Subject: [FFML] [fanfic][draft][Ranma/MKR] Fire in the Water, chapter one
From: "The Eternal Lost Lurker" <lurkerdrome@sbcglobal.net>
Date: 2/11/2007, 12:47 AM
To: "FFML" <ffml@anifics.com>



Author's foreword: To the veteran members of the FFML: yes, this is EXACTLY
what you think it is.

Also, please excuse any formatting oddities; Wordpad and Outlook Express do
not play nice with each other.



======================================================

The thin, cool mist he'd encountered at every step of his journey so far
thickened as he descended further down the trail. He had to tread more
carefully as visibility was reduced to practically nothing. Ahead of him, he
heard the sound of water dripping. He continued onward.

A little farther down the trail, he heard faint voices. Straining to hear,
he could make out two: one was laughing cruelly. The other was...a girl
crying?

*Tasukete...*

Gritting his teeth, he strode down the trail, unmindful of the blinding fog.
The mist began to part, and a spectacle from hell unfolded before him.


The valley was filled with small, shallow pools, their surfaces pristine,
unperturbed by the atrocities being committed only meters away.

At the opposite end of the valley, tied with double sets of bonds to a
splintered, uneven bamboo crucifix, was a young girl, perhaps fifteen at
most, with matted, tangled red hair. She was filthy, naked, covered with
welts and bruises, and crying. Dark rings circled her watery sienna eyes.
One set of the bonds lashing her slim wrists to the rough bamboo were dull
copper, and looked to be somewhat frayed, strands straying from the
braiding. A somewhat burnt ribbon was tied to the red braid.

*Tasukete...*

Her tormentor stood before her, his posture arrogant and his laughter cold
and mocking. Beside the man lay a pile of sundry torture implements; if the
rust-coloured stains on them were any indication, all had seen recent use.

Suddenly, he found himself no longer able to move. Rooted to his spot on the
trail, he could only watch in horror as the cruel man violated his young
prisoner. Her screams rent deep gashes in his soul. He struggled to no avail
against the paralysis which forced him to stand by helplessly. Angry tears
streamed from his eyes in tandem with the fluids trickling down her bruised
thighs, mirrored by the agonised, shame-filled tears rolling down the abused
girl's dry, cracked cheeks.

*TASUKETE!!*

Her tormentor then turned to face him. An arrogant sneer darkened the all
too familiar features...the ones he saw in the mirror every day.

Saotome Ranma awoke screaming.

"*TASUKETE...!!*"

====================================

FIRE IN THE WATER

Ranma 1/2 X Magic Knight Rayearth

a Studio ELL fanfiction production

Disclaimers:

Ranma 1/2 property of Takahashi Rumiko, Shogakukan, VIZ Communications.

Magic Knight RayEarth property of CLAMP, Kodansha, Media Blasters.

Characters and situations borrowed from or mirroring other series copyright
the respective owners and used without permission.

====================================



-1-


Ranma barely noticed the sign which bounced off the back of his head; he
paid no heed to the disgruntled panda which rolled over on the futon beside
him, soon emitting loud snores. His pulse was racing; sweat ran in cold
rivulets down his face, neck, and spine.

The door opened, and the bleary, sleep-worn face of Tendou Akane peeked into
the room. "Ranma?" she asked drowsily. "What is it?"

*Crap!* "Ah...nothin', Akane. I just had a bad dream. Sorry."

The youngest Tendou sister frowned uncertainly at him. "Are you sure?" The
black piglet nestled in her arms afforded Ranma a baleful glare.

"Yeah, I said it was nothin'! Go on back to sleep."

"Well...okay, if you're sure you're alright," Akane replied hesitantly.
"Goodnight, Ranma." With that, she slid the door closed again and headed
back to bed.

Ranma sighed, shoulders slumping. "Man, what the hell's wrong with
me...wakin' up screamin' from a damn dream..."

Deciding he wasn't going to be getting back to sleep soon, and figuring it
was probably close enough to morning that it didn't really matter anyway,
Ranma disentangled himself from his futon, grabbed some clothes to work out
in, and headed down the hall.

In the bathroom, he stripped off his sweaty tank top and filled a bucket
with cold water. He stared into it apprehensively, the images of the
nightmare which had woken him still burning through his consciousness. With
a deep breath, he dumped the water over his head, and stared into the
mirror.

