The first thing he noticed was the feeling of soft grass cushioning his back, something welcomingly familiar to him during his long training trips on the road but has become all but forgotten lately as he returned to civilization. Curling his fingers, in an attempt to test his reflexes automatically, he allowed his hands to caress the yielding blades of green and linger there for a while to savor a sensation he had not felt for so long.

His first coherent thought: Tree tastes horrible.
Following closely: I can't believe I'm not dead yet.
And finally: If I'm lying on grass, then I'm not in the house. Where in the world am I?

Slowly, methodically, to answer this last question, Ranma opened his eyes one lid at a time.

What greeted him immediately was a crimson skyline, with plump, noxious looking clouds that rolled over the horizon at an impossible speed, the tail ends folding over the heads time and again as they dashed through the backdrop of bloody, swelling redness.

Alarmed by this strange picture, Ranma shot to his feet at once, scanned his surroundings before settling down into a predatory crouch - and almost lost his balance when he saw what lay before him.

It was Jyusenkyo, the pools of sorrow.



ukulele productions
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side project omega


D I V I N E
R A N M A D I E S

A Ranma 1/2 crossover fanfiction.


"Urd, we need to head back to heaven right away. Father said there's been an emergency."

"Why, what happened?"

"Um... you know about the Golden Bough, right?"

"Of course I know about it, squirt. I was the one who cut it off from the Yggdrasil when I was a kid and waving it around like Thor's hammer all week until Dad convinced me it wasn't such a good idea. So what's wrong, someone got a hold of it?"

"Um, sorta."

"Dad called us up there for this? Relax! Even if he did manage to defeat the Watcher, he still had to know the proper incantations and open Hell's Gate through Lake Avernus, and the spell's been lost to mankind for well over a thousand years."

"Um, actually, the report says he didn't use the Bough to cast a spell..."

"Haa? If he couldn't cast the spell, then what's the big fuss? You know what, forget it. You can go if you want; I'd rather stay and watch TV here."

"...he just ate it."

"And I'll get myself a warm bottle of sake to go along - say WHAT?"

"The report says he was force-fed the thing by his fiancée and still somehow survived the freak accident. So, with the Golden Bough fully digested, he can recreate Hell in any fashion he wishes, provided that he can first overcome his own personal hell manifested from his psyche and learns how to control his powers... Urd, at this moment Saotome Ranma is officially, for all intents and purposes, Hell itself. And Yggdrasil is having fits over how to process this information."

"..."

"On top of that, we've got a Class 3 cross-contamination, likely a dimensional breach, so are you coming or not?"


Chapter One: Inferno 1/2


-1-
Ranma twirled his pigtail absently as he pondered: Should I, or shouldn't I?

It was a dream come true. After downing that piece of wood Akane fed him, he somehow passed out and woke up at the Jyusenkyo valley again. The bamboo poles were still there, so was the perpetual fog that clouded the mouth of the valley that made it seeming a place existing outside of time, where only the ones chosen by fate could have ventured to the springs.

Perhaps Akane actually did him a favor, Ranma thought. It could be that golden tree branch was magical, not unlike the Nanban mirror. After all, after having seen so many weird things in his life, a magical piece of wood that translocate you after you eat it is simply nothing new.

What was different, however, was the fact that he didn't remember the Jyusenkyo pools being marked by signs, with huge pointed arrows that says, "squirrel," "pig," or even "man." Nor did he remember the springs themselves so red, although it could be just a reflection of the strange-looking sky.

Right now, Ranma was circling by the edge of the pool that was helpfully marked "Man", on a sign so large that anyone except Mousse could have made out from a mile away. Should I, or shouldn't I? He wondered.

Oh well. Never hurts to try, he finally decided, and took the plunge.

x x x

"Gah! This place stinks!" A frustrated Ranma-chan emerged from the surface a short while later. Looking down quickly, she yelled. "Hey! What's the big idea? I'm still a girl!" Then, a moment after, "Why am I all red?"

Suddenly noting that something had nestled itself between her breasts during the transformation, she reached into her shirt and pulled out the offending object.

It was a hand. More specifically, a decaying, rotting hand, severed cleanly at the elbow. "Eew!" She screamed in a very convincing imitation of a horrified girl and flung the hand as far away from her sight as she could in reflex. "What the hell is going on?"

Not that she expected an answer, but one came nevertheless. "A-ya! Young Miss! What you here doing in Jyusenkyo garbage dump?"

She whipped her head around to face the familiar voice. "J-Jyusenkyo guide?"

"Facilities manager, Miss, no guide." The beady-eyed man whom she recognized as definitely the Jyusenkyo guide replied, rubbing his hands together. Ranma was certain he wasn't behind the sign by the spring just one minute ago. "But why you in dumping ground?"

