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It had been a long week for Ranma Saotome, heir to the Saotome school of Anything Goes, and current host to the kheldian known as Bright. He glanced up at the clock from his position on the couch he currently lazed on. The fact that this apartment belonged to an undead girl didn't bother him nearly as much anymore. The fact that said girl was out for his blood did, however. This would normally be cause for most people to lose sleep but not Ranma. He was losing sleep, literally because he had been defending his new 'home' from gang attacks every night.
He didn't know why exactly the Warriors were interested in this building. He didn't even particularly care at this point. He just wished they would go away. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he had kicked them out in the first place. Still, they had left rather peacefully, after Ranma had cracked a few skulls, and vowed to return. He expected an eventual attack, but was it too much to ask that he be allowed to have ONE nights rest?
Every night, the Warriors would attack en masse, and every night, Ranma and his neighbors would beat them back. Four days ago, he noticed that the tenants of the apartment complex had been learning from his style of fighting. Be it conscious effort, or simply hero worship, 'Ranma's Militia' as they styled themselves, had slowly began showing that they could defend themselves. Normally, Ranma would be glad of this, however once he pointed it out, they had all but begged him to show them how to fight. If there was one thing Ranma loved more than anything else, it was his art. He ate, drank, breathed and lived for the thrill of the fight. There was nothing more exciting than learning a new style, or move. But it was an entirely different matter to teach it.
He was shaken from his reverie by a knock as his door. Speaking of which, it was time to begin the tenant's second lesson. Ranma extracted himself from the comfort of the couch with a grunt and plodded toward the door. He had gone days without sleep while on the training journey with this father, so losing a bit of sleep on a day to day basis wouldn't kill him. He answered the door.
Shauna stood at the threshold, dressed in a powder blue track suit, her long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. "Everyone's gathered Ranma-sensei," she said, her brown eyes wide with excitement.
Ranma simply nodded and followed the bubbly woman down to the apartment's grassy courtyard. For today's lesson, he had asked everyone to bring whatever impromptu weapon or implement of pain they had been using for the past five days. He noticed that Shauna carried a stun gun with her. When he reached the courtyard, he recognized Mitch, a hulking black man, hefting a shovel. To Mitch's left stood Jackson, a thing wafer of a man who carried nothing. The rest of the faces were new, Shauna, Mitch and Jackson the only three he recognized from the previous day. He showed them a basic attack stance, and walked among them correcting and modifying them as he saw need. As he did, his mind wandered to his own training.
He remembered Bright telling him that she would never be able to convert enough of his ki to kheldian energy so that he could fly. That didn't bother him that much. Part of Anything Goes was the ability to adapt, and a lot of his moves and attacks functioned differently, but no less effectively from the ground. A small smile reached his lips when he thought about what he could do with the energy that she had converted.
Ranma had purchased a punching bag with the money that he had withdrawn from Crimson Suns bank account, and he sat on the roof of the apartment building, eagerly putting it together. He nearly drooled in anticipation with all the new techniques he wanted to try.
'I still don't understand why you can't just try the move, Ranma,' Bright said.
Ranma sighed as he tightened another screw in the base of the stand. "'Cause moves act different when ya actually hit something," he explained. "Kinda like, when ya punch air, ya feel nothin', but when ya hit a target, ya learn how to control your force to do the damage ya want."
'I see…' Bright said a little hesitantly. 'But wont you destroy the punching bag?' she asked.
"Nah," Ranma said dismissively. "The guy at the store told me that nothin' short of a small nuke could break this thing."
Bright had her doubts but still smiled at her host's enthusiasm. Ranma finished assembling the bag stand and hung the bag from a convenient hook. He gave the leathery bag a few test punches that sent it swinging wildly, and he smiled with satisfaction. Steadying the bag, he took a step back, then shouted, "Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken!"
In the space of less than a second, Ranma landed several hundred punched in the same exact spot on the bag, sending it and its stand careening across the roof. 'What on earth was that!?' Bright exclaimed.
As he went over to retrieve the punching bag, Ranma explained the technique to a flustered Bright. He reset the bag stand as he finished the explanation and Bright seemed in awe of the teen's prowess. Ranma made a quick side trip to the storage shed on the roof and retrieved a couple of hundred pound sandbags to weight the stand down with. "Heh," he said. "If ya think that was somethin', wait till ya see what I do next."