Tormented red-brown eyes stared back at her from a grimy, tear-stained face.
She let out a gasp and stepped backward involuntarily--and the reflection in
the mirror returned to the usual sapphire-eyed visage of Ranma's female
self; the grime and tear tracks were no more than bleary shadows of lack of
sleep and sweat marks. Shuddering, the cursed martial artist took a deep,
shaky breath, and laughed softly.

"Stupid curse," she muttered. "I'm startin' t' crack up."

Following up with a cupful of hot water and towelling off, Ranma dressed and
headed out through the window, landing silently in the garden. Standing on
one foot and taking a deep, calming breath, he began a complicated kata,
moving swiftly and silently through the night, barely discernable from the
shadows cast by the streetlights. The familiar and repetitive motions
allowed him to attempt to clear his mind of the disturbing images from the
dream, a difficult task; the horrifying and graphic events from the
nightmare were livid, like a fresh, raw wound. It disturbed him profoundly
that the girl in the dream had looked so much like himself--and even more
that it had been he himself who had raped her.

No, that couldn't be right. Saotome Ranma was not that kind of person. He
certainly would never...

But the memory of the nightmare refused to be denied, and Ranma's form began
to falter slightly as he shook from the raw emotions that the dream had
stirred. Caught up in his inner turmoil, he failed to notice the dew-slicked
grass his toes were angling for as he landed from an aerial kick...

She pulled her sodden body from the pond, shivering from the chill, and
stood at the edge, wringing her shirt out into the water before trudging
wearily back to the house.

She ignored the spectres of the nightmare girl's eyes in her reflection on
the water as best she could.

* * * * * * *

"Father? I have found something strange in the mountain pass near the
springs."

The Guide of Jusenkyou turned to see his young daughter, Plum, remove a worn
knapsack from over her shoulder. "What is it, daughter?" he asked.

Plum removed a dirty white object from the knapsack and laid it on the
table. "It looks almost like some sort of glove," she replied. "See, here?
It looks meant to be worn on the hand."

"You're right, it does resemble a warrior's glove," the Guide replied,
nodding. "It is very small, though...as though for a child, or..."

"For a woman," Plum replied.

The grimy white glove lay on the table, the dusty red stone on the back
gleaming dully in the soft lantern light of the hut. Suddenly, a bright
crimson flare illuminated the gem, pulsing three times, like a heartbeat.
Then it was gone, and once more the glove looked simply old and dirty.

The Guide and his daughter looked at one another.

"Joketsuzoku?" Plum asked.

"It has to be," her father replied, nodding. Sighing, he added, "Pack for a
hike...we'll leave in half an hour."

* * * * * * *

Ranma sighed as he dodged another water balloon thrown by a pack of rowdy
elementary school kids scampering up the street ahead of them. "Annoying
brats," he muttered.

"If you weren't on top of the fence, you wouldn't be such a tempting target,
Ranma," Akane said, giggling slightly.

"You got a point," Ranma admitted, jumping down to land beside her. Cheering
at their small victory, and giving the pair several rude gestures, the pack
of small children ran off, laughing and yelling.

Once they were well gone, Akane turned to Ranma. "You've been kind of out of
it all morning. What's wrong?"

"Eh, it's nothin'."

"It's that dream you had last night, isn't it?"

"Ah, what d'you know about it?"

"Fine," Akane snapped, turning away in a huff. They continued on in tense
silence for almost a full minute.

Ranma sighed. "I...did somethin' horrible," he said.

Akane blinked. "Huh?"

"Th' dream. I saw myself--or at least it looked like me--doin' awful things
t' some girl who looks...who looks just like me. When I'm a girl, I mean.
Except she didn't have th' same eyes as me. An' it...it was at Jusenkyou."

"What kind of awful things?"

Ranma shook his head. "You don't wanna know that, Akane. You really really
don't."

The short-haired girl frowned. "Maybe it's part of the curse? Maybe it has
something to do with something that happened to the girl who drowned in the
spring? I mean, could the curse work that way?"

"Man...I hope not," Ranma replied, shuddering. "Anyway, it's been damn near
a year since I fell in that stupid spring...don'tcha think somethin' like
that woulda happened before now?"

"How should I know? I don't know a thing about Chinese curses!"

"Well excuse me!"

Another tense silence engulfed the two. Nearly two minutes had passed when
Akane said, softly, "Ranma...thank you."

"Huh?"

"For opening up to me. I know...how hard it must be for you to tell someone
something like that."

