It had started typically enough; A restless night's sleep, a piercing head ache, a feeling of... nothingness in the pit of his soul. Considering the hell that was his life, this wasn't anything he thought he should worry about. For all he knew, it was just bad gas.
Considering the monstrosities The Uncute One called food, it made perfect sense.
But then the dreams...
Of Blood, of endless war and the death that followed.
Of the words that echoed in his thoughts, conjured by the screams of the dying as they were burned by the fires of War.
The words that hounded him in the waking world...
'Only the strong survive.'
... And the Darkness that followed.
Written By: Matdeception
The doors pulled apart, a fresh blast of air invading, feebly pushing back the sterile air of the Airport. He ignored them, the people as they passed him by, the sounds and chatter of children and adults, he was much too annoyed to care a spit about them.
'Nabiki, this is all your fault.' Ranma growled as he stepped out into the street. He knew finances were tight, she never let a day go by with out reminding him of that fact. It just wasn't fair he'd get all the blame when the loonies came by trying to kill him; heck he actually went out of his way to avoid property damage after the Middle Tendo had made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he would pay her back every last yen note she spent repairing the damage.
Fishing a slip of paper from his pocket, he stared at the address curiously. "Xavier's school for Gifted Youngsters." Glancing up and down the street, he grunted and moved on.
While he was more then willing to pay her back, he couldn't believe she had the gall to arrange something like this. A job in America? Teaching kid's no less! There had to be a law against this type of thing, he hadn't even graduated high school yet for Kami's sake! How the hell had Nabiki managed to not only get him a job in a whole other country, but get him transferred to a whole different high school at the same damn time? He didn't know much about America, knew the language enough to speak it, but hell if he could read or write it worth a damn.
As he neared an intersection he vaguely noticed a rusted brown jeep screech to a halt at the corner. The vehicle was loud, black smoke billowing out the tail pipe, combined with the smell of burnt oil it nearly made him gag. He glanced at the driver, a boy around his age with a chiseled jaw and narrowed eyes. He looked right back at him, glaring.
"Hey Pietro, get a load of this guy?" The guy snorted, looking him up and down, "He's wearing pajamas!"
Pietro, a silver haired kid that looked like an asshole, glanced over and snorted, "Holy... he looks like a flaming fairy! Who the hell wears bright red like that nowadays?"
Ranma just frowned. 'Nice, not even here an hour and there's already pricks in my face.' He debated a second about just smacking the both of them, but shook that off. They were just idiots, if he stopped to hit every idiot he saw he'd probably still be at the Airport. That didn't mean he was about to let them get away with insulting him.
"Go ahead and laugh." the pig-tailed boy shrugged, "This is your mom's shirt."
"Wha... what did you say you mother fucker?" The silver-haired prick snarled, nearly lunging at him.
"I am what I am." he smirked, leaping up thirty feet on top of a lamp post. He gave them the one finger salute, snickering as the Driver held the guy in his seat, glaring at him. He ignored them, getting the lay of the land before jumping to a roof and taking off.
'Don't have time to deal with the jerks anyway.' he sighed, pulling out the map that had been printed out for him. The faster he got to this school, the faster he could teach the kids what they needed to know, the faster he could skip this burg and head home. Hopefully before his fiancee's managed to track him down, that was one explosive situation he'd just much rather avoid.
He liked breathing, thanks.
Breakfast time at the Xavier Institute could best be described as hectic. Between the children fighting over the food, boisterous laughter mixed with pleasant conversation combined with groans when the children realized they had a test today, there really was no way to predict just how the day was going to be.
Today, however, the children seemed to be in good mood. Xavier smiled lightly, sipping his tea as he watched them joke and chat amiably. He burned that image into his mind, the smile on Rogue's lips, the way Kitty rolled her eyes, how Evan and Kurt laughed in tandem, the exasperated sigh of Jean as Scott just smiled and ignored her nagging. The Amiable atmosphere was contagious...
Shame, if things went as predicted, this would be the last joyful morning they would have for quite awhile.
He checked his watch, it was nearly time. "Children, we'll be receiving a new instructor today. I'd like you all to come home immediately after school to meet him."
Storm glanced at him knowingly.
"Another instructor?" Scott spoke up, "What is he going to be teaching?"
