Jumanji One Half
aka Jared Ornstead
And people say there's nothing original left to do in Ranma fiction. Aren't they silly? I haven't even begun on my Ranma/ Power Rangers crossover. Plans for the Wedding Peach hybrid have just pushed it to the back seat, I guess.
On an idyllic hill in Japan long ago...
"Whatcha doing, Ucchan?"
"Look at this, Ranchan. I found a game! Wanna play?"
"Sure. What's it called?"
"Dunno. can't pronounce it." The girl cracked open the game's wooden box, picking up two playing pieces carved from stone.
"I'll be the elephant!" The little boy eagerly cried, jumping to sit by his best friend.
Ten Years Later...
The old shed door creaked open. "So this is it, huh, Ranchan?"
"Yeah, Ucchan, this is where pops stashed the cart." Two teenagers stepped into the darkened and abandoned farm shed, dust flying as they made entrance onto the trash-strewn floor of the building, ending the tomb-like silence it had known for countless years.
The girl of the two, long brown hair flowing down her shapely back in a ponytail, her blue okanomiyaki seller's shirt setting off her complexion nicely, stepped over to a tarp covered lump, lifting the corner of it before exclaiming in surprise and sweeping the cover off.
"Gah! Ucchan!" The boy coughed as a decade's worth of dust filled the air, choking his breathing off for a few moments. He finally settled to find his fiancee beaming as she looked over the relic thus reclaimed.
"It's still got all the things you took with it: the griddle, gas, spatulas, bowls and canisters..." The cute girl wrinkled her nose at the state of it. "Somebody left it an awful mess, but the tools are all here. Take me a week to clean all of it, though."
"Yeah, sorry about that." Ranma apologized, rubbing the back of his neck.
"And here's the broken wheel, just like you said." Ukyo was leaning down to look at the offending break that had caused the abandonment. She sparkled. "Hey! This isn't so bad! This is just a couple of spokes. I fixed worse than this when I was five years old. Couple of spare branches and a few hours whittling and a little dab of paint, and I'll be wheeling it out of here almost like new! You may even have left the paint I used in here."
She opened one of the base panels of the portable restaurateur's cart, poking herself in to the tiny opening so she could look around and see if the object she was after remained. "Aha! Here it is! You guys could have fixed this up yourselves, if you'd wanted. Why leave the whole thing behind? It's more effort dumping it like this than putting the wheel back on."
Ranma shrugged. "Pops wasn't interested in fixin nuthin. He and I didn't know how to run the cart, either. It was just a store fulla food on wheels. Sorry."
Ukyo stood up, paint in hand. "Hey, no problem, sugar. You were supposed to get a cook with this, remember?"
Her fiance flushed with embarrassment and didn't say anything. He'd destroyed Ukyo's life in that little thing she was now joking about. In that betrayal he'd been an unwitting party, but the guilt was still partly there. That she'd forgiven him was no less amazing than anything else that had happened during his event-filled life.
Ukyo was back down in the compartment seeking for a brush when her exclamation of surprise cut into Ranma's guilt trip. She emerged from the panel holding an old wooden box, flat, with carvings on top. She blew away the dust, smiling in reminiscence. "Ranchan, remember this?"
Her boyfriend moved close by, looking over her shoulder onto the carved box top. A smile split his face. "Hey, yah. I do!" He reached in as she cracked open the center-split lid, pulling out a carved stone playing piece and turning the thing over in his hand. Suddenly his eyes found his fiancee's face with unconcealed delight. "Do yah think that stuff with the alligator was mixed up with this?"
"Could be." The maiden shrugged, moving to put the game box safely away to the side while she fixed her beloved family cart. "Didn't believe it at the time, but we've both seen stranger things since then. Getting attacked by a giant alligator at six just kind of blends in."
"Yeah, only the weird part is I think that alligator is still around. Kodachi may have adopted it." Ranma tossed the piece back onto the box, where it rolled til it was standing fixed in the starting position in the built in game board, standing at the start, near the two other pieces that had not moved in ten years.
