"Disgusting." Genma spat, staring balefully down at the house that the pair had been watching the whole day, taking particular disgust when the youngest daughter stacked a few boards, punched through them, and happily cheered about the feat before heading off to take a bath.
That was the extent of the training of Tendo's daughter?
"Papa... how long do we have to stay up this tree?" Ranma asked quietly.
'As long as it takes for them to notice us!' was what Genma wanted to bark, but he was forced to admit that, as the hours wore on, that was growing less and less likely. The sun had begun to set, and the household below was drawing into their comfortable home for the night, not a one having the slightest clue that the martial artists had been watching since the break of dawn. It really was disgusting.
"Tell me, Ranma... what do you see?" He asked instead. "When you look at them, what do you see?"
"I see... a family." The eight-year old answered quietly, not knowing where his father was going with this.
"That's right." The large man rumbled. "Tendo... a quiet, normal family, living quiet, normal lives. But... it wasn't supposed to be that way. Tendo-kun..."
He trailed off sadly.
"Why have I been training you?" He asked instead, changing topic abruptly.
"To be the best." Was the immediate reply, this having been drilled methodically into the youth's head for years, and Genma nodded.
"Yes... but why did you have to be the best? I suppose you haven't yet reached an age to wonder about such things." He sighed, wondering how to put things. "Tendo-kun... a long time ago, he and I made a very important promise. To fulfill that promise, we would train our children to be the best of the best, and then.... that isn't important anymore, I suppose." He finished wistfully.
"The girl down there. Did you see what cheerful delight she had, breaking through the boards?" He asked, recieving a prompt nod. "But tell me... how long did it take you to reach that level? Mere weeks into the training, you could break as many boards, as easily, as Tendo-ku... as Tendo's daughter did. And from there, we did not pause to celebrate such a minor achievement, but pushed forward immediately."
"Tell me, Ranma.... in what way could what we've seen even begin to be considered 'the best'?"
Ranma's mouth had opened in a soft 'oh' of realization.
"Tendo... he has forgotten, even outright ignored our solemn vow." Genma stated flatly. "I come to commiserate with an old friend about the death of his wife, and see...? No. It has been only weeks since, the mourning is no excuse. There is no doubt that, from the very beginning, Tendo never truly intended to hold up to his half of the bargain."
"But... but! If I'm going to be the best... can't I do it all on my own?" Ranma asked.
"What... fulfill our vow? No. No, that won't be possible. But... yes." Genma mumbled. "Yes... there is no reason to shirk in your training, simply because Tendo spits upon our vow. You will be the best, my son. When you are, we will return, and we will shame Tendo for his broken promises and useless daughters. Come boy... there is no reason to remain here. Tonight, your training will be redoubled, and I will hold nothing back. I will pass everything I know down to you, even that which I had sealed away."
"There will be no more foolishness. There will be no mercy. There will be no true rest. From this point on, there will be no turning back. You will be the best. There is no longer any other option."
"Now come, boy. We leave for China."
"Disaster." Genma snarled to himself.
It was only a bare six months of intense, backbreaking training later that everything came crashing down in disaster.
"Jusenkyo." Genma grumbled, staring at his hand which now, with the merest brush of cool water, so prevalent in the world, became bestial forearm and paw, furry and clawed.
Even this.. even this, he could have endured. Even his sons own curse, he could have endured, but...
"Permament." He stated flatly, all emotion in his voice gone as his gaze switched between the guide and his daughter.
"So sorry, customers. Did try to warn you..." The guide trailed off at the dark glower of the father, and quicky moved on from excuses. "Yes... Musk tribe once live near here, long, long ago. Very powerful, use beast styles. One day, they discover Jusenkyo. Use curse magic to make brides of animals, make stronger children. Even douse dragon for lineage of ruler, they say. Musk sorceror make artifact, artifact make permament curse. No good for bride to become animal again while heavy with baby, yes? King of Musk, he say 'only use artifact with this spring anyway, why not leave in spring, make whole spring permament?', and-"
"I understand." Genma barked, cutting off the tale. "Magic. Curses and magic destroying everything."
He turned his gaze to Ranma.
"You... are no longer my son." He decided stonily.
"No!" He roared back, temper getting the better of him for a moment before it cooled. "No. That is fact. Unless you can regain your true form, you are my daughter now. And so... you are useless. I have no place for a daughter. I trained my son to be the best."
