The Evil Midnight Lurker what Lurks at Midnight
An Extremely Pointless Crossover
BIO-BOOSTED RANMA: GUYVER 1/2
by W. Samuel Ashley
FIRE IN THE SKY
It was a quiet, peaceful night in the Nerima
ward… by local standards. After nearly two years of regular
nocturnal violence, those townsfolk who could not learn to sleep through
anything had given up and moved. The following sounds in particular
had become as much a part of the music of the night as those of passing
“RANMA NO BAKA!”
*WHAM* *CRASH* *TINKLE*
*SWISH* *THUD* *SWISH* *THUD* *SWISH* *BONK* “YEOW!”
Any local who had been conscious would have recognized and ignored the familiar sounds of Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendô quarreling. Ranma himself was all too used to it; being punched through Akane’s closed window and landing in the yard was second nature now. He’d even managed to avoid landing in the koi pond tonight. Unfortunately, insulting Akane was also second nature to him, resulting in the usual hail of thrown weights.
Muttering mild obscenities, Ranma decided against reentering the Tendô house. Wincing, he felt the spot where Akane’s last barbell had connected. Stupid girl… I can’t believe she thought I’d be willin’ to eat that thing! How could anyone mistake baking powder for rice flour? An’ I’m pretty sure that “sauce” was dish soap… and of course when I refuse t’ place my life in danger by taking a bite she gets upset about it. This is ridiculous… things were goin’ so well, and now we’re right back where we started! It’s as if the Mount Phœnix mess never happened…
Since his first trip to China, Ranma’s life was a never-ending battle. If it wasn’t Kunô or Ryôga challenging him, it was some supernatural creature or other… minor demons, ghost cats, people who’d fallen in Jusenkyô springs where something really bizarre had drowned. None of them had ever been a serious threat; even Ryôga and Tarô, probably the most powerful of the lot, seldom came close to winning. That changed the night the winged warriors came to town, hunting the Jusenkyô Guide’s daughter; the birdmen themselves weren’t so dangerous, but their ruler, the Phœnix Prince, Saffron…
He had the power of…well, of a god, healing faster than Ranma could hurt him, slinging incredible bolts of phœnix-flame. In the end, though, he’d gone down to defeat. Barely.
In the end…to save Akane’s life, Ranma had had to cross a line he’d hoped never to come near. He’d killed the phœnix-god, practically ripped him apart bare- handed.
Sure, Saffron’s phœnix powers had brought him back to life as an infant. But…Ranma hadn’t known that would happen, had he? He’d done the deed, believing it would stick.
He now knew, beyond doubt, that under the right circumstances he could kill.
Those circumstances…all revolved around one person.
The battle, and the wedding disaster that followed, had altered Ranma’s relationship with Akane. For the first time, they’d really begun to break down the walls of pride and stubbornness thad had kept the two at odds since the day they met, eighteen months before. They had been able to go almost a whole week without quarreling…
And then Kasumi left for medical school, and everything fell apart.
Doctor Tôfû’s clientele doubled, but that was only to be expected… the problems began when the issue of homemaking came up. Kasumi had done nearly all the cooking and cleaning for the Tendôs and their houseguests for years; now she was gone and others would have to cope. The Tendôs and Saotomes worked out a reasonably balanced schedule of chores; Genma had to be watched closely to ensure his participation, but everyone was used to that. The real snag was the question of cooking. Genma and Sôun pleaded ignorance, Nabiki insisted on an unacceptably high allowance hike to take the job, Happôsai refused outright, and Ryôga wasn’t consistently available. That left Akane or Ranma.
The entire Tendô household quailed at the thought of eating Akane’s “food” on a regular basis; even Ryôga covertly approached Ranma and begged him to keep Akane out of the kitchen. Fortunately, Ranma’s early life on the road, combined with his training in various esoteric martial culinary arts, made him a more than passable chef. Most of the martial styles had more to do with using food in combat than as edibles, but discipline demanded that the practitioner be able to prepare his weapons.