"Nihau, Ranma!" A bubbly, bouncy amazon chef burst into the shed from the open door. "Wife bring husband too too delicious ramen." The purple-haired fiancee produced from the takeout box two bowls of her cafe's finest, then paused on seeing the obvious reverence her rival fiancee was treating the cart by which she worked. "What you do?"
Ukyo stood up from removing the broken wheel, shooting a confident smile to her rival. "This cart here is my dowry. Ranchan and I are just fixing it up to working condition."
"You do business from small wagon?" The bouncy amazon asked, coming closer. She recognized a kitchen when she saw one.
"Yup. Worked it all my life up until Genma took it." Ukyo shot the amazon a conniving look. "When that fat old bastard stole this he ruined my honor as a woman."
Shampoo shot her rival a concerned look, quickly turning into a calculating one. "You no have honor as woman, how you marry Ranma?"
"Well, that's the only thing that will restore my feminine dignity." Ukyo answered tightly.
"Hmph." The purple tressed amazon shrugged, dismissing the matter. Instantly the bubbly charm was back directed at Ranma, along with a bowl of beef ramen. "Ranma please to taste lovely food and take Shampoo to date?"
"Not right now..." The cornered boy temporized, backing away like he would out of a trap. In his hesitance he knocked over the wooden game, sending the carved box to slide off the perch it had been set on to bounce once, turning over on the floor and spilling out a pair of old, bone dice.
"Go ahead and eat, Ranchan." Ukyo answered from inside the cart. "I won't be cooking on this thing today."
Shampoo shot her rival a look of surprise at such an easy victory, then gladly helped her would-be husband to a bowl. As he was eating, she picked up the dice, checking them over to see if they were anything interesting before negligently tossing them back in the box and returning her attention to her lawful husband.
The trick was in getting him to recognize that law.
Unseen in the box, the dice rolled up a two and a five, totaling seven. The feline piece that Ranma had added to the game moved of its own accord the required spaces, and hazy green light, like glowing mist, filled the crystal disk in the center of the game board, forming words unnoticed by the trio.
When ape-men bearing stone axes broke into the shed moments later screaming and hopping and chopping, the three martial artists were so used to this type of thing on a regular basis they thought nothing of it at the time.
But the lucky axe hit that destroyed Ukyo's cart ruined her whole month.
Ten Months Later...
Ranma stared at the bottle of sake in his hands. It might as well have been labeled "One, Transformation Into Genma Saotome Potion." Yet for all that, he was almost tempted.
Disgusted, he threw it away to shatter on the dojo's wall, glass falling down to leave a mess that would render the building unusable until it was cleaned up. But for that, it stood in good company, many of the fallen glass shards mixing with broken bits of concrete from Akane's uncleaned mess.
The failed wedding had ruined everything it touched: his mom's house, his chance for a cure, his last shreds of what could have been love for Akane or respect for Nabiki... his life. Yet he was still trapped and he knew it.
No, the martial artist was feeling good and miserable. It was an utterly and perfectly awful day.
Ten Days Later...
"Whatcha doing Ucchan?" Ranma decided to finally forgive his best friend for her antics at the destroyed wedding. Things were bad enough without her participation that not much she did made it any worse. Nabiki bore more blame than she, and Nabiki wasn't his oldest, best friend.
Tired and haggard, Ukyo looked up from the game she'd been toying with, somehow sensing his forgiveness and relieved by it. "Just thinking about old times, Ranchan." She replied, listless and without energy, worn out emotionally by the recent events.
Not knowing what else to do, the boy slid into a seat beside her. Trying to change the subject to something he could handle. "So who's turn is it?" He asked with a strained smile.
The gesture was returned gladly. She handed him a pair of dice. "Yours, Ranchan. Roll something that will make it all better, okay?"
"You really think the game is magic?" The worn out teenage martial artist asked, accepting the dice.
"Could be. I was just making talk, sugar."
Two bone dice clattered to a stop in the box, coming up two fours, for eight. The elephant piece moved itself upon the game board, and when it stopped glowing green mist formed words in the board's central disk. They read:
"Jungle treasures, ancient gold
Shall reward your venture bold."
