Disclaimer: I don't own Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, JLA, Static Shock, Teen Titans or any other affiliated idea- those are owned by DC Comics
I don't own Ranma ½ or any other anime/manga I may mention.
Thanks to my prereader J.St.C . Partick for, well, prereading for me. Especially for his valiant efforts to cure me, of my addiction, to, commas.
Flight 209, over Metropolis
Ranma stood in the bathroom of the plane, and splashed water on his face. It wasn't enough to make him change forms, and he smiled happily. He took a moment to look himself over in the mirror.
He looked much like he had when he was 18- still the strong face, piercing blue eyes, same short pigtail. His body had changed slightly- it was several inches taller and his muscles had more definition. He could see that all of his training had paid off.
Not all of that training had been martial arts. Since he'd finished school, he had been studying at a local security firm part time, as well as earning a certificate in teaching from the university. He wasn't qualified to teach school children - he was qualified, however, to teach adults self defence.
It had been sheer luck that he had been teaching his first class during a recruiting visit from Star Labs. They had taken one look at him and rushed him into the back, offering to pay off all his student loans if he agreed to work for them. A five year contract, living space provided, if he agreed to work for the Metropolis branch. Apparently, with the high meta-human crime rate in Metropolis it was almost impossible to find people willing to move there and they were correspondingly generous with the salary and hours.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Ranma was taken out of his musings by a scream. Instantly, he listened as hard as he could. His highly trained martial artist senses could pick out some sobbing, and then a voice.
"Everyone, up against the back! No heroics!"
The pigtailed man blinked, and sighed. Nothing was ever quiet in his life.
He grabbed his shirt, and lifted it off easily. Underneath, one could see the emblem of a rearing horse.
Mary Litchvark was thirty years old. At the age of twenty, she had met a young man by the name of David at a friend's 21st birthday party. She had woken up the next morning in David's bed, and after she had overcome her initial embarrassment she had taken a
liking to him. They had married five years later, and now had two children- Crystal, aged seven, and Larry, a four year old.
David had been working at a game designing company, coding physics engines and user interfaces. When the company folded due to corrupt management David had managed to get a job with Star Labs. He had taken a flight to Metropolis to get the apartment ready for his wife and kids. A month later, his family took a flight from Seattle to live with him.
And had found themselves confronted with a group of very angry people with guns and plans of repeating 9/11.
Mary sobbed, and held her children close.
"No heroics!" one of the terrorists repeated. He gestured with his gun. The crowd of people moved towards the back of the compartment, all terrified. They knew full well what would happen. They were all going to die.
Mary held her children tightly, and whispered into their ears. "Now I want you two to remember, I love you very much, okay?" She sniffed, and looked at her children with teary eyes. "Be strong."
"Hey!!" A loudmouthed Texan shouted at the gunmen. "Y'all can't do this!" Angrily, he strode up to the closest gunman, and pulled his arm back for a punch.
Mary's eyes bugged out. That idiot was about to get shot.
The terrorist raised his gun and pointed it right at the Texan's head. There was a bang.
"That... tickled," said an imposingly tall stranger. "Want to try again?"
Mary's mouth opened, but no sound came out. What could she say?
In between the loudmouth Texan and the gun-toting madman stood a big, big guy. He was Asian, though he had such deep blue eyes that she was sure there was something else in his heritage. He wore a black and red spandex suit which showed off his muscles, and a red cape. His shoulder length hair hung loose behind him.
His hand darted out faster than her eye could track, and then he was holding the gun. The terrorist backed off in, ironically enough, terror. Then the spandex-clad stranger held up the gun, and smirked. His hand started glowing, so bright that Mary had to look away. When she looked back, all that was left of the gun was a puddle of metal on the floor.
"I'm not going to let you hurt these people," he said in a deep voice. Then, he moved.
When he had stopped moving, the terrorists were all lying down with bruises on their faces. All except the one whose gun had been stolen. The tall stranger grabbed the terrorist by the collar and lifted him. "I won't let you hurt these people."
The terrorist was unrepentant. "We may have lost, but that doesn't matter. The other two teams will succeed. You and all the infidels will burn! The others will continue our glorious work, and nothing you can do can stop us!"
"Wrong!" The asian knocked his knuckles on the terrorist's head, and he dropped to the floor.
Their rescuer moved, faster than the eye could perceive, to the door of the plane. "Everyone, strap yourselves in. I'm gonna have to get out of here."
Mary couldn't help herself. She got up, and put one hand on his arm. "'Thank you. You saved us all. Who.. who are you?"
He grinned handsomely, and Mary felt herself blush. "Call me WildHorse."
As Ranma -WildHorse- flew out of the plane, he looked down at his chest. The bullet had hit him at point blank range, and he was still alive. He decided to do something nice for Ryoga next time he saw him for all his help in the Breaking Point training.
