A mountain shuddered. The mountain was in reality a physical manifestation of an ancient prison, long forgotten by all except for a very few communities.

Within this prison, the Shadow Knight strained.

It would not be much longer. *Freedom. It's so close... I can _taste_ it!*

His massive muscles, hidden by his dark armor, bulged and rippled as he struggled against the mystic bonds that had held him for three millenia. *Al-... -most... There!*

The magical chains snapped.

He was free.

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Based on stuff that's not mine...

Written by Cyclone...

Whirlwind Productions presents...

THE LUNAR KNIGHTS

Episode Seven--The Vengeance of Xerex

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Akane yawned as she woke up. It had been two days since they had returned to Nerima from their grandfather and cousin's shrine. Other than the demon attack, it had been fairly uneventful.

She dressed and went for her usual morning jog.



Later...

Ranma and Akane headed for school. It was the first day of school since spring break, and Nabiki had left early to handle some "business ventures." Ranma seemed thoughtful as he walked beside her. She glanced anxiously at him, wondering what would happen between them. He had been acting more distant lately, and it was worrying her.

Kunou was waiting for them, as usual. Ranma strode boldly up to the kendoist. "Hold, foul sorceror! I, Tatewaki Kunou, the White Lightning of Furinkan High, shall smite thee!"

Ranma simply stood with his arms at his sides. "I shall not fight you, honorable warrior."

"Eh?" Kunou blinked and stood back with a wary look on his face.

"Violence solves nothing. Day after day we have fought and what have we accomplished? Nothing but bruises. Tell me, what do you hope to achieve?"

"The freedom of Akane and the pig-tailed girl from your evil clutches!"

"Akane is as free from me as I from her. The engagement was our fathers' idea. If anyone is to blame, it is they."

"And what of the pig-tailed girl? Should I allow you to go unpunished for your enslavement of her? I think not!"

"The pig-tailed girl and I are inseparable, bound together by a an evil curse beyond our ability to break. I would do almost anything to never see her again."

"Truly? Hmm... I cannot trust your words alone, sorceror, but I know one who can either confirm the words you have just spoken or damn you a liar as well as a warlock."

"Very well. So be it. Speak with your source, and we shall meet again on the morn hereafter."

"I shall seek your presence then, Saotome."

Kunou turned and walked into the school. Akane gaped. Ranma strode in after the upperclassman, as though nothing peculiar had happened. Well, for many places, a confrontation ending in words rather than blows _wasn't_ peculiar, but this was downright _weird_ for Nerima.



Late that night...

Ryouga entered the Tendo grounds. He wandered in and was greeted by Kasumi. "Oh, my. Ryouga-kun, are you looking for Ranma? I'm afraid he's asleep right now, though."

"Oh. Ah, I guess I'll catch him later." Ryouga turned to leave.

"Ryouga-kun?"

He turned, "Yes?"

"You don't have a place to stay, do you? Would you like to stay here tonight? I'm afraid we don't have another room, but..."

Ryouga shook his head. "You're too kind, Kasumi-san. The couch is more comfortable than what I'm used to, anyway."



A few hours later at the Nekohanten...

"Elder Kuh Lon! Elder Kuh Lon!"

The Amazon matriarch turned and was surprised to see Tao Kum. The young Amazon scout was supposed to be back at the village. "What is it, child?"

Tao Kum gasped, catching her breath, and handed her a crumpled envelope. "Urgent news from Elder Tzo Pu. The Dark One is rising!"

Kuh Lon's eyes widened, and she quickly snatch and tore open the envelope. She read the missive swiftly.

"Mu Tzu! Xian Pu! We must prepare for battle." She turned to Tao Kum, who had collapsed in exhaustion immediately after handing her the message, and said, "You have done your part. Rest now, child, and know that three thousand years of Amazon tradition will soon rest on your shoulders."



In the Tendo living room...

Ryouga bolted to his feet and snatched his umbrella, dropping into a low fighting stance. *What? There's something here... but where is it?*

He glanced around warily. Suddenly, something struck him from behind. He flew through the Tendo wall and slammed into the street several yards away. He pulled himself to his feet and saw a figure in black armor, like that of a medieval knight, striding out of the hole he had just crashed through.