Cowed, young Ranma stared sullenly at the floor, awaiting her fathers verdict, and his stony gaze softened.
"But... there is no need to be so harsh. Worthless or not. My son is lost to me, presumed dead. My wife and I shall mourn him when I return, and should he somehow return to us we will rejoice in the return of our son. You... are an orphan child my son met in an alley. Through compassion, I welcomed you to the family, kept and fed you, even trained you alongside my son, as an unofficial daughter, giving you the family name. When my son disappeared, you chose to take up his name on your own."
Ranma nodded slowly.
"Yes. There is no purpose to training you further myself, however. The Sealed techniques will also remain sealed unless in a life or death situation. Only my son can use such on a whim. You will, however, be allowed to continue practicing and training in the family style on your own, though I very much doubt you will proceed much further. And though you are unwanted, I will take care of you. I have a friend in the hierarchy of a school. You will be educated, as befits a young woman. My son had no need of such, but you are not him. You will do well. I will be paying for your tuition out of my own pocket, and though it is an elevator school, I will not tolerate you throwing that money away. You bear the Saotome name on my sufferance alone. Do not give me cause to regret it."
The decision rankled at the sullen youth, but she nodded anyway, locking the anger away, but not releasing it. As they returned to china, her father refusing to train her any more in any fashion, the fires of that rage grew further and further, and one day... the day that he took her to be enrolled in an all-girl campus then calmly left, stating that he never intended to see her face again, that burning rage went cold, but no less furious in its intensity.
Magic. Everything had been fine until magic became involved. Her father had admitted freely that Ranma's rate of growth had been phenomenal, even ridiculous, almost learning things faster than he could arrange to teach. Ranma had been well on the way to being the best. And then, Magic had gotten involved and brought everything shattering down to the ground.
Ranma Saotome... hated magic.
Ranma hadn't gone out of the way to make friends. In fact, she had done quite the opposite. There was no time for friendship, with both education and private martial study already on her plate. She'd been well behind when she'd started, and had had to throw herself into books to catch up, then sacrifice sleep to continue training, becoming something of an insomniac by habit. Her grades had rapidly climbed from below average to near the top of their class, however, rivalling even the Chao girl, who quite simply aced everything without effort.
Most of the girls were the sort of people she hated anyway... spending all day giggling and enjoying themselves, gossiping about pointless fashions and idols, obsessing over crushes... being quite literally a boy in a girl's body, the idea of making friends with such 'tee-hee tea party' people was abhorrent. The rest were, it seemed, less social than even she was, and some were downright weird.
There was the ghost, of course. Then, Ranma very much doubted that the ghost had even realized that Ranma could see her, as it had been months and months before she'd even gotten the sense of something odd about that empty seat. There was the chinese-style martial artist, and the girl she'd come to a pretty firm conclusion had, at the very least, some serious ninjutsu training, the girl who always smelled at least faintly of gun-oil, the sort-of-mime girl... and, naturally, the more relatively recent addition of the robot-girl, who spent almost all of her time with that one blonde, or the 'mad scientist' of the class.
Still... there was no point to bothering with such things, even if they were slightly more interesting than the giggling sheep around them, gossiping about a new teacher as she waited patiently in silence, her classmates having become more than aware of how pointless it was to try to drag her into conversation when she was brooding. And she was always brooding, an air of quiet and intensely focused rage hanging about her like a cloud.
The door slid open and the class quieted, watching expectantly for their pointless little prank to go off. And it did... although a ten-year-old in a suit probably hadn't been the intended target.
.... Huh. That one hadn't seemed at all surprised at... wait. Ranma frowned, only half listening to the explanation that the kid was the new sensei, just one more spot of oddity as she considered something else. The first part of the trap, that blackboard eraser... for just a moment it had floated in the air above the child-teacher's head.
Weird. But there was no denying the evidence of her eyes. He didn't move like a trained fighter though... and such a trick pulled off at the drop of a hat would require levels of training to match her with ki. In that case... her eyes narrowed in disgust.
Magic. Of course. It was always magic. She ignored the brief scuffles up towards the head of the class as she considered that, reigning in the explosive rage that had redoubled at the mere realization and demanded that she attack, and right now, before the magic user had a chance to try anything.
Still... this could be useful, she decided, taking a petty and cruel amusement in the way that Kagurazaka had started launching bits of eraser at the child mage's head. If the boy could use magic, then she could force him to do something about the curse, then....