Once the stand was weighted down, Ranma moved into position and steadied himself. Calling on some of the kheldian energies he had stored in his reserves, he launched an Amaguriken with his fists wrapped in kheldian energy. The results were devastating. Ranma's jaw gaped when the dust cleared.
The bag had been obliterated, the leather shredded and the sawdust and sand inside nothing but so much dust. What's more, the stand itself had been warped, twisted and torn like a pipe cleaner in the hands of a small child. Even the storage shed had been decimated, nothing more than splinters of wood. "Whoa…Maybe I oughta seal this attack away…"
Bright could only nod in silent agreement.
Ranma shook his head to clear the shock of the devastation. He had one more thing to try. He had an idea that, if it worked, would allow Moonray a bit of hand to hand defense. The girl had a lot of power to work with, but little to no real strength. However, with her last fight, Ranma realized that she was amazingly fast and accurate, though not as much as he was.
Gathering a bit of kheldian energy into his palm, he fired it away a short distance to keep the power from dissipating. It took a few tries, but he eventually got the hang of it. Once that was accomplished, he incorporated the short range blast into an open palm thrust. The white energy blasted out a few feet from his open palm. Smiling in satisfaction, he quickly set about incorporating the short range blast with other strikes and put together a lesson plan for his friend, and what the hiryu shoten ha would be like with kheldian energy to power it.
Ranma couldn't help but smile when he thought of how Moonray's training went. The girl had the raw skill, but she was an absolute klutz. It took a bit, but she eventually grasped the basics, then began to understand the style Ranma had developed for her. Using it was one thing, but actually defending against it… Ranma found out the hard way that it was a devastating style.
Ranma smiled at the winded girl that stood in a low ready stance before him. Their morning training sessions had gone exceptionally well. He and Moonray had been meeting every morning for the past few days at a café that was near her apartment. The morning usually began with him rescuing her from the pack of outcasts that seemed intent on tormenting her. Bit by bit that changed when she learned her style, which Ranma coined as 'Nictus-fu'.
The style focused on releasing blasts of nictus or kheldian energy as you struck at your target. It was a lenient style in that the user didn't need to be particularly accurate or strong to actually inflict damage on their opponent. Ranma was sure that if given the time and the chance, he could make the style into something remarkable. But he really didn't care much for the style himself. He liked the visceral meaty smack a fist impacting with a face or gut made. The style was perfect for someone like Moonray, who had neither strength, nor skill.
"Ok," he said to the panting, red faced girl. "Take a breather." He watched as Moonray nearly collapsed to the ground and smiled. She definitely had the drive to learn, and Ranma instinctively knew that teaching her like Genma had taught him would be a Very Bad Thing™. He really didn't want to lose the only real friend he had in this city. "You're doing a great job."
Moonray was more than happy when Ranma had told her that he would teach her how to fight. Even before she was a warshade, her powers consisted of immobilizing her targets with her gravity powers or creating force bubbles to protect her teammates. With only a few days of work, she could tell that she was learning quickly from the boy she had a crush on. "Thank you Ranma," She said as soon as she gained her breath back.
Ranma watched the girl climb unsteadily to her feet. She had yet to hit him with a solid strike, but she had come close. All she needed was some motivation. Ranma thought for a second. 'She's always telling me she wants ta take me ta this coffee shop she knows of,'
'Why don't you tell her that you'll take her there if she hits you?' Bright supplied helpfully. Her emotions raged between pride that Ranma was helping their friend and jealousy that he couldn't do it for her too.
"Right!" he exclaimed, making Moonray jump in fright. "Ill make a deal with ya." He said. Moonray nodded cautiously. "If you can hit me just once, I'll take ya to that coffee shop you're always talkin' about."
Moonray's eyes widened almost comically before a wide grin spread across her face. He was actually going to take her on a date if she could hit him. It was almost like her dream from last night, only with more hitting and less dating. She crouched into a ready stance and raised her arms, the smile never leaving her lips. "Are you ready?"
Ranma put his hands behind his back and nodded. It was amazing that Moonray didn't get angry that he 'wasn't taking her seriously' like Akane did. Then again, she had already shown him that not all girls acted like the ones in Nerima did. She seemed to understand that when he held back, it was because he didn't want to hurt her. With that thought, Moonray dashed forward and lashed out viciously with what Ranma had taught her.
