X x x x x x
"What happened?" Akane asked, storming up to Genma who was standing outside of his and Nodoka's room. She had just witnessed Ranma vanish into thin air in Akane's attempt to catch up and find out what was going on with Nodoka.
Genma didn't turn to her, choosing to stare at a spot on the floor with bright red spots staining the carpet. "I think the boy's really gone." He said slowly in a pained voice.
"What happened?" She repeated.
"My son." Genma staggered down the hall away from her.
Deciding that Genma was not going to be any help, she knocked on the door. "Auntie Saotome, could you open up, it's me Akane."
"I'm- I'm sorry but I do not wish to talk right now." Nodoka's strained voice carried through the door.
"Auntie, please open the door." She pleaded with the Saotome woman before adding something to hopefully get her inside. "I'm really worried about Ranma and I just want to help." Standing in silence for nearly a minute, the door knob finally turned, and opened to allow her to enter.
Nodoka was leaning against the wall behind the door and Akane stepped out of the way to let it close. The elder female was clearly distraught, her eyes were red, the small amount of makeup she was wearing was ruined with long tracks of eyeliner trailing down her cheeks.
"He's gone." Nodoka wiped at her eyes with a handkerchief. "I waited so long for him to come back and now he's dead!" She wailed, grabbing on to Akane like a life preserver.
Uncomfortable with having the emotional woman hanging off of her, she led Nodoka over to sit on the bed. "Ranma's not dead, well- not really."
"That's not Ranma. My Ranma is a man and wouldn't choose to be a girl." Nodoka said firmly.
"I don't think Ranma believes he has a choice anymore." Akane paused, feeling that now was not a good time to say that Ranma had casually killed two people while they were out. "When we were out walking. Ranma tried to explain it to me, he said that he would be as he was when turned into a vampire. And- Ranma was changed as a girl."
"But that can't be true, Ranma is a man, and that thing admitted to being neither a man or a human."
Akane was momentarily frozen by Nodoka referring to Ranma as a thing. "Auntie- Ranma has changed. But he came here to see us, to see me, to see you. I can't really think of anything that could show how Ranma is still there better than that."
"That's not Ranma."
"Did you tell Ranma that?" She asked, still trying to figure out what was going on.
"Yes- it followed me down the hall and tried to enter the room. I said I didn't want to see the thing that had taken my son."
"You didn't." She breathed out and when Nodoka didn't deny it Akane pulled away from the Saotome woman. "How could you do that?"
"I just wanted it to go away."
"How do you think Ranma feels to have his own mother tell him something like that?" Akane knew that Nodoka was not all right in the head, but how could she think that Ranma had been replaced with someone else? The small amount of time she had been with the vampire earlier had indicated to her quite clearly that while he had changed significantly, that annoying idiot she knew was still there.
"My son and your fiancée is not a girl."
Akane's anger rose at that statement as she realized what Nodoka truly was upset about, that Ranma hadn't attempted to live up to Nodoka's vision of manliness. Nodoka had rejected her child because of something that was beyond his control. Something that Ranma had always been sensitive about. If Ranma was truly serious then Nodoka's reaction would have cut deeper than any sword.
"Well I've never known him without the curse." She answered Nodoka. "But I'm not going to hold it against him like you do." Akane paused wondering if what she was about to say was a good idea and ignoring that she had at certain points used it against Ranma herself. "And I don't want anything to do with a mother who throws their child away for any petty reason they can come up with."
Nodoka reacted as if Akane had slapped her, staring with wide eyes at her. 'No going back now.' Akane realized that she may have irreparably damaged the relationship between her family and the Saotome's. Taking a deep breath and firming her resolve, she left the room to explain what just happened to her sisters and father.
X x x x x x
Genma downed another bottle of beer in the hotel bar. His son was gone and not in the way Nodoka no doubt thought. He preferred Ranma to be a man, but so long as he kept up the art and hopefully produce an heir, he could spend his days as a girl for all he cared. Ranma was his life, a decade and a half of his own had been dedicated to training and raising him.
"Why the long face Genma old boy?" Happosai hopped up to sit on the bar seat next to him.
"The boy." He took another drink. "He's- not coming back." The cause of this was obviously Nodoka, but thinking back it was he that made up the seppuku pledge. 'If I hadn't made that, none of this would have happened. Nodoka would have coddled the boy, but we would not have been cursed, and now Ranma wouldn't be a vampire.' Thinking of all the mistakes he had made only deepened his depression.
"It's probably for the best." Happosai ordered something in English. Genma drained another bottle concerned that the ancient pervert would not want Ranma around. "I couldn't get anything from deer sweet Ranma-chan now."
"Is all you think about? Touching girls?" He demanded angrily and grabbed the small pervert by the front of his shirt.
"Don't be so vulgar." Happosai slipped from his grasp to land back on the seat without a care. Reaching into his purple gi, the old pervert pulled out a slip of paper, and pushed it in front of Genma. "And you want to see Ranma again, here's the directions."
"How did you get this?" He asked, quickly reading the paper, it seemed simple enough to follow even though reading the English portions would cause some problems.
"Your Master has his ways. Now how are you going to thank me?"