And then... something. She'd figure stuff out from there afterwards.
After class, though, the crowd of rising and bustling students had been enough for the teacher to disappear in a moment of confusion. No matter, if he was teaching the class, then he would have to return. There would be no escape.
Another of the class had very similar thoughts on the matter.
The next class hadn't been much better though, as the kid had blown Kagurazaka's clothes off with a sneeze, somehow, then disappeared at the end of class, and she'd headed off to the library after another failed attempt to locate him. Nobody except the Miyazaki girl ever came here at this time of day, so it was an excellent place to study, both in the educational sense and in that of her martial techniques. There was a surprisingly large quantity of...
She was interrupted from her thoughts by the click of the door locking echoing through the empty room, and muffled voices. Interesting. She moved to investigate....
... and froze as a sudden wave of exasperated affection for the child-mage washed over her at the sight of him and Miyazaki, and how he'd started suddenly freaking out and trying to escape the usually meek girl. Still, it wouldn't do for the shy girl to make a move on her little....
... almost as quickly as the unexpected emotion had come, it was scoured away by the roaring fires of incandescent rage. What had that been? A spell of.... such terrifying magic, warping the mind and emotions in such a manner. Her world had narrowed to a red tunnel, focused on the child mage as she interjected herself into Miyazaki's attempted seduction, ignoring the suprise as she tossed the girl gently away.
"Hello sensei." She said, smiling sweetly and helping him up as the spell took momentary hold once more before she smashed through it with the power of focused rage. " I'm going to kill you!" She howled, fipping Kagurazaki over her head on autopilot as she smashed through the door and tried some sort of clumsy attack, her fist shooting forward, her sole aim, the entire purpose of her existence at that moment to crush the mageling's skull to a pulpy mess.
At the last, last possible moment she diverted the strike, instead leaving a webwork of cracks in the pillar she'd held him up against. She couldn't kill him. Not yet. She needed him to fix the curse first... then the cute little mage-brat was irrelevant, and she could... could...
She clutched at her head and dropped the pale brat to fall to his knees as alternating waves of rage and artificial affection took hold of her. After a couple long moments it settled into the quiet, icy hatred she was more used to and she scowled down at the little mage.
"I don't know... what you did to me." She said frostily, setting a chill down the spines of everyone else in the room. "But I will have words with you about it later, and make no mistake... dare try it again, and your life is forfeit." She spat. "In any case... I'll see you again later, sensei. Perhaps by then, the urge to carve out your still beating heart and feed it to carrion beasts will have faded. Good day."
"S-scary..." Negi mumbled softly to himself, trembling as she left the room.
"That was Saotome Ranma." Asuna said later.
"I-Is she always so..."
"Apocalyptic? Actually... no." Asuna mused. "It's weird... she's usually very quiet and restrained. Standoffish, yeah, and kinda gloomy, but she's usually polite even if she makes it really clear that she's not at all interested in being friendly or nice. I think this... is probably the first time I've ever seen her explode like that at all, much less so violently. Man, Ice Queen Ranma has a serious temper under that frosty shell, I guess."
"She... was seriously going for the kill, without the slightest hesitation."
"What? Nah." Asuna brushed Negi's concerns off. "I'm sure you misunderstood. Sure, she might have beat you up a little, but I'm sure..."
"You'd be wrong." Ranma interrupted, revealing herself and making Asuna jump at the sudden voice.
"Wha, when did you, how-?"
"Unimportant. This doesn't concern you, Kagurazaki. You may leave."
"Like hell! This is my room!"
"Then stay. But make no mistake... at that moment, I fully intended to eliminate Negi-sensei, and possibly yourself and Miyazaki afterwards if circumstances forced me to."
"Why would you-?" Negi began, horrified at the blatant admission, only to be cut off.
"Why ask why? I have my reasons. But if you must know, it can be summed up as because..." She trailed off, and when she spoke again it was in a venomous snarl. "I... hate... magic!"
Both of the others in the room flinched, neither even making an attempt to deny the accusation in the face of her seething rage, as she visibly calmed herself.
"As I said... I have my reasons. You, yourself, provided an example this afternoon."
"But that was harmless-" Asuna started, before Ranma cut her off.
"Harmless? Naive little.... This time, it was harmless, however it happened. Sensei had enough brains to know that if he did take advantage of whatever-it-was, that there would be... Severe Consequences." She finished, with a chill tone. "But think a little harder. What if this little incident hadn't been focused on him, but rather someone with no qualms about taking shameless advantage of the situation?"
