A Midsummer Night's Beauty, Part II: Queen of Extreme
by rkOujirou

Author's note: This story is a continuation on the Ranma 1/2 anime, including the OVA's and movies. Therefore, keep in mind that anything exclusive to the manga hasn't happened in this story.

Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 is not my idea, it was created by a very talented manga artist named Rumiko Takahashi. The only characters I'll claim are my own original characters that I've added into this story. Just so you know.


Chapter 10

Inside a small farming village in mainland China, surrounded by the carnage wrought by the entity suspected to be the resurrected Sorceress Jusenkyo, the eyes of a frightened and shaken Akane Tendo began to tear up as she found herself staring up at an old acquaintance from Japan.

"No...no!" Akane cried as she scooted backward, away from her friend. "You have to go, Ryoga! You can't come near me!"

Ryoga, still shocked by the fact that his old love interest was here, stepped closer to her. "Akane...why are you-?"

"Stay away!" Akane screamed at him. Seemingly not wanting anything to do with the directionally-challenged martial artist, the youngest daughter of Soun Tendo hurried to her feet and took off running to the west.

Though she'd told him to stay away from her, Ryoga didn't for a moment consider heeding Akane's warning. He didn't know why she was in China or why she was running from him, but he was determined to get to the bottom of it. "Akane, wait!"

"Hey, where are you going? We're on a mission here!" Meilin shouted to her partner.

"I can't just leave her, Meilin!" Ryoga yelled back to his girlfriend.

With an annoyed snort, the white-haired woman grudgingly took off after them. "That impulsive idiot..."

Due to the small size of the village and her original position being so close to its outer limits, it only took a minute for Akane to cross outside the village's perimeter and into the plains surrounding it. As she looked back over her shoulder, she could see that not only was Ryoga close behind, but he was gaining on her. "Please, just go away! Why won't you listen to me?"

"Because I'm your friend, Akane! Stop running from me!" Ryoga pleaded with her as he ran. "Whatever it is, I can help! Just tell me what's wrong!"

"No! You can't help with this!" Akane cried out. "Please, Ryoga! Go-!"

Panicked and distracted by her pursuer, the Furinkan High student accidentally tripped over her own foot and took a nosedive into the grass.

"Akane!" Ryoga ran up to check on her.

Luckily uninjured, the downed girl swung her arm at Ryoga to keep him away. "No! You have to get out of here!"

Again ignoring her pleas, the boy with the bandana grabbed one of Akane's wrists to keep her from hitting him. "Akane, stop! Calm down and talk to me!"

"No!" Akane screamed, taking a swing at her old friend with her free hand only to have it caught in the same manner. With both of her wrists now in Ryoga's grasp, she struggled to break free from him. "You don't get it, Ryoga! You can't be near me!"

"Then tell me why, Akane! Tell me what's going on!" Ryoga demanded.

Unable to contain her tears any longer, Akane planted her face against Ryoga's shoulder and began crying uncontrollably. She knew that she couldn't overpower him. Fighting any further was pointless. "Ry-...Ryoga...you can't do this! He'll come...he'll come after you, too!"

Though he'd always been nervous around Akane during his time in Japan, Ryoga felt unusually calm as the terrified girl wept into his shirt. Maybe it was because he'd grown more mature through his relationship with Meilin and his military experience, or maybe it was just that seeing Akane in such a fragile state brought out his more dependable side. Either way, he was glad he could provide her the comfort she definitely appeared to need right now. "Akane..."

"AHEM!"

Drawing the attention of her partner, Meilin, who was already aggravated from having to chase the two of them outside the village, had a scowl on her face that Ryoga had seen before. Things usually didn't go well when he saw that look. The former member of the Seven Lucky Gods martial artists wasn't enjoying watching another woman seeking comfort in her man.

"M-Meilin! Th-this is...well..." Ryoga let out a nervous laugh as his girlfriend began tapping her foot with annoyance, "...th-this is Akane! She's an old friend!"

"Uh huh. You two look VERY friendly," the white-haired woman growled. "She's the one Saotome told me about when we were at the Amazon village?"

"Y-yeah! Imagine that!" her partner grinned, trying to lighten the mood.

The twitching of Meilin's eye was a good indication that she found nothing about this amusing. "So tell me, Ryoga...why is it that she's here, in the middle of China, sitting in a village that just got sliced all to hell by a sorceress?"