To maintain their newfound harmony, Ranma tried to teach Akane to cook. Gods, how he’d tried… for three months they’d slaved over the stove, her frustration and his disbelief growing as Akane proved totally unable to follow even the simplest recipe. Did the fault lie in Akane’s terminal impatience or Ranma’s teaching skills? Neither could tell, and in the end it made no difference. Tempers frayed, walls snapped back up. Once again, the two were barely on speaking terms.
Ranma sighed and lay back on the lawn. This was a welcome break from the daily insanity of the Tendô household: a warm summer night, clear stars, no insane pseudo-fiancees trying to poison him, and no maniacs challenging him for Akane’s hand. Just peace, quiet, and the unchanging stars…
Unchanging? Then what was that bright red spark?
It was moving. Just an airplane… shouldn’t its lights be flashing?
The spark dimmed, disappeared. Probably a meteor. Ranma yawned, considered his options, decided to sleep where he lay.
I should’a thought of this long ago…
A faint, high-pitched whistling sound brought Ranma awake. Although it originated above him, it bore no resemblance to the familiar sound of a person on the downward arc of a crosstown uppercut. It did, however, appear to be produced by a falling object.
Ranma rolled as the object plummeted directly toward him; overcompensating, he smashed into an ornamental stone lamp. His yell of pain was followed by a heavy thud.
Clutching his much-abused head, Ranma shakily got to his feet. The thing had imbedded itself in the lawn exactly where his head had been. He staggered over to take a closer look, while above him Akane slid her broken window open. “Keep it down out there!” she yelled. “Some of us are trying to sleep!”
Ranma ignored this. Akane watched, puzzled, as he kneeled and pried something out of a hole in the turf. As he turned the object over to examine it from all sides, she anime-hopped to the ground and joined him.
“I dunno,” Ranma replied. “It just fell out of the sky… nearly brained me, too.” He continued his inspection.
The object was nearly a foot across and vaguely hexagonal. Six pieces of plasticlike red material partially encased a dark mass, unidentifiable in the dim light; the most prominent feature was a large metallic hemisphere centered on one side. The polished orb was divided into an inner circle and outer ring by a thin band of transparent crystalline substance.
“This red stuff doesn’t really feel like plastic,” Ranma noted. “More like… what’s that stuff insect shells are made of?”
Akane sighed. “Honestly, Ranma, if you put half as much energy into studying as you do into martial arts you’d know these things. It’s called chitin.”
“Whatever… and if you put half as much energy into martial arts as you do into schoolwork,” Ranma found himself saying, “you might not be such a klutz.” Dammit, how do I turn my mouth off?!
Akane pulled her giant mallet out of hammerspace and bashed Ranma across the lawn. He landed roughly in a well-lit corner, his head smashing into the mysterious object. Something inside it went *click.*
Ranma rose, woozy after the third head injury in fifteen minutes. In the glow of the streetlamp the material gleamed within its casing, a tightly-packed mass of motionless black earthworms, glistening with moisture.
The object clicked again, hummed. Steam arose from its interior. The crystal band glowed, casting a halo into the night.
“Ranma!” Akane ran up, “What did you…?”
“Whaddaya mean what did I do?! You’re the one who—” Ranma broke off as the dark mass begin to move, the “worms” slithering faster and faster around one another. “Akane, keep back!” he shouted. “I think this thing’s…”
The chitinous casing snapped open, fell away. The wormstuff within gathered itself into an amorphous, tentacled glob and lunged at Ranma.
“…ALIVE!” he finished, as it began to engulf him.
Wasting no time in screaming, Akane joined Ranma’s effort to pull the thing off. Despite their combined strength, it clung resolutely to Ranma, spreading over his body.
“Get away, you idiot! This thing might… go after you next…” Ranma’s voice muffled as the glob rose to cover his mouth. The metallic disc, still attached to the creature, slid over Ranma’s forehead as the rest of his face vanished beneath the glistening black wormstuff.
