barely managed to hear the news broadcaster's voice say animatedly, "A sudden attack on our Pearl Harbor in Hawaii has left thousands dead, and more injured! There were Japanese aircrafts spotted by the few survivors, and there are rumors we may be at war with Japan this very moment! There is a large chance..."
Akane shut out the obnoxious announcer's voice and contemplated the situation in panic. What would happen now? What can we do? Japanese Aircrafts? Akane forgot about the groceries she was to pick up, and sprinted home to her father, mother, and sisters. She believed no matter how much turmoil went on outside, she would always be safe in her home. Always.
The ticking of the old clock echoed in the silent living room of the Tendo house hold. Mr. Tendo sat somberly on the woven rug, staring at the Go board and facing off against a phantom opponent. Nabiki worked grimly at her homework while pondering the uproar this new development would undoubtedly cause.
Kasumi hummed brightly in a creaking rocking chair by the glowing embers of the fire, and Akane cast a blank gaze at her reflection in a hand mirror while her mother pulled a comb through her long raven locks.
Devastation. Death. Tragedy. These words plastered themselves on the walls of Akane's mind as she wondered what would result from such a fatal attack, as something inevitably must. She couldn't rid herself of that one terrified scream she heard in the market. Soon, that scream turned to more screams, a chaotic stir of fear and pain and surprise thrown from the lips of innocent people... children... oh, how terrified they must have been! Then, the screaming, the chaos, turned to silence. Deafening silence. Everything was quiet, everything was still. Everyone was broken.
"What will happen?" Akane heard her self questioning in an unusually strained and quiet voice.
"What will happen if we go to war? Won't more people die? Won't more people suffer? What will happen to those who were innocent, and weren't meant to be involved? Those who were merely at the wrong place at the wrong time..." She felt a comforting hand on her shoulder. Her mother's soft fingers brushed the hair from her forehead, and Akane trembled with unshed tears.
Tears welled in her already glistening eyes, and she gave a few strangled chokes as hot tears spilled onto her cheeks and dripped patterns onto the navy blue of her skirt.
Mrs. Soatome bent next to her daughter and pulled her up into a reassuring embrace. It was silent a moment before she felt another pair of arms encircle her tiny waist, and looked up to see a wet eyed Nabiki. Kasumi and Mr. Tendo left their spots scattered around the room to join in comforting Akane in her pain, and to comfort their own.
For about a week, life continued as relatively normal. Suitors continued badgering Akane for a date, Kasumi was loved by the crowd of regulars at the market, Nabiki's profit continued growing, Mr. Soatome refused to leave his precious Go board, and Mrs. Soatome continued her usual maternal duties. Then finally, on December 15, 1941, the initial shock from the Pearl Harbor bombing wore off to a new, more vicious feeling of hostility amongst the people.
The Untied States Secretary of Navy, Frank Knox, stated that ethnic Japanese in Hawaii had been active in helping to prepare the attack. The suspicions, mingling with preexisting anti-Japanese sentiment, caused for a very insecure air amongst regular friends and neighbors. Stores put signs in their windows excluding anyone of Japanese ancestry of entering. They often times said things like "Go back where you came from.", or "We don't allow Japs in this store".
Akane walked grimly along the side walk toward her home about a month after the accusation occurred. She had spent another grueling day of protecting herself and her older sister from being attacked by what she once considered "friends". Nabiki had stayed after school to inform the teacher that she and Akane would no longer be attending class, on behalf of their father's illness worsening. She looked into the window of her former favorite ice cream store, and cursed at the familiar bold black words on a sign hanging on the window. "No Japs allowed." Anger welled within her, quickly turning itself to disgust. So much for everyone being equal. She stood in front of the window disapprovingly, keeping her angry gaze directed at the sign.
Akane heaved a sigh and shoved the door open. As soon as she stepped in, the store became quiet, everyone directing their gaze toward her in astonishment. She could hear the timid bell from the door ringing, as if to say, "we don't want you here".
Akane strode forcefully toward the counter and picked up a spare menu. Scanning it quickly, she set it aside, noting the quiet whispers behind her tense back.
"I'd like a small chocolate cone, please." The man behind the counter glared at her angrily, then, as if he just remembered who she was, or what, turned his nose up and sniffed haughtily. "I'm sorry, but you have to leave."
