Dragoon Ranma Redux
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ is property of Rumiko Takahashi. Legend of Dragoon is property of Sony and all companies forthright.
Author's Note: I decided to revisit this after a fair number of requests to continue. I re-read what I'd written and…got to say I wasn't that impressed! So, I decided to rewrite and bring you a new, better version. I might even do it with some of my other stories, too. Oh yeah, and this is a fair bit darker than the original, too.
The guide sighed as once again his warnings were ignored. He briefly contemplated using insults to get people to listen to him, but decided that it would likely result in harm to himself – certainly something he wanted to avoid. A quick glance skyward allowed him to see the heavy clouds beginning to gather – never a good sign around Jusyenko.
"Please, honourable customers! Is very bad you fall in springs! Come back before – ah! Too, too late," he moaned, dragging a slightly podgy hand down his face. Just as he had spoken, the younger boy of the pair had penetrated his father's guard and catapulted him into a spring with a hefty splash.
"Hah! Too slow, old man!" the boy crowed. After seeing no response from the spring, he hopped closer. "Pop?" he queried, looking slightly worried. Before the guide could comment and inform him of his father's fate, the spring erupted upwards, revealing a panda wearing the remnants of a dirty white gi.
The guide sighed before explaining.
"Ah, too, too sad! My. Customer fall in spring of drowned panda, tragic tale of panda that drown in spring one thousand five hundred year ago!" he said. "Now any who fall in spring turn into panda!" The teen goggled at the panda in shock, spotting the pair of glasses dangling from one furry ear.
"Pop?" he tried. He turned and glared at the guide furiously. "Why the hell didn't you tell us!" he snarled. The guide stared at him passively.
"I try," he answered, "you ignore me. Always happen," he added. "Too, too sad story."
The panda, meanwhile, shook itself, spraying water everywhere and pounced, making an odd noise that, should one be inclined to do so, sounded suspiciously like an attempt to form words. Unprepared for an attack, the teenager took a solid hit to his sternum and was sent flying with a surprised cry just as the skies opened and rain began to fall in earnest.
"Oh, very bad!" the guide exclaimed, bringing his hands up to grip his green hat in horror. He recognised the general area where the boy was headed; an area of the springs where only the most horrible of curses lay, and knew that there was very little chance for a good resolution. Just as the boy was about to splash down into a pool, a thunderous roar and a flash of light turned the world black and white and shook the ground.
Falling to his hands and knees, the guide blinked rapidly to clear the multitude of spots from his vision. Once he had restored some of his sight, the guide heaved himself to his feet and hurried to the pool he had seen the boy fall towards. Instead of the expected pool however, a large steaming crater had replaced several of the pools, its sides molten and glassy.
He saw the panda arrive and gawp comically at the crater before it began making noises in his direction, waving its paws urgently.
"I very sorry, Mr Customer," the guide explained, "I not understand panda." The panda paused and looked down at itself before it began making awkward wailing noises. "Very tragic story," the guide commiserated, patting the animal on its shoulder.
Ranma found his return to consciousness a far cry from what he would have desired as a sharp point dug unpleasantly into his chest. Groaning at the sore feeling all over his body, he jerked as he felt whatever it was slice into his flesh.
"Ow! Shit!" he cursed, leaping to his feet and clutching the injured area. "What the hell was that for?" he demanded of the fat man before him. A few seconds later, he realised that something was very wrong. For one thing, the man glaring angrily at him was one of the ugliest people he had ever seen, especially since he had a terrible blue dye job that clashed with the tunic and leather armour that barely held together around his obese form.
The second thing the young martial artist noticed was that the man had wings. Glowing ones. Ranma blinked as the man before him snarled out something in a harsh, unpleasant sounding language that sounded offensive to his ears.
"What the hell are you? Man, did someone beat you with an ugly stick when you were a baby? Wear a bag over your head will ya?" he said. The man looked confused for a moment before saying something else that made no sense. "No idea what you're saying, pal," he admitted. The man glared and, bizarrely, then tried to stab him. "Okay, now that's just rude," Ranma muttered, merely stepping to the side slightly and unleashing a fast kick to the man's chin.