"What do you want?" He asked nervously.
"Nothing you can really help with." Happosai rubbed at his chin while laughing to himself.
X x x x x x
A repeated knocking on the outside of her bed woke Ranma up. Her eyes opened half way and she focused past the wooden top to see that it was Pickman who was waking her long before sunset. Hitting the lid control, she waited for it to open up just enough so she could peak her head out.
"Why are you waking me up?" The only human who had woken her up before was Walter.
"There's a panda at the gate holding up signs with Japanese on them." He answered, trying not to look amused at the idea. "And Walter was busy so I drew the short straw of waking up the unstable vampire."
Ignoring the joke about being unstable, she raised the lid the rest of the way, and swung her feet out to sit on the edge of the bed. "So why are you asking me?" She asked while already knowing the answer. Wiggling her toes, she stood up, and stretched her back.
"Guards didn't know to open fire or call the zoo. You got picked because you're from there."
"Is it sunny out?" She asked absently walking out of her room dressed only in her red pajamas.
"Overcast with some rain earlier." Pickman followed her out.
"Must be why he's a panda." She muttered, heading up the steps, and out the front door to walk down the main drive to the gate. She saw Genma quickly, four soldiers were positioned around him looking confused over what they should do. Commander Fargason was standing nearby with a similar confused expression on his old face.
#Boy! You're here# Genma signed to her excitedly. #It took me all night and day to find this place# Not responding, she grabbed him by a paw, and dragged him towards the mansion.
"Saotome, you know this animal?" Fargason asked her.
"He's my father." She answered without stopping, earning looks like she had grown a second head. An act that wouldn't be impossible for a vampire. Genma was unresisting as she brought him to the kitchen with an entourage of curious soldiers, and splashed him with hot water. The sounds from weapons being raised made her give the soldiers a dark look that made them drop them back down.
"How did you find me?" She asked him in Japanese.
"A horrible old troll found it somehow."
"I'm way too tired to care how Happosai found this place. So come on." Grabbing him by the wrist, she took him down into the dungeon. Genma didn't have a choice in the matter, with her grip, his arm would rip off before he could free himself. "You said you stayed up? So you're tired right?" She asked, shoving him into her room and closing the door behind her.
"This where you live?" Genma asked, instantly poking through her things.
"For now." Ranma answered while yawning and sitting down on her bed; rubbing at her eyes to try and keep them open for just a little longer, she felt a heavy weight land on her bed. Looking behind her, she found Genma lying on his back, and already asleep. "Stupid old man." She said fondly and slipped under her blanket before hitting the lid control to block out the ambient light that filtered in through some holes in one side of the room.
X x x x x x
Ranma awoke to Genma's snoring. Hitting the lid control, she sat up in bed, and looked at her father's sleeping form to try and figure out what to do now. Slipping out of bed to grab a blood pack, she kicked him hard enough to wake him up. "Can't sleep all night." She told him as he woke up.
"You'll get soft sleeping on a bed like this." He informed her with a wise sensei voice attempt.
"Actually my coffin is softer than the bed." She commented absently, opening up the blood pack. "And yes, this is real blood." Ranma read Genma's surface thoughts without trying.
"Can you still eat real food?"
Removing her mouth from the straw part, she answered. "No."
"Have you killed people for it?" Genma asked, suddenly serious.
"Yes." Ranma answered with a small hesitation. Genma knew when she was lying and doing so about something that important would be worse than admitting the truth.
"Boy." Genma started but Ranma interrupted him.
"I know, protect the weak, and killing is a last resort." She actually wondered why this had taken so long to come up.
"A martial artist protects the weak." Genma rose up to his feet to stare down at her in disappointment.
"Don't you think I know that?" She got out through gritted teeth. "Don't you think I've thought about that at least once a night since I was turned? That what I am is the complete opposite of what I was?" She looked up at Genma, her face despondent.
"Why were you- turned?" Genma's intense gaze lessened. "Was it really that story you told Akane? Or did you go looking for it?"
"I was given the choice, live- or die." She answered, her voice even, angry that he would ask such a thing. "Do you also want me to die?" Ranma asked, remembering Nodoka's desire to find reasons for her to kill herself.
"No, no parent should ever want to see their child die."
"Then why does she?" Ranma demanded. "I didn't ask that vampire to attack me." She could feel tears start to pool at the corners of her eyes and she reached up to try and wipe them away, and only succeeded in smearing the blood. "I should never have let you know that I wasn't dead. Then- then you could have had a nice funeral, and you wouldn't have seen- what a monster I am now."
X x x x x x
Genma watched Ranma drop the half-finished blood pack to land on the floor, her hands reaching up to try and wipe away the red tears that were falling uncontrollably from her eyes. 'Oh Nodoka.' He realized now just how much Ranma respected his mother, and it was more than him. Placing a hand on the short red head's shoulder, he tried to sound reassuring.
"Your mother didn't mean it." He told her. "She just needs to get used to the idea."