Akane grew more upset at the ring of superiority in his voice. She spoke sweetly, "Oh, well, of course I'll leave! Just as soon as you give me my order." His face flushed red, and his nostrils flared. "You stupid girl! Can't you read?! The sign says "no Japs allowed"!" Akane growled.
"Excuse me sir, but if I'm not mistaken, you don't have the authority to refuse your service to me, in fact, I can only see it hindering business, not helping. So..." she let the sentence hang, and took a seat gracefully at the counter stool. "I can do whatever it is I please at my store! I have my rights!" He screamed angrily at her. Her eyes narrowed dangerously, "and I, too, have mine. So if you'd kindly give me my order, I'd pay you and be on my way." She snapped while slamming her coins on the smooth counter top. Akane was very close to losing her cool visage.
What right did he have?
The gruff man stared her in the eye for another moment, and she returned the glare, equally venomous. He then turned on his heel abruptly, and set to work on her cone, cursing under his breath as he did so. Turning around again, he slammed the cone on the table and Akane shoved the money toward his whitened knuckles. She smiled sweetly and chimed before walking out the door, "Have a nice day sir..."
Akane smiled inwardly to herself as she licked her chocolate ice cream cone. Before the bombing, she could have gone inside, as casually as anyone else, and the owner would smile at her and take her order. Now everything was different, no one trusted then anymore. It had been hard making a living here before, no one wanted their children to learn martial arts, especially not their daughters. But now, the few students they had, had left shouting and cursing our family name. They had almost no income, besides the few dollars Nabiki can sneak every once in awhile.
Ever since the accusation, Japanese American families had been burning any of their possessions that gave way they had once lived in Japan, and had been Japanese citizens.
Just the other day, Akane had walked into their tiny garage to find her father staring over a small fire on the ground. Looking closer, she realized their Japanese flag was sitting amongst the flames. Again, she had walked in the kitchen and her mother was gazing regretfully at her smashed collection of porcelain geisha dolls, in one hand holding an old wooden mallet, dusted with porcelain powder. The other hand held her mother's wedding kimono, which Akane had a strange feeling would be joining her father's fire.
Akane was knocked out of her reverie by a rough shove from behind. She stumbled dangerously, but managed to keep her balance long enough to position herself. She swung around to see the culprit and was faced with four very large men. They were obviously Caucasian, probably around her age, if not a few years older. She could have sworn she had seen them before.
"We saw the little show you put on, bitch." Ah, they had been sitting at the table closest the door at the ice cream parlor. She stood straighter and replied evenly, if not a little angrily, "Don't call me that." The men laughed mockingly. "What are you gonna do about it, bitch? Eh? Turn your little smart ass brain on and bore us to death with your equal rights lectures?" His three idiot accomplices chuckled as if it were the cleverest thing they'd ever heard.
"I don't want to get involved with you, okay? Just back off." The man they obviously thought of as their little ring leader, chuckled idly. "Oooh I'm shivering." he turned to his buddies and laughed tauntingly, "Hey guys, she says she can lick all of us! What do you think about that?"
Akane suppressed a need to roll her eyes. One man replied, "I think we should give HER a licking!" (A/N: a licking as in, beating them up... not anything else) Akane changed position to a more defensive stance. The first thing she learned from her father was to never underestimate your opponent, but it was painfully obvious these guys were just dumb. She raised one knife like hand in front of her face, and her foot slid back ever-so-slightly to give her better balance.
In response to her silence, the four men launched themselves at her from all sides. Akane jumped above one diving body, kicking the man in the face with unrestrained power. He dropped to the ground in pain. Akane landed gracefully before spinning around and landing a kick in the other man's stomach. Akane was shocked when she felt a strong hand punch the back of her head. She lost her balance almost immediately, and fell to the ground. The other men had recovered, and she felt herself being lifted by her dress collar. "We have a nasty one here, don't we?" Akane growled and swung her leg at the man who merely dodged. He growled when a small trail of blood made itself visible on his cheek. He leisurely threw a punch at her and hit her directly in the fore head. She gasped in pain as her vision began to swirl before taking her ice cream cone and shoving it in his eyes.
He screamed as it burned icy tendrils down his eye sockets, and dropped Akane. She took the opportunity to knee him in his stomach, and shove him onto his other friends. The men scrambled from under his weight, and took off in the opposite direction. Akane stumbled a few steps before dropping on her knees to clear her vision. She managed until she was about a block away from her home before blacking out.
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