Asuna and the boy-mage's sudden pale, cold sweat suggested that they had caught on.
"That... is one of the reasons I hate magic." She stated calmly, like frozen steel. "But it's unimportant. Sensei! Tell me what you know of breaking curses, and I'll forgive you this once. I won't even cripple you, or leave you with hideous, deforming scars for the affront." She finished almost cheerfully.
Negi remained wordless, trembling, and she scowled.
"I should have known. Worthless! I really should have finished you..." She snarled, slamming a fist into the wall as her shoulders sagged before she straightened herself, banishing the gloom "No matter. I'll continue on as before, then. See you tomorrow, sensei."
"Wha.... What's wrong with you!?" Asuna finally got out. "The threats, the violence... look at him! The kid's terrified!"
"So?" Ranma replied flatly. "He should fear me. If I'm in the mood and he offers me the slightest excuse... then he disappears forever. If he can't handle such harsh realities, then he should never have begun playing about with magic in the first place. The leniencies of childhood are no longer afforded to such."
Without another word, Ranma left through the window, leaving Asuna to gape after the... cold-hearted bitch she shared classes with before turning back to Negi. She didn't even really like the brat, but...
"Um... are you all...?"
"I'm fine." He mumbled, but it was obvious that Ranma had shaken him severely as he wiped away tears. "She... she's right, though. All through magic classes, we were warned about how easy it is to make enemies, and the sort of problems that could bring, and... still. I suppose I just... wasn't expecting to have enemies in Japan even before I arrived, just by being..."
He shook his head.
"I'd try to erase her memories, but it's clear now that she had some sort of traumatic incident in her past involving magic, one that has shaped her personality even to this day. Even if it worked, just erasing her memory of my being a mage would have little effect, if she catches on to such things so quickly, and if I tried a deeper removal, removing all her memories of magic altogether, it would probably leave her with just as much problems as that traumatic incident did in the first place... not to mention, it probably wouldn't take, as if I'm correct then her hatred of magic is daily reinforced with everything she does. There's simply no removing something that runs so deep without completely erasing the entire personality and every memory she's had up to the point she first encountered magic." He said, calming himself with an impromptu lecture.
"Not to mention, you aren't that hot with that memory erasing stuff to begin with." Asuna pointed out.
"Ahehehe... yes, that's so." He admitted. "Still... at this point, there's nothing to be done except continue business as usual with classwork and try to go out of my way not to draw miss Saotome's ire." He shuddered at the idea, imagining a furiously cackling redhead, arms dripping with gore from the elbows down.
"Honestly though... I don't blame her." He admitted, surprising Asuna. "There are more than a few magic users who aren't... wise, nor kind with the use of their power. Most are dealt with swiftly by the authorities of magic, but some slip through the cracks for a while.... if she had run into one of them, then her response would be... for that matter, even if she did it through focused rage, throwing off a love spell, even one so weak, the first time she experienced such a thing is actually very impressive. I can't help but wonder..."
He shook his head as Asuna considered that, found the taste of the idea niggling around the edges of her mind very much unpalatable, and brought up another point.
"She wanted to know what you knew about 'breaking curses'..."
"Ah! That's true... unfortunately, I only really know a few spells, and they're combat magic, but if she's interested in breaking curses then logically... it means that there's a curse to break." He finished softly.
Keys rattled at the door, revealing that Konoka, who still knew nothing about magic, was home and their discussion came to an abrupt end. Unpleasant thoughts flickered through both of their minds for some time thereafter, though, and Asuna didn't even object too much when the much younger boy had somehow found his way into her bed by morning.
For a long time after that, Ranma simply went about her business and ignored Negi whenever possible, although she did consider bombing a particular test on purpose in an attempt to get him fired. In the end, though, she'd not been interested enough in the idea of being rid of the mage with clean hands to sacrifice her grade for it, and things continued much as per normal, though she couldn't begin to imagine why the brat had started carting a fluffy rat around one day.
Possibly a familiar or something. The vermin suited him, and if she caught it stealing her undergarments again, there would be spilled blood. Its or the brat-mage's, it made no difference to her.
There had been the talk in the health check about a vampire, too. Ranma's initial thought had been to dismiss it, but she held the impulse in check, and Sasaki's 'anemia' sent off serious warning vibes.
