Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Viz Video, and a bunch of other people. Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and probably the same other people. Etc, etc. you know how this goes.

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The sun was shining brightly through the clouds and bathing the land beneath it in its warming rays. Birds sang happily from the trees and little woodland creatures scurried about in search of food or a usable den. The villagers in nearby towns awoke to begin a hard day's work of farming, hunting, or a number of other things that needed to be done for them to survive. All in all it seemed like it would be a normal day for the people of the land, if this story was centered on them, that is.

"Long hair sucks." A red haired girl said as she continued her trek through the woods. She was covered in sweat and dirt and looked like she had seen many better days, but the main cause of her complaints was currently plastered to the sides of her head and hanging in her eyes. Ranma continued to grumble as she once again pushed her hair out of her face, only to have it fall right back where it was before and anger the girl further. Ever since she lost that damn string she had been unable to control her hair in any manner, and it was getting to the point that she was almost considering just cutting it off.

"All I need is a bath. If my hair is clean it won't cling as much. Too bad these stupid backwater people haven't invented shampoo or soap yet. Hell, they don't even have hot water in ready supply!" Ranma said as she continued to complain. It was the primary cause for her current gender, after all. Hot water seemed to be as rare around here as gold or diamonds. It just wasn't fair.

"What I wouldn't give for some pots and pans or a kettle or something. At least then I could heat my own water. But no, I can't afford to buy one. I don't even know if they've been invented yet. Damn, I should have paid more attention in history class." Ranma continued on her way, trying to pay attention to the pain that she was so used to by this point that it was pretty easy to ignore all together.

"I'm still getting closer, I think. How far away is this guy anyway? I feel like I've been walking for wee...ARG!!!" Ranma began but was cut off as the pain suddenly intensified. The redhead collapsed in agony and began to writhe around, unable to handle the jump in pain.

"D...Damn. Not this again..." She grumbled between clenched teeth, painfully trying to crawl towards her destination despite the pain.

'What's the deal with this super pain anyway?' Ranma thought, still moving slowly forward. What Ranma did not know was that Inuyasha had just turned into a yokai while fighting Sesshoumaru and his new sword. All she did know was that she was pissed off. After a few moments the extreme pain died off and was replaced by the significantly weaker pain the redhead was used to. Thus she got back to her feet and continued walking normally, feeling the pain increase as she got closer to her counterpart.

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Incarnated

Chapter 3

Ranma and Inuyasha

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"Sure is quiet and peaceful out today." Shippou said with a sigh as their small group walked along the rocky path. As his words suggested the day was indeed quiet and peaceful. The sky was nearly cloudless and a vibrant blue while their path was a simple and pleasant one thus far.

"You said it. Our battles seem just like a bad dream." Kagome replied. She briefly looked skyward and tried to enjoy the moment, knowing that they would likely be plunged into a life and death situation pretty soon.

'Damn it, stupid pain. I can't believe I made it out of the fights with Kaijimbo and Sesshoumaru alive. I don't know if I could handle taking anyone else on.' Inuyasha thought in annoyance. He barely heard what Shippou said or Kagome's follow up response as he was busy trying to ignore the mind numbing pain he was feeling. Every step took far more effort than it should have and every breath was labored. He was doing his best to hide his pain, but he wasn't sure how long he could keep the others from noticing.

"I can sense a Shikon Jewel Shard, and it's closing in fast!" Kagome announced as a brief gale force wind passed them in great haste. Koga skid to a stop as the winds died and looked at their group with a smirk, making Inuyasha growl in annoyance.

"Yo." The wolf demon said simply, walking up the small incline towards the group's location.

'Oh fuck, I just had to think that, didn't I?' Inuyasha thought to himself.

"I picked up on your scent Kagome, so I came to see ya. You've been well, I hope." Koga said, still climbing the incline. Inuyasha winced a bit as he stepped in-between Koga and Kagome.

"What do you want you mangy wolf?" Inuyasha asked, rather annoyed by the wolf's presence. Koga just growled at him in response.

"Come on. Don't go picking a fight already." Kagome said, trying to stop any hostilities that may arise between the two.

"Stay out of it. I may have to kill him, or worse." Inuyasha said to her, not taking his eyes off Koga. The half demon winced a bit and tried to hide his heavy breathing, seeing Koga raise an eyebrow and pick his ear.

"You haven't lost any of your arrogance, mutt. You look like you can barely stand, I don't see how you're gonna beat me." Koga said, looking at Inuyasha through uninterested eyes as he growled and put his hand on the hilt of Tetsusaiga.

"Why you..." He grumbled under his breath. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to wield the heavier Tetsusaiga in his current condition, but he sure as hell was going to try.

"Hey, quit being so mean to my poor friend, Koga. He only gets so uptight when you get around because he thinks you're gonna steal Kagome from him." Shippou said from his perch on Inuyasha's shoulder, earning the ire of the half demon in question.

"Save it!" Inuyasha shouted, trying and failing to punch Shippou as the fox demon leapt away to land on Miroku's head. Inuyasha's balance was thrown off from the movement as he fell to his knees, unable to hide his heavy breathing as sweat poured down his face.

"Inuyasha! Are you alright?" Kagome asked in a panic, getting down on her knees to try and pick Inuyasha back up. She wasn't sure what was wrong with him. He was obviously in a lot of pain, but what was causing it was the question.

"I'm fine! I don't need any...help!" Inuyasha grumbled, throwing his arm to the side to stop Kagome. He unsheathed his sword and struck it against the ground, putting his weight on the rusty blade to return to his feet. He was still breathing rather heavily from the strain as he continued to wince with every movement.