Both teens stared with bug-eyes around to see Ukyo's shop was hung with every kind of jewelry and trinket. Gold treasures were piled deep on tables, festooned every wall, and dangled from hooks and fixtures on the ceiling. Gems and jewels glittered in mounds. Skulls bearing crowns or with ancient swords clutched between their teeth lay lopsided on top of beds of pearls heaping between mugs of engraved silver laden with their own cargoes of gems and coin, chests filled to capacity and overflowing with more of the same and stacks of jungle ivory. Coins spilled out over the floor in drifts like so many sand dunes on a beach, cresting the tops of her tables and heaping up in all of the corners.
Ukyo lunged for the door and shot the bolts home, a lightning grab brought her shop curtain in a window and bolted that in the same movement, closing the business.
Predictably, two seconds later, a knock sounded at the entrance and Nabiki's voice came floating in. "Ukyo, let me in. We've got to talk business."
"Not right now!" The ponytailed chef tried hard to fight the panic in her tones. "Come back later... much later, like next week!"
"Ukyo..." came Nabiki's reproving voice wafting through the door. "There are expenses and things. You owe damages for what you did, you know..."
Just as Ukyo was tempted to grab a handful of gold chains and thrust it through a crack in the door, telling her to buzz off and count it all paid for, Ranma came snarling to his feet.
"NOT TO YOU!!" He roared at the person just past the closed portal, stalking toward it as his anger finally grounded into a target. Nabiki wasn't his best friend or bound to him by laws she had no way out of. She was just a predator making money off of him and those who were caught up in this, increasing the suffering of everyone involved, and doing so for her own profit and amusement.
To his astonishment, his rage crystallized toward Nabiki as one of the very few who had no personal stake in this, but was actively making the situation worse for all involved.
Without missing a beat, he growled, "Whatever Ucchan did is between her family and mine! She owes NOTHING to you!!! And if I find you've been collecting debts in my name again, I'll..."
"You'll what, Saotome?" Nabiki's voice was vaguely amused.
"I'll kill you." He whispered, surprised to hear the words himself.
Silence came from the other side of the door as Nabiki's hair frizzed out and she stalked woodenly home, canceling in her mind the round of visits she'd planned to make, hauling in money from all of Ranma's rivals and fiancees over the destruction at the wedding. At least rescheduling them til she could learn if the pig-tailed martial artist had really meant it.
What frightened and shocked her most was it sounded like he had, and was only just now admitting to himself that he was honestly prepared to do it.
Whatever. It merited more speculation and further investigation. While she didn't think he meant it, didn't want to admit she feared it, and felt he could be easily diverted aside, there was something in his tone that made her wonder if he wasn't serious.
She'd have to make his life miserable for this scare, of course.
A tiny inward part of her, tucked away in a distant corner where she was hardly aware of it, was glad that Ukyo's restaurant had been the first stop on her list, as she walked away.
Ukyo was panting as Nabiki left. If she'd seen what was inside, nothing could have stopped her from doing every dirty deed she could to get it all. That Tendo girl was ruthless, and not likely to stop once she got started. Ukyo wanted to keep her restaurant, not to mention her life, out of that mercenary's hands.
The chef turned wide eyes on her almost-husband, communicating that fear, then taking in the whole panoply of glittering objects filling the room almost to capacity. "Ranchan, still think that game's not magic?"
Now coming off his surprise over his own words, he gazed around with bug-eyes. "Ucchan, my pops is gunna never let me rest if he sees this. I should just give it to him."
The chef scowled. "And what would that help? Ranchan, money is power. You are a limp dishrag in Nabiki's hands most of the time. Why? Because she knows how to use that kind of power and you don't. But think for a second, what would your dad do to you if he had the kind of wealth the Kunos did? Huh? He's made your life miserable just as he is. What if he had the power to do his stupid tricks on the kind of scale they do?"
Ranma gulped. "I've got to hide it... bury it somewhere..."
