Act II: Progeny and Spirit
A Ranma ½ story
by Brian Randall
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ is property of Rumiko Takahashi and Viz video
Mommy showed me a photo of Uncle Ranma. She has a big book of pictures of Uncle and Auntie. There was a picture of him, sitting on some snow.
The picture looked like he wasn't on a field of snow at all. It was like he was floating in a field of white, and couldn't see the world around him. Mom seemed to get sad just looking at it. I didn't know what it was. I asked Mom who the boy in the picture was, wearing the funny old-fashioned Chinese clothing.
She made a few faces at that, then said, "That's your Uncle, Saotome Ranma. You were named after him, you know."
Which is silly. My name isn't Ranma.
I managed to sneak into Mommy's room while Mommy was away, and grabbed the scrapbook to peek into it. She didn't seem to like me looking at it much as I got older.
I noticed that a lot of people that Mommy and Daddy hung out with also knew Uncle Ranma. There was a picture of Ranma standing next to some boy carrying a wooden sword, and both of them were looking at the camera, though they looked mad. Uncle Ranma was in a picture next to Auntie Ukyou, too.
That was funny, but I'd never seen Auntie Ukyou carry that big metal spatula around, she normally just used smaller ones. There weren't any pictures of Daddy until the very end, which made me wonder. Then there was a single picture of Daddy walking next to Uncle Ranma in the snow somewhere, but Daddy was all bundled up against the cold, and I could just barely see his face behind his glasses. Uncle Ranma just walked forward, like he wasn't even worried about the cold. That confused me.
There were a few people in the pictures that I had never seen before, too. There was a pretty lady with purple hair, hugging Uncle Ranma at some point, though he looked confused… There was the boy with the wooden sword, and then there was another boy who I didn't recognize, holding an umbrella. It looked like he was fighting with Uncle, too.
A lot of the pictures were of Mommy's sister — the one Auntie Kasumi told me it was better not to ask about, but Mommy and Daddy just got all quiet when I asked them. I think Grandpa mentioned her once or twice; her name is Akane. There's more pictures, too… there's a girl who looks kind of like Uncle Ranma only with red hair… I think she's shorter, but there aren't any pictures of her and Uncle Ranma together.
I heard Mommy coming home, so I had to rush and hide the scrapbook before she caught me, but at least I got a good look at Uncle Ranma… I hope I can meet him some day.
Now I'm confused. I'm twelve years old, and my parents are still not telling me what happened to Uncle Ranma.
I really want to know, I mean, if he's dead, then I won't worry, but… I asked Shinta's parents about Uncle Ranma, because I wanted to know more, and I remembered there was a picture of the redheaded girl standing next to Shinta's mom. She wants me to call her Grandmother, but I don't know her that well.
When I asked her, though, she got all tight-lipped, and stared away, looking like she was about to cry. Her husband mumbled something about him 'passing on', and Shinta's Mom — sorry — 'Grandmother' dragged him into the next room and gave him a tongue-lashing.
Shinta whispered to me that he thinks that Ranma is a cousin of his, or something, because he heard his father say something about a training trip. Then he said something about his father's condition. I wasn't sure what he was talking about, but the next thing I know, 'Grandmother' Nodoka is chasing a panda across the backyard, throwing rocks at it furiously.
After that, we figured we should probably give them some space, and ask Mom and Dad if they knew anything.
Mom looked confused, and Dad actually tore himself from his research — something about healing frostbite — to look at me. Something in his eyes said that he wanted to tell me, but Mom cut him off, "Tofu-chan, she's not ready yet. When she's older…"
Dad looked away, turning back to his computer without saying anything. I really don't get my parents sometimes. It's like there's some big conspiracy going around, and they just want to keep me out of it 'cause I'm not old enough.
Actually, that's exactly what's going on.
Now I really want to know what's going on. Grandpa Soun would know, but I don't know if Auntie Kasumi would let me talk to him about it, since I'm positive that it's related to Auntie Akane, somehow. Anyway, every time I try, Grandpa Soun goes off on this long tirade about how it's my and Shinta's duty to carry on the schools, or something. I don't get that at all.
I mean, Shinta? Ew!
