Ranma Saotome was a problem. It wasn't that he actively sought out trouble.... far from it, really. It was simply that he was a chaotic snarl of tangles in what was supposed to be a gentle, even weave. The only way to fix such snarls was to clip them out in their entirety, lest they ruin the whole cloth.
But the real problem about Ranma, reflected the guardian of the Time Gates, was that unlike others, he simply refused to lie down and die!
It wasn't that she enjoyed killing people off.... Well, maybe there was just a touch of a certain guilty thrill, but that wasn't important. People dangerous to the flow of time usually at least did her the favor of staying dead.
It completely escaped her that everything she did was just making things worse, as the 'disaster' she'd started into this to prevent had simply been Ranma hurtling out of the air to land in a fresh crater in the middle of a battle between the Sailor Senshi and the random monster of the week. He'd summarily thrashed the creature and left. That was all that the Senshi had ever seen of him, and they'd never come into contact again.
But the mere realization that there were normal people out there who could take down monsters on their own had been enough to shake the Senshi somewhat.... and reduce the chances of Crystal Tokyo coming about by a full zero point three percent. It didn't sound like much, did it? But it was actually rather substantial.
The first attempt to remove him had been simple manipulation from afar of one of his rivals.... Mousse had realized that guns could be classified as weapons too. And as fast as Ranma was, he couldn't dodge the full spray of fire from two submachine guns. Mousse had left Saotome in a happy daze, to 'claim his Shampoo'.
Pity that Ranma had managed to hold out long enough to get to the hospital. It had taken some doing on the part of the emergency room staff, but he'd lived. And apparently woken up to the realization that his 'buddies' really were doing their damndest to kill him.
In that timeline, certain regulars of Nerima slowly came up missing as the Yakuza expanded its territory, a shadowy new crime lord at their head. Oddly enough, not even Nabiki put two and two together to equate 'Ranma' with 'The Stallion'.
Hm. Again, Ranma ended up crossing paths with a monster of the week attack.... only this time he'd had a platoon of bodyguards with him in his 'official' capacity. A Youma aganst a squad of cops with nightsticks or tonfa was one thing. But as it turned out, enough bullets would kill them. Especially if there was a thick enough spray to actually carve the thing to pieces. It probably would have regenerated from that eventually, as it was still screaming obscenities at the Yaks, but they'd swiftly gotten around to heaping the limbs up on the torso, dousing it with some spare gasoline from the back of one of the cars, and a lit match finished it off for good. Once it stopped screaming they went back to their business, ignoring the short skirted cheerleading brigade who had watched the whole thing in a surprised sort of awe.
Okay, try to fix this.... maybe if Nabiki actually did equate.... oh dear. Oh that is messy. A testament to why one doesn't try to blackmail the local crimelord. She'd thought her smarter than that. Alright, rewind..... back to the broken and bloody bullet ridden scene.
Just a bit of tampering and all phone lines in the area went out shortly before Mousse attacked. This time, Ranma bled out in front of screaming bystanders. Good. Aside from initial shock, nobody in Nerima really cared. Also good. Nodoka sent the fathers to have Ranma cremated, and they decided to half ass things once again, dropping the boy's heavy coffin off a cliff to sink slowly into the ocean as it floated away while they filled the urn with ashes from the leftovers of a nearby barbecue.
Hm. Okay. It's not like that was really unexpected, come to think of it. The problem was where Ranma's corpse had ended up. Through a bizarre series of ecological events, the coffin was still floating by the time it hit america and, through some unexplained twist, the river it hit began flowing backwards for a couple of days, landing it in..... Racoon city. Great.
Pluto watched on, morbidly fascinated, as the animated corpse of Ranma Saotome set itself up as leader of the shambling hoards and they systematically ate the world, leading it to its final death as just one more floating ball of rock as even the zombies starved to death over millenia. REWIND!
Okay, lets go a little bit further back. Hm. Love pill incident. That would do. Just make a careful switch so that he swallowed the lifetime pill instead of the instant one, and he'd spend the rest of his life in a backwater chinese village either married to a hideous old crone or mourning at her grave. Or he would have been, if the crone in question didn't later come across mushrooms from the forest of time. And..... yes, the Amazons were warriors werent they. Once the duo of a youthened Cologne and a Ranma trained in absolutely everything they had to offer, rather than just the tidbits they'd been showing him as temptations got together... There was a decent chance of them taking over all of China after they dealt with their warring neighbors. A slightly smaller chance than that of them conquering all of Asia. And a slightly smaller chance of them using Asia as a springboard to conquer the world, one country at a time.