"So, these aren't the springs of sorrow?" She asked, finally remembering to climb out of the putrid pool. "What about all the signs? I thought this was the spring of the drowned man."

The Jyusenkyo guide - or Jyusenkyo facilities manager - scratched his forehead with a finger in confusion. "No such thing, young Miss. Sign says "Man", demons dump man here. New recycle program start last month, so need classify, see?"

Suddenly realizing that something was very, very wrong here, the martial artist asked in apprehension, "What in the world is this place?"

The beady-eyed man corrected him. "Not in world, young Miss. You in Hell. Now you in Hell's garbage dump."


-2-
Some hours later, when Ranma had come to, she found herself in the Jyusenkyo facilities manager's hut, which to her really was no different than the Jyusenkyo guide's hut back on earth. Trust Akane to not only kill me, but send me to Hell as well with her cooking, she sighed to herself. All her dreams, all her future... shattered by a tree stuck in her throat.

"Oh no, Miss, you not dead! But why you not dead?" As if on cue, the Jyusenkyo facilities manager suddenly exclaimed with both hands to his cheeks, as if it were a blasphemous thing. Ranma, who had tuned his presence off until now, was startled by this sudden revelation. "What did you say?"

"Only dead come here! Is wrong! Not know what do!" The man, still panicking and waving his arms in wild warding gestures, suddenly stopped and acquired a mad glint in his eyes. "Maybe, I kill you here..."

x x x

"...Maybe not." A minute later, the Jyusenkyo facilities manager wisely corrected himself as he peered at the new head-sized hole made in his roof, compliments of an impromptu ki-blast.

"Now that I know I'm still alive, I just need to find a way back home." Ranma said with determination in her eyes. "You wouldn't know how to get out of this place, would you?" The menace in her voice promised excruciating pain if he didn't reply to her liking.

"Y-Yes, young Miss!" The Jyusenkyo manager shivered as he answered. "But very complicated! You need guide, and go through Hell to Purgatory, then to Heaven, where gods grant safe passage home!" He quickly added.

"Nothing I can't handle." Ranma eyed the manager carefully. "So, what are you waiting for? Let's pack. You and I are going," she said. "You're going to help me get back to earth."

The facilities manager managed a soundless scream. "But young Miss! No can leave job! Will suffer Death of Hundred, no, Thousand Cuts by demons if do!"

x x x

The manager of the Jyusenkyo Garbage Disposal Facilities took one last, mournful look up at the clear view of the sky within the walls of his hut before locking his front door on his way out. It was more a symbolic gesture than anything else, actually; there's really not much of a safety issue involved in locking your doors when anyone else can climb in through the walls without being stopped by the roof first.

Momentarily, he took a glance westward and shuddered. Fifty yards away, the majority of what was left of his roof had been deposited firmly into the ground with a loud "thud" after being blown cleanly away by the subsequent - and noticeably larger - ki-blast.

"Where to now, young Miss?" He sighed. Nobody ever figured hazard pay of this sort into his job contract.

"Wherever, as long as it takes me out of Hell." Ranma said absently, her eyes firmly set on the blood-tinged horizon. Then, taking another good look at herself, she changed her mind. "Actually, you know where I can find some place to clean myself up? I literally smell like hell."


-3-
After a few hour's walk through an eerie, barren landscape that consisted of mainly yellow-dried grass with pieces of whitish animal bones strewn over the road along the way, the two reached a set of dilapidated wooden entrance gates of what seemed to be an abandoned village.

"Here we are," the Jyusenkyo manager announced. Ranma, who had been paying more attention to the ominous sky more than anything else during this short trip, finally noticed the sight in front of her. This looks familiar, she thought to herself. I'm sure I've seen these gates somewhere before...

Slowly, they strode into the village center uninterrupted. There were houses and huts and stables made of wood, but curiously enough, Ranma had not seen a single soul since she got here. Then, taking another look in front of her, she did a double-take.

In the dead center of the village, suspended between two massive trees ten yards apart, was a 100% genuine oak-wood Amazon challenge log.

"Jo...Joketsukozu?"

x x x

"But where did everyone go?" Ranma queried her new-found guide after she found some clean water in one of the houses and quickly washed away the dried blood on her skin and shirt. She had thought about building a fire and heating the bucket of water she found, but in a rare moment of brilliance ditched the idea after remembering where she was at, realizing that this Hell was looking more and more like an alternate version of her own world. From that information, she concluded that she had absolutely no wish to allow the possibility of a Shampoo from Hell wanting to marry Airen as well - one on earth was more than enough, thank you very much. "I mean," Ranma continued disbelievingly, "The Amazons can't be all gone, can they?"

"That, tragic story." The manager shook his head sadly. "Villagers you seek by lake. We go?"

