Disclaimer: We do not own anything to do with Gundams or Ranma one half characters, now Heero, please put down the buster rifle.
This story is the result of Weebee's desire to write a Gundam Wing fanfic, plus his fear of the fangirls, plus a healthy dose of Jonakhensu's insanity and the fact that the only Gundam Series he knows is G Gundam.
Jonakhensu: Not true!
The clearly unhinged mad scientist muse with the death ray has nothing to do with it.
Prologue Fight... GO!
As the winds of Ranma's last Hiryu Shoten Ha died away, leaving several large boulders to crash to the ground in tremendous clouds of dust, the pigtailed martial artist stood, panting, with Akane clutched in one hand and the Gekkaja in the other, glaring up at the floating and glowing form of Saffron.
"Don't you see, you insect? It's useless!" the arrogant phoenix proclaimed, gathering energy into his hands to unleash yet another of his emperor fireball attacks. "Give up and die like the impudent landling you are!"
Ranma responded by raising the ice staff, channeling his aura through it as he had been doing for the majority of the fight, and trying to stave off the flames, while pushing away from the ground. He flew up on a wide arc, coming down with the scythe-like blade aimed straight at Saffron's heart. He didn't call out, only aiming to impale the opponent. The tactic actually worked, and the staff slid into Saffron's soft tissues, only stopping for a moment as it cleaved the bone of his ribs. Unfortunately, he'd used this opportunity to bring one of his wings around, knocking Ranma away, and leaving the magical weapon sticking from his chest.
"He's... alive?" the martial artist asked, as he fell to the ground where he'd started, and Saffron yanked the weapon free, spinning it in one hand. "That means..." He shook his head, then looked back to the sidelines, where Ryoga was hefting a rock to chuck at the phoenix king. "Ryoga!" he called, causing the lost boy to stop in his tracks and look at him. "Get over..." he was about to continue, when a new attack blind-sided him, sending him sliding across the ground and further tearing up the back of his shirt. "Okay, that was stupid..." he croaked out, then flipped to his feet, his legs wobbling under him, and jumped backwards to Ryoga's position.
"What are you doing, you idiot?" the lost boy snarled.. "You've got to get Akane to that water!"
"No, I don't," Ranma replied, and his eyes narrowed. "You do, and you'll see your chance. Don't get lost, pig boy."
"Hey, you bastard, I..." Ryoga started, ready to tear into his rival despite the seriousness of the situation, when Akane was placed into his upraised hand, and the pigtailed boy started to run across the massive crater that the top of Mount Phoenix had become. He ignored Saffron's next attack, though it succeeded in tearing the rest of his shirt from his back and scorching a good deal of the flesh there, only concentrating on his aura as he cooled it. Launching off of a rock just beneath the flaming phoenix.
Saffron's eyes widened, as he wondered precisely what the idiotic landling was playing at, but his answer came as Ranma got to his level in the air, and a sweeping, chilling cold seemed to come with him. "This is impossible!" He exclaimed, when he would have probably been better served by retreating, as Ranma's hand lashed out and grabbed a hold of the Gekkaja, willing his entire aura into it as he wrapped his arms around Saffron's body, pinning his wings to his side and causing them both to fall like rocks. When they hit the water in the pool at the base of the dragon and phoenix taps, they were so cold that it flash froze instantly, and the two were frozen within it, Ranma's expression locked in deep concentration, and Saffron's in complete and total horror.
The battlefield fell silent as the spout of water from the impact seemed to freeze in mid-air, and the column of ice started to progress up, towards the taps themselves. For once in his life, Ryoga knew exactly where to go, charging forward with Akane clutched in one hand, and throwing himself through the water stream just before the ice got too high for him to jump past. As P-chan and Akane fell out the other side, he thought that he could have thought this plan through a little better.
Nabiki Tendo frowned as she sat at the table in the Tendo Dojo's living room, looking around at the people who sat with her. "Okay, guys, where's Saotome," she asked, looking from face to face.
Genma looked impassive, and Ryoga was staring at the ground, as per usual. What truly startled her was that Akane was still sobbing, and Shampoo, of all people, was sitting next to her and comforting her. "We told you," Genma said, flatly. "The boy isn't coming back, and I'd appreciate it if you stopped asking."
She winced as she saw Akane's sobbing get harder. "No way, this is Saotome, we're talking about here," she objected. "If he ran off, and that's why Akane's crying, I'm going to milk him for every yen he has!" That, perhaps, wasn't the smartest thing she could have said, as Ryoga shot to his feet, his eyes filled with rage, and he reached across the table, grabbing her by the wrist and pulling her to her feet. "Wh... what?" She stammered, looking into the lost boy's rage filled eyes.
"Shut... up," he hissed, his teeth bared. "Just shut up, before I do something I'll regret later." He then let the middle Tendo go, to fall shocked back to her seat and rub her arm.
"So, you're serious," she asked, though the throbbing in her arm told her quite enough about that. "He's dead?"
"He's not dead!"Akane burst out, quickly, before Shampoo quieted her again.
"No, he isn't dead, he is frozen in a large ice formation in the Jusendo Mountains," Genma explained, before standing and walking out of the room. "I... have to go and speak to Nodoka."
"Oh," Nabiki said, as her eyes started to water. She blinked several times, trying to clear them, but they wouldn't. "At least I won't have to pay out any of the bets," she mumbled, clearly in shock. Then, she recalled Kogane's entry, and sighed.
"Go 'way, Pop, I wanna sleep!" Ranma Saotome groaned as he rolled over on his futon, wincing as he felt several injuries. It'd probably been the Tomboy or Ryoga, again, and wasn't very important.
"Ranma, wake up," came a familiar voice that definitely wasn't that of Genma Saotome.
This actually got Ranma to consider opening his eyes. That had sounded like Dr. Tofu, and if that were the case then he was probably a lot more beaten up than usual. Still, the bed was so comfortable that he didn't want to leave it. 'Wait, bed?' he thought, and his eyes flew open instantly to see an unfamiliar ceiling. Turning his head, he saw the concerned face of the doctor peering down at him through his thin glasses. "Hey doc, what happened?" he asked, and winced as his voice came out in a harsh croak.
