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

The Friend Across the Field

by Narsil 0 reviews

Category: Ranma 1/2 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Crossover - Characters: Akane,Ranma - Warnings: [V] [?] - Published: 2012-08-14 - Updated: 2012-08-14 - 2587 words - Complete

In a quiet corner of a park close to the Tendo apartment, sitting in a tree overlooking Akane and Raven as they took their positions across from each other, a Hild firmly invisible to mortal eyes didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Actually, that wasn’t true, she knew exactly what to do — maintain her whimsically sardonic, faintly malicious smile as her fuming daughter took a similar seat several branches over. What Hild didn’t know was which she wanted to do. In life Ranma had proven himself to be the quintessential chaos magnet, renowned for the bizarre situations he found himself in, and in death Raven was proving no different.

Though this situation is proving more serious than most, the Daimakaicho of Niflheim thought as she watched the two opponents bow to each other and take up defensive stances, katanas sloped toward each other in their two-handed grips. It was obvious, to her at least, what Akane hoped to accomplish, and Hild silently saluted her for it. Whatever happened to her, the raven-haired girl’s destination was not in doubt — unlike the others on Raven’s little list, Hild had no doubt that she wouldn’t be seeing her arriving in her realm for at least another lifetime. Nor would the two Tendo sisters watching from a score of yards away, for that matter, Nabiki with one arm around her older sister and Kasumi clutching her new baby. The middle Tendo would have been a real possibility, driven by both her previous greedy cynicism and newfound bitterness at how badly things were turning out. But with a sister to support and a new daughter to both support and help raise — no, she’d been firmly turned away from her previous self-destructive and probably short road to Hell.

Hild glanced again over toward her daughter, the mother’s emotions tilting toward appalled amusement — now, there was someone else confused by how things had turned out. Everything had seemed clear enough, other than the question of why a systems administrator had been assigned to field work (Urd hadn’t said, but Hild suspected her former husband was up to something — one thing that hadn’t changed over the millennia was that he liked his little games). All Urd had had to do was watch over Akane, and intervene in the likely event that Raven was going to be able to kill her. That would typically be an assignment for a Valkyrie, but Urd had more than enough power and experience to deal with a simple revenant — or, since this had been Ranma, to keep the revenant away from Akane until reinforcements could arrive. But now, with Raven fighting to keep Akane from getting killed, the entire purpose of Urd’s presence had been turned on its head and the demon/goddess hybrid was obviously trying to figure out what to do now.

Then a clash of steel on steel yanked Hild’s attention back to revenant and mortal, as Raven initiated the first strike.


Raven stepped back from her bow to Akane, falling naturally into the defensive stance he had learned years before, from the cursory training his father had insisted on. Of course, when it came to martial arts — or any other physical training — ‘cursory’ for Ranma had meant something very different than everyone else....

Even as the Saotome family blade came up, Raven’s eyes found Akane’s, seeking the passionate fury her former fiancée had always brought to her fights, both her strength and her weakness ... and found nothing but calm, confident determination. The angry girl Ranma had known was nowhere to be found. Why couldn’t she have been like this when I — ! Raven cut the thought off. It was pointless, and a distraction. What mattered was that, here and now, there would be no winner in the contest of wills that often preceded duels, because Akane was refusing to engage. She simply waited through a long minute for Raven to open the dance.

Okay, let’s get this over with. The redhead flowed forward, determined to end the fight in one overpowering rush ... and almost lost right then and there as Akane’s own blade engaged Raven’s, the Tendo twisted, and almost ripped the Saotome blade from Raven’s grasp. Raven held on to her katana, but at the price of finding the blade badly out of position. A desperate leap back left one sleeve fluttering in the light breeze, slit open from wrist to elbow.

Whoa, she has been trainin’! This’s gonna be harder than I thought. Raven finally really looked at her opponent, and was impressed by what she saw. Akane had been good with a katana before — not in Ranma’s league, but good — and from the smooth way she moved as she came back on guard, her perfectly relaxed stance, the quiet assurance she radiated, it was obvious Nabiki hadn’t been exaggerating about what Akane had been doing for much of the time Ranma had spent hanging on Rothgan’s wall.

