Ranma: Xero

Part 9

The Unwanted Residents

In the shadows of the bridge the admiral smiled to himself as he watched the screen in the arm of his chair. "Are you certain?"

"Of course, I wouldn't have called this in if I wasn't," replied the man displayed on the screen. He had long white hair and a small scar that ran across his right cheek. He spoke with a dangerous calm and smirked at his superior.

"Well, this is a bit of a surprise isn't it?" The admiral sipped at his drink lazily and relaxed in his chair.

"What are your orders?"

"Destroy it."

"Of course."

The screen went black again leaving the man in silence. He chuckled to himself and stared at the endless sea of stars that filled the screen that took up the front wall of the room. "I always liked him. So informal and to the point."


Ranma sat across from his father in their room and frowned. Both of them were sitting in a lotus position and were meditating on the day's events. The man had been strangely silent recently. "Hey Pop, what's up? You've been quiet today."

"Just thinking boy," replied the man halfheartedly.

"Yeah, right," muttered the boy as he shifted into his female form again.

"Is it really bothering you that much boy?" snorted the man.

"No," lied Ranma. He had been having the strangest feeling for most of that day. It wasn't unpleasant, but he knew something was going to happen very soon.

"I want you to go and see your fiancee for a little while Ranma," said the elder Saotome suddenly.

"Do I got too?" grumbled the boy.

"No, but I need to be alone for a while. You might as well get to know her. I don't care where you go, just don't spend the night here."

Ranma blinked in surprise, it wasn't like his father to say something like that to him at all. He stood up silently and walked out of the room.


"Tendo, what the hell is he doing here?" snapped the Major angrily as he pointed at the cloaked figure seated across from him.

The man smiled and removed his hood revealing a light blue complexion and short cut, dark red hair. "I am one of the founders of this institution."

"I don't like this," grumbled the soldier angrily as he settled back into his seat.

"Regardless of that, it is my prerogative," said Soun as he ended the conversation. "He is a trusted ally, but not too trusted."

The blue skinned smirked at this and said nothing. "It has been a while since the three of us have been together Tendo."

"Three?" said the other man as he sat up again.

"Yes, my old friend Saotome is here as well. You met him earlier. He was one of the original founders of 'Project Xero'. His son is engaged to my daughter," said Soun with a small amount of pride in his voice.

The Major noticed something in the alien's eyes for a moment and pushed the matter aside for the moment.

The doors opened and Nabiki and Akane walked into the room. Nabiki had a folder tucked under her arm and a smirk on her lips as she walked up. Her face fell as she noticed the alien in the room.

Akane screamed in shock and reached behind her back. She pulled a handgun from behind her waist and jumped back as she trained it on the man.

"Akane no!" cried Soun in alarm.


Cologne stood on the docks of Tokyo and frowned. "We're behind schedule."

Shampoo walked up to her and nodded. "We're finished loading now. We can leave anytime."

The old woman nodded and looked at the truck. The unit was lying on its back on top of a flat bed trailer. It was covered in a dirty brown tarp that masked its presence relatively well.

"We'd better get moving, I'd like to get there while we still have the cover of darkness to move under."

Shampoo nodded as she climbed into the passenger door with another, slightly older Amazon woman.

Cologne turned to face the rest of the women, they had gathered in a group around a truck that looked like an older military transport. "Let's not take our time. Get in and we'll head towards the complex Lou Xian told us about. Quickly, we have no time to waste."

The girls climbed aboard the truck and the journey began in relative silence.


Akane stared at the firearm in shock as she squeezed the trigger and no report sounded. Ranma stood beside her with the top half of her gun in his hand. He looked at her wordlessly and shook his head.

She stepped back away from him in horror. "You're a spy?"

"This isn't the time to shoot first and ask questions later Akane," replied the boy simply.

"I wasn't expecting to see you here Ranma," said Soun diplomatically as he sat down again.

"Pop said he needed to be alone, and I don't have anything better to do," replied the boy with a shrug.

"I suppose there is no harm in you being here," replied the man simply as he turned towards the other two men.

The alien nodded towards Ranma, he had remained completely calm through the whole ordeal. The Major grunted in disgust and removed his hand from the firearm from his side as he sat back down again as well. "You're getting soft Tendo."

"After tonight this information won't do anyone any good. Give your report daughter."

Nabiki shook off her stupor and coughed into her hand. "Yes, well ... "

"You have nothing to fear from me Nabiki Tendo," said the alien man with a small chuckle of amusement. "It has been a while since I've been here. I remember the both of you from when you were just bundles in your mother's arms."