Tofu suddenly smiled, threw back his head and laughed. "He's alive!" He yelled, raising his hands to the ceiling.
"...Huh?" Ranma asked, looking at the brown haired man dubiously.
"Oh, um, sorry. I always wanted to say that," Tofu explained. "How are you feeling, Ranma-kun?"
"Like someone ran me over with a truck, but that's kinda standard," Ranma responded, and then sat up slowly, ignoring his body's rather painful insistence that that wasn't a good idea. Looking around, he blinked as he saw a place that looked vaguely like the set of a Sci-Fi movie, computer banks along one wall, several gleaming medical beds along another and a window that showed nothing but glimmering stars behind him. "Doc, where are we?" he asked, slowly.
Tofu's smile disappeared, and he looked at his patient apprehensively. "How much do you remember before you woke up here?" he tried.
"Um," the pigtailed martial artist said, reaching up to the back of his head to tug on his braid, only to find that the hair there had been cut short. His eyes widened at this, but he continued to think of what the doctor had asked him, none the less.
"Last thing I remember," he mumbled, concentrating. Abruptly, flashes of fire, pain and fear entered his mind, and memory seemed to crash down on him like a bursting dam. "Where's Akane? Is she all right?" he asked, forcing himself the rest of the way out of bed and to his feet. "Is she all right? Did Ryoga get her to the water in time, I..."
He was interrupted as a female voice came from the door, sounding happy and not all that coherent. "I'm right here, Mr. Ranma-sama," she said, though Ranma couldn't understand it as she was speaking in Basic. Still, he had heard her, and turned towards her to see a short girl, wearing what looked like a bright red jumpsuit, and with dark green hair cut in a short style.
"Akane-chan, you have to speak old Japanese, remember?" a tall, blonde haired man who stood behind the girl said, exasperated. "Hello, Ranma-sama, it is good to see that you are awake. I am Soun Tendo, commissioner of the Neo-Nerima colony."
"Guh?" the teenaged boy asked, and staggered slightly to the side, as his panic over Akane's safety gave way to his physical condition. "Mr. Tendo?" he asked, looking the older man over as Tofu held one arm. "Your hair's a little different, ain't it?"
Soun chuckled, but looked oddly at Tofu. "You haven't told the boy, Ono?" he asked, concerned.
"I didn't exactly have a chance to, Tendo-san," Tofu said in his own defense. "He only woke up a few minutes ago, and Ranma-kun always has been a heavy sleeper."
"Tell me what?" Ranma asked, starting to become agitated, "and you still haven't told me if Akane's all right!"
"I fine!" the green haired girl repeated, this time in a form Ranma could understand, and then grimaced. "Stupid old Japanese, make sound stupid."
"Says the girl who tried to revive someone from stasis with a hair drier," a third voice cut in, as a girl who was a few inches taller than Akane, wearing a blue jumpsuit, stepped in.
"Nabiki!" the other girl complained as Ranma looked between them in a state of ever increasing confusion.
"So, this is the great hero, huh?" the newcomer asked, looking at the martial artist critically. "He looks kind of slow."
"Hey!" Ranma complained, "What's your problem, anyways?"
The girl just sniffed, and turned to the tall blond man. "Can I go, now," she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
He sighed and shook his head. "I will talk to you about this later, Nabiki," he growled, gesturing towards the door. She only nodded tersely and walked out.
"Um, is she all right?" Ranma asked, looking after the girl for a moment. She definitely hadn't seemed like Nabiki. Well, the viciousness was certainly there, but she hadn't been nearly as cool and collected about it, and he wondered precisely what he'd done to piss her off so badly.
"She will be fine," Soun answered. He thought about mentioning the reason for her discomfort, but felt that pushing the colony's hero into a state of catatonic shock right after he woke up would be frowned upon, especially by the elder of the Joketsu. "Now, I believe that there is some explaining to do."
"...140 years." Ranma mumbled this to himself as he stared vaguely out of a window that showed a beautiful view of Earth. He didn't really see it, other than how much it reminded him of where and when he was. "...140 years."
The number had been the first thing he'd really fixed on during Soun's explanation. Not the fact that they were in space now, not the fact that half the colony apparently regarded him as some form of savior due to something he'd done to save one person's life, and not even that there was some form of twisted clone family of the Tendos here, no, it was all about the time. "...140 years."
"Still stuck on that, are you?" a crackling voice came from behind him, and Ranma turned to see a familiar form, green and gold robes rustling from on top of a staff.
"Ol' Ghoul?!" he asked, actually sounding happy to see her. Granted, he'd already seen Tofu, but he seemed somehow... off... from how he'd been before, and not least because he'd somehow barely aged. "You're still alive?"
The woman's staff lashed out and caught Ranma in the side of the head. "Of course I'm still alive, Son-in-law!"
He rubbed the side of his head, wincing. "Yeah, I guess nothing'd be able to kill you," he grinned back at her, "but did you have to hit me in the head? I still got a huge headache from before."
The elder snorted. "Stop complaining, Son-in-Law. I thought that you may have been sitting here and feeling sorry for yourself, so I decided to come and talk some sense into you."
"I ain't feelin sorry for myself," Ranma griped, but when he was given a steady look from the white haired woman, he sighed. "Okay, so even after I got used to it I always figured I'd leave the Tendo place eventually, but..." He gestured at the window. "This is kinda extreme, y'know?"
The old woman nodded and jumped from her cane to the table that he'd been leaning on, raising one hand to press against the thick glass. "I know, it was very hard to leave Earth," she admitted, "but you really should explore this colony, it has many interesting sights, and not to forget new martial arts techniques."
Ranma's eyes rose to look at the ancient Chinese Elder's at this, and she could see a familiar spark in them. "Hmm?" he asked, sounding a little less despondent.
"Go and explore, I'm sure you will find something that interests you here," she said, gesturing at the length of the colony behind Ranma's back. "Also, we have arranged a room for you in one of the habitat sections."
"Thanks, Ol' Ghoul, I think I'll do that," Ranma said, as he was handed a small card key, and then smacked in the back of the head by a staff again. Smirking, he stood and walked from the room.
