Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma, though I'd figure that that's a given.
Author's Note: Well, It recently came to my attention that it has been well over a year since I updated my story 'Lost Manhood, Lost Memory.' Thus I decided it was about time to continue it and began to re-read it to remind myself what comes next. It was around this time, however, that a very interesting and important realization came to me.
"This sucks!" I exclaimed.
Thus, I am rewriting it. Hopefully it will now have something that actually resembles plot, and will be superior to what it once was. To those of you who will surely ask such a question, the basic premise will be kept. Events will occur differently, however, and changes will be made. So don't get all pissy about it.
"Shit. How the hell did we even get in this mess?" Ryoga asked of no one in particular, still running at full tilt. He had barely even bothered to re-clothe himself after unlocking his curse, and now he knew he had wasted more than enough time. He had to get back to the fight between Ranma and Herb. Ranma needed to change back into a man to win.
'Now's not the time to get lost! I refuse to let my limitations stop me from getting there.' Ryoga thought, willing his direction sense into submission as he made a beeline for Ranma's location. Ranma had sacrificed himself to let Him and mousse return to manhood, and he'd be damned if he didn't repay the pigtailed jerk. The Hibiki boy briefly turned his gaze towards mousse, seeing that the boy was just as determined to get back into the battle as Ryoga was.
"This has gone on long enough!" Herb bellowed, drawing Ryoga's attention to the dragon prince as a blast easily dwarfing the redhead it was aimed at in size.
'Oh, hell no! I'm not letting you kill Ranma before I get the chance to repay him!' Ryoga thought, putting his hand against a nearby boulder and sinking his fingers into the unusually malleable stone. Well, malleable for him at least. It was regular stone after all. Without even stopping his run, Ryoga yanked the boulder from the ground with a grunt of effort. He held it over his shoulder for a second before hurling the rock, managing to get it in-between the chi blast and Ranma. The rock exploded before it had a chance to hit the ground, drawing the attention of both fighters towards the two teens running in their direction.
"Ranma! You change back into a man too!" Ryoga shouted out, chucking the open water kettle at the redheaded girl. Her face lit up with a smile upon seeing Ryoga and Mousse human again, a smile that quickly turned into a look of determination.
"The Open Water Kettle!" Ranma cried, diving for the piece of mystic metal in question.
"I've got it!" She shouted, mere inches from being able to touch her fingers to its surface. She refused to let it get away, not now when she was so close to being a man again.
"I won't let you have it!" Herb yelled in righteous anger, furious that the insolent bitch before him would try and take his kettle to unlock her curse. He charged a blast of pure white chi in his fist, preparing to vaporize the she-demon before she could lay a finger on the musk artifact.
"I won't let you stop him!" Mousse objected. A thin cable, probably some form of steel wire, fired from his sleeve. The small weight tied at its end the only thing it needed to wrap around Herb's forearm on contact, allowing him enough leverage to yank back on the cable and redirect Herb's fist and blast away from Ranma. Under normal circumstances Mousse would have cheered any attempt at ending the life of Ranma Saotome, but Ranma had done him an immense favor that he had every intention of repaying. He wouldn't sit idly by and accept the fact he owed a debt to Ranma Saotome, no sir! They would be even, and then Mousse could go back to trying to kill the woman stealing bastard.
"Thanks Mousse!" Ranma called out, seeing her temporary comrade redirecting the energy blast Herb had trained on her. She was still in mid leap and the kettle was still a few inches away. It would only take a few more seconds for it to be firmly in her grasp. Of course, at that very instance the Mountain beneath them had finally declared 'enough!' It was tired of taking such a beating from these foolish humans. If they were so keen in blasting holes in it, let's see how they like it when the ground beneath them crumbles to pieces!
"What? Earthquake?" Ryoga questioned, trying to hold his footing as the ground shook. Mighty cracks appeared in the stone beneath them as fissures opened and rocks broke away from what was once their perch. Pieces of the mountain simply fell off and rained down upon the mystic waters at its base, sending slashes that did little to the rocks in the ravine. One particular fissure had the good fortune to open directly beneath the airborne Ranma, and while she was able to latch onto the edge for support, the open water kettle unfortunately lacked the appendages to do the same and plummeted into the darkness below.
"No! The open water kettle!" Ranma cried out, pathetically reaching out for the object that had already left her line of sight.
