Author's note: This is my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month. I've always been tempted to try it, since first hearing about the event, but given my usual pace of writing (glacial) I figured why bother. Anyhow, I had an interesting idea for a story two days ago, so I figured, why not? Let's see the results when I don't masticate each paragraph to death. It should be interesting.
Chapter One: Awakening
The air over Jusendo was saturated with energy. Two combatants defied the laws of physics in the heated mountain air. The first was a young martial artist named Saotome Ranma, whose sole goal was to reach the fountain of life giving water below, to save the life of his fiancée, Tendo Akane. The second was Saffron, a winged being that wielded fire based powers, who had threatened the stability of the entire region of China in order to "ascend," and had abducted Akane, nearly killed the girl so that one of his followers could take her form, and even now opposed Ranma's attempts out of sheer spite.
The boy used the ice based powers of the Gekkaja to shield himself from yet another fiery blast from Saffron, who didn't even need the Gekkaja's counterpart, the Kinjakan, to project the fire blasts the man sent at him. Held aloft by column of air he had created with the Gekkaja's power, Ranma felt an unfamiliar emotion growing within him. Not anger, for he was furious at Saffron for dragging Akane into this, and at the man's unilateral decision to divert the source of the cursed springs of Jusenkyo, which had started the chain of events that had lead Akane and him to this place.
Instead, disgust filled the boy. He felt disgust at the selfishness of a being that held such power. Disgust at his friends, whose selfishness, he realized, had also endangered innocents frequently. And disgust at himself, whose own selfishness had lead him to maintain the status quo for far too long.
In fact, it was his selfish desire defeat Saffron, rather than kill him, that tied his hands and lead to the destruction they had waged all around them. To not stain his hands with the blood of a sapient being, despite the man's reckless use of his powers. If he let the battle continue, who knew how much suffering they would inflict upon the region.
Below, Saffron had noted the change in the insolent insect's demeanor. It had changed from desperation to an almost icy anger, all directed at him. The fireball he had sent at the boy had been deflected almost contemptuously. The second fireball, backed with the power the Kinjakan, was deflected almost as easily. When the boy struck back, it was with a degree of power he had never before displayed. An icy crescent of energy emerged from the Gekkaja, which pierced the flames that held Saffron aloft with alarming ease. Saffron's last though, before the boy's attack bisected him, freezing each half in the process, was 'That's impossible.'
- + - + -
Ryouga, Shampoo, and Mousse were silent as Ranma landed atop the carved dragon's head, one of a pair of giant spouts that had made up Saffron's chamber of ascension. The boy's entire demeanor had changed, to such a degree that he was almost unrecognizable. They watched as Ranma turned on the cold water, and immersed the desiccated body of Akane, restoring her to life. The girl tried to say something as he wrapped his shirt around her renewed body, but the look on her fiancé's face stole every word. Without a word, he stretched his hand towards the Gekkaja, which turned in the giant faucet and came flying into his hand. Seconds later, the Kinjakan joined its mate.
As Ranma led a confused Akane away, he turned to look at the equally confused Amazons, and the stunned lost boy. "Shampoo, tell your great grandmother to get everything you have on Jusenkyo, and bring it to the Guide's house by tomorrow."
Growing angry at Ranma's imperious attitude towards his beloved Shampoo, Mousse angrily demanded, "Why on earth should Cologne do that?"
With a confident smile that turned Mousse's guts to ice, and drove Shampoo to tears, Ranma replied, "Because if she doesn't, I'll shatter your murderous little anachronistic village like an egg."
Akane, horrified at Ranma's changed attitude, stared over her shoulder at Kiima, who had fallen to her knees, tears streaming down her face. "Saffron! No!"
- + - + -Ten Years Later…
Saotome Ranma lay back on the roof of the Hilton, ignoring the glorious display of downtown Tokyo below, and gazed up at the nearly full moon above. 'That's the problem with big cities,' she mused to herself, 'you really can't get a good look at the stars. But then, the moon has its own charm, and she presents a fresh face each night.'
She closed her eyes, once again trying to get a sense of the strange feeling she'd been having for the last week. She tuned out the sounds of late night traffic below, the music that could be heard from the party below, and allowed the cool November wind to carry her thoughts towards the call she was feeling. 'What is it? Who are you? What are you? Where are you?'