The elder shook her head. "That boy is so predictable," she grumbled, before a throat clearing from nearby caused her to look over to the doorway, where commissioner Tendo stood with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Why didn't you tell the boy who you really are?" the man asked, mildly curious, rather than reproving.
Shampoo shrugged, and leapt back to the top of her staff. "I don't see why I should have," she responded. "After all, his little nickname is as accurate as it ever was with my great grandmother."
"So, what will we do now?" the man asked. "He doesn't seem very stable at the moment."
"Hmm," the Amazon said, bringing one gnarled hand up to stroke her chin. "Do you still have the plans that group of young ones submitted for a mobile fighter last year?"
"You can't be..." Soun said, his eyes widening.
Shampoo shrugged. "It would keep him busy, and we've wanted to take the Japanese down a peg or two for years. He'll definitely do that. As for me, I've got a great granddaughter to badger into stealing my husband."
Soun considered saying something, but didn't really think it wise for his skull's health, so he merely watched as the white haired woman pogoed away.
"Nabiki?" Elder Shampoo's voice drifted across the middle Tendo daughter's bedroom, and she sighed, closing the book she was reading.
"Yes, Elder?" She asked, dreading what was going to come next. She'd known that she had let her father's proclamation about Ranma Saotome irritate her earlier, and that she shouldn't have snapped at someone who'd just come out of cryosleep for thinking slowly, but she really didn't want to hear the lecture on that now.
"I see the look on your face, child," Shampoo said, hopping into the room and landing on the green haired girl's bed. "Do not worry, I'm not here to punish you. Personally, I think your father chose a rather foolish way to inform you of his little plan for his daughters and Ranma."
"So, you won't make one of us go through with this?" the younger girl asked, hopefully.
"I would like a member of my family line to become engaged to Ranma, at the very least to heal a very old wound of honor that I suffer from," Shampoo shook her head. "Still, I will not force the two of you to get married unwillingly."
"Hey, wait, why's it me?" Nabiki asked, raising a hand with her fingers in warding gestures.
"You recall what Kasumi said on the subject?" The matriarch said, levelly. "She will move to Neo-Antarctica, or worse, if her father pushes this on her. As for Akane... there are other reasons why she wouldn't be appropriate."
Nabiki shuddered. She still couldn't believe her older sister's proclamation, especially since 'Neo-Antarctica' was just a fancy name for a lot of ice. "Other reasons?" she demanded, wanting to know about why her younger sister, who actually seemed to really like the 'Hero of Nerima,' was out of the running.
Shampoo shrugged. "You do know that you are named after three sisters who lived on earth before the colonies, correct?"
"Back then, Ranma was engaged to Akane, and she was much... different... from your younger sister. Of all of you three, you are the closest to your former counterpart..."
"So you want me to replace this other girl who was around in the twentieth century?" Nabiki asked, glaring hotly at her elder, and getting a hard thwap to the side of the head in reply.
"Listen fully, girl," Shampoo snapped. "I have experienced culture shock. The feeling that nothing is as it should be, and everyone is strange, and frightening. What Ranma is experiencing is much, much worse than what I did, and something somewhat familiar would help him, but I don't expect you to start acting exactly like that Nabiki Tendo." She smirked. "Ranma would likely run from you screaming, if you did so."
"Argh!" Nabiki cried. "You're not making sense. What, exactly, do you want from me?"
"I want you to help a new, lost member of our colony get adjusted, and be a friend to him if possible," Shampoo said. "I also want you not, under any circumstances, to mention engagements or marriage." Jumping back to her staff, she looked back for a moment and cackled. "Also, you should probably get to know someone a little better before you call them slow. After all, Ranma may surprise you."
"I can't believe this," Nabiki Tendo grumbled to herself as she walked down the main corridor of the medical sector, ration card in one hand while the other rubbed at a large knot that was forming on the side of her head. "She didn't have to hit me that hard."
Granted, she had insulted the hero of the colony, but she really couldn't be blamed for it, could she? Her father had announced that she, or one of her sisters, would be married to the guy if the revivification process had been a success, and Akane had giggled happily about it, while Kasumi had said, in no uncertain terms, that she would be leaving for Neo-Antarctica if their father had tried to force her into it.
This, of course, left her holding the bag... or rather, the Fiance. Sighing in annoyance, she entered the cafeteria at the end of the hall, and blinked as she saw Ranma standing at the front, glaring at a food dispenser. Curious in spite of herself, she walked up behind him, observing as he bent forward and poked at the thing's screen. He managed to make it most of the way through the purchase process, which was surprising as she was pretty sure he couldn't read Basic, but was always caught at the point where it asked for his ration card. She watched this happen a couple more times, before finally sighing, and reaching past him to slide her card through the slot.
"Oh, uh," he said, looking at her oddly. "Hey."
"You need a ration card," she explained flatly, as the slot on the side of the dispenser opened and dropped a bowl of rice onto the shelf below it.
The formerly pigtailed boy's eyes lit up and he snatched the bowl, taking a pair of metal chopsticks from a basket on top of the machine and using them to gather a large amount of rice. Chewing it, his face convulsed into an odd expression for a moment, but he continued chewing anyways. When he was done, he explained, "Wasabi and Mayonnaise."
Nabiki grimaced in slight sympathy. "I would ask you to say thank you, but with a meal like that I'm not sure."
He shrugged. "Nah, thanks. It was a lot better than most of the stuff I got off of Akane, I mean, my fiancee, not your sister, I... aw crap."
For a moment, Nabiki caught herself thinking that his flustered look was kind of cute, before stepping on that thought mercilessly. "I know what you mean," she said. "Kasumi's cooking isn't a lot better."
Ranma's eyebrow twitched at someone insulting Kasumi's cooking. In Nerima, that would usually get you lynched by a good portion of the town. "Why do you people have to have those names?" he grumbled. "I'm half expectin you to start demanding money out of me rather than offerin a free lunch."
"Hey, who said it was free?" Nabiki objected. "You're paying me back later. As for the names, Granny thought it was funny, most likely... she does that a lot."
Ranma nodded, and stepped aside to let the green haired girl order her meal. He knew well the dangers of meddling old people.
