Permanent

Part 35

Weight of the soul.

+++++++++++++

Ranma stared at the remains of Akane's sister emotionlessly while
the family wept around her. "She's gone."

"You mean there's nothing you can do?" said Soun in shock.

"Whatever did this to your sister, absorbed her life energy
completely. There's nothing I can do."

Akane rushed up to her and grabbed her by the shoulders roughly.
Ranma merely stared at her quietly not giving any signs of emotion.

"You can't mean that! There has to be some way..."

For a brief moment Ranma's face looked like she might show some
compassion. "Come on Ryoga."

Akane looked at her friend in shock as she whirled around and
started towards the door. Her familiar stood silently and obeyed. "Where
are we going?"

"To report this, a soul eater in the area is not something to be
taken lightly. After the counsel knows about this we're going to hunt the
damn thing down and destroy it."

"I will accompany you," said Kuno as he stood up and attempted to
compose himself somewhat. He kept up the stride with them and made his way
towards the door.

"Don't get in my way or I'll kill you," said Ranma. "Akane, don't
even think about following this time. I don't need him feeding off your
powers and getting worse than he already is. He's still human, so far."
With that said the three walked out the doors and left the Tendos alone
with the body of their daughter.

Akane was confused and angry at the reaction her best friend had
given her dead sister. She simply walked into the room, and stated that
she was dead, nothing more. A small worm of betrayal moved into her heart
for a moment. She quickly crushed it, Ranma was taking this very
seriously, and the last time she had acted the way she was now was inside
the Kuno mansion. Whatever had done this to her sister, it's days were
numbered.

+++++++++++

A short time later Ranma sat in front of a green crystal in a
small open field. A beam of light shined upwards from the tip with an
image of a man sitting in a throne like chair looking back at her.

"Ah, the lovely sorceress Saotome! What can I do for you?"

"We have a soul eater," said Ranma mechanically.

The man sat up with a look of alarm on his face. "It's been some
time since I've seen you this serious. Are you certain of this?"

"I examined the body of a victim no more than an hour old."

"This could complicate things. Is the young Tendo girl involved?"
the man leaned forward in his chair impatiently awaiting more information.

"Unfortunately yes, I don't need your orders to protect her
though," said Ranma coolly.

"She must be kept saf..."

"I don't work for you Ju Wei. I have my own reasons for protecting
her. Stay out of my way and keep your lackeys at a distance."

"Sensitive spot is it? The counsel won't stand for..."

"I represent the counsel in this area Ju Wei. My powers are far
to strong for you to oppose without coming here personally."

"There's no need for that Ranma. I wasn't implying it; it's just
that the elders are going to need more information. A high-class seraphim,
a full demon, several other smaller mishaps and that nasty collection of
books you have. Some of them are getting restless, your collection is
almost as great as most of the elder's libraries. People are starting to
wonder where all of this activity is coming from."

"I know you've been watching this area carefully. Want to tell me
why?"

"Something about that Tendo girl is pissing off a lot of factions.
I don't mean just human factions either. Something big is brewing that's
unlocking lost magic that's been sealed away for millennia. I don't like
it. Neither does most of the counsel."

"I'll keep that in mind, but I can't ignore the current threat. A
soul eater is no small matter. He'll just get stronger if we don't stop
him now."

"Sending devil hunters after something like that would be a bad
idea. I'll send someone just in case."

"Don't send a novice this time. Akane was lucky to get away from
what happened to that poor fool. The magic in his system is probably what
caused this mess with her in the first place."

"I'll remember that, no point in taking chances after all," said
the man casually. "Just make sure they aren't needed and we don't have
anything to worry about do we?"

"I won't fail," said Ranma coldly.

"I'm sure you won't. Just make sure it's destroyed."

Ranma nodded.

"I understand you've taken on a pupil? How is our boy doing?"

"He's been running around with that Kuonji girl ever since the
angel was sealed. I understand you've been keeping her busy."

"An old friend of yours I understand, they are doing well
together. Keiko has dropped out of sight though, that's not good."

"I'm sure we'll hear about her soon enough," said Ranma.

"Watch yourself Saotome."