"No she's right!" Ranma slapped his hand away. "Ranma wouldn't have done anything I have; I'm a cold blooded monster!" She stopped talking to stand with her hands at her sides and body rigid, forcibly trying to restrain the dark red tears by will alone. Normally Genma didn't think such a thing would work, but the blood that was staining Ranma's face, and clothing vanished as if it was absorbed through her skin.
Struggling to remember some wise saying that would fit this situation, Genma tried to find a way to fix what Nodoka had done. He didn't want to say the wrong thing and lose his child forever. He wanted things to go back to the way they were. Nothing came to him immediately, so he stood watching his one and only child suffer because of what her mother had said.
Inspiration finally hit him, and he placed both hands on her slim shoulders. "That you know you're a monster, means you aren't one." It sounded good to him so hopefully it would resonate with Ranma in some way.
Ranma lost most of the tension in her body to stare up at him blankly. "That's- that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." She chortled.
"It's true." He crossed his arms and closed his eyes. "If you truly were a monster, you wouldn't care. That you care shows you're not."
"Thanks old man." Ranma picked up the dropped blood pack and stared at it. "That does actually make me feel a bit better. Even if it doesn't change anything." She started to drink the blood again. Genma didn't respond to that, trying to deal with the strange dichotomy that his child was embroiled in. Hating what he had become yet at the same time finding nothing wrong with it.
"Someone is coming." Ranma looked towards the door to her room. "Just Walter." She said with relief a moment before someone knocked on the door.
X x x x x x
"Hi Walter." Ranma greeted the butler after opening the door.
The monocle wearing man looked past her to Genma then back to her. "Sir Integra wishes to know why your- father is here."
"It's none of her business." Ranma answered. "And he doesn't even speak English."
"There's no need for hostilities." Walter replied calmly. "I simply needed to know because she was wondering if he would want some food."
"Really?" Ranma had expected some kind of complaint from the woman. "Er- yes he probably wants some food and he tends to eat a lot."
"I'll have something prepared and brought down, expect it in a half hour." Walter paused as he turned away. "Also, be sure not to forget that Sir Integra wants her food to be prepared by eight. Do you plan to do as she has asked?"
"I might as well, I did actually do something this time." Ranma groaned, thankfully it was only five o clock so there would be plenty of time to do it.
"Very good." Walter bowed his head before leaving.
"I don't want to cook anything with garlic." She grimaced at the thought. "Hmm, I wonder if that would help." She considered something she had seen the soldiers wear and how that might help. Reforming her clothing into her Chinese styled silks, she turned to Genma. "Come on Pop, I have to go grab something, and I don't want to worry about you getting into trouble."
X x x x x x
"Here, put these on." Ranma told him, handing him a pair of protective ear muffs. Genma could hear the sounds of gunfire from behind the door in the underground facility. They were inside a small area with a wall full of the plastic ear muffs with a second door creating a second barrier from the gunfire. Putting on the ones Ranma gave him, she put on another pair, and they stepped into the firing range.
Inside, six men in military uniforms were unloading on paper targets with automatic weapons. Genma had been shot at before but he had never been shot. Ranma seemed completely at ease with the situation so he tried to be as well to find out just what kind of life his son lived here. Ranma tapped a younger brown haired soldier on the shoulder and he glanced back to see who it was before putting his weapon down. The soldier checked him out briefly with his blue eyes before all three went into a backroom with door that closed to seal out the sound.
Watching Ranma and the soldier converse, he couldn't understand what they were saying, but they seemed to be on friendly terms. The two seemed to come to an agreement and Ranma was given a gas mask from out of a locker by the man who then took a second from another locker. The Englishman must have made a joke because he and Ranma shared a laugh before they left the firing range.
"What are these for?" He asked Ranma, tired of not knowing what was going on.
"I sort of tore up the building last night and the owner thought a good way to punish me would be to have me make food that was heavy on garlic."
"Why would that be a punishment?" Forcing Ranma to cook something? The boy was good at that and even liked to do it occasionally.
"Vampires are really allergic to garlic." The red head answered. "I can't even be in the same room with the stuff. But these should help."
"Who is this owner and why do they have a hold over you?"
"That depends on how much you want to know about vampires." Ranma answered.
"Anything you can tell me." Genma was not a follower of vampire folklore or popular culture so there was very little that he actually knew about what Ranma was now.
"My Master, the one who made me a vampire, is magically bound to a human family, the one who owns this place. I'm part of Master's bloodline and so I'm also connected to the family. It's- slavery." Ranma's head dropped to stare at the floor as they walked down the stone corridor. "But I should be free soon. I just- have to figure out where I want to go." She said with more enthusiasm.
"You could come home." He suggested hopefully. "Back to Japan."
"I can't- it just wouldn't work out."
"Are you making up reasons?"
"I've thought about it before." Ranma said forcefully, expecting no further discussion.
"Then where?" Genma kept his eyes on Ranma since the area they were walking through was barely lit enough for him to make out the outlines of the tunnel.
"Somewhere in London I suppose."
"Why don't you want to return to Japan?" Genma couldn't imagine why Ranma would want to leave his homeland. "Even if you don't live in Nerima."
"I'd be alone."
"You wouldn't have to be." Genma had left his wife once; if she continued her foolishness then doing so again was an option.
