A Ranma ½ / El Hazard OAV crossover story
Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty and Viz Communications own Ranma 1/2. Hayashi Hiroki, Pioneer and Viz Communications own El Hazard.
A nondescript boy went through the street, looking very self-conscious of himself. The people that crossed his path, be their old or young, all moved out of the way, whispering amongst themselves.
He sighed, his head drooping, and kept on going forward to his destination. As he walked, a particularly large cloud appeared in the sky, obscuring the sun and leading the populace to speculate about the phenomenon. The speculations suddenly turned into shouts of terror, as a squad of Bugrom literally dropped from the sky onto the city's streets, landing on their feet and growling menacingly at the frightened residents.
Two massive Bugrom troops landed in front of Ai, and the boy's first instinct was to turn around and bolt. Upon trying to do so, he found out that he was surrounded, as three more Bugrom were behind him, cutting off his escape route.
One of them moved towards Ai with a speed that should have been impossible with its bulk, and swung a clawed fist at him. Panicking, Ai once again acted upon instinct, and crossed his arms in front of his face, squeezing his eyes shut. There was a flash of soothing golden light, followed shortly by the sound of a smack, and a tremor passed through the boy's body, as he prepared to meet his maker. When nothing more happened, however, he peeked from between his crossed arms to glance cross-eyed at the Bugrom's fist, which was halted mere centimeters from his face.
The Bugrom soldier drew its hand back, and glanced at it confusedly, then at Ai's neck, mumbling something in its language. Just as perplexed, Ai was unprepared for the Bugrom's other fist coming in low and impacting against him stomach. Air driven from his lungs and his eyes slightly bulging from the force of the blow, the boy flew backwards, above the circle of Bugrom. Catching himself, he braced for an impact against the hard ground, twirling in mid-air and preparing to bolt the second he got his bearings.
When the impact was far gentler than it had any right to be, however, Ai became confused for the second time in the past minute. And like last time, he got his answer to the mystery the moment he opened his eyes again and looked up from between a very healthy pair of breasts into a face of a pretty teenage girl roughly his age, her hands pinned down by his. A face that was becoming more and more flushed, until it nicely complimented the light purple shade of the girl's short hair.
He blinked, and so did she, both of them frozen in place.
"Um," he spoke finally, trying to break the awkward silence between them. "My name's Shiomi Ai. Nice to meet you."
She blinked again. "You're drooling on my breasts."
Ai looked downwards, only to see that the girl was indeed correct. Unfortunately, looking down put his head at such an angle to show him an even healthier amount of cleavage. Ai also discovered that he could smell her, which in combination with his previous revelation triggered a gush of blood from his nose.
Finally shaken out of her stupor, she rose into a sitting position and caught Ai across the face with a right hook, holding her left arm across her chest protectively. Ai fell on his behind, and kept on staring at her, his mouth agape.
The girl was about to say something, but then the five Bugrom, tired of waiting, all charged at her. Still flushed, she back-flipped from a sitting position with her right hand to get some distance from them, continuing to guard her chest with the left arm. Concentrating, she raised her right hand high, and a column of fire rose from the ground and engulfed her, giving her an ethereal look. Ai was drawn to her eyes, which sparkled and seemed to glow in the midst of the flame.
The purple-haired girl maneuvered her left hand and brought the other one down, cupping them at her right side. Streams of fire drew from her aura and coalesced into a burning nexus of flame. She twirled around, and pointed her right arm at the Bugrom, who had all conveniently attacked her from the front, unleashing the flame on them.
Charred, the Bugrom troops sailed over her head as she ducked, and crashed into the ground several dozen meters past her.
From his seated position on the ground, Ai, mesmerized, continued to watch the girl, as she took out a bottle with a symbol of two superimposed triangles on it from somewhere and took a healthy swig from it. Chugging down approximately half of the bottle's contents, she gave Ai a cold glare and turned on her heels, walking away from him.
Regaining his senses at last, once she was gone, Ai stood up and shook the dust off his new school uniform, taking care to tuck in the pendant his brother had given him for safekeeping. It was supposed to be important and protect him from harm, if the older boy was to be believed, though Ai wasn't sure about that — instead of the standard six-pointed star, a symbol of a golden pupil adorned its center. He figured that his brother was probably playing yet another of his tricks on him, but a present was a present… and if it kept the over-affectionate boy away, he would gladly take it with him wherever he went.
Taking a look around, he saw explosions of color in every direction, often followed by scores of Bugrom being launched into the air. The boy shook his head at the stupidity of the Bugrom to attack the only city in the country with the Academy. "The Academy!" he exclaimed in sudden realization. "I'm late!"
