The small blue bike bumped along the dirt road as I pumped my legs to overcome the small incline in the trail. The sky was a dark grey, threatening to burst open any second, although I didn't really care. Rain had never really bothered me, although riding my bike back to the house might cause some problems. I looked over my shoulder to find that I could no longer see the highway that lay between my current location and the housing complex I lived in.
I hopped off my bike and led it farther down the dirt road to the large iron gate that stood at the end of the road. Adjusting my purse, I climbed up onto the top of the gate and positioned myself into a sitting position. Careful to stay balanced, I pulled out a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bar of Twix from my black hole of a purse.
It was Saturday afternoon and my dad had kicked me out of the house, telling me to go out and get some air in my lungs. Of course, he didn't see when I snuck candy and caffeine into my purse.
So there I sat, happily munching with on caramel and chocolate and enjoying life. Suddenly, a clap of thunder sounded in my ears. I jumped, Mountain Dew spilling all over my jeans and shirt. I waved my arms around frantically in the air, trying to regain my balance on the iron gate.
A small "Eep!" escaped my lips as I fell backwards, the green liquid flying through the air gracefully. I squinted my eyes as if that might help brace the imminent impact. However, the impact never came.
I opened my eyes to see a large neon sign above me, which read "Have a nice ride!" I was plummeting at an alarming rate through a pitch black tunnel, the surroundings punched with random neon signs. My purse strap was tugging at my body and I could see the indent of my Ranma manga fighting the green canvas fabric. The empty soda bottle had long since left my hands however my other hand was holding onto the Twix for dear life.
I opened my mouth to scream but I was cut short by a rather rough landing on something hard. "Jesus!" I shouted as the pain radiated through my body and I sunk deeper into the small box my body had apparently decided to land in. "Aww my head," I muttered as I tried to position myself into a more comfortable position. As soon as I sat up in the hard cushioned seat in the box, I heard a crank as a metal bar latched itself on my lap.
"What the?" The sound of a crank resonated underneath me and I would've leaned over to see what was making the noise if it weren't for that infernal latch. It was about then that I realized that I was moving up a steep hill and I got the familiar sensation of being on a roller coaster. Low and behold, that is exactly what I was on.
I felt the car stop momentarily, only long enough for me to utter one word: "Shit." Then the car plummeted. Now roller coasters had never really been my forte, and this situation wasn't being made any better by the fact that I had just eaten a sugary and easily chucked snack. The car was moving faster than anything I had ever been on, jerking me around violently as it twisted and turned.
I cracked open my watering eyes to see that the track looped over and then… the track stopped. There was no more track, it stopped, ran out, disappeared into the Twilight Zone. Whatever way I put it, I was dead. Death by roller coaster of my imagination. Defiantly going on my list of pitiful deaths.
The speeding car began to climb the loop and my purse hit me in the head. Great, I was going to die with a headache. I was only vaguely aware that the car had left the tracks and that I was flying trough the air to my imminent doom. I looked ahead a saw a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel and knew it was all over for me. What would my family do? How long until they sold all my beloved anime and manga on e-bay? I'd have to tell them to bury me with my Ranma manga although…
My plans for my funeral were cut short by a rough landing. Good news was I wasn't dead. Bad news was I was still heading towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Which happened to read in bright purple neon lights "Welcome to SIC."
Defiantly not the "Gate to Heaven" I was expecting. The car had slowed down to a walking pace, giving me enough time to catch my breath and blink several times. Suddenly a small screen popped up from the front of the car, the fuzz clearing up to reveal a young woman in her thirties. Her blonde hair was pulled up tightly in a bun and her black horn-rimmed glass rested on her nose.
"Good afternoon and welcome to SIC's placement department. My name is Cindy and I will be your guide," the woman said in a fake cheery voice that reminded me of a telemarketer. "I assume you wish to go to the anime division?"
"One moment please," she said. I heard the distinct sound of long nails typing rapidly on a keyboard. "Short, medium, or long?"
