I can't believe it's been as long as it's been for me to really start writing fanfics, but here we go again. Disclaimer's be us: Futurama was created by Matt Groening and David X Cohen, and is owned by the Curiosity Company. Ranma ½ was created by Rumiko Takhashi and is distributed by Viz. Communication is North America. I am not doing this for any profit, nor expect do I expect any, I'm just building sandcastles in someone else's sandbox.
The streets of Nerima were packed wall to wall with people tonight, December 31st, 2000. Everyone here was excited about this once in a year event, with the coming of the new millennium, the atmosphere was even more festive than usual. It seemed as though everyone was getting into the spirit of things, well, almost everyone.
Had you been able to gain a bird's eye view of the town, you would have seen hundreds of thousands of people going hither and yon. Dropping in a little closer and you may have been able to make out a particular dot, moving with a singular purpose. Drop in even closer, and you would be able to make out a few distinguishing features, including jet black hair, a bright red shirt, and dark black pants.
Just a little closer and you could make out that the hair was tied into a very distinctive pigtail.
The person with this particular hairstyle was currently moving through the crush of people, seeming to run past them and through them with hardly anyone taking notice of his presence. Even as he moved by, around and sometimes over the crowds, Ranma Saotome, martial artist extraordinaire, and a college student with somewhat better grades than his previous high school ones, smirked to himself, because yes, he was that damned good. Still, he knew that he had to hurry it up, since one of the slogans of the pizza place that he had worked at for the last year had been that the "Wild Horse" could make a delivery anywhere in Nerima in less than twenty minutes, or the pizza's free'.
Ranma winced to himself as he remembered back to his first week on the job, he'd been in the middle of a delivery, when Ryoga, Kuno, and Mouse had, for some reason God only knew, decided to attack him all at the same time. Yes, he beat them all in only a matter of minutes, but still, he'd ended up being two minutes late with his order. He only realized later on, when he got back to the shop, that the cost of the free pizza to the customer was the same amount that the boss held out from his pay check that week. Ranma had then decided to make it a point of honor to never be late again, and in fact, after the first three months on the job the boss had congratulated him on his never being late for a delivery.
Six months after that, he'd gotten his first raise, ever, and then another one two months later. Ranma had been really appreciative of this, since he needed the money really badly. While he knew that he could have learned more martial arts techniques while working at the Cat Café, he also knew that he'd never really make enough money to be able to start doing the things that he wanted to do, like buy the stuff that he wanted to buy, especially for the most special person in his life, the person that he knew he wanted to be with. Now, all he had to do was tell her, and truth be told, Ranma would almost have rather faced Saffron and Herb at the same time, rather than confess love to a girl…no a woman, she was definitely a woman now.
Still, Ranma knew that he'd better pick up the pace, or he'd never get back home in time to meet up with her like they'd planned earlier in the week. 'Damn it, he thought to himself, here it was eighteen minutes to midnight, getting ready to go home, and old man Hideyoshi has to accept just one more order, one that's as far away from the shop as it could be, and I'm the delivery guy that got stuck with it'. Oh well, Ranma mused, better take a short-cut, and with that, he leaped over a crowd of drunken salary men on their way to another bar, and grabbed a handhold on the side of a bus that was going in the same direction as his order.
Ranma had learned a couple of years ago, there was a time and place to go all out, and rather than use his energy to try and make it in time, best to start using some non-lateral thinking, and make the moments when you really needed to pour on the energy count when you needed them. Right now, the bus was going in his direction, so he could take a little break, and conserve himself for what he might need later on down the way. The people on the bus that could see him waved, and Ranma waved back. It seems that in the four years since he'd came to Nerima, he'd picked up several reputations, first as a womanizer, because of all the fiancées that'd managed to gather there looking for him, then as a troublemaker, because of all the challengers or rivals that'd came afterwards.
These days though, he had another reputation, that as a new up and coming member of the community, and he found that he was becoming quite popular with the older people in the ward. Several of the elders had even gone so far as to express statements to the effect of Ranma becoming the go to person whenever there were disputes of various different natures that didn't really need the authority's assistance with. With that kind of clout backing him up, many people had started to openly make small suggestions, and some not so small, that he think about running for a council position when he'd gotten a little older. Ranma of course, could have cared less about politics, but he'd learned several things over the years, and one was that politics was a necessary evil, if not, he and the rest of the Nerima Wrecking Crew couldn't have gotten away with half the stuff they did when they were younger, if certain people in the ward, including Soun Tendo hadn't been keeping things to a low simmer, rather than letting everything boil over.
