by Trisar Alvein
THIS STORY IS HEREBY DISCONTINUED
Here comes the rant! Muahahaha!
No! No rant for you!
Chapter Two: Where Am I Now?!
It's so hot... Feels like I'm melting... Why is it so hot...?
"Yes, Terra. It is I, Maduin."
Father... It burns... What's wrong with me...?
"That boy... He is unnatural here. He does not belong. You must kill him."
"Kill him, Terra. Kill that boy."
Why? I'm not natural either... not in the typical sense... Why do I have to kill the one person who can relate to me?
"Kill him, I said! Do as your father tells you!"
"KILL HIM, TERRA!"
No! Leave me alone!
"Terra! What's wrong?!"
Terra's eyes snapped open. She was awake. There was Ranma, his face wrought with concern, blue eyes intently locked onto hers. He looked, for some reason, so fragile... so frail... so...
... So weak...
KILL HIM!!! echoed in her mind. She lifted herself into a sitting position and turned, uncaring of the covers pooling at her feet, baring her before this man. He was weak, so human, wholly unnatural. His blushing and stuttering turned her heart to ice. He didn't even have the strength of will to retain his composure in the face of her bare flesh.
"T-T-Terra, a-are you alright?" he stammered.
Her voice was flat as she replied. "Yes, Ranma. I'm fine." She stood up, dislodging the wet cloth on her forehead and sending it to join her discarded blanket on the floor. Now on her own two feet, she stood in all her glory before this man, staring him in the eye where before she had to look up to do that. She stepped forward, reaching. He stood paralyzed, eyes wide, seemingly unaware of her plans, or perhaps believing she meant to do something else entirely.
She could only imagine his shock as her hands locked around his throat, lifting him and crushing the life from him. "Kill," she whispered, almost purring the word. How he struggled! Futile! How he writhed! Pointless! How he kicked!
Oh,how he kicked, she reflected, as Ranma's foot found a very solid connection to her jaw despite his disadvantageous position, knocking her back to the bed and forcing her to release him.
Ignoring the pain he had caused her was simple as she regained her feet, walking over to the coughing boy attempting to recover his breath. As he looked up at her, still struggling for air, she returned the favor, dealing a harsh kick to his jaw, the force of which sent him flying not simply into, but rather through the wall behind him and clear across the field, where he crashed through the wall of yet another house.
There was a slight pain in her leg which she similarly ignored, springing through the hole and levitating in the air, staring into the house as fire gathered in her hand. She cocked back, prepared to unleash it.
What am I doing? wondered a small voice in the back of her mind. She paused. What was she doing? Why am I trying to kill Ranma?
Because Daddy said so! Firming that thought in her mind, she prepared herself to throw the fire again.
Why would Father tell me to kill Ranma? The voice, once again, gave her pause. He loved humans. I'm proof of that. He may have been the only Esper who did.
Terra hesitated again, longer this time. Be... because... I don't know! He just did! She then raised her hand again. Too late.
"Moko Takabisha!" roared Ranma's voice, the blue bolt of energy striking her in the stomach. She was about to pass it off as negligible in its force when it then detonated, dropping her to the ground with a grunt.
That... that insolent human! she raged mentally, pushing herself back to her feet. Her leg throbbed suddenly, causing her to stumble. How dare he strike me!
He's defending himself! You're trying to kill him! returned the voice, causing her to hesitate before she could strike back.
Shut up! Shut up! Daddy said to kill him! So I'm going to KILL HIM! she roared, drowning out the voice as she gathered fire into both hands, pitching the swirling blaze at him with a wordless cry. Once more, pain struck her leg, causing her to stumble.
"Sorry, Pops, I guess this had to happen! Kijin Raishuu Dan!" yelled Ranma in reply, snapping his arm smoothly toward her. She couldn't see what it was supposed—her triumphant and confident thoughts died a horrible death when her fireball appeared to suddenly be sucked in upon itself.
And then she saw the distortion of the air. She tried to dodge, but her leg refused, the pain too great to focus, to fly away. The distortion was knife edged—it carved a deep gouge in her chest, blood spraying as she was thrown to the ground again. N-no... I-impossible... Daddy... said to kill him... Daddy said...
