The Council's Ace
Written by Weebee and Jonakhensu.
Buffy Continuity Checker: Jonakhensu.
Typist: Weebee (Mostly)
Disclaimer: We do not own Ranma One Half or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nor do we own any one-shot, or full magazine, crossovers that we may or may not include. Now, can I get one of those spring loaded stake launcher thingies from Angel? Please?
Continuity: This story takes place somewhere before Nodoka finds out about Ranma's curse, but near the end of the Ranma continuity, maybe Volume 34 or so. In Buffy, it takes place right at the end of Season 1.
Summary: Come one, come all! See the amazing amount of screw-ups the Watcher's Council is capable of when they really put their backs into it! And to think, they aren't even trying! Includes running tally.
Note: In case you can't tell, we don't like the Watcher's Council. Also, if you've come for a serious Fanfic, while there is potential for this to have some serious scenes, we suggest that you look somewhere else, as at least half of this is doing what seemed most amusing at the time. Other than the Watcher's Council, there will be no INTENTIONAL bashing... yet.
Chapter 1: The Chooser of the Slayer.
"This is a fantastically bad idea," Nodoka Saotome observed, as she sat in her living room, staring off into space while holding a small, glowing stone in her hands. Those had been the first words out of her mouth, as she listened to a group of several dozen people, all visible through a sort of mental conference call, and all seeming to sit in a massive black room, white lights shining up from beneath them. If she had seen the series, she would have compared the scene to SEELE.
"Do you have a better plan, Mrs. Saotome?" One of the people, a tall, British man in a suit jacket asked with his arms crossed over his chest. "We require our candidate to be as powerful as the last one. The situation she is caught in is far too volatile for us to have to retrain a new candidate in the time available, however we need someone who will be more willing to listen to our commands."
The auburn haired woman frowned. "But couldn't we just provide support to the girl already there? Surely the prophecy can be broken. It has happened before, or do you not realize that the end of the world hasn't come yet?" She was being, to her way of thinking, unthinkably rude, but the fact remained that these people, those who she'd agreed to work with, were once more hanging an innocent girl out to dry for little reason.
"I'm afraid that's impossible," A short, American woman said, shaking her head from near Nodoka's left side. "This outcome is the most advantageous we could foresee. especially on such short notice, and you, Nodoka, are the only one who's registered potentials of the power we need, even if they are all approaching the Cruciamentum."
Nodoka grimaced at that name, but nodded. "I suppose my group are the most likely to survive it," She admitted, sourly, and then let out a long, frustrated breath. "How long do I have to prepare?"
"Approximately twelve hours," The female who had spoken before said again, before a map of Tokyo and set of directions flashed up in front of Nodoka's eyes. "Please meet us in that warehouse."
Nodoka nodded, and the black room faded from around her, leaving her holding the glowing stone in her living room once more. Setting the magical artifact aside, she stood, straightening her Kimono, and fervently wished that her boredom while her husband and son traveled hadn't given her the damnably stupid idea to become a magic user.
Moving over to a cupboard on the wall, she rifled through it for a moment to produce a small binder, and opened it up to reveal small, neatly written profiles of all of the 'potentials' she'd been able to detect in the Nerima ward.
Several of the girls were easy to cross off her list. Though Kodachi Kuno had both the physical and mental fortitude for it, that was mostly due to the fact that her mind had already been pushed far enough that vampires would simply be another part of her existence. The blue haired foreigner girl, Shampoo, was almost exactly what she wanted, but she was also, apparently, part of the Joketsuzoku tribe, who would most likely sooner kill any watcher they saw than talk to her.
Skimming past the images of girls who had the potential, but not nearly the strength required, she came to the last three candidates. Staring out of the page back at her were Akane Tendo, her cousin Ranko, and Ukyo Kuonji.
She spent several seconds looking from one image to the next, but then sighed. She knew which one she should pick, but she was trying to deny it. She had seen the loneliness in the girl's eyes, the pain whenever their gazes met, but she also knew that Ranko was capable of breaking stone easily, yet she was also already as fast as, or faster than, a Slayer, and would do anything her 'Auntie Saotome' asked of her.
She felt disgusted with herself as she made the decision, but Nodoka Saotome knew what needed to be done, and Ranko, at least, had a decent chance of surviving the trials to come.
Ranma was nervous. This wasn't precisely a strange state of affairs, even if she normally tried to hide the fact from others. At the moment she was walking next to her mother, who had asked her if she would be willing to undertake a mission as a martial artist.