Hm. That won't do at all. No, it seemed she'd have to go back further. The first meeting at the Tendos? It only took a little bit for Akane to swing the table at a slightly different angle... and Ranma's neck broke with a crack. He lived, but was consigned to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and was disowned by his father immediately after the prognosis was made. At this point, the art was his life, and he sank into a deep depression, ending in suicide. On an enormous scale. She was tempted, for a moment, to figure out where he'd gotten the nukes that had taken him out, and all of Tokyo with him. Sailor Senshi included. Bad timeline.... naughty.
She pondered a moment over Jusenkyo and the surrounding areas but, suprisingly, what curse he had and what Amazon was after him had very little relevance to the big picture. The line where he'd actually drowned in one of the springs was even worse, as there were soon close to a dozen part-time Ranmas mucking up the works. Bad Juju. There was a far too good chance of Crystal Tokyo turning into Crystal Nerima if things went much further down that route.
How about a little further back? She ignored the way the Time gates, sensitive instruments not meant to be used for such a long span of time and for such intensive work, were beginning to dim. She'd only be a few more minutes after all, now that she'd found this.... the Nekoken.
With a little bit of prodding, Genma was convinced that it would be a better idea to use alley cats than pampered housebreeds. With a little more, he went out of his way to look for the ones that were foaming at the mouth, or especially vicious. Needless to say, Chibi-Ranma came out of it with a whole lot more than a few light scars and some mental trauma. He lost one leg below the knee, a couple fingers, an eyeball, and an ear. The rest of his body was a patchwork of scars. Bad enough that he'd survived, but as he grew up he became one of the leading scientists of the time. Eccentric as he was. Sailor Moon only had a few days worth of fighting off youma before he came out with a line of affordable 'Youma-repellants', pendants that emanated cross-interfering waves of energy that the creatures would flee screaming and clutching at their heads to avoid. Another couple of weeks of study, and the police were outfitted with guns similar to those in Men In Black that wouldn't damage anything but Youma but would tear through even the thickest dark energy forcefield with ease. She recorded a few minutes of that timeline.... Jadite's face was hilarious, just before it melted off. But this timeline was still a loss. The police, with effective weapons, became so efficient in their jobs that not even Mercury was awakened.
Hmm. Little tweak here... oh, that was almost as bad. A master of sorceries instead of sciences. Ranma ended up going to war with the dark armies of Mettalia by.... summoning up his own dark armies to combat them. An acquaintance, Sailor Moon, suddenly wasn't seeing the world in black and white anymore. This new shades-of-grey mentality said very bad things for Crystal Tokyo. She nipped this one in the bud before it could start.
No, it looked like a murder in infancy was the only way to go, here. She tried having him run down in the street as he played with his ball. Through a freak accident, the ball cushioned him and he came through it without a scratch.
Poison his food. He threw it against a wall and was sent to bed early. Genma got extra helpings and was sent to the hospital.
Toss him out of reality entirely. He was back within a week. Try again. Back again. Maybe third time is the charm? No?
Hmm. The only thing she hadn't tried was throwing him through time. But he caused problems no matter when he was as well. Then, after several weeks without sleep due to having to monitor the changes, and with small hairline cracks running through the time gates themselves, she hit upon the perfect time and place to put the brat.
The Dark Kingdom, just moments before Serenity sealed it away from the rest of the world. If she couldn't count on hundreds of thousands of slowly starving Youma to finish this thorn in her side off somewhere along the course of the millenia, then what could she count on? She grinned in triumph, and passed out, many long hours taking their toll. Incidentally, the cracks in the Time Gates grew exponentially and began releasing colored smoke as the image within went black.
Unfortunately for Setsuna, this new timeline would be in effect for long enough to be as good as set in stone before she awoke and saw the havoc that had begun.
Under most circumstances, most youma wouldn't even stop to think upon finding a young child in a basket any more than Genma would spare a moment to consider an abandoned bottle of good sake. It would be down the hatch and no more thought to it unless indigestion set in.
However, this wasn't most circumstances, and Quartz wasn't most youma.
Having found the child in question, 'Ranma', according to the stitching on the blanket wrapped around it, only mere moments after the Dark Kingdom was sealed, Quartz was one of the few rank and file youma who had the mental faculties to consider that it may well be the only available source of life energy until whenever it was that Beryl and Metallia broke that seal and they could gather it from the flocks of humanity outside. As such, it was only natural to bring it to the attention of the Generals and the Queen immediately.
They, at least, could work magics to make the young human produce more life energy than was natural, and extend its lifespan by many orders of magnitude, in case the breaking of that seal took longer than expected.