This caught both girls by surprise and Nabiki faltered again before continuing as if nothing had happened.

"The Amazons have been busy. They bought up a building in the business section of Japan a few days ago. They also purchased an apartment complex in the Juban district. I doubt they'll want to stay with us here."

"That's no surprise, the old woman I spoke with said something along those lines," agreed Soun.

"It seems they just want to dump it off on us," commented the Major.

"It seems that way, Japanese Military intelligence monitored a large ship that docked this evening in Tokyo Bay. It isn't on any scheduled shipping charts. They've been left alone. Thanks to a little intervention by our people. We had to stop Tokyo PD from interfering, they thought it was a drug ship or something. They appear to be loading the unit onto a truck as we speak."

"They should be here in a few hours then," commented Soun with a small nod. "The woman, Lou Xian, has been released. She is currently staying in the complex, but has been placed on suspension for the time being."

"Feel like going for a ride Tendo?" said the Major suddenly.


"This would be a prime opportunity to test out the new military unit," said the man with a small frown.

"Why? They're giving it to us. There is no need to take it from them," said Soun as he creased his brow in slight disgust.

"I meant to make sure it gets here," countered the man.

"It would be best to assume that communications too and from this complex are monitored," agreed the alien calmly.

"I see, how long would it take to assemble a team?"

"My men are on standby Tendo," said the Major.

"It shouldn't take much time to get the unit on line. My daughter can pilot it," agreed Soun.

"I'd rather have one of my men do it," said the other man calmly.

"They haven't been trained," pointed out the alien.

"I'm sure at least one of them has combat time in one of the older models," said the man with a shrug. "Most units are a mix and match bunch with the war and all. The armored division got cut up pretty badly since the units we have were so inferior. I've probably got three or four men at least who can do it."

"I don't see any reason why not. The unit is fully operational," said Soun as he rested his chin in his hands.

"I'd like to go," said Ranma as he stood from where he had been leaning against the wall.

Soun stared at him for a moment. The chance of confrontation on this mission was minimal, and the pair could use a little time together away from the complex. He smiled to himself. "Very well. Akane will accompany you."

"What? Why do I have to go?" snapped the girl indignantly.

"Accept your fate sister," said Nabiki in a mock comforting voice.

The younger girl scowled and crossed her arms. "Fine."

"I don't like it," said the Major.

"Some of my security force will accompany your men as well. I don't trust you completely either Major."

The man looked at Soun in shock. "Tendo ... "

"I'm sorry old friend, I am well aware that our government would love to get their hands on a unit for study themselves. This is not to be taken lightly. I have shared my technology with you completely, but some of our politicians aren't satisfied with that. You do understand?"

Nabiki raised her eyebrow at this statement. "They've managed to restrain themselves so far."

"All it takes is for this information to hit the right ears Nabiki. I'm sure you know that," said Soun calmly.

"We could really use that extra pilot," said Nabiki with a sigh as she changed the subject.

"What's that supposed to mean?" said Akane defensively.

"These attacks are growing more and more dangerous," agreed Soun as he ignored his youngest.

Ranma snorted and looked at Akane. "Maybe they all think you're incompetent?"

He was promptly kicked in the face. The others in the room seemed to ignore them as they continued the meeting.

The man smirked back at him and nodded. "Yes, that's why I'm leaving some of my men here after we pull out."

Soun blinked at this. "Pardon?"

"We're transporting five of the Nagasaki units to this location. I'm leaving a battalion of men here for security reasons. We can't keep coming here and pulling your ass out of the fire Tendo. The whole world is at war; we have other obligations. Lieutenant Hibiki and his men will remain behind to help guard this location."

"And keep an eye on things for some of the higher ups," finished Nabiki coolly.

"I'm not going to try and hide that fact, but you need a military presence here Tendo. I'm sorry."

"We'll discuss this later. I will comply, but there are a few things we need to iron out first. There are several top secret operations on these premises."

The Major nodded in agreement and sat back in his chair. It was fairly obvious he was expecting more resistance. Nabiki let out a small growl that told that she agreed with him.


"There's only one public road that leads here from Tokyo. This is the way they'll come. They seem to be trying to avoid attracting attention, this would be the way to go if that's what they want," said a nameless Sergeant as he pointed out a small road on a map of the area. A mixture of Soldiers and Soun's personal security guards stood around him. "We'll probably meet them pretty close to the city. Don't alarm them, we don't want to show any hostile attention towards them."

"A hundred men and a walking tank and we don't want to show any hostility?" commented one of the men with a laugh.