"Ha ha! It seems that I've overused my energy blasts. The mountain is crumbling from the strength of my Ryu Sei Hisho." Herb gloated, smirking at the foolish girl that dared to defy him. Ranma growled in response, a few tears starting to enter her eyes. She didn't care how impossible it was! She had to return to being a man! Unfortunately for her plans, one half of the mountain was currently overbalanced because of everything that fell off, leaning towards the other half. All it took was for a single rock to crack and it would come falling over.
And with that, the mountain began to rumble again as the fissure started to close, sending Ranma into a panic as she noticed her hopes of manhood starting to vanish.
"Ahhh! It's starting to close!" She exclaimed. Ryoga remained silent during this, his teeth clenched and fist shaking. He refused to let this go, he had to return Ranma back to manhood; his honor demanded it! But what could he do? Leaping into a closing fissure was suicide, and killing himself wouldn't unlock his curse.
'There has got to be a way to keep it open.' He thought to himself, watching as the fissure became closer to sealing.
"Hey! How dare you trick us!"
"Yeah, there weren't any huge breasts!" The light bulb appearing over Ryoga's head was almost visible as he heard the two musk boys approaching. He wasted no time in his next move, grabbing onto the tiger skinned one with all his might and yanking him down into the rapidly closing fissure.
"Perfect! I need your help, Brute strength guy!" Ryoga said, lodging the tiger man in-between the two halves of the fissure to insure it stayed open.
"Now hold the crack open!" The Hibiki boy demanded, not about to take no for an answer.
"Eh?" Was the only response Lime could come up with regarding his current predicament. He was too busy preventing himself from being crushed to think anyway.
"H...Hey Ryoga!" Ranma began. She was confused about her rival's current actions, not too sure what to think about it as he continued to climb downward.
"I'll bring back the open water kettle! You can count on it! Finish your fight Ranma! And win! Our score will be settled after this." Ryoga shouted up at the red head looking down at him in shock and admiration. He refused to let Ranma down. There was no way Ryoga was going to let Ranma stay a woman after he allowed him to become a man again.
"Ryoga...you..." Ranma began, but stopped when she realized she had nothing to say. Ryoga was already out of sight anyway, finishing her sentence would have been pointless.
'All right Ryoga, I will believe in you. And I will defeat Herb!' She promised herself, standing up and turning towards the dragon prince in question. A plan began to hatch in her mind as she looked around the area, feeling the intense aura that was saturating the place because of Herb's haphazard use of energy blasts.
"I'll rescue you lime!" Mint cried out, having already tied a rope around his companion's body in an attempt to pull him from the fissure that would not rest until it closed. The diminutive wolf boy could see his partner's arms beginning to buckle under the stress, and he knew that he had to keep trying if he was going to get him out without being squished.
"It's too late!" Lime shouted, knowing his end was near as even his mighty muscles began to give. With a final tug Mint was able to pull the tiger boy from the crack before it crushed him, leaving no more resistance between the two halves of the mountain as it slammed shut with enough force to create yet another earthquake.
"Ryoga!" Mousse shouted, looking at the crack that heralded the location of where the fissure once was. He really hoped the stupid lug wasn't smashed to death. How was he going to get back to killing Saotome if he failed to repay him for his generosity?
Ryoga hated spelunking, and yet oddly enough it was an activity he frequently partook in. He knew he could find the kettle for Ranma, all it really came down to was a matter of time. He had managed to find other things in far more dire situations. An incident came to mind in fact, as he recalled trying to recover a strand of unicorn fur that he had accidentally dropped off a bridge, causing it to land in a truck full of hay. He followed that truck all the way to a farm only to find it parked in a barn literally stacked to the roof with bails of hay and nothing in the truck. The fact that the unicorn hair in question was supposedly an ingredient for a cure and blonde in color made the finding of it all the more important and difficult. He had eventually found it though, Ryoga was really good at that kind of thing. He was a very thorough guy. Of course if memory served correctly, it had taken him 5 weeks to find it. And by then the guy who had the rest of the ingredients he needed had already moved onto another town and Ryoga never saw him again. Back to the subject at hand, anyway, Ryoga was positive that finding an ornamental metallic kettle in a cave made of rocks would be far easier. How could they clash any more? Well, maybe if the kettle was a light source and he was in pitch blackness, but that would just be too easy.
"Huh? What the..." Ryoga said, feeling another rumble as his source of light suddenly vanished. It seems brute strength guy failed to hold the crack open, and now Ryoga was fishing around in the dark for a small metal object.
"Ok, maybe this will be slightly harder than I originally thought..." He muttered to himself, simultaneously realizing that his only source of light had also been his only source of oxygen.