Yes, it been mentioned more than once, to his mother, father, and any of the old fiancées, that he was going to be the go-to person by the time he finished up college courses, and found a real place in the Nerima ward to settle down. Of course, Ranma himself dismissed these rumours with nothing more than an embarrassed nod and tug on his now longer ponytail, but those older people in the know, would usually acknowledge among themselves, that as far as most of the people of Nerima went, Ranma was definitely up-and-coming. Catching a glimpse of something, Ranma did a cute victory pose while hanging alongside the bus, and a couple of middle-school aged girls giggled, even as they again got a couple of pictures, and then shyly waved and covered their moths as they giggled again. Ranma gave them one of his killer smiles, the one that he'd figured out over the years to have the most devastating effect on girls that he met, then did a quick leaping spin in mid-air, bounced of the roof of a taxi, and landed on the sidewalk, now less than a block away from where the address on the delivery notice was.
Glancing down at a watch that had been a Christmas present from his special love, he saw that the time was now 11:47 p.m. He knew that things would have to work out perfectly for him to be able to make it back home anywhere close to midnight, but he could hope.
'Great, if I can make everything work out, then I can find the place, get the money, and just drop it off tomorrow morning when I go to my business class,' thought Ranma. 'Maybe I can still make it home at least not too long after midnight, and be able to make my gift for her count as not too long after New Years.'
With that thought, Ranma leaped to a sprint, and in less than thirty seconds, he found himself in front of a large building, one of the newer ones that been built in the last ten years... Looking down at the address, and back up at the number on the side of the building, he quickly verified that this was indeed the Ikari office park and Happy-go-Fun land centre. 'Hmm, that sounded…different, to say the least' thought Ranma.
Shaking his head to dislodge those thoughts, he immediately started for the entrance way, only taking a moment to glance again at the delivery notice, he made out the last part of a name, Freely, and a room number, 1117. Looking up, Ranma counted 11 stories. Groaning a bit, he noted that if the express elevators were working, then he could make it in less than a minute, if not, the he'd have to climb the stairs, and while it wouldn't take much longer for him than that, he'd come out of the whole a little more sweaty than he'd prefer. "Well," grumbled Ranma out loud, "there's nothing to do but get there as quick as I can."
With that, he went quickly through the doors, and over to the elevator, noting that they were indeed shut down for the night. Grumbling a bit, he dashed over to the stairway entrance, and took off sprinting up them, two and three steps at a time. Less than two minutes later, he found himself on the top floor, and pausing only long enough to straighten his hair a bit, took off at a fast pace down the hallway, searching for the room number. 'Okay, he thought, where's room 1117? There's 1129, walking, walking, here's 1121, 1119, and…1117.' Stopping in front of the doorway, Ranma glanced up at it, to see a sign on it that read, Katsuhito Cryonics, Inc. Below that was a smaller one, which read, 'no power failures since 1999'.
Looking at it harder, Ranma saw that the nine was a post-it note, and if you were to flip it up, there was a 6 that was the actual number below it.
Shaking his head, Ranma knocked on the door, and waited twenty seconds, before knocking again. With no response, Ranma knocked again, and spoke up.
"Hello, is there anyone here?" Hideyoshi's pizza service, and martial arts dojo, we get it to you the fastest in Nerima, and also make sure that the opposition falls before us." Ranma always resisted the urge to roll his eyes when he said the spiel, the first time he'd practiced it at home, Nabiki had walked by the room, and howled with laughter for a good five minutes.
When there was no answer, Ranma walked over to the door, and peered through the frosted glass. There was a light coming from inside, so he figured it was some poor sap that was stuck having to finish up paperwork for taxes for the old year. Reaching over to the door handle, Ranma cautiously tried it, and was surprised to find it turned easily.
Opening it up the door creaked with an eerie groan, much like the doors on that haunted house movie he'd watched last week with some of his school friends. Stepping through the threshold, Ranma saw that it was much darker than he'd originally thought, and the light he'd seen from the door came from several glowing cases set against the wall on the far side of the room. Stopping only to allow his eyes time to adjust to the gloom, Ranma looked around, the room, but saw nobody there.
"Hello," he called out again, "Hideyoshi's pizza, did someone here order a squid and corn extra cheese deep dish? Hello?"
After hearing nothing, Ranma walked further into the sparsely decorated room, carefully scanning it, with his regular eyesight, as well as with his full ki senses, just in case something was amiss.
