The Beast Within
Disclaimer: Ranma , Darkstalkers and all other characters mentioned in this story belong to their respective creators so go bother them!
' ': Thoughts
[ ]: Spoken in Mandarin/Cantonese
World Tour Part 6
Challenge of the Deep
Nabiki could only stare in total amazement as she was the first human, (technically a Secondary Lycanthrope), to visit the Kingdom of Atlantis in over 10,000 years. Though it was mostly in ruins since the earthquake that wiped out nearly the entire populace of Rikuo's race, it was still quite magnificent.
The buildings seemed to be a combination of natural rock and coral formations, which glittered like gemstones as they were illuminated by several crystalline structures that gave off their own light. The main capital city of Aquarius was about the size of Tokyo as Sea Fang Alpha made its way toward the royal palace where the kingdom's only inhabitant dwelled.
Swimming ahead of the mini-sub, Kalesse the Undine was not looking forward to meeting with King Rikuo Aulbath. If she had a choice, she would rather pick the barnacles off Bob's backside than spend a single minute alone with that pompous merman.
Her tribe of undines favored true strength and honor, which was the main reason why they respected the Talbains. Rikuo however, had a very big ego. He considered himself the most beautiful of Poseidon's creatures, which meant that he deserved nothing less but the best. During her first visit, Kalesse had to fight off several dozens of his advances and told him repeatedly that she wanted nothing to do with him, let alone agree to become his queen. The merman proved to be quite stubborn and she knew that he hadn't given up on her.
In the mini-sub, Nabiki discussed with Matthew and his father about the upcoming meeting with the ruler of Atlantis.
"So are you certain that the medallion fragment is here in Atlantis?"
Matthew nodded as he took out the incomplete object in question. The artifact glowed with an eerie light, indicating that a part of it was in the vicinity.
"Hopefully we'll be able to find it without any trouble." Jon commented. "But since it happens to be here in Atlantis, we're going to need Rikou's permission to search for it."
"So what's this Rikuo like? I mean, why does Kalesse hate him so much?" Kasumi's sister asked.
Jon's son activated a nearby console and pulled up the file on the last survivor of Atlantis.
"His full name is Rikou Albath, and he was elected as the ruler of Atlantis by his people some five years ago. You see Nabs, unlike most royalty, a king of Atlantis isn't born into the position; he's actually elected by the people every few years. You might say that it's one of the earliest forms of democracy."
"Indeed." His father commented. "Rikuo had only started his rule when a seaquake devastated Atlantis and killed nearly all of the merfolk living here. Personally, I really don't blame him for wanting to rebuild his civilization and regenerate his species, but he's going to have to find another way than trying to force Kalesse into being his new queen."
"He can't really be THAT bad, can he?" Nabiki inquired.
"He IS that bad and then some." Matthew confirmed. "You remember how Mousse was with Shampoo in China?"
Matthew's girlfriend groaned as she remembered how foolhardy Mousse was; trying to impress Shampoo by attacking a Deathwing's foot with a duck-shaped training potty. Then she also recalled how ticked off Akane was when Kuno made that stupid declaration to defeat her in battle in order to date her. Oh yes, she could understand Kalesse's anger over a persistent suitor who couldn't take a hint and take a hike.
"So what does he look like?"
Her beau brought up an image of Rikuo on his console. After gazing upon Rikuo's looks for a minute, she did several double-takes between the image and Kalesse who was swimming out in front of them. She then gave her boyfriend a questioning look.
Matthew nodded as he responded to her unspoken question. "Rikuo and Kalesse come from different species of merfolk. They may be children of Poseidon, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're compatible."
"I think it's because of Rikuo being so lonely for the last five years." Matthew's father added. "Being the last of his kind is a scary thought. I suppose his loneliness is overriding his better judgment. I've also done the research. Rikuo and Kalesse's species are like horses and donkeys."
"Horses and donkeys?" Nabiki repeated in confusion.
"When you cross a horse with a donkey, what do you get?" Matthew asked.
"You get a mule. So what does?" The middle Tendo girl then realized what the Talbains were getting at. "Oh, I get it. If Rikuo and Kalesse have any children, then they're going to be like mules. They'll be sterile."
"And that's another reason why Kalesse doesn't want to marry Rikuo. And if Rikuo wants to propagate his race, he'd be better off giving up on her and try to find someone else." Jon said. "A female of his own kind would be the best match. A Nereid might be able to do the job as well."
"Good luck on trying to change his mind." The younger werewolf commented. "He was dead set on marrying Kalesse and he didn't believe us when we told him that his kids wouldn't be able to have kids of their own."
"I know. Sometimes loneliness and wanting to love someone can make a person lose all of his common sense. But we have another chance to convince him otherwise and maybe even help him. We're just going to have to wait and see."
At that point, Kalesse signaled to the mini-sub and pointed to a very large structure, which was the main palace. She then led the group toward a nearby entry port.
Things were about to get complicated.
Akane couldn't believe how complicated things had gotten. Who was this wrinkled little gnome, and why was her father and his friend so terrified of him?
After beating the living daylights out of his former pupils, the one known as Happosai took a long puff from his pipe as the heads of the Tendos and Saotomes groveled in front of him. He would have pounded them even more, but they smelled like freshly-pressed women's panties and sweaty men's boxer shorts, although it wasn't enough to sap enough his perverted strength. He had gone for a quick panty raid in the nearby village before finding his disciples again, which explained the large bag of unmentionables he had with him. The smell was still quite disgusting. He also wondered why their auras, along with Tendo's youngest daughter's were erratic and unstable. He filed those thoughts away for a later time as Soun tried to sound joyous over his master's return.
"M-Master! I-I-I am s-s-so happy to see that you are alive and"
"Save it Tendo! You're not fooling anyone, least of all me." The ancient lecher said as he took another puff, then looked down at the Matthew's former father. "And you Saotome, you haven't changed at all. I see you've put on a few dozen pounds since I last saw you."
"DAD? WHO IS THIS PERSON?"
"Oh my!" Kasumi remarked.
Behind her, the two bodyguards and the Talbain maids stood by in confusion and revulsion. Compared to this little human troll, the youkai at Castle Talbain were preferable company.
Soun looked up from his groveling position with a panicked expression. "Akane! Show the proper respect! This is the Dreaded er, Honored Grandmaster Happosai of the Founding School of Anything Goes Martial Arts! He was our sensei!"