To tell the truth, given how much the other woman always harped on her being more feminine, she hadn't really known that she even considered the martial arts, but according to what she'd said, there was something happening that needed a strong practitioner of the arts, and the younger redhead couldn't help a surge of confidence as she'd been the first person that she'd approached.
Of course, this meant that she would have to pretend to be Ranko for quite a while, given that her mother said the task could take weeks, or even months, but she could sneak off to change back into a guy and wander around every once in a while, so it probably wouldn't be that bad. For a moment, a small smile crossed her face. Perhaps, during the trip, she could find a way to get rid of the curse entirely and be able to tell her mother who she was.
Shaking her head, she pulled herself back to reality, noting that she'd slowed down and Nodoka was several feet in front of her. Lengthening her strides and cursing her short stature, she caught back up. "So, where are we going?" She asked.
Nodoka didn't respond right away, looking down at a small paper in her hands before turning down a side street. Ranma noted that they were exiting Nerima's city limits, and entering the more spread out area surrounding it. Of course, since it was Tokyo, that just meant that most of the roads were passable for cars, and you could see about fifty meters without a building being in the way outside of a park. "There it is," the older woman finally said, pointing ahead of the two towards a large, dingy looking warehouse that probably should have been condemned years ago.
Ranma grinned and cracked her knuckles. "Okay, who's set this one up?" She asked, casually.
"Hmm?" Nodoka asked, confused.
"Um, we are going to a pit fight, right?" Ranma asked, looking at her mother in a state of confusion. "Please tell me it ain't those idiot Yakuza again. They weren't a challenge at all."
Nodoka looked at the younger girl, somewhat disturbed. "No, we aren't going to a pit fight," She said, a little more sharply than she meant to. Though, she supposed, being used like that did somewhat explain Ranko's rougher edges. "We are not here to fight anyone. Follow me, please."
Ranma shrugged and walked behind her mother, walking into the building and slowly sweeping it with both her eyes and her chi sense. She didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Well, there was a group of six people deeper inside who resonated with something she couldn't quite identify as life force, but, in all honesty, that was perfectly ordinary for her. "Auntie Nodoka, you got friends in here?" She asked, entering a defensive stance and stepping in front of the older woman.
"That's 'do you have,' Ranko dear," Nodoka corrected, gently pushing the girl out of the way and walking deeper into the building. Ranma looked apprehensively at her mothers kimono covered back, but followed her until the two entered a large room which looked about as out of place in the middle of a warehouse as you could possibly get.
There were large wall sconces, lighting the room with flickering torch light, and several rune inscribed columns set up around what looked like a pentagram that had been laid into the floor in silver. Honestly, the place looked like the headquarters of a cult that Genma had sold him to when he was twelve, which only made the redhead's danger sense start buzzing steadily in the back of her brain. The six people she had sensed earlier were kneeling around the central area, murmuring something in a language she couldn't understand.
"This place doesn't look friendly," The redhead muttered, her eyes flickering around for the quickest escape route.
Nodoka frowned as she saw the look in Ranko's eyes. She knew what was required for the ceremony, as she'd gotten the instructions to act as its head priestess, but she also knew that it would likely freak the girl out. "Ranko-chan, don't worry. You'll be all right," She said, laying a hand on the tensing girl's shoulder.
"What's goin on here, Auntie," The redhead demanded. "This don't look like martial arts stuff ta me."
"Saotome-san, is this your candidate?" One of the six people who were setting up the circle asked, after standing and wiping his hands down his robes. He'd said it in English, which he hoped the girl wouldn't understand, but judging by the fact that the girl's eyes instantly tracked to him, that was apparently a forlorn hope.
"Yes, Samuels-san, this is her," Nodoka said, before sighing. Seeing Ranko's confusion, she turned to her and explained. "I wasn't entirely truthful to you at the Dojo," she admitted. "I asked you to come here because you were the best candidate among the girls of Nerima for a spell we were going to be casting."
Ranma backed up, looking at her mother in shock. "Hey, you ain't summoning a Shikima or somethin, are ya?" She demanded, a horrified look crossing her face. She could still occasionally feel the slime from the last one she'd had to break in half, and really didn't want to think of her mother being involved with that sort of thing.
"What?! NO!" Nodoka yelled, her composure almost completely shattered by that, while several of the people behind her looked decidedly confused and decided to look it up later. "No, nothing like that. We're trying to focus the reincarnation of something called the Slayer Spirit."
"The what?" Ranma asked, blinking.
Before Nodoka could answer, the man who had spoken earlier chimed in again. "The Slayer. Into each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a Chosen One, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires and other demons." He said, reciting the canned Watcher speech absolutely perfectly.