"At last, Foundling, thou shalt _face_ _my_ _wrath_!"

Ryouga backed away. What could he possibly have done to upset this guy??? He held his umbrella up defensively and backed his way down the street. The armored figure followed him with even, measured steps.



In the Tendo front yard...

Ranma watched the figure stalk Ryouga. *Should I transform?*

He sensed motion behind him and turned. His father and the Tendos had come out and were now asking tired questions. He waved for them to go back in and said, "Something's attacking Ryouga. All of you, get back in. You too, Akane. Pops, Mr. Tendo, keep an eye on 'em, 'specially Akane."

"Right."

"Waahaahaha! My future son-in-law really _does_ worry about my daughter!"

The pigtailed martial artist rolled his eyes, "Of COURSE I worry about her. She's a good friend. I just don't want her doing anything stupid."

He turned and ran down the street.

*A friend, Ranma? Is that all I am to you?*



Down the street...

The armored figure slashed at Ryouga with a sword that had a blade that appeared to be made completely out of darkness.

The fanged boy barely parried the sword, channeling his ki into it. He backed away as his opponent laughed, "Very good, Foundling. It seems thou shalt grant me a true challenge. This will make my victory all the sweeter." He stopped laughing and pointed his dark blade at Ryouga, "Know this. For your ancestor's wrongs against me, I, Xerex the Shadow Knight, shall destroy you!"

Suddenly, Xerex's head snapped forward. Ranma used the back of the Shadow Knight's head as a platform and leaped into a ready stance next to Ryouga.

"Hey, Ryouga. What'd you do to this guy?"

"Nothing! He said something about my ancestor..."

"Sins of the father, huh? I'm familiar with that."

Xerex glared at them. "Puny mortal. Thou darest interfere with mine vengeance? This is personal matter! Stay out, and thou wilt not be harmed."

"Go, Ranma. I don't butt into your fights, so don't butt into mine."

Ranma was reluctant, but he backed away and replied, "Okay. Your call, Ryouga."

Xerex launched himself at Ryouga, slashing at him again and again. Ryouga parried and dodged like his life depended on it, which it did. However, the battle was fated to be interrupted again.

"SPARKLING WIDE PRESSURE!"

The lightning bolt struck Xerex, who spun and glared at the newcomers, "Who dares?"

"We do! A person should not be blamed for the actions of his ancestor! In the name of the planets, we'll punish you!"

Ranma turned, "Stay outta this! This is Ryouga's fight!"

Sailor Jupiter stared at him, "No way!"

"I agree!" called out another voice. Syphon Danaali stepped out of the shadows, pointing his rifle at Xerex. Xerex glanced mildly at the Senshi and said, "So, the Senshi and the mortal want to play. Very well, but later. I must deal with the Foundling first. SHADOW BARRIER!"

A sphere of dark energy came up and encircled Xerex and Ryouga. "Now we fight."

As they fought, Syphon fired his rifle, but the beam was absorbed into the mystical forcefield. "Thou _still_ darest interfere?! Fine, then! If it pleaseth thee, thou shalt DIE! SHADOW BOLT!"

A blast of dark energy flew out of his hand and through the shadow barrier, slamming into Syphon and sending him flying backwards, into a comndemned building which collapsed on top of him.

Ryouga dashed under a massive slash and extended a single finger, poking the Shadow Knight's breastplate. "BAKUSAI TENKETSU!"

Xerex stepped back, "So, thou hast trained with the Amazons. No surprise there, but it will take much more than such a mundane technique to destroy the Armor of Darkness!" He lunged forward and began a blurring series of slashes.

Ryouga backed away, dodging and parrying what he could, but many blows struck, cutting deep into him. The fanged boy staggered back against the shadowy wall, dropping his mangled umbrella. He cupped his hands before him and yelled out, "SHISHI HOUKOU DAN!"

The ki blast slammed into Xerex, doing little more than knocking him back a step. "Foolish mortal! Didst thou think such a simple technique would stop _me_?! Thou art but a shadow of thine ancestor. Surrender now, and thy death wilt be swift and painless."

