RUNE SOLDIER RANMA
Disclaimer: Rune Soldier and Ranma 1/2 aren't mine, but I wish they were so I wouldn't have to disclaim all the time.
< >: Thoughts
Back to the Basics
"Heh, nice try kid. Come back in a few years, when you can put up more of a fight!"
The gang of teenage street toughs laughed as they walked away from the battered and bruised form that was lying in the gutter.
Just how dumb was Ranma Saotome?
Apparently, dumber than advertised. One little, inexperienced boy versus five larger ones, that possessed some very nasty weapons, and had no qualms about beating him to a pulp. Retreat should have been the best option, but Ranma had chosen to stay and fight. Bad decision, but Ranma had not been known to use common sense on a regular basis in the past. Pride was what had driven him, and what was often the case, had been his downfall.
Young again Ranma Saotome picked himself off the ground and began checking his injuries. Those tough boys had certainly worked him over and had taken whatever little money he had managed to get a hold of. Things hadn't been easy for the past month when Ranma suddenly found himself in his six-year-old body and on a world that resembled medieval Europe.
Eventually, he had figured out that light he had seen on that fateful night must have been some kind of power that granted wishes. For a moment, he had thought he had seen a shooting star or something along those lines. Then he remembered the wish he had made of 'starting over.' What was that old saying? Be careful of what you wish for, you might just get it.
The former heir to the Saotome School of Anything Goes had been getting beat up on a regular basis after discovering that with the disappearance of his stronger, older body, was also the absence of his skills, strength and speed. He had been reduced right back down to what he had been at the beginning of his original training journey, a young boy with lots of potential, but no experience or training. As such, he was now easy prey for any predator of this world, be it beast or bully.
With very little in the way of money or possessions, other than the oversized clothes on his back, (which he had roughly cut down for his smaller frame), Ranma had been forced back to his original roots to survive, which was to steal food, clothes and money from nearby villages. Though he found it distasteful, as he now had a sense of right and wrong, (unlike during his first times under Genma), he really didn't have much of a choice. He lacked the strength or size to work for anyone, and foraging for food in the forest was hard. He hadn't realized until then, of how much he had taken Kasumi's wonderful cooking for granted.
Thinking of when he had last seen one of the few people who were ever kind to him, made Ranma become even more depressed. He hoped that she was doing all right, now that he was gone. It was a bit odd that he wasn't thinking much of Akane, Shampoo, Ukyo or any of his other former fiancées, but seeing as how they had treated him when he was seventeen, one couldn't really blame him. They had all fought for him as if he had been something of a prize; a trophy to won, without even asking as to how he felt. For Akane, he was just a convenient punching bag to be abused whenever she felt like it, and only to be fought for whenever it was possible that he would be taken away from her. For Shampoo, he was just a trophy husband and Ukyo was just as possessive.
As for Soun and Genma, well Ranma didn’t really care if he were to never see them again, along with Ryoga, Kuno, Mousse, Cologne, Nabiki and Happosai. That meant no more death threats or schemes to get him hitched to that uncute tomboy. There would be no sneak attacks or attempts to get him to wear a bra, (though with no curse, that was a moot point). There would be no potions or magic spells to get him to marry into the Amazons. No blackmail was always a plus. Most importantly, he didn't have the Jusenkyo Curse, or the Neko Ken. The wish he had made had stated that he didn't want the problems of his old life. Being reverted back to his younger self (or 'starting over' as he had phrased it), meant no girl curse and no Cat Fist, therefore no fear of water or anything feline. He didn't know why he still retained the knowledge of his former life, but he wasn't complaining about that. So his current situation did have some good points. However, the cons still outweighed the pros.
Since his first childhood, Ranma had taken pride of being the best martial artist. However, at present, he was far from the best. In fact, he was barely a tiny shadow of his former self. He had tried to prove himself on many occasions, but it always resulted in very painful consequences. He had tried to stand up to those bullies. However, with only a six-year-old body and no training to work with, he was seriously outmatched. At one time, he had nearly bled to death when a tough boy took out a knife and stabbed him.
Ranma's body was just not suited for the intense and complex fighting style of his former self. He had tried to fight the way he used to, but his limbs didn't have the strength, reach or dexterity as before. He wasn't as resistant to impacts as he used to be. Speed was down and even the Saotome Final Technique, 'Run Away,' wasn't very effective with his short legs. Even his special techniques, such as the Chestnut Fist, were practically nonexistent.