You're wrong! cried the voice, sounding now in tears. Father would never tell us to kill Ranma! He would never! We hate killing! No one can ever love you if you kill everyone around you!
Tears formed in Terra's eyes as she lay on her side, looking up at Ranma as he began treating the wounds he had just caused. He was yelling something, but she only heard a blank noise over everything.
Love... That word had a certain ring to it. That's right... all I want... is to be loved... I... I don't want to kill anyone anymore...
Then the blackness overtook her vision.
She snapped awake again, sitting up. Green strands fell across her vision even as pain filled her mind. She grimaced, groaning, and doubled over, clutching her chest with her pale, cream-colored hands. It felt like someone had stuck a knife in her and cut her from one side to the other, just under her breastbone. And then she saw... Her skin had been wrapped in a bandage, a bandage now stained red with blood—her blood, she realized. Blood which no longer boiled, held back by skin which was, she now realized, no longer that pinkish color.
Then a strong, calloused hand gripped her shoulder and, without so much as a by-your-leave, pushed her back into a prone position. Focusing her vision, she glanced up the very toned, very thick arm, eventually fixing her gaze on a very concerned face of a dear comrade, one Sabin Rene Figaro, who looked very much relieved to see her awake. "Well, that takes care of asking you if you're awake," he said with a grin.
"I could have stood a couple more hours," she admitted quietly, grimacing slightly at the soreness in her jaw. "What happened? Ranma!" she tried to sit up again, but Sabin would have none of it, holding her down. "Where's Ranma?" she asked after finally settling and allowing herself to stay on her back.
"That's the kid with the braid in the red shirt, right? He's helping Setzer unload supplies from the Falcon. Apparently, he knows his way around first aid. That cut on your chest was pretty nasty, but the way he patched it up? I don't think it'll even scar." Sabin paused to consider that. "Well, not badly, at least. A cut that bad will leave some scarring, but nothing severe."
Terra lay in silence for a moment. "Sabin... could you... go get Ranma for me? I need to speak with him. It's important." She could hear the voice again, the one that thundered that she should kill him, but she was able to ignore it now. Besides that, she could feel It again. That prickling sensation, the slight boiling of her blood... the sensation she hadn't felt since Valigarmanda spoke to her. That strange feeling that had preceded her first transformation into an Esper, a change that had filled her with fear and horror... horror that she might...
That I might do exactly what I did, she realized.
I can't believe I did that, murmured a second thought. That voice. The one she'd found herself arguing against when she was trying to kill Ranma. Or had the voice that was obeying 'Daddy' been the one she was arguing with, and had the small voice protesting it been the real her?
Or maybe I'm just going crazy. she mused. Disassociated, multiple personalities. Except they're all speaking in my head all at once, and one of them sounds like my father, so I guess they're not really disassociated. Sounds fun.
How could I do that to Ranma? wondered that quiet, almost timid voice. If anything, I should thank him... If it hadn't been for him, Kingu might have killed someone before I could have stopped it. Why did I want to kill him?
It was then that she realized Ranma was there, twiddling his thumbs and apparently looking everywhere but at her.
Why was I so irritated by him not looking at me before? It's actually a little funny that he's even more bashful than me. In fact, Terra did let out a quiet giggle. "Ranma, you can look. I'm covered up."
"Just making sure you wouldn't mind... I mean, you've got a pretty hard kick, and I guess you were mad about something the other day, so..."
"'The other day?' How long was I out?"
"Three days. Katarin and Carolin have been taking care of ya, then the... what'd that guy call it... oh! The Falcon, it got here with Sabin and that weird guy who keeps flipping a coin. There were also a few other people with 'em, folks I guess who were related to some of the kids living here. Let's see... A couple of 'em said they were from Nih-kay-uh—"
"Nikeah," absently corrected Terra, feeling a sudden pit forming in her stomach at this news.
"Yeah, that. Rest of 'em said they were from some place called Korinjen or something..."
"Right. Um... Most of 'em were some of the kids' aunts and uncles, and they wanted to talk to you about takin' the kids with 'em back home..."
Terra bit her lower lip, feeling the pit in her stomach deepen.