He dodged casually, noting that her speed and accuracy were up a bit. He knew that with the right motivation she would try her hardest. Moonray dropped and lashed her foot out in a quick sweep that Ranma jumped over. 'Improvisation.' He thought happily. He hadn't taught her how to sweep kick, but she used it anyway. Moonray then thrust her palm upward toward the airborne Ranma's chest and twisted out of the way, but he still felt a solid blow to his stomach when he landed. Moonray had used the upper strike as a distraction and nailed him with the blast from her other outstretched palm.
"Hey! Ya did it!" he said happily. "Nice work." Ranma ignored the blow to his pride. Moonray had actually hit him, and it wasn't because he allowed it. "I guess I gotta take ya to that coffee shop."
Moonray giggled and clasped her hands in front of her as she bounced excitedly. A date! With Ranma! Hooray!
Ranma gulped as he remembered the agreement he made with Moonray. They had decided to meet this weekend at the coffee shop down the street from her apartment at six p.m.. He knew he was simply taking her out for a cup of coffee, so why did he feel so nervous about it?
Probably the same reason he felt nervous about the letter he sent to the dojo, he noted absently. Ranma dismissed his class for the morning as he reread the letter in his mind.
"Dear Akane, Nabiki, Kasumi, Mr. Tendo, Mom and Pops,
How are things going there? They're a little rough over here. It seems I have just as many people that want me dead here as I did when I was at home. Things aren't all bad though. I have a place to stay, and I'm gonna start teaching my neighbors how to defend themselves from this gang that attacks almost every night.
I've also been teaching my new friend, Moonray some anything goes. She has a lot of potential but she ain't usin' any of it. She's getting better though. Now the real reason I'm writing. I don't know if I wanna come home. I didn't realize just how messed up things were over there till I met the people over here. Could you believe that I haven't been attacked by anyone outta jealousy or spite yet? Everyone that attacks me actually wants me dead. Amazing isn't it?
Anyway, I guess you all wont be too happy with this. Write me back soon.
After the last of the tenants had dispersed, Ranma jumped to the roof of the building. Eyeing the crater and trench that his new attack had caused the other day, felt a giddy sensation before he sat on the edge to think. He knew that the letter was blunt and to the point, but the short time he had been in Paragon City had given him a different viewpoint. He was sick of the crap that was always happening to him in Nerima. People who wanted him dead because of a bread feud. Others that wanted him dead because they thought he was trying to steal their girlfriend. Still others that wanted half of him dead because they thought he was hiding his other half from them…
And most of all, all the fiancées that were constantly vying for his attention. He was glad that he could get away from them.
"Ranma? Are you there? C'mon, pick up the comm.."
Ranma woke with a jerk and fell off the couch as Moonray's voice came through the communicator. He rubbed his eyes blearily and glanced at the clock. It was almost nine, he noted absently. Last night had been the first nights sleep he had since moving into the apartment. Standing up, he stretched till his spine popped and shambled over to the kitchen counter to pick up his communicator. "Yeah, yeah…" he said with a yawn.
He absently remembered that there had been no attack by the warriors on the apartments the previous night and he had fallen asleep on the couch. Despite there being a perfectly good bed in Melanie's room, it just didn't feel right sleeping in some strange girl's bedroom. Besides, the couch was comfortable enough after all he had been through.
"Sleepyhead," Moonray's voice chided playfully through the speaker. "I've been trying to reach you for the past hour." Ranma yawned again as Moonray continued excitedly. "Anyway, I finished going through that information we got a week ago, and I think I know the location of another facility."
Ranma was a wake now. Finally, some action, he thought. "Where?"
"Brickstown," Moonray answered. "They're using prisoners from Zigursky Penitentiary as experiments for a new 8th generation program. Forced nictus bonding."
Ranma vaguely remembered something about that from the data he had collected in Tokyo. "Anything else?" he asked.
"Only a date," she said. "Today's date. Something about the operation moving to the next step. I think we should check it out."
Ranma agreed and the two of them decided to meet at the coffee shop in an hour. Ranma grabbed his mediport transceiver and the communicator and set out. After a short train ride to Steel Canyon, in which Ranma desperately hoped that Moonray wouldn't get attacked, he soon arrived at the 'Java Joint'. However it seemed that for all his hope, certain things were destined to happen.
One, Ranma's life was destined to be difficult. Two, cold water would inevitably find its way to him. See number one. Three, Akane was angry. And lastly, Moonray seemed to attract trouble almost as much as he did.
As he approached the coffee shop, he noticed people fleeing away from it, screaming about a fight. Panicking, Ranma hurried against the crowd, knowing full well what was going on. Finally arriving on the scene, he was stunned by what he saw.