"Because this is what always happens! He follows me everywhere!" Akane suddenly cried, tears streaming down her face as she grabbed Ryoga's shoulders and began shaking him. "You need to get out of here, Ryoga! You need to leave before he comes back!"

"Akane..." Ryoga looked at her in confusion, "...who are you talking about? Who's following you?"

"That guy I threw into the spring!" Akane told him in a panicked voice.

"A spring?" Meilin narrowed her eyes at the youngest Tendo daughter. "You don't mean..."

"No..." Ryoga looked at her with surprise. "Akane...were you at the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo?"

The nerve-wracked girl didn't look too clear on where exactly she had been. "Jusenkyo? I-I don't know, umm...there were just springs everywhere, and then all this steam started shooting out of them while I was running away..."

Surprisingly, Akane's description matched up perfectly with the cloud of mist that covered the Cursed Springs, all but confirming a crucial piece of information for the military prisoner duo.

"You were there..." Meilin eyed her closely. "Well now, maybe it is good Ryoga caught you. You've got some explaining to do, girl."

Eager to hear her story as well, Ryoga placed his hands on Akane's shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes. "Akane, I know you're scared, but you've gotta tell us everything that happened. Can you do that?"

With not only Ryoga, but now this other woman also intent on keeping her here, Akane could see that she wasn't going to get away, even if it was for Ryoga's own good. Reluctantly, she nodded her head in agreement. "Okay, umm...I left home to just...get away from everything for a while. But while I was walking through the mountains, these guys in black cloaks just came out of nowhere and attacked me..."

"Black cloaks?" Meilin raised an eyebrow at her. "How many were there?"

"Six. There were six of them," Akane answered. "I tried to fight them all, but one got behind me and put this cloth against my face, and then I don't remember anything after that. When I woke up, my arms and legs were tied up and I was blindfolded."

The mention of the cloaked men definitely rang a bell with Meilin. "Six men wearing black cloaks. We found five of them at the Cursed Springs..."

"Akane, why did they come after you?" Ryoga asked her.

"I have no idea! I kept yelling at them to tell me what they wanted, but they didn't speak Japanese," Akane told him. "I don't know how many days I just sat there, but it felt like a lot. They'd feed me and everything, they just wouldn't let me go, though. And then that day came...when they took me to those springs. They cut me loose and took off my blindfold, and I was right in front of this spring with a huge rock next to it."

As Meilin and Ryoga both remembered, a huge rock was what they'd found the bodies of the five cloaked men laying near at the Cursed Springs.

"Then..." Akane continued, starting to look more uncomfortable, "...it looked like they were going to throw me into that spring, so I...I grabbed one of them that was standing behind me and threw him over my shoulder...right into it. After that, I just ran away as fast as I could while the steam was shooting out of the springs."

"So that's who we've been chasing," Ryoga began to understand.

While Akane's explanation made sense thus far, Meilin still wasn't relaxing around the girl. "The description of Jusenkyo we got fits with her story, I'll admit. But why kidnap her when any of them could have become the vessel for Jusenkyo's resurrection? These were hardcore cult members. None of them would have thought twice about jumping in that spring."

"Maybe they weren't sure it would work with anyone other than Akane, but it did," Ryoga suggested, looking back at his nervous friend again. "Akane, why didn't you go to someone for help?"

"I did, Ryoga!" she cried. "This is the third village I've been to, and every time that guy comes and does this to it! I just hide and hope he doesn't find me, but I can hear him killing people and it's...it's just terrible!"

The tale of other villages being attacked was news to the military prisoners.

"Wait...there were two other villages that this happened to? Why didn't they tell us?" Ryoga wondered.

"Either they don't think we need to know, or maybe they didn't know it was Jusenkyo that attacked them," Meilin pointed out. "Either way...if the military hears about this girl, things could get bad for her, Ryoga."

Ryoga shot his partner a curious look. "Why's that?"

"You know how bad they want to put an end to this Jusenkyo business," Meilin told him. "If what she's saying is true and they find out this guy in the black cloak is after her, they'll use her as bait to lure him out."

The white-haired rogue's partner clenched his teeth with worry. He didn't doubt that their superiors in the military would do that if they found out about Akane. "Yeah...you're right. Akane, we need to get you back to Japan."