"Pop, I'm a vampire, a different species, if I moved to Japan I would be all alone, surrounded by humans. Humans who would want me dead if they ever found out."
Genma frowned, seeing more evidence that there were major differences in Ranma. Physically Ranma was different now, capable of changing into multiple forms, mind reading, that vanishing trick from the hotel, and who knows what else. Mentally there were clearly differences but similarities, but this was a big difference.
"When did you ever get such a bleak outlook?"
"Don't you realize where you are?" Ranma asked incredulously, jumping forward to walk backwards while talking to him. "This whole organization is dedicated to one thing, exterminating us. If I didn't help them, they would hunt me down and try to kill me."
"I suppose that's a good reason." He answered, watching her sniff at the air.
"Let's go panda-man, your food is stinking up my room."
X x x x x x
Happosai had been patient, like a saint really, but now he was going to get his prize. When that old man had brought food into the room, he had hid from view, his limitless patience paying off again. Bouncing up to a four drawer dresser, he opened the bottom one to find several shirts but for the most part completely empty. The next higher one had some pants, so he went on to the last one. Several pairs of boxers blocked his view and he hastily dug through to find his real target.
Raising up the clothing item, he gazed in wonder at the black satin panties with just a tiny amount of flowery lace. Visions of Ranma's female form clad in the complete set posing provocatively danced in his head. Her pale skin creating a striking contest with the black, and her red hair and eyes added much needed color. "I'm never leaving." He whispered to himself. (1)
The wild animal that was growling behind him made him slowly turn around. "He- hello Ranma-chan." He greeted, seeing the red head's eyes burning into him, and Genma standing just behind her he decided that this may have been a mistake.
"Hap- po- sai." She snarled.
"I'll just get out of your hair." He pocketed his prize and tried to leap past her. The door mysteriously closed in his face, barring his escape long enough for Ranma to grab him. 'This is going to hurt.' He winced before she even hit him.
X x x x x x
A very pleased Ranma walked with a spring to her step towards the gate of the Hellsing estate. Hanging from one hand was a black and blue Happosai who was just conscious enough to realize that he was being carried. The two guards at the front gate looked at her strangely, and the shriveled up old man with an equal look of confusion.
"Old man." She tapped on his head to get his attention. "I've had to put up with you grabbing me all the time but I am not going put up with it now."
"But it's a compliment." He replied weakly.
Narrowing her eyes, she reached into his gi and pulled out her panties. "If you come back here again to do anything perverted or to get some kind of stupid revenge, I am going to make a meal out of you, understand?" Ranma hastily shoved the underwear in her pocket when she noticed that the soldiers had caught sight of it.
Happosai nodded and she set him down. Holding up her hands, she created a frame with her fingers, and took a step back and to the side. "Now go bother someone else!" She reared back her right leg and punted Happosai away.
Spinning on her heel to head back inside to make sure Genma stayed out of trouble, she found both soldiers staring at her with wide eyes. "If anybody else shows up speaking Japanese, I don't exist, got it?" They both nodded. "Good."
X x x x x x
Genma let Ranma deal with Happosai since becoming a vampire apparently made the ancient pervert afraid to fight back. He wasn't sure if he should be wary as well, the boy didn't seem any more aggressive, and actually seemed less violent. This other vampire who also spoke Japanese had arrived during Happosai's beating and was now sitting calmly across from him as he ate at a small table in Ranma's room.
The food was good, different, but good. 'Poor boy, living around a high class place like this, and he can't eat a bite.' Pausing, he took a break to inspect the attractive blonde. He hadn't paid much attention to her before and she seemed to be the quiet type who didn't attract much attention. Genma wondered if there was anything between her and Ranma.
"So you're a vampire as well?" He asked, already knowing the answer.
"I am." She nodded her head.
"Why is Ranma spending so much time as a girl?"
The girl pursed her lips and glanced towards the closed door to the room. "Ranma was born a man right?"
"When Ranma became a vampire, he was reborn as a she." The girl put a hand to chest just below her neck. "Just as this is how I'll always be, that's how Ranma will be."
"Ranma can be a man." He pointed out.
"Well- we can change into bats, does that make us bats?"
"Ranma turned into a girl, that doesn't make him a girl." Genma may have discovered the source of this whole thing. If Ranma was around people who were pressuring him to be a girl, that might explain the current attitude.
"Saotome-san, if you are planning to say something like what your wife did then I'm not going be- happy." The girl's red eyes became very intense, the air seemed to grow heavy and oppressive, and Genma suddenly felt an instinctive reaction to be very nervous.
'It's like what Happosai can do but she's just an untrained girl. Just what are these vampires?' Ranma's earlier words about being a monster came back to him. "My wife is- confused but I have no intention of saying such things. Boy or girl, so long as Ranma carries on the art, and produces an heir I don't care."
Ceres' entire demeanor became casual again and the room no longer felt oppressive. "I hope you weren't thinking of a kid. We- uh- can't have children."
"Really?" That had been the most preferable way. Marry, have kid, train kid to be heir, and profit from the hard work and dedication. "I suppose he could train an heir." It wasn't as good as the first option, but so long as there was someone to carry on the school, then it was an acceptable alternative.