Ukyo fingered a necklace hanging past her face. There was so much of it... "Sorry honey, but how are you going to get it out of town to a place where you could bury it? An empty lot in town is just waiting for new construction."
"Your basement?" He shot her a look hungry for support.
"Sure, for a little while." She shrugged. "But I've got to store food somewhere, Ranchan. I do run a restaurant, you know. Besides, with all the spies and wall-smashers around here, wherever we put it won't stay hidden for long. You'd need Mousse's Hidden Weapons Techniques to hide it for real."
She looked around, frowning. "It's too bad, too." She lifted a filigreed necklace with a jewel the size of an eye, trying it on against her throat and posing. "Do you like it?"
"Yah, real cute." A confident gaze began to settle in upon Ranma's features, as he grasped a handful of jewels, letting them tinkle through his fingers, allowing himself to be distracted from his unwelcome anger by the change in topic. "So I need Mousse's techniques, huh?"
He was back to sporting a cocky grin. "Then I'll get 'em!"
"Yes, son-in-law, what is it?" Cologne looked up from her cooking.
Ranma settled into a relaxed yet ready stance in combat range of her. "Hey, Old Ghoul, I need ya ta teach me Hidden Weapons Style."
"Oh?" Grey eyebrows lifted, but the crone continued to stir. "I could do that, son-in-law, but age weighs so heavily on my bones, you see..." she lied, and they both knew it to be a bargaining technique.
"So what do I gotta do?" He asked, scowling.
"It's very simple son-in-law, I wouldn't be asking for anything very difficult. I just want you to stay here for a few days, helping out. Now is that too much to ask?"
Ranma swallowed, suspecting a trap. "Uh, I guess not."
The trap was that he was staying in Shampoo's room.
That was fine, Ukyo joined them on another mat, her restaurant being mysteriously closed this week. Both fathers pressured Akane to join them, too, but the tomboy was too angry and upset and outright refused.
That was fine.
Cologne did her best to make Ukyo miserable, loading her with tasks, until the rival chef sat down to bargaining for pay over these waitress duties and things settled down more or less reasonably, both sides toeing a fragile truce line.
She wasn't getting paid, but she was getting trained, and Ukyo had to admit to herself that her techniques were not the strongest in Nerima. Cologne taught her some pressure points for use against Happosai, or any other attacker that she could get to stand still (fondling her breasts or otherwise).
Besides, previous to moving temporarily into the Cat Cafe, Ukyo had prevailed upon her Ranchan to run off on a short distraction mission, getting half the ward to chase him while she slipped out of town another way. Getting away clean, she'd passed over to the far side of Tokyo and visited a precious metals dealer and collector of antiquities.
Cashing in just one of those coins had made her rich beyond her humble dreams off of that one coin alone, not even showing the man any of the jewels or jewelry. Unlike before, when she had to weigh closing times carefully, now she could take off all of the time she wanted (and had taken the precaution of acquiring a good stack of yen notes for her Ranchan to hide in his sleeves when he got mastery of Mousse's techniques).
Speaking of Ranma, he was run through a wringer by the training. Cologne put him through a grueling regimen of hauling loads of cement bigger than most small trucks, building walls for the Cat Cafe's extension, cutting timber with his hands and hauling the logs across rooftops from the forests where he'd cut it so they could add to the construction. Then there was waitressing at top speed amid huge crowds who'd learned that a cute redhead was back to serving at the cafe. And after all that there was hours of non-stop work laboring to learn the techniques as Cologne taught him from her scrolls.
As predicted, Ranma was so exhausted that he lay there at night too weak to struggle as Shampoo gently ministered, or lay naked along his side.
Ukyo was too weak to fight on his behalf, too. So she countered as best she could by just going along, stripping down and laying opposite Shampoo on Ranchan's other side. There were some glares, but Cologne's instructions had been 'no fighting' so they lay that way more or less peaceably. Fortunately, the rival fiancees didn't care to jump his bones with the other there and watching, just as Ukyo'd hoped.