He looked over the city. There were seven planes in the air, and according to the terrorist two of them were in trouble. Ranma breathed out slowly, and focused his ears. He concentrated, and channeled a tiny spark of chi into them. Slowly, he could feel his hearing become better and better. Cars driving, people yelling…. Hearts beating fast with fear, muffled by an airtight container….
WildHorse had found the planes.
He rocketed towards the nearest one, glowing a faint blue. With no way to open the plane door from the outside, he opted for a more direct approach- ripping it off its hinges. He rushed into the plane at full-body Armigukian speeds. This one had five terrorists on board, and in less than a second all were lying unconscious on the floor, their weapons nothing more than puddles of melted metal.
As he exited the plane, he pushed the door back into its rightful place (he had moved so quickly that the door hadn't had time to fall) and used a low powered chi beam to melt it onto the plane.
The next plane proceeded in the same manner, and he came to rest above the city, panting slightly. Until the next crisis caught his attention.
How the hell was he gonna get back on the plane?
The problem proved to be fairly simple. When the plane's door opened upon landing, the pigtailed man rushed inside under the invisibility of the Umisenken. He made his way to the bathroom where he left his clothes, and found an unpleasant surprise.
A thoroughly aggravated tomboy.
"You idiot! Do you ever think anything out!?" Akane ranted, red in the face.
Ranma blanched. "Huh? Whadda ya mean? I saved all three planes!"
Akane fumed. Ranma tried his hardest not to notice how cute it made her look. "You left all your clothes all over the bathroom floor! Do you have any idea what I had to do to cover for you?!"
Ranma started putting his normal clothes back on. "Ummmm…. No?" He wasn't paying much attention.
"I had to pretend I was in here with you!" She went from rage-red to blushing-red. "Everyone thinks we joined the mile-high club."
Ranma finished buttoning his shirt, and opened the door. "Let's go. I'm sick of planes."
His fiancée rolled her eyes, and followed him out of the stall.
As they stepped out of the plane they could see all their fellow passengers milling around outside. The Texan (who had almost got shot earlier) was ranting at a group of men in suits. "The public has a right to know! And I have a right to get rich telling them!"
"We understand, sir. We would just prefer it if the gun went unmentioned. Since the events of 9/11, it would be… detrimental to business if it was known that guns were smuggled aboard an aircraft. We would, of course, compensate you all."
"Are you kidding?! That's the best part. You'd have to pay me a fortune to get me to…"
Ranma poked Akane in the side, who reflexively hit him on the head. "Come on, tomboy, let's go."
Some hours later the dysfunctional pair had made their way to the address that Star Labs had given them. "Well," Ranma stated, "It's not bad."
Not bad was an understatement. The building, a residence provided by Ranma's new employer, was fantastic. On the outskirts of Metropolis, it was an actual house instead of an apartment. Two stories tall, it stood cheerfully in the sunlight. "Come on," Akane said impatiently, "Let's go inside."
The key was exactly where the letter said it would be- taped to the top of one of the beams holding up the front porch. Inside, the Asian duo were pleasantly surprised to find a fully furnished house. Not by any means luxurious, but far better than they had expected. "Ok," Ranma said slowly, "I think this means they like me." A brief exploration revealed three bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living room. While the place looked a little spartan, it had all the basics- couches, chairs, beds, television, washing machine and microwave.
Akane pointed to the master bedroom. "Mine."
"Hey!" Ranma protested, "Why do you get the big one?"
She stuck her tongue out. "Because I'm a girl- I need the closet space." An impish twinkle shone in her eye. "If you had brought all of your 'Ranko' clothes, then maybe you could have this one."
Ranma stuck his tongue out in return. "Nahhh! Tomboy!"
Akane stuck her tongue out one last time, and carried her bags into her newly claimed room, shutting the door behind her. Ranma snorted. His parents were fully expecting the two be sharing a bedroom- an idea which frightened Ranma. Just because the two MIGHT get married one day (assuming that neither of them managed to cancel the engagement) was no reason for them to be sleeping together- hell, they had only had three kisses in the four years they had known each other!
Well, and fifty-two failed dates.
And three attempts at a wedding.
Not that he liked the tomboy that way anyway.
Ranma slung his stuff into the bigger of the two remaining rooms, and wandered over to the most important part of the house - the fridge.
As Akane was busy packing away all her clothes into the wardrobe, the sound of a doorbell filled the house. She took a moment to make sure nothing was in danger of wrinkling, and walked slowly down the stairs.
Up ahead, she could see Ranma engaged in conversation with a woman. "Wow! Thanks! We just got here, and the fridge is empty."
The woman laughed. "Well, it's the least I could do. My husband works for Star labs too, and this entire neighborhood is owned by them. He'd be here too, but he had work today."
As Akane came closer, Ranma turned around. "Hey! Akane! This is Laura- look what she brought!"
Akane sweatdropped at the sight of Ranma's enthusiasiam over a meatloaf. "Hello. I'm Akane Tendo. Nice to meet you."