"No! I can't go back!" Akane suddenly protested.

Ryoga was stunned that his old friend didn't want to return home. "What? Why not? You're not safe here!"

"And I won't be safe there either!" Akane said to him. "I want to go home more than anything, Ryoga, but if I go back to Japan and he follows me there, he might hurt Dad and Kasumi. I...I couldn't take it if something happened to them because of me. That's why...no matter what, I can't go back."

The young martial artist could see what his old love interest was getting at. If the cloaked man knew Akane had gone back to Japan, there wasn't anything stopping him from going there after her. This left Ryoga with a conundrum as to what to do with her.

"What should we do, Ryoga?" Meilin inquired about her partner's opinion.

"I don't know, but I can't just leave her alone, Meilin," Ryoga told her. "She's not safe on her own. And if she doesn't want to go back to Japan..."

His white-haired partner didn't look pleased with where Ryoga's thought process was headed. "So you want her to come with us?"

Slowly nodding his head, Ryoga acknowledged that his girlfriend's guess was right on the money. Meilin had a bad feeling about bringing Akane along with them, mostly due to the knowledge that her man had feelings for the girl from Japan in the not too distant past. The last thing she wanted was a potential rival for Ryoga's affection. And not only that, but she also wasn't convinced yet that Akane was merely a victim in this whole Jusenkyo case. While her story may well be true, there was no way of confirming it as of yet. But on the other hand, Meilin also knew that if they left Akane to fend for herself or left her in the hands of the military, Ryoga would be constantly distracted as he would never be able to stop worrying about her. There was really no better solution than to bring her with them. But as it related to their current mission, Meilin thought, Akane's presence might actually be a blessing.

"Wait, I can't go with you! If I do, he'll come after you, too!" Akane fretted.

"That's exactly what we want," Meilin looked down at her. "Ryoga and I have orders to seek out the resurrected Jusenkyo. If that man you dumped into the spring is really following you, that's perfect. You'll lead him right to us, we'll take him out, and then you can go back to Japan where you belong."

"Are you crazy? How can you want to fight that thing after he killed all those people? It's too dangerous!" Akane tried to warn her.

"No, she's right, Akane," Ryoga calmly explained. "We're going to run into him eventually, and we want to stop him as soon as possible."

"But, Ryoga-!"

"Please, Akane," the boy with the bandana pleaded with her. "We need to stop him before anyone else gets hurt. I know he's strong, but Meilin and I can beat him! So please, I'm asking you, just come with us and let us handle him."

"But what if you die, Ryoga?"

"I won't."

Akane looked very torn about what to do as she stared back at her friend. "Promise me...promise me you won't get hurt! Promise me you can beat him!"

There was no hesitation in Ryoga's mind as he answered her with confidence. "I promise, Akane. We'll end this so you can go home."

A glimmer of hope showing in her expression, the youngest Tendo daughter reached up and wiped a tear from her eye.

"Okay, Ryoga. I'll go with you," she finally agreed.

"Thank you, Akane," Ryoga gave her a smile.

"Good, that's settled then," Meilin said, kneeling down next to her boyfriend. "But just so you understand, let me make one thing perfectly clear..."

Akane blinked with surprise as Meilin suddenly grabbed Ryoga by the back of his head and pulled him into a deep, passionate kiss. The girl from Japan sat there watching for several awkward seconds before the two partners finally broke the show of affection.

"M-Meilin...!" Ryoga blushed furiously.

The white-haired rogue seemed very pleased with herself as she turned her attention back to Akane. "Ryoga is my man. If you make any moves on him, I'll make you wish that cloaked guy had found you before we did. Got it?"

Akane nervously nodded her head in response. "Uhh...y-yeah..."


At the home of Cologne in the Amazon village of Joketsuzoku, a woman with long, brown hair sat hunched over a wooden table with her face buried in a book. Though she wasn't snoring, her closed eyes and slow, steady breathing made it easy to see that she was asleep with page 381 of her book serving as a makeshift pillow. Unfortunately for the slumbering Amazon, her sleep wasn't to last for very long.

"Aroma!"