Predictably, he dropped like a sack of potatoes. "Well, that was easy," Ranma said, feeling slightly disappointed at the quick victory. Moving closer, he took a little longer to observe his opponent. Whatever he wore was clearly some form of uniform, poorly maintained and barely containing his corpulent body. The leather ties looked frayed and the tunic below was spotted all over with grease and food stains.
"Gross," Ranma muttered. His sensitive ears caught a faint whistling sound and he leapt back to avoid being skewered by another spear. "Yeah, nice to meet you too," he said sarcastically to his new assailant. She merely barked another stream of nonsensical words at him and tried to kill him again. "What is it with you people?" Ranma complained, easily dodging several more strikes and ending up behind the revealed girl.
She had blue hair, a lighter shade like the sky on a summer's day, and deep, blood red eyes like rubies. Had it not been for the ugly snarl on her face, he admitted he would likely have found her to be incredibly beautiful. With another flip over her head as she whirled around, Ranma pinned her with a quick hold. Afterward, he realised that using a wrestling grapple was a poor choice against a female opponent, considering his hands were now firmly pressed against her bust.
"Uh," Ranma stammered, shocked at his unintentional molestation. "S-sorry about that," he said. After a stunned pause, the girl, who he recognised to be near his age, began screaming what sounded like obscenities and writhing in his grasp like an eel, somehow managing to force Ranma to grope her even worse than he had before. "S-stop that! Geeze! You're making me grope your boobs!" he protested.
His words fell on deaf ears as she began attempting to head butt him into letting her go. Sighing at his predicament, Ranma just lodged his chin at the juncture between her neck and shoulder and calmly spoke. "That's not gonna work. You gonna calm down now?" he asked. Having stilled at his close proximity to her neck, the girl made no answer.
Taking her silence as agreement, Ranma gently disengaged and held up his hands. She stared at him, her alabaster skin so pale she looked milky white, for a few seconds before her face twisted and she shrieked, lunging at him with her hands as if to choke the life from him. Before he could take evasive action however, he felt a sharp spike of pain from his temple and his world went black.
P'Teth glared down at the unconscious human and gingerly probed his bruised chin as his companion began kicking the downed human.
"Stop that!" he snapped, "That's an order!" he added when she continued.
"This filthy creature molested me!" she shrieked furiously. He glared at her.
"Serves you right! Now shut your yap and bring him – he'll make a good fighter in the arena," he said. When she glared rebelliously, he scowled. "I gave you an order, Lieutenant Dar'karreth!" he barked. Scowling mutinously, she placed a hand on the unconscious human's body and cast a levitation spell, allowing his body to rise into the air at her side.
"Done, sir," she snarked. He purpled at the disrespect.
"Watch your tone, you little bitch. Daddy's not here right now," he said dangerously.
"You wouldn't dare," she said, her ruby eyes flashing with anger. "I am far beyond the reach of one such as you," she mocked. His face grew a dangerous smile.
"Keep thinking that," he said, rising into the air and turning toward the city in the distance. Dar'karreth glowered at his retreating form and rose to follow, her mind turning his words over and over. She could not help a shiver of foreboding.
They reached the outskirts of the city in half an hour, the gates of the penetention centre a further ten minutes after that. Dar'karreth shuddered as they passed through the enormous doors that saw the passing of hundreds of thousands of prisoners, its dark edifice looming oppressively. There were many things she loved about her people, but the centre was certainly not one of them. Despite knowing that her people were superior in every way to the other races, she still did not approve of the squalor in which the prisoners were kept.
No one should have to live in an eight by eight cell, she thought, staring down the endless corridors either side of her which curved away into obscurity. She glanced down at the floating body beside her and felt a momentary stab of pity. His life would be short and depressingly brutal for his assaulting of an imperial officer.
The memories of the fight scrolled across her mind's eye again and she felt an angry flush work its way across her face. She glared hotly at the human, remembering his hands on her body.
Maybe I should kill him now and put him out of his misery, she thought. The prospect was appealing, but with one hand on her spear, she had no way to cast the spell whilst maintaining the levitation field. Shutting it off would alert her superior and, despite him being a loathsome little slimeball, he had the power to impose a punishment for unauthorised termination.
Resigned to being unable to carry out her desire for vengeance, she settled for taking a vindictive amusement in bashing the human's head against anything handy during their journey, including doorways, passers by, doors, tables and various other odds and ends.