"Laura Stiles. Nice to meet the new neighbors."
Without looking, Akane slapped Ranma's left hand- the one which was about to grab a piece of meatloaf. "No. That's dinner. If you're hungry- wait, of course you're hungry- go and do some shopping."
Ranma pouted, but obediently put the meatloaf on the table. "Fine. I'll be back later."
As he walked out the door, Akane couldn't resist a parting shot. "No picking up any floozies on the way!"
Laura sweatdropped. "Floozies?"
Akane blushed. "Well… I've known that idiot for years now, and I can tell his brain never, never does his thinking. Usually, it's his stomach. Sometimes… he thinks with a lower organ."
Ranma walked cheerfully along the street. He hadn't bothered to ask Akane what to get- after all, he was a far, far better judge of what went into food than she was. Spying a convenient alley, he ducked in. A moment later, a red-and-black spandex-clad figure flew out.
Flying was much faster than walking.
Akane poured Laura a cup of tea. "So, what do you do for fun around here?"
Laura accepted the cup with a thankful nod. "Not a lot. I'm too busy with the kids. What about you? Any of your own?"
Akane blushed slightly. "Oh, no. Ranma and I… we aren't, um, intimate."
Laura blinked. "I thought you two were engaged? Oh, is it a religious thing?"
Akane shook her head. "It was our parent's idea. We've been engaged for, oh, four years now. With honor at stake, we've been taking it slow."
Laura sweatdropped. "Arranged marriages? I thought… never mind. So, what are you doing in America?"
Akane grinned proudly. "I've got a job as a stunt double."
"A stunt double?"
"Yup," Akane nodded. "I've always liked acting, and I was in all the Drama-club plays back in school. I managed to catch the eye of a producer who was in Japan last year- one thing led to another, and now I'm in the stunt business. Yay, huh?"
As WildHorse cruised slowly over the city of Metropolis, his enhanced ears caught the sound of gunfire and screaming. Without a moment of hesitation, he changed direction and headed straight for the commotion.
"Freeze! We have you surrounded! Come out with your hands up!" A policeman yelled into a megaphone. Outside the bank, a dozen police cars were parked, officers all pointing weapons at the building.
WildHorse watched as a large man walked out, carrying several sacks of money. Instead of a head, however, he had a bare skull, burning with emerald fire. His body was covered in bulky yellow and greed armor. "Let me think about that- NO!!"
As he yelled, a stream of radioactive fire launched at the closest police car. The men hiding behind it didn't even have enough time to turn pale as their world lit up in green flame.
The skull-headed man laughed. "You want more of that?"
"You should be careful- someone could get hurt."
All heads turned to the speaker. He stood in front of the car, the vestiges of green fire on his costume. Behind him, the police officers stood unharmed. WildHorse stood there, looking cross.
The skull-headed man did a fair approximation of a blink - no small feat, as he had no eyelids. "Who the hell are you?"
"WildHorse. And you would be…?"
He roared. "Atomic Skull! And this is my heist! Find your own bank to rob!"
WildHorse shook his head. "I'm not here to steal. I'm here to protect." With that, he flew at Atomic Skull.
The fire-headed man took a powerful punch to the stomach before he could launch another atomic blast, which did as little as its predecessor. He threw a wild punch at WildHorse, which simply bounced off.
WildHorse darted backwards, and launched a white energy blast of his own at Atomic Skull, blowing him into the wall of the bank. As Skull bounced off the wall, his head connected with another punch from WildHorse, knocking him soundly unconscious.
WildHorse floated slowly over to the policemen, an unconscious supervillian in his arms. He dropped him in front of them, and, taking a piece of metal he had found in the rubble, tied the man's hands together behind his back. He smiled at the stunned police. "You guys can take care of him, right?"
One of the police men nodded reflexitivly, and WildHorse flew away.
To do his grocery shopping.
It had begun. All over the world, people watched as WildHorse saved the three planes, as he defeated Atomic Skull, and for the first time in years, they hoped. The nightmarish decade was over, and now- now, they had a protector. A Hero.
Some were angry that their rein over the world was over.
Some were frightened that there was someone around who could stop them.
Some were happy that the world had a defender again.
And some, some were inspired.
In New York a recently divorced racecar driver stared at WildHorse, and knew how she could redeem herself in her beloveds' eyes.
In Gotham City a bitter alcoholic threw her bottle to the floor.
In Atlanta a grown girl, afraid of being treated like a freak for her powers, realized what she could be.
In Tokyo a girl looked at her family ring, and realized just what she could do with it.
In Kyoto a bored woman realized that there was something fun she could do with her powers that the man she loved wouldn't get pissy about.
In Los Angeles young girl stopped moving boxes from the moving truck into her new house, and stared at the television, wishing she could be a hero again.
In Chicago a man who had stopped using his real name years ago realized just how much good his powers could do.
And in these seven people the seeds of the future were planted.