Moonray was actually holding her own, making good use of the style Ranma had developed for her. The four outcasts (yes they added a fourth, earth controlling member, the jerks) that had plagued her for as long as she could remember were actually struggling to hold their own. She dodged and weaved around blasts of fire and lightning. She actually pulverized an ice ball that was thrown at her and flipped over a boulder that was hurled at her from behind. Moonray spun around a fiery strike from Match, and knocked him back with a few well placed torso strikes. Not giving any pause, she whirled around and fired streams of dark energy from her eyes that sent the newcomer, Brick to the ground in a heap.
Ranma clapped enthusiastically, bringing the fight to a halt. Shocker took the opportunity to take to the air. "Nice work, Moonray," Moonray gasped in shock but then blushed with the praise her friend and teacher showed her. "Need any help?" It looked like Moonray was holding her own, but if Ranma was anything, he was an excellent judge of a fighters worth. He knew Moonray was getting better, but she was still far from a master. But if there was anything Ranma had learned from his brief time with the girl, it was that most girls don't like help being forced on them.
Moonray shook her head and wiped the sweat from her brow as the two fallen outcasts regained their feet. "Not really," she said facing the thugs warily. She looked up at Shocker who was now hovering above her then gave Ranma a big grin. "I learned something new. Wanna see?"
Ranma nodded and watched as Moonray raised her arm toward the airborne outcast. A haze of dark energy collected around him then suddenly solidified in a ring at his feet. He squawked as he was dragged forcefully to the ground, impacting with a loud thud. He didn't get up. "Nice!" Ranma shouted.
Match and Freezer had finally regained their feet and glared at Moonray. "We learned something new too!" Match shouted. He nodded at Freezer and the two of them held their arms out, hands almost touching and pointed directly at Moonray. Both of their powers flared and they shot a freezing cold gout of water, not at the girl, but instead directly at Ranma.
"I'm sure we had our aim right this time," Freezer said dejectedly.
Brick pointed at the now female Ranma in answer, his eyes wide with panic.
Ranma stood there, cold water dripping from her smaller frame, and glared daggers at the two bumbling outcasts. The two of them looked unsurely back between the two of them then back at the fuming redhead. "Screw your fight," Ranma seethed. "They're mine…"
Moonray covered her hands with her mouth and gasped as Ranma proceeded to turn the two gang members into human pretzels in the blink of an eye. She winced sympathetically as they groaned and shifted on the pavement. Noticing movement on the roof of the coffee shop, she gasped when she realized that the rock controlling outcast, Brick, was poised to drop a rather large boulder on Ranma, who was dusting her hands off nonchalantly. "Look out!" she screamed running forward as Brick hurled the boulder downward. She pushed Ranma out of the way and the rock landed hard on her leg with a nasty crunching sound. She screamed in pain and clutched her leg.
Ranma staggered backward as Moonray's push was hardly enough to send her to the ground and rushed over to the fallen girl, easily hurling the boulder away. She ignored the fact that the rock landed right on top of Shocker, who was trying to get up now that Moonray's gravity well attack had worn off. "Does this hurt?" she asked as she prodded Moonray's swollen, purple ankle. Moonray gasped and nodded, tears running freely down her face. Ranma frowned when she realized that it was broken. "I'm gonna try something."
Ranma put her hands around the broken ankle and concentrated, trying to heal it. The swelling went down and the pain subsided, but unfortunately the bruise didn't fade and Moonray still couldn't move her ankle. Ranma sighed but Moonray tried to cheer her up. "You're getting much better at that." She said. Ranma just sighed and picked her up, eliciting a squeak from the warshade.
"Lets get you to the hospital…"
After carrying Moonray to the hospital, and being chastised harshly by the nurses for not taking care of her, Ranma managed to convince Moonray to let her go take care of the Crey facility. Moonray told her to gather as much information and rescue as many people as possible. Ranma changed back to his male form to the shock of the hospital staff and then left for Brickstown with the promise to be careful. It didn't take him long to find the place, especially considering that it was being guarded by a pair of power tanks, and after a brief fight, entered the lab.
It was similar to the other two that Ranma had been in. The maze-like metallic corridors reeked of recirculated and filtered air, but this one looked like it had been decimated already. The light fixtures were broken and sparking in places, and there were claw marks gouged into the steel walls. Every so often, Ranma would see an unconscious or dead guard, all with the same nasty claw marks on their bodies.
"What happened here?" Ranma whispered.