Although the majority of his martial arts abilities were gone, he did still have some ki stores, so it wasn't a total loss. But it was mostly unfocused. Ranma had tried to recreate his ki projectile, but it was extremely draining and he could only produce harmless flashes of light to momentarily blind his opponents so he could make his escapes.
Things were bad and he knew that things were going to get worse.
Later in the forest...
As the child Ranma tended to his bruises and began setting up a fire, he started to contemplate his options. His ego wasn't going to help him at all. With no martial arts skills to properly defend himself, he was up the proverbial creek without a paddle. The usual ‘beat 'em all up’ and 'I'm the best' attitude just wasn't working. He couldn't back them up with his body the way it is. He had no food, no home and no family or friends. He had no idea of how to get his old body back and even less to getting back to his own world. At this point, he realized that things weren't going to change and had to face facts. He would have to go through the trials and tribulations of growing up again in this strange and harsh world. Starting over indeed.
Ranma knew that if he wanted to survive, he would have to learn how to fight all over again. He had the knowledge of all that he had trained for in his first life. Furthermore, unknown to his former rivals, he had also been secretly learning their techniques as well, before his unintentional wish. Just because Kuno, Mousse and Ryoga were idiots, didn't mean that their moves were totally useless. Ranma's talent always lay in his ability to learn techniques quickly. Show him a move and give him a reason to learn it, and it usually didn't take him long to master it. He rarely had to be shown twice and with all of his constant battles with the Eternal Lost Boy, The Blue Dunder, and that Amazon Moron, he had enough exposure to their techniques to be able figure out how they worked. It was this ability of understanding the 'how' if not the 'why' of a technique, which had made him such a great martial artist. And there was no better motivation than survival.
<I'm going to need to start from the basics. Strength and speed training are top priority and I have to toughen up so I can take hits. Hmmm... I guess the easiest way to get tougher is to do what Ryoga did. But it's going to take longer for me to master the Bakusai Tenketsu in this body.> (1)
Ranma sighed as he went to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be painful.
As he slept, he was unaware that someone was now observing him. Hidden behind a nearby tree, a slender figure with pointed ears gazed upon the sleeping child. She had been periodically watching the boy, ever since the tree spirits had told her that a small human was living in the forest. Though her tribe's laws had forbade her to interact with any member of that race, she somehow found the youth to be strangely interesting and decided that it wouldn't hurt to see just what he would do.
Three weeks later...
Ranma breathed deeply and stared at his target, as he hung suspended while sitting cross-legged. Hanging before him on an elaborate, but crude pulley system, was a very ominous-looking rock. One arm was bound, save for the index finger. The other arm was free to trigger the release mechanism and reset the pulley. The son of Genma growled as he stared at the boulder. On his face and body were various bruises from his previous attempts to master the Breaking Point technique. It had taken him several days to set up the apparatus, and he had been constantly beating himself almost to the point of unconsciousness. After starting up his training regimen of basic katas and weight lifting (beginner's level of course), he had also begun planning to re-master the techniques that he was familiar with, starting with Ryoga's Breaking Point, which had been taught to him by the Old Ghoul.
<Hmmm... I'm close! I know it! Come on! If a moron like Ryoga can do it, then so can I! I can feel my body getting tougher from the training, and I know that if I can just focus my ki in the right spot...>
The young elf known as Celecia giggled as she watched from her hiding place in one of the tall trees. No matter how many times she had seen it before, it was so funny to watch. Humans often did the strangest things, but what this boy was doing certainly took the cake. For the past few days, the youngster had tied himself up and had been poking with his finger at a boulder as it crashed into him. Just what was he trying to do?
Celecia watched as the youth shook his head to clear it, and then began pulling on a rope, which used a set of pulleys to set the heavy stone back again.
<Oh no. He's not really going to do that again.> The blonde elf thought.
<I don't believe it. Why is he punishing himself like that?>
<What's the point of all of this?>
<He's going to kill himself at this rate.>
Celcecia watched for a while longer at Ranma's antics then decided to leave the human to his insanity. Using a simple spell to conceal her departure, the mystical being was gone in less than a heartbeat.
