The Disorderly Princess and the Fiery Steed
A Naruto / Ranma ½ crossover
© 2009–10 by gsteemso
Author's Note (updated Weds. 2009/02/25): This was inspired by a number of stories where a ninja at the heart of the Naruto storyline, generally Naruto or Sakura, finds they are either the reincarnation or the jinchūriki of Saotome Ranma. It occurred to me to wonder: Why would it necessarily be one of the main characters? For that matter, why would Ranma arrive in one piece and talking coherently? He's dead. Then it further occurred to me to wonder, what would happen if he wasn't dead and in the past, but instead the link went both ways?
Not my characters. Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi, a man who appears to really hate his own characters, and Ranma ½ belongs to Takahashi Rumiko.
Konoha, the Village Hidden in the Leaves, around eleven years after the Fourth Hokage died defeating the Nine-Tails:
Hyūga Hiashi, head of one of the village's most powerful clans, was in a good mood. Three years previously, he had assigned a researcher named Gozoshi, who was skilled with sealing techniques, to investigate ways to bolster a child's mental strength. Even back then, it had been painfully clear that his elder daughter Hinata was not assertive enough for the position of Clan Heir that she held through right of birth. While he was not a very nice man, he was willing to go to great lengths to ensure neither of his daughters would have to be branded with the Caged Bird seal used to control the subordinate Branch House of the Hyūga. Today he had finally received a report back on the sealwright Gozoshi's progress.
The end result of the man's years of research, he claimed proudly, had been the discovery that people's spirits or souls were complicated things that existed in more than one universe at a time, and that the links between these "other selves" in each universe could be strengthened artificially.
It would later be discovered that he had made a lot of this up because he liked the way it sounded, but since it apparently worked anyway, he hadn't been inclined to dig deeper.
In any case, almost as much time had been needed to find a way to filter out useless other selves like fungi, cockroaches and Bible salesmen as had been needed for the original breakthrough, but today the crusty old geezer Gozoshi had been able to report an incontrovertible success. He had taken a Branch House child who'd recently had the misfortune to be born with no higher brain functions — effectively a vegetable — and used the technique to connect him with a baby in another universe, and the connection had kick-started his mind such that he was now acting like a normal newborn. The old sealwright had kept close watch on the young family for the next three months, and there seemed to be no ill effects that anyone could see; indeed, the baby seemed uncommonly happy and well-adjusted.
Hiashi had sufficient overconfidence in Gozoshi's abilities that he had authorized the use of the new technique on Hinata. He'd worried briefly that his late wife might not have approved, but the knowledge that he could otherwise very well be forced to relegate the girl to the Branch House in a few years led him to feel there was no other way.
Hinata blinked owlishly after the departing form of her father. She was such a disappointment to him that she was to undergo a mind-altering sealing technique? She knew he was never pleased with her progress in anything, but she'd never dreamed she was that big of a failure. She stubbornly held back the tears, and with a pale but expectant expression, turned to the ancient Branch House retainer who would apparently perform the technique on her.
"Right this way, young miss," said the old man, in a way that gave her a strong impression he wasn't at all comfortable dealing with children. He then led her to a highly secure part of the clan compound that she'd never been into before. They passed through a series of doors and twisty little hallways lined with small work areas, all of which were sealed to be impenetrable even by the clan's White Eyes blood limit; and finally came to a stop in front of a tall, white-painted wooden door. Gozoshi formed a one-handed seal and placed his other palm against a plate set into the wall, and with a brief flash of chakra, the door unlocked itself.
Hinata looked with awe upon the small, empty, white room thus revealed. She knew that seals were a complex art, but she had never dreamed using them might require they cover every flat surface in a room! Lines of complex symbols interspersed with kana and kanji trailed across every surface, even the floor and the ceiling, forming patterns within patterns to such an extent that it was almost dizzying to look upon.
"Now, just sit on that yellow mark there and face the door," directed Gozoshi calmly, having closed the door in question as soon as they were through it. Even the door was covered in seals on the inside!
"Y-yes, sir," acquiesced Hinata, terrified but unwilling to show it. She moved into the specified position and sat cross-legged, closing her eyes and trying to focus on controlling her fear. She listened with morbid interest as the old scholar moved around the room, making handseals and moulding chakra into various sigils on the walls.
Something of her bearing, which strongly resembled that of a convict on the scaffold awaiting the noose, must have communicated itself to Gozoshi; for he paused, gave an awkward cough, and solicitously asked, "Er, Hinata-sama, would you perhaps like to know about some of the safeguards in the seal arrays in this room?"
She opened her eyes in surprise, looking at him, and shyly nodded. "Y-yes, p-please." Anything which put off her terrible fate was a welcome diversion.
"Well," he began professorially, "these blue ones that go all over the room between these other ones are the main part. They feed chakra into your spirit, causing it to connect more strongly with its corresponding parts in other universes. Everyone's spirit exists in at least a few thousand and sometimes up to half a million other universes, but most of the other parts are the spirits of insects or plants or, if they are connected to people, the people are incomprehensible beings on strange alien worlds. These purple ones shape the surge of chakra, limiting it to only affect your other selves that are similar to the you in this universe. Understand so far?"