But a nervously sweating Ranma learned quite well that his ol' buddy Ucchan was a girl. Not only that, but being accustomed as he was to affection from one source leading to violence from another, this situation actually served to undo some of that conditioning. It even lasted long enough for the traumatized martial artist to gradually grow comfortable with it; and both girls practically sprang out of their skins with joy as he began to return some of their cuddles and caresses, even if it was all just mild stuff so far.
Just as Cologne had hoped, the stay turned out to be a pivotal point in Ranma's marriage to Shampoo as for the first time he began to accept and even return some of her affections openly. Even if it was all small ones for now, that was still a great victory.
Of course, the complication was that he also was doing so with Ukyo.
However, for the moment, the cuddly amazon was too happy to care. She even cried with joy about getting some attention in return from her Airen. Then Ukyo had to step in and stop his panic attack about tears always being bad, and explain that girls can cry when they are just really happy.
She did it for selfish reasons, knowing that she'd be that happy soon if he kept this up with her, and not wanting him to freak out as she succumbed to her joy, but Shampoo viewed that bit of help as a peace offering and glomped her with thanks. Ukyo discovered she was too happy herself to correct her misconception, and found to her surprise the amazon gave a hint that the two could legally share the boy in their tribe, and began to treat her as friends, or rather, with less hostility and more attention focused on her cuddling husband than fighting her rival.
Ukyo found she had much to think on, but then her Ranchan mastered those techniques.
"That's the last of it." Ukyo handed over a basket of deep red stones hanging with chains of glittering gold and silver.
Struggling, Ranma fit the basket into his new over-robe's sleeve, sweating at the strain of it all. "Aw, man, it's gunna be a week before I'm used to the weight." He groused, thinking of how this much weight was going to ground many of his aerial techniques.
Ukyo cocked her head at him, lips pursed and thinking. "I'll go repack my overnight bag."
His cute fiancee shrugged, tossing hair and shoulders pertly. "Hey, there's no way Mousse is strong enough to carry all that stuff he does under his robes. There's got to be more to the techniques that Cologne hasn't taught you yet."
Her martial artist fiance groaned.
"What is box?" Shampoo asked, as the two rejoined her in her room in the Cat Cafe.
Ukyo lay the wooden game down along with her stuff. "It's a game Ranma and I were playing when we were small." She answered. "We wanted to ask your grandmother about it."
"Sorry. I've never seen it before." Cologne said when they asked, then began reading the box. "Hmm, Jumanji: A game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind. You roll the dice to move your token, doubles gets another turn. The first person to reach the end wins. And then on the facing side, it warns: Adventurers Beware. Do not begin unless you intend to finish. The exciting consequences of the game will vanish only when a player has reached Jumanji and called out its name. Hmm, how long ago did you say that you started this game?"
"Almost eleven years ago, now." Ukyo measured the crone's reaction.
"I'd ask if you'd noticed anything unusual in that time, but this is son-in-law's life we are all discussing. So I'd presume it would have to be quite extraordinary for anything to stand out. Why don't you show me a turn?"
For demonstration they sat down to the board again. Ranma handed Ukyo the dice, but she gave them back. "No, Ranchan, you rolled doubles last time. Doubles get another turn according to the box lid."
Ranma rolled the dice again, prompting an attack by a wild boars and resulting in a pork ramen special at the cafe. Cologne promised to research it. Then she put them both on a strict training regimen that had their eyeballs practically bursting.
Later that night, too tired to do anything about it, Ukyo watched as Shampoo took Ranma all to herself, undressing him preparatory to you could guess what. Not even enough voice left to complain, the ponytailed chef looked at the box lying to her left. An idea came.
It took practically all she had left, but she rolled onto her side to open the lid and grab the dice. Dropping them, she read:
"Need a hand? Why you just wait.
We'll help you out. We each have eight."
The topic made her skin crawl, but looking around she did see those fears were justified. There were a dozen spiders the size of large cats emerging into the room, some lowering themselves on threads from the ceiling, others coming out from under the bed or closet.