"Most of 'em don't wanna go, but..." Ranma trailed off, a look of understanding on his face. Terra knew. She sighed.
"Six. Rebecca, Leon, Claire, Jill, Chris, and Barry. Them and their aunts and uncles are waiting outside for me to tell 'em if they can come in or not." He was now tugging at his pigtail nervously.
"Is there any good news?" asked Terra in an absolutely miserable tone.
"Well, about half of the ones who came here did because they wanted to live here with the rest of their family anyway, not have 'em leave, so I guess that's good. The others, the ones who didn't wanna take the kids or stay here with 'em, now they're the trouble."
"I'm sure I'll regret asking, but why?'
Ranma scrunched up his face in irritation. "They're not related to anyone in the village. They came here because they heard rumors about a village being run by a bunch of kids. I guess they musta missed the memo about the world being destroyed because they were yelling all about taking the kids somewhere safe to live and crap like that."
"Theywere yelling about that?"
Glancing nervously aside, Ranma chuckled in a way that implicated him of guilt before he said anything. "Well, uh, Sabin got fed up with it because, how he put it was 'living in the same village as Terra is safer than anywhere else in the world right now' or something. Then he punched one of them in the face. Another started hollering at me about it, so I punched him in the face too. That shut the rest of 'em up, but now a couple of 'em are waiting for you out there too."
Terra strongly resisted the urge to groan.
"Oh yeah, Katarin sewed you up a new dress since your, um... your transformation kinda destroyed your old one. It's on the chair there." Ranma pointed over to a chair where a light green dress sat draped over the back. Terra found a bit of ease in looking at it, wondering how it would fit and how she'd look.
"I see... Can you go wait up at the front, Ranma? I'll get dressed, then handle this mess." Ranma nodded and quickly left, but Terra saw a lack of tension in his movements, beyond the bit of it he'd shown ever since he arrived.
I suppose he must still be adjusting to this world. Well, since Setzer is here, he can go visit Cid now. But if he's so... relaxed around me, I guess he must not be afraid of me, she reasoned, pulling herself out of bed. Wincing as her injuries protested the movement—though less than she thought they would—she walked over to the chair, dressing quickly. When she walked to the front after, she saw Ranma leaning casually against the wall, glancing up as she walked up and blushing.
"The, uh... the dress looks nice on ya. Ready for 'em?" he asked, coughing and working his blush away.
Terra shook her head, walking over. "Ranma, I... I want to apologize," she said, her expression saddening. She could still see the dark bruise around his throat from where she'd been trying to literally squeeze the life out of him. "I don't know what happened, or why, but it's my fault. I should have been in better control of myself, but I wasn't, and..."
"It wasn't you." Her apology was cut off by his rather frank interruption. She glanced up, mouth agape, wondering what he meant. "I've got experience with berserking. Personal experience. Akane and Pops and them used to always say that when I was in the Cat-Fist, I'd be giving 'em a look like I just wasn't there anymore. That's what it was here. Terra's face has these little dimples when she smiles, and creases when she's sad. It never gets these little furrows when she's angry. So it was someone else using your body. And trust me, I've got experience with possessions, too."
"R-Ranma..." Terra's mouth hung open for a moment, then she smiled.
Ranma grinned back. "See? There's that smile with them little dimples."
The girl reached out, pressing a finger lightly to the back of Ranma's wrist, feeling the tingle of her magic again. Her blood simmered at the touch, but this time, she found the strength of will to restrain it as she waved a hand in front of the boy in front of her, then at herself. "Cura," she intoned softly, causing sparkles of green light to wash over them. As they faded, she felt refreshed, the bruise on her jaw and the pain in her chest completely gone, and she saw the discoloration on Ranma's throat fade.
"Better, huh? I guess you're ready for—" Ranma cut himself off as Terra pulled him into a sudden hug.
It didn't last long, and Terra obviously didn't mean it to, as she let go after only a few seconds, smiling still. "Thank you for being so nice. Sometimes... it's hard to remember that there's such a thing as kindness." She wiped suddenly at an eye, clearing away a tear. "I'm ready to talk to them now, but I'd like you here too. Just in case someone needs punched in the face."