Ranma stiffened and stopped moving. Akane ripped at the creature, then let go as it began to secrete a mild acid, burning her hands.
Now was the time for screaming—but this was Nerima; there was no one to hear.
High above, however, someone unused to ignoring
cries for help heard and responded. Shô Fukamachi, known to a
select few as Guyver I, had almost given up his aerial search when
Akane’s screams reached his ears.
That better not be what I think it is, Shô thought as he veered toward the sounds below. Please, let it be just a simple mugging… and not another life destroyed by a Unit.
In a walled yard below, Shô’s fear assumed the solid form of a statue covered in Guyver muscle tissue. A screaming teenage girl beat her fists against its chest only to pull them back in apparent pain.
Dammit, I’m too late! The Unit’s been activated… and someone else has paid the price for my carelessness. I’ve got no choice… whoever they are, they’re a part of this now. But why hasn’t anyone noticed? There’s not a single light on for blocks… of course, that’s a good thing under the circumstances. He dropped to the ground at the opposite end of the yard and released his armor.
Even in her panic, Akane’s sensitive ears
did not fail. She spun to face the intruder, hyperdimensional hammer in
hand. Before her was an unremarkable boy about Ranma’s
age. Behind him there was… what? Was the fading glow
real or a product of her overstimulated imagination?
Shô, for his part, saw a brown-haired girl in pajamas holding a very large hammer that he was certain hadn’t been there as he landed. That and the anguish and suspicion on her tear-streaked face suggested he’d better talk fast.
“Who are you and what are you doing
here?” Akane snapped, brandishing her hammer. “If you
have anything to do with that… thing… you’d better pray
Ranma’s all right!”
“Take it easy there…” the stranger replied. “I didn’t do anything to your friend, but I do know what’s happening to him. He should be all right under that stuff; he’s just unconscious. I’m here to help.”
“Then start helping by getting that glop off of him!”
“That’s not possible now. See for yourself; it’s beginning to merge with him.”
As Akane looked on, the wormstuff covering Ranma began to change. Patches were melting, ropes of tissue running into one another and becoming the same shade of red as the casing. It congealed into gelid orbs at three points on his head; translucent pink plates had formed over his eyes. Silvery spheres emerged over his mouth, temples, and waist. Spikes protruded from his forearms and the top of his head.
“What’s happening to him? What is that stuff? Tell me, or I swear I’ll break every bone in your body!”
“…A suit of living armor,” the stranger replied. “A biological weapon. Your friend will wake up after it finishes forming, and he’ll be able to remove it himself. Until then, you should really put that hammer down and try not to make any threatening moves.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?! You think I’m just going to stand here and let this happen?”
“There’s nothing either of us can do about it. As for the ‘threatening’ part, that’s really for our protection. The armor is going to activate before your friend is fully awake, and until he comes around it’ll attack anything it perceives as dangerous. Right now, that includes you.”
“I’m a student of the Tendô School of Unclassified Martial Arts,” Akane stated. “I can take care of myself.”
“Not against that you can’t! Short of a nuke, the Guyver armor is the most powerful weapon on Earth—I don’t care what kind of martial art you know, if you get that thing angry it will kill you! Do you want your friend to wake up standing over your dead body?”
That brought Akane up short. She had the sudden, overwhelming impression that the stranger was speaking from personal experience; pain was clearly written in his eyes. “N- no… and he’s not my friend,” she added reflexively. “How do you know so much about this, anyway? Who are you?”
“My name’s Shô. Shô Fukamachi… and I know what I know because the same thing happened to me a few months ago. I think I should save the explanations until your friend… Ranma?… is awake to hear them. It’s a long story, and I’d rather not tell it twice. The armor’s almost complete; he should regain consciousness in a couple of minutes.”