Going over to a table where there was only one person sitting, Ranma pulled out a chair and sat across from him. Nabiki reluctantly sat next to him, setting down her hamburger. The man across from them, apparently one of the medical section's doctors, looked up and waved at the two lethargically. About three seconds later, he looked at the boy again and jumped up, all tiredness gone. "It... it's Ranma-sama, they told us you were going to be awake, but it... it's an honor to meet you, sir!"
The martial artist blinked slowly. "Huh?" he asked, as the other man reached out to shake his hand. He did recognize this gesture, at least, and returned the shake before the other turned and ran off, mumbling something about telling his friends, which Ranma completely missed, much like his first statement.
"Um, what'd he just say?" he asked, looking over at a bemused Nabiki. She sighed, but provided an approximate translation. "Wait, it was an honor to meet me, what the heck's he talking about?"
"You were told about the history of the colony, right?" the middle Tendo asked, exasperated. At his slow head shake, she grumbled. Not only was she stuck with this guy, who didn't even understand Basic, for at least a month, but now he apparently knew absolutely nothing about the colony. "You're considered a hero to a lot of the people of the colony, since it was water from the ice block that you were frozen in that allowed the colony to survive when support was cut off from Neo-Japan."
"Wait, so a whole colony survived on water from one ice block?" Ranma asked, knowing that the logistics of that really didn't add up.
"No, the water was from the spring that fuels Jusenkyo, and was used to give alternate, more easily maintained forms to everyone on the colony, as well as to produce food," Nabiki explained, holding up her hamburger as a demonstration. "It's a lot easier to keep insects than cows."
"Oh," Ranma said, surprised. He'd never thought of using Jusenkyo that way, but he supposed he'd never been trapped in space and running out of food and air before, either. "But I still don't get why he reacted to me like that, I mean I was just ridin around in the ice block, not really doing anything else." He shrugged, not realizing that he'd just scored at least some points with Nabiki for lack of ego, in spite of the fact that he just genuinely didn't get it.
"Well, I've got to show you around the rest of the colony, so no matter how unreasonable, you probably should get used to it," she responded.
"Oh, great," Ranma mumbled, and decided to go back to his oddly seasoned rice rather than having to worry about that.
"Ready, aim, fire!" Ranma's hands blurred into motion as the heavy machine-gun down range started firing, sending its projectiles screaming towards him at super-sonic velocities. This had been going on for a good three hours now, and he was starting to sweat as he swatted projectiles out of the air in various directions. A minute later, when all of the weapon's ammunition had been expended, he let his arms drop to his side, gratefully taking in large lungfuls of air.
"All right, how's it look?" Nabiki asked, from where she was standing at the side of the range.
"Two hits," the gunner yelled back.
"Hey, what'dya mean two hits?" Ranma objected, standing to his full height again, suddenly not looking tired at all. "I got 'em all this time!"
Nabiki shook her head as she walked over to him, pointing at his upper arm, where a blotch of blue from the machine-gun's paintball payload smeared the red of his traditional Chinese clothes. "And there's one on your chest, right over your heart."
"Damn it," Ranma grumbled. "This is more annoying than that whole hornet punching thing my old man had me doing."
"Hornet..." Nabiki shook her head. She supposed it was no more insane than trying to punch paint balls out of the air, but it was still a little odd hearing someone talking so casually about free flying insects for someone who'd spent her entire life on a colony.
"Set it up and lets try again," Ranma proclaimed. "I'm gunna get it this time."
"You were almost falling over when you finished this time, don't you think you should take a break?" Nabiki asked, sighing. To tell the truth, she'd been watching him do this for the past three hours, and it was even making her tired.
"I'm gunna get this mastered," he insisted, stubbornly.
"Ranma, you've only been at it for a week," Nabiki said, but could see that it was no use. Grumbling, she pulled a bottle of water out of nowhere, and dumped it over his head. "Cool off, and sit down," she ordered, glaring at the now red haired girl.
Ranma growled. With the change to female form and the subsequent speed increase, she knew that she could already get all of the bullets, but couldn't punch them hard enough with the quick strikes of the Amaguriken to deflect the more centrally aimed ones. "You're annoying," she complained, walking over to the side of the room and slumping to the ground.
"Does this mean I can finally go for lunch?" the guy who was manning the machine gun asked, mildly bored with his current task, and growing quite hungry.
Ranma was about to object, but it took her a little too long to find the words in Basic, and Nabiki told the guy to leave before she could. "You're being annoying, 'yknow," Ranma said, before pouting.
"That's kind of disturbing," Nabiki noted. While she'd seen a few of the older colonists who still bore curses from the dark days, none of them had had gender switching ones, and Ranma's easy, though unwilling, shifting from a rather handsome looking guy to a little redhead still unsettled her a bit.
"Think I like it?" the aforementioned redhead returned.
Nabiki shrugged. "At least it got you to stop trying to train yourself into an early grave," she noted. "This whole month, that's all you've been doing."
Ranma shrugged. "It's all I'm really good at," she responded.
"I don't know," Nabiki replied. "Maybe you just don't want to think about all the stuff that you left behind on earth." She didn't know why she said it. She wasn't sure if it was vindictiveness over having to deal with this irritating martial artist whose grasp of basic was about as good as your average four year old, or if she was honestly trying to help someone who was lost and alone. Still, what she got as a response was a surprise.
"What's so funny?" She demanded, outraged for some reason that she really couldn't identify.
"Sorry," the redhead said, "The whole psycho-analysis thing was kinda funny, and you're pretty well dead wrong."
Nabiki crossed her arms and sniffed. "Oh yeah, you don't miss your family or friends at all?" she asked, now definitely poking just because she'd been offended.
"Oh, I miss 'em," Ranma said, leaning back against the wall and staring up at the ceiling of the firing range. "It's just... well, I guess no one up here'd really get it, 'cuz even the best martial artists can't really go anywhere where they'd get better training, but I was always on the road." She shrugged. "In the back of my mind, at the Tendo place, I was always wonderin when Pop'd pull up stakes and tell me we were moving again."
"Granny said you were engaged to a bunch of people there; were you going to leave them?" Nabiki asked, frowning darkly.