Ranma took a second to translate it from the oddly accented English, and then blinked. "And what do I got ta do with this?" She asked, evenly.
"That's 'do I have to do,' Ranko, dear," Nodoka said, gently correcting the girl again. "As for what you have to do with this, the Watcher's Council felt that it would be best to select a well trained young woman to undertake the title, rather than the random selection that has occurred in the past. Many Slayers have died because, when they awoke, they were not powerful enough to fight their enemies."
"Erm, yeah, that's great," Ranma muttered, looking nervously at her mother. "So, um, it's gotta be a girl?" She asked.
Nodoka nodded. "All Slayers are female," she confirmed.
The younger redhead's eyes flicked from her mother's expectant face to the ritual circle and back, her mind's rather rusty gears churning into action. She really didn't want to know what this slayer thing would do to her, given her curse, if she tried it, but she couldn't tell her mother about the curse or she would probably get her stomach cut open, then her head cut off. Unfortunately, she couldn't really think of a reason not to accept, other than the obvious and unacceptable.
If what had been told to her was correct, most of the Slayers in the past had been random, innocent girls, and one of the core tenants of the Anything Goes was to help the innocent, even if she hadn't had much of a chance to do so yet.
Somewhere, Happosai and Genma Saotome couldn't help but feel that someone had totally missed the point. They assumed that, as usual, it had been Ranma.
"Um, I... Are you sure... Am I?" The pigtailed martial artist started to babble, desperately looking for a way out of her current situation. hearing the obvious apprehension in her voice, her mother turned to her and looked into her eyes.
"Ranko-chan, I know you're uncertain, but this is very important," the woman said, clasping the younger girl's small hands in hers and looking into her eyes, trying to convey caring and reassurance.
"Um, yeah... but..." Ranma said, and just for a moment, wanted to laugh. There was a decent chance that if she became this 'Slayer,' her curse would be locked, or something even weirder would happen, and her MOTHER, of all people, was begging her to do it.
Then again, it wasn't guaranteed that anything would happen to her at all, or that, if it did, it would necessarily lock her. Sighing, she nodded. "All right," she said. "What do I gotta do?"
Nodoka smiled widely, too relieved and happy to bother correcting the girl's grammar. "Thank you so much, Ranko-chan," she said, hugging the girl tightly.
"Yeah, no problem," the martial artist said.
"Ranma sat in the middle of a pentagram, her knees sending her distinct signals that they had fallen asleep several hours ago, and that she really should get off of them. Unfortunately, this wasn't possible, as she'd been informed that she had to stay still in order to let the spell go off without a hitch.
She wasn't entirely sure what the people casting the spell, and therefore she herself, were waiting for, but she wished that it would hurry up already. Given her incredible amount of stamina, the fact that she'd been awake for well over twenty hours wasn't the problem. The problem was also due to that same stamina though, in that she desperately wanted to bounce off of the walls with the restrained energy she currently felt. That, of course, was when she didn't let herself think about her desperate need to go to the bathroom, which had been getting worse since about the sixth hour in, but given she'd managed to hold it for thirty-six hours once, that wasn't her biggest issue.
For a moment, she allowed herself to close her eyes, constructing a scenario in her mind in which she, Ryoga, Mousse, Cologne, Happosai, and Herb were all in a massive battle over something she couldn't quite remember.
A small smile came to her lips as she started plotting out the most likely strategies each fighter would use, but it quickly dissipated as a chi attack from Herb managed to knock her into next week while she was in a grapple with Ryoga. She hated when her dreams obeyed logic. Damn mental tactics training.
Editing the Musk prince out of the equation, she lasted a lot longer, before Happosai slammed into her back, causing her to be unable to avoid a staff strike to the chest which caused unpleasant results. Just as she was about to edit the old man out and try again, she heard activity and opened her eyes to see that the six British guys in robes were bustling around her, and her mother was standing over her with a book in one hand and a vial of something in the other. 'I really hope that's cold,' she thought distantly, as the chanting began.
"And by the way..." Buffy Summers heard, as she could still feel the stinging of the bite marks on her neck. At the moment, only one thing ran through her mind. She had lost. She had lost spectacularly, and the 'Master' felt the need to gloat about it, rather than just finishing her off.
She got her wish, however, when she fell face forward into a puddle of water, unable to move a single muscle. "I like your dress," He said, before she saw glittering light refracted through the water she was staring, unblinking, into.
She felt her next breath take in water rather than air, it running down her throat and directly into her lungs, no sign of even a gag reflex to stop it. Time seemed to slow as her vision greyed, and then faded to black.
