Chapter Five: The ConvergenceEdit
"Is this line encrypted?" the General asked, resting back in his seat, talking into his cell.
"Yes sir," the voice on the other end stated.
"All right. I want a full update. Now."
"We've sent out unmarked soldiers into Cedar Grove to search for the missing kids, so as not to alarm any civilians."
"Good. Has the Doctor Sandhu made any progress on the craft in San Fran?"
"Well, sir. That's another subject. It appears... the craft has been retaken by the pilots."
The General remained silent for a moment. "You had better be kidding, Lieutenant."
"No, sir. The report says they took several torso shots from the guards before making it to the craft, where Doctor Sandhu was at the time."
"Did you engage in pursuit?"
"Yes sir. We sent four Apache's after it, but..."
"Oh great. More good news. What now?"
"The speed of the craft overtook us. It got up to Cedar grove within 30 seconds. Our choppers at the base there are mobilizing now."
"Are you stupid? If the thing could run from our choppers at THAT speed, you'll only be chasing it away again. No."
"Did they injure anyone during the retaking of the craft?"
"No, sir. They didn't hurt anyone. Though they didn't have much of a chance to, if they wanted to."
"I think they may not be hostile. There were weapons on the craft, correct?"
"None that would could identify, sir."
"Still, from what you describe, that craft may have literally ripped our choppers in two before it had a chance to return fire. They may not be hostile. Try to engage in communications with it, but don't be demanding."
"Yes, sir. I'll give the stand down order."
"I'll be there in about an hour, Lieutenant. Keep things running there."
"And now, right here on 95.3, the Z-man gives you one of his faves! I give you.... Skid Row!" the radio rang out.
James yawned as the beat began. It was just one of those days. His morning had been filled with trips back and forth from the hospital, to his home, to the base, which he was still restricted from entering.
o/~ Whoa yeah! o/~
Now it was time to go home for the night. The sun would set in an hour, and he could catch an early night.
o/~ Since I was born, they couldn't hold me down! o/~
Hmmm. That's kinda catchy.
o/~ Another misfit kid, another burned out town! o/~
James started to subconsciously move to the music, taking a left and heading down the road. That road was the longest part of the trip. Straight, long, and rather uninteresting.
o/~ I never played by the rules and I never really cared! o/~
Things were happening so fast. First, the mishap at the base, which caused Sarah's injuries, the cause of most of the stress. The doctors had said Sarah would be out of the hospital, most likely, the next morning, barring any complications.
o/~ My nasty reputation takes me everywhere! o/~
He wished to God that Sarah would finally break down and tell him what was going on at the base. It wasn't as it he wouldn't be able to tell what she was talking about. And he wouldn't tell anyone else.
o/~ I look and see, o/~
But then, even as a University Graduate in the field of Biology, James was a journalist by trade. He held a masters degree in biology, specifying in xenobiology, a field that often got him laughs. But it was the only thing that interested him.
o/~ It's not only me... o/~
While biology was his interest, journalism was his trade. He enjoyed the written word. To tell people a story, fiction or reality just brought him joy. The feeling he would get after having something published. To have it work known. It was a drug. His drug.
And so he had gone on to publish several articles in a few newspapers in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as a small story in a Sacremento magazine. Then had come his crowning achievement. His first book.
o/~ We're standin' tall, ain't never a doubt... o/~
It didn't quite meet his expectations once he it got published. Didn't make the bestseller list. Picked up by a cheesy Science Fiction paperback company, about a lonely xenobiologist and an alien virus on the ISS, which wasn't due for completion for a few more years.
Still, he made some money off of the book, and it got his name recognized in some circles. But usually only science fiction and anime fans. Still, it was better than not being known at all.
o/~ We are the young, shout it out! o/~
James yawned as he pulled through the halfway point of the long stretch of road. The scenery was still as uninteresting as could possibly be. A tree here, a street sign there. A fire hydrant, several small, mostly uninhabited buildings. A group of youths blocking the road.
o/~ They call us problem child... o/~
James pushed the brakes as fast as he could, but apparently not fast enough. He was going to hit one of them.
o/~ We spend our lives on trial... o/~
James took another look before shutting his eyes. Oh god, he was going to hit a cop!