'I'm not sure, Ranma,' Bright said. 'But be careful.'
Ranma crept down the halls as silently as possible, completely forgetting the umisenken. His mission had changed from, 'get info and rescue' to, 'find out what the hell happened here'. As he snuck down the hall, he swore he could hear voices from an adjacent room. He stopped by the entryway and listened intently. There were at least two people in there, a man and a woman, and they were arguing about something.
"Who's idea was it to resume experiments on HER!?" one of them, the woman, shrieked.
"They were orders from the countess herself," one of the men said in a nasally voice. "Capturing her was a test for our first successful eighth here. Besides, I always finish what I started. She was something of a pet project of mine before she escaped the first time."
"That doesn't matter!" the woman shrieked again. She was clearly mad at the nasally man. "If you were going to continue the beast experiment, you should have at least taken proper precautions!" Ranma heard something thump, most likely the woman pounding her fist on something. "Now the experiment is a failure!"
The man laughed a nasally laugh and said, "On the contrary, we can test the eighth further because of it."
"How…?" the woman asked, clearly suspicious.
"We can have him subdue the subject as a test to see his power." The nasally man continued. Ranma leaned around the edge and peered into the room. There, in the ruins of a laboratory, stood two scientists and another paragon protector, clad in a similar outfit to what Melanie was wearing a week ago. Ranma felt a twinge of guilt come from Bright.
'We'll find her,' he reassured the kheldian.
The protector's facemask turned toward Ranma. "We are being observed." He said, his voice muffled behind his helmet.
"Don't just stand there!" The woman shrieked again and the mans heavily scarred face twisted in rage. "Get him!"
As the yellow and blue suited protector rushed toward Ranma, bony spines extended from his forearms and back and a purple bubble sprang to life around him. 'He's a nictus!' Bright shouted in his mind.
Ranma flipped back and a way from the rushing protector, landing in a ready crouch. 'I know that!' Ranma mentally seethed back. He dodged a few errant swipes and jumped away from a purple energy blast. Ranma glided forth, pushing the attack back on his opponent, but every one of his attack was either deflected by the purple energy shield or countered with sharp painful jabs by the mans spines. After a few painful stabs, Ranma retreated a ways to heal the wounds. 'Dammit! I cant get past his stupid shield!'
'Use the kheldian energy to attack Ranma,' Bright advised. 'It may penetrate his shield.'
Ranma wrapped his fists with the glowing white energy and waited for the spiny man to attack him again. He did, but Ranma was completely on the defensive, parrying, blocking and counter attacking himself. He had to suppress a whoop of joy when he realized that his energy wrapped fists were making contact with the nictus fused protectors body after landing a solid punch to the mans sternum.
The protector staggered back clutching his chest. "You are strong," he said simply.
"I'm the best," Ranma boasted in return. He dashed forward, throwing a flurry of blows that drove the man back before finally landing a vicious uppercut/right hook/back fist that sent the man sprawling. Amazingly enough, the protector still staggered to his feet. "I see I must use everything I have against you." He said, his voice still neutral beneath the helmet.
Ranma's response was to ready himself, his hand up in a defensive position. But then his eyes widened as the man hunched over with a cry of pain, and spines began to grow out all over his body. "Are you ok?" he asked worriedly. The protector might be an enemy but Ranma didn't want him to suffer. He hesitantly held a hand out but pulled it back suddenly as the spines began to glow with nictus energy.
'Be careful Ranma,' Bright cautioned. 'I've never encountered anything like this before.'
Ranma didn't have a chance to respond as the mans head snapped up and he rushed forward with an inhuman speed. It took everything Ranma had to dodge his attacks but he was still nailed with a nasty elbow that floored him. Ranma kipped to his feet just in time to avoid a flying spine that the man launched at him, but was soon on the defensive again as the protector pushed his attack. Ranma dodged, weaved and counter attacked when the opportunity presented itself and managed to land a solid side kick to the mans solar plexus, staggering him back.
Ranma realized that he had to end this fight soon. His opponent seemed like he had endurance levels that were near Ryoga. Plus, he realized to his dismay, that the spines were toxic. He could feel a lot of the scrapes and cuts that the spines produced burning.
Suddenly, the protector hunched forward again, his arms pointed toward the martial artist. The hairs on the back of Ranma's neck stood on end as the protector launched every spine on his body at him. Ranma realized too late that volley filled the hallway and he wouldn't be able to dodge, so he instead put his arms in front of his face, hoping that he wouldn't be pincushoned too badly.