Ironically, if she had remained for a minute more, then she would have witnessed Ranma's first milestone triumph. As the boulder swung toward him for the umpteenth time, the young boy began to see something within its granite surface. At first he thought he was just seeing stars from the last impact, but as it came closer, he began to see what appeared to be lines of light, radiating toward a single point, just left of the center of the rock. Realizing what he was seeing in his mind's eye, he focused what little ki he could into his index finger and jabbed forward.
Ranma smiled as the stone fragments rained down on the forest floor. Some of the pieces had impacted against him, but thanks to the training, he had barely felt them.
A month later...
Celcelia was wondering just what the crazy human boy was doing now. She had seen him collect acorns and whatever nuts he could from the trees. At first she had thought he had been foraging for food, but when he started throwing them into a fire, then tried to reach in with his bare hands to retrieve them, she thought the human was completely without any common sense whatsoever. After watching him attempt to pluck the nuts from the fire and fail several times, she shrugged her shoulders and left.
<Ow! Damn, I forgot just how painful this was!> Ranma thought as he waved his hands a bit after they had been burned by the flames. He took a calming breath and gazed upon the fire. <Come on! I used to be able to do this without even thinking before. I know I'm focusing my ki right. It's all a matter of training my body to move with my ki.
He paused for a long moment, letting the fire cook the nuts. Finally, he let loose with his technique.
"KATCHU TENSHIN AMAGURIKEN!"
Ranma winced as he felt the fire's sting, but this time, the sensation occurred more than a full second after he had grabbed a few nuts, which meant that he was getting up to speed, becoming faster.
<It's taken more than three weeks, but I've almost got it again.>
Another few days later...
Though Ranma disdained the use of weapons, he knew that unless he had something to make up for his lack of reach, he was going to be at a serious disadvantage, especially against larger enemies with knives, swords, clubs and whatever medieval weapons they had. He needed an equalizer, until he was big enough to handle opponents unarmed. He could still fight weaponless if he had to, but decided that having a weapon would give him a better chance to survive. Since he had no money to buy a weapon, he would have to settle on making one.
A staff was the most logical choice. It was nothing more than a simple wooden pole and it was cheap to make, especially in a forest. It would also be easy to replace if it broke. In addition to being a weapon, it could also be used for walking or other situations. He wished there was some bamboo, but he would have to improvise. After looking about for a while, he found a fallen branch from one of the taller trees and began refashioning it, using a small knife he had pilfered. His conscience gnawed at him for a moment as he remembered how angry the shopkeeper was when he stole it. He made a note to try and pay him back when he could. He had come to realize that he had to take responsibility for his actions. Living by oneself and being forced to survive does tend to make one grow up faster, especially when it was an actual second childhood.
Cutting the branch down until it was the desired thickness, he then began wrapping a strip of cloth around the middle. The cloth had come from the remnants of a shirt he had stolen from a villager. The garment had been too large for him to wear, but the material was a strong silk, which he could use for binding, carrying and other such uses. He also made a note to repay for the garment as well.
After finishing his new staff, the young martial artist stood up and started twirling it about, checking its weight and balance. He nodded in satisfaction and began a complex kata, swinging the three-foot length of wood about at imagined enemies, using a few bokken maneuvers as well. Though he despised Tatewaki Kuno, Ranma had to admit that the weapon’s added reach did help, especially with his current state. He then thought back to how Kuno used his wooden sword to cut through trees, concrete, and sometimes metal. The young lad assumed that it was a kind of ki technique, which used one's own inner energy to strengthen an object. He had seen Ryoga do it with his belt and bandannas.
<If those dopes can do it, then I should be able to. I think my ki is strong enough by now.>
A week later...
<Why is he hitting that boulder with a stick?> Celecia wondered as she saw Ranma repeatedly slam his staff against a large boulder near the river. <Is he trying to get revenge on the rocks?> She remembered back to when Ranma was doing the Breaking Point training.
Once again, after the initial amusement wore off, the elf left the human boy to his nonsense. Of course, she missed the part when Ranma took one mighty swing and split the boulder cleanly in two.
Two months later...
<Now what's THIS all about?>
The elf was completely puzzled as she watched the boy try to cross the river... with heavy rocks strapped to arms and legs and one large boulder on his back. (2) He was attempting to run with the heavy load across the water.