'It's close. Too close.' Inuyasha thought to himself. It was the only explanation for the severity of the pain at the moment. He stood where he was a little longer, still supporting himself with his sword as he briefly noticed the pain subsiding. In fact, it was going away pretty quickly, and soon enough he was able to stand again as it became far less annoying.

'Huh. That's odd. I wonder what happened.'

--Meanwhile--

"ARG!!! (garble garble) Damn it!!" Ranma said, being halfway immersed in water as she did so. The red head thrashed around in annoyance as she was dragged down river, her head concealed in a veil of wet red hair as she tried to stay about the surface. She grumbled to herself in annoyance and continued to thrash as she was dragged downstream. She began to think back to how she managed to get into this mess. How was she supposed to know that was a load bearing tree? It sure didn't look like it was the only thing holding an entire dam in place. Now she found herself hurtling down a river at blinding speed while getting dragged by who knows how many tons of water. It just wasn't her day.

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Night had already fallen as Inuyasha and his group continued their trek through the forest. The half demon was walking far ahead of the rest of the group, intentionally trying to outrun them so they would stop asking him stupid questions about his condition.

"Are you sure you're alright, Inuyasha?" Kagome asked, clearly worried for his well being as the person in question merely scoffed.

"I'm fine! How many times do I gotta tell you that?" Inuyasha growled in annoyance. He was getting sick and tired of all the damn questions. It's not like he was some stupid kid who couldn't take care of himself. Kagome sat back a bit on Kirara's back, still looking at Inuyasha with concern.

'I know you're hurting, Inuyasha. I just wish you would stop being so stubborn about it and let me help you.' She thought to herself.

"Wait...I can smell Naraku!" Inuyasha suddenly announced, rushing off into the forest ahead of the others. Miroku and Kirara noticed his sudden increase in speed and quickly picked up the pace to follow him.

"Wait up Inuyasha!" Kagome shouted, but the half demon wasn't paying enough attention to hear what she had to say. Inuyasha soon arrived at a T-section in the forest, briefly seeing Koga flash by in a burst of speed.

"Koga! What do you think you're doing?" Inuyasha shouted out as he began to chase after the wolf demon. From the look of him he was pretty spooked. If Inuyasha didn't know any better, he would swear Koga was running from something.

"Leave me alone! Can't you see I'm busy?!" The wolf demon shouted back at his pursuer as the two ran. Inuyasha was about to respond when the trees exploded behind them, revealing a purple haired man with a face mask and shackles in hot pursuit of Koga. The man briefly turned his expressionless eyes towards Inuyasha before lashing out with his hand. The half demon barely managed to jump back in time to dodge the blow, landing on his knees a few feet away.

"I see you're still running away as usual Koga." Inuyasha said, only to turn around and see a complete lack of the wolf demon in question. Before Inuyasha could voice his find, however, the strange purple haired demon struck at him again.

"Eh?" He said, leaping back a bit as the spot he was standing before was crushed under the demon's fist.

"I see you've finally arrived, Inuyasha." A voice said from within the forest. Inuyasha turned his head and saw a man in a baboon pelt emerge from the shadows of the trees, knowing immediately that it was Naraku.

"Naraku." Inuyasha growled under his voice, angered at seeing the bane of his existence.

"Naraku!" Miroku shouted out as he and the others approached. Naraku chuckled to himself as they arrived before standing behind the purple haired demon, who simply sat where he was.

"Koga must have fled when he realized he couldn't win. He's more intelligent than I took him for." The baboon said, chuckling once again as he did so.

"Wait a minute, is that another one of Naraku's incarnations?" Miroku questioned, having spotted the purple haired demon for the first time.

"Juromaru, I shall remove your shackles. Go forth and kill to your heart's content." Naraku said, and just as he did so the face mask and chains on Juromaru suddenly broke apart. Without hesitation the purple haired demon forcibly removed Naraku's head from his shoulders, causing it to fall to the ground with a thump. Inuyasha and the others looked on in surprise as this occurred, unable to believe that Juromaru would behead his own comrade.

"Juromaru is unstoppable now that his mask has been removed. He will slaughter everything in his wake." The decapitated head spoke shortly after hitting the ground. Shortly afterward it was enveloped in a purple light, and then vanished into the ground.

'I don't like the looks of this Juromaru. He rubs me the wrong way.' Inuyasha thought as he prepared himself for attack. Juromaru opened his mouth and exhaled loudly, showing that an odd glowing light was emitting from it. For the briefest moments, Inuyasha thought he saw a blur of movement coming from Juromaru's mouth. Suddenly Juromaru lunged forward, and Inuyasha didn't have time to think about it. The half demon quickly leapt backwards and away from the punch that smashed a hole in the ground before countering by smashing his fist against Juromaru's face. Juromaru flew back from the blow and crashed against the ground, getting up again as if he didn't notice being hit.

'What's with this guy? He didn't even try to dodge my attack. Is this a trap?' Before Inuyasha could continue his thought, the ground behind him erupted as he suddenly had the unfortunate experience of feeling his innards devoured at mach speeds. In an instant something struck him, partially ate him, and then shot out of his abdomen and landed in front of Juromaru.