To his surprise, none of the spines reached him, instead slowing like they had been shot into water before dropping to the ground. He was looking out of something akin to a soap bubble, and realized that it was a shield much like the nictus one. The shield faltered and vanished and he heard Bright gasp in his mind.
'That expended me, Ranma,' she said wearily. 'You are on your own. I must rest, now.'
'Thanks, Bright,' he said as he readied himself to attack. He knew that he only had his reserves of kheldian energy to use now. Better hope I don't get hurt, he thought bitterly.
"This is troubling," The protector said, his voice sounding strange, like he was speaking with two distinct voices at the same time. The man hunched over and re-grew his spines with a disgusting squelch.
Ranma smirked his infuriating smirk. Time to give the 'Shining Amaguriken' a field test. "It ends with this next move," he said confidently as his battle aura flared into existence. The two of them charged each other and as they neared, Ranma attacked with his new move. Try as he might, the protector couldn't block any of the punches. Everyone on of them either slipped around his guard, or smashed through the spines he grew to protect himself. The force of the attack shredded his uniform and shattered his helmet, as well as crushed most of his bones in his chest.
After a few seconds, the barrage ended and the protector was blasted backward into a faraway wall where he was embedded into it. He slumped weakly and stopped moving with a groan. Ranma smirked with satisfaction while he shook the feeling back into his hands. He had to admit, the attack was flashy and effective. A little too effective, he realized with a pang of regret. He hoped that the man was still alive after that. 'Oh well,' he thought as he entered the room with the scientists. The two of them regarded him with odd expressions.
"Who the hell are you?" the female scientist demanded.
"I'm the guy that just beat the crap outta your body guard," Ranma said smarmily. "So if ya don't mind, I'm gonna ask the questions."
"What do you want to know?" Asked the man with the nasally voice. He glanced at his female companion out of the corner of his eye and saw her reach for her Crey cryopistol.
"Well for one," he said, this time to the woman. "I wouldn't do that if I were you." The woman gulped audibly and let her hand fall to her side. "Remember, I beat that freak out there. Second…" Ranma took a deep breath. "What the hell's goin' on here!?"
The two scientists looked at each other again. "No harm in telling him…" the woman said regretfully. "Well, you should follow us. It would be easier to show you."
Ranma narrowed his eyes suspiciously at her but stepped aside to let her go. "Lead the way, but if ya try anythin' funny, Ill pound ya,"
The woman nodded but led Ranma down a series of halls. He noticed warily that the claw marks and pools of blood seemed to lead this way. He didn't bother to ask any questions, but was pretty sure he wouldn't like what he saw. After about ten minutes, the three of them came to an air lock. The solid metal doors seemed to have claw marks in them just like the walls but were shut. "Its in here," the female scientist said.
"What is?" Ranma asked, sure that he really didn't want to know.
The male scientist went to a key pad on the wall to punch in the access code to release the emergency lockdown. As the doors hissed open, the woman turned to Ranma with a sneer. "Our secret weapon."
Ranma's attention was torn from the woman's horrible expression to the darkened room beyond the doors. He took a hesitant step in but froze when he heard a sound that sent shivers up and down his spine. It was a sound like none other, one he hoped he would never have to hear again. He took a quick step back, and the sound repeated itself. How on earth did they know?
The two scientists looked at each other in confusion as Ranma froze in absolute terror. Who knew that he would be so terrified of Mynx…?
Ranma's brain went into overload as a figure emerged from the darkness. She was crouched on all fours, her green eyes glinting malevolently up at the martial artist. Her body was covered by a blood-spattered blue and silver tiger striped body suit. As she slinked forward, Ranma scrambled backward, his eyes fixed on her twitching tail, and the feline ears that protruded from her red hair. It was a monster in his eyes, nothing more terrible. Then it uttered a foul, horrible noise emerged from her throat that sent Ranma fleeing for his very soul.
Back at the hospital, Moonray had received some pleasant news: her ankle wasn't broken, just sprained. It seemed that Ranma had managed to actually heal most of the damage with his 'glowing touch' ability and the medic geniuses at the hospital were able to heal the sprain in record time. Soon after, Moonray was discharged from the hospital and she hurried to the yellow line train station to take her to Brickstown. Her mind was imagination was working over time as she fantasized about her arriving in the nick of time, saving her crush from the clutches of the vile Crey Corporation.
"Moonray," Ranma would breathe huskily as he took her into his warm embrace. "You saved me."