"You'd look best with medium. What's your favorite color?"
"Right, pink will do. I assume you want a nice figure?"
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"
"Extra large, large, average, or small?"
"Listen lady, I don't know what you're talking about…"
"I'd do large if I were you, doesn't strain your back too much."
"What are you talking about?!"
Cindy looked up from the keyboard and looked at me over her secretary glasses. "Creating your avatar of course," she said matter-of-factly.
"Avatar? What the hell am I gonna need an avatar for? And what's this SIC thing?"
"All questions will be answered momentarily. Now all we have to do is place you in a story and we're set." She looked me over quickly when her eyes fell on my purse. "The Ranma universe? Are you sure about that hon?"
"Lady, I almost got whiplash! What are you talking about?!" I yelled at the television screen. Much to my annoyance, Cindy ignored my outburst and continued to type.
"So your headed for the Ranma ½ universe, manga style. Right," she muttered. She smiled and pressed "enter" before turning back to me with the telemarketer look. "You will receive a letter of update upon your arrival including your name, income, and grade. The language barrier has been effectively demolished although there are some rules which will be stated in the letter. Thank you for using SIC and enjoy your stay."
With that the television screen turned off and slid back to where ever it came from. I was stared at the now empty space then groaned, slipping back into my seat. Nothing made sense. Ranma ½ universe? What the hell was that? And what was SIC any…
I shot up in my seat as realization hit me like a hammer. "SI? Self insert? Oh my god, I'm going to the Ranma universe?!" My frantic insanity was side tracked when I saw a small mallet appear where the TV had been. I looked at it curiously when WHAM!
My head hurt. A lot.
I groaned and lifted my hand to cover my eyes, trying to block out the morning sun that was coming in through the window. But that didn't make any sense, because the last time I checked it was early afternoon. And I sure don't remember falling onto a bed.
Wait a minute… wasn't there that…. I opened my eyes just a crack, praying against hope that…
Nope, I was screwed. I lay on a thin futon in the middle of a bare apartment room, boxes stacked up against the walls and on the kitchen sink. Slowly, I sat up and wiped my forehead. Damn SI people. Too lazy to even unpack my stuff.
I looked over next to me to see an envelope lying next to my hand. It had the name Rizu Arumigufuchi written on it in purple ink. I raised my eyebrow at the name. "Rizu?" I said to myself as I reached for the letter. I pulled out a rather official looking letter with the words Self Insert Corporation emblazoned on the top. The content read as thus:
Dear Rizu Arumigufuchi,
As you've might've guessed, this is your new identity as of your residency in this universe. School will start in about an hour for you so there will be a brief explanation of the rules for the Ranma ½ universe.
Your age is 16 years old. If this is older than your current age, you need not be worried about the learning gap as SIC has taken care of it.
You retain all of your memories from your previous life as well as all of your abilities.
Once your designated series is over, you will return to your original world. No time will have elapsed.
A bank account has been set up under your new identity. The password is your real last name. It should be sufficient to carry you through the series provided you don't squander it.
Other: It is highly recommended that all residents of Nermia learn a form of Marital Arts.
Thank you for using SIC. We hope you enjoy your stay.
I laughed half-heartedly. "Answer my questions my ass," I muttered under my breath as I stood up, still holing the letter. I sighed and looked around the room. It was a fairly small one room apartment with a small kitchen and a small closet. Kinda like my small brain at the moment.
On the wall hung a school uniform over a length long mirror. But it wasn't just any school uniform, oh no! It was the Furinkan school uniform. "You're shitting me," I muttered as I walked over to the outfit. I had never like that particular uniform, it seemed so… fluffy to me. I much preferred a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Not to mention the shoes looked really uncomfortable.
"I could try it on at least," I said positively, taking it down from the wall. I turned my back to the mirror and put on the dress… thing. I turned around to take a good look at myself and squeaked. I didn't really look like "me" anymore. I was of medium height with pink hair. It looked like I'd lost a couple pounds too. Okay, a lot of pounds but I was more distracted by the pink menace on top of my head.