Unofficially, the boy's status was that of the only available food source for a legion of youma. He was well aware of this, and as a matter of fact made a point of having every drop of life energy he could spare extracted, often, for his own safety if nothing else.
It wasn't that he didn't trust them... all right, it was exactly that he didn't trust the hungry youma. The less energy he had floating through his spiritual 'veins' at any given time, the safer he was, because none of them would take the risk of killing him for what would effectively be a spare mouthful of food, when as long as he was alive he would be producing more.
Officially, he was a fifth general of Queen Beryl's forces, despite still being fully human and not going through any dark conversions or such whatnot. What was quietly ignored, but universally known, was that he was actually a far better general than most of the others.
Mainly, that was because the generals and the Queen had all gone mad, to a greater or lesser degree. Apparently, being wrenched from the outside world and locked up in an expanse of eternal darkness and evil miasma hadn't exactly agreed with their psyche. That or, Ranma privately suspected, that Metallia creature was slowly warping their psyche, perhaps even unintentionally. The theory had merit, despite the fact that Ranma had never, and would never, voice it aloud... after all, the Queen had gone loopiest, fastest, and she was the one in the most direct contact with Metallia and Ranma, who'd only seen the being once, was still pretty much sane.
As far as he knew. It wasn't like he had a lot of basis for comparison, after all.
Of course, also hadn't ever really been 'outside', that he could remember, so it could also just be that he adapted easier, as this place was all he'd ever known.
Ranma's train of thought was interrupted as a sharp tug somewhere in the vicinity of his lungs notified him that the Queen desired an audience with him. Not being able to access the dark powers that the other generals could, he couldn't teleport, and so was forced to break into an undignified dash, shifting his sword awkwardly to keep it from bouncing at the back of his knees and possibly tripping him up.
He loved that chunk of metal, really he did, but sometimes it was such a nuisance.
He paused outside the courtroom for a moment, straightening his uniform and quickly re-tightening the tie in his hair before he stepped through the door, ignoring the shadowy illusions that Beryl had erected one day in a fit of boredom as he knelt before her throne.
She frowned slightly at him, obviously displeased with the time it had taken him to arrive despite that she knew full well of his limitations, and continued waving her hands around that ridiculous prop she'd gotten somewhere. It had no magical power of its own, of course, couldn't even be used to store energy in case of a sudden need, and making it float all the time the way she did taxed her severely, but even so she'd casually butchered the only youma to ever so much as look funny at the thing in her presence. She was crazy, but she was powerful and crazy, so all her subjects simply followed her whims without question at this point.
"You have finally answered my summons."
"Forgive me, my queen. I spared a moment outside the door, that I would not offend your eyes."
She nodded somberly, uncaring as to whatever excuse he might have to offer, but in a genial enough mood to let it lie.
"The seal is breaking." She stated calmly, as though she wasn't dropping the most monumenous piece of news since... actually, Ranma couldn't recall any information this important. The youma had been slowly starving, even with what he could give, and if the seal broke then there was a whole world of walking food out there.
He remained silent, waiting for Beryl to either request something or state what she wanted. Punishment for speaking out of turn was never pleasant, and could become truly dire depending on her mood. Even so, it was slightly more than a minute before she continued.
"Tell me... what is your opinion on how we should proceed, once that seal is gone for good?"
"If I may ask... have the other generals already given their opinions?"
"Indeed. Jadeite believes that we should strike immediately to gather the energy we so desperately need."
"I see." Translated, that meant that all four of the generals had had the same idea, if different in the details, and Jadeite was just the first one to voice his plan. "I... do not disagree with that aim. However, the execution..."
Beryl arched an eyebrow at him, and Ranma fell silent, just in case she wanted to say something.
"Continue." She drawled idly.
"Yes... It has been a very long time since we were first sealed away. We may well have been forgotten. Even so, simply going out and draining people will draw attention towards us that at this point we can ill afford. I agree with the need for energy, however we must be subtle."
"The senshi died at our sealing!" Beryl snarled, obviously not liking the way the conversation was going. Ranma cringed slightly, sensing a lot of pain in his near future if he wasn't careful.
"Of course, yes. Still, it has been a very long time. Even with the senshi dead, there is no assurance that there will be no opposition to us." Ranme said quickly, seeming to mollify the Queen somewhat. "Rather than focusing on gathering energy at the first available opportunity, information is what we need. If, of course, the opportunity to gather energy unnoticed should arise as well then so be it, but the priority must be on gathering information on what enemies there may be."
The Queen's frown grew more pronounced, but she was obviously considering his words.