Mom had some friends over today. It was the purple haired lady, and her 'husband.' She's a nice enough lady, but someone should tell her that her husband is a girl.
Her name is Shampoo, which Mom says used to be a bad joke. Apparently she's some kind of government figure for the Qinghai Confederacy and works with Saffron now. I don't remember hearing anything about her in the news, but I believed her when she said that she knew Saffron personally.
Herb's not very friendly, though she was polite to me. I guess she just doesn't like being outside of the Qinghai Confederacy.
They're supposed to be special, like Daddy, though. So I guess that Daddy is one of them. I wonder if I'm fey, too? Mommy says I shouldn't worry…
Dad told me what happened to Uncle Ranma tonight. He said that, somehow, Ranma was such a good martial artist that he could make himself cold — and he could withstand arctic temperatures because of his training.
I was kind of confused, till he showed me a picture from another scrapbook, one of Uncle Ranma and Auntie Akane standing next to each other at a festival. I guess they were a couple, which makes sense, since Shampoo, who I thought was Uncle Ranma's girlfriend, wasn't. Dad said it was more complicated than that, but that he'd explain it some other time.
Anyway, Dad explained that Ranma knew a technique to make a kind of tornado, and that part of it was mastering the Soul of Ice. So he chilled his soul and got to be some kind of super-martial-artist. Dad showed me another picture, though it was kind of blurry, of Uncle Ranma talking with a little boy that looked like Saffron.
I asked him about that, and Dad explained that after the Fall, the regions of Gansu and Qinghai were united into a single country, more or less under Saffron's rule. Apparently, it was Uncle Ranma's doing, because Saffron used to have to stay in his mountain and help his people out, but Uncle Ranma managed to fix things so that he could leave.
I didn't get that, but I remembered watching one of those cheesy military vids when I was in grade school, and seeing Saffron gesture, simply annihilating whatever was thrown at him… There was another clip of him getting caught in the blast of a patriot missile, and emerging unscathed. Mad, but unscathed.
That vid gave me nightmares for a week, and my dad told me that Uncle Ranma beat him with his bare hands?
I asked him about it, and he mentioned a pair of magical weapons or something. I wasn't sure how much to believe, until he explained what happened to Uncle Ranma, and why some people insist that he and Auntie Akane aren't dead. Dad knew one of the tricks that he said Auntie Akane knew, and he showed it to me — froze a glass of water in the living room with the heater on.
After seeing that… It makes a hell of a lot of sense, actually.
Now I know why Dad spends all of his time studying hypothermia and frostbite and things like that… I somehow doubt that it would be enough, since he said that Uncle Ranma got slashed across the chest with a scythe, but… something tells me that I am going to see Uncle Ranma some day anyway.
Dad thinks there's a way, so I'm gonna try.
Sixteen years old is about the right time to start thinking about what kind of college I want to get into… Mom said that the Tendo holdings are enough that I can go to almost any school I want.
I was taking a break from studying and watching the television earlier today… Japan has apparently decided that fey are on equal grounds with the rest of humanity.
I thought that was kind of obvious…
Anyway, this could help a bit, since as far as I can tell, Uncle Ranma and Auntie Akane are certainly going to be Fey. If we can get them back.
I should be getting back to work…
I hate that dream. It's weird, and it seems like it shouldn't even be, well, mine.
Something tells me that it's Uncle Ranma and Auntie Akane, though. I usually can't sleep after a dream like that, so I check my terminal, and see what my projects have pulled up.
The problem is really technical, and honestly, not interesting… unless you happen to want to study things like this. When you're chilled, your body processes generally slow down. Your heart will beat more slowly, and your brain will go into a mode that conserves oxygen as much as it can. That's why you can hold your breath for up to fifteen minutes, or even longer, if you're in really cold water.
Not that I think anyone should actually try it.
Anyway. Being frozen is a lot different from being chilled, and I seriously doubt that someone could survive for 19 years and still be alive… that way.
My physics professor demonstrated this to us in class. Fruit can ripen a little after it's picked, and green bananas turn yellow, then brown, and then, well, Mom throws 'em out once they start getting spots, actually. Anyway, the teacher took a yellow banana, sliced it in half, and stuck a pencil in it.