"Oh crap." He said, the direness of the situation setting in. No time to be thorough! Time for needless destruction! He needed to find that kettle and didn't have time to go around the rocks.
"Bakusai Tenketsu!" He screamed, thrusting his finger into the rocks beneath him. They burst with little resistance as Ryoga found himself plummeting further down. It took him awhile to land, and unfortunately for him he happened to land directly into a stream of water that was rushing straight up at him, obviously under a lot of pressure. There was one thing he noticed though, the water was hot.
'The open water kettle must be in this water somewhere!' He thought, swimming through the near boiling liquid in a vain search for anything resembling the Kettle. Ryoga may have been an incredibly strong person, and a fighter with extreme skill, but one thing he wasn't was a frequent addition to water. Thus, his ability to hold his breath for extended periods of time was piss pour at best. He had just managed to close his fist around the kettle in question when he reached his breaking point. He blacked out.
Ryoga's brain went into a panic, realizing in a frenzied rush that the body lacked oxygen and that higher thinking had shut down due to it. Ryoga's body would switch over to reflex action soon, which would involve steady breathing of a substance that should not be breathed in. He was a few scant seconds away from death, and the brain knew it. It needed air, which means it needed out of the water. With a few quick thoughts a new reflex was permentantly burnt into Ryoga's body functions, and shortly it acted upon it.
Can't breathe, Bakusai Tenketsu everything in range.
And he did. New instincts took over as reflexive signals flowed across his nerves. His body thrashed as his fingers snaked out, striking anything and everything it could touch and causing it to burst seconds later. The mountain was losing stability and the water was losing pressure, now slowly draining out. Unfortunately the Open water kettle was going with it, as Ryoga had to release it in order to begin his random blasting. The water level was just reaching low enough for Ryoga to get a breath of fresh air when he spasmed and took water down the wrong tube, ending all movement as the brain abandoned reflex and instead went to attempting to remove water from the lungs so that air could enter. It was around this time that Ryoga's life started flashing across his eyes, as the memory trigger realized he was nearing death and figured it was now or never. Every event Ryoga had ever experienced became known to him again, and saying Ryoga's life is depressing to watch would be an understatement. His body spasmed again, trying to expel the liquid from his lungs as tears flowed freely from his eyes, watching every moment he had tried to forget come back to him. Ryoga had returned to the point of his memory where the old man was telling them about Horaisan. How it was sitting in a large body of magical water that removed evil spirits and trapped them on the mountain, thus it was full of monsters and such and all. It was around this memory that he couldn't take it any more, all the depression built up in him demanded to be released, he just needed the words. With a few quick coughs all the water was expelled from his lungs and sweet air replaced it, giving him enough breath to get off his shout.
"SHISHI HOKUDAN!" He screamed, firing his depression chi outward from his body. He had not given it direction, merely letting it flow off him at rapid pace, tunneling through the rocks all around him until he was spent. Ryoga began to breathe heavily, looking around for a moment in search of the kettle to see that it was no longer in his hands. He also noticed that there was a hole in the wall in front of him that led out of the mountain, and upon looking out it, he noticed that it was a free fall all the way to the bottom.
"Oh hell, I must have dropped it." Ryoga said to himself, just as the entire mountain began to rumble and the rocks simply disconnected from one another. Ryoga briefly noticed Ranma plummet past him as the rocks he was standing on gave way, causing the lost boy to fall with them. The entire mountain was crumbling, and from the looks of things it would crumble on top of him. He didn't have time to consider this though. He had just hit rock bottom, and there were still a lot of rocks above him that needed to travel a bit further down in order to stop. A few of said rocks decided to land on Ryoga's head, and the boy once again found himself blacking out.
Ranma stared down her opponent, her hair blowing in an unseen wind as her aura manifested itself around her body.
'Herb's hot chi is all over the place. I can see it in the air it's so thick.' Ranma thought, looking about at all the energy floating around the area. It was visibly raising the temperature of the area, but Ranma paid no attention. Her own aura was cold enough to cause condensation to collect on her body, and it was only going to get colder.
'If I pull all this hot energy around with my cold chi, I can create a Hiryuu Shoten ha. If I can just make it spin fast enough, I may pull this off...' Ranma was forced to think on her feet at this point, standing still was just asking Herb to act. The redhead dashed forward and willed the hot energy around her to stick to her cold aura. She began to pull it in a spiral around Herb, trying to get it moving as quickly as she could.
'Just stay right there Herb and use that cold chi of yours. I dare you.' Ranma thought, a smirk appearing on her face as she reached the center of the spiral.