"Oi, quit talking about me." Ranma came through the doorway, looking very pleased with how she just treated Happosai. Grabbing one of the gas masks, she tossed it to Ceres. "Thought that would help with the garlic."
"Good idea." The blonde chirped.
"Well old man, how's the food?" Ranma kicked off her shoes and sat down on her bed, pulling up her feet to sit with the bottoms together in front of her hips.
"Something not so- foreign would have been better." He answered.
"You ate it didn't you?" Ranma smirked.
"It'd be rude not to."
"Maybe now you can tell me why you came here." His son turned draculina asked, losing her impish grin, and becoming serious.
Genma had no answer for that, he had been so focused on just finding Ranma, that he didn't know what to do now that he had. He was still trying to figure out how Ranma lived here and the language barrier certainly wasn't helping with that task. With the blonde vampire in the room he couldn't voice his concern about the people around Ranma convincing him to be a girl.
"No one's convinced me of anything." Ranma spoke up.
"Convinced you of what?" He asked, wondering how Ranma had known what he was thinking.
"No one has convinced me to be a girl." The red head explained before looking sheepish. "Sorry I just picked up what you were thinking."
Genma quickly tried to blank his mind, Ranma didn't have to know that they had been planning to tie him up and send him back to Japan in a box. Ranma's face scrunched up in a frown. 'Oh crap he knows!' Coughing into a fist, he quickly moved on. "Then why? Why have you given up being a man?"
"I haven't- given up anything." She answered, turning her head slightly to watch Ceres rise from the chair, and go sit on the bed next to her presenting a united front against him. Genma had only looked away from Ranma for an instant but when he looked back, the red haired girl had become his red haired son, but had remained the same height. That Ranma was wearing clothing fitted to his female form was probably the reason for the lack of height.
"I can be a man all I want. I could stay like this for the rest of my life." Ranma said with a shrug. "But why? My old life is- gone." The red haired vampire looked like he wanted to add something after that but held his tongue.
X x x x x x
Ranma wanted to tell his father that at the moment it was painful to be this way, to be reminded of the life he had lost. Looking down at his hands, examining the shape, the structure, how they were different from that of a females, and different from the ones that he had woken up as a vampire with. It'd be so much easier if he could forget his human life and not have it reaching out to grab him like it was now. Being away from Japan helped with that, but there were people and places that he didn't want to forget.
Suddenly sitting up straight, his eyes unfocused, and he gasped. He could see someone, it was a man, and he was giving a freak chip to a couple as if they were a pair of necklaces. Ranma tried to make out who the man was, the vision ended as soon as it had begun, the only thing he could make out was that it was a hotel. Back in the real world he found Ceres gently nudging him.
"There's going to be a chip vampire attack tonight." Hopping off of the bed, he ran over the telephone, and dialed Fargason's number.
"Commander Fargason." The older man answered after two rings.
"Listen, this is Ranma, you need to get the teams to the International Hotel in Canary Warf, now!"
"I don't understand what you're saying." Fargason responded and Ranma cursed because he had said it in Japanese so he quickly repeated in English.
"How do you know this?"
"Don't ask how I know, just do it!" Slamming the phone down, he ran to his closet, and pulled out his pistol. Chewing on his lower lip, he tried to remember where they had put his shotgun. "Come on Ceres."
"Uh." Ceres paused before realizing that Ranma had just had a vision of the future. "Right." The blonde nodded.
"What's going on?" Genma demanded. "Why did you just tell someone to send teams of something to the hotel?"
"You can come too." He grabbed Genma's wrist and dragged him out the doorway towards the firing range.
X x x x x x
Ranma reformed from a bat in front of the International Hotel. She was so focused on the vision that she defaulted to a girl when changing back. She had decided against the shotgun, the moment she had touched it, all she could think about were the three shots that she had put in Ryoga's side. Ranma could have pushed past that, however it made more sense to bring a weapon that had precision so she decided to use an mp5 which was hanging from her back, the strap crossing over a shoulder and running between her breasts.
Closing her eyes, she focused all her senses on the building, and immediately heard the screams. Being attacked by a vampire was a simple affair, a bite to the neck, and then they sucked. A painful but quick death. A ghoul though, they clawed, they fumbled, they chewed and pulled large chunks of flesh out, it was a horrible slow way to die, and the victim always let out the same high pitched scream.
Charging into the lobby, there were humans milling about, talking animatedly about the noises they were hearing. Letting off several bursts from the mp5, she was able to clear them out into the street but she stopped the girl that was working at the reception desk.
"Does this place have like an announcement thing?" She demanded, scanning for where the outbreak was located at. It appeared to be located on the upper most floors, running a quick check, the ghouls had went upwards, while the chip vampire was heading down. There was another chip vampire several floors up but she wasn't moving.
"Ye-yes, please don't hurt me." The girl stammered.
"I'm here to help, but I need you to send out a message that everyone needs to." Ranma paused trying to figure out whether staying in their rooms or evacuation was a better plan. "Tell em to stay in their rooms and shove furniture in front of the door." She finally decided. It wasn't the best of plans but if she could eliminate the chip vampire quickly, then the ghouls could be contained so long as they didn't have humans to target. Having multiple floors of people panicking would only complicate matters.