"Now now." Xavier just smiled, "I don't want to ruin the surprise. Just make sure you're here on time."
The kids shrugged, turning back and continuing their conversation.
"Are you sure this is wise." Storm asked, shielding her lips from view by sipping at some tea.
Logan snorted, but said nothing. They both knew exactly where he stood concerning this.
"I have my reservations, of course." Xavier allowed, "But ultimately, they aren't important. The children have been growing... complacent in light of their victories." he raised his hand to stall the woman, "We set out to teach them their powers, to put faith in what they have been gifted with, and we have succeeded admirably. But did we do the right thing? How much longer do you think they have before they run into a situation their powers can't handle?"
Storm knew this argument. It wasn't the first time it had come up. "But to arrange for them to fail so completely..."
The feral man broke in, "Winning is easy, getting back up after you get knocked down is the true test of a person's character."
"I understand your concerns." Xavier sighed softly, smiling comfortingly, "But where better to have their faith crushed, here where they are in no danger, or out there where failure can only lead to getting hurt, or even death."
Storm nodded slowly, staring into her tea cup thoughtfully.
"Trust me, Storm." The Professor continued, "I chose this path for a reason. Saotome-san will do what we can not, and then rebuild them stronger than before. They will learn that while their powers make them special, it is their minds that truly make them strong."
The children sighed as one, getting up and waving as they paraded out the door.
"Logan, inform Hank we will be having a guest down to meet him shortly. Prepare a full security exam and profile for Mr. Saotome." Xavier wheeled out, "Storm, if you'd be kind to wait with me in the Foyer, our guest is due to arrive within the hour."
Logan grunted, disappearing down the hall.
Storm spoke as she followed him, "I hope you know what you're doing, Professor."
Ranma blinked. Holy crap, THIS was Xavier's School? It was a mansion! Hell, their yard was big enough to fit Furinkan high, all the side buildings, and most of the block with room to spare! What kind of people had Nabiki set him up with?
He shook his head after a moment. Whatever, so the people he was working for were rich, they'd have to be with Nabiki's no doubt extortionist rates. He ignored the twin gates, jumping up and over the wall. He walked up the driveway, eying the house curiously. Life as a Martial Artist had taught him many things, most notably how to mark entrances and possible avenues of exploitation in a home. He hadn't really considered why Genma had taught him to do it when he had been young, but after learning the Umi-sen-ken and seeing the Yama-sen-ken in action, he wanted to strangle the panda for trying to turn him into some super crook.
The Pig-tailed boy just sighed, shaking that thought off. Best just to get this started...
He knocked on the door.
The woman that opened the door was a beauty, he couldn't deny it. Her starch white hair exotic, her smooth caramel flesh catching his attention so much he almost couldn't look away. She smiled at him, a calm serene thing that seemed so beautiful and so very, very wrong to him. It was flat, calm, and even, a practiced smile if he had ever saw one.
"Mr. Saotome?" She spoke in dulcet tones, snapping him out of his surprised stare.
"Eh... yeah, that's me." He coughed, "You Xavier?"
She shook her head.
"That would be me." He followed the voice, spying the bald, crippled man smiling at him friendly like. "And this is Ororo Munroe, a fellow instructor here. Please, come inside."
Ranma grunted, wiping his feet on the doormat and stepping inside. After seeing the outside, he was rather surprised at the homey, down to earth look and feel of the inside. Hardwood floors, some carpet here and there, even a chandelier but nothing that really screamed opulent. Comfortably rich, yes, but he just didn't get the feeling these people were the types to keep diamond studded tooth picks in their bathroom.
"Would you like a tour of the school?"
Ranma eyed the man, shrugging, "Don't take this the wrong way, but I just want to get this started."
"Oh? Is there any particular reason why, Mr. Saotome?" The Nubian beauty asked, staring at him intently with those calm, serene brown eyes.
She was starting to freak him out, honestly. "Eh.. Ranma, just Ranma. Calling me Mr. Saotome makes me feel old, I'm only seventeen for Kami sake!"
"Very well Ranma." Xavier grinned, "If you're certain you'd like to skip the tour, I suppose we can go below and begin the Security Profile procedures."
"The what now?" He scratched his head at that.