"Hiryuu Shoten Ha!" Ranma shouted out, only to be hurled into her own tornado when Herb's Aura went from hot to cold with enough speed to cause the rocks beneath him to crack. The dragon prince raised his fist in triumph, taking control of the Hiryuu Shoten ha as Ranma was forced to ride the winds.
'That's it. Play right into my trap, herb!' Ranma thought, riding the winds higher until she neared the top.
"Now! Eat this, Hiryuu Shoten Ha revised! Hiryuu Korin Dan!" Ranma shouted with all her might, drawing her chi into her hand and forcing it to spin within her palm at a rapid pace. The blast was cooled to the point that frost collected on Ranma's palm, just before she thrust her hand forward and launched the blast into the eye of the tornado. The spiraling blast of cold chi acted like a vacuum as it entered the Hiryuu Shoten ha. The sky began to shine a brilliant white as the hot ki was violently pulled from the air and forced into the blast.
"Herb! I have collected all your excess energy, you can have it back! Feel the power of my Hiryuu Korin Dan!" Herb was unable to move away in time as the orb struck with the violent fury of a meteor strike. The backlash of the explosion was enough to hold Ranma's body aloft for nearly 20 full seconds, and also carved a large spiral crater into the ground around Herb. By the time the dust had cleared the redhead was on the ground once more, wincing a bit from the rough landing and coughing up dust. She was having a little trouble regaining control of her breathing, but at least she had done it.
"Herb...you were a man to be feared..." Ranma muttered, getting back to her feet with a sigh. She wiped a bit of sweat off her forehead and turned toward mousse, briefly wondering where Ryoga was. 'Hasn't he gotten back out yet?' She thought, hoping the boy hadn't gotten lost underground.
"I am not yet beaten..." Herb said, causing Ranma to turn around violently as the prince in question got to his feet, albeit slowly.
"Damn you! Why can't you just stay down?" Ranma shouted. She was incredibly annoyed by this point. She had gone through all that trouble of developing a new technique and herb didn't have the courtesy to be defeated by it? That bastard!
"Just like my chi being weaker while I was female, your attack was lacking in power. It was indeed impressive, but it was not enough!" Herb mocked, looking at the glare Ranma was sending his way. He was enjoying his victory over the annoying woman. He was happy she had failed to return to her male form. He surely would have been felled by that last attack had she been able to.
'Now she truly is out of tricks.' Herb thought to himself, smirking evilly. He saw Ranma charging cold Chi and decided the battle had gone on long enough. To be frank, he was sick of seeing her face. With a quick dash he was in front of her, and it was obvious she was too winded to do much about it.
"It's over for you!" Herb announced, kneeing Ranma rather violently in the abdomen. The red head was completely bent in half from the blow, barely able to keep air in her lungs or keep her lunch from exiting her stomach. The small redhead flew backwards and landed roughly on the edge of a cliff, a mere few feet from falling off the mountain and into the ravine below.
"Prepare to die Ranma!" Herb said with a smirk, a blade of chi forming around his arm as he held it to the downed girl's neck. Mousse was preparing a barrage of chains just as the blade began to fall, but before either had a chance to complete their movements the entire mountain shuddered.
"What the..." Mousse muttered, seeing greenish blue chi erupt from cracks all over the place. It looked a lot like Ryoga's Shishi Hokudan. 'No. He didn't...' Mousse thought, but he was only met with another violent shudder as the entire mountain simply fell apart. It literally turned to rubble and collapsed in on itself. Mousse lost his glasses in the quake and his footing shortly afterward, plummeting through the crumbling mountain as he lucked out enough to get hit with a water pocket that had been in the rocks. Now a duck, he wasted no time flying away from what would have been his doom. He briefly wondered if he'd be able to fly all the way back to Nerima, but it didn't matter. He couldn't see a thing. He wasn't even sure where Herb or his lackeys went. He was pretty sure he saw Ranma plummeting into the ravine once the mountain began to crumble, but he wasn't sure.
'Damn it. Ryoga was crushed by Horaisan; Ranma fell into the ravine while incapacitated. I'm the only survivor. They will not take this information very well back in Nerima." Mousse thought as he continued to fly into the blurry sky. Nothing made sense to him. He must have been a few hundred feet above the ground with the ability to see nothing further than 3 feet beyond his eyes. He was literally flying into murky nothingness. To be honest, he didn't care.
To Be Continued
Well, there's the new beginning to Lost Manhood, Lost Memory. Counting in at 2,000 more words than the original prologue. More to come from this, so expect it...eventually.