Ranma's eyes snapped open at the sound of the stairwell door below her. She sat up and watched as the slight figure idly walked across the tennis court below, her arms hugging her torso, to lean against the fence and stare at the scene below. Ranma recognized the girl as the guest of honor at the party below, the latest manufactured idol singer whose first record had just come out today. Ranma had been to several of these coming out parties, and couldn't help but feel sympathy for the girls who really didn't realize what they were about to get themselves into. Smiling, she stood before asking, "Nervous about tomorrow?"
Startled, the girl whirled around. "Ah… Takeda-san. Komban wa."
Ranma dropped down from the roof of the stairwell, her legs barely flexing to absorb the three-meter drop. She had to smile at the girl's wide eyes, and her whispered, "Sugoi."
Smile still firmly in place, she walked gracefully across the tennis court to join the girl at the fence. "Oh, please. That was just the legacy of a misapplied youth. And call me Megumi."
"Well, are you?"
"Am I what?"
"Just a little."
"Would you like a little advice?"
The girl looked at Ranma worshipfully, "Hai."
"The first is don't take the record executive's claims that you have a 'duty to your fans' too seriously. If you look at your career as a duty, rather than something that you can find contentment with, then you'll have failed anyways. Genuine fans don't just follow the fads, they find meaning in your music. They listen not because it's 'in,' but because it cheers them up when they're down, it inspires them when they're uncertain, or because they find empathy in it when they need it. And you'll be able to find the same in them. It's a like a relationship, really, just a rather unusual one. They can tell when you're just going through the motions."
The girl nodded seriously.
"The second is don't focus on the whole audience. Just find one person in it, and sing to them. I find it helps."
"And third... what's your favorite Fukami Rika song?"
"She was an idol when I was your age. Just about everyone had a favorite song that they absolutely loved, saved their allowance to go to her concerts, and collected her CDs and memorabilia."
"What happened to her?"
"Her fans grew up and became adults, had adult concerns, and needed their money for adult things. She had grown up as well, and was out of sync with the young teens of the time, and so the record companies went out and found the next big idol. Nobody told her that the typical idol has a shelf life of six years, and that the record companies are very aware of this."
Ranma placed a sympathetic arm around the girl's shoulders. "Don't worry too much about it. I checked, and your manager is one of the good ones, even if he's a little odd. If you ask, he can help you build a career that'll last as long as you want. Or you can just enjoy the ride. After all, they have a lot of experience at making it a good one. Just make sure you save your money for after the ride ends."
The two turned when the stairwell door opened up. An extravagantly dressed man poked his head through the door, looking through the roof. His eyes widened when he caught sight of the pair on the roof. "Ah, there she is! I got a little worried when you disappeared!" Waving a fan he'd pulled out from somewhere, fanned himself off. "These parties can get to much sometimes, can't they?"
Smiling, he hurried up to the two women standing on the roof. "And Megumi-san! How good of you to look after her!" With good humor, Ranma allowed the man to plant an air kiss on each cheek. "You look as magnificent as usual, my dear. When will we get a chance to listen to your new album?"
"Music is like fine wine. Allowing it to age just makes it all the sweeter. Seeing that you're in good hands, Minako-chan, I'll return to the party." She gave the girl a quick hug, and then a kiss on the cheek. Smiling at the girl's reaction, said, "I'll see you there soon."
Wide-eyed, thirteen year old Aino Minako placed a hand to her cheek. "Hai. Thank you, Megumi-san!"
Saotome Ranma, known to the world as Takeda Megumi, singer, actress, and model, kept her smile in place until she stepped into the stairwell. 'Something's coming. I can feel it. But what is it? Could it be that the others are awakening too?'
Ranma paused on the landing, frowning at the thought. 'Kami-sama, I hope not. The last thing this world needs is for those three selfish brats to destroy it again.'
Author's note: In case you couldn't tell, I just finished a Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon fansub marathon (thank you TV-Nihon!). I really enjoyed it, though the early fight scenes were somewhat painful to watch. They thankfully get a lot better later on.