"Your sensei? HE'S the grandmaster of the Anything Goes?" Akane said in total disbelief.
Happosai nimbly jumped over his disciples to stand in front of the youngest Tendo. He gave her a leering expression and nodded. "Hmmm, not bad Tendo! She's a cutie! Except for that smell of newly-bought bras and old gym socks. Whew! There's nothing more disgusting than the smell of a man!"
Akane's hair-trigger temper immediately got the better of her as she took the comment as an insult and started swinging.
"WHY YOU LITTLE!"
However, uncontrolled rage wasn't enough to land a blow on someone with more than two hundred and eighty years of experience under his belt. Soun and Genma's master easily avoided the strikes with a lazy grace. As he continually dodged, he casually gave Akane's skills his candid and not-too flattering assessment.
"Hmm sloppy, sloppy, sloppy absolutely no control whatsoever openings are big enough for a truck to drive through poor recovery time" He casually glanced over the Soun. "Tendo, I'm disappointed if she's the BEST your branch of my school can offer. You REALLY should have trained her better."
Akane's father could only whimper as his child continued to assault Happosai with no success. However, as the girl started to build up a sweat, her odor increased in potency, making Happosai grimace in disgust and increase the distance between them. This was noticed by his scheming students as they watched the fight continue.
"Look Tendo, see how the Master avoids her!"
"Yes. I cannot understand it, but Akane is actually holding her own against him!"
"I get it, Tendo! It's her smell! Remember what the Master said?"
"I see, Saotome! This is the first time I'm grateful for her odor! If she cannot be touched by him, then we can use Akane to keep him at bay!"
However, their hopes were quickly dashed as Happosai proved to be quite resourceful. Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out a wooden clothespin and used it to plug up his nose. With a speed that was considered as inhuman, he darted past Akane's nearly nonexistent defense and latched onto her chest.
"Aah this is bliss!" The old pervert marveled as he nuzzled against Akane's bosom.
The youngest Tendo daughter reacted in a violent but understandable manner.
Akane sent her molester skyward with an uppercut that would have shattered concrete. She stood panting and in state of total distress.
"That that disgusting little toad! Ugh! Gross! He touched my chest!"
As Soun and his friend quickly began packing up and prepared to leave the area before the Master returned, the Talbain staff moved off to one side as one of the bodyguards began dialing on a cellphone.
"Castle Talbain, this is Head Butler Dubroke speaking ah, hello Oscar. How are things with the Tendo clan in Japan? What? Happosai? Are you certain? Yes, I do recall Master Jon telling me about him. I see. Well, for now, since we are still under orders to watch over the Tendo household, I suggest that you show him the Talbain Family Crest. I am certain that he will not trouble you, once he realizes who we work for. Yes, keep me informed of any further developments. Goodbye."
Meanwhile, a trio of witches from Salem and an Amazon Elder were busy pouring over several volumes of ancient texts. Cologne was especially impressed with the amount of magical lore her distant relatives possessed.
"I've been looking all over for the final ingredient to this spell!" She pointed to a section of a thick tome. "The Amazon Archives are incomplete about this ritual. May I copy it?"
Tyselli looked over Cologne's shoulder at the section she was indicating and nodded. The Elder was family after all.
Shampoo's great-grandmother immediately produced an inkwell, a writing quill and a piece of parchment. She speedily jotted down the information and let the ink dry before rolling up the information and putting it away in her robes. She then went back to researching the counter-spell needed to free the Tendos from their demonic stench.
On the other side of the compound, Shampoo was getting acquainted with another resident of Castle Talbain. So far, she had been enjoying her visit and had met with several non-human beings over the last few hours. This particular denizen had green, scaly, clawed hands and feet, finlike ears and a leathery tail protruding from the small of her back. Otherwise, she was more or less human with her brown, wavy hair tied up in a ponytail, blue eyes and a slender figure. Her name was Cendra, but her race known as the Reptyls, a species of Lizardmen.
Like all Lizardmen, Cendra prided herself as a capable fighter and she wanted to meet with an actual Amazon warrior. Since no fighting was allowed at the castle, she instead invited Shampoo to train alongside her. Presently, both were in one of the practice gymnasiums and using swords.
"Like this?" The warrior girl asked as she swung her scimitar about in a choppy motion.
Cendra shook her head as she demonstrated with her broadsword. "No. Make more smooth! Like this!" She made a circular maneuver with her weapon, and then ended with a sharp thrust.
"Oh! That is good move!" Cologne's heir remarked as she duplicated the technique. "Where you learn it?"
"Kalesse show me! She top fighter at castle! Except for Talbians of course."
"Kalesse is undine, great underwater warrior. Pretty good on land too. She go with Masters right now to Atlantis."
"She is really good fighter?"
"She happens to be one of the best, Shampoo."
The two adolescents stopped in their exercises and turned to face Cologne and the Grimbard Sisters as they walked up to them.
"Great-grandmother!" Shampoo exclaimed as she put down her weapon. "You find cure for curse now?"
The aged matriarch nodded. "We may have found the correct counter-spell, but we're going to need a special ingredient to make it work. Once we collect it from the Botanical Gardens, we'll be heading to Japan to cure the Tendos."
"Awww!" Her great-granddaughter pouted. "Shampoo want to stay here longer!"
"Perhaps the next time we visit here. Now come with me child."
After bidding her new sparring partner goodbye, the purple-haired girl followed her relatives toward the Talbain Botanical Gardens, which happen to be within a gigantic greenhouse. The temperature, humidity and sunlight were meticulously maintained in each section. Each area was given its own simulated environment to promote optimal growth of all the plant life and plant-based beings.
As they made their way deeper into the Gardens, Shampoo was amazed at the varieties of strange flowers and trees. Every now and then she would glimpse strange creatures as they came out of the foliage.
"Why we here great-grandmother?"
"We're going to need a rare type of tree sap; one that can only be produced by a dryad."
"What is dryad?"
"She means me." A new voice was heard, causing the group to stop in their tracks. A very large tree beside them shuddered slightly, as a person literally came out of the trunk. She was a voluptuous girl with pale white skin, deep forest-green eyes, and long emerald-green hair. She wore a simple short dress that seemed to be made of leaves. She had pointed ears and a kind of energetic aura about her.