o/~ We walk an endless mile... o/~
Finally, he heard the thump, and the car came to a stop. Great. He was going to be arrested now. He killed a cop. He had RUN OVER a cop!
o/~ We are the youth gone wild! o/~
"BAKAYAROU!" he heard.
o/~ We stand and we won't fall... o/~
James was confused. That was Japanese. He was sure of it... But... It came from... the hood of his car?
o/~ We're one and one for all... o/~
James opened one eye to see the cop standing on the hood of his car, shaking his fist at James. The cop was Asian, but.. He only looked like he was in his teens.
o/~ The writing's on the wall... o/~
As James rubbed his eyes, he noticed the others. A guy that seemed to be in his early twenties, wearing the strangest ensemble he'd ever seen, and... more importantly, wearing a big ass sword on his back.
Another guy, around the same age, with spiked hair, wearing some sort of weird grappling claw on his hand. But boy, he looked buff.
Yet another man, wearing a bandanna carrying a small dagger at his side.
And then the girl. Dressed in white, except for a pale green spandex-like material she wore underneath, and again... carrying a sword.
o/~ We are the youth gone wild! o/~
That was it. James had fallen asleep at the wheel and he was dreaming. Maybe it was an idea for his next book?
o/~ Boss screamin' in my ear, about who I'm supposed to b-- *click* o/~
If he was dreaming, he didn't want to be interrupted. He ignored the various yells from outside and escaped into his own mind for a moment.
"Ranma! Daijobu na?"
Wait. If he WAS dreaming, it was vivid enough for it to be an REM dream, which meant he had to have been asleep for a few hours. He didn't know he was THAT tired.
"Hai, hai. Nokoru wakarimashita, Akane?"
But he was still in his car... wasn't he?
Was he dead?
What he saw next only served to make James even MORE confused.
"Ranma! Are you okay?" Akane yelled from the side of the road.
Ranma checked himself over. "I'm fine, I'm fine. Just stay over there, okay?"
"So, where are they? They're supposed to be getting close, right?"
"Ranma," Cloud said, gasping. "Is... that what we're looking for?"
Ranma looked to where Cloud was pointing, which was to say, straight up.
Now it was Ranma's turn to gasp. "What the hell is that?"
"There," Lina said, pointing to the ground. "Those people. That's where this is coming from."
Zelgadis narrowed his eyes. "They're armed."
"But they also might have an idea what's happened to us. If we have any problems, I'll just whack them with a Dragon Slave."
Zelgadis sighed. "Lina, not everything has to be solved that way."
"Yeah, he's right!" Gourry said from below. "Can we land now?"
Lina nodded. "I guess we should."
And so, they descended to the ground. Gourry was the first to make landfall, all the while keeping eye contact with the people before them. One of the vehicles Zelgadis had displayed so much interest in earlier was behind them, while one of them stood atop in, and another inside.
Gourry was the first to notice the others, mostly huddled by the side of the road, under a tree. He recognized them instantly as non-combatants, while he suspected one of two of them were quite easily capable of fighting.
"Friend or foe?" one of the others said. A tall man with a rather outrageous hair style and a large sword strapped to his back that outweighed, and probably outperformed Gourry's own sword, when it wasn't in light mode.
Lina was somewhat surprised that they could speak her own language. They were the first people the three of them had come across that could speak it.
"That depends on you," Lina replied, keeping her eyes narrowed.
"I think what he means," the one on the top of the vehicle started to say as he jumped off. "Do you have any plans to attack us? Because if you do, you'll find we're more than a match for you."
Lina scoffed. "As if you could stop us if we wanted to attack you."
"Lina," Zelgadis began. "That's not wise. We don't yet know what these people are capable of, and we ARE outnumbered."
"Yeah," the cocky one said. "Listen to that rock guy."
Zelgadis narrowed his eyes. "Don't call me that."
"Ranma," the spiky haired one began. "I don't think--"
"The question remains... Do you want to attack us?" the woman asked.
"You first," Lina replied.
"We mean you no harm," the one with the bandanna said. "But we are prepared to defend ourselves."
"As are we," Zelgadis replied.
Suddenly, they were distracted by a frantic yelling from nearby, not only from in the vehicle, but by the people by the tree.
"What do you think?" Asuka asked.
"Think of what?" Akane replied.