Truthfully, I'd always wanted to dye my hair pink but it just looked so out of place now that I looked at it. "Good thing I tried it here where it doesn't really count," I said aloud, running my hands through it. I shook my head, feeling like an alien in this body. The uniform clashed horribly with my hair and I would've been a whole lot more comfortable if I were wearing my regular clothes. Speaking of…
I walked over to the stack of boxes and searched for a box labeled "clothes". It was at the very bottom of a particularly large stack of heavy boxes. It took me a while to move all the boxes but it was worth the wait.
"Dude!" I exclaimed as I pulled out a pink Hello Kitty shirt. "Jackpot!" Upon further digging, I discovered I only had four shirts, three jeans, and one skirt. I only had two pairs of shoes and both of them were sandals, one a pair of leather "clonkers", the other a flimsy pair of flip-flops.
Yep, looked like I was going shopping this weekend. As for the outfit I was wearing… I discarded it in favor of something more comfortable. Sure I might stand out more than I wanted to, but with hair like mine? Might as well go for the full deal.
I noticed that I had a small black briefcase buy the door, no doubt for my school supplies. So I slipped out the door in a slightly oversized Inu Yasha t-shirt, jeans, and "The Clonkers" as they had been dubbed. The apartment building wasn't that big, only three floors with five rooms to a floor. I was on the second floor, apartment 203, right smack dab in the middle of everything. For some reason it reminded me of the position of a bulls-eye on a target.
I walked down the stairs and almost ran into a young girl who looked my age. She was wearing a Furinkan uniform and looked just a little flustered. "Hey," I said before the girl could run away. "Do you know where Furinkan High is?"
Her eyes swept over my casual street clothing, lingering for a second on the neon fluff the SIC called hair. "Uh yeah," she said. "I'm headed there now. Why, do you go there?"
I nodded. "Today's supposed to be my first day."
She smiled and nodded. "Great, you wanna walk there together?"
I smiled back, starting to feel just a tinny-bit better about being stuck in the anime version of a sex-confused Abbot and Costello movie. "My name's…. Rizu," I said, bowing slightly. It felt kinda funny and for some reason the gesture made me hyper.
"I'm Kotori," the girl said. "Where are you from Rizu?" she asked as we began to walk down the street. Time for some lying on my feet.
"Well, I lived in Japan for most of my life, but my parents moved to the States for a few years. I just got to Nermia a little while ago," I said cheerfully. Now, most of that was a dead lie but Kotori seemed to believe it.
"Wow, you lived in the U.S.?" she asked as we turned the corner.
I nodded. "Yep, yep! I liked it there; it was a lot of fun!" That wasn't a lie. I was doing pretty well with this.
"Why'd you come back here then?" she asked.
I shrugged. "Just felt like I needed to. So here I am!"
Kotori nodded, and then looked quizzical for a moment. "Why Furinkan?"
"Eh-heh-heh, variety?" I stumbled. Her question wasn't really a bad question either, most of the characters transferred because of Ranma. In speaking of…
"So what's school like anyway? Are there lots of fights?" I asked.
Kotori sighed. "Well, not if you don't count the mob that attacks this one girl every morning."
"Oh?" I said, trying to look surprised. "Do tell."
"There's this one girl, Akane Tendo, and all the guys attack her every morning, hoping to go out with her," Kotori said.
"What, chocolates and roses don't do it for her?" I said.
Kotori giggled. "No, it's just that Kuno-sempi said that anyone that wanted to date her had to beat her in combat," she said. "It's really stupid if you ask me. I don't know how she puts up with it."
As we spoke, Kotori and I approached the school. It looked fairly normal, nothing out of the ordinary. But I knew by now to never trust looks.
"We'd better get into the building before the beating begins," Kotori said. "Do you know what class you're in?"
"Um, not really," I said. "They never gave me the information."