Ukyo was too tired to fight, and Shampoo too preoccupied with overcoming Ranma's feeble resistance to her claiming his boxers to notice them as yet. Still, tired as she was, the okanomiyaki chef noticed the spiders weren't doing anything but hanging around.
Recalling the words said 'help', she whispered. "Can you get that hussy off my Ranchan?"
Instantly the spiders sprang to do her bidding. They jumped and pounced on the amazon, caught her unawares, and in a flurry of web-spinning had her cocooned to the ceiling in a tense half-second. She was so surprised by the attack the amazon didn't even have time to cry out.
Ukyo was laying there gazing at this in awe. "Uh, don't eat her, kay? And could you get us some clothes?" Her own had been ruined by a blind-side attack by Mousse early that day and the stitches had been coming apart under training since then.
The spiders went into motion, but without adrenaline to keep her awake, neither Ukyo nor Ranma stayed conscious for it, drifting off to inevitable and well-earned sleep.
"Ranma! Prepare to DIE!!"
Ukyo looked up to see Ryoga coming straight down at her Ranma-honey, eyes afire with hate. OH, great. She thought. Someone's been telling him stories to get him mad again.
They'd just barely woken up that morning to find the room a veritable department store full of garments, undergarments, hats, lingerie, gloves, anything and everything that could be spun out of silk and called 'clothes'.
She was frankly embarrassed to death to look at some of them. But the off the shoulder gown she wore just now was among the more stunning pieces. Ranchan had practically burst trying to fit it all into his brand new Hidden Weapons techniques so that Cologne wouldn't see it and wonder, and in his haste hadn't noticed that a good third of those outfits had been sized specifically for Shampoo.
But it got them out of uncomfortable explanations, at least once she'd used a thrown spatula to cut Shampoo down. The girl was so confused she didn't recall what'd happened, and probably assumed Ukyo'd blindsided her.
Well, by proxy...
Surprising herself, Ukyo had even apologized for doing so.
Ryoga's daytime attack burst a water main buried under the street. Both male martial artists, her Ranma and his enemy, were soaked, activating their Jusenkyo curses. The tiny black pig that was Ryoga's cursed form began biting the girl that was Ranma's.
Ukyo rolled her eyes and dejectedly sighed, groaning aloud a common complaint. "I wish someone would do something so that pig wouldn't bother my fiance anymore."
Everyone's eyes bugged out when a swarm of spiders as big in body as the little black pig, swarmed over the fight and took the porcine assailant away.
Ranma-chan's eyes met Ukyo's, both bulging about the size of golf-balls.
They ran back to the Cat Cafe, hauling open the game. Ranma grabbed the dice and rattled them, hoping for another good deed from the board, but nothing happened when he rolled. Or rather, nothing good. He got struck by a lightning bolt that came in the window and crispy fried him and his playing piece didn't move. The words said that strike was a penalty for going out of turn.
"There's a third piece, Ranchan." Ukyo observed after a moment of wondering.
"So THAT'S where those carnivorous apes came from! Hey, they ruined my cart! I could've restored some honor with my family if I'd reclaimed that!" The okanomiyaki chef got fiery in indignation.
"She didn't choose to roll axe-weilding apes, Ucchan. Any more than you or I choose what we roll." The pigtailed boy shook off his recent blasting and bounded back to a sitting position, staring hard at his friend, then at the game board.
His cute fiancee cocked a grin. "So where is she? It's her turn next."
"Shampoo?" Cologne asked when pressed. "So glad to see your taking an interest at last in your bride's whereabouts, son-in-law. She's taking an order to the Tendo's place. They had some type of tragedy occur to one of their pets, I understand."
The pair of teenagers shared a troubled look before they dashed off.
They got there to discover Akane in tears, next to a little coffin draped with flowers and pictures of herself holding P-chan. Ukyo cringed when she learned they'd found the little pig's bones all wrapped up in webbing early that afternoon.
But, oh well.
Shampoo was stuck serving, so Ranma naturally interrupted long enough to beg her to roll the dice so he could get his turn again. As with all things he'd asked of her (except to leave him alone), Shampoo did it without hesitation and without question, glad just to make him happy.