<Is he trying to drown himself?>
<I guess he is!> Celcelia saw the boy disappear under the water near the middle of the river, and though it was against the law of her tribe to interfere with human affairs, she decided to come to his aid. She was about to summon the water spirits to save the foolish human, when she then saw that he was still going along the bottom. A minute later, he surfaced on the other bank and kept on going.
The elf developed a large sweatdrop behind her head as she watched him disappear into the forest.
Another 6 months later...
The youth was feeling good, as his load felt lighter, almost as if it wasn't there. He had steadily increased the weight on his body as time progressed. He decided that now was the moment to test his abilities.
<If I can jump like I did before, or even better, then all that effort would have been worth it. I've trained harder now than I ever did with Pops.>
The seven-year-old began removing the heavy weights from his arms and legs then let the huge boulder drop from his back. At this point, his body felt as light as paper.
As he flexed his back muscles and stretched out his limbs, his heightened sense of awareness began to tell him that he had company. Like his other skills, his awareness of his surroundings, and especially his danger sense had been reduced to their rudimentary levels when he had been de-aged. After months of living in the forest and intense training, his awareness had been raised to a higher degree than what he had before that fateful wish. For the last several weeks, he had been sensing the presence of... something or someone that had been watching him. He didn't sense any danger from the presence, but he couldn't tell exactly where it was. He just knew that the person was there.
Shrugging his shoulders, he decided to just focus on regaining and improving on his original skills. Tensing his leg muscles, he crouched down, then jumped.
From her hiding place, Celcelia's mouth dropped open as she watched the boy attain an altitude of fifty feet. She continued to watch in amazement as the youth bounded atop the highest of treetops, then disappearing into the foliage.
<Since when could humans fly?> The elf wondered as she had not sensed any application of magic from the boy.
Another 3 months later...
Celcelia had been picking some rare herbs and roots when her elemental senses suddenly alerted her to a disturbance in nature. Using a levitation spell, she made her way to the top of a tall tree to look over the entire forest. She was quite surprised to see a funnel of air suddenly spring up in the distance, and she suspected that the strange human boy had something to do with it.
Ranma was breathing had as he sat in the middle of a crudely drawn spiral in the dirt. It had taken a lot of effort, but the Hiryu Shoten Ha had finally been re-mastered. It wasn't as powerful as it had been when he was a teenager, but still…
Four more months…
Ranma breathed in and out slowly as he focused his concentration on a wooden target some fifty feet away. This was the final test. After relearning the Hiryu Shoten Ha, he had concentrated on regaining his ability to manipulate his own ki. Cupping his hands as if he were holding a ball, he brought them back toward his right side, near his waist. Blue energy began to convalesce between the palms and formed a small sphere, which gradually grew larger until...
Throwing his hands forward, Ranma shot his ki forward. Like a cannonball, the orb blasted forth and slammed into the target, reducing it into splinters.
"All right! Ranma Saotome is back!" The boy cried out. Though he was still somewhat lacking in certain areas of his former levels of skill and power, he had finally mastered all of his old techniques, (plus some of his rivals’). He felt as if some of his old self had returned and now, he was ready to go out and explore the world he was in.
Watching close by, Celecia was now very impressed. Over the past two years, the boy had displayed abilities and powers that she had never seen before. She had seen him catch fish in the water without getting his hands wet. He had jumped to the tops of the tallest trees without any magical help. She had even seen him blow up a boulder with his index finger. And just then, he had let off a fireball. The elf kept on wondering just how he did it all. It couldn't have been due to all those ridiculous acts, could it?
Celecia was a bit disappointed to see him getting ready to leave as he packed up his meager belongings into a small bundle and hung them on one end of his staff. She hadn't had such entertainment from a human in a long while. Having such a long life span tended to get tedious without some kind of amusement. As the boy began heading out of the woods and down the path to the nearest village, the elf hoped that she would see the extraordinary youth again.
Eight-year-old Ranma smiled as he walked down the path. He had decided that before he began his great adventure, there was just one little detail he wanted to take care of as he headed toward the village.
Just outside of the village gates…
"Hey look! It's that little wimp again!"