"Well then I'll show you the office," she said as we entered the school grounds. It was like a male school assembly. Every boy from every club imaginable waited in the courtyard, some standing around looking tuff, some making battle plans, and others were stretching.
"Damn, you weren't kidding were you?" I remarked to Kotori, looking around me. Some of the guys gave me weird looks as I passed but I didn't really care. "Oh my god! Is that the swim team?!"
Kotori looked over to where I was pointing and nodded. "Yeah, that's them." I shuddered, and walked past the boys in Speedo's. There was just something drastically wrong with that, there just was.
"You wanna watch? It's kind of entertaining your first time," Kotori said as we walked into the building.
"I'm not really sure," I said still a little disturbed by the swim team's appearance.
"Oh come on, you're gonna see it anyway," Kotori said. "Come on, there's a better view upstairs."
We walked up to one of the classrooms where all the girls were standing around, chatting about god knows what.
"Hey Kotori!" a girl called cheerfully. Kotori smiled and walked over to the girls, me trailing behind.
"Hey Sayuri," Kotori said. "This is Rizu, she just transferred here," she said, stepping aside to reveal me.
I smiled and nodded. "Nice to meet you Sayuri," I said. Oh god, how was I going to remember that name?
Sayuri's eyes flashed towards my hair quickly before looking at me. "Is that your natural hair color?" she asked.
I sighed heavily. "Sadly, yes," I said.
"Well that's okay, I like it," Sayuri said reassuringly. I knew she was lying but by now I knew the rules of a compliment.
"She's here!" a girl by the window yelled.
"You ready to see something?" Kotori said as we crowded towards the window. I gulped and nodded. I won't look at the swim team, I won't look at the swim team, I won't look at the swim team.
"Hey Rizu, up here," Sayuri yelled over the crowd. Kotori and I fought my way to the window where the girl was standing.
"So what team is favored today?" Kotori said to Sayuri.
"The tennis team has been strategizing all week, but the wrestling team has been training," she said.
"Hmm… so it's anyone's guess huh?"
I watched as the whole mob of boys charged towards the school gate where a small figure was running towards the gate.
Now, it's one thing to read about the soccer club and tennis club attacking Akane. It's anther thing to watch it on TV. But it's a whole different reality to watch it live in front of you.
Of course, with my little mantra running through my head, I couldn't help but watch the boys in Speedo's charge Akane, -kickboards- in the air. Now, I've been on the swim team since I was five, and I've ran with kickboards. Not intelligent. The board creates too much drag, and in their case, leaves their body wide open.
"That… looks… painful," I said as I watched Akane quickly dispatch the swim team.
Kotori turned towards me and burst out laughing. "You should see your face!" she laughed.
I shuddered and turned from the window. "I've just been scarred for life," I muttered.
"Yeah, I try not to watch the swim team," Sayuri said. "Oop, there goes the tennis club."
"So Rizu," Kotori said turning to me. "Seen enough?"
"I think so," I said trying to erase the image of the shame of the swim team.
"Cool, let's get to the office then," she said. I followed her out the room and down the hall. "So are you going to join any clubs?" Kotori asked.
"I hadn't really thought about it," I said. "I was on the swim team at my old school but…"
"Oh don't worry, they're a lot better in the water than they are on land," Kotori said.
"Yeah but can they regain their dignity in the water?" I said flatly.
"I don't think any of the teams have been able to do that," she said. "All the coaches get pretty mad because of all the broken equipment. Here's the office," she said. "I better get back to class. See you at lunch?"
I smiled broadly. "Yeah sure!" I said. I waved goodbye as she left me in front of the office. A warm feeling spread inside my chest, making me smile even bigger. This school seemed almost normal. You know, despite the giant brawl in the morning. And the fact that once Ranma got here, the whole place was going to be flipped on its head.
Turns out that I was in the same home room as Akane, which surprised me. Most of the SI's I'd read put themselves in Kuno and Nabiki's class.