Ranma shrugged. "Eh, Pop'd bitch me out for sayin' anything about it, cuz
it's probably not very manly or nothin'." He paused. "But that
dream...really bothered me, Akane. An'...I guess I hadda tell someone, an'
maybe, I dunno, I guess I just trust you more than I trust anybody else."

Akane's face grew warm. "Ranma..." Unconsciously, her hand stole closer to
his...

*SPLASH*

"SHIT!" Ranma yelled, wiping cold, sticky soda out of her eyes with her
sleeve. "YOU LITTLE BRATS! GET BACK HERE!"

Akane watched the feisty redhead chase after two straggling elementary
school students, worry, affection, and amusement in her eyes. "Ranma..."

* * * * * * *

Ten minutes later, the two girls were dashing madly through the streets.
What sympathy Akane had earlier felt for Ranma's plight was erased by
irritation with the redhead.

"Honestly, Ranma, we're gonna be so late we're dead! And all because you had
to chase that kid halfway to Suginami for spraying you!"

"With soda! Sticky soda! Water's one thing, but..."

"And did you HAVE to kancho that poor kid?"

"HE HAD IT COMIN'!"

Akane rolled her eyes. "Whatever. We'd better hurry..."

They barely made it to Fuurinkan High School before the gates closed.
Panting and puffing, the two girls took a moment to rest before heading into
the school proper. However, they had failed to notice the figure lurking
behind a tree they had passed on the way in...

Ranma suddenly tensed up as a pair of strong arms encircled her from behind,
hands clamping firmly on a very personal area. "Pigtailed girl! Tendou
Akane! I had feared this day a waste for not seeing my loves among the
throngs entering yon edifice of learning, and yet lo, here you are! Come,
let us retire to a less noisome locale, that we may--"

Whatever Kunou wished to do with them was not heard, for he was cut short by
a shrill, piercing scream from Ranma.

Akane stared in worry at the redhead, who was struggling to break free--and
should be able to do so easily. Yet her eyes had glazed over, and she was
standing there screaming her head off.

The youngest Tendou frowned. "Kunou-senpai, let her go."

"My love appears to suffer from some distress. I must comfort her--"

"COMFORT THIS!" Akane broke a limb off the tree behind her and hit Kunou
about the head and shoulders with it until he released his grip on the
screaming redhead. Ranma collapsed bonelessly to the ground, hugging herself
tightly and shivering. A pitiful whimper occasionally escaped her lips.

Sending Kunou off to dreamland with a final kick to the face, Akane knelt
beside Ranma, wrapping her arms comfortingly around her shoulders.
"Shh...it's okay...it'll be alright..."

She cast an annoyed glance at the heads which were popping out of windows
all over the school building, but her annoyance was overshadowed by worry.

*Ranma, what's going on with you?* The sight of the smaller girl collapsed
on the ground sobbing, rather than being her usual brash, energetic self,
troubled Akane deeply. What could possibly have happened to have such a
terrifying effect on Ranma literally overnight?

And were her eyes playing tricks on her, or had Ranma's eyes turned red for
a few moments?

* * * * * * *

Ranma kept his head low to his desk for the duration of the day. Whispering
and occasional glances from his classmates were quelled by sharp, pointedly
hostile glares.

He had no idea why he'd suddenly spazzed out that morning and had that
screaming fit instead of pounding Kunou like he normally did,

(no, that's not true...it has to do with that damn dream)

but the shame he felt from the incident--which he barely remembered; his
mind had become very hazy and unfocused at the time--burned through him and
ate away at his very core.

He prayed his mother and father didn't learn of the incident. He could
ignore the old man's rantings about acting like a girl, but his mother was
sure to give him a stern, disappointed look, and he didn't think he could
stomach that.

Worst of all, Akane and, once she'd learned the details, Ukyou kept shooting
him looks of concern. He knew they were only worried about him, but it still
got on his nerves. He was a man, dammit! This kind of thing didn't happen to
men!

...right?

During one of his afternoon classes, he dozed off, and had another dream.
This one wasn't as horrific as the previous nightmare, but it was definitely
odd, full of images that simply didn't make sense. He'd awoken from the
dream shouting something about the ocean, which caused the sensei to hit him
on the head with his book and make a scathing remark, and the class to
snicker.

On the way home, Ranma said softly to Akane, "Listen...what happened
today...I'd appreciate if you not mention it t' my folks."