Akane turned back to Ranma’s still-changing form. The red patches, which at first had been semi-fluid, were hardening and… unmelting was the best way she could describe it, like a wax candle dripping in reverse, contracting into smooth plates of red chitinous armor covering the underlying black tissue. The armor plates were arranging themselves in a vague imitation of human musculature. The overall effect was of some bizarre cross between human and insect, but the “face” bore no resemblance to anything she’d ever seen. Its only recognizable features were the eyeplates; below them, instead of a mouth and nose, two small silvery spheres of unequal size were set in a gap in the armor. To each side of these was a hollow hexagonal protrusion. The spikes on Ranma’s forearms had grown into swept-back swordlike blades; the crest on his head was thinner, though longer, and did not appear particularly sharp.
Shô watched the process as intently as the
girl; he’d never seen the armor formation before, having of course
been unconscious when it happened to him. As they waited, he activated
the telepathic transceivers on his back.
Makishima, can you hear me?
The calm, powerful voice of Agito Makishima— Guyver III—echoed in his mind. I’m receiving you, Fukamachi. I’m clear of the Kronos patrols, and the case is safe. Have you recovered the missing Units?
Not quite. I found one of them, but too late; it’s been activated.
…Unfortunate. Who’s the victim, and where did you end up?
All I know so far is that his name’s Ranma and he’s got an extremely distraught girlfriend. He’s still out of it. We’re on the northwest side of Tôkyô…middle of Nerima ward, I think.
Does the girl know anything?
She saw the whole process, and she isn’t too happy about it. I think we just got stuck with at least two new members.
This is getting out of hand, One. If our group gets much larger we won’t be able to stay undercover. Do you think they’ll be of any use to us?
‘Use?’ Makishima, if we don’t help these people Kronos will either kill them or recruit them. Which would you prefer?
Point taken. I’m going to drop the case off with Murakami and the others, then head over there and continue the search. You stay with those two, and I’ll meet you when and if I find the other Unit.
Right. I’ll contact you if anything comes up.
As Shô broke off communication, the red Guyver reached full form and came alive. The girl gasped as its eyes and control medallion glowed.
“Just stay calm,” he reminded her. “It’ll be another minute before your friend wakes up.”
“Are you sure he can’t hear us?”
“Very. The armor’s in control now… watch.” The Guyver turned its head, looking slowly in every direction. Sensor discs on the sides of the head slid back and forth in their grooves, probing for anything that might constitute a threat to the host. Finding nothing, it relaxed and simply stood perfectly still.
Ranma struggled back to consciousness from the depths of a nightmare. It was a terrible and bizarre dream, a murky vision of slow death at the ‘hands’ of an unstoppable tentacled monster… or had it been a dream?
And how had he fallen asleep standing up? As his vision cleared, Ranma could see that he was still in the Tendô yard; Akane stood near him, her face unreadable. Someone he’d never seen before was behind her. The light seemed odd somehow; everything had a distinct pinkish tinge. And he felt… different.
“…Akane?” Even his voice rang oddly in his ears, with a slight synthesized sound to it; he had the odd impression that he’d spoken without using his lips, tongue, or throat at all. “What’s happened to me?”
The stranger stepped forward. “You’re wearing a suit of armor. It’s distorting your senses slightly; don’t worry, that’s normal.”
Ranma looked down at his hands. The palms were covered in black, glistening ropy tissue; the fingers and backs were sheathed in red armor. Memory returned with a shock: these were the same materials that the thing that attacked him had been made of!
“Normal for what? What is this stuff, and why don’t I feel like I’m wearing anything?” His entire body appeared to be covered by the “armor,” but as Ranma touched his arm with a finger he could feel the contact with both. “And how do I get it off?!” he continued, pulling at the plate covering his left forearm.
“Not like that,” the stranger informed him. “You have to will the armor off. It’ll obey your mental commands.”
“…Okay, it’s worth a shot. But if this doesn’t work, you’re in serious trouble.” Ranma concentrated, focusing his mind and spirit into a single white-hot thought: GET OFF!
The results were… unexpected. A brief flash of vertigo was followed by a moment of sensory deprivation, in turn succeeded by a rush of air and the feeling of something pulling away from him. Ranma heard Akane gasp; as his other senses returned, he noticed she was looking past him.