"Am I dead?" She thought, briefly, as a myriad of tiny lights flickered through the darkness, and an image began to form. She was suddenly floating. First, above her body, and then quickly away from it, to take in all of Sunnydale, and then California. Her view suddenly jerked sideways, harshly and unevenly, as if she were being pulled in one direction while trying to go another.
Though her geography was pretty rusty, given that she hadn't gone to that class in years, she recognized the outline of the three large islands of Japan. From there, things began to speed up dramatically, as she swooped down towards one of the islands, into a city, and down towards a seedy looking warehouse.
As she sped through the roof and caught a glimpse of several dark robed people surrounding a girl who looked about her age, she suddenly felt a painful stabbing in her chest. For a brief, startling moment, she caught a glimpse of a misty plain and three shadowed figures, before her eyes flew open, and she was staring up into Xander's worried face.
"Xander?" She asked, confused.
"Welcome back," He said with a relieved smile.
"Remind me never to eat tacos before dieing ever again," She quipped, and the two shared a small, semi-hysterical laugh.
The misty shadows were broken by a thunderous seeming burst of white light, as Nodoka watched the dreamscape that was taking form before her. There, she could see Ranko, standing nervously, as well as what looked like an extremely large hunting cat.
Neither of the other two were looking at her, but rather staring at the large energy sphere that hovered between the three, lashing out with tendrils of black energy, shot through with bolts of red lightning.
She continued the chant that she had started earlier, having not precisely expected to be pulled into Ranko's mind, or wherever she was, but not letting it get to her, as any lapse of concentration on her part could have disastrous results. Watching, she saw the blackness move to the crouching animal nearby, and briefly run a part of itself over its back and flanks.
The cat let out a thunderous purr, slumping from a defensive crouch to a relaxed sprawl, and the energy moved on to Ranko herself, beginning to engulf her. As it did so, however, Nodoka felt a spike of power which almost gave her the impression of rage, and Ranko began to convulse.
As she watched, the girl started to twist and bend, reshaping herself into a taller, more muscular form for a second, her face obscured by the red lightning that crackled around her. Abruptly, she shifted back, and began to spasm violently, streams of blue starting to mesh with the demonic looking aura that surrounded her.
The girl's teeth were clenched, her face locked into a rictus of pain, but she kept herself from screaming. Nodoka wondered if this was what it was like for all Slayers upon awakening, but shook her head. She had never heard any descriptions of anything like this before, and though the High Council didn't tell her everything, she was sure that they would have told her this.
The blue light amongst the black and red started to get brighter, and eventually Ranko's clenched teeth opened to give a scream of near complete and total agony, the cat that had once been relaxed suddenly bolting to its feet, its ears laid back.
Closing her eyes tightly, Nodoka tried to block out the girl's screams, but as she did so she saw her at the Tendo Dojo's living room table, smiling up at Auntie Nodoka, and showing off a plate of food she'd just made.
Cursing herself, she deliberately broke the chant, and the mental landscape faded away to reveal the inside of the warehouse, where Ranko was writhing on the floor, having managed to claw several pieces of the silver pentagram she'd been laying in out of the ground. Nodoka started to run over to her, when a shaft of alternating blue, black and red energy erupted from the younger girl's body and passed through the roof without leaving a mark.
Taking only another second to see if there would be another outburst, the Saotome matriarch ran over to the girl who lay in the middle of the floor, lifting her head to see that her teeth were clenched so tightly that at least one had cracked, and her eyes were watering.
"Ranko-chan, are you all right?" The auburn haired woman asked, concerned.
"Think... I finally found somethin that hurt worse than the Neko-ken," The girl muttered, dazedly.
"The what?" Nodoka asked, confused, but Ranma shook her head.
"Don't worry about it," she mumbled. "Can I move now?"
Nodoka nodded, and her charge struggled to her feet, looking around the circle of mages. "Any of you know where there's a bathroom 'round here?" She asked in lightly accented English, being lead away by one of the robed men.
Another took a small talisman out from under his robe, studying it for a moment as he pointed it at the leaving redhead. As it glowed bright red, he nodded to himself. "She is definitely the Slayer," he confirmed.
Nodoka nodded reluctantly, looking after the Tendo girl.
"We should still try the other tests. That amulet's been known to give false positives before," Samuels decided, walking to the back of the room and producing several small items, and a steel bar about a foot long.
