Categories > Anime/Manga > Ranma 1/2 > The Raven

Hymn of Breaking Strain

by Narsil 0 reviews

Category: Ranma 1/2 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Crossover - Characters: Akane,Ranma - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2012-08-13 - Updated: 2012-08-13 - 3137 words - Complete

Raven shifted uncomfortably where she sat in the Tendo apartment’s small family room. It wasn’t that the couch was uncomfortable, it wasn’t — the sisters (Nabiki, probably) had found a decent place when they’d been forced to sell the family compound. But each of the room’s occupants — Kasumi and her new baby sharing the couch with Raven, Nabiki on the other side of Kasumi, Nodoka in an easy chair next to Raven — was in her own world, no one even considering turning on the television Thought was perched on across the room against the wall beside the open sliding door leading to a bedroom. The silence was getting downright oppressive.

Finally, the revenant couldn’t take it any longer. Besides, there were things she wanted to know. “So, what happened after I was murdered?” she asked, voice harsh.

Beside her, Kasumi paused in gently rocking the sleepy baby, while Nabiki stiffened in her armchair to the side. The two exchanged glances with each other and Nodoka in her own armchair.

Finally, Kasumi sighed. “The police ruled it an accidental death during a sparring session with real weapons,” she started, “and Akane didn’t take it well. She ... she ...”

“She did what she’d always done,” Nabiki said in a harsh voice, taking over when Kasumi paused in a search for the right words. “She blamed everyone but her for what happened.

“Ukyo rushed over as soon as she heard about it and we lied through our teeth about the details, just as we did with the police. Akane was still in shock so she didn’t say anything to contradict us, so when we put all the blame on Ryoga and the Amazons, Ukyo bought it. The Amazons were gone before the police ruling — they were gone the next morning, in fact — but that still left Ryoga around, sort of.

“The next time Pig Boy showed up at the dojo, Akane called Ukyo, and the two ambushed him. You can imagine how that worked out.” Nabiki grimaced. “All brute force and no imagination — I told them about his curse, all they needed were a few water balloons, but instead they had to make it a stand-up fight.

“So once they got their asses kicked, I decided to do it right — I called Akari and told her how you died. She rushed straight into town to talk to us personally. I don’t know what she said to Ryoga later, if anything, but she wasn’t very happy with him when she left.”

“Yeah, she talked to him, told him she didn’t want ta see him again,” Raven interjected. “He blamed me for it when we met, a’ course. And you’re right about the water balloons, used ‘em myself.”

The room went still, Nodoka and the Tendos again exchanging uneasy glances. “Anyway,” Nabiki finally continued, “Akari said something to Akane before she left. I don’t know what, but it shook her. Ukyo’s suicide shook her even more. And then ...” She took a deep breath, fighting to keep her voice even. “Then, father got drunk and walked in front of a truck, and she broke — went from saying none of it was her fault to saying it was all her fault. She quit going to school, hardly ever left her room, refused to talk to anybody, spent most of her time staring at the wall, had to be told to clean up occasionally ... finally, the night before we had to move out of the dojo she grabbed one of Kasumi’s knives and tried t-t-to cut her wrists.”

She broke off her tale, turning her head to stare at the nearby tree visible through the glass door leading to the balcony as she fought for control, memories of Akane screaming at her, blood splashing her, the walls and cupboards as her younger sister tossed her around like a ragdoll, fighting to keep an increasingly slippery grip on her younger sister’s wrists, keep her from using the knife more than she already had, until Akane finally went limp, unconscious from loss of blood....

Finally drawing a shuddering breath, Nabiki continued, “I made sure I was by her bed in the hospital when she woke up, and asked her if she was a coward as well as a spoiled brat — you were stuck in hell, it was partly her fault, and her response was to try to kill herself instead of rescuing you. She eventually agreed with me, so while she recovered I found a sensei to train her, Hino-sensei, the priest of the Hikawa Shrine. Since then, every waking minute that her sensei hasn’t insisted she take off to relax has been spent studying and training, getting ready to go after you.”

She turned to face Raven, the revenant shocked at the sight of two slow tears slowly sliding down the cheeks of an otherwise coldly expressionless face. “And now, here you are. I don’t want to know what kind of hell you’ve been living through, but don’t think that Akane hasn’t been living in her own outpost.”

Raven stared at her, shaken to the core by the Ice Queen's naked pain, searching for something — anything — to say, only to twitch at the sound of someone opening the front door of the apartment. “Tadaima!” they heard a weary-sounding Akane call out from the dining room.

For a moment, the family room’s occupants all sat in frozen silence, until Nabiki sighed and slumped in her seat. “We’re in here!” she called out in a dull voice.


Perched in the tree outside the Tendo apartment, the Daimakaicho of Niflheim was feeling increasingly desperate as she listened to the conversation taking place inside. The fact that they were talking at all was bad enough — the last thing a vengeance-driven spirit needed was to talk to his targets, or anyone connected to them other than to ask for directions — but the story Nabiki had started telling was even worse. Damn it, why couldn’t Raven have simply returned to Niflheim when she learned Ukyo was dead? It might have been stretching things a bit, but Hild would have been happy to rule that Raven’s request to be sent to Uc-chan’s meant the trip wasn’t part of her test and send her to a spot just outside the Hikawa Shrine. And ...