With that, he took off down the same direction the girl he had met went, hurrying to begin his first day in his new school….
A messenger opened the door to Rune Venus's chambers, presently occupied by Rune herself, Londs, Ranma and Ryoga. He bowed formally to the princess at the doorstep before walking inside and proceeding to kneel in front of her. He held out a missive to her, keeping his head lowered.
Rune Venus took the proffered letter and unwrapped it, quickly skimming its contents. A frown creased her features, and she went over it more thoroughly, the grimace increasing with each word she read.
"Bad news?" Ranma wondered.
The princess nodded, folding the missive and handing it to Londs, who was standing beside the armchair she was sitting on. "We've just been informed of another Bugrom attack." Rune lowered her head, looking extremely pitiful. "Comfort me, Ranma!" she exclaimed unexpectedly, leaping out of her chair to tackle the boy in a flying glomp.
Londs caught Ranma and Ryoga's confused glances, though Ranma's had a healthy dose of panic in it, and elaborated, "The Bugrom have been striking at the various countries of the Alliance, strangely leaving the League of Non-Allied Nations alone."
Rune Venus picked up the story, arranging herself comfortably in the pigtailed boy's lap. "This recent attack on the Land of the Mystic Moon, though some might call it an all-out invasion attempt, was the fifth this week."
Sitting in a spacious armchair, though it seemed more and more uncomfortable by the second, Ranma nodded to himself, doing his best to ignore the frisky princess and her exploring hands. "Ah, I see… so like you've told me before, those bugs suddenly started attacking you a month ago?"
"Yes…." Rune squirmed in his lap. "Our forces have barely been able to slow down their advance."
"What the princess says is all true, as much as everyone would wish otherwise." Londs nodded gravely. "We have been unable to understand the tactics the Bugrom employ. Even the brightest of our military commanders are stumped by the chaotic pattern of their invasion!"
Ryoga remained silent, and Ranma was sorely tempted to say something about his intellect, general uselessness or something in that vein. Instead, however, due to more pressing matters, he looked at Londs for help, trying not to flinch when Rune started rubbing her assets against his right arm.
"Princess!" Londs called out, walking over to her stiffly.
"Ah, yes!" she exclaimed, turning to beam at the pigtailed boy. "There was something I wanted to ask of you." She licked her lips suggestively. "A… favor, of sorts." Seeing Ranma's face darken, she pouted. "All right, it won't be a sexual favor." Suddenly she dropped to her knees, inadvertently driving them into Ranma's crotch, and begged him, "Please meet the Alliance's council in drag as my sister!"
Ranma's eyes bulged out of their sockets, and he doubled over, sending Rune Venus falling onto the floor. She immediately attached herself to his right arm, and repeated her request passionately.
Quickly recovering thanks to the princess' light weight, Ranma's brain processed her request. His right eyebrow twitched. "Let me get this straight… you want me to substitute for your sister during that meeting you've mentioned earlier?" Ranma asked in irritation, trying to shake Rune Venus off his arm.
Clutching to it regardless of his efforts like a drowning man grasping a lifeline, the princess looked up at him with puppy-dog eyes. "Pretty please! Without both my sister and I appearing there together, the fragile alliance we have with the neighboring kingdoms will crumble!"
Ranma gave off a snort and turned his head to the side, unable to bear her look.
"And besides," Rune Venus continued, unabashed. "You look just like her! Well, almost. Her hair's red, and she doesn't put it in a pigtail… and you are a very handsome man while she's an annoying little brat… and the muscles on your arms are just…."
Ranma shuddered, and fixed the princess with a hard glare. "There's no way I'm going to be—" A servant with a glass of wine approached the two from behind. Suddenly, he tripped for no apparent reason, sending the beverage towards Ranma's back and drenching the pigtailed boy.
Looking down at herself, Ranma decided that finishing her sentence with "a girl" just didn't seem appropriate anymore. Freeing her hand while Rune Venus was frozen with shock over what had just occurred right in front of her eyes, Ranma gave Ryoga a baleful glare. The lost boy just smiled innocently, retracting his foot.
"Oh goodness, Roshtaria's problems are solved!" Londs, who had appeared out of nowhere, shouted in excitement. "Praise the heavens! The princess is back!"
"Call me a princess once more and you'll be eating through a tube for a month," Ranma growled, baring her teeth slightly.
"Incredible!" Dr. Schtalubaugh exclaimed from the doorway. "She even talks like the Princess Fatora!"