Then he started gesturing, like it was a hammer. I was kind of bored, but curious at the same time. He stuck the banana into a small container of liquid nitrogen, then proceeded to hammer a nail into a two-by-four with it. That was cool enough, and he did some other fun stuff, too, but what really interested me was the banana. It was frozen for only a few seconds before it started thawing, but…
When it thawed out it was brown.
Turns out that when something living is frozen, the frozen cells die.
Uncle Ranma and Auntie Saotome are frozen solid, and thus, are medically dead.
When someone has a heart attack, they can have their heart restarted with electricity. But they aren't dead when they're brought back; their heart has stopped. The cells of the body are still alive to be revived.
Now, it would be a simple enough matter to take a few cells from the bodies — Dad disagrees, but I haven't seen where they were frozen, yet — and then clone them. But then, it'd be a clone, and he says that that would cause all sorts of trouble. Turns out that Uncle Ranma is Auntie Ranma, too. I'm not sure how that works, but Grandma Nodoka's husband demonstrated his curse, so I know it does. But what does this mean for Ranma and Akane?
Even beyond the fact that their cells are frozen, and thus, they are medically, and… for all practical purposes, dead… They were frozen solid. If we can rejuvenate the cells, somehow, then they'll come back… If it's cold enough then we can flash thaw them, rejuvenate the cells, then kick-start them with a bit of a shock.
I'm not sure how that would work, though. Dad developed a working way to rejuvenate frozen skin, but what about their internal organs, and most importantly, their brains?
I do have some hope for that, but…
I have a lot of work ahead of me.
Well, so far so good. All I need now is permission from the New Republic of Xinjiang since Dad says that's where they are. He gave me the coordinates… which puts it pretty close to the western edge… but I'm expecting some trouble with this. NR Xinjiang doesn't usually get along with the Qinghai Confederacy. The NR Xinjiang have a problem with Saffron specifically, but according to the sat-relays I've seen, Uncle Ranma buried himself underneath a structure of solid ice that masses at least twenty thousand kilos. There's no way we're going to get to him without their cooperation, and since it's pretty far from Qinghai, and any of it's allies, even trying is just going to piss them off.
So I've got to get their cooperation. Auntie Ukyou found out what I was up to, and Uncle Ryu insisted that they donate, so we've got a grant set up.
I feel bad about accepting money from them, but it looks like selling okonomiyaki makes more money than I had thought… And then she told me that if I bring Uncle Ranma back, it's her early wedding gift to him.
That threw me off; no one ever told me they weren't married. He must have been pretty close for Mom and Kasumi to insist that I call him 'uncle', when he hadn't even married Auntie Akane yet.
Anyway, the research grant got some 'mysterious' donations from an 'unknown' and 'unnamable' source. I thanked Shinta for that; turns out that his girlfriend's loaded. Still, boy's got guts to be dating Tatewaki's daughter, from what Mom's told me about Kuno as a child.
The biggest donation came, of course, from myself. I took the majority of my shares in Tendo Heavy, and set aside some… goods… Pity, really. I suspect most of it will end up going for bribes.
Mom said that I should meet with some of the 'old Nerima Wrecking Crew' before I go, but I don't know many of them. Whoever 'Ryouga' is, I haven't seen more than pictures, and the only letter I got from him said that he felt the dead should be left that way.
Still, I don't like the idea of going without someone that Uncle and Auntie knew. I want them to wake up to familiar faces, if I can help it.
I guess I'm stalling, because I'm worried… damn politics. Oh well, time for me to go.
Tendo Ranko, signing out… I'll write more when I get back. Let's hope!
It is cold… and lonely. There is a nearby presence, but it doesn't detract from the loneliness. I can't go to… him.
He sealed me here for a reason, confining my soul to my body, while his bled out, freezing around me in a prison.
I wonder about that. I have a lot of time, and wondering is all I can do; I have no body.
That's not true. I have a body, but it's dead. I wish I hadn't let go of him when I was frozen. But it's so cold… and so lonely… and I want to reach out to him, but I can't.
I wish I had a body again… then I could cry. Souls can't shed tears…
I miss Ranma.
Mother told me that I can't play with Pei Lin anymore, because her father is a radical.
