Interlude Two: Ukyou
A Ranma ½ / Tenchi Muyo! crossover story
By Brian Randall
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and Viz Communications. Tenchi Muyo! belongs to Hitoshi Okuda and Pioneer LDC. Among others…
She couldn't see the other girl, but an accidental nudge from her sent her bumping into the side of the narrow access corridor she was working in, striking her hip against a bulkhead. "Ow," she mumbled, looking down, but still unable to see much of the corridor where her lower body was still poking out. "Be careful, will you?"
"Sorry," Shampoo's voice came to her. "What status?"
Grunting, Ukyou turned her attention back upwards, to the small board of circuitry nestled in an inordinately oversized bundle of insulated wire. "What the hell were they thinking when they made this ship?" Ukyou growled. "This stupid— ugh. Hang on. I need a grounding strap."
"What's wrong?" Shampoo asked, ducking her head to be visible in the small crawlspace, holding the requested grounding strap out to Ukyou.
She slid herself out of the access-way, shaking her head, and shot the instructor a baleful glare. "Idiots can't make the damn thing look remotely like the schematics!"
"They had less than two months to get several ships assembled," the man noted flatly. "You're running slow."
Ukyou growled further obscenities beneath her breath, and snapped the grounding strap into place on her wrist. "Can you make sure I'm secure?" she mumbled at Shampoo, checking the tool kit at her waist before drifting back into the service hatch.
Shampoo announced, "Ground is good, Ukyou."
"Swell," she muttered, returning to the circuit board and eyeing it suspiciously. "Half of these connections are off," she yelled. "Wait a minute — this is supposed to be an AX-15, right?"
"Yes," the instructor grumbled loudly.
"Well, they used an RN-32," she returned angrily. "You assigned us to the wrong service duct."
After a moment of silence, the instructor swore, muttering, "Let me look at that board."
Ukyou slipped out of the narrow service hatch, as the technician attempted to wriggle in with her. "Bleah," she whispered to Shampoo, who was watching the entire scene with a somewhat dubious expression. "This is stupid."
"He probably very lonely," Shampoo whispered back.
It took a moment for the entire thought to filter through, and then Ukyou grit her teeth, glaring at the technician. "What a jackass," she hissed.
Shampoo nodded emphatically. "Glad we share room."
The instructor mumbled something, and crawled out of the duct, frowning. "You should know how to diagnose RN-series boards by now," he noted. "Haven't you been studying?"
"Yes," Ukyou grumbled. "But you said that I have to check an AX-15 for damage. Not an RN. This might be part of the ship's systems, not the training module, for all I know."
"Fine," the man said, studying a clipboard. "We don't have enough time to open another panel. I'm afraid you're going to fail this test. Unless—"
"Like hell!" she snarled, raising her fist to strike the man, but caught by the tether of the grounding strap. Restraining her temper, she caught her breath, and turned to Shampoo. "Okay, AX-15 has a backup, right? Shampoo, which panel number is AX-48 behind?"
Reciting from memory, Shampoo announced, "Green six, outer ring."
Ukyou nodded, unclipping the grounding strap from the diagnostic station just outside of the open hatch. "Okay, seal this one, I'll get to green six, outer ring, and meet you there. We're gonna make it."
The Amazon shot the instructor a haughty look, as Ukyou glided along the large wall of sealed portals, halting herself at the appropriate juncture and unsealing the hatch, even as Shampoo sealed the prior aperture.
Slipping her hands beneath the levers to open the hatch, Ukyou grunted, planting her feet on the wall containing the hatch for leverage. It gave slowly, coils on the hinges forcing it to do so. Waiting for it to finish opening, Ukyou released it, smacking her palm against the release button for the diagnostics console.
The protective plating covering the console folded into the bulkhead, allowing her to utilize the various terminals. She plugged the ground into the black grounding port, and crawled into the access tunnel, muttering loudly. "Stupid wires, stupid instructors, stupid, stupid, stupid circuit boards…."
She found the board she was searching for, still hidden in a wickedly tangled ball of wires. "Ah… crap," she grumbled. "Shampoo?"
"Here," she called out supportively. "I have book. Is AX-48, yes?"
"Yeah. So how do I wire this around the screw-up for RN-32?"
"Um… white-red to pin twenty-eight of main control chip," Shampoo encouraged.
"Ground first," Ukyou chastised, pulling on a pair of safety goggles and preparing her soldering iron. "And then, does white-red to twenty-eight override the current board? I need to get everything set up before we put the override in."
"Oh… green-white to fourteen, first."
Ukyou maneuvered the wires carefully, soldering as Shampoo instructed. "Okay," she mumbled once the wire was set. "How much time do we have left?"
"Five minutes," the instructor noted sourly.
"We can do this."
Exam finished, coming in with only a few seconds to spare, Ukyou and Shampoo retreated to their room, being quiet for Akane, who was still sleeping. "Ugh," Ukyou said after a moment. "That sucked."
"But, we got it," Shampoo encouraged. "We won, didn't we?"
"Stupid instructor," Ukyou grumbled. "No self control."
"Yes. Very stupid," Shampoo agreed.
There was a long moment of silence, Akane shifting slightly in her sleep.
"I miss Ranchan," Ukyou sighed listlessly. "What do you think he's doing right now?"
"Not sure," Shampoo said quietly. "I… I like to think Ranma is okay. But…."
"What do you suppose will happen to us?"
Shampoo sighed, shaking her head, and grateful that Akane had decided an old skirt could be cut into hair-ties. "Don't know. I have feeling we will see Ranma again. Don't know why."
"I hope so," Ukyou said softly. "And you know what I'm going to do when I see him?"
"I'm going to whack him good!" she said, mimicking an overhand striking motion, as though she had brought her large spatula had with her.
Shampoo snickered, asking, "Is that all?"
"Well, then I'm going to give him the mother of all kisses," she said blandly.
"Get in line," Shampoo snorted. "Shampoo do the same."
"Nnng…" Akane mumbled, rousing from beneath the sleeping bag strapped to the wall. "I'll just kiss him," she yawned, crawling out of the bag, hair severely tousled as the self-adhesive straps gave noisily. "Morning, girls. How was your test?"
"Pain in the ass," Ukyou mumbled, knuckling back a yawn of her own. "I'm betting yours is going to be a bitch, too."
"Lovely," Akane grumbled. "How long have we been going?"
"A month," Shampoo said thoughtfully. "Rest well, Ukyou. More navigation training today, Akane?"
"Grrr…" Akane grumbled, drifting out to the main passageway.
Ukyou crawled into the just-vacated sleeping bag, sighing softly. "Night, Shampoo… see you later, I guess."
"Night-night," Shampoo called back softly, following Akane to the hall, and sealing Ukyou in the chamber to rest alone.
To be continued.
Author's notes: Short, pointless, and the second of three. Save, collect, trade for swell prizes!
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