Ranma's eyes narrowed as the five boys who had tormented him two years earlier laughed at him. He stood with his staff slung over his shoulder, and waited until the bullies stopped laughing. He let his bundle drop to the ground, and held out his staff like a walking stick.
"I still owe you for what you did to me, two years ago." The youth stated as his expression took on a serious tone. Lifting up his shirt, he displayed the scar where he had been stabbed on his left side. "And I haven't forgotten about when you did this."
"Ha!" The lead boy scoffed as he and his cohorts took out various implements, which included knives and short clubs. The leader wielded a wicked-looking dagger. "And do you think your little stick is going to teach us a lesson? Oh we're SO scared!" He continued to sneer at their diminutive opponent. "It's been a while and I figure you've got some money, so hand it over, or else!"
Ranma smiled as he took a stance and held his weapon aloft. "Come on."
The group let off a series of guffaws before charging at the youth, intending to overwhelm him by sheer numbers. What they didn't expect was for their opponent to leap high above them.
"How did he do that?!"
"He can fly?!"
Ranma smiled as he came back down with staff held aloft.
"Nope! Jump good!" (3)
One boy went down as the end of the staff connected with his face. Landing on one foot, the Saotome boy pivoted around and swung his weapon about, smacking another of his attackers in the temple. Using a feint to lure out another, he stabbed forth and poked his pole into a third boy's stomach, followed by a blow to the left shin. The bully howled at the pain and went hopping, then screeched as Ranma slammed one end of his weapon into the groin. The larger boy toppled over and lay on the ground, moaning and clutching at his privates. The fourth boy tried to bludgeon Ranma from behind, but the youth simply drove his staff into his enemy's stomach, driving the breath out of him and causing him to drop his weapon. A quick series of swings to the chin and forehead laid him low.
Ranma twirled his staff and took a ready stance as he faced off against the leader of the group. His staff was behind his back with one arm while the other was held out.
The leader gulped after seeing his partners taken down by someone who was barely half the size of the others. He looked down at his knife then back to the staff and saw the difference in reach. This didn't look good.
Ranma smiled as he saw the sweat pouring off the forehead of his last opponent. Though it was not exactly the smartest thing to do, Ranma felt that he needed to teach him an extra special lesson. His grin became wider as he let go of his weapon and took a neutral stance, daring the other to attack.
The tough took the bait, thinking that Ranma had lost his mind and charged at him. What could one unarmed little boy do against a dagger?
Ranma proved just what he was capable of without a weapon as he dodged the strike, grabbed hold of the extended arm and twisted it down. A quick strike to the wrist nerves caused the hand to reflexively open and the blade dropped down to the ground. A rabbit punch to the throat caused the bully to gasp and that's when Ranma hopped up and let him have it.
"KATCHU TENSHIN AMAGURIKEN!"
The one hundred-fifty punches to the face, went by in the blink of an eye, and it took another second or two before Ranma's last opponent's brain registered the hits and he went down in a battered heap.
The other bullies who had just witnessed their leader get pounded, cringed in fear as Ranma casually picked up his staff and walked over to them.
"So what were you just saying about money?"
The boys let off terrified shrieks as they began emptying their pockets.
"If you want money..."
Hundreds of coins were tossed onto the ground before Ranma's feet, as the bullies got up and ran for their lives. Two of them picked up their fallen leader and hauled him off. In less than a minute, the group disappeared from sight, leaving Ranma with enough funds to last him for a good while.
After paying off the shopkeepers for what he had stolen, filling his empty stomach and buying some supplies, Ranma decided to head for the city of Ohfun.
Unknown to him, a certain carriage was also heading toward the city. Inside it, a little red-haired girl with large glasses watched the scenery go by with a bored expression. Her father was taking her to Ohfun to enroll her in the prestigious school of magic, as she had shown some natural talent in sorcery. As the carriage bounced along, little Ila sighed. It wasn't that she wasn't looking forward to becoming a member of the Magic Guild, but she did want to have a little excitement. So far the trip had been pretty boring, and hoped that things would liven up once they reached their destination.
To be continued…?
(1) Just remember that Ranma's a small boy now and it'll take him longer than a trained martial artist to learn the Breaking Point and all the other techniques.
(2) I saw this on an episode of Samurai Jack. It also reminded me of Dragonball with Goku training under Master Roshi.
(3) Also from Samurai Jack.