"The tall one with the sword. He's cute, isn't he?"
"You know," Akane began. "They could be in danger from those people."
Asuka shook her head. "Why would two cute guys and some flat-chested girl try to hurt them? Heck, even if they COULD fly... Besides, aren't bad guys supposed to wear black robes and stuff?"
Terra laughed. "Not where I'm from. The person we spent years fighting wore colours. A lot of them."
"But still," Tifa said. "They don't look menacing."
"Hey, you guys?" Shinji began.
"What is it?"
"I know it's not an Eva, but I'm pretty sure they didn't have anything resembling them at this point in history, right Asuka?"
Asuka shook her head. "No, the first thing that even resembles an Eva was an old American Military project to try and develop a mech, based on the Eva units. But that was developed in 2006, and then scrapped soon after a major malfunction."
"Well," Shinji said, pointing upwards. "Tell me what THAT is, then."
That's all James could think. It was weird. First, these three people float down from the air as if they were human helicopters, and even then, he suspected one of them wasn't human.
Secondly, the lot of them started spouting words back and forth, in Japanese.
That was weird enough as it was, but what he saw next, a fourth... object coming down to land, was what REALLY bothered him.
It was, quite literally, a giant robot. Trimmed with white and blue colourations, a sort of cockpit, where he could see the distinct forms of three people, and... Wings?
He couldn't explain it. He didn't know if he wanted to explain it.
So he didn't. He just kept sitting there, and watched.
"Doesn't that strike you as strange?" Fei said, pointing towards the flying people.
Elly nodded, then looked towards the doctor. "Can you fly?" she asked.
Doctor Sandhu merely shook his head. "As far as I know, no human being on this earth can fly."
"I think they might know something about how we got here. It's just... a feeling."
"Should we land?"
"I think so."
Ranma's jaw dropped open. He'd seen plenty of giant robot anime, in fact, he'd seen tones of it.
But never in his lifetime, had he ever expected to see a real mech.
And least of all did he expect it to land so close to him.
Everyone spun around to watch the object land, including the three strangers, who had seemed to even forget they were there, just to watch it land.
As it got closer to the ground, the wind started to blow through everything. Picking up a thin layer of dirt from the road and sending it in every possible direction. Blowing wind through the nearby trees, and even smashing the windows of a nearby building.
A moment later, faces appeared in those same windows.
Finally, as the object landed, and the wind died down, Ranma could get a clear view of the belly of the beast.
The cockpit. There were three people inside, looking just as amazed as everyone on the ground.
"Let's see," James said to himself, holding his hand up. "Explosion at the lab, Sarah hurt. That's point one," he checked one finger.
"Second point, lab assistance talks about a feedback loop, and that there were others," he said as he checked another finger.
"Point three, I nearly crash into some extremely weird characters. A teenage, Japanese cop, a weird looking guy with a big ass sword, and several others." Three fingers.
"Point four, three people float down from the sky and start talking Japanese. One of which doesn't even seem human." Four.
"And to complete the hand, a giant robot just landed twenty feet away from me," he said.
"Not to mention you're talking to yourself... James, you ARE going crazy," he said, just before checking his back seat for five inch tall people and gremlins.
"What now?" Fei asked. "We've landed."
Doctor Sandhu strained his eyes. "It's easy to say they're not locals. But they seem more surprised than hostile."
Elly nodded. "I say we talk with them."
"I'm inclined to agree, my dear," the doctor said.
"God, he reminds me of Citan."
Elly just laughed.
"Okay," Fei said. "Here goes."
"What the hell is this?" Lina asked, obviously in awe.
"I've never seen... or even imagined anything like it!" Zelgadis said.
"It's a giant!" Gourry exclaimed.
The last comment was accentuated with a whack to the back of the head by Lina. "How many giants have you seen with a window for a belly, and three people looking out?"
Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted by an escape of steam, and the belly opening up to allow the people inside to get out.
"What do you make of this?" Cloud asked.
"What the hell am I supposed to make of this? It's a... thing!" Sabin exclaimed.
"It's a mech. A giant robot."
Cloud nodded. "I could figure that much. We've got things like this on my world... but not THAT big..."
Locke nodded his agreement. "Our world too. The empire had some giant robots, but never this big, or even human formed..."