Ranma turned and seriously considered gasping himself as he saw the glowing, armored figure floating a few feet away. Before he had time to get a closer look, the thing drifted down to the lawn… and then through it, vanishing silently and without trace into the ground.
Too stunned to remember to be angry, Ranma turned back to Akane and the stranger. Akane’s expression mirrored his own, but the boy was remarkably calm; Ranma gathered his scattered thoughts and addressed him.
“…Right. You wanna explain what just happened, or should I just pound you into the ground?”
Akane exploded. “RANMA…! Mister Fukamachi saved you from that monster… you should be thanking him, not making threats!” She hefted her hammer, preparing to clobber Ranma if he so much as opened his mouth.
The stranger caught her arm. “That’s all right… Gods know, if someone who knew what was going on had been there when that happened to me, I’d want some answers in a hurry. I’ll try to explain everything, but could we go inside? Staying out here isn’t a good idea… you never know who might be listening.”
Ranma shot a glance at Akane, then shrugged. “Well, we could talk in the dojo… there aren’t any holes in it at the moment, so if we keep quiet no one would hear us. Not that anyone in this town is likely to be awake.”
“I was just going to ask you about that…”
As the girl and the new Guyver led the way into the dojo, Shô paused for a moment and looked up at the stars.
‘There are only three Units on Earth.’ Everyone knew that; Kronos, Makishima, Murakami, me… and everyone was wrong.
What are we going to do with #twenty# of the damn things…?
In a vast subterranean complex beneath Mount
Minakami, in the Takeshiro region of northern Honshu, a man with mauve
skin and a startling shock of white hair was on the verge of apoplexy.
“How, damn it?” he raved. “How could they possibly have known about the shipment? The entire Ruwenzori dig was under our heaviest security; the Guyvers couldn’t have known about the second ship, let alone the Units! And yet they intercepted our helicopter and blew it out of the sky… and stole the cargo!” He whirled, glaring at the office’s other occupant, a short balding man in ornate robes. “They’re still reading every move we make, even without Makishima’s inside help! How is this possible…?”
“Calm yourself, Commander Guyot,” the older man replied. Light glinted off the crystal embedded in his forehead as he turned away. “A security investigation can wait; our first priority must be the recovery of the Units.”
Richard Guyot took a few deep breaths and relaxed slightly. “That’s already being taken care of. I’ve got search teams sweeping the Tôkyô area and most of central Honshu… not that they’re likely to find anything; Murakami will sense any Zoanoids a mile away, and we don’t have enough unprocessed troops in the area to cover a city block. No, our only real option is to find the security leak and backtrack from there…”
“And what about the existing leak? Could Makishima have confederates in the organization?”
“Definitely not. When his cover was blown I checked out everyone who’d ever had any contact with him. Makishima kept everything to himself, with one exception: Marmot 3765.”
Doctor Barcas thought a moment. “The test subject who stole the first three Units?”
“Yes. I’m certain now that Makishima was responsible for the security breaches that let him escape; but there were no others involved. Makishima seems to have chosen 3765 for his resourcefulness and his short lifespan… something he no doubt neglected to mention.”
“If Makishima was not responsible, then there must be another traitor in Kronos.”
Guyot scowled. “That’s just as impossible! With the increased security since his defection, any traitor would have to be a Zoalord to avoid…”
He broke off, stunned. “A Zoalord. Not Makishima at all… Murakami. That damned guinea pig Murakami!”
“And how could he have learned of the shipment?”
Guyot ignored Barcas’s question and jabbed at his desktop visiphone. “This is Commander Guyot. I want a record of every unusual Zoanoid death in the past two weeks, concentrating on anyone involved with the Ruwenzori dig and the destroyed helicopter… Yes, immediately!” He turned back to Barcas. “I think you’ll have your answer in a moment.”
Three minutes later, Guyot’s printer began to spit out medical reports. He skimmed through them, discarding most; finally he was left with three. “Here we are… Ramotith 338, returned to Japan after three weeks security duty at the Babylon Site; killed in battle with Guyver Three and Murakami on June twentieth, no surviving witnesses. The first link in the chain.”