Ranma shrugged. "Not really," she answered, "But I figured the whole engagement marriage thing'd blow up in my face someday." She smirked sardonically. "Heck, it's probably a pretty good thing I got frozen when I did, saved a lot of grief when I finally chose, or when someone went nuts 'cuz I kept pushin things off. At least this way, everyone had a good life after I left."
"I don't know," Nabiki said, surprised to get that much information out of the normally silent Ranma. "Seems like a pretty sad way to live your life."
Ranma just shrugged. "Don't worry 'bout me, this place's got enough techniques to keep me around for a few more months, then, I dunno, maybe I'll head back down to Earth."
"You're going to leave?" she asked, both worried and a little relieved that she wouldn't have to worry about her father and Shampoo's stupid marriage plans.
Ranma nodded. "Don't wanna keep bugging you guys and taking up your food and stuff, and I ain't exactly good at living on a space station."
Hmm," Nabiki said, but frowned. What Ranma described still didn't seem like a very good life to her, but she shrugged that thought off as the redhead pulled herself to her feet. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to get some lunch, you want some? I'll bring it back," the pigtailed martial artist offered.
"No, I'll go down and eat with you so you can't sneak off and train somewhere else," the green haired girl said, smirking.
"Why are you dressed like that?" Nabiki looked dubiously at Ranma, as the shorter redhead stood in front of her door, wearing a one piece bathing suit. This wasn't the strange part of her ensemble, though, as she was also wearing an extremely floppy straw hat and a trench coat.
"You think anyone will recognize me?" she asked, hopefully.
"I think everyone's going to laugh at you or call you in to the authorities as a pervert," the middle Tendo drawled, irritably. "You know, you're the one who wanted to check out the swimming area, I don't know why you're acting like this."
"It's creepy," Ranma complained, as the two started down the corridor that lead out of Nabiki's residential block. "The staring and whispering is worse than it ever was in Furinkan, and all this hero of the colony stuff's making me twitchy."
"What, would you rather have everyone trying to shoot you in the back?" Nabiki asked, exasperated at her charge's complaints.
"That'd make me feel a little more normal, yeah," the redhead replied.
"I should have known," the green haired girl grumbled as the two entered a lift that ran the length of the primary hub. As it went down, she grinned at the look of wonder that appeared on Ranma's face. The martial artist hadn't quite gotten used to the whole space colony thing yet, and the windows that looked out of the car showed Neo-Nerima in all of its kludged together, patchwork glory. As they got to the end and the large slab of rock that was the swimming and recreation area, also formerly known as part of Neo-Australia's colony, hove into view, her smile got wider as she recalled Ranma's reaction when she'd told him where they'd gotten it.
"So you sure you can't tell me how you swiped that thing?" the short redhead asked.
Nabiki laughed. "I would if I knew, but I don't," she replied. "Rumor has it that someone used a massive hidden weapons field generator on it, but no one will admit to it, and if they did, that wouldn't explain how all the animals and plants are still there."
"Hmm," the redhead muttered. "Sounds like somethin Mousse'd try."
Nabiki was about to respond to that, when the lift car slid to a stop, and its massive doors opened on the recreation area. "Come on, let's go swimming, we've been training far too much lately."
Ranma shrugged. "I guess," she mumbled, "but I know I've almost got the space walk thing down."
Nabiki sighed, and grabbed the annoying redhead by the arm before starting to run, pulling her along.
There were few, and quite precious, moments of rest for certain portions of Neo-Nerima's citizenry. It was most rare and precious for those in the maintenance details, as the colony was in no way self-repairing, and required near constant maintenance. As such, Nabiki was enjoying her current position, sitting in a small cafe and sipping at a glass of ice cold water, quite a bit.
That was why Ranma was being tremendously annoying at the moment. "Is this what you consider fun?" he asked, sitting across the table from her and munching on a rice ball.
"Yes, yes it is, now leave me to it," she ordered, plucking a small grape from a plate in the middle of the table and popping it into her mouth.
Ranma grumbled about boring people, running his eyes along the storefronts that lined the narrow part of the beach they were sitting on. About all he saw of any interest was a video arcade, which had a few younger kids clustered around it. "I'm going to check that out," he said, and Nabiki only responded with a disinterested, and seemingly sleepy, affirmative.
Inside the arcade stood a number of different types of games, most involving some level of martial skill. There was even one that Ranma could remember seeing from his youth, though why PacMan had been recreated was beyond him. It was also the only game he actually knew have to play. The next five minutes reminded Ranma why he hadn't played PacMan very much as he had been growing up.
Moving to a different game, he found a nostalgic fighting game based off of the old Neriman fighters. It was somewhat surprising that some kid managed to beat him while playing as Kodachi. "This game can't tell a fighter's real skill," Ranma muttered to himself as he walked away from the machine, in search of a game based more in reality. It was then that he noticed the game most of the people in the room were focusing on. It was a fighting game unlike any he had ever seen before. Two opponents stood in what looked like giant snow globes, wearing poorly fitted gloves and boots. On a screen, two poorly drawn characters, one he could tell was himself, as a girl, and the other was his father's panda form.
"Hey, this is pretty cool," Ranma said. "Think I can get next shot?" Right then, Ranma-chan slammed the panda over the head with a ripped up street sign, and Ranma couldn't help but feel a sense of far belated revenge.
"Come on," a brash female voice called from Ranma-chan's globe. "Anyone else going to try? I was hoping for a real match, but I guess that won't be happening anytime soon."
"I'll give it a go," Ranma replied, his eyes nigh on glowing in excitement. The girl in the globe didn't respond verbally, just waving one hand in a challenging manner, and the pigtailed martial artist stepped forward, accepting the game's control gear from the man who had been playing Genma, whom he recognized as one of Nabiki's fellow engineers.
Strapping the gloves and boots on as best he could, the martial artist lifted the helmet and placed it over his head, the outside world becoming slightly muffled as he did so.
"Are you ready?" the girl on the other side of the game's display asked, and Ranma nodded. Almost immediately his vision was full of light, which dissipated to reveal a surprisingly good mockup of the Tendo Dojo, with several very familiar faces standing there, many of the cursed people being flanked by their cursed forms. He flinched away from Shampoo-neko, which made him accidentally bump his hand against his female form's image. "Fighter selected!" The computer announced.
