Ranma's Ascension - Chapter 7
By Mike Breslau
Disclaimer: Better folks than I own most of the characters that appear in this scribbling. The original characters (you'll know them when you meet them) in this work are mine, all mine! (But you can borrow them if you'll treat them kindly.)
Oh wow! My in-box runneth over. I'm getting 40 reviews per day. I'll try to answer as many as I can, but it could take some time.
Ranko appeared in the Nekohanten after the rush hour crowd had left.
Cologne smiled at her and said, "Welcome, Ranko-sama. It's always a pleasure to see you. Can I get you anything?"
"No honorifics, Elder. Yes, a cup of green tea would be nice."
The old woman fetched a cup of the requested beverage. "So, what are you here for?"
"Mostly, I just wanted to talk to you, Ku Lon. Of all my mortal friends, you are the one most able to understand what I'm feeling."
Cologne was warmed by the implied compliment. "Go on," she urged.
Ranko sipped her tea and put down her cup. "Kamisama was right-but then, He usually is. He offered to make me God of Transformations, but I insisted on being God of Martial Arts. We compromised, and I wound up with both domains. My experience shows that Transformations is a much more useful portfolio than Martial Arts." She giggled mirthlessly. "My earlier self would be horrified to hear me say that, but there aren't many problems that I can solve with my fists."
Cologne nodded in understanding. "We amazons know that, Ranko, though it isn't obvious to outsiders. We honor healers, lore keepers, and seers as well as warriors. No tribe can prosper by fighting alone."
Ranko took another sip of tea, then continued. "I think I may have been manipulated, Elder. I think Kamisama wanted me on his team, and he sent Skuld to grant my wish knowing what I would ask for. Well, he got His wish too."
Cologne raised an eyebrow. "Do you regret becoming a deity, Ranko?"
"Not at all, I'm delighted. But I asked for the power to solve all my problems quickly and easily-and now I have no real challenges, no obstacles to overcome. The old Ranma would go nuts if a day passed with no challenges. It's almost boring, Cologne."
Cologne understood. "Yes, boredom is always the bane of those with long lives. I wonder how Kamisama deals with it?"
Ranko giggled. "Perhaps by elevating a chaos-magnet to godhood?"
They both laughed briefly. Cologne noticed the time, and asked, "Are you cutting class today, Ranko?"
"No, I am in class right now-or rather, Ranma is in class."
"I see. Are you two separate people now?"
"No, I am one person with two aspects. Being in several places at once is one of the privileges of my station." Ranko finished her tea. "Oh, before I forget, here are your invitations to my wedding."
"Thank you, Ranko." Cologne really wanted to call her "Dear," but felt it wouldn't be proper.
It was lunch hour at school. Ranko and Akane were outside eating lunch beneath their favorite tree.
Ranko asked, "Now that you've got the hang of cooking, would you be interested in Martial Arts Swimming lessons?"
"Okay," answered Akane brightly. A sly smile grew on her face. "But after that I want Martial Arts Marital Arts lessons too."
Ranko looked at her fondly and began to answer, but never got a chance. A black hole appeared in the air beside her and a powerful force pulled Ranko into it. The hole vanished, leaving behind a faint but pungent smell of sulphur dioxide.
Akane jumped up in alarm-there was no mistaking the demonic aura coming from that portal. Ranma had been taken by a goddess and now Ranko had been kidnapped by a demonic force. She looked around searching for additional dangers but found none. "Oh Ranko, what have you gotten yourself into now?" Akane tried to calm herself and thought, "it's going to be all right. Ranma never loses and neither does Ranko."
Alarm bells sounded throughout the Yggdrasil complex-an outbreak of bugs required immediate attention. Deities quickly mobilized to combat the latest infestation.
"Where is Ranma now that we need him?" Urd asked while swinging her debugging tool. "His debugging skill would be very helpful right now."
Skuld did a quick locating spell. "He's not on Midgard or here in Asgard. It seems that the demons have kidnapped him." She swatted two more bugs.
"A curious coincidence? I think not," Freya speculated. "I bet the demons arranged for this bug outbreak so we couldn't mount a rescue attempt."
"I seriously doubt that Ranma will need rescuing," said Skuld, who remembered the terms of his wish. "They're going to be sorry..."