"Very well... you have made a valid point. Jadeite will follow his plan, and you shall follow yours, and we shall see who is correct by the results."
Ranma bowed deeply and waited for the Queen to dismiss him.
Despite that Beryl had made it seem like the seal was going to poof away at any moment, it was nearly two months after Ranma's audience with her before it deteriorated enough to no longer be stable and collapsed entirely. Jadeite, naturally, immediately grabbed the first available youma that could disguise itself and rushed off to implement his plans and prove himself somehow better than the upstart.
Ranma was more careful in his selections, picking out two youma from those who were more loyal to him than the other generals. Admittedly, that left him a fairly large chunk to choose from, as the fact that he was less likely to execute his soldiers for failures or minor mistakes had gotten around.
Still, his selections were the cream of the crop. While Jadeite's selection could keep up its facade for a day or two, as was standard, Ranma's would be able to maintain their transformations pretty much indefinitely, so long as they had the energy available. They were reasonably powerful as well, but the important thing was that they could remain undetected as they carried out their activities.
Ranma was all set to leave... when he suddenly remembered that he couldn't teleport. On top of that, the exit from the Dark Kingdom led to a very cold place that seemed to be many, many miles away from any form of civilization. Nothing if not adaptable, he quickly hashed out a deal with Nephrite. Teleportation and the creation of a fixed portal in exchange for a favor of equal or greater value, to be repaid at a later date. After the agreement was made, it was only the work of moments before they'd arrived in the city Jadeite had targeted.
At first, Ranma had been uncertain about targeting the same city, but that was before he saw it. It was, in a word, huge... a towering mass of brick and mortar, metal and stone. There were so many people crammed into its boundaries that it fairly glowed to him, his eyes having become sensitive to human energies at some point. It was incredible... simply walking through a place where there were so many humans would be enough to slowly satiate even the hungriest of youma, if they could control themselves enough to keep from assaulting people in a feeding frenzy.
Nephrite disappeared to deal with his end of the deal... finding an out of the way corner where nobody would look and find a portal wasn't exactly going to be the simplest of tasks... leaving Ranma and his two servants to their own devices.
"Sandstone, Obsidian." He ordered. "Familiarize yourselves with the area, we rendevous back here in twenty minutes. Draw no undue attention to yourselves"
They nodded and left, leaving him alone to wonder once more at the teeming mass of humanity before him.
It wasn't long before Nephrite returned, handing him a sheaf of papers.
"You are now the proud owner of a small house just on the border between two sections of this city, complete with en suite bathroom, toilet, kitchen, spare bedroom, and a portal to the Dark Kingdom taking up closetspace." He said, smugly, as the youma began to return.
"Do I... want to know how you aquired these?" Ranma asked, flipping.
"Probably not. Just remember the favor you owe me... and count yourself fortunate that I won't call it in for the sort of things certain other generals of our acquaintance would."
Ranma nodded... in truth, that was exactly the reason he'd gone to Nephrite first. It was no secret that two of the generals were lovers... in fact, with how steadily more kinky, perverse, and exhibitionist their tendencies had begun you'd have to look a long time indeed to find anyone who wasn't aware that Kunzite and Zoicite were an 'item'.
An open item, apparently, given how often they tried to drag one of the other generals into their little games over the centuries. Becoming indebted to either one of them was simply the last thing Ranma ever intended to do, preceded directly by plucking out his own eyes and jumping into an active volcano. If the lovebirds were still interested in what was left of him after that...
"One more word of advice to the junior general." Nephrite continued. "Jadeite is already working in what's apparently the Juuban district, and he's always been very... territorial. I'd suggest you look into other areas."
Nephrite tossed a folded up map, that Ranma somehow doubted had been paid for, and teleported away, leaving Ranma to revise his plans. The 'x' marked where his house was, according to the note. One side of that was Juuban district, which had been claimed by the senior general. The other was....
He folded up the map and tucked it away, resolving to investigate this 'Nerima' district.
A.N. Just because.
I've always held that the way the Dark Kingdom went about conquering the world really sucked. There are a lot of theories about WHY it sucked, and heres mine. The commanders in charge are, quite simply, nuts. Cuckoo. Rationally impaired. In dire need of a jacket with wraparound sleeves. In short, clinically insane.
They may not show it in battle situations, but their decisions definitely smack of either incompetence or insanity, and they did bring the entire moon kingdom place to its knees at one point. I find it simpler to believe that they just cracked somewhere between being imprisoned and breaking out.
And yes, if I write this, the generals and Beryl are going to get a heck of a lot of noncanon eccentricies.