Vampire... huh. Interesting. For a moment, she contemplated hunting the thing down to unlease some aggression, but decided against it. It wasn't her problem... let the child-mage play with the monster and, if she was lucky, the would take each other out.
They hadn't, of course. Then had been all the talk of a 'partner' for Negi, just before that rat showed up... probably a mage thing. Dragging some random person into magic shenanigans... the idea made her want to punch the brat until she got bored of it, and it took a long time for her to get bored of violence.
And now, during what had been intended to be a casual walk, she'd found Kagurazaki and the child-mage stalking the robot-girl, for whatever reason. Really... she'd tolerated their antics for long enough, if they tried something fishy... she'd simply have to put the mage-brat back in line.
The robot girl actually seemed like a pretty nice, pleasant person too, what with all the playing with children, helping old ladies up the stairs, rescuing of kittens and happy feeding of stray animals. It actually unsettled her to see someone so unabashedly delighted about performing good deeds... and in spite of that, if she was judging the confrontation below correctly, they still intended to pick a fight with her. No help for it then.
She jumped down as the battle began, Kagurazaki engaging at close range and the child mage charging a spell. She wouldn't allow it to come to fruiton, especially as it became instantly obvious that the robot-girl was tied up in the melee defense and would be completely blindsided. Landing lightly, she caught the back of Asuna's collar and spun, twisting into a throw, slamming the girl into the child mage at the end of the arc.
"My my my. Out minding my own business, and what do I see but a fight brewing." She mocked calmly. "And since I'm not particularly interested in sitting by and watching, I just have to do something, right? Mechanism Chachamaru, isn't it?" She asked. "You can take off if you want. I'll be more than happy to teach them a lesson in your place."
"Bu... w-wait!" Negi stammered. "Y-you don't understand what-"
"There's nothing to understand, from my point of view." She shot back. "I've been watching you three for the past hour... and I'm disgusted at your actions, brat! And dragging the Kagurazaki girl into such things... well. Maybe I didn't make myself clear when we spoke before, or you thought I was joking?"
"Bu-bu-but.... this is bad." Negi realized to himself as Asuna wobbled to her feet.
"Ugh... feels like a bus hit me." She mumbled. "Ten seconds are up? Gotta try again. That feeling.... it was like I was lighter than a feather, and strong as... Reactivate it! We don't have the advantage anymore, and she's strong, yeah, but I think I can take her!"
"O-okay. Activate the contract for... fifteen seconds, for Kagurazaki Asuna!"
Strength renewed, she surged into battle, hoping to blow through Ranma with a quick knockout and close with Chachamaru again, who was merely standing back and watching the affair silently.
She was met with a palm-strike out of seemingly nowhere to the stomach, blasting her right back to crash into Negi again and killing that particular hope.
"Weak... so weak, Kagurazaki. Do you think that just because you got a little magic power-up, that you could actually match me? Pathetic. Put in ten to fifteen more years of dedicated training and try again, and maybe you'll be able to dodge my first counterblow." She declared smugly. "Are you so desperate for a 'partner' that you'll just accept anyone with a bit of muscle, kid? In any case... I happen to be in a good mood today, so if you run away right now, I won't even hunt you down like scared little rabbits and finish you off!" She offered cheerfully. "Isn't that nice of me? Of course, if you want to push things..."
The pair took the hint and scampered off like startled deer, even as they both insisted that she 'didn't understand' and was 'making a mistake'.
"Well... that business is over with, then."
Ranma blinked, surprised at the sudden and vague question.
"Why what now?"
"Why involve yourself in such a matter, when it was no concern of yours?" Chachamaru clarified, leaving Ranma blinking again.
"Hm. Well, like I said, I'm not one to sit down and watch an actual fight happen from the sidelines. And once I get involved, I have to either pick a side or make my own, don't I?"
"Why yours? Ah... can't just be grateful for the assist, huh? Well... could be that I just wanted to even things out, two on two. Could be that I wasn't happy about people ambushing such a nice person. Could be a lot of things, actually. But yeah.... I guess it all boils down to one point."
"It's simply because... I like you, a lot more then I like those two."
She turned and wandered off, Chachamaru's curious stare at her back, not realizing that an extremely faint psuedo-blush had slowly appeared on the gynoid's face as she left, satisfied with having done her own good deed for the duration.
"Th-this is bad." Negi mumbled again, in the safety of the dorm.