I don't understand that, because when I asked Ji Shiang, he told me that a radical was something you did with numbers. He's always playing with numbers. He says he wants to be smart and get a good job working for the People.
I don't know what he means by that, because when I try and be bossy, he tells me to do things myself. I'm a person, so he should do what I say, right?
Father took me on a trip with him today when he went to work. He showed me a big statue that was built a long time ago, just after all of NR Xinjiang was free from 'China'. The bottom was covered in little tiny names that I could barely read.
He told me they were the names of people who died in the Fall, when the 'fey' came into being. We learned about that in class last week, so I know what it is, but it makes me sad. Why did so many people have to die? The fey must be really bad guys.
Syao Sun reminded me that it had been a few days since I talked to my mother. I'm spending all my extra time after school trying to help Father at his job. He works for the People in a big office. I forgot his title, but he said it meant he was in charge of moving stuff around the country.
I just move stuff around his office. I think he likes having me around, though Syao Sun seems to not like me. I wonder if Mother knows that Father kisses Syao Sun when I'm not supposed to be able to see.
Father told me today that I should start training for the Academy soon. I thought about trying some other career first… but he's right. And the Academy will get me away from the house.
Ancestors, I sometimes swear that I can see the bloodstains from where I found my mother after she discovered Father's affair. Bastard. Getting away will be nice.
My teacher told me a while ago that I should try writing more professionally if I want to do a good job for the People. That means less personal stuff, so I'll try… But later. Tonight, I have a date!
Jen Di introduced me to a cute guy, and we're going out. His name is Swou Fong, and he's from the Cheng family. He's older, so I can probably ask him something about what China was like before the Fall, too.
Wrote a letter to Jen Di. Tien Liang is going to get a letter, too.
Long distance relationships never work, and it's hard enough for a woman to get ahead in the People's Republic. I shouldn't think such things… I'm sure it's just an oversight that will be corrected soon.
I'm going to be posted as an intern next week! The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I wonder what they'll have me do.
My supervisor is Don Hai. He seems to like me… but I'm not sure about that. He's married.
Mrs. Wang dropped in once to check on him, so I guess he won't try anything… He did say that he wanted me to join the Ministry once I was done at the Academy. It's not a bad job, and it'll keep me away from Father. I like the idea.
Nothing interesting today. Hardly anybody wants to send our country much mail. Probably trying to deal with their own problems…
Father passed away last week. The house was reclaimed for the People, since it's too large for just me, and I have an apartment here anyway.
A request, today. Turns out that someone from Japan wants access to the glorious New Republic of Xinjiang. She claims that her reason is because she wants to revive the ice-wraith.
I had to laugh at that, and showed it to Don Hai before I dismissed it. He didn't think it was very funny. Apparently, his family was caught in its path, and the ice-wraith destroyed what meager holdings they had. I can't imagine that it means that much to him, since the Fall makes us all equal… roughly… but still.
He said that it bore consideration, but he wanted me to recover as much detail as I could about the situation before responding. I don't like dealing with… them…
I overheard someone from the expedition comment on it. He said that it had to be seen to be believed. I have to wonder about that. It can't be that impressive… I'll ask Don Hai if I can authorize Tac scans… initial recognizance was useless.
Looks like I'm never going to find a chance to find someone to date.
The Tac-7 reports were inconclusive. I ended up going to the site myself. We don't have the tech that Miss Tendo is claiming, and we couldn't bring them back… but they are there. Scary, actually.
Thermal scans indicated that the structure was actually colder than the air around it… and the structures inside were colder still. One of the men touched the ice, which turned out to be a mistake.
We removed him, and there was no permanent damage, but the temperature of the structure dropped substantially. It was only thirty-two below zero, initially. Now it's holding at about fifty-two.
This is kind of frightening, when you really think about it. This means that, somehow, something in that structure is generating cold.
Not too improbable, and an interesting study… but it reacts to us. Thermals indicate that the core temperature is dropping even more, but only when we get closer.
We managed to get some sonar readings… there are two of them. A man and… well, a boy and a girl, really. There's also some kind of metal device near them, underneath the ice… but we're not sure what it is yet.