"Yes indeed, but right now we've got to clean up these bugs," concluded Urd. She swatted another bug.
Ranko found herself sitting on her rump in a large underground chamber. The floor beneath her was made of smooth basalt rock. Above her stretched a green hemispherical dome of energy, and beyond that rough-hewn walls of solid rock. The cave was dark, except for the flickering glow from the energy barrier. That didn't matter, Ranko didn't need light to see, she had other senses now. She quickly took stock of her situation. Ranko had been drained of all her mana, her link to Yggdrasil was broken, an energy barrier prevented her from gaining more mana, and she was surrounded by a crowd of powerful demons. This was going to be great fun!
Ranko stood and adopted a deceptively casual ready stance. "It would have been polite to send me an invitation first, you know."
"Demons don't need to be polite," growled one of the crowd.
"You should have stayed in Asgard, goddess. By lingering in the mortal plane you make it possible for us to do the same," explained another.
Ranko shrugged. "I had some business to finish, then I'll return to Asgard."
Hild, the evident leader of this group, stepped forward. "We understand that you're inexperienced in the ways of immortals, Ranko. We're here to teach you a lesson." Behind her the demons made threatening gestures.
"Oh thank you, thank you," replied Ranko sincerely.
Hild had not expected that reaction. "Why are you thanking us?"
"It's been a long time since I kicked any demonic butt," Ranko explained, "I was afraid my skills were getting rusty." She radiated confidence.
"You don't seem to appreciate the danger you're in," Hild said. "By cutting you off from mana and Yggdrasil we have circumvented the doublet system, and we can kill you with impunity."
Ranko retorted, "Doesn't that also mean I can kill you without penalty? You don't seem to appreciate the danger you're in."
Hild was incredulous at Ranko's attitude. "Don't you realize that we greatly outnumber you?"
"Do you remember that I killed an ill-mannered god and several demons while I was still a mortal? What makes you think I'm any less capable now?" Ranko performed a quick head count. "Besides, there are only 120 of you-the odds are in my favor." Ranko may have lost her mana, but she still had her ki. While the demons were expressing outrage at her effrontery, Ranko invoked the Umisenken and faded into invisibility.
Shocked, Hild cast a 'detect magic' spell and a 'see invisibles' spell. Neither spell did any good beause they were not designed to find ki signatures. The next four minutes were filled with cries of pain punctuated by occasional sonic booms as Ranko circled the room at sonic speeds, breaking limbs and wreaking havoc as she went. It seemed that demons had never encountered a high-level martial artist before.
When the rather one-sided mayhem was over Ranko came to a stop near the green energy barrier that surrounded them all. She dropped the Umisenken and dusted off her hands. She had managed to not kill any of the demons, but she had not shown them any mercy. Ranko's clothes were spotted with blood and ichor, none of it her own.
What did you expect? Ranma had wished for the power to solve all his problems swiftly and efficiently. The power of the wish-enforcing system was greater than that of any group of gods or demons.
Hild couldn't speak-someone's foot was jammed into her mouth-so she resorted to telepathy. "You could have killed us all, yet you went to the extra effort of keeping us all alive. Why?"
"I'm not sure a demon would appreciate the concept of 'mercy,'" Ranko replied, "Besides, I never kill anyone who could later become my friend."
Hild was astonished at this answer. She sent, "You think we can be redeemed?"
Ranko replied smugly, "I don't think so, I know you can be redeemed."
Ranko extended a nekoken claw and carefully pierced the shimmering barrier, which burst like a soap bubble. Mana slowly flowed back into the goddess. She smiled and punched the rock that held up the dome. "BAKUSAI TENKESTU!" brought tons of shattered rock falling onto the miserable demons. Ranko waved goodbye and teleported back to where Akane was waiting.
The next day a stern directive was sent to every demon everywhere-whatever you do, do not mess with Ranma/Ranko or her friends!
Tatewaki and Kodachi were silently eating dinner in their mansion. They were seated at opposite ends of a long table, positioned so that they would not have to see each other. The siblings were bound by ties of kinship, but they didn't like each other; their seating arrangement reflected this tension.
Ranma appeared near Kodachi in flash of golden light, dressed in his divine garb with his aura unleashed. He hovered four inches above the floor.