Serves you right, you little creep, she thought as they arrived at the admission desk. Her superior stepped forward.
"Got one for you Far'rah. Assaulting an officer of the empire," he explained, his fat belly jiggling in his excitement. Dar'karreth grimaced and swallowed the bile that rose in her throat at the sight. The wingly behind the desk glanced up with amusement at the large bruise that had darkened to an impressively deep purple.
"Oh?" he said. "An automatic life sentence." He glanced down at the display inlaid into the desk at an angle. "Take him to block C and book him in for a medical exam. He needs to be fitted with a collar and then we can schedule his…induction into the arena." Far'rah gave an oily, unpleasant smile mirrored by her superior's.
"You heard him, lieutenant. Take him away and report back to the squad room in five minutes," the captain said. Dar'karreth stared in shock.
"Five minutes!?" she exclaimed. "C block is ten minutes away!" Her superior smiled evilly.
"Better get moving then. Wouldn't want you to be late and get a citation on your file, would we?" Snarling, she rose into the air and shot off down an adjoining corridor, not even bothering to request permission to leave. She was just close enough to hear her superior speak before she passed out of earshot. "Little bitch, we'll see how she likes scrubbing my boots with her tongue!" he laughed, the administrator joining in a second later.
The sound echoed in her ears as she sped down the hall, her throat tight with suppressed rage. As she frantically tried to reach the cell block in time to avoid a reprimand, she thought about her treatment. As the daughter of a prominent Wingly noble, she could have had her pick of any kind of job. However, as she chose to go into the military, like her father, she found herself subjected to harsh hazing and continual attempts to block her progress.
It didn't take a genius to work out why. Her father was an unpleasant man and ground people beneath his feet like ants. He had gathered quite a number of opponents due to his actions, and nearly every single one had decided to take it out on her and make her life miserable. Her current superior, one of many she had, seemed to see her as nothing more than a walking piece of ass to conquer and subjugate as soon as possible. Her career prospects seemed virtually nil.
Finally reaching her destination, she gave a perfunctory greeting to the attendant guardsman and checked the listing for a vacant cell. Finding one, she levitated the human onto a pad and keyed in her access code before watching him disappear in a flash of green light. She stared dully at the pad for a moment longer before returning her focus to the info panel and booking an appointment for a medical check-up.
Having completed her task, she glanced at the display on her armour gauntlet and sagged. Seven minutes. Knowing that no matter how fast she returned her odious captain would punish her for it, she waved a farewell to the guardsman who gave her a pitying look in return and headed off, deciding to take her time.
Thirty minutes later, she arrived at the ready room and walked into the captain's office. He sat on the other side of his desk, perched on a seat far too small to contain his massive bulk, stuffing a sandwich into his face with such enthusiasm that half-masticated food continually slopped from the side of his mouth onto his uniform. Dar'karreth didn't bother to conceal her disgust, but saluted anyway.
"Reporting as ordered, sir," she drawled. He glared at her again and put his food on a pile of paperwork before him.
"You're late," he said.
"I was unavoidably detained, sir," she replied. His beady red eyes narrowed.
"With what?" he asked.
"Prisoner detention, sir," she said. He bristled and rose from the chair, his jowls quivering angrily.
"I'm detecting an insubordinate tone, lieutenant," he growled.
"I apologise if that is your impression, sir," she said blandly. His expression abruptly changed to an oily smile.
"Do you know what I have here, lieutenant?" he asked, waving a portable pad before her eyes.
"No, sir," she replied. His smile widened and his eyes began sparkling with malicious glee, prompting her stomach to begin churning unpleasantly.
"This is a report of all your insubordinate behaviour, lieutenant. A report I filed after you failed to show at the ordered time. As the processing officer is a personal friend of mine, the report was processed with remarkable speed," he gloated. Dar'karreth swallowed as he glanced at the pad. "With immediate effect," he quoted, "Lieutenant Crystal Dar'karreth is demoted to private class and reassigned to penitentiary number 324 where she will remain on probation until further notice. Any outbursts of insubordinate behaviour and she will be dishonourably discharged and remanded into custody under the appropriate charges."
Crystal stared, her face pale.
"You can't do this," she whispered. He laughed.