'Definitely...a...trap...' Inuyasha thought to himself as he collapsed to his knees, coughing up a bit of blood. It was a good thing that he was half demon; otherwise that injury would have been infinitely more fatal than it was.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome cried out in surprise. Just as she did so the strange thing that had punched a hole in Inuyasha seemed to materialize, having been a glowing light before. It took the shape of an odd worm like creature with scythe like appendages and a head disturbingly similar to Juromaru's.

"Thanks for the meal. Your innards were simply delicious." The odd worm monster said. The majority of those gathered could only look at it with a state of shocked horror as it spoke. They simply weren't expecting words from the thing.

"What the hell is that thing?" Miroku asked, staring at the creature in shock.

"I am Kageromaru, and I have been lying dormant inside of Juromaru's belly. Juromaru obeys nobody but me. Not even Naraku." The tiny creature known as Kageromaru said, causing a few gasps of shock amongst those gathered.

"Now how about we feast on the others, Juromaru? We'll gorge ourselves!" With that, Kageromaru dashed forward at an intense speed, aiming straight for the gathered group.

"WIND TUNNEL!!" Miroku shouted, his voice seeming to echo off nothingness as he reached for the prayer beads on his arm. He never got the chance to unleash the void as Kageromaru flashed by him.

"Ah! What the?!" Miroku spun around quickly, trying to see where the creature went with little success.

"Hiraikotsu!" Sango shouted. She quickly let loose with her obscenely large boomerang in an attempt to hit Juromaru, only to have the demon swat it out of the air without trouble. A flash of moment from above signaled Kageromaru's fast approach towards the demon hunter, who was too busy going after her boomerang to notice.

"Sango!" Miroku called out, dashing in front of the girl and pushing her aside as Kageromaru dug into his shoulder and back. The tiny demon leapt aside shortly afterward, bouncing off the floor once before glaring at the monk with a chuckle.

"WIND TUNNEL!" Miroku called out once more, this time managing to open the hole in his hand as everything in front of it was pulled into its darkness. Kageromaru proved to be too fast for it, however, and Miroku soon found himself desperately moving the wind tunnel in an attempt to catch the elusive creature.

'How are we supposed to beat these guys?' Inuyasha thought, struggling to regain his feet. He was suddenly struck with another soul wrenching pain, sending the half demon back to his knees.

'Damn it. Not now!'

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Ranma awoke groggily and coughed up some liquid. She felt like crap, and judging from her state of dampness she had recently left the river. However, the case of her unusual clothing was something she was rather curious about. Rather than the T-shirt and camouflage slacks she had been wearing, she was now dressed in miko garb.

"...The hell?" Ranma muttered, looking down at her new red and white clothing as a women dressed identically walked into the room.

"Oh, you're awake. You are very lucky I came across you. You surely would have drowned otherwise. I'm afraid your clothes were torn beyond recognition. You can keep those if you want." The priestess said in a rather serene tone as the redhead just scratched her head nervously.

"Heh... Thanks, I guess. How long have I been out?" Ranma asked her host, seeing the girl get thoughtful for a second before shrugging her shoulders.

"I'm not sure. It couldn't have been more than a few hours." She said. Ranma nodded in response and sat up.

"You wouldn't happen to have any hot water would you?" Ranma asked, looking at the thoughtful expression that crossed the other girl's face again.

"Hot water? No, not on hand. I suppose you could build a fire and heat some water from the river. But that would take quite a while." She said as Ranma sighed and stood up, shaking her head.

"Figures. I'm never going to get any hot water at this rate. Thanks anyway." Ranma said as she started to leave.

"Well, if you really need hot water, I suppose I could let you take a pot to heat it in." The priestess said, leaving the room and returning with a simple metal pot that she handed to Ranma.

"Thanks for your hospitality. I really need to be on my way though." The red head said, brushing some loose hair out of her face and pushing it behind her ear before heading out of the room and exiting the temple grounds she had been brought to.

"Either I passed out a while ago upriver or I need to pay more attention. I never even noticed a shrine around here." Ranma muttered to herself, marveling at the large building she had just left. After a great deal of work and time, Ranma had collected wood and formed a simple fire pit. With a quick scoop from the nearby river the pot was full and ready to be heated. Unfortunately, Ranma had no ways of lighting the wood.

"Damn it. I'd use my ki, but I can't quite get the hang of heat. Cold is easy, but starting a fire is another thing all together. I'm not even sure if I could even do it without a spark anyway." Ranma said to herself, then grabbed too sticks and went about lighting it the old fashion way. After even more time the logs finally caught, and with care and patience Ranma managed to get a decent fire going. After that, she simply held the pot over the flames and let the fire heat the water contained within until she was sure it was enough. With a mighty splash, Ranma was male again.

"Ha! After all these days I'm finally a guy again. Now I can continue moving." With that Ranma stood and started to walk. However, the boy barely took four steps before he heard a rumble and the sky suddenly opened up with a downpour. Before he even knew what happened he was a she once more.

"Ah, Screw it! I'll become a guy later. I'm not gonna waste another hour heating water." Ranma grumbled to herself, and then headed off again. She drew her attention to the pain in her being and began to follow it, hoping she would soon come to its source.

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A few days had past and Ranma was about at her wits end. Not only had she still failed to find the damn source of her pain, but by judging from the fluctuations in the pain itself, she had been passed. Twice.

"God damn it. I swear when I find this guy I'm going to punch him in the face." Ranma grumbled to herself, continuing to trudge on. The redhead briefly thought back on her life in Nerima, wishing she could just go back to it. After what seemed to be a few weeks in this god forsaken hellhole she was actually starting to miss the little things of her old life. Akane hitting him with her mallet, Shampoo glomping him, the occasional spar with Ryoga. Hell, she was even starting to miss Kuno's stupidity.