"A-ni-ki...." Chamo whined. "If you want me to make plans for you, then you have to give me all the info, you know? So who's the new troublemaker?"
"She's Saotome Ranma. And usually, she's not a problem." Asuna stated flatly.
"She's an exemplary student." Negi followed up. "Perfect A-average, near the top of the class. She never causes any discipline issues while in class, but... I'm afraid we got off on the wrong foot with an accidentally ill-used 'popularity' potion, and..."
"Oooh.... I get it. Pretty sneaky, Aniki. So she's a jilted-"
"N-no, not at all. Um... quite the.... I... guess I'll just have to start at the beginning. For the most part, the potion went off without a hitch... escaping wasn't fun... and through the matter I ended up locked in the library where Saotome-san was studying..."
"This sounds juicy..."
"Nothing like that happened!" Negi insisted. "What happened was... for a moment or two, the potion seemed to have its effect as was intended, but it seems that Saotome-san had had some prior experience with magic, long ago, and overpowered the spell. Then she..."
"Fled teary-eyed and sobbing about her broken heart?" Chamo guessed, prompting a scoff from Asuna.
"She smashed up a pillar that would have been my head had she not changed her mind at the last moment." Negi corrected. "She'd controlled herself, but there was some talk about hearts, yes. And, er, carrion animals. Then later that night, she appeared unannounced in this room and made an inquiry of her own, and when I was unable to answer to her satisfaction she seemed disgusted and sincerely claimed that she wished she hadn't changed her mind in the library, pronounced that she hated magic, and through it mages, unconditionally, and suggested I was fortunate she didn't feel like going through the effort of maiming or hideously scarring me as a lesson and reminder for the future."
Chamo slowly toppled over.
"Y-you gotta be kidding me, Aniki! You're kidding me, right? No, just a minute, let me see the roster again."
Negi produced the folded over paper and let the ermine eye it. After a long minute, he winced heavily.
"Well?" Asuna wondered.
"You know that Ermine spirits such as myself can judge 'relationships', right? Pretty sure I explained that before... Anyway.... gimme another piece of paper and a stub of pencil, easier to show than tell."
They produced it and Chamo quickly sketched up a diagram.
"It's a bit oversimplified, but it'll get the point across. Anyway, it's just a vertical range. Zero is apathy, someone with absolutely no relationship with you at all. Negative numbers are the level of negative relationships, i.e. 'enemies'. Positive ones are likewise positive ones, or 'friends'. Now, the vast majority of the class are here." He stated, quickly scribbing down initials and a small bracket. "Not much of a relationship, but it's definitely a positive one for most of them. Ane-chan and this one have a stronger relationship than that." He said, scribbing in Asuna and Nodoka's names somewhat above the bracket. "And then down here, it's the vampire and the robot with negative relationships, with Eva's number a good bit lower on the scale than Chachamaru."
"I... I see." Negi said, focusing on the large number of names on the positive end of the scale.
"Wait a minute, though." Asuna pointed out. "Ice-Queen Ranma... you didn't put her name on this scale at all. Where does she fit in?"
"Yeah... I was kinda getting to that. If I had to put her on the scale... it wouldn't fit." He stated flatly. "All of these names clustered down here, even Eva, who looks like she's the furthest from 'zero' with this diagram, they'd all mash together in a tiny little spot! Her feelings for you aren't just a little dislike, or even simple enmity, it's full blown irrational hatred! To put it simply, she absolutely loathes you, with every fiber of her being! Aniki! You shouldn't mess around with this girl, she'll seriously kill you!" The ermine wailed.
Asuna frowned, still not sure that the rat wasn't overstating things somewhat as Negi shook uncontrollably for a moment.
"No... as, as a teacher, I have a duty to my students, no matter if they hate me." He decided. "And... Evangeline..."
"I still think you two are going overboard about Eva." Asuna said. "She's been in our class for the past few years, and I think-"
"You think!" The ermine interrupted. "But I pulled up some info on her, and fifteen years ago she wasn't just 'Evangeline, schoolgirl', she was The Dark Evangel, with a bounty on her head in the magical world of no less than six million! True, she's apparently never killed children before, but letting your guard down around her is not a good idea!"
"Wha, wha, wha, wha, what is someone like this doing in our class!" Asuna stutter-yelled, composure shot.
With that final bit of information, Negi's nerves broke and he grabbed his staff, jumping out the window and flying away full speed in a panic.