"I can, you little bitch. Daddy doesn't care, you see. He's always wanted a son," he sneered. "You should have sucked me when I told you to," he said, "It would have saved you all this trouble. I hope you like working with all the criminal filth in the arena! Now get out of here! Your new assignment will be sent to you." he smirked at her as she numbly exited and walked past her former team mates, barely registering their greetings.
My life is over, she thought in horror. All I'll ever see are murders, thieves and rapists for the rest of my career. She gave a little hysterical giggle. What career? I've no chance at a promotion and I might as well not exist to father, she thought. She tried to blame the human, but couldn't find anything that he did. It would have happened at some point without his appearance.
Her mind blessedly blank, Crystal returned to her quarters and mechanically stripped off her uniform before climbing into the shower unit. Selecting the water emission program, she waited until the steaming water rolled down her body before curling up and beginning to cry.
The first thing he felt was the cold metal of the floor pressing itself into his cheek. His head pounded and he briefly wondered if he had any broken bones, like he had several years ago. The feeling was similar. He shifted and groaned softly.
"Ugh," Ranma muttered, "I so shouldn't have gotten up today." He levered himself to his knees and opened his eyes fractionally. The room he was in was lit with a weak green light emanating from a small circle in the far corner of the eight by eight cell. The walls were smooth and made of the same dark metal as the floor and there appeared to be no way in or out.
"Great," he complained, "My day gets better and better." Sighing, he settled against the wall and began tentatively probing his injury. He sighed when he felt no breaks, just a severe lump from whatever had hit him. "Lucky I got a hard head, I guess," he mused. Inspecting his cell again, he determined there was nothing at all he could see and settled in to wait. Tired from his headache, he fell asleep within minutes.
He awoke again an indeterminate time later when the light in the corner of the room began growing brighter. He squinted as it reached blinding levels and felt his body tingle all over. When he regained his sight, he was held at spear point by three men, the sharp metal digging in to the soft flesh of his neck.
"Easy," he yelped and held up his hands. They jabbered at him and, after seeing his look of incomprehension, indicated he should move by inclining their heads sharply to the side. He followed the command and found his hands bound behind his back by some weird device affixed to his right wrist. The trio led him down a long, vaulted hallway made with the same oppressively dark metal styled in organic patterns to a large room lit with hovering balls of bright white light.
Ranma stared, aware that no-where he had been had ever had something similar. Another command came, forcing him to stare in annoyance at the winged man. His reward was a sharp blow to the back of his legs that forced him to sit uncomfortably. Had the spears not been at his throat, Ranma knew he would have enjoyed wiping the arrogant smirk off of the uniformed man's face.
He took the time to glance at their uniforms and suppressed a smile. They looked like pyjama'ed clowns similar to a program about people in space he had seen once, only an ugly grey and lime green colour that, once again, clashed horribly with their bright blue hair.
What is it with the hair, already? Weird colour if you ask me, he thought. He spotted a plump woman approaching, dressed in a long white coat and carrying a small square object only an inch or so thick. Looks like a doctor, he mused. She said something to him and he shrugged.
"No idea what you're sayin', lady," he admitted. "Don't think you guys speak Japanese. You speak Chinese?" he asked, switching to his fragmented grasp of the language. They stared at him. "Guess not," he said once more in his native tongue. His flippant tone obviously angered his captors, as they growled and increased the pressure on his throat. "No sense of humour," he muttered.
The woman made some comments to the other winged people and crossed the room to a recessed portion of the wall fronted by glass. Ranma glanced around the rest of the room, noting the weird design of the beds that lined one wall and a desk covered with odds and ends he had never seen in his life.
I feel like I'm in some kind of weird anime program, Ranma thought to himself. The plump woman returned carrying a thin silver collar and began to hold it up as if to place it on him. Oh I so don't like the look of that, he thought to himself. With his captors ready to open his veins however, he had no choice but to submit and have the collar placed on his neck.
With a small click and a whirring sound, he felt the ends join just beneath his ponytail. The woman held up the transparent pad to the choker and nodded at whatever she saw there. Her red eyes stared into his own.
"Can you understand me now?" she asked, her voice pleasant and not at all abrasive as it had been before. Ranma blinked.