"Al- alright." The girl nodded.
Ranma didn't wait around, going into the stairwell, she moved up the stairs at high speed, bouncing off the walls rather than the floor so she could move faster. Reaching the floor the chip vampire was on, she could hear sirens outside as the humans and Ceres caught up with her. Coming to a stop in front of a bashed in door, she looked in just in time to see the last of a family with three young children be killed, their bodies strewn about.
The chip vampire dropped the body of a small boy, no older than five to the floor, and turned to look at her. "Are you like me?" He asked slowly, his head twisting to one side.
"You can talk." Ranma was surprised by this and her face twisted into pure disgust. "Which means you can think- and that you know exactly what you're doing."
"They taste so good, I can't stop." He gave her a crazed smile but there was a hint of confusion behind it.
"Then I'll make you." She was across the room and at his side before he could react. Wanting nothing more than to tear this chip vampire apart, her right hand reacted, her fingers lengthening to three times their normal size, and becoming sharp blades. Slashing him across the chest, blood sprayed the walls as his body was sliced apart, the pieces dropping to the ground with wet thumps.
Staring at the pieces, she realized she had missed all the vital areas, and that he was still alive. Kneeling down next to the largest piece of his chest, she leaned in, and bit down. Taking in mouthfuls of blood, she tried to focus on the memory she wanted, the one showed the face of the man who had given him to chip. Her eyes unfocused and she found the memory, and discarded everything else before dropping the piece of meat to the floor.
Shooting the heart and head of the vampire, she gazed sadly at the bodies of the family around her, and set out to making sure they didn't become ghouls.
X x x x x x
Stalking forward, Ranma watched the second chip vampire warily. Already Hellsing soldiers were starting to mop up the ghouls that had been created. Everyone that she knew was safe, already out of the hotel, and safe. The second chip vampire was a woman in her early twenties and they had come here on vacation from what Ranma could tell from the man's memories. Listening to the fake vampire sob, she realized that she had her pistol pointed at the woman's head, ready to finish this.
Looking around, there were no dead bodies here, and no blood on the woman's clothing. 'She didn't lose herself.' Ranma realized, lowering the pistol, and placing it back in its holster. "Hey." Ranma said softly drawing the woman's wild eyes to her.
"I- what happened to me?" The false vampire asked. "Where's Jacob? He- he just went crazy."
Ranma knelt down in front of the confused woman. How was she supposed to explain that this innocent person had been turned into an uncontrollable killing machine. Ranma had no doubt that if it had been a human who had approached the woman, they would be dead now. Acting on an impulse, she moved forward, and hugged the taller woman. "I'm sorry." She whispered, feeling a cruel sense of déjà vu.
The woman latched on to her like a life preserver, crying into Ranma's shirt. "Please help me- I'm just so- hungry."
"I'll help you." Ranma whispered, rubbing the woman's shoulders with one hand while the other pulled out her pistol. Integral's words about Ryoga came to her. The lost boy had been under control but for how long? This poor woman was barely holding herself together, who she had been was being rapidly eaten away, and she was so desperate for blood that she was licking at the small amount that had splashed her clothing earlier.
"I'm sorry." With a single movement she brought the pistol to the woman's chest, and pulled the trigger. The chip vampire fell to ash after a brief shudder, leaving Ranma coated in a fine layer of the substance.
X x x x x x
"Clear Victoria?" Mason Fox asked her and she nodded.
Ceres sighed and clicked the safety on her weapon. She had scanned the hotel looking for anymore ghouls and vampires and the only vampires that were left were her and Ranma. Focusing back on Ranma, she noticed the depression, and how she wasn't moving. Moving quickly, she found the other draculina sitting with her back to a wall, her front covered in ash, and staring forward.
"Are you alright?" She asked, hoping that Ranma wasn't in a mood that would result in them fighting again.
"They were here on vacation from Cardigan." Ranma spoke sadly. "He was going to propose to her." The red head's eyes moved to look up at her. "She, Abigail- she was still able to think when I found her. The only thing I could do." Ranma stopped talking to look at the pile of ash.
She realized why Ranma was distraught and would have been as well if she had needed to deal with that. "Come on." She pulled at Ranma's arm, dragging the smaller vampire up to her feet. "It's better this way right?" Ceres tried to sound reassuring.
"Integra said the same kind of thing about Ryoga." Ranma allowed herself to be pulled along. "She was right. I couldn't let her live, if I had, she would have attacked people. She was losing herself as she talked to me."
The elevator ride down to the ground floor was quiet, but Ceres could see that Ranma was rapidly getting over having to execute the chip vampire. In the lobby, several soldiers were guarding the stair well, and two more were standing near the elevators. They were members of the Wild Geese and she didn't want to deal with them. Outside, the troops carriers were next to the doors, farther away local police were blocking off the area. Past the police a crowd of humans were standing around, some were no doubt from the hotel, while the rest were just curious.
"I need someone who can draw faces." Ranma finally spoke. "I took the memory from one of the vampires and I saw who gave them the chips but I'm not sure how long it'll last."