"God damn it. How'd I end up like this anyway?" She wondered, continuing her walk. She idly looked down into the nearby river, seeing her reflection in its surface. Her state of dress seemed very familiar. And for a split second she could have sworn that she saw her reflection change to that of a black haired girl for a few moments. Ranma's vision tunneled for a second as she suddenly became lost in thought.

"Are...you alright?" He asked her. They had just finished rowing down a river. They had reached the dock and upon exiting their boat, she had tripped over a loose plank and fell into his arms. He could feel his face heating up a little as he held her, not knowing how else to respond to the situation but to ask for her well being.

"I'm fine. Thank you, In..."

Ranma was knocked from the strange vision and fell to her knees. The pain had intensified for the third time, and she was having trouble breathing while it continued to tear at her. Her eyes squeezed shut so forcefully that tears began to fall down her face as she simply tried to withstand the pain.

"No. I won't be beaten by it this time!" Ranma managed to get out, her body beginning to glow. She began to growl under her breath as her aura increased in power, falling off her body like wisps of smoke as she tried to will the pain away. Her low growl turned into a full blown roar as she shouted at the top of her lungs, her aura exploding outward and starting to cut apart near by plants. This went on for a few minutes as Ranma continued to fight off the pain. Unknown to her, Inuyasha was a fair distance away currently slaughtering a group of bandits after having killed the moth demon, Gatenmaru. No one noticed it, but for a split second, Oni-Inuyasha winced. He even slowed down a bit, but continued to fight anyway. After about 5 minutes the pain died and so did Ranma's aura, bringing her back to her knees as sweat poured down her face and her breathing became ragged.

"Heh. I knew I could beat it." She groaned, trying to get back to her feet but instead passed out.

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Inuyasha walked across the molten rock path he found himself on, lost in thought as he head towards his destination. He was also lost in pain, but that was beside the point. He was pretty sure that whatever was causing his pain was external, as it seemed to intensify judging by his location. It also seemed to be moving, and moving in his direction. Whatever it was, it was looking for him.

'Is this another one of Naraku's tricks? No. He would have exploited it by now if it was. If he caused this he could have killed me with Juromaru and Kageromaru. Then what else could it be? Maybe someone cast a curse on me? I don't remember anything like that happening.' Inuyasha's previous thoughts about his recent transformation were replaced by those that were hypothesizing about his unusual health problem. He sighed, and then continued walking. Soon he came across a giant skull sitting in a rock formation, also known as Totosai's domain.

"Hey, you there Totosai?" Inuyasha asked, walking into the small forge. He saw the old man across the room, smashing a red hot blade with his unusually large mallet.

"We need to talk." He said simply. Totosai turned around and noticed the hanyou's presence, setting down his mallet and turning around.

"Ah. I expected you would come." The old man responded before getting to his feet.

"What seems to be the trouble?" He asked in a slightly tired tone, watching as Inuyasha walked to the other side of his home and sat down, removing the Tetsusaiga from his waist as he did so.

"I still can't wield the Tetsusaiga. It's too heavy." He said, placing the sword down in-between himself and Totosai, who sat down across from him.

"I'm very disappointed in you, Inuyasha. It's hard to believe that you still have trouble with wielding the Tetsusaiga." Totosai said, shaking his head as he did so.

"Hey, quiet alright! That's why I need you to make it lighter. It's hard enough fighting demons off with this pain, but if I can't wield the Tetsusaiga I might as well lie down and die." Inuyasha said, looking as Totosai rose an eyebrow.

"Pain? What pain?" He asked, causing Inuyasha to curse himself under his breath.

"I don't know what you're talking about." He lied.

"I distinctly heard you mention some kind of pain. If you want my help, you need to come clean about it." Totosai said as Inuyasha growled a bit.

"Alright, fine. Ever since I went to Kagome's time the last time I've been having these weird pains. And it's not just in my gut or nothing, but my whole body. It feels like something is tearing me apart at my edges. Like I'm getting shredded from the inside out." Inuyasha explained. Totosai seemed to be thinking pretty intently about this before turning his head to the side a bit.

"Do you always feel this pain?" He asked. Inuyasha dropped his head a bit, not wanting to look at the old man. Instead he looked down at where the Tetsusaiga lay, briefly wondering if he would get to the point and tell him how to make it lighter.

"Yeah. It never goes away. I've gotten used to it recently, but it tends to get weaker and stronger every now and then. It feels like its intensity changes depending on my proximity to something. I don't know what it is, but I do know that it is heading towards me."

"What?! It's coming here?" Totosai asked, getting very fearful. 'A demon powerful enough to inflict such a thing would surely be capable of things I don't want to consider. I need to get Inuyasha away from here before it shows up.' He thought.

"Inuyasha, if you want to make your sword lighter you will need to kill Ryukotsusei." Totosai said seriously, causing a grunt of shock near Inuyasha's arm.

"Did you just say...Ryukotsusei?" Myoga asked. He was just about to latch onto Inuyasha's neck and suck out some sweet blood to drink, but Totosai's words stopped him.

"Yes I did. And you are going to show him the way to Ryukotsusei." Totosai said, looking at the little flea.

"Who's Ryukotsusei?" Inuyasha asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"He is the demon your father battled and sealed into a dormant sleep. Why do you think your sword is so heavy? It is because your fang is weaker than your father's, and you must prove that your fang is worthy to be a part of your father's sword. You'd best be on your way. Myoga will show you the way."