Kodachi's expression of surprise quickly changed to one of sullenness. "So, Ranma-sama, you have finally deigned to reveal yourself to us. What took you so long?"
"I was waiting for your unhealthy obsession with me to subside. You have to adjust to living in a non-Ranma-centric world."
Kodachi sighed dramatically. "Alas, I have come to accept your rejection, though I don't see how you could spurn one such as myself." She thrust her chest out slightly.
Tatewaki interjected, "Are you going to release the pigtailed goddess now?"
Ranma smiled and said, "Certainly." He floated over to Tatewaki and extended his arms towards him. "Hold my wrists tightly, if you would be so kind." Kuno looked puzzled, but he complied. Ranma shifted into the divine form of Ranko and remained floating.
Tatewaki was visibly upset. "So the rumors are true - the light of my life is an alternate form of the demon Ranma. Which is your real form?"
"Both male and female versions are equally real now, though I was born a boy. And for your information, I am a kami, not a demon."
"Surely a kami did not come into mine abode to mock me. What is your purpose for being here?"
Ranko produced two envelopes. "I came to give you both invitations to my wedding to Akane Tendo as a sign that all is forgiven. Remember that no disruptions will be permitted. You are free to not come if you feel it would cause you distress."
"With one meeting you have dashed all my hopes," said Kuno despondently. "I must think upon this."
"Akane and I hold no ill will towards the house of Kuno. See you later," concluded Ranko. She vanished in another burst of golden light.
Ranko wanted to teach Akane how to roof hop. The problem was that roof hopping is impossible if you have to think about it. You have to jump with your heart, not with your legs. Akane had to be fooled into jumping without realizing what she was actually doing. The old Ranma would have taunted her into a rage and then run away so that she would have to follow him. The divine Ranko knew better, and she was trying to wean Akane away from using anger as her only emotional outlet. The two of them were standing on the lawn between the house and the dojo.
Ranko smiled and said, "Today our lesson plan is a little different from usual. Instead of doing katas or sparing, we'll play tag. "
Akane was nonplused. "Play what?"
"I'll run away, and you'll chase me. If you can tag me then our roles will be reversed, and I'll chase you. Simple enough."
"Are you getting tired of being a goddess and trying to become an oni?" Akane was amused. (The game of tag is the favorite sport of onis.)
Ranko shrugged and in a flash replaced her clothes with a tiger-striped bikini. She struck a pose. "How do I look?"
Akane giggled. "You'd look better with horns..."
"Enough banter. Let's go!" Ranko ran around the corner of the house and Akane ran after her. Ranko was careful not to go faster than Akane could go, but she stayed just out of reach. Ranko jumped over the laundry hamper that was lying on the ground, and Akane did likewise, giggling. This was going to be fun!
Ranko ran out the gate onto the street with Akane close behind. Ranko put her hands on top of a fire hydrant and straddled it with her legs on either side, then kept going. Akane followed. Ranko ran a little further and jumped on top of a garbage can, using it as a stepping stone as she lept onto the top of a fence. Akane did also. They ran the length of the fence and jumped down to the ground.
Ranko reached her left hand out and grabbed a utility pole, swinging around it to reverse direction. Akane did too. Ranko jumped back onto the top of the fence. Akane did the same, without realizing that this was higher than she could normally jump. Ranko followed the fence around a corner then lept to the roof of the adjacent garage, with Akane in hot pursuit. They ran around the top of the garage, then jumped back onto the top of the fence, and then down to the ground. Ranko allowed Akane to tag her without being too obvious about it.
Akane laughed. She ran to the edge of the street and jumped onto the hood of a parked car, then onto the roof of the next car. "Can't catch me," she taunted, knowing perfectly well that it wasn't true. Ranko followed closely behind without actually reaching her. Akane lept onto the roof of a van, then bounced off the hood of another car and back down onto the street with Ranko in hot pursuit.
Akane had forgotten how good the wind blowing through her hair actually felt. She jumped onto the sloping handrail alongside a stairway and ran up it to the top. She jumped onto the railing on the other side and slid down, balancing with her arms held wide. Akane hadn't felt this joyous since her mother died.
Akane jumped onto a wall that surrounded a garden, then used a flagpole to swing herself up onto the roof of the house. She ran across the roof to the other side and skidded to a stop. It was a long way down, and there was nothing nearby to jump onto.