"Stow that, we've got out orders. No firing of any kind unless we're engaged," said Ryoga as he walked up to the map.

Ranma snorted. "You aren't leading this expedition are you?"

"Shut up Saotome," snarled the boy as he whirled around and put his face up in his old rival's. "I may have been ordered to take you along, but I don't have to take this crap from you."

Ranma glanced around and noticed that a large group of men backed up his threat. "Whatever. Just remember I'll be watching you also." He turned away and slung the rifle he had been issued over his shoulder.

Akane watched him go and frowned. "Jerk."

"You said it," commented one of Ryoga's men.

"Ignore him, he isn't worth our time," said the boy as he waved his arm and motioned for them to move out.

The sergeants present began to scream at their men as they loaded up onto the transports that would carry them to meet the Amazons.

Ryoga turned towards Akane and smiled. "Come on. You and the she-male have to ride with me."

"You've known Ranma for a while?"

Ryoga paused at the question and shrugged. "You could say that."

Akane climbed up into the troop transport with Ryoga in the driver side door and slid over to the passenger seat. She noticed Ranma was already seated by the door.

"Let's just go," grumbled the pigtailed boy.

"You volunteered for this you know," snorted Akane.

"That was before I knew that he'd be coming," commented Ranma as he jerked his thumb at Ryoga.

The boy ignored him and started the engine on the vehicle.


"This is so damn cool!" cried the pilot from the loudspeakers as the massive military unit posed dramatically.

"Azari! Quit fooling around in there!" snapped one of the sergeants as he stood at the base of the thing's feet and scowled. He turned away and shook his head as the thing pointed its arm and shooting sounds echoed from the loudspeakers. "Idiot."

"Azari, we're leaving now," said a mildly amused voice over the radio inside the unit.

Corporal Hideki Azari jerked in surprise as he looked over and saw the convoy pulling away down the darkened street. "Hey! Wait up!"

"The Army waits for no man!" quipped the voice cheerfully.

"Whatever happened to not leaving men behind!" retorted the frustrated pilot.

"Whatever, I don't see why you're so happy about this. You're the only one who has to march there," commented the radio operator.

"Shut up Ikari!"

"Keep talking that way and I'll ask the Lieutenant to speed up a bit to make sure we make it on time."

"You wouldn't dare!" snapped Azari.

"I can and I will. Keep it up Azari." Sounds of laughter could be heard in the background behind the man.

"I'll demolish you all with my mighty Gekkigen Punch!" cried Azari.

"Man, now I know why the transferred you out of the Armored division," quipped the radio operator.

Azari felt the veins popping on his forehead. "That does it! I'm gonna squash him!"

"Before you threaten your communications specialist, make sure your radio is off Azari," said a new voice over the radio.

The pilot felt a blush rush into his face as he caught up with his unit. "Yes sir."

"Hibiki out."

The radio roared with laughter and Azari's face only flushed more.


Ryoga smirked as he put the receiver down. Akane was giggling to herself and Ranma merely scowled distastefully at the scene.

"I suppose it's kind of like high school," said the girl with a small chuckle as her laughter died down.

"I suppose, but in high school, all your friends make it home."

Akane's smile fell slightly at this.

Ranma looked away, he felt oddly disappointed for some reason.


"I see lights up ahead." Shampoo turned towards the driver and frowned.

"I see them, it's probably just another convoy from the complex. This is a public road, they shouldn't bother us."

"Then what is that behind them?" Shampoo pointed towards several moving red lights that trailed behind the line of headlights they could see in the distance.

The Amazon driving picked up the radio and spoke into the receiver. "Honored elder. We've spotted something up ahead."

Static filled the receiver and eventually a broken voice replied. "We've seen it, continue forward. Whoever it is, we can't run now."

Both Amazon girls nodded silently at each other and reached for their weapons. The blades probably wouldn't help them much, but they weren't about to go down without a fight.


"Stop steering us off the road lost boy!" snapped Ranma as he pushed on the steering wheel again correcting Ryoga's mistake yet again.

"Will you quit that!" snapped the soldier.

"Both of you quit fighting! You could at least try and be civil!" snapped Akane from between them.

"It's dark and I can't see the road!" snapped Ryoga at Ranma ignoring her protests.

"That's what the headlights are for moron!"

"Would you rather get out and walk?"

"At least I'd make it there!"

"Ranma! Prepare to die!" cried Ryoga as he lunged for the boy's throat.

Akane screeched in alarm and grabbed the wheel from under the Lieutenant's body.