For another long minute the two stared at each other. Suddenly, Akane softly smiled — the same smile that had always made Ranma’s heart turn over in his (or her) chest — and her katana twitched, the point falling slightly off position, beckoning. Raven found herself smiling back even as she accepted the invitation. Once again she flowed confidently forward into the attack, if much more carefully, and Akane backed up, steel ringing on steel again and again as she parried a barrage of strikes.


As she watched Akane step back again and again under her former fiancé’s constant push, Urd shifted uncomfortably on her branch and once again wondered what she was doing there. Normally, she’d have been much closer, hovering invisibly over the fight and ready to intervene the instant it appeared that Raven was about to successfully kill an innocent victim. No, that wasn’t quite right — normally Lind or another of her fellow Valkyries would be doing the hovering, and Urd would read a report on the outcome on her monitor. She was a systems administrator, for heaven’s sake! She was supposed to be keeping Yggdrasil running smoothly and watching for possible kinks in reality, not watching a revenant duel with her chosen victim. At least you can’t say Raven’s playing with Akane, the platinum-haired hybrid thought despairingly. Raven had to be the oddest revenant and Fury candidate she’d ever heard of, and Urd wondered what Lind would make of a Fury candidate fighting to keep her presumed prey from being killed. Mother must be loving this.

She glanced over at her tanned, platinum-haired mother sitting on a nearby branch and leaning back against the tree trunk, uncaring what the rough bark might be doing to the luxurious (and barely there) miniskirt and single-button jacket she was wearing, the raven-shaped Power that was Thought perched next to her. Hild’s attention was focused on the fight below. Feeling her gaze, the Daimakaicho lifted her eyes to meet her daughter’s, and the whimsical, dark-edged smile that she usually showed to the world broadened slightly before she sighed dramatically. “Don’t worry, dearest, it looks like you’ll be able to return to your sisters soon enough — Raven’s figured out that humans just can’t match a spirit’s endurance. It seems I won’t be gaining a new Fury, after all. How ... disappointing.”

Urd opened her mouth for her typical scathing rebuke, but paused. Something about what her mother had just said didn’t ring true. No, not what she had said, but how she had said it — there was actually a hint of sorrow in her tone, regret in her face, that Urd had never seen before. What ... ?

Hild’s eyebrow rose and she giggled slightly at the sight of her daughter sitting there with her mouth open, then turned her gaze back toward the circling fighters below only to pause, eyes almost imperceptibly widening in a look that screamed shock (for the Daimakaicho, at least).

Urd followed her mother’s gaze and froze at the sight of three new goddesses, under their own glamour: Lind, and the other two Norns. But what were they doing here? Belldandy had her own assignment ... why was she holding her hands cupped up in front of her chest? Were her hands glowing?

The Norn of the Past glanced back over at her mother, to find the temporary shock the Daimakaicho had shown vanished back into her more typical cheerful superiority. “Well, this is getting to be quite a party,” Hild murmured. “Shall we join the gatecrashers?”

Before Urd could respond, she caught a hint of motion out of the corner of her eye and whipped around to stare as Lind flashed across the park toward the dueling pair, her signature poleax angled ahead and her long white epaulet strips and split coattail whipping in the wind of her passage.


Akane was gasping for air as she frantically backed up under her former fiancé’s constant assault, desperately parrying strike after thrust after slash with aching arms, shaking her head slightly to try to keep sweat from running into her eyes and cursing herself for forgetting to tie on a headband in the rush to get this over with. She had miscalculated badly, not taking into account Raven’s new nature as a spirit — more specifically the fact that she no longer tired the way a human would, even one with the energy reserves of a high-powered martial artist. Akane had been expecting the usual breaks between clashes, and they hadn’t been happening. Instead, Raven had been pushing the pace brutally, though unfortunately she hadn’t been as careless as her first attack, and Akane’s control was getting shaky at best. She’d blown her best chance when she hadn’t quite pulled off her initial disarm, she’d already had one tumble while backing up, and she had no idea how she’d managed to fend off her opponent while regaining her feet.

Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that Ranma — Raven — isn’t actually trying to kill me, Akane thought, one ear ringing with the sound of skirling steel from her latest parry, a lock of her hair blowing away on the breeze. Of course, if the two had been fighting a real (or rather typical) life-and-death duel, it would have been over with Raven’s initial rush and Akane gutting her like a pig and sending the overconfident revenant back to the Hell she’d come from. And if by some miracle the redhaired revenant had avoided the price of her carelessness, Akane would have been dead within a minute of the duel’s resumption — she’d improved over the last year, but not enough to take on the killer of Saffron even with her chosen weapon.

Not that the fact that neither girl was actually trying to kill the other meant they weren’t trying to hurt each other — Akane was bleeding from at least half a dozen nicks and cuts, and Raven had almost lost a hand. She was a spirit, after all — she’d get it back, and she only needed one hand to take the life that would make her a Fury. As it was, the fight had become a single long, wearying, pain-filled engagement. The bleeding alone was a problem; if Akane didn’t make her move soon eventual blood loss would make her too lightheaded to continue, and Nodoka wouldn’t have to deliver the letter Akane had left with her for Sayuri and Yuka. (In the end, the Saotome matriarch had been unable to bring herself to endure more of her former child’s cold indifference, or watch either one girl she cared for die or another be doomed to return to serial rape.)

Akane twisted her arms to one side, avoiding another nick on her wrist (as it was, her grip was getting too slippery from blood from the first one), and Raven spun out of the way of her feeble counterstrike and flowed back to the attack — and Akane felt her fading confidence jump. The youngest Tendo might be outclassed by her opponent in sheer innate ability, but Akane had more training, and that gave her an advantage she didn’t think Raven realized she had. You’re getting predictable, love, she thought, hiding a wistful smile as she resumed her backward dance. She was hitting her last legs, Raven had recovered the confidence she temporarily lost with her initial near-disaster, but the duel had gone on long enough, and it was time.

Sliding to one side, Akane flicked the tip of her katana toward the inside of Raven’s thigh. An actual hit there would have no effect at all, spirits didn’t have femoral veins or arteries, but Raven still remembered being human and had been reacting accordingly for the entire duel. She did this time as well. The Saotome katana dropped to knock Akane’s aside before the spirit’s riposte streaked toward her side, was knocked aside and up, came whipping back — and Akane smiled as her blade intersected it, guided it up, and she raised her chin to give the blade a clear shot at her throat. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as her gaze met Raven’s, the revenant’s eyes widening in shocked realization of Akane’s final gambit. Sorry, Ranma, but you’re Hell’s newest Fury, after —

A flash of steel cut off her view of her love’s face with a clang, and Akane staggered back to stare at the massive axe head that had intercepted the Saotome blade inches away from killing her. Unbelieving, her eyes tracked down the long shaft to stare at the crouching white-clad, blue-haired woman braced as if she had just slid to a halt, holding the poleax at the horizontal as if the massive weapon was light as a feather. “What the hell are you doing?!” Akane shrieked as the old anger slammed through her, leaving her suddenly shaking even as she desperately sucked air into her lungs. “I’d almost —”

“Almost paid the ultimate sacrifice to save the girl you love, warrior, I know,” the interloper said calmly, straightening and raising her poleax in a salute before grounding the butt of the shaft.

As her initial shock (and her breathing) eased, the raven-haired girl took in the details of the newcomer, eyes widening and anger bleeding away at the sight of the apparently tattooed circles on forehead and cheek, the raw confident divine power she was radiating. Movement caught her attention out of the corner of her eye, and she shifted her gaze to see another woman and apparently a barely pubescent girl approaching — both also with facial tattoos and a presence that was stunning in its sheer holy radiance.

Tendo Akane slowly sank to her knees.

The title comes from the Belisarius series by David Drake and Eric Flint. Belisarius, one of the most famous generals in history (though perhaps not as saintly as the novels portray), while on a spying mission forges a close friendship with Rana Sanga, one of the best generals of a truly evil empire. They later meet in personal combat on the battlefield, and Rana Sanga comes within a hair's breadth of gutting him like a fish before Belisarius's bodyguards intervene.
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