Ranma sighed and gave up. There was nothing she could do to stop these people from sneaking up on her suddenly like this, despite her extensive martial arts training. "You do realize that I'm not really a girl, right?" she said to the elderly man. Turning towards Londs, she added, "And that I can kick the crap out of ya all in a few moments if I wanted to?"
Londs didn't seem quite so eager to get Ranma to cooperate, immediately hiding the royal dress he'd been holding out to the redhead behind his back and whistling innocently.
Suppressing a groan, Ranma looked at the chocolate-haired princess. It was difficult, but a man had to do what a man had to do… even if the man was in a girl's body at the moment. "Rune, you won't try to make me go through all that, right?" Ranma asked sweetly, batting her eyelashes at the princess.
Rune Venus blinked. "Ranma… you must understand that it is very difficult for me to flirt with an identical double of my own sister," she said uncomfortably.
The pigtailed girl sighed, and ordered a cup of hot water from a nearby maid. The woman wasn't a fool, and had heard the rumors of the strangers and their super-human powers.
Ranma got his water in under a minute.
Splashing himself to return to his normal body, Ranma was about to try his unbeatable technique — no girl had been able to withstand it, so far — on Rune Venus, when he felt a sudden displacement of air followed by something holding onto his chest powerfully. The pigtailed boy sighed deeply, and looked down into the princess's watering eyes.
"Ranma… you won't leave me in my hour of need, will you?" she asked him in a small voice, sniffling.
A tremor went through Ranma's body at the first sight of her eyes brimming with tears.
"Without the Alliance, everything will fall to the Bugrom! Ranma, please save us! Please!"
Ranma stiffened when two tears made their way down the princess's cheeks. Reaching up to her face, he awkwardly wiped them off. Giving Rune Venus an uneasy smile, he said, "All right. I'll help you."
A glass of cold water drenched both of them at that moment, and Rune Venus leapt backwards, crying out in shock. Ranma leveled another glare at the innocently smiling Ryoga, and narrowed her eyes. 'Just you wait, P-chan….' the redhead promised herself darkly.
"I'm not wearing that dress!" she snapped at Londs angrily, who shrunk under the force of her glare. Casting Rune Venus a worried glance, Ranma asked, "Is there really no other way to do this?"
"Well…" the princess said thoughtfully, tapping her chin, "I could always go out and address the assembly with my husband by my side! That would be enough to quieten them!"
"Y-You mean…." Recoiling as if shot at the hungry gaze that accompanied those words, Ranma uttered one word as if it were the vilest of curses. "M-Marriage?!"
Rune Venus nodded happily, and asked Londs if there was a minister present in the palace.
Squeaking in terror, Ranma ran over to the princess and grabbed her arm, hauling her out of the room. "No time for that!" the redhead exclaimed on the way, Rune Venus nodding sadly in approval. 'No way, no how!' Ranma thought darkly, following the maids who were leading the way.
Seeing Ryoga smirk at her plight as she passed him on the way out only served to fuel the raging hailstorm in her heart. Ranma vowed to get even with him, even if that were the last thing she would do.
Ranma entered the room and took a seat to the left of Rune Venus, scowling angrily at everyone's greetings. Rune had the decency to blush and smile apologetically at the gathered rulers and delegates, who nodded knowingly in return.
"All right, I don't want to spend more time than I have to on this," Ranma addressed the assembly. "Whaddya want?"
"May I say how lovely you look today, Princess Fatora," one of the braver guests ventured. "And those pajamas look absolutely astonishing on your royal—"
Ranma's left eyebrow twitched slightly, and her glare intensified tenfold. Gulping, the speaker hastily ended the greeting and shrunk back into his seat.
"You are all afraid of the recent Bugrom attacks, are you not?" Rune Venus asked the room, diffusing the explosive atmosphere for the time being.
"Yes! Our countries will fall unless we do something!"
"Two of my border cities have already been conquered by the Bugrom forces!"
"The way things are looking at the moment, our country will be the next to fall to Queen Diva's vanguard!"
"We must unseal the legendary ultimate weapon, Your Highness!" an elderly leader begged, bowing so deeply on his hands and knees that his forehead touched the majestic Arabian-styled carpet spread across the floor. "The Land of the Mystic Moon is a border country. I fear for the safety of my people!"
A stout man in priestly clothing shook his head. "It is not time for such drastic measures yet, Your Excellency."
"Easy for you to say, Geo!" the same elderly leader who had spoken earlier argued. "As ruler of my land, I have to earn the trust of my vassals and offer them protection… don't forget that not everyone can defend themselves as well as you, or can afford such protection."
