Descent - Prologue

One Bright Day

A Ranma 1/2 fanfiction by Brian Randall

Disclaimers: The paints, as always, are the property of Takahashi Rumiko; I'm merely a peasant with an easel.


Sometimes I wonder what motivates me. It isn't really getting money that I find fascinating, as much as being able to toy with people. Cash is just a pretty trophy for my efforts.

But at the same time ... after Daddy's proclamation to Ranma and Akane, I thought it would be a good time for me to back off on that front. Those two can raise enough trouble without any of my help.

Of course, a thought and reality can be worlds apart.

XXX

I glance up from my magazine as Akane sits down at the table opposite me, leveling an annoyed look. Not quite a glare, and not the fierce pout she employs when she thinks I'm being unfair. But I can tell she's genuinely upset about something.

Oh well.

"What's up?" I ask, already figuring I knew the answer.

"Nabiki, I want to talk to you about the wedding." Not a whit of hesitation from that girl. Well, fine. If she thinks she's ready to marry Ranma, I'll stay out of the way this time.

"What about it?"

"You shouldn't have done that!"

"Oh? Okay. Sorry." I'm sure that won't cut it with Akane, but it should get her mad enough to get to the point.

Indeed, her face colors and she looks angry instead of merely annoyed. "Nabiki! You caused a lot of problems-"

"Which would have been worse if you went through with your plans and didn't deal with certain other problems first," I noted, cutting her off. "Make me out to be the villain all you want, the truth of the matter is it would have failed anyway. The only difference is that I was able to control the damage." And turn a profit, but that was an entirely separate point.

"Of course," Akane replies, less than fully convinced. "Nabiki, Ranma and I both want to get married. We would have been, if it weren't for you."

"You don't..." Of course she really believes that. And she might have been right. "Oh. Fine. What do you want me to do about it now?"

"I want you to help us get rid of Shampoo and Ukyou."

Is that all? At least she's actually addressing the issue instead of ignoring it. "Okay. Let me talk to Ranma and I'll see what we can do."

"He's in the dojo," Akane says, relaxing visibly.

Ah, my dear little sister. Shifting responsibility. Oh well, maybe things will really work out for them. And maybe they won't - I'm surprised at how little I care when I stop to think about it. Still, I don't want Akane to stay angry at me, so I get up and walk to the dojo.

Ranma's there, practicing like he usually is, going through a kata slowly with a look of intense concentration. "Having fun?" I ask dryly.

He glances at me and abruptly breaks from his form, stopping to towel himself off. "Sure," he replies. "What's up?"

"Akane tells me you want to marry her."

He flinches back, but doesn't deny it. After a minute of staring at me, he manages a tiny nod.

"I'll deal with Ukyou. You deal with Shampoo. Then we'll call our debts even. Sound like a plan?" Ranma didn't actually owe me anything at the moment, but I don't expect him to remember that kind of thing.

"W...well," he begins uncertainly. "I'm not sure if-"

"If you want to deal with your problems, they need to be dealt with," I warn him firmly. "Knowing you, you'll just let Ukyou push you around until you agree that you're still engaged to her, and then you're right back where you started. I'll deal with her. I'm confident you can handle Shampoo at least." Actually, it was more that I was confident that Ukyou wouldn't try and kill me no matter how much I might make her angry. I had no such assurances regarding the Chinese girl. Still, the sooner this was behind us, the better.

"O...okay," he says uneasily. "I guess I gotta talk to her and the old ghoul."

"You do that," I say, turning around and walking back towards the house. This situation will require a bit of planning, and I kind of wonder if I'm going to have to deal with Shampoo in the end, too. At least Ranma will keep her busy until I've got Ukyou handled.