Miss Tendo's notes indicate that it's the property of Saffron… apparently some crude weapon.
Forgot his name, but we broke up. He says I'm too distracted by my work.
Well, screw him. The People need devoted servants, not weak willed self-centered scum like him. I'm half tempted to call him on it, have him dragged out to the People's Court and questioned… but it would take valuable time out of my schedule.
We've done some more research on the 'ice-wraiths' and gotten the reports back today. Firstly, the boy is named 'Saotome Ranma.' Apparently, the girl lost control, somehow, and he froze them both with his power, locking them in place.
It's interesting, though it truly defies explanation… records indicate that he was able to produce some kind of 'cold' at will, and seemingly produced localized weather disturbances.
What sketchy intelligence we have indicates that he fought both Councilman Herb, and Councilwoman Cologne, before she passed away.
It's… an odd thing, to be dealing with people like that.
We've all seen the vids of Saffron's takeover, and forcible unity of the Qinghai Confederacy… Though it defies logic, we have seen him produce fire at will, and his servants were able to produce some kind of blade from air with their wings.
We might have won a ground war against them, were it not for the Musk and the Joketsuzoku. The Amazons could make a tank collapse into pieces with their bare hands, and it was damn near impossible to attack them when they could look like they split into nine separate people and circled around you. Some of them knew Ranma's localized weather disturbance trick, too.
Herb, on the other hand, was just another Saffron with a lot less bloodlust, and greater focus. He could fly without wings and lob bolts of energy that simply melted through whatever armor plating was available. He could even dodge bullets, as could most of the Musk. The few who couldn't dodge bullets had a nasty habit of not dying from it.
No wonder that the few bloody, decorated heroes of the Qinghai Confederacy were so feared… but here we had access to someone who had defeated them.
Miss Tendo's plea held a certain amount of interest to me, at that point…
Jen Di died today. Don Hai was understanding, and gave me a day off when I found out… but I turned it down.
She was executed for Treason against the People. I never realized in all the time that I called her 'friend', she was a traitor… Wouldn't want to mourn a traitor's death.
I've gotten approval from the board. We're going to allow Miss Tendo access, and use her to revive Ranma. He's got too much potential as a weapon to ignore. Records indicate that Akane was not stable, so we're going to have to destroy her beyond revival.
I've been reporting on those two for so long over the last three years, that I don't even use full names… which is even stranger, since I know they're fey…
Anyway, we're going to supply some equipment, but Miss Tendo has a sizable grant backing her up. It's a pity that we need her expertise on the revival process, but it's best to have a real expert working on this situation, rather than leave it to our own techs.
Control of the subject is… questionable. We know that it can be achieved, but we aren't certain which methods will work best. Drugs might affect his performance, since it appears to be a state of mind more than any kind of genetic predisposition, unlike Herb and Saffron.
If it's something as simple as training, then it's also possible that we can train others to be like him. He stopped Akane… I found a vid of her, actually. She looks distorted when she walks, like Herb and Saffron do. A reaction from the film, I suppose.
The odd thing is that in the one vid that we do have of her passing through a populated area, she seemed oblivious to the damage that her presence caused. We caught a vid of Ranma, at some point. Happenstance, actually; he was passing through the wake of the ice-wraith's passage, and a news crew that was reporting several days after the event happened to spot him walking through.
I sent a copy of the vid to Miss Tendo, and she sent me back a copy of a film of Ranma. His presence doesn't distort the media at all, which leads me to believe that he does have much better control. I'm pleased that he's the one we decided to capture, then.
Miss Tendo also told me that her parents were on the vid, following Ranma. Interesting. I'm curious, and looking forward to meeting her.
It's cold, and lonely. I can sense her, nearby… I wish I could reach her, but I can't. Until she reaches for me, she's not ready.
I wish I didn't have to do what I did.
I want to let us both pass on, but the key hasn't been brought to us yet.
I love her. I miss her, and it hurts to be like this.
'So close, and yet, so far.'
That never meant anything to me until this happened.
To be continued.
07-23-01 — revised
Thanks to Nanashi for his non-technical help with this, and Bjorn for his technical help with this.
08-03-04 — revised
Thanks, Ginrai, for your valiant pre-reading.
The stage is set.
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