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Ranma breathed in heavily and the exhaled with equal difficulty. Every step forward she took was full of anguish. For every foot of distance she covered her pain seemed to triple.

"He's close. Real close. I can...feel it..." she muttered, her left eye shut tightly in an eternal wince as she continued to carry herself forward. Each breath she took was labored and every time she took a step her body seemed to get heavier. With every continuing second her muscles protested with greater intensity. Her nerves screamed at her through horrific torment to get away from the source of the pain, and her brain almost demanded that she run for her very life. Ranma refused to stop though, and kept moving forward.

"Arg!" Ranma turned her head up a bit as a boy with long silver hair stumbled over a small drop and collapsed to the ground.

"It's you. I know you're him." Ranma muttered, a pained tone in her voice. She could literally see the source of her pain flowing off his body. It was like staring into the flames that were in the process of burning her. Ranma didn't need to be told that this was who she was looking for. It was too easy to tell.

"So...you're the cause of this pain then. Priestess wench." Inuyasha grumbled, struggling to his feet as he pulled the Tetsusaiga from his belt, sheath and all, and used it as a walking stick. He looked at the red headed girl before him and smirked, seeing the agonizing power rolling off her body. She was the one alright.

"If I could move easier I'd have killed you by now, so in the mean time how about you tell me why you've given me this damn pain?" Inuyasha asked in great irritation, taking a step forward and almost whimpering from the wave of absolute agony that flowed into his being.

"Hey, I didn't... give you... squat! According to that... stupid...ghoul. I'm you're reincarnation." Ranma explained, taking a step forward and resisting the urge to scream in pain. A bit of blood dripped down from the side of her mouth, flowing from the place her teeth pierced her lip.

"My reincarnation!? I get reincarnated...as a woman!? What did I do...to deserve...that?" Inuyasha grumbled, taking yet another step forward and falling to his knees. He struggled for a minute, every muscle in his body protesting it as he returned to his feet.

"Hey! Shut up! I ain't...no woman!" Ranma exclaimed, taking another step forward and nearly passed out. The two of them were only a mere 5 feet apart, and both were shaking and sweating profusely. Both had labored breathing, and the both of them could barely stand, let alone walk.

"Screw this! I'm gonna...kill you!" Inuyasha shouted, taking one hand off the Tetsusaiga and prepared his claws. Despite his weakened state, he figured he had enough power to jump forward and close the gap between them. Than all he had to do was shove his hand through the girl's chest and that would be the end of it. With a grunt of effort, Inuyasha managed to hurl himself forward the last few feet. As he flew through the air the two were suddenly enveloped in their own auras. Ranma's bright orange light wrapped around her body and expanded outward just as Inuyasha's blue did the same with him. The two auras struck and exploded with a bright white light, enveloping both Ranma and Inuyasha within it.

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Meanwhile...

Naraku gazed at the image shown through Kanna's mirror, seeing the confrontation between Ranma and Inuyasha. Just moments ago he had witnessed a conversation between Inuyasha and that flea about a demon he was doing to kill, and now this interesting arrival of a woman claiming to be Inuyasha's reincarnation.

"How interesting. Very interesting indeed." He muttered to himself. He would keep an eye on these two and see if Inuyasha did in fact go to fight Ryukotsusei, but in the meantime his curiosity about this new arrival could be quenched at least.

'What is going on within that orb of light I wonder?' He mused to himself, still gazing into the mirror.

---------------------

Ranma opened her eyes and immediately wished she hadn't as her vision was flooded with light. She waited a few moments and opened them again as she saw that she and Inuyasha were floating in midair within the brightest light she had ever seen, though what really got her attention were the blue orbs that were rapidly circling through them, flying about and entering their bodies at random as if they were in a great hurry. Every time one of the orbs hit Ranma's body, she would twitch a little. However, one of the orbs seemed to make a weird tingle flow over her body whenever it hit. She could have sworn her hair got a little longer and brighter the last time it hit her.

'Our souls...' Ranma thought, briefly wondering how her consciousness was still in her body despite the fact her soul was flying about freely and even entered Inuyasha's body several times. As her train of thought neared the meaning of the universe Ranma figured it was best not to think about it, knowing her head would start to hurt if she thought too much on a subject she could barely comprehend.

'I can't...move...' Ranma thought, realizing she was completely paralyzed as she had attempted to shake her head of philosophic thoughts. Her body felt numb, but their was a strange pain at the edges of her body that seemed to be slowing eating her away, as if she were slowly dissolving like a sugar cube in a glass of water.

'I'm dying... No, I'm being erased from existence!' Ranma thought as the process sped up. She could actively see her body vanishing as the orbiting souls increased in speed and seemed to be on the verge of exploding.

'No! I won't accept this! I won't lose so easily!!' Ranma tried to scream, but could only think it as she shut her eyes tightly, plunging her world back into darkness as she attempted to will herself not to disappear.

Heh, Heh, Heh... Ranma heard in her mind as suddenly a slit pupil appeared in her vision, despite the fact her eyes were closed. Ranma found herself floating in a realm of blackness with a giant cat eye staring her down. The red haired girl shivered in horror, turning her astral body around only to gaze straight into obliteration.

'Ack!' Ranma thought. She turned away from the maddening concept of non-existence and back towards the giant eye, which caused the unusual chuckle to fill her head again.