"I'll go see if I can find anyone." She made the smaller vampire sit down on the gate of a lorry with a cloth cover that had been used to transport the soldiers through the city. "Stay here and relax, you don't have to do everything yourself." She patted Ranma's thigh and shared a brief smile before taking off to talk to the police.
X x x x x x
Ranma switched her clothing to a simple pair of jeans and a long sleeved black shirt. Both were sized to her male form, but she liked the baggy feeling. The police sketch artist was unavailable for the next hour so she would have to go down to the police station in order to detail what the man looked like. Looking around, she tried to find where the Tendos and her father were.
A clue came when she heard a policeman say loudly. "I told you Ma'am, you have to stay back. Does she understand what I'm saying?"
Tracing the voice, she found the group traveling from Japan. The woman who had caused the disturbance was Nodoka, who was trying to cross the police line, with Genma trying to stop her. 'Mom.' She looked away from her parent, having hoped that she would have left for some impossibly convenient reason. Take a calming breath, she straightened out her clothing, and approached the group.
"Is there a problem?" She asked the policeman.
"What are you doing back here? This is a-." He trailed off as Ranma showed up her identification. "Oh, I'm sorry your clothing just threw me off. I can't get through to this woman that she has to stay back."
"Ranma, Genma said that you were here." Nodoka said but she ignored her mother for the moment.
"I'll handle it." She ducked under the police tape to stand in front of Nodoka. "Saotome-san, the area is no longer dangerous but you'll have to stay back. If you'll wait patiently, someone will be by to take you to a substitute hotel for the duration of your stay here in London." She told her mother as impassively as she could.
Nodoka drew herself up and looked to be holding back tears. "I deserve your anger."
Ranma paused briefly, unsure if she wanted to read her mother's mind or not, so she chose to just move on. "Pop, I'm sure it'd be fine if you slept at the mansion again but I don't know about anyone else."
"Ranma please talk to me." Nodoka spoke up before anyone else and Ranma's head snapped to stare directly into the woman's eyes.
"Talk to you?" Ranma snapped angrily. "Why would you want to talk to me?" Nodoka took a step back at the venom in her voice. "You made it very clear that you didn't even want to see the thing that has replaced your son." She spat. Nodoka's eyes were wide and her mouth opened and closed. "Did you have something to say now?" Ranma continued, taking a step towards Nodoka.
She didn't struggle against the anger that she felt towards her mother. Ranma had tried, she really wanted to be patient with everyone, to try and give them a chance in order to reconcile her old life with her new one. She could understand if Nodoka had a problem with her being a blood sucking monster, but her mother didn't care that people were her food, no it was that she wasn't being manly. Of all the things she could have found fault with.
"Please- can we talk?" Nodoka clasped her hands together and refused to look her in the eye.
Ranma stared at her mother for what seemed like minutes and then hours. "No." She finally answered, looking away from her mother.
"Ranma, quit being an idiot!" Akane hit her over the head.
"Hey!" She protested, rubbing at the impact point.
"If she really didn't care, why would she want to talk to you?" The youngest Tendo hit her over the head again.
"Ow! Stop hitting me!" Ranma was not in the mood for Akane's tender mercies. "Alright- if you want." She sighed.
X x x x x x
Up on a nearby rooftop, Cologne looked down at the action below. She didn't know what had happened for certain within the cordoned off building, but from the palpable feeling of dread it was not an event that humans could cause. At least not without the help of some dark artifact.
Picking out the familiar faces of the Tendo and Saotome families, she caught sight of Ranma in female form talking to them. Unable to make out the words, she could easily tell that there was a large amount of friction between Nodoka and her child. After some physical violence by the youngest Tendo, Ranma and Nodoka went through the police barricade to vanish into the hotel.
"Always the center of attention." She shook her head.
X x x x x x
"Is this private enough?" Ranma asked, using an office in the lobby area of the hotel for this little talk. Not that they really needed much privacy, no one would understand what they were saying anyways.
"Is this your job?" Nodoka asked, apparently trying to lead into things with small talk.
"It was." She answered. If Integral wanted her to do this anymore she would have to renegotiate certain things. This was a special instance that would hopefully not be happening again.
Nodoka glanced around the floor before kneeling down in an open spot and holding out her hand to indicate that Ranma should take a seat as well. Humoring the woman, she knelt down about a meter in front of her mother. In the isolated room it was impossible for her not to feel the emotions coming off of Nodoka, she was able to shut out any surface thoughts, but emotions still came through. She could feel depression, anger, some happiness, and a host of other emotions that were so conflicting that it was going to give her a headache if it kept up.
"After- you left last night. Akane said some things to me." Nodoka started. "Some that I agreed with- and others that I didn't." The Saotome woman took a moment to compose her thoughts. "When Genma vanished I- needed to think things over." Using a sleeve, she brushed away some tears. "I never really knew you, not like a mother should. You were right to challenge me last night for trying to force you to act a certain way with a contract that I myself had declared fulfilled.
Ranma stayed silent, realizing that this was the closest moment she had ever had with Nodoka.