"This Institute has many areas that are kept secured for various reasons." Xavier explained as they stopped in front of a book case, he idly reached up and pulled a book, "As a resident, we need to create a security profile for system management purposes." he finished, letting the book go.
Ranma blinked as the bookcase slid back, revealing a steel door that slid open.
'What the hell has Nabiki gotten me into?'
'I am going to kill you when this is over, Nabiki.'
The Security Profiling had turned out to be a glorified medical exam. He had never seen more needles in his life than he had in the last three hours, and that was saying something considering he was a Master at Anything Goes Martial Arts Sewing. Though, the doctor, a blue ape, was kinda cool. Hank, he thought his name was. The other guy, Logan, was a dick though.
"There now, that wasn't so bad." His tormentor just smiled at him pleasantly, he had to fight back the urge to deck the bald bastard. Now was not the time to murder his boss, if he did he might not get paid, if he didn't get paid then Nabiki would cut Mr. Happy off, and he rather liked him where he was.
"If you say so."
He ignored the Nubian woman as she set out six folders. He was rather irritated she seemed to be following him around, and the longer she was there the stronger that feeling of 'wrongness' got.
"Well Ranma, these are the profiles of the children you'll be training." Xavier pointed out.
Ranma grunted, grabbing one randomly. He flipped it open, briefly glanced at the picture of a Brown Haired guy with ruby red shades, skimming through his information. "Huh... what the hell is an 'Optic Blast'?"
"Laser beams." The Feral looking guy put in.
"Okay... and why is that kinda crap in this guy's profile?" Ranma retorted, annoyed.
"Because young Scott can shoot these from his eyes." Xavier responded simply.
"Really?" He breathed in awe, suddenly finding the kid's profile all the more interesting. "That's wild." If this kid can shoot lasers from his eyes, what the hell could these other kids do?
He opened another profile, glanced at the picture of a beautiful red head with green eyes. "What the hell is Telekinesis and Telepathy?"
"She can move things with the power of her mind, as well as hear people's thoughts and communicate back to them."
"Talk about Privacy invasion." he shrugged, picking up the next folder. He blinked at the blue furred guy demon looking guy. He couldn't help but whistle when he caught sight of his power, "Teleportation, man that's all kinds of awesome." he glanced at The Beast, "Though man, don't breed anymore, blue fur isn't all that popular."
Hank blinked, "He's not my child, Mr. Saotome."
"For the love of..." Ranma sighed, "It's Ranma, please just call me that."
Next folder was a rather cute girl with white streaks intermingled through her brown hair. She had an unhealthy pale skin tone and sad eyes. "Memory and Power Absorption through touch eh?" he shrugged. Definitively not as cool as Teleportation.
Next folder had a kid with a blond flat top, "Self-regenerating exo skeleton?" he looked at Xavier for an explanation.
"Ah, yes, young Evan. He can accelerate bone growth, creating a resilient suit of armor, projectiles, and other assorted weapons."
'So he's like Mousse, only he doesn't need Hidden Weapon Style.' he snorted. Mousse wasn't the best fighter, he didn't think this kid would be either. He picked up the last folder, glancing at yet another cute girl, only this one looked happy. "What the hell is..."
Xavier coolly interjected, "She can walk through walls."
"Right." Ranma frowned, putting the folder down, "Now I'm kinda curious..."
"About?" Logan broke in.
"What the hell is up with these powers? Are they possessed, aliens, or what?"
'Aliens?' Logan mouthed. Ranma made a mental note to introduce him to the Tomobiki Ward.
"Ah, no, nothing like that." Xavier sweat dropped, "They were born with these abilities, it's a genetic trait."
"Oh." Ranma nodded. So they were kinda like Herb, but instead of being born with huge Ki Reserves they had funky red laser beams and could teleport, no big deal. "Alright, I get that." he frowned, "So you just want me to teach them some martial arts?"
"Ah, eventually, yes." Xavier quickly continued before the boy could ask another question, "Let me explain. These children came here with the promise that we would teach them how to control and utilize their special gifts, to accept this facet of their lives. We've succeeded admirably... and failed spectacularly."
Ranma blinked, "Eh, how's that?"
"They've accepted their powers, true, they've even far exceeded my expectations with their ability. However, they put all their faith in their powers, they believe it to be the central reason they're strong."