Shampoo tensed up a bit as she was caught off-guard by the sudden appearance of the tree-nymph, but calmed down as Cologne stepped up to greet the forest spirit.
"Ah, I was just thinking about you Laursa. It is good to see you again, but I'm afraid that this is a business call. I require a small amount of your tree's sap in order to undo a foolish girl's self-inflicted hex."
"Very well." The woodland nymph gestured to the upper branches of the tree she was bonded to. As if it heard her silent request, the tree lowered one of its limbs so Laursa could pluck off a few leaves to hand to the Elder. "There should be enough sap in these leaves to do the job."
"I thank you." Cologne said as she took the offering.
"Is sap really so strong?" The younger Amazon asked.
The three-hundred-year-old Amazon nodded as she replied, "Dryad tree sap is extremely potent Shampoo. Many of our own Amazon remedies use it as a base. A single drop can be diluted into a THOUSAND different potions! A key ingredient of the Miracle Hair Grow Shampoo is the tree sap of a dryad. To counter the shampoo's effects, makes use of a distillation of the sap, which is the secret ingredient to the Anti-Hair Grow Formula. And we shall now use the sap to cure that botched hex of the Tendos."
"Ah! Shampoo get it!"
"Good luck my friends." Laursa the Dryad said as she merged back into her tree and disappeared from sight.
An hour later, after bidding farewell to their friends at the castle, both Amazons were flying in the Talbain private jet on their way to Japan.
"Oh, Shampoo had lots of fun! So many Old Races!"
"Indeed." Cologne agreed as she reclined in her seat. "I've always enjoyed visiting that place. So who did you meet there?"
Shampoo started counting off her fingers. "Meet up with spider-woman, winged man with very old things, funny frog boy, tiny man with cane, cousins with great-grandmother, fighting lizard girl and tree girl!"
"So you've met with Arana the Jurogumo, Grom the Gargoyle, Shinko the Kappa, Shamus O'Shea the Leprechaun, Cendra of the Reptyls and our dryad friend Laursa."
Cologne's heir nodded. "Wanted to meet with Kalesse but she no there. Say she is great fighter."
"She is for a fact. I pity anyone who challenges her."
The ruler of the underwater kingdom groaned in pain as he was blasted through a wall and landed hard on his back.
Rikuo Albath was beginning to regret his rash challenge to Kalesse for her hand in marriage. He had thought that he had finally found the means to have his bride. However, things didn't exactly turn out the way he wanted
Flashback to a few hours ago
As the mini-sub came through the entrance port of the main palace and surfaced inside, Kalesse came up and morphed her fish tail into a pair of legs. She also took out her collapsible battle staff and extended it to its full length. As she walked up the bank, the werewolves and their guest exited the Sea Fang Alpha and followed her. Inside the palace was relatively dry and had an atmosphere for them to breathe, but Jon was taking no chances. He put on a strange bracelet, then handed two more to his son and Nabiki.
"What are these?" The middle Tendo girl asked as she put on the piece of jewelry.
Matthew looked down at his own bracelet and nodded as he noted the blue-white stones embedded in it. "These bracelets have Aqua-Air Stones in them. They're from the Makai."
"Right." The elder werewolf affirmed. "Werewolves can handle themselves on land, but this is Kalesse's territory. She's at home in the ocean, and we're not. If for some reason we end up in the water, these bracelets will enable us to breathe and withstand the crushing pressure for about two hours before needing a recharge. But don't stay too long under. I'm not too sure if our hyper-recuperation abilities will be able to save you from drowning."
Both teens nodded as the group continued toward the inner palace areas. Nabiki noted that the place was about the size of Castle Talbain and had the remnants of past splendor about it. Gold and gemstones lined many surfaces and gave her surroundings a kind of opulent glow. However, after being with the Talbain family for so long, all that wealth just didn't interest her as much as it used to. Accumulating vast amounts of money wasn't all that important to her any more. She was a bit surprised at her current thoughts and realized how much she had changed since meeting Matthew. She then began to think that it was for the better that she had altered her line of thinking. Who knows how she would have ended up if she had continued on with her mercenary ways?
She then made a note to dismantle her gambling and blackmail operations once she returned to Japan. Though it was going to be hard to keep her family afloat, she felt that she needed a more honest means of earning income. Perhaps she could convince her father to start teaching again.
As they came to the entrance to the main throne room, Jon and Matthew tensed up as their danger senses began to give them warning signals. Kalesse's aquatic perception abilities didn't like how things felt either as she gripped her staff. In the water, it was virtually impossible to get the drop on her as she could sense even the slightest irregular vibrations in the wave movements. On land, it was still quite difficult as she could feel the disturbances in the air currents surrounding her.
Nabiki noted her boyfriend's anxiety and gripped the hidden tonfa in the holster at the small of her back.
It was then that Jon Talbain opened the door. As he did so, he morphed into his lycanthrope form. Matthew followed suit as Nabiki removed her pendant.
The group cautiously entered the huge throne room; there was not a soul in sight. At the far end of the room was an elaborate throne, made from one half of a giant oyster shell. The sides were decorated with precious pearls and brilliantly colored coral. As they looked about they were all on edge and ready to do battle.
The wait was not a long one, as huge monstrous foes in the form of four gigantic crabs, came out from either sides of the room. Their menacing claws snapped and their mandibles drooled slimy saliva as they advanced toward their prey. However, Kalesse and the werewolves would prove to be no easy targets.
Kalesse demonstrated her abilities by nimbly jumping over a claw, then came down on her opponent with her staff. The tip crackled with energy as she infused her ki into it.
As its name implied, the technique would react with any moisture in her enemy's body. The crab lit up like a Christmas tree as its inner body was electrified with the equivalent of 100,000 volts. The hardness of its exoskeleton proved to be no protection as the electricity was transferred by her ki. The giant crustacean dropped to the floor unconscious and slightly cooked.
Jon handled his own foe as he knocked it off balance with his Beast Cannon maneuver, then followed through with a couple of swipes, using a pair of butterfly swords. Since he had anticipated aquatic fighting, he knew that his usual nunchakus would not work as well underwater. Both of the crab's claws fell off, leaving the monster literally unarmed. It scurried away until it could regenerate its limbs.