Barcas raised an eyebrow. “Even if they somehow tortured information out of him, that guard would have known nothing about the Ruwenzori dig. Where do you think this is leading?”
“From him it leads directly to his superior officers. Gregole 57, head of Relic Site Security Operations; showed up at work as usual on the twenty-third of June, died at 3:34 P.M. of no apparent cause. His staff described him as uncharacteristically listless and stiff; there being no way to do an autopsy on a fully- processed Zoanoid, his death was assumed to be the result of unnoticed genetic defects.”
“Curious… go on.”
Guyot flipped to the last page. “57’s contacts included Broyze 94, supervisor of all archæological operations. 94 knew everything about the Ruwenzori Site and the airlift… and according to this he died not fifteen minutes ago, five minutes after the destruction of the helicopter. Observed symptoms prior to death: unusually tired, slow, and stiff; and he’d been like that for five days, since the twenty-fifth.”
“I see. You postulate a chain of information… but 57 and 94, at least, were loyal to us. How could the Guyvers have gained the information and left them alive? They would have reported any such encounter immediately!”
“I told you, Barcas… not the Guyvers but Murakami. That clever bastard found a new use for his compulsion power… one that never occurred to any of us, since we have no need for it.”
Barcas started. “Interrogation…!”
“Precisely. He learned the identity of the head of security from the guard before killing him; then tracked 57 down, probably at his home, reamed out his mind, and kept him under control long enough to steer him to work. Murakami killed 57 from a distance, making sure that no one suspected they’d ever come in contact. Then he simply did the same to 94… and held him in compulsion for five days to prevent him from scrubbing the mission. Very impressive for a prototype.”
“This may work to our advantage. Murakami does have unusual endurance, but after five days, he must be exhausted… I would be very surprised if he could formshift, let alone take control of another Zoanoid. He’ll be suffering from sleep deprivation as well; he can’t possibly remain awake much longer. With Murakami out of the picture, it should be child’s play to find and capture them!”
“I hope you’re right. If we don’t recover at least one Unit-G before Lord Arkanfæl awakens… we’re both dead men.” But if we do, Guyot thought, I’ll make sure Arkanfæl never sees the light of day again!
We all thought there were only three Units on Earth…
What in hell are they going to do with twenty of the damned things?
Akane and Ranma get a crash course in the true history of the human species, while Shô learns more than he wanted to know about extreme martial arts; the Radicals plan for the future; plus, the action-packed debuts of Guyver Red, Ikazuchi no Guyver, and the ZoaGuyver. All of which leads up to the Second Great War of the Guyvers in Bio-Boosted Ranma, Part Two: WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE!
NOTES FROM DEEP LEFT FIELD
This was the first fanfic I ever wrote. Looking back on it, I’m more than a bit embarrassed, even after a slight rewrite…but not quite enough to drop it entirely. It’s been languishing for several years now, but somehow…maybe this time it’ll really work. Maybe.
Ranma-wise, this is manga continuity with a little anime influence (like most of my Ranma stuff), all the way up to and past volume 38. The Guyver plot is pure manga, but diverges right after Shô’s battle with Aptom II—in this version, the “radicals” (as Dr. Barcas termed them) managed to escape from the Minakami area without ever running into the renegade Basement scientists. Of course, this means there’s no Guyver Gigantic available…
Oh yes: this fic uses the original manga spelling for certain terms, rather than the godawful Viz translation. Thus Kronos instead of Chronos, Guyot for Gyro, Barcas not Valkus, etc.
Expect to see some weird stuff with the Guyvers. If they adapt to suit their host, what happens if the host is a highly trained, incredibly dangerous martial artist who could defeat Zoanoids without the armor…?
Comments, questions, or gouts of phœnix flame may be directed to email@example.com; please put “To Sam” in the subject line, as it’s a shared address.
“Now you’re a tiny two-headed bluebird who can only speak high-school French!”
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