Hild glanced around. She was sensing someone — someone both demonic and divine, and there was only one person that fit that category that was likely to be here — and there was Akane, trudging down the street toward the corner entrance to the apartment building, the katana whose hilt showed over her shoulder radiating its own enchantments ... including an obfuscation charm. But most of Hild’s attention was on the youngest Tendo’s companion, and her heart turned over at the sight of her daughter floating along above the youngest Tendo. Wonderful, just what I needed to top off this fiasco, some vituperation from Urd while I send Raven back to Rothgan’s wall.... Though if Kami-sama had assigned their daughter to this case, she’d know what would happen to Raven if she failed her vengeance quest. Just how would she take the redheaded revenant’s failure? Hild felt a flicker of hope at the thought — maybe she’d actually get something out of this total fubar.

Doing her best to suppress the flicker — it wouldn’t be the first time she’d hoped to at least start to mend things with her daughter, and every time before those hopes had been dashed — Hild dropped her obfuscation shield slightly, just enough to get Urd’s attention without revealing herself to Akane.

Urd jerked and hastily looked around as she sensed her mother’s presence, catching the movement when Hild waved to her. Urd’s eyes widened, and as Akane entered the apartment building the platinum blonde half-goddess floated up to join her mother. “What are you doing here, Hild?” she growled.

“What, no happy greeting for your mother? How disrespectful!” Urd chided, a menacing undertone beneath her lighthearted rebuke, then shrugged. “I’m here for the same reason I imagine you are, to watch the rise of my latest Fury.”

Urd opened her mouth, a hot retort on the tip of her tongue, when a joyful shout yanked their attention back to the view through the balcony door to the Tendo family room.


Akane trudged down the street toward home (her new home, not the one she’d grown up in, that she’d helped throw away along with the fiancé and father she’d helped kill). Even with the hot soak and massage after her training, she was going to be very happy to get off her feet. The katana on her back that Hino-sensei insisted she carry except when asleep or in the shower (and then close to hand) was protected from the notice of everyone around her by obfuscation charms, but it was as solid as ever — and didn’t work well with seats on trains and buses, especially when crowded. As a result, she’d been on her feet for the entire ride back. The cross body sling bag full of books her sensei had loaned her slung over one shoulder didn’t help, either.

Stop whining, Akane, she thought as she unlocked the front door to the apartment building, and headed for the stairwell for the trudge to the third floor (the lack of an elevator was a major reason for the low rent). You’ll have plenty of time to sit once you get home, while you study those books. She wasn’t looking forward to puzzling out the texts at all, but it was doing wonders for her reading comprehension in kanji and katakana.

As she climbed the stairs, for a moment her thoughts turned to her sensei. Hino-sensei played the simple priest (if somewhat perverted, with any pretty young woman but her), but with the skill set he had he had to have led an exciting life when he was younger, and she resolved again to try to get him to tell her about it — it might actually help when she left on her own mission. Yeah, right, like you believe that! she thought, unlocking the apartment's front door.

“Tadaima!” she called as she stepped into the apartment, pausing to slip off her shoes and step into a pair of house slippers. She frowned — there hadn’t been an immediate response, and one of her sisters should be home. And Nodoka had been visiting when she left in the morning, so she should still be here, it seemed like she’d been spending more time in the sisters’ apartment than her rebuilt home with her bastard of a husband. Of course, that descriptive might explain it, Akane was surprised that woman hadn’t hinted that she simply move in. With Kasumi insisting she and Akane share a bed, there was an extra bedroom.

“We’re in here!” Akane heard Nabiki call from the family room as she swung her sling bag off her shoulder and placed it on the dining room table. She felt a flicker of concern — her sister sounded ... tired, drained. Akane had been so focused on her training and studies, she had trouble remembering any particular moment separated from the general haze of daily life since she’d arrived home from her first training session with Hino-sensei. Kasumi had insisted they eat out during her mandatory rest days, and there had been a movie they had dragged her to....

Akane walked over to open doorway to the family room and stepped through. “Hey, sis, why don’t we go see a movie this week —”

She slammed to a stop at the sight of the cute, overendowed redhead rising from the couch. “Ranma?” she whispered. “RANMA!” And she was charging forward, grabbing the smaller girl, whirling them around in what little room there was in the middle of the room, laughing as tears rolled down her cheeks.

But after a bit she realized that other than her laughter, the room was deathly quiet, the girl in her arms stiff, her return embrace hesitant. Akane ceased spinning them around and stepped back to arm’s length, her hands on Ranma’s shoulders.

Now that she’d calmed down, new senses she’d acquired under the lash of Hino-sensei’s training could make themselves heard, and what they were saying was disquieting: the girl before her was dead. Not only was she not breathing, but there wasn’t a trace of ki. Instead, what the youngest Tendo was holding was a supernatural entity of real power — spirit given substance. An embodied spirit unable to look her in the eye.