"I don't have too, I've got you for that."

"True enough, how is Cologne these days anyway? Have the Amazons
been giving you much trouble?"

"They've been quite helpful, I am one of them now after all."

"I know," said the man with a slight chuckle. Ranma raised her
eyebrow slightly at this and said nothing. "Any particular reason you're
contacting me away from home?"

"I'll bet you already know the details, but I've got problems at
home right now that I can't deal with at the moment."

"You've got quite a few connections these days, we'd love to get
our hands on some of those treasures of theirs, those that weren't stolen
or lost anyway. You'd think they'd be more careful with magical items like
those."

"Goodbye, Ju Wei." Ranma ended the transmission and grabbed the
crystal from its place. She casually placed it inside her shirt and turned
to where Ryoga and Kuno were sitting nearby. "It's time to go."

Ryoga opened his eyes; he was sitting in a lotus position opposite
Kuno and the glow died down around his body. "Did you get up to speed?"

Ranma looked at him for a moment before she spoke. "We've got to
kill it of course."

"Does she always give this sort of information?" asked Kuno
skeptically. His impatience was evident as he rustled his wings.

Ryoga nodded in reply. "The counsel is very secretive, I've never
even seen a member."

The boy nodded in reply and started to walk towards the street
nearby.

+++++++++++++

Ukyo Kuonji climbed out of the sewer covered in grime and dirt.
The sun had long since risen and it was a beautiful sight for him. "Hurry
up!"

"I'm coming!" snapped Hikaru as he scurried out behind him. "It
wasn't my fault damn it!"

"You're just lucky that's all," replied the demon hunter as he
buttoned up his shirt again.

"I've got to get home, my parents are gonna kill me!" cried the
boy as he looked at his watch.

"Just make sure you live long enough for me to kill you," snorted
his companion as he replaced the spear on his back.

"Yeah, see you later tonight I guess?"

"Don't be late this time," snapped Ukyo as he tuned and walked
away. His thoughts quickly went off in another direction. "She's coming? I
wonder what she meant by that?" The summoner had nearly killed them both,
but that didn't bother him as much as the information she had gotten from
her. "Maybe I should talk to Ranma about this? She's a pretty strong
sorceress after all...after I get some sleep first."

++++++++++++++

Hikaru almost crawled towards his home. His body was incredibly
sore and he didn't have much energy left. "I never thought magic would be
this hard. I don't know if I ever would have started had I known all this.
I'd be perfectly happy as a nobody now, if I could ever go back to that."

Still, the long nights with his new friend seemed to make him feel
strangely accomplished. Things were still looking up from where he was
standing now. Aside from being possessed by an angel, and having his arm
cut off, he felt pretty good about himself. "Who am I kidding?" muttered
the boy as he struggled onward down the street.

+++++++++++++

Darkness surrounded him as he waited in the shadows. Another dead
alley cat husk fell from his hands. His energy reserves were full at the
moment, but it wouldn't last long. He giggled to himself as he remembered
the look on the Tendo girl's face as he planted himself between her
breasts and pulled her life force out of her. It was eerily reminiscent of
the polar bears he had been forced to drain in the frozen north before the
cold finally got to him.

This new power was strong, but dangerous. He hadn't meant to kill
her, it had just happened. Still, it was the only way he could survive at
the moment. Happosai curled up into a ball in the corner of the alleyway
he was sitting in and sighed. The way he was now, he could certainly exact
his revenge. The pretty girls wouldn't care too much for him now though.
He wasn't exactly sure he could go back to the way things were before
though. Strangely enough, that suited him fine for the moment. It wasn't
as much fun, but he could now get just as much energy from males, even
ugly people would fall victim to him now.

"Ranma, I'll make you pay for what you did to me!" He stood up and
let his aura burn around him. "You'll never escape me now!"

++++++++++++++++

"Ranma, what happened to that old man? Did he get possessed or
something?" Ryoga had an uncomfortable look about him as he walked up next
to her.

"No, it's far worse than that," replied the girl.

"Worse? How so?" said Kuno in shock. He had been understandably
quiet up until this point.