Roger Zabuto sat reading a large, dusty looking tome at the edge of the school gymnasium, as, nearby, a young girl ran quickly through a series of fighting movements, the stake in her left hand flashing out in a slow, practiced motion every few seconds, and the axe in her right swinging out at what would be neck level to the average American male.
He looked up at her as her foot made an unusually loud thumping sound on the floor, noting that she'd fumbled one step in the movements, and frowned. "Again," He said, quietly, and Kendra Young nodded, beginning again.
He returned to his book for a few more moments, before he heard another thump, and he looked over to see Kendra on the floor, her eyes staring unfocussed into the beams of the ceiling.
"Kendra?" He asked, putting the book down and standing to walk over to his potential. He didn't think he'd been pushing her hard enough for her to faint like that, as he'd realized her limits and tried to keep to them, but she looked very much out of it. "Are you all right? You aren't done training yet, you know."
The dark skinned woman didn't respond, still gazing into the rafters.
"Kendra, please, this is childish," the man scolded, bending down to check her pulse even so, and noticing that her eyes were glowing an odd blue color. Just as he was about to shake her shoulder, the girl shot up to a sitting position and blinked rapidly. "What was that about?" The man asked, irritated.
"I..." Kendra said, slowly, and then her mouth slit into an odd grin. "I don't know, but I feel really..." She promptly jumped to her feet, and began running through her previous motions incredibly quickly, her Watcher only having a moment to step out of the way. "I feel really good!" She said, letting out a loud, long laugh, and flipping backwards to land on her feet, her arms out-stretched.
Roger blinked several times, staring at the girl in complete and total confusion. "Did you hit your head too hard when you fell?" He asked, while reaching for a knife.
Ranma was, quite frankly, more relieved than he had been after the fight with Herb as he looked into the mirror at his male face. His curse hadn't been locked, and as far as he could tell, he was no worse off at the moment than he had been before the start of the ritual. Granted, something seemed a little off, but he thought that that was most likely due to the fact that he'd been turned into the Slayer, or whatever it was.
Splashing himself with cold water to shift into his cursed form once again, she opened the bathroom door, and her danger sense flared. Without thinking, she tracked the danger back to its source, just as she saw someone letting a knife fly towards her head.
She started to move her hand to pluck the blade out of the air, but noticed that it was responding much more slowly than she was used to, and threw herself sideways, the knife slamming into the wall behind her and embedding itself in the tile.
"Hm, rather slow," the knife's thrower commented, "but good reflexes none the less."
Recovering her balance by bouncing off of the door frame, and not seeming to hear what was just said, the redhead launched herself forward, catching him in the middle of the torso, and knocking him backwards to the floor.
"All right, I'm sorry, you're not slow!" The man said, as her fist was raised to knock him unconscious.
"Ranko, dear, you don't have to do that," Nodoka said, and the redhead stopped her fist in mid-motion, getting up off of the man and offering a hand to help him up.
"Sorry 'bout that," She responded, and the Watchers made a note of how quickly she obeyed her handler, not really realizing that having knives thrown at her head by people she regarded as casual annoyances was rather routine for the girl.
"So, should we move to the next test?" Samuels asked, watching what had just happened with a dubious look on his face.
"Test?" Ranma asked, looking at Nodoka questioningly.
"Yes, dear. they want to know if the ritual worked," Nodoka explained, though she kept to herself that she thought most of the normal slayer tests would have been easy to perform for Ranko even before.
"Oh, um, sure," The redhead shrugged, walking into the ritual room again, where she was promptly handed a metal bar.
"Bend this," Samuels ordered.
Much to his surprise, the girl didn't look at him as though he were insane for the suggestion, merely looking down at the bar and concentrating. She flexed her hands, and her face gained a puzzled look as nothing happened.
Several seconds later, the bar started to slowly bend, until it was finally the shape of a horse shoe. Dropping it to the ground, the redhead gasped and began to rub at her wrist, then rubbed a sheen of sweat off of her forehead.
Nodoka threw a strange look at the young martial artist, wondering what she was trying to pull, but Ranko's expression startled her. She was stuck half way between confused and scared.
"Don't worry, that strength is about normal for a Slayer," Samuels explained, patting Ranma on the shoulder. "It looks like the spell was a success."
"Um, yeah," Ranma said, her expression blank as she stared down at her hands, opening and closing them several times.
Nodoka was about to walk over to her and ask what was wrong, when she was grabbed by the arm, and pulled away into a corner by the others. "I presume you want to be the girl's Watcher?" One asked, gesturing to Ranma.
"She does seem to follow your orders very well," Samuels observed, nodding. "Though, when you said that the potentials here were very powerful, I was expecting a little better from her.