As the cockpit opened, the five of them remained silent.
"Wait for them to talk," Cloud said.
"I think they're waiting for us to speak," Elly said.
Fei nodded. "What should we say?"
"Might I suggest 'Hello', lad?"
"English," Cloud said. "He's speaking English."
"Can't he speak Japanese?" Ranma asked, obviously frustrated.
"Don't know. What should we say?"
"Well, how about 'Hello'?"
Cloud cleared his throat before replying.
"Hello!" one of the other called back. "Nice... uhh... robot!"
Fei smirked. "They're friendly," he said to Elly. "Thanks!" he replied to the people.
"Nice robot?" Locke laughed. "You couldn't think of anything better to say?"
"Well, what would you have me say?" Cloud retorted.
Locke thought for a second. "Actually, that's probably what I would have said, too."
"Well, they seem friendly enough," Cloud said. "And I don't think those three are here to cause trouble. I think they've got the same problem as us."
"Pulled out of their own world and dropped here?" Ranma asked.
"Good God, how many more are there gonna be?"
"Sir, it's dropped off of radar," the radar technician said.
"Did it leave again?" Lieutenant Klein asked.
"No, sir. More than likely, it's landed."
"How far away?"
The technician looked up. "Not far, sir. Two, three clicks at most. We can reach it in the hummers."
The Lieutenant looked up. "General Leonard says to make contact in as friendly a manner as possible... But that thing by itself could take out entire legions of tanks... I'm not taking any chances. Send an armed convoy," he said, sighing. "Order them to fire if they portray any type of hostility."
The order was given, and an armed convoy of seven humvee's left the base within minutes.
It was small. He could see from the various memories he had taken that it was a small town.
But what he was looking for was not small by any stretch of the imagination. What he sought, was the one thing that had been able to hurt him.
His revenge for the pain inflicted upon his shell could wait. He would get them eventually.
But the one who had hurt him. Who had damaged him beyond the point of damage. The stone one.
The one who had said two words that held no meaning for any of his shells as of yet.
The two words. Rah Tilt.
And they were nearby. The base. He would be there in ten minutes. A mere ten minutes, and he would destroy all life within the base, then the town. One by one, he would consume the inhabitants of this world.
Starting with the sentients. The best taste came from sentients.
Soon. So very, very soon.
"He's getting closer. We've got to move," Terra said, with a frightened edge to her voice.
"Cloud!" Tifa called. "Terra says he's getting closer!"
Cloud glanced over and nodded. Turning back, he told the others.
"What's going on?"
"They... I think they're speaking Solarian, Fei," Elly said.
"Solarian? Are you sure?"
Elly nodded. "I'm sure of it."
"I can understand it," Fei replied.
"Solarian?" Doctor Sandhu asked.
"They're saying that something dangerous is coming, and that we should all try and get away from here as fast as possible."
"Do you think they're talking about that thing we met back on the road?" Lina asked.
Zelgadis nodded. "It has to be. It would make sense."
"Do you think we should get moving, then?" Lina asked.
"It would seem the best course of action."
"Hey, guys?" Gourry began. "What's that?"
Lina and Zelgadis looked towards where Gourry was pointing and gasped.
"What the hell is this? Another protest?" Lieutenant Klein asked.
"It appears that way, sir. Although I'd assume it was more of a gathering because of the craft. We might have a bit of trouble keeping this out of the news, sir," the driver stated.
"Screw that. I want these people arrested. All of them."
"Sir, that would be in violation of their constitutional righ--"
"Are you questioning my orders? Need I remind you that General Leonard himself left me in charge? This is a matter of national security. I want them all arrested."
"Yes, sir. I'll relay the order," the driver sighed.
"Oh, what now?" Ranma cursed, turning around to see the convoy approach.
"I don't think... I don't think it's that thing... It's..." Cloud strained his eyes. "Something else."
Celes' eyes widened as they got closer. "Are they going to stop?"
"Military," Ranma said. "They're the military."
"Are they here to help?" Locke asked.
Ranma shook his head. "I'd say they're here because of the mech. They have to be, and from what I hear about the military and aliens, they aren't going to be too friendly."
"We aren't aliens, though."
Ranma nodded. "Either way, we're either going to end up shot, or arrested... If you ask me, I say we should let ourselves get arrested."