Matthew followed suit with a Beast Cannon of his own, then a solid strike with a blazing kick.
A downward version of his father's Climb Razor hit in a spot just between the crab's eyestalks, causing a concussion to its brain. It fell hard on its belly in a stunned state then lapsed into unconsciousness.
"Need any help Nabs?" He called out as his girlfriend dealt with the last of the monsters.
"I think I got it!" She replied as she slowly hefted the crab above her head. After it lunged at her, she managed to get under it, and was now lifting it off the ground. She was amazed that she was actually holding up something that weighed the equivalent to a small bus. With supreme effort, she upended the oversized seafood platter onto its back. Kalesse came in and finished the job with another jolt to its belly.
As she jumped down to the floor, she gave a nod to the female lycanthrope.
"Impressive young one."
"Indeed." Jon agreed as he sheathed his blades. "You've gotten a lot stronger. Though you could use more training in terms of skill. There's a lot more to it than just brute strength. Don't expect your werewolf powers to pull you through every fight."
"Yes sensei." She nodded as she knew that her younger sister almost always relied on pure force to win her fights. Matthew had since proved that it was insufficient against more skilled foes. Nabiki made a note to step up on her training in the Talbain Wolf-Fist.
It was then that a figure came out of nowhere and landed in front of the throne.
"Who dares intrude upon the Kingdom of Atlantis?"
This statement made Kalesse scoff.
"Kingdom? Hah! What kingdom? Aside from those crabs, you're the only one here!"
As soon as Rikuo heard Kalesse's voice, he turned and his expression softened in an instant. He became speechless as he gazed upon the beautiful undine, while she merely looked at him with a bit of contempt.
Standing a little further back, Nabiki studied the so-called ruler and noted the differences between him and Kalesse.
While the Talbain's underwater combat instructor could easily pass as a human, she had a kind of unnatural beauty that could never be achieved with cosmetics or surgery. Her aqua-colored eyes shone like sapphires, while her hair was as lustrous as the finest silk. Her figure was that of a cross between a Playboy centerfold and a pro athlete at a decathlon. She was literally Aphrodite and Artemis combined. (1) In her aquatic form, she resembled that of a mermaid with her fishlike tail, but she didn't have the same peaceful and serene personality that all mermaids are said to have. The end of her tail was narrower and tapered.
Rikuo however, was far from human-looking, though Nabki could see that he was 'curiously attractive' for a fish man. (2) He was basically a humanoid with green skin and a huge fin that started from the top of his head and ran down toward the small of his back. He had webbed feet and hands, as well as finlike structures where his eyebrows and ears were supposed to be. He also had some fins on his elbows and some spikes on his forearms. He wore a ceremonial necklace. He was generally in good physical condition and had a muscular physique.
Though he was supposed to be a king, he certainly wasn't acting like one as he quickly moved forward to embrace his intended queen.
"Kalesse! So you finally decided to become my!"
Though it looked like a casual slap, Kalesse sent Rikuo flying backward like a bullet shot out of a gun. He slammed into his throne with such force, that it broke apart into fragments, just before his momentum was stopped by the far wall. He more than dazed at the sudden rebuff of his affections as he staggered back to his feet.
Nabiki let off a low whistle and remarked, "Ouch! I don't think even Akane could hit Kuno that hard!"
"Well that's to be expected of Kalesse's people." Jon said. "Think about it. She comes from an environment of crushing water pressure. You either die or you develop superhuman strength to deal with it. It's about the same as living in a place of heavy gravity or constantly training with heavy weights."
"In any case, Rikuo should count himself lucky that Kalesse pulled her punch that time." Matthew said.
"That was pulling her punch?" His girlfriend asked incredulously.
"If she had put her full strength into it, Rikuo would have been on the other side of Atlantis by now. I'm just glad she didn't break the necklace he was wearing. We need it."
Nabiki focused in on the piece of jewelry the merman was wearing and gasped as she saw the center of the necklace.
"Oh my God! That's the fragment that we're looking for!"
"And unfortunately, it's part of the Royal Seal of Atlantis." Jon surmised. "I have a feeling that it's going be harder to get this piece."
"So let me understand." Rikuo said with his hands clasped behind his back. He was on the main observatory balcony of the palace and looking over the seascape. Behind him was Kalesse as she stood with her staff held in her right hand. Jon was also there as well. Matthew and Nabiki waited in the throne room. "You're asking for the Royal Seal of Atlantis because it contains a fragment of an ancient medallion that you need."
"That's about the long and short of it." The elder Talbain confirmed.
"You realize that you are asking that I give you one of the most precious treasures of Atlantis, which has been passed down through our long lines of kings to me."
"I am willing to pay any amount you want for it."
"Hah!" The merman scoffed. "Money has no interest to me! If I were to give up such a precious heirloom to my people, then I would require something more substantial in return for it!" He turned about and focused his gaze upon Kalesse.
The undine let off a groan as she already knew what his price was. "Oh no! Not in a billion years!"
Jon also sighed tiredly. "Rikuo, we've been through this before. Now I know how much you want to rebuild Atlantis and save your species, but you can't do it with Kalesse. I've had experts in the Makai and MIB look over your genetic compatibility, and it's impossible."
"You don't know that for certain!" Rikuo shot back as he pointed an accusing finger at the werewolf. "And you don't know how lonely it's been since the great disaster that had wiped out my people! I will not be alone anymore and I WILL have my queen!"
"Over my dead body." Kalesse commented, and then she amended herself. "And if you keep going with this idiocy, it's going to be over YOUR dead body."
"But we would be perfect for each other!" Rikuo insisted. "I knew that from the first time I saw you! You're more beautiful than the finest pearls on Poseidon's crown! I would make you happy and we would have such fine children!"
"I doubt that! Flattery won't win my heart and I shall not doom any of my future children to a life of sterility."
"It's all lies fed to you by Talbain! We are the true children of Poseidon!"
"Just because we happen to be Poseidon's children, DOES NOT mean we have to marry each other. Furthermore, I find you to be very annoying in the best light, and a pompous, arrogant fop in the worst. What could you possibly offer me that I would consent to be your wife?"
"You would have the riches of Atlantis! The treasures of a million galleons would be yours!"
"Hmph! Have you forgotten that I already live in the lap of luxury at Castle Talbain? My every need and desire is fulfilled there. Furthermore, I am not impressed with mere baubles!"