"Where is everybody?" He growled out loud, "Hey, I've got a delivery for an I.P…Freely? Hell's Donkeys, great, that's just great!" Ranma stood there for a second, his mind not really wanting to process the new information that he had, but there it was, this whole delivery had been a bad joke, he'd missed the chance to be able to give his special someone a kiss at the stroke of midnight, because some asshole had decided to play a practical joke on the pizza delivery man and it had to be on this night, of all nights. Sighing heavily, Ranma checked his watch again, and saw that the time was now 4 minutes to midnight, which meant there was no way he'd get back home in time. Oh well, best to just sit and relax a moment, have a slice of the pizza, and let Hideyoshi know tomorrow that they'd had a gag pulled on them, he was usually forgiving, even when Ranma couldn't find the creep that had pulled it on them.
Still…Damn it all to hell, the one night when he'd made plans, all his friends where going to be there, and he'd finally found the perfect one, and now…Ranma grasped and held the small box that was in his pants pocket, now things where just going all wrong. "Man, he said out loud, do the spirits just work hard to screw up my life one way or another?"
Walking heavily over to where a desk sat on the floor, Ranma pulled the chair behind it back, and set the pizza on the desktop. There was a computer on the desk, a newer model, turned off of course, and a phone setting next to it. He picked up the handset, only to find out that, "There's no dial tone," groused Ranma, of course there's no dial tone, that'd make everything go so much easier tonight, so of course it couldn't!"
Placing the handset down with a little more force than usual, Ranma vowed silently that the next thing he'd buy for himself would be a cell phone, as soon as the damn store opened up again as a matter of fact. Sighing again, Ranma leaned back in the chair, only to notice that the glow from the boxes he'd seen earlier had gotten a little brighter. Curious in spite of everything that'd happened in the short time he'd been there, Ranma decided to see what was so special about these things, and walked over to them, keeping his sense on high alert anyway, since you never could tell after all.
As he got closer to them, he was surprised to see that there looked to be light layers of frost on the glass cover lids of the cases, even though the room he was in was pretty warm. Ranma stepped closer, and got ready to peer inside, when a "BONG" sounded from outside, causing him to jerk his head to the window.
Walking over towards it, Ranma saw several sets of fireworks going off around the city, as well as several more sounds of bells ringing throughout the night. Hanging his head down for a moment, Ranma whispered to himself, "Happy New Year."
Staying there a moment longer, Ranma pulled himself together, and decided that even though he was late, if he hurried back, and made the jumps on the roofs with out having to hit the ground much, he could make it back home before half past midnight, if luck would help him out a bit. With this new resolve, Ranma turned around and got ready to leave, just as he caught a glimpse of the lighted case again, with that strange frost on it.
"Heh, if Shampoo caught me being this nosy about something, she'd tell me about how curiosity killed the c, c, c, furry things," he gasped out.
Grinning wryly now, he stepped over and looked inside, and immediately stepped back again. "What the hell place is this!' he thought to himself, before he stepped closer again. Inside the case, no, no it must be some kind of a coffin, because inside of it, was a body.
The person looked like a typical middle-aged salary man, around 40 or 50, with a head full of hair, that was thinning in front, and a face that was just starting to develop worry lines from stress, much like his old man had when back when he started training Ranma when he was young.
Brushing the frost off the glass with his hand and absent-mindedly rubbing the cold off on his shirt, Ranma saw that the man was leaning back against the inside of the 'coffin', dressed in normal clothes, a suit and tie, and could have been asleep, had that not been that pale look on his face, though that could have been due in part to the glow from the exterior light in the case he was in.
Ranma stepped back, and after looking at all the other cases, saw that each one had an occupant, except for one over closest to the window, which sat dark, and with the lid open, almost seeming to invite him to step inside. Ranma shuddered for a brief moment before thinking, 'No way am I going to get inside that thing, no, better to just get the hell out of here, and see how fast I could make it home across Nerima.'
With that last thought, Ranma turned around, crossed over rapidly to the desk, pick up the pizza box and its contents, and started towards the door, only to hear something that he really didn't need, or want, to hear.
"Where the hell am I now!" came from the hallway outside the door.
After hearing that, Ranma steeped back form the door, he really didn't want to get into a fight now, the lost boy had been gone for close to eight months this time, and since he'd been gone, it'd been one of the few really nice bits of peace that Ranma had had in a long time.