Ranko stopped along side her. "Well done, student. Do you realize how high you were leaping today?"
Akane grew wide-eyed. "Oh my!" said Kasumi's sister, breathing deeply.
"Now you are going to learn how to get down from a roof safely..."
Ranma held up a hand to interrupt Sensei's lecture. He transmitted telepathically, "No disrespect, Sensei, but I believe you're misleading me."
Sensei raised an eyebrow and waited expectantly.
Ranma continued, "These gestures and incantations you're teaching me are not the way to cast spells. They are the superficial outer signs of magic working, a sort of 'training wheel' for the uninitiated."
Sensei smiled in approval, and replied, "Go on, student."
"You teach words and gestures because they're easy to teach and easy to learn, but real magic happens in a part of the brain that doesn't understand words."
"Very good, student. Most people don't realize that until later in the course."
"I'm proficient at manipulating ki, but I can't teach it-there are no words. When I try to explain it I have to beat around the bush. Ki mastery is experiential, and I can't communicate the experience. Or, rather, I couldn't until you taught me telepathy."
Sensei responded, "Yes, the gestures make it easier to teach magic, but they also make it easier to remember. Those 'training wheels' are useful, but they're not real magic. Are you familiar with modern computers? They use a windows, icons, and mouse interface to make it easy for people to control a program without using words, but those icons are not the actual programs, they're only representations of them. When I teach magic, the chanting and gesturing are representations of the magic, but they are not the actual magical working. Tell me, what tipped you off?"
"When I manipulate my ki I do it directly, without using words. After a little practice, I can do the same with mana-I can do magic without showy spell casting."
"By George, I think he's got it," thought Sensei. "You're sharp, Ranma."
Furinkan High School is normally closed on Sundays. On this particular Sunday afternoon it appeared to be closed, empty, dark, and silent-to any passers-by who weren't on the invitation list. It appeared otherwise to those lucky few who were invited to the wedding.
Now weddings are rarely held in a high school, but this was obviously no ordinary wedding. Ranma had suggested the location because it was convenient for everyone to get to and large enough to hold the anticipated crowd.
The Tendo girls had arrived early and sequestered themselves in a classroom to help Akane get dressed in her wedding finery. Ranma wandered about the school building making certain that all the final arrangements were complete and correct. Naturally, everything was just perfect-when deities are handling the catering nothing can go wrong. Ranma was understandably nervous, and his wandering was a good way to kill time.
As the guests arrived they were directed to the auditorium, which had been remade into a large cathedral. There, they were greeted by angels acting as ushers and escorted to their seats-the deities on the right side and the mortals on the left side.
Akane emerged from her dressing room at the appointed hour, to find Ranma waiting in the hallway. He wore a dark red silken kimono which somehow managed to look like a tuxedo jacket. She wore a floor-length multilayered gown of yellow fabric, satin gloves and sash, and a wreath of yellow flowers on her head. Ranma was speechless, but his expression of appreciation said that he really was deeply moved. He offered her his arm, and she placed her hand in his. Nabiki and Kasumi also wore gorgeous gowns, but Ranma only had eyes for Akane.
The four of them made their way to the auditorium as music began to play. Akane paused in the doorway in shock-the auditorium didn't normally have a high vaulted ceiling, opalescent walls, crimson velvet upholstery, or golden light fixtures. Her eyes quickly scanned the assembled guests and admired their elegant finery.
When her gaze reached the front of the room, she saw a dignified man wearing a shimmering silvery robe. Akane panicked. She turned to Ranma and said in a trembling voice, "I can't go in there-that's Kamisama , for God's sake!"
"Oh, my!" said Kasumi.
Ranma gazed into Akane's eyes and spoke in a soothing tone. "You can do it, tomboy, you can do it. There's nothing to be afraid of-can't you feel His affection, even out here?"
Akane swallowed nervously twice. "I'm not ready to meet my maker, Ranma."
Ranma leaned forwards and kissed her on the forehead. "Do you want to call off the wedding? Nothing bad will happen."
Akane summoned up her courage. "I'm going to marry you even if I have to face Kamisama himself!" With that, she turned and entered the auditorium, Ranma by her side.