"Damn it," Ranma muttered, "I didn't even use water this time." Granted, he was, in fact, still male, but his avatar definitely wasn't.
"Hmm, that's quite a challenge," his opponent said. "I hope you're as good as you think you are."
Ranma's eyebrow twitched. "That it, you're... beaten," he said, and cursed his poor grasp of Basic. The girl just laughed.
"I won't lose to a simpleton like you," she sneered, and abruptly launched herself forward. Ranma countered by dodging rapidly to the side and bringing up a foot, catching his opponent in the back of the head, and making her slam into the ground. He wasn't sure what simpleton meant, but he didn't exactly like it, and was fully intent on making her pay for it, given the fact that he couldn't really hurt her in the simulation.
About thirty seconds later, after she'd gotten up and stopped cursing him for cheap psychological warfare, the fight had really gotten under way. Ranma was, in fact, still managing to outflank his opponent, but the fact that her body was more compatible with the fighting avatar was definitely helping her out. 'For once I'd actually like to be a girl, and I'm not,' he grumbled mentally, ducking out of the way of a flying kick and rolling to kick backwards into his opponent's back.
"That's it, time to finish this!" she shouted, righting herself and turning. Ranma was about to ask what she was planning, when her hands blurred into a cloud of fists. Oddly, the attacks didn't seem to be following the arm motions quite correctly, but he dismissed this as he exploded into his own Amaguriken attack.
The speed kept accelerating, as the computer, unknown to Ranma, kept trying to compensate for human reaction times that no one but the greatest fighters in the colony should have. On the other side of the game display, his opponent had stopped moving entirely, other than her hands, and her avatar's mouth was gaping wide open. Ranma quickly took advantage of this, sweeping his leg out while continuing with the Amaguriken, and catching her across the knees.
"Match complete, Winner: Ranma Saotome, Female, Player 2." The computer announced, and Ranma pulled the helmet off to see two things. One, the audience around the machine was staring in a state of shock, and two, Nabiki was glaring at him and tapping her foot from near the entrance to the building. "Oh, crap," he muttered, setting the helmet down on its shelf and beginning to take off the gloves and boots.
As he stepped down from the snow globe, his opponent called out, "You, wait!"
"Huh?" he asked, turning to see a woman with hair the same color as Nabiki's, though she looked to be a few years older and had a hard glare etched across her face. "Yeah?" he asked, casually.
"Who are..." she started, before she caught a glimpse of his face. "Oh..."
"Um, you all right?" Ranma asked, as the girl gaped at him just as her game avatar had before.
"Yeah, she's fine; you just shocked my sister," Nabiki drawled, walking up next to him. "And I thought you promised not to do any training today?"
"Hey, that wasn't training, it was a game!" Ranma objected.
"Yeah, yeah. Let's just go and find something else to do," the middle Tendo ordered, as her older sister continued staring glassy eyed, and eventually let her helmet slip from nerveless fingers.
"Maybe I was a little too hasty..." she mumbled quietly.
"You know, that's a violation of privacy," Shampoo spun at the voice, flipping a switch to disengage the camera that she'd had monitoring her great granddaughter and Airen to see Soun standing in front of her desk, looking at her levelly.
"It's my perogative," she insisted, "as a great grandmother and wife."
Soun shook his head. "You know that even if she's learned that Ranma isn't as bad as she initially thought, Nabiki-chan will be very resistant to the idea of marrying him."
"Yes, but an old woman can dream, can't she?" Shampoo asked, though Soun saw a look in her eye that he didn't like. It was much like the one his wife would develop when she suggested one of her... interesting... additions to the colony's infrastructure. "How goes the construction on the mobile fighter?" she asked, changing the subject.
Soun smiled. "Those students definitely know their work," he admitted. "It's actually coming together rather well, though I still don't see why we're keeping it from the boy."
Shampoo frowned darkly. "Ranma is a person who needs a large amount of challenge, as well as ever-changing stimulus to thrive and be truly happy."
"From what you told me, he nearly died every week when you and he were in old Nerima," Soun said, incredulously.
Shampoo nodded. "And have you noticed how he acts here? His first space walk was done after 'only' three weeks of training, and I am speaking of a walk using the aura-sheath technique. He will eventually reach the end of what he can learn of his chosen art here and wish to move on."
"And you're using colony resources to ensure that it doesn't happen any time soon," Soun objected, slightly annoyed.
"There are other reasons for what we are doing," Shampoo objected.
"Yes, and though they are good, they aren't the ones you care about," Soun shot back, but then smiled. "Elder, we owe both you and him much, especially my family, so I don't object to this, but you have to remember that Neo-Nerima is always on the edge of toppling. If anyone finds out about Jusenkyo..."
"If we win the fight and are able to restructure Nerima, that won't matter," the Amazon matriarch insisted.
"Elder, if you are so certain that he will win this..." Soun said, looking out the window behind Shampoo's desk to the glimmering stars beyond. "I have faith that you are right."
"I'm sending Nabiki down with him."
"You're WHAT?!" Soun burst out, as he processed Shampoo's final statement.
"She has been the one who taught him the ways of the colony, and very few people speak old Japanese, also, she's a competent mechanic and mobile suit pilot."
"Those are only excuses and you know it!" Soun said, now much more angry. "How could you send my baby down to that dangerous battlefield?!"
Shampoo smirked. "Tendo-san's demon head is still a little beyond you, child," she said, and then continued, "besides, do you really think that Ranma will let Nabiki die? You've seen what he'll do for someone he's protecting. You stared at it every day when you walked through the colony hub before he was moved to the medical labs."
Soun looked uncomfortable. "I suppose so," he admitted. "I'm going to start Nabiki on advanced mobile suit tactics immediately, though." He knew that it was pointless to argue with Shampoo on this matter, and even though she was only using the points to get her way, the things she'd said were true. "Is there anything else?"
Shampoo shook her head. "No, not at all," she answered, and the man turned, knowing that she was undoubtedly starting to think of yet another scheme to make his life difficult.
"What did you say?" Ulube Ishikawa demanded, as he glared at the face of one of his aides on a monitor.