Bracing herself for the worst, Ranma nodded.

x x x

Near a clearing on the other side of the Amazon village, Ranma and the Jyusenkyo manager arrived at what seemed to be a small lake. True to the manager's words, the entirety of the Amazon population seemed to be huddling by the lake. Some were standing at the edges, but most were already in the water, apparently taking a bath. Strangely, no one was speaking as they lounged and played. Everyone, however, was naked. Ranma could make out some of the Amazons whom she knew by name on earth. She watched wide-eyed as Lin-Lin and Ran-Ran paraded in front of her in the nude not five feet away, and turned uncomfortably red as she caught the beautiful sight of Shampoo making laps around the lake in lazy, carefree backstrokes that made her proud chest heave and sway in fascinating ways...

Then she puked when she saw the entire assembly of the Amazon Elders in the buff pogoing around in the water in an apparent race over the other side of the lake.

The Jyusenkyo manager chose this convenient moment to explain. "See, young Miss. Used to be proud Joketsukozu here. Now is Lethe, Pool of Forgetfulness."

"What in the world happened?" Ranma turned to the manager in horror.

"This." The manager bent down to the ground and casually picked up a shampoo bottle that, evidently, was discarded on the dirt carelessly. "Secret Amazon treasure, Formula #119. Ah-h-h. Young Miss knows?"

Ranma-chan could only nod.

"Two year ago, someone dropped some bottles of formula in water during annual village hair-washing contest near lake. Since use lake water to wash in contest, everyone in village shampooed with formula. Now all forgot why they here, just sit around and play in water all day."

"..."

"Very tragic story, no?" The manager asked, shaking his head in an exaggerated fashion all the while.

"What about her?" Ranma suddenly pointed to Cologne, whom she had just spotted by the bank and was, in contrast with all the others, still fully clothed... thankfully. Again, in direct contrast to her silent fellow Amazons, the Matriarch actually mumbled to herself, sometimes in coherent sentences, but at other times just uttering wails of lament. "Shampoo! Shampoo!" She cried in agitation as Ranma drew near and attempted to confront her, a feat that made the young redhead back away hurriedly in alarm. Seeing the pathetic state the proud Matriarch had been reduced to, Ranma found herself suddenly touched and asked with a strange lump in her throat, "Was she accidentally affected by the formula too in that contest?"

The manager spared one glance at the ancient Elder. "Oh, that one. No tragic story there," he said dismissively. "Just has Alzheimer's."


-4-
It was relatively uneventful in the half-day's journey after they departed from the formerly Amazon village. By now, Ranma had grown used to the monotonous scenery before her: yellow grass, red sky, white bones on ground, and an occasional shrine of Satan or two by the roadside filled with ritual offerings giving off an unholy stench that permeated through the air in a hundred-foot-wide radius. Out of curiosity she had tried a few times to walk nearer to see what exactly was place in those offering bowls, but all she could make out was that they were filled with some tiny round balls with a black, metallic sheen, not unlike charred Pachinko pellets. Every time, however, the ever-present horrid odor forced her away before she could get too close.

The only notable incident occurred when the two reached a vast field bizarrely blanketed by a dense, stationary fog. "This, young Miss," the manager paused briefly and proclaimed, "is famous Field of Unrequited Lovers. Must cross to continue."

"Um, I can't see anything." Ranma admitted as they slowly worked their way into the fog. Just as she finished, a sudden peal of lightning struck from the red sky through the thick mist in the distant background.

Something in the lightning gave Ranma the spooks. "I don't like the look of this...there's something very, very wrong here." She said to the facilities manager and stopped suddenly, her body tense in anticipation of some imminent attack.

As if on cue, the mist in front of her parted, and out of nowhere a figure rushed towards them in a frenzied charge.

"At last, my pigtailed godde-urk!" The sudden appearance of Kuno was promptly interrupted by well-timed uppercut that knocked him flying back right into the fog.

"Just as I thought," Ranma finished with a twitch in her eyebrows. "Moving right along now," she instructed the stunned manager, dusting her hands.


-5-
After spending an indeterminable amount of time walking in the dense, choking fog, the two emerged into the entrance of what appeared to be a large forest. The fact that there were trees - live ones, with thick, green leaves that rustled in a gentle breeze - wasn't lost on Ranma.

"There's a green forest in Hell?" She asked bug-eyed at the manager.

"New tourist attraction," the man explained, adjusting his green hat and patting the last tendrils of lingering mist away from his uniform. "Very expensive. You now in Seven Deadly Sins Wildlife Preservation Park."

"..."

"Want look?" The Jyusenkyo manager beckoned with a hand.

x x x

"Why the hell would someone build something like this?" Ranma asked incredulously as she was led through the entrance.

"Well," the manager replied, "Used to be hall here of seven most famous sinners, but last year agent on earth found one animal that had qualities of all Seven Deadly Sins. Animal thought more sinful than all seven sinners combine, so tore down hall and build home instead to honor animal. See?"