The four of them walked slowly down the aisle. Kasumi and Nabiki moved to the side when they reached the front row of seats and sat down on either side of their father. Soun was filled with such intense emotion that he couldn't even cry. Ranma and Akane continued forward and stopped before Kamisama.
The Creator smiled benevolently and began to speak. His resonant voice could be heard clearly throughout the room, even though it was neither loud nor amplified. "My children, we are gathered on this happy occasion to unite this couple in holy matrimony. You are here to witness the formation of this union. The solemn vows they are about to take shall be noted and honored by all creation."
He continued, "Some of you may think I am performing this ceremony. That is not the case. Ranma and Akane bear the burden of making this marriage work; I am merely here as a facilitator. A wedding is a special and joyous occasion, a tribute to the mutual love of the parties involved."
He paused, then addressed the groom. "Ranma, do you take Akane to be your lawful spouse? Do you promise to love, nurture, and protect her, soothe her when she is hurt, encourage and support her, and help her to become everything that she is able to be?"
Ranma looked the Almighty in the eye and answered, "With all my heart, I do."
Kamisama now addressed the bride. "Akane, do you take Ranma and Ranko to be your lawful spouse? Do you promise to keep him/her foremost in your heart for an extraordinarily long time, comfort and console him/her when needed, and to listen attentively before loosing your temper?" His smile took the possible sting out of His final words.
Akane's eyes flashed dangerously until she heard Ranma's voice in her head, "His choice of words; it's not my fault!"
Akane stood tall and answered clearly, "I promise with all my heart."
"Then by the power inherent in Me, I now pronounce you married under the laws of Heaven and Earth. Let no power ever rend asunder that which has been joined here today. Those who were once separate people are now joined together as one. You both have My blessing and best wishes for your life to come." He paused. "Well, what are you waiting for? Kiss each other."
Ranma and Akane embraced each other, and kissed passionately until the audience started to cheer. They separated, bowed to Kamisama, and began to slowly walk back down the aisle and out of the room.
As they reached the exit, Akane seemed to hear Kamisama's voice in her head. "Akane, you should know that your mother is watching you, and she feels very proud." Akane almost swooned at this news, and Ranma had to catch her and steady her.
Nodoka said, "That was the shortest, yet the most poignant, ceremony I have ever seen." She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief.
Nabiki took stock of what she had just witnessed. He didn't say "till death do you part," He said, "for an extraordinarily long time" and "help her to become everything" and "no power ever rend" He practically promised my sister immortality! Nabiki felt a twinge of envy spoil her otherwise joyful mood.
The wedding party and guests now moved to the gymnasium for a dance and buffet reception. The school gym had been transformed into a large ballroom. Tables laden with every delicacy imaginable were placed near the walls on three sides of the room. Dionysus-the God of Wine and Flowers-was serving drinks of every kind from a long bar in front of the remaining wall. No one seemed to care that he was pouring all the different beverages from one and the same bottle. The band from the Cantina scene in "Star Wars" was performing on a bandstand in a corner of the room. By this time, few of the mortal guests thought that a fictitious band performing live was anything noteworthy.
"I've always wondered how they made percussive music sounds while blowing into what are obviously wind instruments," Akane mused, "but I've seen many stranger things than that."
"Did you see the wings on the ushers?" asked Shampoo, "They looked authentic..."
"There were wings on some of the wedding guests too," added Cologne.
"They were not from Phoenix Mountain," observed Kiima, rustling her own wings.
Nabiki clarified, "The ushers were angels."
Skuld wandered past, industriously trying to empty an infinite supply of ice cream sundae from a cornucopia. She was in Heaven, even if she was on Earth.
Tatewaki Kuno wondered aloud, "How could my fair Akane marry both Ranma and Ranko? That seems very odd." His "no-see" enchantment had been removed, and he had been instructed to leave his boken at home.
Ukyo laughed. "Only Ran-chan could form a menage-a-trois with only two people."
Kuno looked perplexed. Ranma had shown him the truth when he presented his wedding invitation, but Kuno was having a hard time digesting it.
Nabiki joined in. "Here's a freebie, Kuno. Your red-haired goddess is named Ranko, and she really is an actual goddess. She is also the female aspect of Ranma, who is a god in his own right. If you're wise, you won't irritate either of them."
"That's preposterous!" Tatewaki fumed, "My loves..."