"I-I think so, but h-how does connecting m-me to other selves th-that are just like myself… er, myself here I mean, help m-me? Doesn't that kind of d-defeat the purpose?"
"Very sharp!" beamed Gozoshi. "That's where these green ones come in. They nudge the chakra surge just enough to connect you with other selves who are a few years older than you, just enough to give you a head start on developing more self-confidence, like a young adult would have."
"I th-think I s-see now." Hinata was actually more alarmed than reassured by that last revelation. It sounded like her own personality would be overwhelmed by an adult in another universe who happened to have part of the same spirit she had. She didn't know how to articulate this fear in a way that wouldn't bring down further disapproval from her father, though, so she bowed her head and waited for the inevitable.
Gozoshi gave her a puzzled look, but decided he'd done all he could. It wasn't like he'd ever had any children of his own. Maybe being so depressed was a phase they went through or something? He vaguely remembered people mentioning something like that.
"Well, that's good," he said briskly, rubbing his hands together and kneeling painfully between Hinata and the door. "Right, now…
"Great Spirit Reinforcing!" he cried, activating the seal array.
Hinata shivered. She had the oddest sensation that the room was both shrinking and stretching around her; it was as though she was suddenly conscious of being both bigger and smaller than she had ever realized before. Tantalizing half-sensations flickered across the fringes of her mind, both strange and beautiful. She caught a brief glimpse of a purple-tinged red sky with three moons, in various hues of brilliant blue and green, hanging above oddly spire-shaped purple mountains on the horizon. Was her skin green? But before she could examine it further, the vision was gone as though it had never been, leaving her feeling surprised and curious but unable to remember exactly why. Then, with a peculiar sensation of coming into focus, sheCONNECTED.
"Whoa!" she said, mentally reeling. She couldn't remember quite who she was, or where, or what she was doing. Something about… running to her father? Or was her father walking away disdainfully? He was so harsh… He needs to be to (run the clan/train me properly). It shows he cares only for (the clan/my advancement in the Art).
She blinked dizzily. What? That had almost made sense. Was her father really so harsh because he wanted her to succeed? It was a strange and oddly warming perspective. She vaguely became aware of a splitting headache, and suddenly realized she was lying sprawled on her back on the seal-embossed floor of the little white room, but she couldn't answer the old man's worried questions just now because she was too busy passing out.
Gozoshi looked down in distress. THAT certainly hadn't happened last time. And what was that strange, faintly flickering golden glow around the girl's abdomen? He reached out with his hand and bit back an oath as the golden energy grounded itself into his fingertips, giving him painful but superficial burns.
That hadn't been chakra.
How the hell had he managed to connect the girl with a source of yōki, the demonic equivalent of chakra⁈ It should have only connected her to other humans!
He hoped to all the gods he knew of that she woke up soon. If Hiashi-sama heard about the demonic aspect of the results he was doomed.
Somewhere in northwestern Tokyo, circa one year before the events of the Ranma ½ manga would have begun:
"Hahaha! You'll never catch me like that, slowpoke!" Saotome Ranma danced lightly around the inelegant blows of his enraged companion, one Hibiki Ryoga, until they reached the latter's home. "There ya go buddy! See you tomorrow morning?"
The flabbergasted Ryoga looked in disbelief at his house, which he had not seen for three weeks due to his family curse of being able to get lost in an empty closet, and said the only thing he could think of: "Um, sure?" He stared blankly at the front door, then walked up and let himself in. On a whim he looked back, but Ranma had already gone. He blinked once, completely at a loss for what to think, and then continued into the house.
Ranma raced across fences and rooftops until he reached the vacant lot where he'd been camping with his father and martial arts teacher, Genma. "Hey Pops, I'm baaaAAAAAAAAHHHHH!" His scream was abruptly cut off as he collapsed like a ruptured hot-air balloon, rolling a few times through the muddy grass as his momentum drained away.
Saotome Genma stuck his portly upper half around the end of their weatherbeaten tent and looked at his son in astonishment. Odd, the brat'd never done that before. "Are you all right, boy?"
His only answer was a flare of some strange energy earthing itself from Ranma's crumpled form into the surrounding space. It seemed truly otherworldly, to such an extent it gave Genma a headache to perceive it. "I'll be damned," he muttered as he came around the tent to drag his son onto the boy's bedroll, only to wince as he realized his choice of words. I really hope this doesn't mean all those whacked out curses those temple priests in Fuyoshima called down on us are going to come true.
Hinata opened her eyes and sat up blearily. She found herself wrapped in a blanket on the floor of the seal-encrusted white room, with the old Branch House researcher watching her intently.
"How are you feeling, Hinata-sama?"
"Surprisingly well, actually," she answered. "Why was I lying on the floor?" She didn't notice that she hadn't stammered once.
"As soon as I connected you to one of your other selves, you looked extremely confused for a moment and then passed out," confessed Gozoshi reluctantly. "What do you remember thinking about?"
"It was very strange. I literally was of two minds about anything I thought of. It was like I was thinking in chorus, and not all my mental voices were thinking along the same lines."
"But you're… single-minded, now?"