"But... an endangered species? What could possibly -" Ranma ducked as Genma-panda emerged from his hiding place behind one of the trees and threw a tire at where her head was a moment ago. " ...Oh. Forget I asked."

x x x

Ranma and the Jyusenkyo facilities manager slowly made their way through the park. To her right, the manager was busy apologizing for the panda's sudden actions. "A-ya! Most times beast show Sloth, Greed, or Gluttony. So sorry, young Miss. No know why show Anger at you."

"I'm sure I've got a pretty good idea," Ranma replied dryly. Then, as if something suddenly occurred to her, she frowned. "Wait a minute. You said this panda is capable of all seven sins, no?"

"Why, yes. Is very special animal - very rare find."

"Does the list include Lust?" Ranma pressed on.

"Yes, yes. Lust is big on list." The manager agreed sagely. "Wait, young Miss, what you doing?" Suddenly, the man panicked when he saw fires kindling in Ranma eyes as she cracked her knuckles in a way that promised untold pain. He had seen her done that once - actually, it was right before she blew his whole roof away.

"I'm going back to kill that no good, cheating panda."

The manager paled. "No, no, young Miss! Animal protected! No can kill!" He tried to restrain the redhead girl, but end up being dragged along back towards the trees where they last saw the panda. In a sudden flash of inspiration, the man said, "No, I mistake, no Lust, no Lust!"

Ranma slowed down. "No Lust?"

"No, no Lust," the beady-eyed man confirmed, rivulets of sweat running down his oily face. "Mating season not start yet."

"...Oh. I guess it's okay then." Ranma said after a moment of deliberation. "So," she asked in a slightly disgusted tone after a short while, "You mean they built all this just for that fat slob?"

"Yes, yes!" The manager said excitedly, happy that the girl was no longer trying to kill the park's main exhibit. "We even have gift shop at back of park," he explained. "Sell hot dog, Oolong tea, and beanie-baby panda doll. Panda doll very popular. Scream and beg for life when hit. Is very good stress relief. Want souvenir?"

Ranma considered the notion briefly. "Nah," she said finally. "I do that to the real thing back home every morning already."


-6-
"From here," the manager pointed out, "we get to home of the Unholy One." The two of them had only left the park not too long ago, and were now standing on top of a small hill overlooking a straight road that led to the base of a huge mountain far off in the distance. "Young Miss need pass Unholy One to go to Purgatory," he said in a voice that clearly expressed what he felt on the likelihood of that happening.

"Nothing I can't handle," Ranma detected his tone and sniffed.

"But, need go through Guardian before reach mountain pass," he added helpfully as an afterthought.

"No problem with that." Then, sensing something amiss, "Wait, you mean Cerberus, the three-headed dog?"

"Oh no. Dog quit. Not like new Crunchy Kibbles."

"..."

x x x

"So who do they have guarding the gates?" Ranma asked as they made their way down the hill.

The answer came when a giant hoof as high as her knees came down from nowhere and smashed into the pavement not three inches away from Ranma-chan's face.

"Oh. Fancy meeting you here, Pantyhose." Suddenly feeling much better than she had ever been since arriving in Hell, Ranma grinned evilly and cracked her knuckles again. "Like I said, nothing I can't handle."

Monster Taro just mooed in bovine rage.

x x x

Thirty minutes later, a very content Ranma and a wide-eyed Jyusenkyo facilities manager at last reached the foot of the large mountain, where a set of gigantic iron gates blocked the way to a narrow, winding pass that reached all the way to the summit. "Abandon all hope, ye who enters," a wooden sign with a helpful arrow pointing at the gates was erected to the left. Again Ranma could see that both sides of the pass were adorned by familiar small shrines made to what the manager called "The Unholy One".

"This," the Jyusenkyo manager turned to the redhead girl with no small part of relief on his face, "is where I leave young Miss. Is domain of the One. You find Unholy One in altar " Seeing the questioning glance from Ranma, he hastily amended. "Sorry, rules say so. No can enter," he shrugged helplessly. After a while, Ranma nodded.

"All right. You can go now," she conceded. She walked up to the gates, automatically stopping just before the foul odor of the shrines could reach her. Unable to resist any longer, she asked the retreating figure of the manager one last question. "Just what the hell are those things anyway?"

The man halted in his eager flight and turned around. "Those? Ah, those offerings to Unholy One." He answered solemnly.

"Your Unholy One likes chocolate balls?" Ranma inquired in a disbelieving tone. Well, as far as she could tell, they looked like chocolate balls.

"No, not chocolate," the manager corrected as he resumed running away. "Is chunky beef stew."

Hearing this, Ranma felt a sudden chill seeping into her spine. "I think," she said, "I have a very bad feeling about this."