Nabiki cut him off. "Consider yourself blessed, Kuno. Not many mortals get to see Kamisama in person and live to tell the tale."
"Kamisama?" Kuno was out of his depth-again.
"Who do you think was officiating? Couldn't you feel his aura?"
Nabiki shrugged. "That went well."
Urd was leaning against the bar arguing with Dionysus, who politely declined to serve her enough booze to get her totally smashed.
A voice was heard throughout the room. "Please clear the floor so the bride and groom can have the first dance."
The guests moved to the sides, leaving a considerable clear space in the center of the room. Nabiki helped Kodachi drag Kuno out of the center of the room.
"I don't know how to dance," Akane complained quietly.
"That's okay, we'll fake it," answered Ranma. "You want to be an actor, so act as if you're dancing." He held Akane and began to move to the music.
After a minute Akane whispered, "You're so light on your feet. I feel as though I was dancing on air."
Ranma grinned at her. "Look down," was his answer. They were dancing eight inches above the floor so all the spectators could get a good view.
Akane giggled. "I'm so glad I married a deity." She held him more tightly.
"I guarantee that your life will never be boring as long as you stick with me."
"My life has never been boring since you arrived, husband."
The couple settled to the ground as the music ended. Their audience applauded, and the two bowed in acknowledgment.
There followed two and a half hours of general dancing, feasting, and merriment. Genma was the first to notice that no matter how much he ate he never felt full-and the serving platters replenished themselves continuously. The glutton was in paradise.
Ranma finally made an announcement. "You all may remain here to enjoy the party for as long as you like, but Akane and I are leaving to do what newlyweds do."
"Where are you going on your honeymoon?" asked Daisuke.
"We're taking a scenic tour of the solar system," Ranma answered with a twinkle in his eye.
Murmurs of astonishment met this declaration. The newlyweds walked out of the school building hand-in-hand, followed by a smattering of their mortal friends. On the lawn was an enormous transparent crystalline spaceship, along with several smaller auxiliary crystals hanging suspended nearby. A portal dilated open in the side of the large crystal and the newlyweds entered. The portal irised closed behind them.
"Oh wow! A spaceship!" exclaimed Yuka.
"How does it fly?" Hiroshi wondered aloud. He saw no engines of any sort.
"Very well indeed, if I know Ranma," answered Daisuke.
The crystalline starship glowed slightly for a moment, then took off smoothly into the sky with a catlike cry of "Miyaaaa!" The wedding guests waved and cheered.
Akane gazed out the window as the cloud-speckled orb of the Earth receded into the distance behind them. "It's so beautiful," she breathed.
"We have to take care of it so that it stays that way," answered Ranma. He stretched and relaxed, shifting his formal garb into comfortable silken pajamas. "It's nice to leave the weirdness of Nerima behind us."
Akane raised an eyebrow. "We're a divine/mortal couple touring the solar system in a carrot-powered glass UFO, and you think we're leaving the weirdness behind?"
Ranma said nothing, he only smiled and kissed his bride.
Author's final thoughts:
Before I started this I was sure that I couldn't write comedy. Sometimes it's nice to be wrong.
Would Ranma and Akane's marriage work, or would it be dysfunctional? They're both proud, stubborn people who hate to be pushed around. Still, Ranma does a creditable job of taming the shrew in this tale. He can take anything she can dish out, and she knows better than to fight seriously against the God of Martial Arts. I'm rooting for them to make it work - but perhaps there's room for a sequel here.
Will there be more of this story Who knows?
Humor in a Ranma story? If you read Takahashi's manga it's clear that she was not writing an action/adventure/romance story - it's a parody, or a caricature of an action/adventure/romance story. Tounge-in-cheek humor is built in. Too many people take it literally. That's as bad as doing Gilbert and Sullivan as a pompous, serious, solemn,work of great art!
Final note: I've noticed that when I write fiction the characters become very real to me, and I identify with them (The same thing happens when I read a well-written story by someone else.) If a character feels angry, I feel angry; when they feel glad, I feel glad. I once wrote a story, "We," in which the protagonist felt miserable. It took me weeks to recover. Since I'd rather feel glad than mad I tend to write stories with minimal conflict in them-the kind of stories I prefer to read. Okay, I like WAFF! If you don't like this kind of tale, please read something else.