"You would be of royalty as my queen!"
"I care not for titles and lineage. The only kings that I will acknowledge is Lord Poseidon himself or that of the Great Maker! Your crown is as nothing to me!"
"But I love you Kalesse!"
"BUT I DON'T LOVE YOU!" The sea warrior maiden shot back. "I grow very tired of this pointless argument! I didn't come to Atlantis just to reopen a debate that is going absolutely nowhere!"
"I too, grow weary of your refusal to see our destiny together, so let us settle this once and for all!" Rikuo said with finality.
"What are you saying?" Kalesse asked, thought she had a feeling she already knew.
"I challenge you for your hand in marriage!"
"As the king of Atlantis, in accordance to your undine tribal laws, I challenge to sea combat!"
The aqua-haired maiden was silent for a moment before giving the merman this warning, "Do not make a request so easily, King Rikuo. You may not LIVE long enough to regret it!"
"Do you accept my challenge, or do you accept the disgrace in front of Lord Poseidon? If I win, you will agree to be my bride! If I lose, then you may have the medallion fragment."
Jon stepped up and put a hand on Kalesse's shoulder. "You don't have to do this."
She gave him a reassuring smile before shrugging off his hand. "It looks like I must pound some sense into Rikuo's head since it seems to be as thick as 1,000-year-old coral." She turned back to her unwanted suitor and replied in a very sarcastic tone. "Very well oh King of Atlantis. Prepared to get crowned; the HARD WAY!"
End of flashback
Rikuo now knew what being a soccer ball felt like as he was booted out of the palace and into the courtyard. He flipped over several times before landing on his face and skidding on the ground for twenty meters, digging a shallow ditch before coming to a stop. In terms of raw physical power, his intended bride-to-be was no joke! He had fought rampaging killer whales with less strength than her!
As he staggered to get back to his feet, he steeled his resolve. This was his only chance to get Kalesse as his wife! By the laws of her tribe, she would have to concede to his wishes if he beat her, and he wasn't going to lose this battle. However, he had to rethink his strategy. Going toe-to-toe with her was NOT favorable and he would need to wear her down.
As Kalesse closed in for some more close combat, Rikuo leaned back as several large pores in his torso opened up, sending out streams of noxious smoke into her face. She coughed and backed off as her eyes stung. The merman pressed his attack and let loose with a piercing sonic shriek. The undine winced as her hearing and sense of balance was put off. Her opponent charged in to finish the fight quickly and claim his mate!
However, the aqua-haired girl was not the Talbain's underwater combat instructor for nothing as she focused her ki and let it out in an aura of pure electricity. As soon as Rikuo touched her, he let off a howl of pain as the voltage ran through him and nearly fried him to a cinder. He went sprawling as Kalesse regained her balance and her vision cleared. In addition to keeping her foe at bay, the technique also cleared her system of the effects of his poison gas attack.
"Where did she learn that technique?" Matthew asked as he, his girlfriend and his father watched the battle from the balcony of the palace.
"She told me that she learned to convert her ki into high amounts electricity after meeting some wild man in Brazil." Jon replied. "She was cruising down the Amazon River at the time. Apparently it mimics the ability of the electric eel."
"There's some wild man in Brazil?" Nabiki inquired.
"Yes." Talbain nodded. "I believe his name was Jimmy, but the locals called him Blanka."
The trio went back to watching the battle.
Back in Japan
Zed pondered deep in thought at his desk, as he was given the latest reports at the Japanese HQ of the MIB. So far, the mysterious force that had devastated several alien systems was still too far to be any threat to the Earth, but the organization's deep-space observation stations were keeping a close watch on the thing that was making mincemeat out of whole space armadas. Long-range scanners couldn't penetrate its outer energy fields and space probes disintegrated before they got within fifty kilometers of it.
The head of the secret organization didn't like having zero information about a potential alien threat to the Earth, which went against everything the MIB stood for. But all he could at this point was to wait and see what horrors humankind would encounter when it finally arrived.
At the Tokyo Airport
Shampoo and Cologne stepped off the private Talbain jet and took their first steps onto Japanese soil. As the Chinese Amazons were led toward customs by their host's staff, they conversed in their native tongue.
["So where are we going now?"] Shampoo asked.
["After we settle up with customs, we're going to get settled in. I've already purchased a small property where we can start a business. I was thinking along the lines of a Chinese restaurant."] The Elder mused as she hopped on her cane.
["We're not going back to the village after we finish with the Tendos?"]
["No. Remember that we have to get you enrolled in school and I figured that we could do that after we cure the Tendo family. We should be able to have you start by the next semester. Besides, I promised to meet with an acquaintance and she is currently living in Japan, along with her daughter."]
["Who is that?"]
["Her name is Morrigan Aenslade and"] The elderly woman paused for a moment as she felt a chill run down her spine.
["Great-grandmother? What's wrong?"]
Cologne paused for a long moment, then shook her head and mumbled to herself. ["No, it couldn't be it's nothing child. I just thought for a moment that an old headache had returned. Come along."]
In a remote area, Happosai also felt a slight chill after he had just finished a quick panty and bra raid of a nearby village. He quickly dismissed it and decided that it would be too much of a chore to track down his traitorous pupils. It would be much easier to just wait at the one place Soun and Genma would surely go to after they found a cure for their stench.
He began to head toward Tokyo where he was certain he could find out the location of Soun's home.
The Tendo Dojo.
Back in Atlantis
The merman leapt into the air and dived down feet first like a spear against his opponent.
Though this move would deliver some damage if it connected, it also left Rikuo vulnerable to a counter, which Kalesse was more than eager to demonstrate.
Since the air in Atlantis was quite humid, it was not a problem for the undine to heat up the surrounding water droplets with her ki and form scalding liquid bullets. With a sweep of her hand, she launched them at her unwanted suitor.
The aquatic king of Atlantis screamed as he was burned in several places. He missed his target as he came down, but lashed out with a fist, which morphed into a spiral shell point.
Kalesse blocked with her staff, then ducked under his next strike when he morphed his other arm into a crab claw.
"You will marry me!"
"It's time someone SLAPPED some sense into you!"
With these words, she spun into a handstand and morphed her legs into her fishtail. With a speed that was absolutely mind-boggling she started to repeatedly whack her fin against Rikuo's face!