Ranma grinned. "Right. That's a plan I can get behind."
Looking out on the vastness of the plains, the blonde woman couldn't help but wonder aloud... "Remind me again why we didn't just wait for Setzer to pick us up? Or at least ride a chocobo? It might just be my sanity talking again when I told it to be quiet, but I'd like to get to Mobliz some time this month, and walking there from Albrook takes forever."
"Because," chided her companion, wagging his finger at her over his shoulder.
Waiting, the blonde developed a slight tick when he didn't elaborate. "Because what?"
"It's a sec—"
"You're one syllable away from losing that which makes you most valuable," threatened the woman, drawing her sword.
"One of them."
Gulping, the man turned and waved his hands in a placating manner at the blonde. "I just want to surprise them, Celes, that's all!"
Celes snorted, putting her sword away. "You're so immature." She continued walking, approaching him as her white cloak billowed behind her in a sudden breeze, revealing a form-fitting green leotard underneath. "But that, and your devotion, are why I'm still with you a year later, Locke Cole. Don't keep me waiting on that ring for too long."
Locke gaped. He stared. He goggled. "How did you... when did... what..."
Laughing, Celes walked by, leaving the thief—
"Treasure hunter, damn you!"
—ahem, leaving the treasure hunter gaping in her wake... at least until both noticed the muscular looking man in the yellow shirt walking toward them. Dark hair framing his young face, the man said, "Excuse me... Do you know where the Tendo dojo is? I swear I was just there."
"Tendo dojo? The only dojo I know is Duncan's place, and I'm pretty sure his name isn't Tendo..."
The young man scratched his head. "Um... What about Tokyo?"
"Never heard of it," replied Locke without missing a beat. The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. "Hey, if you're really hard up for directions or something, why not follow us for a bit? We're heading off to visit a friend of ours. It's better than wandering aimlessly to find somewhere, right?"
Nodding, the dark-haired man adjusted his pack. "Thanks for helping me like this. My sense of direction isn't exactly the best. I'm Ryoga Hibiki."
"Celes Chere." Celes blinked when Ryoga suddenly glanced away with a blush when he looked at her. Must be the shy type. It beats all the soldiers who used to leer at me, she reasoned. "Come on. Mobliz is a long ways off. At least two or three days."
Terra suppressed a sigh. The easy part was over—the relatives and children who wanted to leave were just waiting for Setzer to start the Falcon back up and lift them away. The hard part of that would come later: dealing with the loss of the boys and girls she'd started to think of as her own children. Also dealt with were the ones who wanted to stay, people Terra was only too glad to speak with. Many of the people were skilled fishermen and farmers, with several carpenters and other laborers who could help rebuild and maintain Mobliz.
The immediate difficulty, then, came from this last group. The ones who seemed adamantly opposed to her staying in Mobliz and the children staying with her. Their arguments had been largely subverted by the number of skilled laborers who could now provide food and proper shelter for the children, but...
"There's still the issue of the danger. We know this town has been attacked by two large monsters already, one quite recently. What will you do if more attacked?" asked one woman, adjusting her glasses as she peered at Terra.
The green-haired girl opened her mouth to answer, but was cut off by Ranma answering first. "We'll beat 'em," said the boy in a tone that left no doubt he meant it.
An older man with a white mustache glared at Ranma, and Terra could see that he was angry about something. "And if you can't 'beat them?'"
Ranma merely smirked at him. "We'll beat 'em more." His smirk widened when the older man got red in the face, and Terra could swear steam was about to blow out of the man's ears. "Don't strain yourself, old man."
"You should learn to respect your elders, brat!"
"Don't see why I gotta respect ya about having to fight something unless you can kick my ass," grinned the Saotome.
"Which raises another issue," began the woman, also glaring at Ranma. "That is, that this... environment may not be the best place to raise children. There are still at least a dozen who have no parents or relatives here. I can hardly imagine this boy is fit to raise them, nor can I believe you are, Miss Terra."
"Maybe I'm not," admitted Terra. "And maybe Ranma isn't either. But the children are happy here, and I've done my best to raise them these past two years. Are you next going to say that Duane and Katarin aren't fit to raise their child?"