Akane nodded. "I understand. But Ranma...seriously, what's going on with
you?"

"I wish I knew, Akane. It's...I just wish I knew."

Both teens sighed. After a moment, Akane asked hesitantly, "Ranma? That
dream you had...did the girl...was she, um..." She paused. "Did
something...perverted happen to her?"

"Huh? Why do you ask?"

"Because of the way you reacted to Kunou this morning. I just thought
maybe..."

Ranma's lips pressed into a thin line. "Yeah. I really don't wanna go into
details."


"That's fine, I'd rather you didn't. It's just...if what we were talking
about earlier..." Akane paused.

"Yeah, I've been thinkin' about that," Ranma admitted. "If this IS part of
th' curse..." He frowned. "If I'm livin' out some shit that happened t' that
girl in my dreams..."

"I wish Tofu-sensei was still in town. I'm sure you could talk to him about
it."

Ranma snorted. "He ain't no shrink, an' I'll be damned if I talk to one. I
can barely stand talkin' to you about it." At Akane's frown, he added
hastily, "I didn't mean that th' way it sounded, Akane. I just meant..."

Akane's expression softened. "I...I know, Ranma. I know..."

* * * * * * *

Things did not improve over the course of the week. Ranma occasionally
lapsed into periods of unresponsiveness, or developed a glazed, faraway look
in his eyes. It happened more frequently when he was a girl, and one day,
he'd just wandered off while in girl form. Akane had found him an hour and a
half later, in Minato-ku, sitting on a bench about five blocks from Tokyo
Tower. He didn't have any memory of how he got there, or why he'd gone there
in the first place, and that disturbed him almost more than anything else
from the previous days.

His parents, naturally, found out about everything within two days of the
initial nightmare. His father reacted as expected, with much loud bellowing
and declamations of Ranma's lack of manhood, while his mother was far more
worried and concerned--she immediately came to the same conclusion Akane
had, and almost insisted Ranma seek the advice of Cologne. Ranma had vetoed
that idea; while it was true the elderly Amazon knew more than anyone else
he knew about Jusenkyou, he didn't feel comfortable sharing this new problem
with anyone he didn't trust implicitly--and that definitely did not include
Cologne or Shampoo.

He especially didn't want Mousse to know about it. Two of his lapses had
resulted in his development of some unexplainable injuries, and he would
rather not have it known he was periodically vulnerable, lest one of his
adversaries decide to take advantage of the situation.

Ryouga had found out--by virtue of being P-chan--but rather than using it
against Ranma, he seemed oddly thoughtful about it all. Ranma didn't
confront him about it, but he assumed that the lost boy was probably
wondering whether or not a similar effect would happen to him.

Six days after the nightmares and periodic lapses began, Fuurinkan's sports
festival took place. It was during this event that the situation finally
came to a head--almost tragically so.

* * * * * * *

Ranma grumbled as she adjusted the embarassingly short, tight bloomers she'd
been forced into wearing. "This bites," she groused.

"It can't be helped, Ranma," Akane explained apologetically. "We were short
one girl for the opposing-sexes kibasen, and as a girl, you're light enough
that you make a perfect rider."

Ranma snorted. "Yeah, yeah. I just hate wearin' this crap. What kinda
pervert came up with this shit?"

Akane giggled. "Every Japanese girl that's ever attended high school has
asked that same question."

While they were milling about waiting for an event to begin, a series of
shrill, female screams rang out from the direction of the water fountains,
and began moving closer. Akane and Ranma looked grimly at one another.

"Only one thing I can think of," Ranma said.

"Happousai?" Akane guessed.

Their suspicion was confirmed a moment later, when the shriveled old pervert
appeared over the heads of a crowd of enraged, panicking girls. He cackled
as he angled in towards his preferred target. "Ranma-chan! How lovely you
look in that outfit! Here I cooooome!"

The ancient martial artist landed squarely between Ranma's breasts.

And that's when it happened.

Akane saw the change in Ranma's eyes immediately. The normal blue orbs
changed into a snapping, reddish sienna. Blood rushed to the redhead's face,
and a look of pure, unbridled fury wrote itself across her features. A hot
wind began buffeting Akane and the other girls nearby, who backed away
cautiously, not wanting to get caught in the crossfire.