When she rolled her piece moved on its own, as before, and he read.
"Don't be fooled, that isn't thunder.
Staying put would be a blunder."
The house began to shake, and the ground began to quake. Ukyo took the words of the warning to heart and got out of there directly, grabbing the game board and leaping away. Shampoo and the others stood curious while the sounds and shaking increased. Then the back walls of the Tendo compound burst out in the face of a huge wild animal stampede consisting chiefly of elephants and rhinos, with some zebras and antelopes mixed in for flavor. Apes swung by and hippos cruised around the flanks of giraffes and crocodiles.
Crashing elephants destroyed the foundations and supporting walls of the Tendo home, causing it to come crashing down. The herd stampeded over the dojo, crushing it beneath a flurry of rampaging hooves. Instantly as it started Shampoo grabbed her bicycle and leapt out of the way. Ranma snatched the nearest person, which was Kasumi, met Nabiki's gaze of startled terror and returned a smile - seeing her terror turn to despair as she read the message in those eyes that he would not help her, that this was repayment for the debt SHE owed HIM. Then he leapt away.
In seconds the entire compound was gone, smashed into unrecognizable fragments.
Some of those fragments were red bones, others were muddy wood. A koi flapped somewhere in the destruction, miraculously spared the pounding feet of animals til a pelican swept down and snatched it up in its beak.
Kasumi fell, weeping, to her knees.
Realizing at once that he'd just witnessed the death of a clan (oh, and his pops, too), Ranma kicked the offending box that had started it all. It fell, flapped open, and the dice rolled out to stop at his feet. He kicked at them with less enthusiasm as he growled, and they bounced away, coming to a stop near the ruins, showing up two sixes.
Which, the last roll had just taken his game token to the center, and saying the game's name was the final act of play. The whole world turned blurry, confusing the martial artists as it spun and twisted and suddenly...
...restored all to the moment play started.
Chibi-Ranma and six-year-old Ukyo were sitting on the grass of an idyllic hill of Japan. On the grass before them lay the board, all three pieces now lay on their sides, inert. Over the crest of the hill both children could hear their fathers talking. As they listened, too stunned to move, the engagement deal was settled.
"Ranchan?" Ukyo hesitantly offered him an opening.
"Ucchan.. that game, the Tendos... Ryoga..." Chibi-Ranma shuddered. At last the bitter taste of revenge soured his throat as he recalled Nabiki's last look of desperate despair. Too late he resolved never again to give in to anger.
Look where it got Ryoga.
"Ranchan..." Chibi-Ukyo scooted over, putting an arm around his shoulders. "It didn't happen! Look, we're kids again. You recall what the game said? You finish a game and it all goes back to the ways things were before? Well, this is when we started playing. Nobody died. That's all in the future, and it doesn't have to be that way next time!"
Stiffening, Ranma jumped back over the hill to accost his father, who had died, and see if it was all really true. That this was the past and none of those ten years and some odd days had happened.
A bit too clever for that, Ukyo instead leaned over, replaced one piece in storage and put two others back in play, her gazelle and Ranchan's elephant. She rolled the dice just as African drums began to roll, and her playing piece began to move on it's own to cover the dice-determined number of squares.
Well, uploading as an html document is tons better, thanks to Howard Russell for that suggestion.
I have started a page on Ficwad dot com, and aside from a bit of chapter silliness you wonderful people had already warned me about, that is going fairly well. Seeing as how I don't trust the managment here at fanfiction dot net in the slightest, that's probably going to be where I try and achieve a complete archive. But no promises, I might get a better offer. And it is doubtful that I'll abandon this place completely, at least not for a while or unless they give me further reason to do so.
Most of you had asked for links to whatever new page I'd established. I'd love to give those, but this place automatically strips them out. I wonder why? It couldn't possibly be they don't like competition. Nah! That could never be it.
Anyway, spelled out here for you because it can't be in linkable or copy/paste format, here it is: Ficwad dot com, user ID 18114, or just do a search there for Skysaber.