Moonray would blush demurely. "Its nothing you wouldn't do for me, my Ranma," she would reply.
Ranma would pick her up in his strong arms and gaze dispassionately at the bodies around him. "Come. Let us leave this foul place and consummate our love!"
Moonray giggled uncontrollably as she boarded the train, ignoring the unnerved stares the other passengers gave her. The train ride was short and Moonray transformed into her nova form to fly from the station in Brickstown to the entrance. When she landed, she noticed the two unconscious bodies of the power tanks and realized that since they hadn't been teleported away to the Zig, or even to another Crey facility for treatment, that Ranma hadn't been here for very long. "Good," She said to herself. "That means I can help."
She entered the facility, sure that there were no guards, but when she passed the threshold she paused. This was nothing like the other facility, she noted absently. She saw the same broken light fixtures, the same claw gouges, and the same blood pools that Ranma had seen and shivered. Ranma didn't do this…she wondered. Did he?
She made her way hesitantly through the facility in the opposite direction Ranma had gone. The claw marks and blood pools became more sparse in this direction. She notices also that there were no bodies to accompany the blood, meaning that they had been ported away. Meaning that, to her relief, Ranma hadn't done it.
"Who the hell are you?!" came a startled voice, shocking Moonray out of her reverie.
Moonray looked up, startled, at a group of three blue suited Crey security guards. "Uh…" she said at a loss for words.
"Who cares!?" one of the guards shouted. "Get her!"
With that, the three men rushed the warshade with their batons brandished. Moonray reacted instinctively and dropped into a stance that Ranma taught her, striking out with her open palms and throwing dark nictus energy at her attackers. She managed to drop and immobilize the other with her gravity well before another ducked inside her guard and swung his night stick in a wide arc.
She managed to grab it, but the impact jarred her arm. Ignoring the pain, and the shocked look on the guards face, she elbowed him in the gut and with the same arm, smashed the heel of her palm into his face. He staggered back, blood flowing from his ruined nose, and Moonray smiled satisfactorily. Her nictus partner enjoyed causing pain and destruction, all in the name of good of course.
The guard pinched his nose shut to staunch the flow of blood. "You bitch!" he said. The guard the Moonray floored regained his feet while the one trapped in the gravity well fainted with the stress. That left two of them.
Moonray readied herself as the two men rushed her again, but before anyone could throw any attacks, an unearthly, inhuman scream of absolute terror echoed through the hall, drawing shivers from everyone. The three of them looked down the hall in the direction the scream came from and paled.
"Ranma?" Moonray asked in shock.
Ranma barreled through the corridor, his blue shirt in tatters and a look of extreme fear on his face. He barreled through the two guards leaving them in unconscious heaps on the floor, followed closely by a catgirl in a blue spandex body suit chasing him on all fours, three claw-like blades extended from the knuckles on each hand. The two of them ripped around the corner and into a large laboratory.
Mynx finally managed to corner her prey. There was nothing better than a good hunt, in her opinion, but all good things must come to an end. She stalked forward, savoring the fear her prey was radiating. Ever so slowly, she crept forward, closer to the terrified teen.
"Ranma?" Moonray called cautiously as she entered the lab. She may have known him only a short while, but from what she knew, Ranma would never run like that. "Are you ok?"
Mynx hissed bitterly. Meddling girl, she thought. She would take care of her prey first before the girl. The girl was weak. Weaker than the boy in front of her, but she had the boy right where she wanted him.
Finally, Ranma's psyche couldn't take it anymore. He knew in his logical mind that it was just a girl in a cat costume that was stalking him, but his ailurophobia didn't care. She was cat enough. Human Ranma retreated into his subconscious and let Neko Ranma out, and he took over gladly.
Neko Ranma yowled and narrowed his eyes at the sudden threat crouched in front of him. She wasn't a playmate, nor was she a friend. But she smelled like she was in heat. Perhaps she would make a good mate, but he would have to show her his dominance first. He took advantage of the female's sudden shock and prowled forward on all fours, his 'claws' extended as a show of force. The two cats/humans faced off, yowling and hissing at each other and leaving the warshade in a state of utter confusion.
"R-Ranma?" Moonray asked as she extended a hand forward. Why is he acting like a cat, she wondered. And why is he ignoring me? And why is he fighting a member of the Vindicators? Nothing made sense to her.