"Speak for yourself," Another man grunted, rubbing at his ribs. "That girl can definitely fight, and if she'd had a stake in her hand, my heart would be a kabob."
"We'll need her to go out to the Hellmouth as soon as possible, however, so there won't be time to train her in her Slayer abilities," another objected.
Nodoka shook her head. "That shouldn't be necessary," she said, though she did throw a worried glance at Ranko as she did so. "I'm not sure when we can leave, though, as Ranko-chan has some... friends... that I'd rather not follow us."
The men nodded, and one handed Nodoka a small piece of paper, which she looked over. Her carefully maintained sense of composure almost collapsed as she got a look at its contents. Truthfully, she hadn't known you could fit that many zeroes on a normal check. She knew that it was the entirety of her monetary support from the council, and had to last her a long time, but it was still surprising.
"I'll see how quickly we can leave," She answered, nodding. "It shouldn't take more than a few weeks."
The council members nodded, as Nodoka walked over to Ranma, who was still standing and looking down at one hand, an expression of concentration on her face. "Ranko-chan?" The older woman asked, shaking the girl's shoulder. "We've got to go now."
Ranma nodded, following her mother out of the building.
As they were walking back to the Tendo residence, Nodoka looked over at the martial artist next to her, who was still occasionally looking at her hand, and had made a few experimental jabs into the air as they had gone. "Ranko-chan?" She asked, causing the redhead to look over at her. "Is there something wrong? You seemed... a little slower than usual when we were talking to the others." She sighed. "I know I told you that it was ladylike to not seem as strong as you really are, but I hope you weren't holding back because of that there, that knife could really have hurt you."
Ranma shook her head. "Nah, that ain't what happened," She said, softly, and alarm bells started ringing in Nodoka's head as she heard the undisguised worry in the girl's voice. Ranko continued after a moment. "There's somethin wrong with my Chi," She admitted. "I... I can't feel most of it anymore."
Nodoka looked at her charge, confused. "I don't understand," She admitted.
"My Chi," the martial artist explained. "Life force, It's the stuff that lets me go faster 'n hit harder than ya normally can with human muscles. I can still feel it, and it doesn't feel like I'm low on it, in fact my reserve felt like it was almost completely full when I tried bending that bar, but it took a lot of it for me to pull it off."
"Can you get it back?" Nodoka asked in concern.
"Well, yeah, I guess," Ranma replied. "But it'd take a lot of time and work."
The Saotome woman frowned. This wasn't good. She'd chosen Ranko specifically because she was the strongest of the girls, most likely to survive what the Council and the demons would try to do to her. Now, it was looking as if that advantage had somehow been drastically reduced. "Perhaps the conversion process somehow locked away your power?" She asked, speculatively.
"Doubt it," Ranma responded, "Or I wouldn't be able to feel it at all."
Nodoka nodded. "Perhaps we could get someone else to go with us to help..." She started, and was surprised by the younger redhead's vehement response.
"No way!" Ranma exclaimed, horrified. "Anyone in the city'd just love ta pound me while I'm down, and I probably couldn't survive some of them." She hated to admit it, but it was true. At the moment, Kuno would be a challenge even if he were holding back, and Mousse would likely wipe the floor with her. As for Ryoga, well, there would probably be enough remains to conduct a DNA test... probably.
"Well, what about your Panda?" Nodoka suggested, kind of amazed at herself for even suggesting it. "He could fight, couldn't he?"
The pigtailed martial artist gave her a steady look. "Trust me, you don't want the Panda around," she responded, deadpan.
Nodoka frowned to herself as she adjusted her left arm, trying not to wake the little redhead who was using her shoulder as a pillow, while still turning the page in the romance novel she'd bought at the airport's duty free shop.
She really couldn't believe what was going on right now. Here she was, currently in Abudabi, ready to catch a flight to Cancun. A week ago, she would never have thought of such a convoluted method of getting from point A to point B, but apparently the people who liked to 'play' with Ranko were very good at following people, and Nabiki Tendo's advice to her had been to take as random a course as possible to get to the United States.
Given that she'd paid the middle Tendo around two million yen, in an account that paid out monthly as long as no one other than Ryoga Hibiki, whom said girl wouldn't even comment on, had found them, she was taking the advice to heart. Unfortunately, the combination of the pay out to the rather mercenary brown haired girl plus all of the plane tickets had depleted the money the Watcher's Council had paid her quite a bit, but she really had no choice.
Apparently, the ritual that had been done to Ranko had put her in danger in her own home, and as strange as it seemed, the Hellmouth was likely a safer place for her to be at the moment.