Jon snickered as the high-and-mighty king was slapped about comically in the face. He was reminded of those cartoons where an inept fisherman had caught a fish, but the fish would use its tail to slap him silly before escaping.
Beside him, his son cheered on his instructor.
"Oh yeah! Give it to him Kalesse! Make him REALLY feel it! Yeah! Yeah!" (3)
Rikuo's face began to swell up as his intended spouse continued her assault. Then she added insult to a lot of injury as she suddenly morphed her fishtail back into her human legs and spun upside-down while kicking out.
"SPINNING STARFISH KICK!"
The merman was caught completely off-guard and received a dozen more hits to the head and torso before he was knocked back several dozen feet.
"Hey, wasn't that the move Chun Li used at the tournament?" Nabiki asked.
"Where do you think Li's family fighting style got that move?" Jon Talbain remarked. "Darkstalkers have influenced a lot of human history and its culture. I do recall Kalesse telling me that one of her distant ancestors visited China and trained with the Li family. The Chinese Amazons have also made connections to the Old Races, after meeting with Jacob Talbain."
"Well, well! If it isn't Cologne!"
Morrigan Aenslade warmly hugged her Amazon friend as soon as she answered the door. Behind the Elder, Shampoo looked on with curiosity. This person was supposed to be a member of the Old Races? She looked like a normal Westerner.
The two Chinese females were invited inside the Aenslade home, where they were introduced to Lilith. A few minutes later, they were all having tea in the den and discussed various points of interest. As they talked among themselves, Shampoo couldn't help but stare at the seemingly normal-looking mother and daughter. Certainly Morrigan was strikingly beautiful and Lilith was cute, but there was nothing special that labeled them as Darkstalkers.
Finally, Cologne noted her great-granddaughter's non-interaction and chided her. "Shampoo! It is RUDE to stare at your host!"
"Ah! So sorry great-grandmother!" The younger Amazon apologized. "No mean disrespect!"
Lilith's mother smiled knowingly as she took a sip of her tea. "It's all right young one. I would think you would be curious about us. Cologne tells me that you have just come from Castle Talbain and you were wondering what members of the Old Races were we, correct? We don't mind showing you."
"Is okay! No need to show Shampoo!"
"I feel like spreading my wings anyway." With a nod to Lilith, they dropped their human disguises and let the Amazons see their true forms. Mystical energy emanated from both of the succubi as they displayed their bat wings and supernatural auras.
The purple-haired girl gazed in amazement at the two denizens of the Makai, then addressed Cologne, "Great-grandmother?"
The Elder nodded and explained. "Morrigan and Lilith are called succubi. They happen to be quite powerful and masters at seduction. A lot of our Amazon love potions and aphrodisiacs have the Aenslade name on them."
"Indeed." Morrigan affirmed as she reclined a bit on the sofa and crossed her legs. "As much I enjoyed catching up with you, I have a feeling that you are not here in Japan just to connect with an old friend."
"You know me very well, Morrigan." Cologne admitted. "Actually, our main business is get Shampoo enrolled in school here and to cure a certain family of a demonic stench."
"You mean the Tendo family?" Lilith asked. "They're not here."
"What?" Cologne asked in surprise.
"The entire neighborhood couldn't stand their smell anymore, so the city council had them exiled from Tokyo. Them and that guest of theirs." The younger succubus explained.
Morrigan nodded. "Jon Talbain had a few of his staff go with them to look after their needs, but we haven't heard from them for a while. Last time they were in contact, they were somewhere deep in an area near Maebashi, I think. Where they are now, your guess is as good as mine."
Shampoo's great-grandmother let off a sigh and shook her head. "That's quite a ways out. It's going to take a while to find them."
"Too bad Jon and his son aren't here. Werewolves are the world's best trackers."
As they continued to discuss how to find the missing Tendos and Genma, Cologne got another chill down her spine and wondered why she had this feeling of dread.
At the Tendo home
Happosai shook off the sudden chill down his spine as he broke into Soun Tendo's liquor cabinet. He smiled as he took out an elaborate bottle.
"Ooh! Imported French wine! Wonder how Tendo managed to score this kind of quality booze?"
Popping the cork, he greedily chugged down the contents as he waited for the house's occupants to return. He then started to go through the premiere Chinese Rice Wine and other alcohols that Nabiki had sent to her father. He was a bit tipsy when a certain someone found his way back to the Tendo home.
"Finally! I made it back!" 'Ranma' said as he came through the front door and walked down the hallway. When he saw the perverted Grandmaster of the Anything Goes in a drunken stupor, he immediately thought he had come across a burglar. "Hey! Who are you? What are you doing?"
The little gnome turned to look at the newcomer, shrugged and waved him off. "Ah, go 'way and let me enjoy my hooch!"
'Ranma' immediately charged him, but even when drunk, Happosai was no pushover as he took out his pipe. Only when he was passed out was he an easy target, and that was the only time Soun and Genma had the chance to lock him away. This time however, he wasn't out cold...
'Ranma' didn't know how he was sent skyward as he went up into LEO and came down in another area. From there, he became lost again.
The Aenslades and the Amazons were a bit startled at the sudden commotion and came out of the succubi's house to see a small dot disappear over the distant horizon.
"What that?" Shampoo asked.
Lilith shrugged as she was already used to the goings-on in Nerima. "It's really nothing. That sort of stuff happens all the time. Keeps things interesting."
Assured that it wasn't any their business, the Amazons went back inside with everyone else. As they prepared to search for the Tendo clan and Genma in order to cure them, they did not realize that one of the greatest enemies of their tribe was just a few blocks away.
In the underwater kingdom, a certain individual was getting his royal rear end kicked in as the undine warrior continued to knock him around like a hackey sack. At this point in the fight, Rikuo was on the verge of collapsing. Kalesse was among the top fighters if not the very top of her generation. It was obvious that there was no question that Rikuo wasn't going to win this duel unless he used his strongest moves on her.
The merman was on his hands and knees as Kalesse slowly approached him to finish him off. He was more than winded and his vision was spinning. His intended queen had no compunctions whatsoever in beating him to within an inch of his life. He knew that she would give some of the strongest children in the ocean, and that was one of the main reasons why he wanted her. However, that dream was becoming more and more impossible.