Ranma glanced over at a nearby wall, as if looking through it. "They'll be good parents," he mused quietly, but didn't elaborate.
"Your endorsement of them only lowers my opinion of them." The woman tugged off her glasses, wiping them with a cloth. "With Kefka gone and his tower destroyed, the world can finally get back to normal. A normal that would mean those children should be raised in a loving home. One which you cannot provide."
Terra felt her anger boiling at those words, and she stood up, slapping the table and leaning forward on it, glaring at the woman. "How dare you! I have shed blood, sweat, and tears to ensure that you, those children, and everyone on this planet can finally get on with their lives without the fear that Kefka will decide to kill them! Every night, I wake up with the nightmare of Kefka finishing what he started when he first attacked Mobliz, and swore to do everything in my power to protect these children! I dared defy Kefka, standing up to destroy him when I realized how much I loved and wanted to protect these children, while you cowered in your homes, selfishly hoping his eye wouldn't turn on you!"
The three remaining outsiders stared at Terra, the woman white-faced and outright gaping. Ranma... looked impressed. The one person who hadn't spoken, a bald man with a bushy beard, finally began to speak again. "Miss Branford—"
"Leave." The three blinked, and Terra was surprised herself. But her anger was stronger, this time, than her shock. "I said leave."
"Miss Branford—" began the woman.
"Now!" yelled Terra, bringing a fist up and smashing it into the table with a noticeable crack. Surprisingly, despite the hole now put in the surface by the green-haired woman's fist, the table remained standing.
When, in the next ten seconds, it wholly collapsed, the three couldn't get out of the building fast enough.
"And don't let the door hit ya in the ass on the way out!" called Ranma.
Breathing heavily, Terra glanced at her fist, feeling the anger melting away as if it had never been. An anger, she realized, she had just let get the better of her. Yelling at those people hadn't been wrong. They were outsiders, people who were here just to challenge her right to raise the children who saw her as their mother. Lashing out had been. She had only just retained herself enough to hit the table. If she'd hit one of them like that...
She shuddered, clutching at herself, suddenly horrified. What's wrong with me? What am I becoming? Why is this happening?
"Terra?" Ranma. Standing next to her. Despair suddenly welled up in her, and she grabbed at his shirt, sobbing into his chest, causing him to stand straight and stiff as a board. "T-T-Terra? Wh-what's wrong?"
"Why is this happening?!" she wailed. "What's happening to me? All I want is to live in peace with the ones I love!"
It's his fault! bellowed the voice of her 'father.' Everything was fine until Ranma arrived! Kill him, my daughter!
No! wailed both of 'her' voices in response. I won't hurt him, Father!
We won't hurt him for you! You're not Daddy!
Clutching her head, Terra stumbled back. "R-Ranma! Get away! It's happening again!" Already, she could feel her blood beginning to boil again. As she resisted, she tasted first bile from her stomach roiling, then... blood.
If you will not kill him, boomed the voice of her father, drowning out Ranma's yelling.
I will, hissed a new voice, malevolent, filled with hatred. As this voice spoke, Terra's vision blurred, then blacked out completely.
As I said, don't think that just because Kefka's gone, that's the end of the antagonism.
I'll fully admit that Locke and Celes made their appearance walking just to serve as a plot device for finding Ryoga. Original plan was that they'd have been with Sabin and Setzer, but I changed it around a bit.
I'll also admit to stealing the symptoms of Terra's "berserk" state from King of Fighters' riot of the blood. I just couldn't resist. However, please note that this is an entirely different beast otherwise. One that makes a rioter seem like a three year old throwing a temper tantrum by comparison.
If it's not immediately obvious, then yes, Terra IS being manipulated. Thus why she's rebounding between emotional extremes. Will she recover? Or will it be Saffron and Kefka all over again for our heroes? You, the reader, decide!
... No, actually, you don't. It's just more dramatic to say it that way.
By the way, bonus points if you can find a very specific in-joke in one of Ranma's lines when he was talking to Terra. What do these bonus points do? Absolutely nothing. But they're fun anyway, right?
See you next mission!
Edit: Corrected a sudden error I noticed. Added "bonus points" bit to footnote.