A young woman in her twenties with short, purple hair and striking ruby eyes sitting across the room snorted in a very unladylike manner. "Your peasants should ask for help from the Tower then, perhaps?"
"Sell the shirts off their backs, if not their souls, you mean?" a spiky-haired boy wearing a dark cloak with Ψ, the Greek letter 'psi', engraved on it commented derisively. "How else would a mundane be able to afford your services?" Turning towards the elderly king, he gave him a piercing glare. "And you… you should listen to your High Priest. Unleashing our ultimate weapon is no joking matter, so don't treat it as such."
The princess sighed at the discord amongst her allies, and decided to take matters into her own hands. Before the situation could escalate any further, she was about to raise her right arm to try and quieten the raging spirits in the room, when she saw Ranma standing up. Silence reigned supreme even before Ranma was fully on her feet, as Fatora's reputation preceded her. And unlike the local prima donnas in the neighboring countries, Fatora actually had the power to back up her words.
Unmindful of all that, the redhead laughed triumphantly before striking a pose and smirking. "Leave those bugs to me! I'll crush them all!"
Standing up as well, Londs announced, "Yes! Princess Fatora has graciously decided to go and meet with the priestesses of Mount Muldoon!"
"I did?" Ranma asked, furrowing her brow in thought. Then, it hit her. "Why, yes! Sure I did! Mount Muldoon it is! I'll leave right away!" Not even bothering to wait for an answer, Ranma turned around and left the room in a hurry. 'I can't believe it! Finally, a chance to escape that princess chick before she starts talking about marriage again!'
As soon as Ranma left, the room exploded into chatter.
"Highness, is it true?" one of the delegates asked Rune Venus hopefully.
"Is Princess Fatora going to ask the priestesses to unseal the ultimate weapon?" another questioned, his hands clasped under his chin.
The princess raised her arms slowly, and the room immediately quietened, everyone hanging upon her words. "It is true, my friends. My sister will do everything in her power to save us all. Please, have faith in her." With that, Rune Venus stood up graciously and left the room as well, Londs trailing her from a short distance.
"Come on, P-chan, we're leaving," Ranma shot at the fanged boy, throwing his heavy backpack at him.
"Why?" Ryoga asked curiously, shrugging the insult off.
"Please, wait!" Rune Venus cried out at that point, rushing into the suite both boys were temporarily given for their stay at Roshtaria.
"Um, Rune, we kinda have an important mission and… uh… we should leave right away! Right, Ryoga?" Ranma turned to look at her rival, daring him to disagree.
The lost boy yawned theatrically, smirking at the redhead. "I don't know, Ranma. I feel awfully tired. It has been a long day, after all. Why don't we stay for the night?"
Growling, Ranma lunged for Ryoga and put him in a chokehold. "I think we should go. Now!"
Ryoga swiped at Ranma clumsily, hitting his nose when the redhead jumped away. Grabbing his umbrella from the pack Ranma threw at him earlier, Ryoga prepared to strike his adversary with it when he caught the princess's disapproving glance out of the corner of his eye. Most of his anger left him at that point, and Ryoga subconsciously rubbed the back of his head. That girl sure could pack a punch!
Satisfied that her beloved would not be harmed, Rune Venus turned towards Ranma. Staring at the redhead and almost on the verge of tears, the princess pouted as cutely as she could. "Would you stay? If only for one night?"
Ranma still didn't look convinced.
"You could even sleep in your own bed," Rune Venus said, adding sadly, "Alone."
"Of course I'll sleep alone!" Ranma shouted in indignation.
"Good! Then it's settled!" the chocolate-haired princess announced gleefully, glomping onto the redhead's arm.
Ranma hung her head, sighing in defeat. As she allowed herself to be lead to her new sleeping chambers, she couldn't help but wonder how much her situation would have been worse had she turned back into a male. The affection Rune Venus showered her with in her current form was a mere fraction of what Ranma had been forced to dodge previously as a guy.
The mere concept made Ranma shudder.
'At least Rune isn't a lesbian,' the redhead thought with no small amount of relief. 'I don't know what I'd do then.' Stripping down to her boxers, Ranma made herself comfortable on the large bed. It didn't take her long to fall asleep.
And while Ranma was dreaming of running away from a horde of new fiancées that resembled Rune Venus, the mysterious woman that had apparently sent her to another world and a female yet still bearded version of Londs, a shadowed shape detached itself from a wall.
Smiling widely, the short woman began stalking towards her prey….
End of Chapter 2.
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