'So, I have to choose between eradication and the devil itself. I hate hard choices.' Ranma thought to herself, staying where she was in-between the two.

'Damn that old crone, she lied to me. She knew exactly what would happen if I ran into my counterpart. She even told me that shit about the cat-eye!' Ranma thought angrily, gazing straight into the eye that tormented her. She knew she didn't have time to think, or to be afraid. Her very existence hung in the balance. After all, the psychic ghoul said not to fear the stupid cat-eye, she might as well listen to the old bat.

"I will not be beaten by this!!!" Ranma shouted out as the mysterious chuckle sounded once again. With that Ranma dove forward towards the eye, trying not to look at it or realize what creature it belonged to as she came close enough to touch it. The cat eye seemed to blink before flashing brightly and then vanishing. After another chuckle following its departure Ranma blacked out, never noticing the powerful explosion erupting from the souls as she did so.

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Inuyasha snarled in anger as he floated in the nothingness of the white, struggling to move his body as he glared hatefully at Ranma.

'I don't know what kind of sorcery this is, but it's pissing me off!' He thought, staring at her in anger as he noticed the weird orbs flying about. Had he had a clear view of them, he would have known that they were souls and the fact they weren't in their respective bodies was a very bad thing. However he could not see them as they were shrouded in powerful winds, crackling against each other with more scars than he could count.

'It's perfect. I'll just cut through the Wind Scar and blast this bitch to hell and back.' Inuyasha thought as he struggled to move his body, noticing he was completely paralyzed with quite a bit of annoyance. Suddenly one of the orbs crashed into his body and passed through him. An unusual tingling swept over his body as his arm twitched and raised a little, stopping in front of his torso. The orb shot out his back and began flying around randomly once again, the tingling going with it.

'I moved, when that orb hit me I could move for a few seconds. I have to time this just right...' Inuyasha thought as he slowly but surely managed to put his hand on the Tetsusaiga's handle and pulled it from its scabbard. The scabbard was blown away from him and clattered against the ground far away from him. He was holding the Tetsusaiga high above his head and was staring hard at the scars, moving ever so slightly each time he was hit to align himself. Each movement was performed as fast as he could to economize on the brief time the orbs had contact with him as he glared at Ranma, waiting for his opportunity.

'Once that orb hits me again I'll transform the Tetsusaiga. Then its weight alone should be enough to smash through the wind scar.' Inuyasha thought as his opportunity arrived, the soul colliding with him as the Tetsusaiga transformed and began to fall towards the scar he could see between him and Ranma.

"Wind Scar!" Inuyasha shouted just as Ranma cried out as well. His blade fell and the scar was cleanly severed, but instead of blasting Ranma like Inuyasha thought it would, the scar simply erupted, blasting the both of them as the already bright sphere of light was eclipsed by the wind scar's explosion. Inuyasha wasn't able to hold on to consciousness through this and blacked out, the Tetsusaiga clattering to the ground a few feet away from where his body landed.

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Where once there was a forested path a crater now lay, and within that crater two figures could be seen. Both looked remarkably similar, but for those that gave more than a passing glance a few obvious differences could be seen. While both wore a red hakama and white kosode, one of the two also had a red uwagi on over his upper body. While both indeed had similar facial structure and appearance, one of the two was clearly female, as her breasts made obvious. And while both had hair silver in color, one had a tint of blue while the other had a slight hint of pink. And while both of them had a pair of unusual ears on top of their heads, one had dog like ears out to the sides, and the other had more of a feline appearance with her ears on top. Of course, they were also both wearing prayer beads around their necks, but they were so similar it would be hard to distinguish between them.

"Holy hell. What just happened?" Inuyasha groaned as he came into consciousness. A few things made themselves known as he came to. For one thing, his brain felt like someone had tossed it into a microwave and promptly cooked it for an hour or two. For another thing his body felt...different...somehow. He wasn't sure how, but something was definitely off. And lastly, the pain was gone.

"Wait...the pain is gone?" he muttered in disbelief as this realization came to him. He couldn't remember the last time he felt so...so...what was the opposite of 'in pain' anyway? Bah. Doesn't matter. The pain was gone and that's all that really mattered. He might actually be able to fight this Ryukotsusei now. It was around this time that Inuyasha noticed another person's presence in the crater, and upon looking at her he was rendered speechless for a few moments.

'She reeks of demon. And she ain't no half-breed either. How did I not notice that before? How did I not notice the long silver hair before?' Inuyasha thought, recovering his Tetsusaiga before approaching the downed girl. Now that he was able to get a closer look he had to admit she did look a hell of a lot like him. She even smelled kinda like him, with a few key differences. For one, she smelled like a girl, and for another she smelled like a cat.

'Damn. I get reincarnated as a woman. Of all the rotten luck. And not just any woman, a freaking cat demon. What kami do I end up pissing off for this to happen?' Inuyasha thought in annoyance as he continued to look down at Ranma's prone form.

"Whatever. I have more important business to attend to. I still need to find Ryukotsusei." Inuyasha said to himself before once again setting off on his way. Myoga was lying on his prayer beads and from the looks of it he was unconscious. Thus the hanyou ignored the small flea for awhile and continued in the direction Myoga had previously instructed him to go.

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It took Ranma a little while to regain consciousness, and when she did she almost regretted doing so. Her brain was hurting, but the overall pain she had felt before was gone. She also felt different. Ranma shook her head and was surprised by how heavy her hair felt, noticing it was significantly longer. It was also now silver in color, as the metallic bangs hanging in her eyes informed her. She looked down at her fingernails and was surprised to see that they seemed a bit harder, and also appeared to be significantly retracted into her fingers. Ranma flexed her fingers and marveled as the nails extended to a much longer length, giving her the impression of claws. She also noticed her ears felt different. They had relocated themselves for one thing, as Ranma felt the new additions to the top of her head.