"Hey, yeah I can. Why are your lips moving weirdly?" he asked. The woman arched a blue eyebrow at him.
"It's the translation magic in the collar," she replied. "Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions before handing you back to the guards," she said. Ranma glanced uneasily at the trio, who had removed their spears and were now smirking at him.
"Right," he said.
"Just to inform you that the collar you are now wearing contains a powerful implosion device that will activate should you attempt to harm any Wingly citizen, immediately removing your head from your shoulders," she began. Ranma's eyes bulged in shock and his hands automatically rose. "I wouldn't do that. It also activates if it detects tampering," she said. He froze and stared at her, his eyes wide.
She smiled benignly and looked at her pad again.
"So," she began, "where are you from?"
"Japan," he responded. A faintly puzzled frown creased her forehead.
"And where is that?" she said. Ranma blinked.
"Uh…I think…the pacific?" he tried, vaguely recalling something from his brief stint in Japanese middle school. Her eyes bored into his, her frown more pronounced.
"Where is the pacific" she probed. He stared at her.
"It's a really big load of water called a sea," he deadpanned, then yelped and spasmed as a vicious current of electricity jangled across his nerves.
"Please keep yourself in check," the woman observed mildly. "Where is this," she consulted her pad, "pacific sea?" Ranma stared at her again.
"I dunno how to answer that," he admitted. "It's just there."
"I'll try again. Where on Endiness is the 'pacific sea?'" she said.
"Uh, where's Endiness?" he asked. Her eyes flicked to the pad sharply and she drew in a startled breath.
"One moment," she said and rose to whisper urgently to the trio near the door, who looked grim. She returned a moment later, a serious look on her matronly face. "I'll ask you again, Where on Endiness is the 'pacific sea?'" she said.
"I don't know," Ranma said. She pressed the pad and he jerked as the collar shocked him again. "I don't know!" he repeated. He received four more shocks, each progressively more painful, before she quit.
"Are you from Endiness?" she asked when he had been lifted from the floor and replaced on his seat. He glared wearily at her.
"I don't think so," he admitted. The woman exchanged a significant look with one of the guards, who raced off out of sight. Ranma thought that was probably a bad thing. The woman looked at him again.
"Have you ever used magic?" she asked, staring at him intensely.
"No," Ranma replied truthfully. He gave an involuntary cry when the strongest shock so far ripped through his body, sending him to the floor in convulsions. He panted when they relented, his mouth open and greedily sucking air into his lungs.
"I'll ask again, have you ever used magic?" the voice came. Ranma twitched and raised his eyes from the floor to stare at her white-booted foot.
"No," he rasped, fully expecting the following shock. He arched and contorted, writhing helplessly as a continual stream of power ravaged his body. Distantly, he heard his screams and struggled to contain them to no avail. After an eternity of pain, it stopped and he panted weakly.
"This is the last time I shall ask, have you ever used magic?" her voice was crisp, cool and detached, as if she found the torture she was inflicting an every day occurrence. It probably was, he thought. He sagged weakly, knowing the answer was not one they wanted to hear.
"No," he said. His voice was hoarse, barely more than a strained whisper. He waited, but the pain did not come. He lolled his head to the side and stared up with watery eyes. She was staring at the pad with pursed lips.
"Thank you, that will be all," she said. "Take him away," she ordered the remaining two. One nodded and hauled him up by his hair. He winced, unable to make any noise from his damaged chords other than a rough exhalation.
"Move it," the winged man ordered, pushing him roughly toward the door. Ranma took a single, staggering step before collapsing on his face. He heard the two men laugh and felt a burning rage ignite in his belly at the humiliation. Silently, he vowed to get them back even as he felt a light touch on his back and his body left the floor as if he weighed nothing more than a feather.
He glared down at the floor as it passed beneath him until he was dropped unceremoniously on his face over the green light of the transport circle. Green light consumed his vision even as the blood dribbled from his nose and he reappeared back in his tiny eight by eight cell.
In the oppressive silence he struggled against the almost crushing despair that consumed him, his hands fisted so tight that his blunt fingernails gouged into the flesh of his palms.
If I ever get back, old man, I'll skin you alive, he vowed. It took five hours for him to fall asleep, his face resting in a small puddle of his own blood.
Author's Note: Reviews make me write faster!