Ryouga had by then dropped to one knee. He slowly rose as he muttered, "I... won't... be beaten. Not like this... I won't... give up... I'll... NEVER... give up! NEVER!!!" He suddenly surged to his feet, his wounds apparently vanishing. The sigil of Saturn, surrounded by a ring with a lump in one spot, glowed a bright yellow on his forehead.

"No!" Xerex cried out. "'Tisn't possible! I killed thee! I KILLED THEE!!! Thou couldst not have revived with the others... it cannot be!"

"ORECRUSHER!" A massive sledgehammer with a meter-long shaft appeared in his hands. "TITAN CYCLOPS POWER!"

The street around Ryouga erupted, forming a column of stone around him. The wall around him then shattered, revealing Sir Titan, the Lord of Earth. He raised Orecrusher and swung it down to strike the ground, "SHOCKWAVE!"

The concrete rippled toward Xerex and slammed into him, knocking the Shadow Knight off his feet. "Thou shalt perish, traitor. Think not that ye shalt escape thy just punishment."

"SHADOW STORM!" A flurry of miniature Shadow Bolts flew from Xerex's outstretched hand.

"CRATER SHIELD!" Sir Titan slammed the street with his hammer again, and a crater formed, the rim of which rose and blocked the attack.

Xerex charged and swung his sword, Darkblade, at Sir Titan, who parried it with the shaft of Orecrusher.

Sir Titan struck.

Cracks spiderwebbed out from the point of impact on Xerex's breastplate. Shafts of white light erupted from the cracks, blinding the onlookers. The light died, and Xerex stood confidently. His armor bore no damage.

"CHOU BAKUSAI TENKETSU!"

The shadow barrier shattered. Xerex spun to find Kuh Lon, Mu Tzu, and Xian Pu, all dressed in unusual battle garb. "Amazons. I am surprised that there are any of thy kind left. Wise thou art to weareth thy death garb, but I shall deal with thee and the Foundling later. SHADOW STORM!"

He threw out his left hand, and a flurry of dark bolts flew toward the Amazons. They dodged the attacks with considerable difficulty. When they all looked back to the battlefield, Xerex was gone, and Ryouga lay unconscious on the ground.

Kuh Lon hopped over to him and bent over to examine him. "He is exhausted and severely wounded, but he will recover... assuming we can protect him from the Dark One long enough for him to heal."

Sailor Jupiter sighed with relief, as did all the Senshi.

"We'd better go," said Sailor Moon. "We need to talk to Saturn."

Reluctant as they were, the Senshi left.

"'Dark One'? I assume that's Xerex?"

Kuh Lon's eyes narrowed at Ranma, "How do you know that name, son-in-law?"

"That's what he called himself when he came after Ryouga. He said something about Ryouga's ancestors doing something to him. Obviously, you know something."

Kuh Lon's jaw dropped, "Ryouga's ancestor? You mean this lost pig is the descendent of the great Ishiharou?!"

Ranma raised an eyebrow, "I don't even know who that is." *Thank Kami she hasn't said anything about the Knights or the Senshi.* "So, would ya mind fillin' me in?"

"Let us take him somewhere safe, first. The Neko-..."

Ranma cut her off, "Somewhere safe _and_ neutral. We don't want to start another fight. We'll head back to the dojo."

"Very well, son-in-law."

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Xian Pu Voiceover:

Ai-yah! Stupid pig-boy ancestor est-... estab-... start Amazon tribe?! Shampoo going to be sick.

While pig-boy recover, Great Grandmother tell Shampoo, Airen, and stupid Mousse ancient Amazon legend of great warrior who trap Dark One.

See how great Amazon village of Joketsuzoku start in next episode of The Lunar Knights, "Fall of the Dark One."

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Author's Postscript:

Wow. Seven parts finished. I can't believe I got this far. One thing to note is the name "Ishiharou." It seems I was mistaken earlier. The word for "rock" is "ishi," and "harou" means "wild boar's first son." _Now_ it fits for Ryouga's ancestor.

This is Cyclone, signing off.