For one reason or another, Ryoga had become more of a horse's ass than usual in the last two years, blaming Ranma for one thing or another, to the point that Ranma had considered stopping holding back in his fights with him, and just pummeling the living hell out of him. Still, that wasn't how a true martial artist should be, or at least that's what his old man had drilled into his skull over the years, so Ranma had simply kept up the status quo.
However, the last time they'd fought, Ryoga had almost managed to damage Ms. Tendo's shrine in the dojo, and that had been one of the few things that'd set Ranma off, badly enough that he'd ended up beating him to almost an inch of his life, especially when Ryoga had mocked him after he'd told him to be careful around the shrine.
Ryoga had disappeared after that day, simply wandering off, and he hadn't seen him since then, but it now seemed that he'd walked back into his life again. 'Maybe, thought Ranma, if I don't say anything and just stay here, he'll wander off, and I can get back home.'
Unfortunately, the same luck that had plagued Ranma so far tonight, held on for a while longer, as the door to the room suddenly opened up, and a bandana clad head poked through the door. "Hello, asked a deep voice, can someone tell me the way to the Tendo dojo in Nerima? Is anybody around here…Ranma, how'd you get here in New Zealand!"
The pony-tailed martial artist cursed to himself for a moment before answering, "Hello Ryoga, you're in Japan now, not New Zealand."
"Damn you, Ranma, because of you, I've seen hell!" spat out Ryoga. "Everything's your fault! How dare you leave Akane for some other whore, I'll bet you…glurk!"
The glurk came at that moment, because when Ryoga had said the word whore, Ranma was in motion, faster than Ryoga could even see, and now had him pinned against the desk, while his left hand was around his throat, right hand pulled back and ready to strike.
"Ryoga," hissed Ranma, "You need to learn to shut your mouth, before you insult the person I've fallen in love with again."
In anyone else, that powerful threat would have been enough to have cowed them, yet Ryoga was not anyone else, at least someone with common sense.
"Ranma," he gasped out, "You don't know what love is, all you want is to have somebody to do perverted things with and…geh!"
This happened when Ranma increased the pressure against Ryoga's throat some more.
"Man, you just don't have any damned sense at all do you Ryoga," said Ranma. "I wonder if maybe the Kuno's are smarter than you, at least the two of them finally wised up over the years, After I taught them about my curse, now if only Akane would do the same about yours," he muttered out loud.
To his surprise, Ryoga came up and managed to knock Ranma's hand away while his attention was distracted from him by his own introspection.
"Don't you say anything about Akane," snarled Ryoga, "I can't believe a bastard like you didn't have the guts to come clean about your betrayal of her, but instead she had to find out through the Nerima rumor mill that…"
"That what, Ryoga?" snapped Ranma, "That I found out who I was in love with, that I told it to Akane's face plainly, and she just didn't want to believe me? That she found out from Nabiki, who doesn't know not to leave well enough alone! That just because she felt that I was her property at one time, that she could do what the hell she wanted to me? Newsflash Ryoga, that part of my life is over, and Akane and Nabiki have finally gotten a clue about how far you can push me! I love them both, as sisters, and friends, but that's it, and all it'll ever be. As for the rest of the girls, they've learned to leave me alone when I need to be, and I've made friends of them as well, but you!"
Ranma stepped up closer to Ryoga, who stepped back, "I can't believe a bastard like you has any claim of honor! You, who continuously slept in my fiancée's bed, taking advantage of my promise not to reveal your secret, and then turning around, and daring to attack me when your spoiled little princess Akane whined and bawled about how life was unfair! You, who didn't have enough courage to tell her that you're her pet pig, you little fuck, and then called me honor-less, while you had Akari, and still chased after Akane! Most of all though, what pisses me off so badly, is that you've got the fucking nerve to say you've been through hell! I'd give up one day, ONE DAY, of have not been thrown in that fucking pit of cats, and instead end up being lost for a decade! At least then I might have still had my sanity, instead of never being able to hold a c ca, cat again!" Even as Ranma said this, his aura, which had been blazing bright red, now had streaks of green throughout it, making Ryoga insanely think of Christmas trees for a moment, but the fury on Ranma's face squelched that thought almost immediately.
"That's what makes me so angry about your whole damn "vengeance" quest P-chan!" said a glaring Ranma, who had slowly started to close in on Ryoga. "You've got the nerve to challenge me to a fight over bread, then forfeit the fucking match, and then, blame it on me because you, you, couldn't make it to the lot behind your house."