"What the hell happened to me?" Ranma muttered out loud, suddenly remembering what happened within the explosion.

"The souls...That must be what did it. Every time that soul went through me, my body felt different. Now that I think about it I kinda look like that other guy. The ears, the hair... I must have absorbed part of his being." Ranma said as she got up. Her head was pounding, and she was having trouble remembering much of anything. At least the pain was gone.

"Man, Akane's going to be pissed. Maybe I should go see Kikyo before I head back to the den." Ranma muttered to herself, heading off in a random direction. She stopped herself, grabbing her head in confusion.

"Wait, what? Damn. My head hurts. That bastard Rouseimaru must've...no, that's not right? That little brat Kaede probably...Damn it, that's not right either! Ryoga and Tsumemaru..." Ranma grabbed her head and collapsed to her knees, struggling to make sense of the random memories that swam through her head haphazardly.

"I can't remember...which one is right? Who am I? Inuneranyashakoyokaima? No, that can't be right." Ranma mumbled, leaning against a nearby tree to hopefully collect her thoughts. She looked down at her breasts in curiosity for a moment and something clicked. There was at least one thing she was sure of, despite the jumble of memories. She was supposed to be male.

"I'm definitely supposed to be a guy...but why am I a girl? Hmm, something about water temperature...I think." She muttered to herself, turning her head a bit as she heard the sound of running water. It was coming from nearby by the sound of it, and she figured she might as well test out the water temperature theory.

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Inuyasha stared up in mild surprise at the rather impressive form of a demonic dragon. It was truly massive in size, being significantly larger than the mountain around it to the point that it appeared to be halfway encased in it. Ryukotsusei's body appeared no different than the rocks around it, with a length of white mane traveling all the way across his back. The only thing that truly set this demon apart from regular dragons was the unusual mask that seemed to be imbedded in its forehead. How it got there was beyond him. Inuyasha looked upon the great demon a little longer, idly wondering whether the demon's fangs or his body were larger. It was around that time he drew his attention to the rather large claw imbedded near Ryukotsusei's heart. It was around then that he noticed a shadow that was out of place near the top of the claw. The shadow shifted and suddenly came into the light, revealing it to be a figure draped in a baboon pelt.

"Naraku, what are you doing here?" Inuyasha shouted, glaring at his hated enemy. The man in the baboon pelt gave no reply; instead he only crouched down and applied his hand to the claw he stood on, causing it to melt away.

"Ah! That claw seals his powers!" Myoga announced with obvious fear in his voice, not liking where this was going. The claw continued to melt and evaporate into nothing more than a purple mist, soon completely vanishing as the wound left glowed with a bright red light. The sound of Ryukotsusei's heart beginning to beat again was easily audible despite how far away Inuyasha was standing. The sky darkened and lightning flashed as the massive draconic demon opened its long unseeing eyes, gazing down at Inuyasha.

"Ryukotsusei!" Naraku announced from his new position, standing on a cliff side. "The one you see before you is the son of the demon that sealed you away. He has come to kill you." He said, just as a loud rumbling sent tremors across the valley. Ryukotsusei broke free from his rocky prison, freeing his body to allow for maximum mobility while never taking either set of eyes off Inuyasha.

"This is terrible! We have to escape!" Myoga shouted fearfully, hoping to convince Inuyasha to run for his very life. Unfortunately for the flea the hanyou in question wasn't having any of it. In fact, the only change to Inuyasha was a smirk that now adorned his face.

"Heh, yeah right Myoga. I'd much rather face him head on then slay him in his sleep like a coward." Inuyasha said, smirk still on his face as he pulled his father's blade from its scabbard and transformed it in the process. Its weight was still a little more than Inuyasha could handle, yet strangely it seemed lighter than it once was. Quite a bit lighter, as he was actually able to keep the blade from touching the dirt while holding it with both hands.

'I guess just challenging this guy makes me closer in power to my father.' Inuyasha assumed.

"Do you believe you can slay me? Interesting. This shall prove amusing." Ryukotsusei said in his deep, echoing voice. It briefly sent a chill down Inuyasha's spine, but he chose to ignore it.

"Amusing?" Inuyasha repeated, sounding slightly insulted as the giant dragon lunged forward, jaws open wide. With a brief bout of effort Inuyasha was airborne, as were a couple hundred chunks of stone as Ryukotsusei carved out a chunk of the cliff with his impact. Inuyasha landed on one of the stones and hopped off of it, jumping from stone to stone before making it on Ryukotsusei's back and running across it.

'His skin feels as hard as steel.' Inuyasha thought to himself, running barefoot across the demon's back as he made his way towards his head. Ryukotsusei lunged at him again, intending to knock the annoying half-breed off his back as Inuyasha leapt and twisted around the dragon's head. With a quick grunt he slashed, intending to slash the demon's lower jaw off but instead only managing to cut off a few hairs from near his mouth. A few hairs almost as long as Inuyasha's body, that is. Inuyasha wasn't going to chance getting swatted while being so close, and instead leapt back and landed on the side of a rock formation and began to run across it.