Jolted suddenly from the dream she was having, Shampoo's sister flew back into her chair with enough force to knock it onto its back legs. Flailing her arms as she failed to keep the chair balanced, Aroma shrieked as she fell back and crashed down to the floor along with the piece of furniture she'd been sitting on.

"Owww..." the brown-haired girl groaned, rubbing the back of her head. Still groggy from her sleep, she soon spotted the reason she'd woken up in the first place. A familiar old woman sitting atop a wooden staff was shaking her head in her direction nearby. "That was mean, Granny."

"You can nap another time, child," Cologne told her great-granddaughter in their native Mandarin language. "You know very well we planned on cleaning our underground storage today, and you ARE going to help me."

Not yet fully awake, Aroma let out a loud yawn and slowly closed her eyes again as she remained on the floor. "O-...kay. Just...five more minu-"

"NOW!" Cologne barked, startling Aroma enough to snap her back to reality again. "Really, child, you complain about physical labor more than the rest of this village combined. Now go grab the usual cleaning supplies and meet me down below."

Cologne really wasn't exaggerating Aroma's disdain for physical work. With a tired look of displeasure on her face, the brown-haired Amazon stumbled to her feet and reluctantly obeyed her great-grandmother. "Fine, I get it, Granny. I'm going, I'm going."

The Amazon elder rolled her eyes at the girl's lack of enthusiasm as she walked off. "Sending her abroad made that one lazy. If only that work ethic of hers extended outside of practicing medicine..."

Hoping she wouldn't later find Aroma sleeping in another area of the house, Cologne opened the door leading to her underground storage area and hopped down the staircase on her staff. It wasn't a place that was disturbed often, so every year she liked to clean the dust that had gathered off of everything contained down there. Jewelry, pottery, writings, and other items as well as the boxes that contained them were among the objects that sat in the elder's storage.

"Now, where to start this time..." Cologne wondered aloud as she reached the last step. She was about to flip the light switch for the underground room, but at that moment something unusual caught her eye. There was an odd, colorful glow coming from one of the shelves. "What on earth...?"

The old woman left the light off for the time being, instead making her way over to where the glow was coming from. Luckily, the room was well-organized and there wasn't anything on the floor that sat in her way, making it easy for her to cross the room in the dark. Once she'd located the proper shelf, Cologne found that the strange glow was coming from a small box that had other items stacked on top of it.

"This one?" she eyed the container intently. "If I remember correctly, this was..."

Cologne carefully cleared the other items away. The box in question, as she recalled, contained two items that were largely a mystery. They were a pair of wooden cubes with peculiar markings on them that had somehow managed to survive for a period of time estimated to be between 3,000 and 6,000 years. An old acquaintance had once given them to her hoping she could decipher something about their origin, but the Amazon elder had no such luck. Regardless, she was given the strange cubes to hold onto, and she promised to divulge any new information she may come across to the one who had given them to her.

Now, as the old woman opened the lid to the box and looked inside, the mystery took a new turn. The pair of wooden cubes contained inside were both glowing brightly. The one on the left gave off a bright green color. The one on the right emitted a dark purple color.

"This is...!" Cologne gasped, fascinated by the new development. "After all this time...what could have caused this?"


Later that day, night had fallen over the plains of mainland China, where Ryoga and Meilin, along with their new guest, were sitting in a forest next to a campfire. Akane, who was both physically and mentally exhausted after her ordeal since being brought to China, had fallen asleep with her head in Ryoga's lap. Ranma's rival could only imagine how little sleep his old friend had probably gotten since she was taken from Japan.

While Ryoga didn't mind letting Akane use him as a pillow, his partner wasn't nearly as content with the idea. Sitting nearby, Meilin had a scowl on her face as she glared at the sight of her man and his former love interest.

"Ryoga..." the white-haired woman growled.

"I know, I know!" her boyfriend replied in a loud whisper. "She's been through a lot, Meilin. Just bear it for tonight."

Her eye twitching, Meilin unwillingly turned away from the unpleasant sight. "Fine."

Looking upon Akane with pity in his eyes, Ryoga gently ran his hand through her dark hair.

"I don't get it," he said. "Why did they take her, of all people? She was just a sweet, innocent girl leading a normal life in Japan. She didn't deserve to go through any of this."

"It's a weird coincidence, them going after someone you know so well," Meilin chimed in. "I'm more interested in what really happened at the Cursed Springs and after that, though. There's too much that doesn't make sense with that girl's story."