Taking a breath, Ranma continued. "You know, I would've taken you to the lot back then, but you probably would've blamed your loss on me then as well, wouldn't you? Then you had to follow me all the way to China! Because for one damn stupid-ass reason or another, you just couldn't let the whole thing die! Well fuck you P-chan! Why don't you go crawling back to Akari, be your little piggish self, and stay the hell out of my life, permanently! Because I've gotten tired of this whole game, and I'm not going to play around anymore."
With that last statement, Ranma turned around, picked up the pizza box that had been knocked off the desk when he and Ryoga had started arguing, and headed towards the open doorway.
Ryoga stared at him, as he picked the box up, then he felt his depression growing again, more and more with each passing second, before an exclamation burst out of him.
"Ranma," he snarled, "for the insults that you've heaped upon me, and for everyone else as well, prepare to, why don't you…just, just die!"
With that said, Ryoga leaped at the other man, mayhem in mind, only to find that his depression was becoming mixed with frustration with each passing moment, as Ranma almost effortlessly either dodged or blocked every killing blow Ryoga threw at him.
What made it worse for Ryoga was Ranma's own running commentary, including his tips for not wasting motion during his assault.
"Not bad Ryoga," said Ranma calmly, "but your left needs more work; oh c'mon, don't overextend so much during a spin kick, I know you can do better than the tomboy."
Ryoga only growled at that last statement and punched harder, hoping to maybe get in a lucky hit. The strange dance of violence circled around the room, when suddenly, something unexpected by both parties happened. Ranma had just dodged an elbow, and had turned around when he felt something bump into his leg. Glancing down, he saw that it was the chair that had been under the desk, hadn't it? Yes, he'd been sure that it'd been under the desk only a moment ago, and now it was some two feet away from the desk, just close enough for him to trip over if he wasn't in better control of his body.
Smirking, Ranma turned back up, just in time to see Ryoga's fist heading towards him, and then, there was an impact that felt like a hammer blow, and Ranma was tumbling onto his back for a moment, before he deftly rolled thorough it and got back on his feet, just in time to catch another kick to the side.
Ranma smiled grimly, having had enough he decided that it was time to put Ryoga away for good, when he noticed that the kick had knocked him through and into the opened chamber.
'Thank goodness it's empty,' thought Ranma, 'would've really hated to land in here when there might've been somebody… BANG! "What the hell Ryoga!" exclaimed Ranma, as the fanged boy had just slammed the lid shut on what was now a temporary prison at best.
"Ha! Ha! Ha!" Laughed Ryoga, "You look like one of those Gundam figures in a package; maybe I might be able to get a good price for you Ranma! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Ranma snarled out something unintelligible for a moment, before he glared back at the permanent lost boy. "Yeah Ryoga," he said sarcastically, that's really funny, now move out of the way while I get this thing open and…"
Ryoga blinked his eye for a few seconds, momentarily blinded by what he figured was another of Ranma's cheating methods of getting away from him, but stood there stunned when his vision finally cleared up. Ranma was…there, but he wasn't the Ranma that he'd know for so many years now, no, this was…a thing more than a person. It looked like Ranma, had the clothes that he always wore, but, it was almost like he was now a statue instead of a person.
His skin, which had been a healthy shade of color a minute ago, well, actually more red with fury, was now an almost alabaster white, which reflected the fluorescent light from inside nicely, and while his eyes were open, there was no movement from them, nothing at all to let someone know that the person in the chamber had ever been alive.
Ryoga started at that thought, not alive? Ranma was dead?
"No more battles?" whispered Ryoga. "No more rivalry, no more fighting over Akane? Akane, yes, I can finally tell her my true feelings! At last, I finally beat you Ranma! Ha! I won for once and for all, no more Ranma no more rivalry, no more having to worry about him stepping in and taking Akane away from me! Yes! Yes! Yes!"
After his little victory dance, Ryoga turned around and after searching for several minutes, finally found the door. He turned back around, and looked into the face, the now dead face of his most hated rival, and found for a moment a bit of guilt that started to come through his consciousness, before he ruthlessly squashed it back down.
"Goodbye Ranma," he said wryly, "I guess in the end, the better man finally won."
With that parting statement, he turned, opened the door, and walked out of the room, and that was the last time the two men ever saw each other again. However, if either Ryoga, or Ranma, had paid a bit more attention to the "coffins" in the room, they would have noticed that each of them had clocks on their front panels, at the very top of the chamber. If only they'd taken the time to notice, they would have saw that each of these clocks were in a countdown mode, some with only several months to go, while others had years before they finished. Ranma's clock was now at:
To be continued…