"I said that Neo-Nerima's just announced their intentions to enter this year's Gundam Fight," the aide said, nervously. "Apparently, some heroic martial artist has returned to the colony and they think he's good enough to compete."
"Heroic martial artist, hmm?" Ishikawa pondered. "Could it be... did that bastard decide to play more games with us?"
"Sir?" the aide asked.
"No, nothing, it's not important," Ishikawa said, scowling. "If any data is revealed on their gundam or fighter, tell me."
"Yes sir, all we know for now is that the machine is apparently called the Rain Gundam," the man reported.
Under his mask, the military officer's eyebrow twitched violently. 'Think you're funny, do you Asia?' he thought, clenching one fist on his lap. "You're dismissed," he barked at the aide, before slamming one hand down on the keyboard of his communications device, causing the screen to disappear into blackness.
In the Neo-Australian colony's Outback, there stood an unimpressive looking building. The inside of this building, however, was much more interesting. As the control center of the colony's military, it was suitably sophisticated inside. They had just received an announcement concerning the Gundam Fight, and it was creating quite a stir.
"Sir, this just in from Neo-Sydney," one of the aides reported. "Neo-Nerima has just declared their intention to join this year's Gundam Fight."
"Are you sure?" the general demanded. "If those freaks make fools of us again, we'll never live it down. Even worse, I'll lose my stars!" Turning to his aide, he said, "We'll have to insure that such an occurrence is not allowed to come to pass. Not again. I want you to find some way to ensure Neo-Nerima will not embarrass us in the up-coming battles."
"Sir, yes, Sir," the aide replied, snapping a crisp salute. The man was competent, and could be expected to do get the job done with great efficacy. The general would bet his stars on it.
"Did I just see a giant meteor fly past when I was out there?" Ranma asked, as he stood in the airlock with Nabiki, following a walk to repair a broken solar panel.
"...I think so," Nabiki replied, slightly shocked herself. "I heard that Neo-Japan threw one at us many years ago, probably some way to assuage their consciences for leaving us to rot." She shrugged. "Maybe they'll toss another one our way in another fifty years."
"So... they threw rocks at you and it's supposed ta help you?" Ranma asked, blinking in confusion.
Nabiki nodded. "Yeah, we rope them in and bolt them onto the outer hull, you're living in the last one they sent our way."
"Um, all right..." Ranma said, but for some reason he was pretty sure that someone was missing a pretty colossal point. "So what are we doing now? I've got nothing much ta do the rest of the day."
"Right, so you bug me," Nabiki grumbled, though she did have to admit that his help with the repair work had made it go much more quickly. "Father's actually called for us."
Ranma nodded, and followed the middle Tendo as the airlock' door slid open, allowing them both passage into the hall beyond. "So, any idea what he wants?" he asked, tugging at his extremely short pigtail. He really wished the thing would grow in faster, but was afraid to do it artificially in case he ended up with another dragon whisker problem.
Nabiki shrugged. "I've got no idea, but he's had me pulling extra time in mobile suits the last few months, so it probably has something to do with that."
Ranma winced. He recalled the one time he'd piloted a mobile suit. According to the reports, there was still a piece of it wedged into sector 3's exhaust port. "I hope he doesn't expect me ta use it," he grumbled.
Nabiki snickered. "Hey, at least the guys at the mobile suit lab don't consider you a god anymore."
"Don't remind me," he grumbled, as the two got onto the elevator that would take them to the colony's administrative offices. Since it was much smaller than most of the core shaft lifts, the elevator only took them a few seconds to get to the destination, and slid open to the hallway in front of the commissioner's office.
The secretary waved at Nabiki, gesturing for her to enter, and gave Ranma a dubious look for a moment before recognizing him and bowing him through as well. When the two entered, Soun was sitting behind his desk, Shampoo at his side.
"Hello Son-in-law, Nabiki-chan," Shampoo greeted, while Soun just nodded to the two.
"Hey, Ol' Ghoul," Ranma said, and was promptly nudged in the side by Nabiki. Given that she knew how tough he was, the nudge was rather hard.
"I'm sorry, great grandmother," she said, quickly, knowing how Shampoo reacted to disrespect.
"It's fine, Nabiki, Ranma wouldn't know how to respect his elders if you gave him a two year course on it. believe me, it has been tried," the old Amazon said, chuckling.
Soun cleared his throat. "There is a reason why I've called you two here," he said, trying to get things back on track. Seeing that everyone was listening, he continued, "Even with all of the strides we've been making in the past years, Nerima is still one of the smallest and least respected colonies in the Earth Sphere. This year, in order to try and rectify that, we have decided to enter a fighter in the Gundam Fight."
Nabiki gasped, while Ranma just looked at the man blankly. "The what fight?" he asked, eloquently.
"It's a tournament to determine which colony leads the Earth Sphere for the next four years after its completion, and one entrant from each country normally participates. We don't usually bother with an entry, since everyone ignores us anyways, but this year we felt it would be in our best interests to do so."
Ranma grinned, cracking his knuckles. "So, ya want me to go down and win the fight, huh?" he asked, and Nabiki grimaced. To think, she'd once thought that he had little ego.
"Ranma, the Gundam Fight uses mobile fighters, like mobile suits with a different control system. You do remember what happened last time you flew a mobile suit, right?" she asked, in order to bring the martial artist's ego down a peg or twenty.
"Oh, right," Ranma mumbled.
"Actually, we are going to use Ranma for this," Shampoo cut in. "We have tested his capability to use a mobile fighter, and it is actually quite high, as I would expect."
"You tested me, when?" the pigtailed martial artist demanded, both confused and slightly uneasy.
"One of the arcade games you played in the market district was a mobile fighter simulator, actually." Soun explained. "We had it save your data."
"Oh..." Ranma said, uncertainly. "Still, it's a fight, right? I can win any fight ya wanna throw at me!"
Nabiki raised one hand to rub at her forehead. "Idiot, you're going to get yourself killed down there," she objected.
"No, because you are going to prevent that from happening," Shampoo cut in. "We're sending you down as his mechanic."
"WHAT?! You're just doing this to..." Nabiki bit back her words at her elder's hard look. She'd been told that telling Ranma about the fact that she was to try and seduce him was grounds to be removed from her position as an engineer and reassigned to beetle farm duty, but she really, really wanted to speak up right now.