'No! I won't give up! SHE WILL BE MY QUEEN!'
Out of sheer desperation, he lashed out at the last minute with a kick, catching Kalesse by surprise, and flipping her into the air. Then he pulled himself into a giant oyster shell and began shooting gigantic energy balls shaped like pearls at her.
As Kalesse was blasted further upward, Rikuo emerged from his shell and let loose with his most powerful attack.
A huge bubble appeared and floated upward, catching Kalesse as she came down. Then it started to sap her strength. Rikuo managed to get back to his feet and smiled in triumph.
"Give up and become my wife Kalesse! Nothing can break my Water Jail!"
Inside the bubble and in considerable pain, the undine snarled at this uppity merman and replied, "Don't bet on it!"
Her body began to glow blue white and crackled with energy. Sparks began to fly as the bubble shuddered and started to lose its integrity. Finally, it exploded into a huge shower of water and lightning bolts.
"HYDRO STORM SHOCK!"
Unfortunately for Rikuo, he had been certain of victory and was too close when she released her attack. And the liquid he created his Water Jail from, made an excellent conductor. As soon as he was splashed, he was nearly electrocuted and fell face-first into the ground.
Kalesse fell to her knees in exhaustion and knew that she couldn't generate enough amps to power a light bulb, let alone one of her lesser attacks. However, she didn't have to as Rikuo was down for the count.
She had won.
In the mountain areas near Maebashi
"Aiyah! How we find them here?" Shampoo asked as she and her great-grandmother hiked through the unfamiliar terrain. The younger Amazon was hefting a backpack which was filled with the various ingredients to the spell needed to break Akane's unintended hex. Inside the pack was a tiny vial, which contained an emerald green liquid. This was the pure Dryad tree sap that Cologne had obtained from the leaves given to her at Castle Talbain.
After their visit with the Aenslade family, the Chinese warriors were escorted into the last known areas the Tendo family was seen in. From there, Cologne decided to teach her relative some tricks in tracking.
"Look over here." The Elder pointed to a recent campfire then gestured to several small holes in the ground which indicated where tent spikes and poles had been placed. "Look at how the soil is scattered and how fresh those embers are. They were here not too long ago. Judging by how haphazard these signs are, I'd say they left in haste."
"How you know it them? Could be someone else camping here." Shampoo said.
"Take a deep breath and tell me what you smell."
The purple-haired girl did so and wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Aiyah! Smell like horse dung, rotten fish heads and Blacksmith Slag after eating too many beans! Shampoo also smell flowers, morning dew and fresh soap. Why smell together?"
"That's the curse the Tendo family and Genma Saotome are afflicted with. And if you're able to smell it that strongly, then that means they're not too far off. If it were more than a few days old, the smell could only be picked up by dogs or the Talbains. Come! The smell is strongest in that direction." Cologne pointed toward the horizon.
"Hope we find soon." Shampoo commented. "Bad smell may cause trees to die."
"Perhaps." Her great-grandmother agreed. "And let's hope they don't stand too close to their campfire. That smell of theirs is liable to ignite."
Meanwhile in the Atlantic Ocean
"Are you sure that it's all right just to leave like this?" Nabiki asked as she, the Tailbanes and Kalesse rode the Sea Wolf II away from the entrance to Atlantis.
They were all back in their human forms. Lying on a nearby table was the incomplete medallion, now joined with its fourth fragment. Matthew's father had decided to look for the next fragment location once they were back at Castle Talbain.
"I did offer to help Rikuo search for any other survivors of his race, but he wouldn't listen to reason." Jon pointed out as he piloted the sub. He looked over his shoulder and addressed the undine. "He really wants you Kalesse."
"Hmph!" Kalesse snorted in disgust. "He was just a sore loser and he kept on saying that I cheated! He should take his loss and go find someone else!"
"Yeah, but he was really mad at us and blames us for everything that's happened. He even swore he'd get his revenge on us." Soun's daughter pointed out. As a former mercenary and blackmailer, she knew just how vindictive and petty a person could be. Anger and pride could make someone make rash decisions and thoughts of revenge can drive him/her over the edge.
"Hey! That was NOT our fault!" Matthew said in protest. "We just came here to bargain for that medallion piece and he was the one who was being unreasonable. Then he tried to force Kalesse to marry him with that challenge. She won fair and square and we get the medallion piece. We offered to help him and he turned us down. There's not much else we can do. In any case, if he comes after us for some kind of stupid revenge, then we'll deal with him. It's not like one merman can do much against us."
At that moment, the sub's sonar alert system went off as a huge explosion rocked the craft. Matthew and Nabiki were nearly thrown out of their seats. Jon fought hard to right the ship, and then looked down at the console to see a very large object on the sonar screen, coming toward their position.
The younger lycanthrope nodded as he turned on all the Sea Wolf II's scanners and monitors.
"What hit us?" Jon asked.
His son began reading the date and was shocked at the results.
"According to the sensors we were just hit by a torpedo?"
"A torpedo?" Nabiki gasped. "Who fired on us?"
Matthew then switched on the rearview monitor and stared in disbelief at what he saw. The others also gaped in shock at what was coming at them.
The thing was about two hundred and twenty feet long and was cylindrical. It had coral attached to several areas of its rusted hull. The ugly machine had not been seen in over 65 years and it looked like it was about to fall apart. However, it was still recognized by all those aboard the Talbain's vessel.
"I don't believe it! That's a World War II submarine!" Matthew exclaimed.
Jon noted the identification number imprinted on the bow of the vessel and fed the information into the Sea Wolf II's computer. He then read the data out loud. "Hmmm U-boat 338 Type VIIC submarine reported lost in combat on September 20th, 1943 mysteriously disappeared after diving to escape the Canadian Corvette Drumheller explosion was heard, but the wreckage was never found." He looked back at the rearview monitor and commented, "So that's where she ended up!"
"But who's shooting at us?" Nabiki cried out.
As if in answer, the radio crackled to life as the sound of static filled the air. Then a familiar voice was heard.
"You will pay for denying me my queen! I, Rikuo Albath, King of Atlantis, shall have my revenge!"
At that moment, the Talbains learned that the insane merman was at the helm of a Nazi war machine.
"HOW THE HELL DID HE GET A U-BOAT?" Matthew exclaimed as he began to track the German sub.