"You dare cut my whiskers? Your insolence has earned my ire." Ryukotsusei announced as he opened his jaws, revealing a glowing blue light as electric energy danced across his teeth and tongue. A ball of energy suddenly gathered within his gullet and just as quickly evacuated it at an impressive pace, flying straight at Inuyasha. Tensing his legs and leaping once again, Inuyasha got clear of ground zero as the energy blast bored a hole straight through the cliff side he was standing on and eradicated the demon puppet in the guise of Naraku standing on the other side.

"He was aiming for Naraku?" Inuyasha muttered to himself, bringing his attention back to the fight at hand as Ryukotsusei roared.

"Come at me, little man. I hope you can provide me with some entertainment." Ryukotsusei once again bellowed, causing Inuyasha to scoff as he leapt into the air.

"I'm the one that's going to be entertained!" He shouted, setting his sights on the scar left by his father's claw and bringing the Tetsusaiga around to slice it. With a heavy impact he struck, sparks flying from the contact as Inuyasha was surprised by the amount of recoil he was receiving, so much so that he was hurled away from the demon to land roughly on his back.

"Damn. You're not making this easy." Inuyasha muttered, getting to his feet as Ryukotsusei laughed.

"See? It's useless. My body is stronger than steel!" He said, his mouth glowing again in preparation for another attack. The blast did not take long to come as Inuyasha's vision was soon filled with bright blue light.

"Steel eh? Then it's a good thing I've got the Steel cleaving fang1!" Inuyasha shot back, leaping past the blast that erupted behind him and struck with Tetsusaiga again. Once again the blade bounce off, causing Inuyasha to be hurled towards yet another rock formation.

"Fool! You've already tried that!" Ryukotsusei said as he blasted once again. Inuyasha landed for half a second before he leapt again, heading for Ryukotsusei's body.

"Yeah? Well I haven't tried this! Kachuu Tenshin, Amaguriken!!" Inuyasha screamed, moments afterward wondering why. It didn't matter though as he held the Tetsusaiga towards Ryukotsusei tip first with both hands around the hilt and went into blurring motion. The sound of Tetsusaiga impacting Ryukotsusei's metal like skin was barely out down by the sound of the wind being repeatedly sliced by the fast blows. After nearly 157 consecutive stabs to the same area Inuyasha finally broke the skin, plunging his blade deep into Ryukotsusei's body.

'How in the hell did I just do that? Or rather, when did I learn to do that?' He briefly thought, considering the move he just performed as Ryukotsusei bellowed in pain and hurled Inuyasha from his body, charging yet another blast as the hanyou barely had time to blink before having to dodge the blast.

"Damn it, after all that he's still got enough power to fight?" Inuyasha muttered in annoyance, hearing Myoga crying out next to his ear.

"Don't you understand, Master Inuyasha? This is Futile! It took every ounce of your father's strength just to seal this beast, and the wound he received in the battle is what eventually killed him!" The diminutive flea announced, causing Inuyasha to gasp slightly at that revelation.

"So, he's dead is he? And you are his foolish son? Do you seriously intend to avenge him with your pathetic little sword?" Ryukotsusei asked, humor clear in his voice as Inuyasha just growled.

"It didn't look so pathetic when I impaled your scaly ass with it! And besides, I don't even remember my father, why the hell would I try to avenge him?" Inuyasha shot back, angry at what Ryukotsusei was assuming.

"What?! How dare you say such things about your father! You've been saved countless times by the very sword he left you!" The flea shouted, tears entering his eyes.

"Get out of my face!" Inuyasha yelled angrily.

"Traitorous son! I want nothing more to do with you." Myoga muttered with tears flowing, leaping from Inuyasha's shoulder and falling into the ravine below. Inuyasha just scoffed, looking away from him.

"Ha, I know you just want to run aw...aargh!!" Inuyasha shouted, getting blind sighted from behind by Ryukotsusei's tail. He was hurled through a nearby cliff side, falling what seemed like a great distance while surrounded by chunks of rock and still engulfed in pain. His hand relaxed for a moment, but that's all it needed for him to lose hold of his sword.

"Ah! Tetsusaiga!" He uttered in horror, knowing that without his blade he would transform into a demon. The Tetsusaiga impaled itself in the ground and changed back into a rusty Katana, followed shortly by Inuyasha impacting the floor along with multiple bolder sized chunks of rock. At some point Ryukotsusei had gotten on the opposite side of the cliff Inuyasha had been pushed through, now looming over him and his sword.

"Tetsusaiga..." He muttered weakly, reaching for the blade as he heard the sound of energy collecting in Ryukotsusei's mouth. For a moment Inuyasha thought the dragon overhead was going to blast his sword into oblivion. That is, of course, until he saw the rapidly approaching energy ball closing in on his position.

"D...Damn it." He managed to mutter, just before his world turned into blinding light and his body fell into indescribable pain.

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Ranma turned his head to the side almost violently, looking at the mountain range in the distance. The Saotome boy had figured out hot water returned him to male form awhile ago, and was now sitting in a tree and trying to collect his thoughts. However, something drew his attention towards the mountains as he saw energy begin to gather around it, an ominous feeling rising in his chest as he noticed it.

"Something isn't right." He muttered and then set off, heading towards the mountains as quickly as he could.

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To Be Continued

(Author's Notes)

It's been a while since I updated this, and I know how many people were looking forward to it. Thus I made it exceptionally long. I hope you enjoyed it.

1. Tetsusaiga translates to Steel Cleaving Fang, just to let those of you know that were unfamiliar with the comment Inuyasha made.

Ryo-Wolf