Ranma shrieked inarticulately, voice full of rage and pain. Suddenly, an
aura of fire--pure fire--exploded outward from her, blasting Happousai into
the air. Akane and the other girls ran, frantically trying to avoid being
burned by the blaze which radiated from the redhead.

The entire population of Fuurinkan stared in horror as the inferno spread,
towering into the sky. Happousai, singed and startled, let out an angry
shout. "What the hell was THAT?"

Akane responded by smashing a folding chair over his head until he
collapsed. By the time the ancient pervert was unconscious, the flames had
died down; a ten-meter-wide circle of scorched ground marked its passing.

Of Ranma, there was no trace.

"Ranma...?" Akane's eyes widened, brimming with horrified tears. "RANMA!!"

There was no answer.

Without a word to anyone, Akane took off, ignoring the buzz of murmurs
behind her.

*Ranma...please be okay...PLEASE...*

* * * * * * *

The redhead walked for hours, unmindful of the stares she received. She
couldn't say for certain where she was going, but somehow she instinctively
knew where she belonged, and it wasn't in the place she had been.

Not where that...horrible...*thing* had...had...

The fire hadn't burned her, hadn't hurt anyone save her tormentor; while her
mind was so clouded she couldn't even remember who she was, she did at least
know she didn't want to hurt anyone.

She couldn't take a train where she was going, for she had no money. She
couldn't ask for help, for her voice was virtually gone from screaming. So,
she walked.

It was nearing sundown when she finally began to feel a sense of familiarity
about her surroundings. Her mind was also beginning to clear, and she was
beginning to remember who she was. As her memories slowly reconstructed
themselves, she knew that she was in the district of Tokyo in which she
lived, and that her home was...that way! She picked up her pace, ignoring
her sore, tired feet.

As she walked, further ahead, she saw two familiar figures--both
girls--dressed in school uniforms, heads bowed somberly. The direction they
were coming from was the cemetery for her district.

She wanted to call out to them, but her throat was still raw and hoarse from
her earlier screaming. She tried to run to them, but her legs were far too
tired, and she couldn't bring herself to more than a fast walk without
tripping. By the time she made it to the corner where they'd turned, they
were long since out of sight.

Staring morosely at her feet, she turned and headed in the direction the two
girls had come from. Hesitantly, she entered the cemetery, wondering whose
grave they had been visiting. She scanned the rows, and spotted incense
smoke still drifting over a particular marker. Heading slowly that way, she
found the fresh offerings left at the white stone, and scanned the name
engraved there.

Her eyes widened, a brand new and wholly unwelcome terror filling her soul.
"No..." she whispered scratchily.

It couldn't be true. It couldn't.

This...was HER grave...?

Unable to cope with this newest traumatic shock in what had been an
overwhelmingly trying day, she collapsed in a dead faint.

Two minutes later, she rose to a sitting position, blinking bleary sapphire
eyes open and staring around. "Huh? Where am I--ugh!" Her throat was far too
raw for speech, so she settled for examining her surroundings as she
massaged it. Her eyes fell on the grave marker before her, and she frowned
in confusion. The name was unfamiliar, but something inside her felt
strangely uncomfortable about this memorial.

Noticing the position of the sun, she cursed inwardly and stood, dusting
herself off and trying to get her bearings.

As she left the cemetery, a last curl of smoke rose above the stone marked
"SHIDOU HIKARU", before dissipating into nothingness, leaving the air still
and silent.



======================================================



Notes: For those who haven't figured it out, this is a total rewrite of a
fanfic I abandoned several years ago entitled "Onna: Red Side". The prologue
and the premise itself are basically all I'm keeping. Everything else is
being completely rewritten from scratch, using the original as a loose
outline. I'd like to think that over the years I've spent reading and
writing, I've developed enough as a writer to do this story the justice it
deserves, and I've recently become motivated to take a shot at it.

Unfortunately, my knowledge of Rayearth has decayed somewhat over time,
since it's been several years since I last watched the series, so I'm going
to need a lot of help on some aspects of future drafts. Please feel free to
contribute whatever comments and constructive criticism you may have.

I can't promise frequent updates. I won't promise more than one chapter a
month. What I will promise is that I'll AT LEAST have as much of FitW
written, in the coming months, as I originally had of O:RS, and that I'll
endeavor to make it a far more enjoyable read.

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment and review.



================================
Did you hear about the impotent robot?
Turns out he had a missing fux capacitor.
              ~~*~~
The Eternal Lost Lurker
www.lurkerdrome.com




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