In a lightning quick blur, Mynx dashed forward and slashed, but Neko Ranma was faster. He dodged to the side and Mynx's metal claws rent another trio of grooves in the steel floor. Mynx lashed out again and again, but only managed to strike air or the surrounding walls as Neko Ranma danced around the attacks. As Mynx swiped again, Neko Ranma took the advantage and batted her upside her head with his 'claws' retracted.
Mynx rolled with the blow and skidded to a halt a few feet away, hissing at Neko Ranma. Maybe he wasn't prey after all, she thought. She could smell his heightened pheromones and could tell that he wanted to mate. She had no doubt that he would father a litter of strong kittens, but she also would be damned if she let him have his way. Yowling, she lunged ahead and swiped, but again to her frustration, Ranma evaded. Once again, he swatted her with a bare 'paw' and sent her sprawling. As soon as she had recovered, the two of them began to fight in earnest.
Moonray, the two crazy people were blue blurs as the bounded off of walls fixtures and even the ceiling. Moonray had never seen anyone move as fast as the two cat people were moving, but when their attacking frenzy finally ended Moonray could still see that Ranma was the better.
Mynx staggered as she came to a stop and she struggled to keep her feet, but it was a futile gesture. Her opponent was striking to subdue, and he was a much better fighter that she was. With a final thought of, 'I wonder what our kittens will look like," her eyes rolled up into her head and she fainted.
Ranma padded over to his other prospective mate and grabbed her hand in his mouth. He gently dragged her over to the unconscious form of his new mate and meowed up at her. 'Help me?' he seemed to ask with his eyes.
Moonray sighed, but she picked Mynx up in a fireman's carry. She didn't know just what Ranma wanted, but she was pretty sure he wasn't in his right mind right now. It was pretty clear to her that they would get in trouble if they didn't get Mynx to safety. She watched Ranma pad a ways down the hall and beckon her to follow him. She just knew she would regret this later.
Ryoga paused to catch his breath after the fight. After he had convinced the Shinjuku police that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and managed be place the blame squarely on Ranma, he had once again set out to find Ranma and woo Akane. He had gotten lost on his way, and ended up in a place the residents called 'Grandville'. Somehow he had run afoul of a metal clad, energy spewing monster that called himself Black Scorpion. All Ryoga had asked for was directions to the dojo and monster had attacked him for no apparent reason. It was a rough fight, but Ryoga had triumphed in the end.
He looked down at the fallen form of the villain that attacked him and glowered. Somehow this was Ranma's fault. He wasn't sure how just yet, but he knew. It was always Ranma's fault. "Damn you Ranma Saotome!" he shouted to the sky, startling the few onlookers that were present.
A woman dressed in skintight red latex with a black spider emblazoned on the front detached herself from the crowd. Ryoga turned toward her and had to pinch his nose shut to stop the onrush of a nosebleed. "What?" he growled from under his hand.
"My name is Kalinda," The woman said. She smiled as she pushed a stray lock of her black hair behind her ear. It was a cold smile that Ryoga knew instinctively not to trust, but he couldn't tear his gaze from her glittering green eyes. "My liege, Lord Recluse, has a proposition for you, Ryoga Hibiki." She said with a voice that was silky smooth.
"How do you know my name?" Ryoga asked suspiciously.
"Arachnos knows many things." She said confidently. "Like how you'd like to get sweet revenge on one Ranma Saotome."
This perked Ryoga's interest. "I'm listening." He said. His nosebleed had stopped.
"Then if you'll kindly come with me," Kalinda said. "We have many things to discuss."
"He's done what?!" Statesman shouted, his face livid with rage.
The longbow sergeant stared impassively from beneath his white cowl. He was used to the blind rages that the leader of the Freedom Phalanx frequently expressed. He knew that he was safe. Statesman was after all the incarnate of Zeus. And with that came the king of the gods' legendary temper. He waited for the man to calm down before repeating himself. "We have a first hand witness who claims that Ranma Saotome subdued and kidnapped Mynx with the help of his sidekick, a warshade named Moonray." He said calmly.
Statesman sighed. He new that he should have done something in the first place, instead of trying to research the boy. "Very well," he said tiredly. "Dismissed."
The longbow sergeant clicked his heels together sharply and saluted before leaving Statesman's office. Statesman stared at the retreating man's back, and set his resolve. Picking up a communicator, he set it to the frequency that both the Freedom Phalanx and the Vindicators used. "This is Statesman," he said simply. "I need everyone to meet me at our H.Q. in a half an hour. We have a rogue."