"I'm guessing that in World War II that U-boat must have strayed too close to the outer borders of Atlantis, and was automatically sunk due to the protection field." Jon hypothesized as he began taking the Sea Wolf II through evasive maneuvers. "Rikuo's people must have salvaged the sub."
"How could it withstand the pressure down here? It doesn't have an orichalcum hull or titanium infrastructure. Heck, it shouldn't even be moving!"
"Judging from the energy readings I'm detecting, I'm also guessing he's using special Makai Aqua Stones to strengthen the sub's structure and power its electric batteries. He must have also put in an autoloader and uh oh!" Jon then put his sub into a violent turn to avoid a pair of torpedoes launched from the U-boat. The underwater projectiles streaked passed the werewolf's vessel and blasted into a large crevasse, causing the huge area to collapse.
"And I think it's obvious that he's enhanced the torpedoes! Those things are hitting with a lot more power!"
The Sea Wolf II made another series of turns as Jon spoke on the radio to convince the merman to stop his insanity. He refrained from firing back as he didn't want to kill the misguided king of Atlantis.
"Rikuo! Don't do this! We can still help you!"
"NO ONE CAN HELP ME!" Rikuo screamed. "I AM THE LAST OF MY KIND!"
Another torpedo was fired and this time, Jon couldn't move his submarine out of its way. It struck hard on near the center of the ship, causing it to shudder violently. That's when Matthew's control panel lit up.
"Dad! We've got a breach in the hull!"
"I don't know what that torpedo was packing, but it actually punched through the orichalcum! We're taking on water!"
In the damaged section, the gremlins immediately began patching up the hole before the sub became filled with water.
"FIX NOW! STOP WET STUFF!"
Glitch ordered Boo-Boo, Hitch and Jinx to fill up the gap with whatever material they could find. Once they filled in the hole, he and Snafu began sealing up the cracks by using their powers to weld and glue the pieces together. Once the water stopped flowing, the lead gremlin turned on the intercom to communicate to the bridge.
"Hole patched up! No more boom-boom okay?"
On the bridge, Jon made one final attempt to convince Rikuo to halt his attack.
"Rikuo, please! I don't want to hurt you! Stop this madness now!"
The merman's only reply was another salvo of four torpedoes. Jon let out a sigh and shook his head in resignation. He had no choice now.
"So be it. Farewell... King of Atlantis my friend."
As the torpedoes neared the Sea Wolf II, Jon activated the countermeasures, sending out an ultrasonic pulse, which caused the projectiles to detonate prematurely. The explosions also hid the submarine from Rikuo's sight, so he was unprepared when his opponent launched a dozen mini-torpedoes toward the obsolete U-boat.
The last of the Atlantean mermen let out one final scream as Jon's counterattack struck on several areas of the German submarine, causing it to nearly split in half. The Makai Aqua Stones may have allowed the ship to withstand the high water pressure, but they were nowhere near as strong as orichalcum. As the wreck sank down toward the entrance to Atlantis, its main power source began to overload toward critical mass. Just as the sub hit the ocean floor, its main drive detonated.
A massive shockwave rippled throughout that area in the Atlantic Ocean, causing the canyon walls to collapse. The waves thundered through the maze of caverns, then struck Atlantis itself. For over ten thousand years, the legendary Kingdom of Atlantis had withstood the test of time. Now the end finally came as every last building and structure was reduced to rubble. Even the palace was not spared as it was broken apart, all due to the folly of its last ruler.
Atlantis was wiped out from the pages of history.
Later that evening
The Sea Wolf II cruised on the surface of the ocean as it made its way back to Castle Talbain. Jon wasn't afraid of being detected since the orichalcum hull also made the sub invisible to surface radar. Swimming behind it was Bob as the Loch Ness Monster let off a series of moans and high-pitched sounds.
With the apparent death of the last Atlantean Merman, it was the Leviathans' duty to spread the word of his passing to all the other citizens of Poseidon. As such, Bob and his brethren scattered themselves throughout the oceans to give the bad news to those who dwell in the deep.
Jon let off a tired sigh as he sat on the deck of the conning tower outside of the sub. He had the vessel on autopilot, as he wanted to watch the night skies. He was currently in his hybrid form. Down below, Nabiki and Matthew were having dinner in the galley.
An hour later, his ears twitched as he heard someone climbing the ladder toward the entrance hatch. He nodded as Kalesse came up onto the deck and sat down beside him to look up at the stars.
"I thought I'd find you here, Jon." The undine said. "How are you feeling?"
Matthew's father let out a long sigh and replied. "It didn't have to end like that. We could have helped him!"
"I know, but he didn't leave us with much of a choice. I'll admit that deep down, he wasn't really a bad sort, but that obsession of his clouded his judgment."
"It's my duty to see that the Old Races gets the chance to prosper in the human world. I felt like I was betraying that duty when I fired those torpedoes. I denied Rikuo that chance."
"You OFFERED that chance to him many times." Kalesse pointed out. "Time and time again, you showed him that you wanted to help, and he always refused. We all make our own decisions, and Rikuo just made a bad one."
"I know. I just didn't think our quest would have something this tragic happen. And I'm starting to wonder if more tragedy awaits us."
Out in distant space
The being known as Pyron continued to streak across the cosmos, leaving several dozens of solar systems in ruins. The civilizations that he had sent into extinction were not much of a challenge and he hoped the signal he had received from Earth would provide him with more amusement before he obliterated whatever resided there.
Armageddon was approaching humankind.
To be continued
As much as I like Rikuo's character in the Darkstalkers videogame, this spells the end for him in this story for now. In any case, this quest needed a bit of doom and gloom to make it more substantial once Nabiki and Matthew collect all the pieces. Next stop, America and a certain catwoman returns! As for the plight of the Tendos and Genma, we'll see if Cologne and Shampoo can get rid of that smell, or if Akane can make things worse, (hint, hint). See you then!
(1) Aphrodite (Greek) or Venus (Roman); the goddess of beauty and love. Artemis (Greek) or (Diana); the goddess of the hunt.
(2) This phrase was used a LOT in the American version of Darkstalkers to describe Rikuo, and could explain a bit for his arrogance.
(3) I got this from Dragonball Z when Super-Saiyan Goku slapped Frieza silly and King Kai cheered him on.