Ryoga gave his girlfriend a curious look. "With Akane's story? Like what?"

"Like with her being pursued," Meilin said to him. "Given the damage he did to that village and to Jukai, let's just assume this cloaked guy is really Sorceress Jusenkyo resurrected. If he has all this power, why is he bothering to chase down one girl? Even if she did toss him into the spring, wouldn't Jusenkyo have bigger aspirations than to spend weeks chasing one measly girl?"

"Well-" Ryoga began to say.

"And how did she avoid him?" Meilin interrupted her partner. "If this guy keeps popping up where she is, he must have some way of tracking her. So how has he let this girl slip away time after time?"

"I don't know, Meilin!" Ryoga snapped back at her defensively. "I don't know, but...there has to be some reason. Even if we don't find out though, that's fine. I just want to protect Akane and take this guy out so he can't hurt her anymore."

*beep beep! beep beep! beep be-!*

Shutting off an electronic device that began beeping in her pocket, Meilin stood up and walked over to where Akane's legs lay on the ground.

"I know you'll trust her no matter what, Ryoga. But I'm not so careless," she said to her partner as she knelt down.

Ryoga watched as the white-haired woman gently removed one of Akane's shoes, managing not to wake her up in the process. "Hey! What are you-?"

"If she's just an innocent victim then she has nothing to worry about. You don't mind me checking into things, right?" Meilin gave him a sharp look.

The directionally-challenged martial artist would never suspect Akane of lying to him, and he was even more certain that she wasn't involved in the attack on the village they'd seen earlier. Plus her story fit well with the information he and Meilin had already gathered. He didn't much like the fact that his partner still had her suspicions, but her cautious attitude had kept them alive on more than one occasion and that made it hard to argue with her.

"No. Go ahead," Ryoga told her. "It's a waste of time though, Meilin."

With Akane's shoe in hand, the former Seven Lucky Gods member turned around and began walking off to the south. "I'll be back in a few minutes, honey. Don't you dare let her get any more comfy with you while I'm gone."

Distancing herself from the campsite, Meilin spent several minutes wading through the trees in the forest, all the while keeping her eyes peeled. Then, hearing some rustling in one of the trees she was passing by, she came to a stop and looked up.

"Yo yo yo!"

Meilin took a step back as a skinny, yet well-conditioned man with short, orange-colored hair dropped down from the tree and landed in front of her. Dressed in the dark green uniform of the Chinese military, the man's face lit up with excitement upon seeing the woman.

"Thank you for reminding me why I gave you the codename 'Gibbon'," Meilin spoke in Mandarin, referencing the man's ape-like qualities.

"You can call me whatever you want, Commander!" Gibbon beamed happily. He was a member of the Orange Team of the military's Special Operations Unit, answering to the unofficial commanders of the team, Meilin and Ryoga. Because of his agility and his ability to blend in with the environment, his primary tasks were usually reconnaissance and information gathering. And, as Meilin had noticed, he had an unmatched love for taking orders from his female commander.

"Did you bring what I told you to?" Meilin asked him.

The orange-haired man nodded emphatically, pulling a thick piece of paper and a stick of condensed charcoal out of his backpack.

"Good," Meilin handed him Akane's shoe. "Use that charcoal to copy this shoeprint."

"Yes ma'am!" Gibbon gleefully did as he was instructed. Placing the bottom of the shoe against one side of his paper, he brushed the charcoal against the other side until he had a clear image of the bottom of the shoe. Once he was done, he briefly held it up in the moonlight to confirm that he was finished. "Yeah, looks good! What now, Commander?"

"Now...you go on a little trip," Meilin answered her subordinate. "Go to the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo and find the spring with the giant boulder next to it. You should see four sets of footprints heading toward the northwest from there, two of which belong to myself and Ryoga."

The skinny man's commander pointed at the paper he was holding with the shoeprint on it. "Your mission is to check if that print matches one of the other two sets of prints leading out of the springs. If it does, study the one that matches it and try to discern anything you can about the person and what they were doing. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Commander! I'll get right on it, Commander!" Gibbon saluted her.

"Good. Don't take more than a few days, and report back to me when you're finished," Meilin instructed him. "Now go!"