Looking down at the girl, Nodoka had to wonder at how she looked so peaceful, given that there was a decent sized sword slash in one of their suitcases from where that hidden weapons master, Mousse, had ambushed them while boarding their plane from Narita international.
Sometimes she wondered what kind of life the girl must have had, and thought that she would definitely want to have a pointed conversation with her parents. Hearing the airport's public address system crackling to life and announcing their flight, the Saotome matriarch put her book into her carry on bag, and shook Ranko's shoulder.
The redhead merely grumbled slightly and snuggled deeper into Nodoka's shoulder, mentioning something about Pandas. Nodoka looked down at the girl, exasperated, and tried to push her away, only to have her arm hugged more tightly. Looking around helplessly, she finally decided to stand, and as she did, Ranko rose next to her, her head drifting down from her shoulder to the crook of her arm, but she was still blissfully asleep.
The auburn haired woman's eyebrow twitched. "You aren't waking up, are you?" She asked, not getting a response. Sighing, she moved her arm to wrap it around the girl's shoulder and started towards the boarding ramp. As she entered it, she could have sworn that she heard the girl muttering something about her mother, but shook it off and kept going.
"So, where is this place?" Ranma grumbled, as she walked behind Nodoka, carrying what appeared to be ten feet of solid suitcase, with far more strain than she'd like to admit.
"Only a little further, Ranko-chan," Nodoka said, reading the numbers on the house fronts. As they went, Ranma was fidgeting nervously, or, she would have been if her hands weren't full of stuff. Ever since they'd turned their car in at the rental agency and headed into town, her danger sense had been telling her that running the other way at high speed would be a very good idea, and it was starting to get distracting.
"I've got a bad feeling about this place," She muttered, for the third time since they'd entered the city limits.
"Well, that's to be expected, dear, we are on a Hellmouth after all," Nodoka returned, speaking as casually as though she were reporting the weather. After having said this, she blinked and gently slapped her face, noting that she'd likely been spending too much time around the younger girl.
"Ah, and there's the house," She exclaimed, matching the number on the front of a small, one story residence with the one she'd read off of the documents the Watcher's Council had supplied her. When she caught a glimpse of the mail box, where a set of identification for her and her charge was supposed to be sitting, however, she really wanted to slap her forehead. "Smith?" She asked, dubiously. "Nodoka and Ranko Smith?"
She shook her head, muttering implications about the idiocy of the Council she worked for quietly enough that she hoped her charge couldn't hear her. After all, it was important for the Slayer to have faith in her organization, even if Nodoka was reasonably sure Ranko wasn't the Slayer, due to the fact that the artifact that had originally confirmed said status had also read positive when she'd tested it on herself a few days later.
"I'm glad I can finally put all this crap down," Ranko grumbled.
"That's all OF this crap, dear," Nodoka corrected absently, and then blinked. "I mean..." The 'Smith' matriarch was interrupted in her rapid correction, as a man jumped out of the bushes on the walk up to the house, his forehead baring more wrinkles than one of those Klingons from Star Trek, not that she would watch such a thing of course, and two gleaming white fangs poking from his mouth.
"A vampire?" She gasped, surprised that they would encounter one so soon after arrival. She reached for her Katana, and then cursed, as she remembered that she'd had to register it as an antique on the plane, and hadn't been allowed to keep a hold of it. Fortunately for her, Ranko didn't need a blade, and dropped the baggage in order to lunge at the demonic creature as it charged at her.
The auburn haired woman winced as the bag full of her most valuable magical artifacts hit the sidewalk with a loud bang, but couldn't precisely begrudge the redhead as a high kick from her sent the vampire staggering back with what looked like a broken jaw.
"Hey, what the hell're ya doing?!" The martial artist demanded, but winced as she saw the damage that she'd done. Her wince became confusion as the creature before her closed its mouth firmly for a few seconds, and then opened it with what appeared to be no damage.
"You can't stop a vampire like that, Ranko-chan!" Nodoka called. She'd known that the girl hadn't been paying much attention when she'd tried to give her a primer on demons on the plane, but she'd sort of hoped that at least something had stuck.
"All right," the girl said, cracking her knuckles and coming in with a series of quick punches to the vampire's body. She was surprised when, on the last attack, its hand lashed out and caught her left wrist in an iron hard grip. Irritated, she turned her entire body, trying to flip away but instead brought the vampire over with her, and then sent it falling back over her head.