A whisper of motion caught her attention, and Akane looked up over the other girl’s shoulder to find a raven watching her from its perch on top of the television. The youngest Tendo’s breath caught at the sight — the raven was not just a power, but a Power! “Ranma, what raven is that?” she asked quietly.

The redhead sighed and finally lifted her gaze to look up into Akane’s eyes. “Don’t call me Ranma, my name’s Raven now,” she said equally quietly. “I dunno what he is, but his name’s Thought.”

Akane sucked in a breath at the name, shocked to her core. Closing her eyes, she slowly breathed out, seeking calm before focusing again on the other girl’s face. “Ran — Raven, you didn’t escape somehow from Rothgan’s Wall, did you?”

Raven shrugged Akane’s hands off her shoulders and turned away, shaking her head. “No, I didn’t. Hild-sama came an’ took me down, made me an offer.”

“What kind of offer?”

Raven hesitated for a moment. “Ta become one a’ her Furies,” she finally replied with another shrug.

A Fury ... ! Akane quickly reviewed what she'd learned about the Furies, and blanched. “And I’m on the list for your test, aren’t I?”

Raven nodded jerkily. “Yeah, ya are.”

“Good, I belong on it,” Akane said bitterly, feeling Raven stiffen as she stepped up to wrap her arms around the redhead from behind. Over Raven’s shoulder, her gaze swept the other women in the room: Nodoka sitting stiffly in the deep armchair she normally hated thanks to her advancing pregnancy, tears streaming down her cheeks; Nabiki stonefaced where she slumped back in the couch, one arm over Kasumi’s shaking shoulders. The oldest sister was trying not to break down into sobs, her arms clutching a ... baby? Where did that come from? Later, if ever, not important right now. “I was going to probably get myself killed trying to get you out of there when I was as ready as I could be,” she continued, “so this just makes things easier all around. There’s a park nearby where we can take care of it. Can I take the time to write a letter for Sayuri and Yuka, first? I owe them a decent farewell after the way I’ve mostly ignored them the past year.”

For long moments Raven simply stood frozen in place, until her shoulders abruptly slumped. Sighing, she twisted in her former fiancée’s arms to pull her into a mutual embrace, a real one this time, and Akane luxuriated in the feel of the arms about her pressing her against the spirit’s still-overly abundant chest. Finally, Raven broke the hug to hold Akane out at arm’s length, gaze fixed on the taller girl’s face as if she was memorizing every line. She shook her head. “Naw, don’t worry ‘bout it, I’m not gonna kill ya.”

Akane stared in shock at Raven’s calm face, and suddenly she was in front of the open door to the dining room, katana steady in her hands. “No! You are not going back up on that wall, you’re not!” she snarled.

“I d-d-don’t think it’ll come ta that,” Raven said, smiling tremulously. “I’ll just hafta ask Hild-sama if she has any other jobs she’d like me ta take, she’s bound ta have somethin’ fer someone as good as I am.”

“Right, like she did this past year, while you were hanging on Rothgan’s Wall, waiting for the next time he felt like raping you?” She ignored the cries and sucked in breath of the other women, eyes locked on the revenant. “Not a chance. No, you have an easy way to avoid that, and you’re taking it!”

Raven glanced around at the shocked expressions of Nabiki, Kasumi, and her ... and Nodoka. “I take it ya never told them the details a’ what was happenin’ ta me,” she said, then looked back at Akane with a familiar cocky grin that made the raven-haired girl’s heart turn over. “And ya think ya can stop me from just walkin’ out? Not a chance, even if I didn’t just take the balcony ... and there are guys down in Hell that can handle me like a baby, ya wouldn’t have a chance. Give it up, Akane, please,” she finished, voice going soft. “I’ll think a’ somethin’, just have yerself a good life, and I’ll show up on yer doorstep someday.”

“No, I won’t!” Akane insisted, even as her thoughts raced. Ran — Raven was right, damn — curse it. Thanks to the months of hard training she was bound to be better than Raven expected, but — “Raven, I challenge you!”

“What?” Raven asked in confusion.

“I challenge you. If I win, you kill me. If you win, I’ll give up any attempt to rescue you. Oh, and the duel is with these,” she added, waggling her katana. “Ranma never refused a challenge, does Raven?”

Raven stared at her, confusion replaced by a thoughtful look as she considered the offer. Akane kept her gaze fixed on the redhead, trying to ignore the bitter hope dawning on the faces of Nabiki and Kasumi watching from the couch.

“All right, you’re on,” Raven finally said, and Akane relaxed and straightened as she lifted her katana over her shoulder to slide it down into its sheath. “Good!” she said with a happy smile. “Just let me get that letter written, and we can take it to the park.” And I can show you just how good I’ve gotten, over these past months — probably not as good as you, but good enough for a creative ‘mistake’. I’m sorry, Nabiki, Kasumi, but I can’t let this work out as you want, not with the price Ran — Raven would have to pay for it.
Sign up to rate and review this story