"Quit that you jerk! You're going to get us all killed!" cried Ranma.

"At least you'll die with me Saotome!"

"What about all those guys behind us?" retorted Ranma angrily.

That seemed to work a little. Ryoga snarled in frustration and grabbed the wheel again. Akane simply sat shaking with fear in between them and couldn't speak.

"I told you we should have gotten the sergeant to drive us," commented someone from the back.

Ryoga blushed slightly and steadied the wheel a little more, only to have Ranma forcibly correct him again. He said nothing and started to slow down.


"Great Grandmother, they've stopped ... and it appears that there are people getting sick out of the back end of the one in front." Shampoo wasn't sure what to make of the wildly moving vehicle. It stopped in front of them and a man climbed out of the driver's seat waving his arms at their convoy.

"Should we see what they want?" said the Amazon girl driving into the receiver.

"We don't have much choice, they're blocking the road," said Cologne from the radio. "I'll go speak with them, just be ready."


Ryoga paused and stared at the withered mummy that hopped out to meet him on the end of her staff. "Uh, hi."

"What do you want?" snapped the woman.

"We've been ordered to escort you the rest of the way," said Ranma as he walked up behind the confused Ryoga.

"We can take care of ourselves thank you," snorted Cologne.

"The country ahead of us is open, and has a few bottlenecks. We aren't sure if they monitor our communications or not," said Akane as she walked up behind the pair.

"I see," Cologne nodded at this. It did make sense that they'd send an escort through this area, but she preferred to keep her advantage over them for the moment if possible. Finally she sighed. "I suppose there is nothing that can be done about it for the moment." She turned towards the lead truck and motioned for Shampoo to join them.

The girl hopped out and walked up to the Japanese and her great grandmother. "What is it?" she said in Chinese.

"Play along," said the old woman in the same language, she then switched to Japanese. "I want you inside the giant and ready. We don't know if we can trust these men."

Shampoo nodded and walked towards the covered unit. She climbed onto the back of the vehicle and uncovered the chest area of the robot. After a moment she opened the chest and climbed inside. She didn't understand what was going on, but knew better than to argue with the old woman.

"All right then, let's go," Ryoga seemed to almost completely ignore the conversation and walked back.

Akane looked at the truck again and then back at Ranma. She started walking and the pigtailed boy seemed to follow her in confusion.

"Hey! Where are you going?"

"I'm riding with him." She pointed to the truck behind the first and stuck out her tongue.

Ranma wasn't sure what to say and stood silently for a moment.

"Saotome! Are you just going to stand there all night?" snapped Ryoga from the window.

"All right! Jeez you jerk!"


"I wonder why she didn't want to ride with us again?" commented Ryoga as he drove back towards the complex again. Ranma was once again correcting his turns, but he was met with minimal resistance this time. It seemed that Hibiki was used to someone helping him drive.

"Gee, I don't know," muttered Ranma as he rolled his eyes.

"Was that sarcasm I heard?" snorted Ryoga.

"Maybe," commented Ranma.

"Don't start that again sir! Please! My stomach can't take anymore!" whined one of the men in the back.

"You stay out of this!" snarled Ryoga.

"Yes sir," grumbled the man. Ryoga reached behind his head and closed the sliding window.

He was about to start speaking again when he noticed Ranma was glancing into the mirror at the vehicles behind him with an odd look on his face. He shrugged it off and continued to drive in silence.

"When she smiled, she was kind of cute ... " murmured Ranma to himself.


In the darkness near the side of the road the sound of machinery starting up broke the silence. A large shadow turned to see headlights ahead of it on the road moving closer.

Inside the cockpit of the massive metal form a woman with long white hair smiled to herself as the glow of the various displays lit up her features in a dim blue light. She fingered the scar on her face and watched the lights with interest. "I cannot let you pass."

The thing moved into the middle of the road, on each side of it were small hills that the street winded through leaving an effective natural trap. It raised its arm and two wing-like protrusions on either side of the right forearm slid forward and closed together over its hand forming a wide blade.


Ryoga slammed on the breaks and gaped at the thing standing before them. It was a huge gray tower of metal that stood almost twice as tall as the accompanying military unit. It was sleek and the curves on its body were oddly angled.

"Takamura! Where the hell did this thing come from?" he screamed into the radio.

"I'm not getting anything on radar sir! What thing?" said an unfamiliar man.

"Oh shit," said Ranma as he opened his door and scrambled out as the thing lifted its foot and started to move towards them.

"Azari! Get your ass up here!" roared Ryoga into the receiver as he followed him.


Next time: Family ties.

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