The Pig-tailed boy nodded. He was starting to get the picture here, "So they rely on that power all the time?"
"For the most part, yes." Xavier nodded, "Aside from Ms. Grey and Rogue, the others believe there is nothing they can't overcome with the use of their powers."
"Okay." he grunted, "So you want me to break that little habit?"
"One problem with that, doc." Ranma groused, "Aside from beating them to within an inch of their lives, how the heck do you expect me to do that?"
Xaiver blinked. He threw brief glances at the other teachers before saying, "Well, because you're a Void Ranma."
The boy blinked, "Okay, I'll bite, what the hell is a void and what makes you think I am one?"
There was a pregnant pause amongst the adults...
"Oh this is rich! The kid doesn't have a clue what he is!' Broken by Logan shaking his head and laughing.
Xavier pursed his lips thoughtfully, "Ranma... you do realize you're a mutant?"
"Have you been talking to Kuno?" he snorted, "And what the heck is a mutant?"
"Oh my..." Storm breathed. Ranma just looked at her, shifting his chair away slightly. That woman seriously unnerved him.
Xavier rubbed his forehead tiredly, "A mutant is a human being with an Active X-gene. The X-gene is the next step in human evolution, it activates during adolescence and through a series of other factors, most notably stress."
"Okay... so I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say these kids you want me to break are mutants?"
"Cool." Ranma shrugged, "Hate to burst your bubble though, but I'm definitely not a mutant. No special powers that I didn't have to work hard to get."
Xavier frowned, opening his senses to confirm. He could feel the minds of the other adults, but where Ranma sat there was a void, a hungry void that withered and convulsed within the pit of his stomach. He let go of his power. "I assure you Ranma, you are a mutant, I can prove it."
Ranma chuckled. Oh this was rich. Him? A mutant? Not that he cared if he was or wasn't, but he sure as hell didn't get any free power ups like these kids did. All his strength was earned through blood, sweat, and tears. "You're welcome to try."
"Very well." Xavier glanced at Hank, "Mr. McCoy here is a mutant, his mutation gives him great agility and strength, but also affects a physical change."
"The blue fur?" Ranma added sarcastically.
"Yes." Xavier nodded, "Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, he can not shut off this power."
"Oh... that kinda sucks."
"You're telling me." Hank chuckled
"If you are a Void, when Mr. McCoy touches you then his mutation should be suppressed, allowing him to return to the form of his birth." Xavier looked thoughtful, "And if you aren't a Mutant, nothing should happen."
"I get it." Ranma shrugged, "Go ahead doc, lay it on me."
Hank glanced apprehensively at the Professor, at his nod he turned and put his hand on the boy's exposed arm.
Ranma boggled at the sight. The blue fur literally pulled back and vanished beneath the skin, the man's form slimming down as his muscles rippled and shrunk. In the span of a second the furry blue ape had transformed into a normal looking guy.
"Fascinating..." the man breathed, staring at his free hand in wide eyed wonder.
Xavier coughed, "Hank?"
"Hmm? What is it Professor?" The once-Beast asked distractedly.
The Professor just looked at him.
"Oh." he pulled his hand back, his body shifting and regrowing his fur as he did so. "Sorry."
Ranma just stared. He was a Mutant? Okay, fine, he could deal with that. Not like he even knew what a mutant was before now anyway. "Okay, so say I believe you. What the heck is a Void?"
"Well, a Void is basically a nullifer." Xavier explained kindly, "You are essentially a blind spot to telepathy, and as we've already proven you can nullify mutations through skin to skin contact."
"That's it?" Ranma grinned. That was kinda cool, he wouldn't have turned down a power up if it had turned out to be one, but he wasn't going to bitch if it wasn't one either.
"Well, as far as we've been able to determine, yes." He raised his hand to forestall the boy's questions, "Mutations are still largely unexplored, you could develop other abilities related to your nullification powers in the future, we just don't know enough."
Ranma grunted, glancing at the folders. "Alright. Guess this means I'm the man for the job after all." he frowned thoughtfully, "I'm going to need a place we can fight and not have to worry about too much property damage, do you guys know any place like that?"
"Kid." Logan grinned, it wasn't a nice grin, "You're going to love the Danger Room, I guarantee it."