With an elated howl, Gibbon nimbly jumped back up into the trees and disappeared. Meilin was now free to head back to camp.

"Akane Tendo...I don't trust that girl. She'd better hope what Gibbon finds matches her story."


Meanwhile, inside a large military compound on the east coast of China, a battle-scarred soldier sat impatiently in the medical area with his jacket in his lap and a falcon watching over him from atop a medicine cabinet. Hearing the sound of footsteps growing nearer, the soldier soon spotted an older, gray-haired man with a mustache walking toward him with a folder in his hand.

"How long were you planning on making me wait, Doc? I don't have time to be sitting around here, dammit!" Jukai, Commander of the Special Operations Unit's Viper Team, complained.

The doctor, dressed in a long, white coat, brushed off the surly attitude of the soldier and took a seat across from him. "You're sure eager, as always."

"Of course I am! I need to put Jusenkyo back in her crusty old grave!" the man with dirty blonde hair declared. "Now you gonna let me out of here or not?"

The old man gave Jukai's body a quick look over. "You really have lost weight."

The weight comment, which he'd been getting a lot recently, only agitated Jukai further. "I didn't come here to talk about my weight! Either clear me to go kick Jusenkyo's ass or I'm leaving!"

The doctor, seeing his patient wasn't in the mood for small talk, stood up and walked over to him. He then tightly grabbed the thigh that Jukai had injured in his battle with Jusenkyo when a shard of wood from a tree had been driven through it. The soldier's eyes noticeably opened wider with the contact, but Jukai didn't so much as utter a peep that would have indicated he was in pain.

"You and I both know this wound hasn't had enough time to completely heal," the doctor said, giving Jukai a stern look. "But...I suppose that never stopped you before. If you can grin and bear it, I don't see any reason to keep you here."

The soldier's eyes lit up with a familiar excitement. "You know me too good, Doc. If that's your call, I'm taking off."

"Wait!"

Jukai was about to slip his jacket on when the doctor's order stopped him. "What now? Make it quick, Doc. I'm in a hurry."

With an audible sigh, the old man slowly walked over to his seat and grabbed the folder he'd brought. "I'm sorry, Jukai."

"Huh?" the soldier gave him a strange look. "You've never apologized to me for anything before. What's with you?"

Clearly troubled with what he had to do, the doctor reached into the folder and took out an envelope. Then, regretfully, he handed it over to his patient.

"What's this?" Jukai grabbed it.

"Your discharge papers," the doctor told him.

Jukai immediately froze up, speechless. Stunned by the realization of what he'd just been given, his surprise quickly turned to rage as he glared at the old man. "If this is true then...you bastard, did you-?"

"They ordered me to give them a complete medical report on you, Jukai. I had no choice," the doctor apologized.

Torn between his anger and the uncertainty he now faced, Jukai threw the envelope across the room and collapsed down into his chair, holding his head in his hands.

"People aren't blind, Jukai. Everyone could tell that you'd lost quite a bit of weight recently," the doctor said to him. "You knew it, too...that the treatment wasn't working anymore."

Jukai remained still, not disagreeing with the doctor's analysis.

"...How long do I got?"

"A few months at best," the old man told him. "I'm sorry, Jukai."

Sitting up straight again, the shaggy-haired soldier slowly nodded his head, forcing himself to accept the unpleasant news he'd been given. "Well ain't that a bitch. That's life, though..."

Jukai took a deep breath and stood up, slipping his dark green military jacket on with pride. Seeing that as its signal, the falcon perched nearby hopped down from the cabinet and took its reserved spot on the soldier's shoulder.

Ready to take off on a new journey with the military now in his past, Jukai walked over to the doctor and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Thanks, Doc. You've been taking care of me since I was a kid, like the dad I never had."

The doctor's facial muscles strained as he tried to fight back his tears. "We tried so hard to find a cure, Jukai. I'm so sorry."

"Don't sweat it, Doc," Jukai smirked. "I won't leave this world with any regrets."

Holding his head high, the soldier began walking toward the door to leave the compound for the last time.

"Where will you go?" the doctor quickly asked.

A small chuckle could be heard coming from Jukai as he walked.

"I made a promise to this annoying guy with a pigtail in Japan a few months back. Think it's about time I made good on it."


End of Chapter 10