"C'mon, it won't be so bad, will it?" Ranma asked, looking at the only person in the colony, other than Cologne and Tofu, who really knew him and didn't try to bow every time they saw him. Well, other than those guys n the mobile suit lab, but they threw wrenches at him, and that was never fun. ...good endurance training, though.
Nabiki had several things to say about how bad it would be, including the fact that she'd have to go down to Earth and likely get shot at, but as she looked at Ranma's expression she felt that saying any of them would be like drop kicking a puppy. "I... guess it wouldn't be that bad," she said, slowly, not noticing the white haired Amazon and her father growing stupid grins.
"So, it's decided?" Soun asked, levelly.
"I suppose, but shouldn't Ranma get some training on the machine first?" Nabiki asked. "Hell, shouldn't I know what kind of hardware I'm going to be repairing?"
"Now, what sort of challenge would that be?" Shampoo asked, suppressing a cackle.
Both young people's eyebrows twitched.
"The tournament will begin in two days, and you two will launch tomorrow," Soun said, standing from his desk and walking around it. "Good luck to the both of you," he said, and bowed.
As the two stood and turned to leave, Soun called, "Ranma-san, please stay back a moment."
Ranma nodded, turning towards the desk, and his eyes widened as he saw Soun point to the Amazon matriarch next to him, then point to the door. Their eyes locked in a short battle of wills, but eventually the old woman jumped to the top of her staff and pogoed out of the room.
"My boy," Soun started, resting a hand on Ranma's shoulder and starting to remind the Saotome youth of his father during lectures. "You are going to be down there with Nabiki, and you're going to be the only one to protect her."
"Hey, don't worry about it, I'll take care of her," Ranma shot back. "Besides, have you seen what she keeps in weapons space? I really don't think you've gotta worry about that."
Soun scowled. "Yes, I'm aware, however I should warn you that if anything happens to my daughter, I will hunt you to the ends of the earth and... I'll let you fill in the rest."
Ranma gulped, suddenly thinking of his mother's gleaming Katana. "Um, sure, I understand," he said, feeling extremely annoyed by the slight quaver of fear in his voice.
"I'm glad you understand," Soun said, withdrawing his hand from Ranma's shoulder. As he did so, Ranma caught a glimpse of a strange red and gold tattoo on the back of his hand. "Go on and get ready," he ordered, after Ranma remained standing there for several moments.
As the pigtailed boy turned around and left, Soun heard him muttering about Tendos, the Demon Head technique and nightmares.
Ranma woke the next day feeling a stinging pain in the back of his right hand. It, of course, hadn't been what woke him up, that had been the extremely loud alarm that was still blaring into his ear. Annoyed, he reached over and punched the device, which had been developed to withstand a whole colony full of irritable martial artists, and it turned off immediately.
Slowly opening his eyes, he noticed an odd white patch on the hand that he'd just punched the clock with, but dismissed it as he pondered rolling over and going back to bed. Knowing that the next measure that would be invoked to force him up was a spray of water, he reluctantly rolled to his feet, looking around his sparsely decorated quarters. "At least there's not much to pack," He mumbled, withdrawing a small bag from under his bed and placing his clothes, the few martial arts scrolls he'd obtained, and two other items inside. The last two were both small, ornate looking staves, one topped with a ring and one with a blade. He wasn't sure what he was going to do with them, but they had been given to him and they were far too powerful to just leave out, especially in a place where a pressure drop would mean the deaths of half of the people in the section.
Zipping up the bag, he tossed it on the bed and made his way to the bathroom, where he quickly washed and changed clothes. That, of course, was when the white thing on his hand, which turned out to be a gauze patch, came off. He blinked down at the back of the appendage, looking at the red symbol of a smiling joker he saw there. "This is just like..." he muttered, recalling the thing he'd seen on Mr. Tendo's hand the day before. "But why..." He shook his head, walking out of his room dressed fully in a set of his traditional red and black clothes. About the only thing that didn't look right was his hair, which would grow all the way back in time.
Picking up his backpack and slinging it over his shoulder, he looked around the room, which now was even emptier than before. he'd been here for over eight months, and it had started feeling like the guest room at the Tendo place had been, a comfortable place to sleep that would always be there when he needed it, and with at least a few friends around. Shaking his head, he turned and left. "Time to move on again," He said, and though he felt a small amount of regret about that, he was also really looking forward to fighting new, stronger opponents.
"Let me guess, we're riding this thing down?" Ranma asked, as he stood in the middle of a small room, two heavily braced and padded chairs at the front, surrounded by screens.
Nabiki nodded. "All of our stuff's packed inside of a HWF generator, and our machines are being sent down after us."
Ranma nodded. "Hope you know how to fly this thing into atmosphere," he muttered, still kind of nervous about the idea of space flight, even after over eight months in the colony.
"Would you relax?" Nabiki asked, settling into her seat and strapping in. "Or would you rather fly us in?"
Ranma's eyebrow twitched. "Just do it," he griped, as the green haired girl started flipping switches, making ready for launch. Right after she'd sealed the locks and signaled all clear for docking, her eyes widened. "What is it?" he asked, worriedly.
"No way..." Nabiki breathed, pulling several displays up in front of her, one of which showed schematics of a fully humanoid form. "They didn't..." As the pod they were inside was pushed away from the colony, and started its slow, inevitable drift downward into atmosphere, she realized, "they did... They sent us down inside of your gundam."
"But I thought it was supposed to have some different control system or something?" Ranma asked, looking worried.
Nabiki shrugged helplessly. "It says it does, and there's an activator for it, but..." She was cut off as the very first wisps of the outer atmosphere caught the ship. "Well, we've got no choice now," she mumbled sourly. "Not enough reaction mass to break orbit. We're going down!"
"Ol' Ghoul, this is all your fault!" Ranma yelled, as the rattling started to get worse.
Okay, this chapter is probably longer than the average or even excessively large example of this fic's chapters, mostly because of all of the expositing and setup we had to do. Just to warn you, 10K words is NOT a common occurance for either of the authors in question here, and Weebee has to be prodded with a sharp stick to get past 3K.