"So what do you think this new instructor will be like?" Jean asked, getting out of the car.
Scott shrugged, "Who's to say? If he's anything like Storm, it shouldn't be a problem, but if he's like Logan..."
"Like, that would be scary." Kitty squeaked.
Cyclops tried to imagine two Logan's in the same room. He shuddered. That was like trying to mix oil and water, it just didn't work that way.
Evan shrugged, "I dunno about you, but I think another Logan would be cool. He's a good teacher, even if he doesn't... you know, actually teach."
Jean just shook her head at that thought. She didn't find the idea of a second Wolverine appealing, and thought it was rather unfair to wish this new instructor to be anyone else other than who he was. Oh well, they'd be meeting him soon enough and they'd find out what he's like.
As they entered the door they spied Logan sitting at a table, idly fooling around with what looked like a collapsible sword.
"We're home!" Kitty sing songed.
The Feral man snorted, "Shut up and suit up, you kids have a Danger Room session in twenty minutes."
Jean blinked, "Uh... I thought we were going to be meeting the new instructor today?"
"You will be." Logan grinned nastily, it was almost enough to send the kids running for the hills, "He's the guy you'll be facing in the Danger Room, wants to test your abilities."
Evan grinned, two bone blades popping through his wrists and into his hands. He twirled the deadly bone creations like a pro, "Oh sweet! He's a hands on kind of teacher, I knew I was gonna like this guy!"
Kurt nodded, "Hands on is always ze best, no?"
Scott shrugged, "We'll, you heard the man. Let's get suited up."
"One sec." Logan glanced at them, counting heads, "Where's Rogue?"
"Like, she made a new friend at school today. Her name's Risty, she seems really cool!" Kitty chirruped, "She said she'd be home a little late, but that she'll be here."
Logan frowned dangerously at that. "I see." He thumbed to the hidden elevator, "Get suited up, now."
"This is where you live?" Risty Wilde breathed in awe, "Are you rich or something?"
Rogue shook her head, but couldn't keep from smiling. She had only just met the girl, but there was something about her that made her like her. "Nah, it's just tha Institute I live at with the others."
"Cool." Risty smiled, "Want to show me around? I've never been to a place like this."
Rogue was tempted, very tempted to invite the girl in. She would have too, if she hadn't remembered the fact a new instructor was coming today that she was supposed to meet. She eyed her watch, grimacing. Correction, an instructor she was already late to meet. "Ah, can't. Got a new Instructor comin today, supposed to be ah meet and greet."
"Oh." Risty nodded, waving it off, "No big deal, can always do it later."
"I'd like that." Rogue smiled, stepping in the gates, "Tomorrow maybe?"
Risty grinned, "Sure thing! Bye Rogue!"
"Bye!" The Rogue turned and ran up the street as if the fires of hell were on her ass; Considering she was late, and Logan's likely reaction, she probably wasn't too far off on that mark.
"A new instructor, eh?" Risty frowned thoughtfully.
"I'm only counting five." He noted, rubbing his shoulder. He had taken off his traditional clothes, opting instead for a skin tight black body suit that covered every inch of his body from the neck down, except for his arms, leaving exposed skin from his hands to his elbows. His pigtail was undone also, hanging loosely down his shoulders.
"Yes, Rogue is missing." Xavier frowned, "We'll give her a few more minutes, if she doesn't show we'll have to go with out her."
Ranma nodded, watching the children through the two way mirror. The black kid, Evan if he remembered right, looked anxious. He was practically brimming in his seat, ready to explode in his barely contained excitement. The Beasts not-kid seemed relaxed, staring at the roof grinning confidently, while the cute girl, Kitty, was all smiles as she chatted with the beautiful red head.
His eyes lingered on Scott, or more importantly his visor. He was the guy with the laser beams right? "Hey Doc..."
"Why does he wear a visor?" he pointed at Cyclops, "Is it just a bad fashion sense, or does he seriously think he looks cool like that?"
Xavier sighed, "Scott is much like Hank, his power is always on. If he doesn't wear the protective lens, then his powers would rage unchecked."
"Oh." Ranma grunted, "Is it just him, or do any of the others have the same problem?"
"Actually, Rogue has the same problem."