I stood in front of the class in my jeans and t-shirt, squirming in my clonkers. "Uh hi," I said. I could feel the eyes of my classmates boring into my skull, transfixed by my hair. "I'm Rizu Arumigufuchi. I just moved here from the states, my goal in life is to take over the world, and this is my natural hair color," I said.
The teacher nodded after giving me a funny look. "Would anybody like to ask Ms. Arumigufuchi a question?" she said. A boy I recognized as Daisuke raised his hand.
"Is that your real hair color?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes, realizing that he hadn't been listening. "No, this is my brightly colored minion Flo. He likes to sleep on my bald head."
Daisuke's eyes grew huge. "Really?"
A few people giggled while Daisuke sulked. "Well Ms. Arumigufuchi, why don't you take a seat next to Mr. Shiro."
I nodded and walked over to my seat. The rest of the class passed uneventfully, almost slowly. Although normally I would've taken this as an improvised nap time, my mind was too busy.
It was quite obvious that there was no way I could get home right now. I knew almost nothing at all about any of this SI stuff. The only thing I could do was wait for information or an opportunity. Preferably the latter.
As for waiting, I'd need to do something! I mean, it was all well and good to be a student in Furinkan but there were a hundred other kids that were the exact same thing and less than half of them were really involved in Ranma & co.'s business. But most of the people involved in that story were insane, a great martial artist, or both. I matched one of those requirements but even there I wasn't that noticeable.
Which lead to another dilemma: martial arts. That option was out for me. I painfully remembered the two years my dad forced me to take Tae-Kwon-Do. That was one of the reason I went back to swimming. However, just sitting on my lazy ass through out the entire thing was also not an option.
But how was I supposed to do anything without Martial Arts? I needed something to divide me, to make me stand out from the crowd besides my hair. But what? All I knew was that I didn't want to be another "Weird Hobby Martial Arts" category.
I sighed. I'd think about that later. Right after I changed my hair color to something found in normal genetics.
I was really starting to appreciate my ability to read Japanese. Standing in the bathroom, I squinted at the directions for the blonde hair dye. "Directions: Wash hair. Check. Take color packet and rub into hair. Got it." I remember watching my friend Cally Person dye her hair once. I laughed at her then, now I understood. "Okay, I put the color in. Now what?" I pick up the box and sighed. I'd have to wait thirty minutes to wash out this horrible smelling concoction. Whatever, as long as my hair was somewhat normal.
I sat down on the floor at the small table and laid out my homework. Besides the gigantic amount of homework, I'd enjoyed my first day.Kotori and I had eaten lunch together and I was introduced to a bunch of other girls. It felt kind of weird though sitting in the circle of blue uniforms with my jeans and t-shirt.
I decided straight off the bat that the guys here were idiots. Most of them were jocks (not my favorite) or obsessed with Akane (for now).
I never really got to meet Akane. I was sort of quiet all day in class, lost in my own thoughts. Oh well, there were plenty of other opportunities to meet her.
As soon as Kotori and I had parted ways, I went to the bank and withdrew shopping money. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the market area of town. I got a few more outfits like my favorite bright blue spaghetti strap shirt with a dark green mesh shirt to go with it. I bought some food on the way back, enough for the week.
Shopping for hair dye was a nightmare. The "Your hair now, your hair shade then" boxes didn't cover pink hair so I spent a half an hour in that aisle, trying to find the right shade of blonde that wouldn't turn my hair puce. I finally decided on a very light blonde, not enough to change the color completely but it would defiantly tone it down.
Some of this just didn't make any sense though. Not just the fact that I was in Nermia, I didn't even want to deal with that right now. It's just, everything about this SI setup was wrong. Normally, the apartment would already be set up and nice. I'd be in the grade above Akane and soon to be Ranma and just…. The whole thing was just weird. Something in my gut told me that there was something out of place. Although that might've just been the dye that was burning through my skull.
"It burns!" I scrambled towards the kitchen sink, slipping and sliding on the new floor. The cold water ran over my scalding skin and washed the soap down the drain. My shoulders slumped as I sighed. "Well shit."