"If you chose to be a woman then- I cannot support you." Nodoka shook her head. "I do not want a daughter. Even still- I shouldn't have overreacted like I did. I may not support you if you wish to remain female but you are still the child I waited all this time for, and I cannot live with the thought that all of it was for nothing." Nodoka finished, bowing her head forward.
"I- don't want to be your daughter." Ranma finally spoke.
"Then why?" Nodoka's emotional dam suddenly burst. "Was it the time you were Ranko? If I had known I never would have made you act like a girl."
"No." It was Ranma's turn to shake her head. "And I don't really want to be a girl or a vampire. It's just-." She looked down at herself. "It's like this vampire I know. She was turned as a little kid and if she wanted to she could look older but she doesn't. I could be a man, I could be a bat, or wolf, or something that I just came up with, but- it wouldn't change that this is the way I'll always truly look and I'll always be a vampire."
She looked away from Nodoka, realizing the full extent of what she had just said. Before she had wanted to ignore it and go about her life like it didn't matter. Ranma had accepted nearly every part about being a vampire, was she accepting this now? If her family had never showed up, would she have even cared to think about it?
"I didn't want to lie to any of you about what I am now- what I was made into." Ranma finished, the tension she had been feeling left her body, and she stared at her lap. She looked up when she heard Nodoka move herself to be directly in front of her. Ranma blinked several times and didn't resist when Nodoka hugged her, and pulled her head down to rest against the woman's chest.
"I can't stop hoping that you'll be a man- and many other things." Nodoka lightly ran a hand through the back of her hair. "But I'll try not to be so- judgmental."
Ranma relaxed into her mother's embrace and hugged the elder Saotome around the waist. "Mom." She choked into the completely out of place kimono. All the times that she had hidden from Nodoka came back to haunt her briefly before she latched on to the moment, and forcibly destroyed them.
X x x x x x
Putting the cigar to her lips, Integral surveyed the cleanup, and took in a few small breaths when Walter lit the tip of her cigar. The incident was too visible to simply cover up. Most attacks, including the one on her home, had been in remote parts of the country, and keeping it out of the media's focus had been difficult. Here though, it would be front page, top of the hour, and the only thing they would be able to keep quiet was who had done it. Families would have to be notified, many from out of country, which could easily lead to inquiries from foreign governments.
And to top it off she would be hearing about it from the Round Table members.
By now the men and women in her employ were no longer needed. Dedicated cleaners would be removing the evidence of death and destruction. She could see Ceres lounging on the back of one of the troop transports, clearly pleased with something. 'Hmm, where is Ranma?' She looked around, trying to spot the Asian vampire. This was the hotel where Ranma's family had been staying but she didn't expect the vampire to be with them.
"Do you know where Saotome's family is?" She asked Walter.
"I believe that is them over there." He pointed to a group of Asian tourists before drawing her attention to the front of the hotel where she saw Ranma walking out of the hotel next to a taller woman with features that left little doubt that the two were related.
"Walter would you mind bringing Ranma to me?" She asked her butler who bowed his head briefly before going off to accomplish the task. Judging by the look of optimism on Ranma's face, whatever had transpired between her and her family the night before must have been resolved in some way. Still, it was strange to see a vampire among the prior human family. As far as Integral knew, the family was knowledgeable on Ranma being a vampire, but appeared to be looking past that fact. Whether it was a noble or foolish decision she couldn't decide.
"You missed making my meal." She teased when Ranma finally arrived, the older woman standing nearby, and clearly not understanding what Integral had just said. 'Interesting clothing.' She thought at the robe like garment with a subtle flower pattern to it. If she remembered correctly the clothing was called a kimono.
"Was that more important?" Ranma remarked, clearly in a good mood by her joking tone, even if it was a rather morbid joke.
"It's good to know that helping humans remains a top priority of yours." Integral returned Ranma's jibe.
"I'm glad you approve." The vampire smiled smugly. "But is it yours?"
"Obviously." She answered.
"Then you wouldn't mind if my family and friends come to stay at the mansion till they leave."
Integral regretted her quick answer now and took a brief moment to take another drag of her cigar. As much as she wanted to accommodate and help to lead Ranma into a life coexisting with humans without the need for absolute control, she didn't want to be trampled by the possible demands. Having a group of foreigners at her family home was not part of the standard operating procedure. Ever since she had taken over, only a handful of special dignitaries had ever stayed a night. Honestly she didn't even know if there were rooms in a livable condition since a lot of furniture had needed to be removed after the assault by the chip vampires.
"I'll consider it." Integral finally answered and motioned for Walter to check if it was possible. The group from Japan would only be here for a few more days and she could hope they would remain out of the way during that time. Her home was very large after all. 'I can only pray.'
X x x x x x
1 - Ranma wore them when meeting the Queen. Generally Ranma still wears boxers.
I had planned to go further with this chapter, hence why it took so long to get out even though it's basically been done for a while now. For those of you that have read the side story and noticed Ranma's finger blade technique, this is the first time using it. The idea for this was taken from the Full Metal Alchemist character Lust. Ranma does tend to play off the lust of men, which is probably what gave me the idea.