'Rogue.' Ranma reached into stuff space, pulling out the files. He glanced over the names until he found the girl in question. "... Oh, she's the one who can drain Memories and powers by touch huh?" he blanched at the thought. Not being able to turn off a power like that didn't sound fun at all. "That kinda sucks."
"Yes, it's an issue young Rogue has had to deal with since her mutation activated." Xavier shook his head sadly, "It's been difficult on her, not being able to reach out and touch anyone for fear of her power."
"I'll say." Ranma grunted, "She can't even get a dog! Can you imagine how screwed up it would be to pet your dog and suddenly know what it's like to lick your crotch clean?"
Xavier stared at him in horror, but Ranma didn't notice, putting the files back in stuff space.
The door opened, Logan stepped in and grunted, "Rogue's suiting up... Chuck? Something wrong?" He eyed the rather disturbing look on the man curiously.
Xavier shuddered, mumbling, "I'm scarred for life."
"You too?" Ranma blinked.
"I don't want to know." The feral like man snorted, "Once Rogue's ready, I'll give them a briefing and set them loose. You ready to do your thing?"
"Yep." Ranma paused by the door, glancing back, "Hey Doc, you sure about this? Cause once I start I'm not going to stop until they're in itty bitty pieces."
Xavier sighed thoughtfully, "Ranma... sometimes you have to hurt the ones you love in order for them to grow."
"If you say so, doc."
Rogue rushed into her seat as fast as she possible could, cheeks flushing pink at everyone's stare. "Not one damn word." she snapped, irritated.
If anyone was going to comment to that, they didn't get a chance as the door opened, Logan stepping in with a serious, no nonsense look. He eyed them all dismissively as he walked to the front of the table. "All right, now that Rogue has decided to grace us with her presence..."
Rogue just sighed.
"... we can get this show on the road." Logan grinned darkly, "The New Instructor had decided to ignore the meet and greet and get right to the pain. He's inside the Danger Room right now, waiting for you kids to get in there and show him exactly what you're made of."
"Hot damn!" Evan smacked the table, "Well what are we waiting for, let's get in there and show him what the X-men can do!"
"Not so fast, hot head." Logan growled, "I ain't done giving you your instructions."
"So, like, hurry up so we can get in there!" Kitty grinned excitedly.
'So god damn overconfident.' Logan snorted. 'We've put this shit off for far too long.'
"Alright, the rules for this little exercise." Logan pulled out a small note pad from his jacket, "Rule one, Safeties are in effect, but lowered to the absolute lowest setting Chuck would let him. It will hurt, a lot, so be on your toes and avoid getting hit."
Jean frowned at that. The Safety measures were in place to protect them from getting injured, or injuring each other. This new instructor really was turning out to be a second coming of Logan.
"Rule two; Anything goes, no restrictions on powers. He wants you to use every dirty trick you know, because he's going to be doing the same to you." he glanced at Rogue pointedly, "He's reviewed the files on your power and given his okay, if you can get your hands on him drain to your hearts content."
Rogue nodded darkly. "Fine."
"Rule Three; the simulation will only end if one of two objectives are achieved." The feral like man grinned nastily, "You either defeat him, or he breaks you." he pocketed the note, "Now, any questions?"
"What's the scenario?"
"An unknown assailant has made off with Vital information critical to the survival of the Human race, he managed to bypass all Security measures and hack the mainframe." Logan grunted, "He escaped into the city, and your team was sent to stop him. You have a green light, permission to shoot first and question the remains, and have no fear of hurting civvies as they've been cleared out of the area."
"No info on his mutation then." Jean pointed out.
"Nope." Logan shrugged. "Anything else?" hearing no response, "Get in there and show him what you're made of."
I kept the reason for Ranma being there simple, and yes I used an apparently cliche mutation. I really don't see why it's Cliche, but then again I've only read Dragon Lu's Evolution fic, which didn't have it, and then my own (IF anyone knows a good Ranma/Evo cross, feel free to hit me up).
Anyway, no, the Void is not nullification. Rather, I can Nullify, but the Void is something far, far, far more serious. Right now Ranma's in a chrysalis stage, it's only a matter of time until he... well... matures.
And boy is that gonna suck.
CC welcome, not planning on posting this anywhere else right now.
Edited: Thanks to everyone, especially Foesjoe for editing this error filled monstrosity