Hinata had to stop and think about that. "I think the other me is still asleep," she volunteered after a couple of minutes.
"Hmm. Interesting." Gozoshi considered matters for a moment. "I think we had better keep you under observation until she wakes up."
"Yes, sir," Hinata answered obediently. She folded the blanket neatly and sat on it, then settled in to meditate.
Ranma groaned, and stirred uncomfortably on his bedroll. He opened his eyes slowly and stared blankly at the ceiling of the Saotome tent while he took stock of himself. He seemed to be all present and accounted for, with no trace of the unexplained blast of agonizing pain that had brought him down on his arrival at the family campsite. Actually, he felt unaccountably relaxed and mentally centred, considering what he'd just woken up from. After some thought, he decided he should probably meditate for a few minutes and see if he could feel anything wrong in his mind or body. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing.
After a minute or so, he realized that something had definitely changed. He felt like he wasn't lonely any more, and this was very strange, because he hadn't been aware he felt lonely in the first place until the almost unnoticeable ache went away. It also didn't really make sense, because his rudimentary chi senses could tell there was no one around except a nosy squirrel trying to figure out their food cache. Pops must have gone for a doctor or something, he thought fleetingly.
He withdrew his senses back into himself and settled deeper into his trance. After a timeless interval, he became aware of a strange impression of duality about himself. He sent a formless query at the him that wasn't him, and was rewarded with a sense of surprise. He was too far into the trance to have any opinion as to what that might mean, and simply sent a feeling of curiosity and longing to be whole back at this oddly separated part of himself.
His unknown other half reciprocated, and suddenly his two selves joined together briefly, though they were too dissimilar to stay connected for more than a fraction of a second. Ranma's mind wobbled in and out of the trance state for a few seconds, finally ending up in trance "facing" the impression of duality, with a question aforethought.
Hinata's featureless white eyes shot open and she gasped deeply. "…Ranma?" she mumbled.
"Eh? What horse?" asked Gozoshi, looking up from the report he was perusing.
"I'm not sure. I need to meditate some more," she answered distractedly. What the hell was that? she wondered. Again, she didn't notice the uncharacteristic curseword.
Sinking back into the Hyūga version of the Mind of No Mind, which in all honesty wasn't much more effective than what Ranma was doing but sounded a lot more impressive, Hinata cast about for the part of herself that was, ever so slightly, detached.
Ah, there it was…
This time they knew what to expect, and achieved a more lasting connection that was not as much of a union as the first attempt had been.
Who am I? I thought I was Ranma, but now I'm Hinata too?
"Who are we," I mean. I am Hinata and I am also Ranma, in another place and possibly another time too.
What the heck does that mean?
We're both "us." We're just not the same us.
Uh… I'll take my word for it.
Smart girl. The mental union wobbled violently at that, almost collapsing.
I'm a GUY! Why would I call myself a girl while meditating? I must have gone crazy, it's the only explanation. Ranma was contributing a strong dizzy feeling to the joined minds.
But, er… I'm a GIRL… I've always been a girl… Hinata was seldom very assertive, but this she felt she was pretty certain of.
In an unusual leap of logic, Ranma made a connection. We've always been Ranma and we've always been Hinata. We've always been a boy and we've always been a girl?
…Let's go with that, it's easier than giving myselves a headache.
Yeah. I don't think it works both ways though. Ranma is a boy and Hinata is a girl.
That sounds right. Ranma must be the us that wasn't in the seal room with the Great Spirit Reinforcing technique.
Okay. …Wait, what technique? Ranma was suddenly hyperfocussed on the word "technique." The mental union promptly collapsed, spitting out two dizzy children with headaches into their separate universes.
Ranma opened his eyes. That had certainly been different. He wondered again about the technique he'd mentioned in his thoughts; the brief mention of a "seal room" left him as puzzled as the mention of spiritual reinforcement in the technique's name. He had a vague but strong impression that there was now more to himself than he realized. Now that he came to think about it, his unexpected depths seemed inexplicably like a whole other person, squirrelled implausibly away in the most fundamental nooks and crannies of his being. Possibly the weirdest part was that he had a separate name for this other person, even though he identified her as part of himself.
He realized he was giving himself a headache trying to sort this out, and decided to think about it later. For now, there was dinner to prepare and, hopefully, eat before his father returned.
Hinata stood up and gave a shallow courtesy bow towards Gozoshi.
"I take it you settled matters with the other you?" asked the old man with interest.
"Yes, sir," she answered. "It seems the, ah, rejoining of spiritual branches? …is very strong when first applied, then quickly moderates itself. A good thing, considering how hard it was at first trying to think each single thought with two brains."
"Ah, interesting." Gozoshi mentally compared notes with the test case of the brain-dead baby, and wondered if the initial overreinforcement was responsible for the superlative result he'd obtained there. But that could wait; for now, he needed to assess Hinata's mental state before he could really say whether the technique had worked. "Well, Hinata-sama, I just need you to fill out this personality test and then you can go."
"Thanks," Hinata said, hoping her sarcasm wasn't too noticeable, and sat down again with the test paper.
Latest revision as of Tues. 2009/12/29