Cloud nodded. "Yes, the security at the base might be enough to keep the nameless one out long enough for us to get home."
"Err," Ranma began. "Yeah. That'll work, too."
"Sir, I don't think these people are mere civilians," the driver stated.
"Look at them. What civilians do you know of that wear clothes like that, or even swords for that matter."
Lieutenant Klein narrowed his eyes. With a quick count, there were fourteen of them. With perhaps more in the car. Five on the side of the road, nine in the middle of it.
"I want those five secured first. They appear to be the non-combatants. If the ones in the road resist, point the gun at those five. They'll have to give up. I want everyone to keep their heads up, they may be armed with other types of weaponry."
"What should we do? They're after us again," Elly said.
Fei shook his head. "If we leave, these people might be in danger. I don't want to risk that."
"I don't think they'll shoot," Doctor Sandhu said.
"Won't they?" Fei retorted. "All we wanted is to get our gear back, and they shot at us. They took possession of something that wasn't theirs, and we took it back, and THAT warranted them trying to kill us."
Doctor Sandhu sighed. "They thought you were a hostile alien force. They thought you might have tried to kill them."
"They THOUGHT that this gear was their property."
"I'll tell them not to fire. They have to listen to me," he said.
Fei sighed. "Fine, tell them, then."
It didn't take long for the convoy to arrive. The first humvee parked mere meters away from Tifa, Akane, Terra, Shinji and Asuka, as the inhabitants piled out and held the five of them at gunpoint.
"Wait!" Ranma called. "Don't shoot!"
There was another clutter of movement as more soldiers piled out and held the four people by the car at gunpoint. James watched wide-eyed from the car as someone pointed the dangerous end of an M-16 at him.
Lina, Gourry and Zelgadis on the other hand, felt the definite threat, but just stared in confusion at the choice of weaponry.
"What are they going to do? Poke us to death?" Lina asked, obviously steaming.
"Lina, I think--"
"I think these people need a taste of WHO exactly I am!"
"Lina, I wouldn't suggest--"
Celes batted a curious eye towards Lina.
"Darkness beyond Twilight," Lina began.
"Oh, dear," Gourry said.
"Crimson beyond Blood that flows," the red-haired girl continued.
Celes narrowed her eyes. It was rare to see it, but she could definitely see what was happening. The girl was casting an incantation.
"Idai na nanji no na ni oite ware, koko ni yami ni chikawan," the girl continued.
"What the hell is she doing?" Klein asked.
"Well, my knowledge of Japanese is rather limited, sir... But from the sounds of it, she's praying to some sort of dark god."
Klein narrowed his eyes. "Great," he said. "Satanists."
"Let the fools that stand before us be destroyed by the power you and I possess!"
"Why," Fei began. "Do I NOT like the sound of that?"
"This isn't good," Gourry said. "TAKE COVER!"
Celes had little choice. She rose her sword into the air and expanded her aura as much as she could.
"Put down your weapon!" One of the soldiers shouted at her.
"Put it down, or we will OPEN FIRE!" Another soldier said.
"You idiots! She saving your bloody life!" Sabin yelled at them.
"Stay there. Don't move, or you'll be shot too!"
Sabin growled. "Celes, keep it up!"
"What the hell?" Lieutenant Klein swore. "Is she crazy? Doesn't she know that we'll kill her?"
"Look," the driver pointed.
Klein's jaw dropped open. What he saw defied belief. A strange fog was emanating from the red-haired girl, and was actually collecting within the blonde's sword.
Fog wasn't the right word. It seemed... REALITY itself was moving around, and collecting into her sword.
"What the hell....?"
Lina stared in disbelief. It didn't work? How could it not work?
Then she saw it. The girl. One of the others. Her SWORD was attracting the Dragon Slave.
Lina narrowed her eyes. Didn't she know how much effort it took to cast that spell? It wasn't right!
"Lina," Zelgadis began. "I think we should just go with them. If the need arises, we can escape easily. For now, let's go before anyone gets hurt."
Lina ground her teeth.
Celes finally lowered her sword, out of breathe. The looks of astonishment on the soldiers faces was reward enough. But they had to move. NOW.
"Are you going to arrest us, or what?"