"He used to get his energy from perversion. Young girls and the
residual feminine energy from underwear would have been enough to keep him
going. We sent him somewhere where there was no energy like that. I think
he went into withdrawal and instead of getting better or dying...his body
adapted so that he could pull the life energy from any living thing. I
don't think it did anything to help his sanity."

"So this is our fault?" said Ryoga with a horrified look crossing
his face.

"I doubt it, in ten or fifteen years the underwear would have
stopped working anyway and he'd have figured it out. We just accelerated
the process a bit."

"You realize that Akane will not stay long," said Kuno with a
neutral look on his face.

"I know, her father might show up as well. I want you to keep them
out of the way if they do show up Kuno. Your job is to keep them safe if
they follow us." Ranma didn't look back at the boy as she said this.

"I thought it was a little unusual for you to let him tag along
this time," commented Ryoga.

"I will have my revenge," snapped the older boy.

"Fine, just let me worry about him first; or else he'll just drain
you and use the energy against us. I don't want Akane's power getting
absorbed by him either. We're all in trouble if that happens."

"Why is that?" said Ryoga with a slightly fearful look on his
face.

"Because the demonic power sleeping inside her will turn him into
a true succubus. An energy vampire so to speak, immortal and nearly
invincible."

Both boys paled at this.

+++++++++++

"Akane, are you coming?" said Soun as he stood by the door with a
stern looking frown on his face.

"Yes father," said the girl as she hefted the traveling pack onto
her shoulders.

"I realize that this Saotome girl is your friend Akane, but she is
the cause of all of this. Directly or not, I will not stand by while she
continues to make things worse."

"Do what you have to father," said the girl simply. The look on
her face was one of barely held back anger. "I'm going to kill that
pervert myself, no matter what the cost!"

"Good luck father, sister," said Kasumi as she bowed to them as
they left. "Please, just come home safely."

"Don't worry Kasumi, Ranma knows I'm coming after her. She'll keep
us safe."

Soun frowned at this, but said nothing. "We cannot rely on her
daughter," he thought to himself as he walked out the door.

++++++++++

"Where is my daughter in law?" asked Nodoka as she sat at a table
in the Cat Cafe with the Amazons.

"To be honest I'm not sure, she can take care of herself. The
demon outside is not something we should be risking to look for her," said
Cologne.

"Demon?" Nodoka gasped.

"Ranma to strong for monster!" said Talcum as she comforted the
woman and gently pushed her down into her seat.

"I see...this is why it was so urgent for her to leave?"

The three Amazon's nodded.

"I will await her return then." The Saotome woman sat down at the
table and sipped at her tea.

"Don't worry, if anyone can take care of that thing, its Ranma,"
said Ko li cheerfully.

"You two are my daughter in law's sisters?"

"No, is Ranma's lover!" snapped Talcum.

Nodoka blinked and looked at the pair in shock. "You were my son's
mistresses?"

"No ma'am. Talcum is your daughter in law's lover," said Ko li
with an embarrassed blush.

Nodoka looked at her for a moment and blinked again. "Pardon?"

"Ranma swear never love man, so stay with Talcum now," said the
girl with a shrug.

"Oh my," said Nodoka with a heavy blush appearing on her cheeks.

"The laws concerning such things are different in our village my
dear," comforted Cologne as she pat the shocked woman on her shoulder.

"What big deal is?" said Talcum obliviously.

"I'll never have grandchildren!" sobbed Nodoka as she pushed her
face into her hands.

"Oh, dear," muttered Ko li in a deadpan voice.


TBC...

Next time: Happy Hunting!

C&C to Carrotglace@juno.com



First off you may notice that the Counsel is going to have a part
in this story in the near future. I also heavily hinted that I've been
hiding some major things about Ranma. Hell, I blatantly told you.

Secondly, you may notice that several things appear out of nowhere
in this fic. Especially concerning Gosunkugi and Ukyo. A new Mini series side-story will be up soon!
"Devil Hunter Ukyo and the Master of Beasts!"
I've been getting a lot of questions asking about where she's
been. This had been planned for some time now, but I just didn't have time
to write it yet. Ukyo will be rejoining the mainstream cast very soon though.