"Ki to the feet..." Ranma mumbled, before attempting the technique once more, and being rewarded with another close failure.
The first time she'd found a martial arts technique in the library, she'd been understandably dubious. Previous experience had led her to believe the only decent ones to be passed down through scrolls, or direct training with a sensei, and everything in relatively normal looking books to be trash for mass consumption by bored children that wouldn't do much with them anyway.
These, however... she'd quickly discovered that there was a pattern to the sorting of the books. The 'trash' to be read for amusement purposes were on one set of shelves, while the serious texts, actually a much larger portion, were in another area entirely. They had been a fantastic find, though she could only put proper polish on some techniques through training with an actual 'sparring opponent'.
Theoretically, she could probably ask one of her classmates in a martial arts class for a friendly match, but she much preferred the method of... taking a walk through a bad part of town. There was no shortage of thugs and street toughs 'willing' to oblige her needs, although she had to slow herself and pull a great deal of the force from behind her strikes or she would accidentally kill them. Better yet, there were never any expectations beyond the fight, such as joining a social club, and no 'hurt feelings' or any such nonsense if she got a little over-exuberant and started breaking bones.
Though, some got wise after the first few times they got thrashed by the 'demonic redhead' that took to walking their streets, but there was no shortage of fools to take their place. All she needed was warm bodies to work out the kinks of the new techniques as she incorporated them into her style.
This one though... 'Instant Movement'. It was a speed technique that very nearly lived up to its name. Even so, despite it not actually being quite 'instant', the difference was very small at short range, making it an incredible technique in its own right... if only she could get it mastered. The start of the technique was no problem, as she'd worked out the trick of just how to move the ki, and her feet in a matter of hours, but pulling out at the end point... the timing there was very tricky. She'd spent the free time of the past few days working on that, and slamming into trees and walls in failed attempts, with the break for a walk which had turned into the brief skirmish with those two, nicely breaking up the monotony.
She nearly had it though. Her pull out had gotten much smoother, and she only stumbled a little at the end of the technique, rather than flying head over heels as she had initially. Just a few more short hours, and she'd have this technique mastered.
And then she could move on to studying the next stage of the technique... 'Void Instant Movement'. Much the same, though it would inarguably be more difficult, but as Saotome-ryu had been based around aerial combat from the very beginning its use could not be denied.
She'd show them. Show the Tendo's. Show her parents. Show them all. Even if she never found a way to return to the form of her birth, even if magic continued to poke its way into her life with filth-stained claws, no matter what, she would be the best.
The moon passed lazily overhead, charting its course through the heavens as it had always done, and would always continue to do.
Ah. So. Uh. Guess who just read a couple hundred chapters of Mahou Sensei Negima all in one sitting? Finally got around to looking it up one friday night out of boredom, was prepared to hate it on the basis of being described as 'something like a Harry Potter, Love Hina fusion', and bam! Midnight saturday was when I'm pretty sure I finally passed out.
'just... just one more chapter... just one more... one more....'
So Yeah. Anyway, took a few failed plot elements from here and there, threw 'em in a pot, added a Ranma/Negima cross.... this.
I like it. Your mileage may vary, but one of the grating things about the series for me was that Negi gets into the swing of things and whoosh! Everyone in class likes him. Sure, there's the whole Eva/initial Pactio arc thing, but that goes away shortly after, with the whole apprenticeship thing. Throwing in Ranma, with a serious, serious mad-on for magic should tangle the works a bit though.
And yeah, uh, OOC some. Still the crazy-obsessive martial-arts stuff, but uh... less 'happy dummy' and more 'I will destroy you utterly, leaving not a trace remaining to offend my eyes, mage'. Big-time anger issues, but serious control over them. Liiike.... if Akane learned the Soul of Ice, in canon?
Actually, I don't think that's quite an apt description, and for some reason it sends chills down my spine. Trying a different comparison... less 'Robin, the Boy Wonder' and more 'PsychoBatMan'. That's a better analogy, I think. Or less 'Naruto' more 'Sasuke', maybe. Something along those lines.
Anyway, next chapter should be the first serious mage vs mage combat that Ranma stumbles across. That'll be fun.
"I'll be more than happy to take you both on, mages!"
"Tch. If a practicing mage happens to die in battle, then it's no concern of mine.. but I'm not simply going to stand aside and watch some little girl fall in a lake and drown, even if she does part-time as an evil monster."