When it stopped with a quick and violent jerk, she looked back to see it impaled on one of the pickets of the white fencing that surrounded her new home. "Damn," She cursed, right before the hand that was clamped around her wrist puffed into dust.
The young martial artist looked between her hand and the fence, blinking slowly. "What... huh... gah?" She stammered, obviously shocked. Nodoka sighed, and lead the girl inside, deciding that she could deal with the luggage later, preferably when the sun rose.
"So... they're... demons?" Ranma asked, as she sat in a sparsely furnished living room, holding a cup of hot tea that Nodoka had made as soon as they had entered the house.
The Watcher nodded. "They turn a dead human body, and use it as a vessel on earth," she explained. "That man you fought, he was already dead, and his body was being used by the demon to try and catch and kill other people."
Ranma nodded. "I've... never heard of a demon like that," she admitted. Most of the time, the demons she'd hunted with her father on the training trip had been big, red or black skinned monstrosities that liked to desecrate temples, or... She shuddered, trying not to think of the tentacles. "So, it's just like beating those demons from the temples 'till they go back to the netherworld, or something?"
Nodoka nodded, kind of surprised that Ranko had ever dealt with demons before. "These just use human forms, since it's easier to hunt their prey that way."
Ranma shivered. "Still, it's pretty damned creepy," She admitted, "Any way ta tell if it's one of these or just a human?"
Nodoka nodded. "Slayers are supposed to have a sense for it, but I noticed that you didn't sense it coming," she observed. "Failing that, I suggest you go after the people with the brow ridges and glowing yellow eyes."
Ranma winced. "Y'know, you weren't nearly this sarcastic back at home," she mumbled.
Nodoka blushed. "I'm sorry, Ranko-chan, this is just very stressful for me," she replied. Looking out towards the living room window, she noted that the sun was now slowly peeking over the horizon. "But now, I think I will go and bring our luggage inside, and then go to sleep."
Ranma nodded, still sitting on the couch with her tea, and thinking about what she'd been told, until she heard an exclamation of surprise from outside. She stood easily, setting the tea down on the coffee table, and wandered out into the front yard.
"I can't believe this!" Nodoka exclaimed, as she knelt among the bags. "They went through all of my artifacts, and all they took was my paper weight!"
"Hm, this has been a rather slow night," Giles quietly remarked as he hunkered down behind one of the grave stones in the cemetary, hidden from view by the prerequisite spooky fog.
"You're telling me… I haven't been able to get a good meal in a week," a voice remarked from right above him, and the Watcher looked up, saw the vampire looking down at him, and exclaimed, "Bloody hell!" skittering backwards on three limbs as he rapidly aimed and threw a stake with the fourth. The vampire casually leaned out of the way, looking at the middle aged man incredulously.
"You've got to be kidding m..." He started, before a second stake appeared through his chest, and he poofed out of existence to reveal an irritated looking Angel.
"Are you going to get up?" The black haired vampire asked, tossing Giles's original stake over to land by him, and brushing off his leather jacket where there was an obvious scuff mark.
"Yes well," the rather ruffled Brit said, scooping up the anti-undead weapon and scrambling to his feet. "I think that was the last one."
As three Vampires loomed out of the shadows, he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I really should have learned by now," He muttered, wishing fervently that Buffy wasn't on vacation with her father. Within moments, the vampires seemed to come to an unspoken threat assessment, two of them peeling off to go for Angel, as the other turned to the only one there with a pulse, and the fighting began.
As Giles dove out of the way of a lunging grab by the vampire that had decided he looked like a good snack, he tripped over a root into the side of a large, hard stone monument, his head bouncing off of the thing with an audible crack. The pain abruptly exploded through his skull, and his vision started to blur. 'That's concussion number twenty-six,' he thought muzily, trying to keep himself upright.
He was about to try and attack regardless of the fact that there were now two randomly dancing vampires in front of him, when they both exploded into dust, and a short, female shaped form walked towards him. "Oh hello Buffy, how nice to see you," he said, casually, falling into her arms.
The redhead looked at him oddly, before turning to see that there was still one vampire left. Shrugging, she readied the short spear she'd used to finish the one that had been menacing the old British guy, and tossed it as hard as she could at the remaining opponent. As the dust of its passage cleared, Angel blinked, his arm suddenly bereft of the neck that he'd been trying to break.
"Sorry 'bout this," the redhead commented, shrugging.
Council Screwup Count: 4.
Okay, well if you liked it, please tell us. If you hated it, please tell us. If you were indifferent, please tell us. If you want to send money, please don't tell us, 'cuz then we'd get sued. Do not slip it under our doors, as that's just plain creepy.