A Midsummer Night's Beauty, Part III: Requiem for Youth
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 OC's that I've added into this story. Just so you know.
Chapter 13: Last Man Standing
Ranma leaped over the front gate of Furinkan High and took off down the road to the east, a storm of speeding balls of water smashing into and breaking apart the walls around her.
Ducking and dodging the attacks and the scattering debris, Ranma tried to come up with her next move. She was no stranger to the strength of water after using it to overcome Kirin's defense when they fought once upon a time, but this was a whole new level of power; the water balls were at least three times as large, and they traveled much faster. Just one direct hit would have a good chance of breaking bones.
While she ran, Ranma noticed the area growing darker. Something was blocking out the sun, and she didn't have a good feeling about what it was. A quick peek over her shoulder confirmed her fears were justified as she spotted an enormous tidal wave barreling down the road towards her.
Ranma sped up as much as she could. Behind her, the already-sizeable wave grew even higher, towering nearly 50 feet up off the ground. As Ranma glanced upward, she noticed what looked to be someone riding atop the wall of water.
"What's wrong?" Akane called down to her. "You're already a girl. No need to be afraid of a little water, is there?"
"A little water, she says!" Ranma shrieked.
All at once, the wave came crashing down, flooding the street with a torrent of rushing water. The walls bordering the road nearly buckled from the water's weight before it reached the nearest intersection and spread out in all directions.
Standing atop one of the walls, Akane eyed the water carefully. Thus far, she saw no sign of Ranma.
Akane looked back and to her left, where she found Ranma's fist coming at her cheek. The pigtailed girl's hand slammed into Akane's barrier, throwing Ranma back yet again, this time into the rear of an office building. Her left side hit the hardest, her body drooping to one knee after the rough contact.
"Was this your 'plan'?" Akane inquired, sparks shining within her hand. "I don't think it's working very well."
Ranma dove forward as a bolt of electricity jumped out from Akane's palm and exploded against the wall of the building, ripping into it with ease. Getting her legs moving again, she ran frantically to the end of the property and turned the corner, barely avoiding a second electric bolt that tore across the structure's exterior.
Running past the side of the building and onto the road in front, Ranma hurried down the concrete path, just trying to put whatever distance between herself and Akane that she could.
"I could really use a hand here, guys!"
Out in the center of Akane's field, with Meilin still recuperating off to the side of the road, Ryoga and the bulked-up Zonbi stared each other down.
"There isn't a body you can't break?" Zonbi said, cracking his neck. "That's my line."
Zonbi bolted for Ryoga, showing much more quickness than before despite the increase in his body's size. Ryoga, not expecting the suddenness of the giant's movement, couldn't react quick enough to avoid the monstrous punch that came from above. Zonbi's fist drilled him with such force that his body bent at the waist, his head knocked so far down that it almost touched the pavement.
"Ryoga!" Meilin screamed. Try as she might to get her footing after Cologne's barrage earlier, she still couldn't stand.
Zonbi loomed over Ryoga with his large height advantage, expecting the martial artist to flop to the ground at any moment. Then, he raised his eyebrows. Ryoga wasn't crumbling; slowly but surely, he was lifting his head back up.
His cheek reddened from the punch, Ryoga glared up at Akane's servant. "I can't remember the last time someone's punch…actually hurt like that!"
Returning the favor, Ryoga stepped in and put his weight behind a solid right, striking Zonbi directly in the gut.
Zonbi, flinching from the blow, growled in disapproval. "Was that the best you have?"
Reaching back, Zonbi smashed him in the face again, bending Ryoga's body a second time. Still, however, Ryoga didn't go down.
As he came back up, Ryoga adjusted his jaw, blood now dripping from his mouth. "I should ask you the same thing!"
Ryoga returned fire with another right to Zonbi's abdomen, drawing one more flinch from the giant.
"I'm impressed your head is still attached to your body," Zonbi said, "but if you think you can win a battle of endurance with me, you are very wrong."
"Try me," Ryoga retorted, spitting some of the blood from his mouth at Zonbi's feet.
His eye twitching, Zonbi slugged Ryoga in the face again. Ryoga, making his way back up, responded with a blow to the same spot above Zonbi's waist.
Back and forth the two of them went, taking turns wailing on each other with their best shots. After the sixth punch, Ryoga's cheek split open, bloodying his face. With each of Ryoga's return attacks, Zonbi's reactions became slightly more animated, but the beating Ryoga was taking in the process was immense.
"Ryoga…" Meilin mouthed, watching the duel with great concern. Her partner was still fighting, but it was clear who was getting the worst of the trades.
Like men possessed, they continued to exchange punches. Ryoga's face swelled to the point he could barely see out of his left eye. Every time Ryoga hit back, Zonbi gritted his teeth to help weather the blow.
"How do you still stand?" Zonbi shouted, driving his fist into Ryoga's face again.
Blood dripping from his cheek, Ryoga brought his battered self upward. "This body I've trained to beat Ranma isn't so weak that only this much would bring it down," he said, slugging Zonbi back with authority.
Zonbi furrowed his brow at his opponent. "Your body is nothing compared to the one Mistress Akane gave me!"
The both of them kept punching away. Ryoga was pushing his body to its limit, but he wasn't without hope. After another punch to Zonbi's gut, a trickle of black blood appeared from the monster's lips.
Akane's servant ripped his fist into Ryoga's cheek again. This time when Ryoga came back up, his eye was swollen shut entirely, but on his feet he remained.
Zonbi, holding off momentarily on his next attack, looked upon Ryoga incredulously. "How can you take so many of my strikes and still be alive?"
Ryoga, struggling to hold his head up, spit out another shot of blood. "Have you…ever lost a fight before?" he asked.
"Of course not," Zonbi told him.
Lightly, Ryoga nodded his head. "Then you don't know how it feels," he said. "All those times losing to Ranma…it was the worst feeling in the world. I hate losing. I promised myself I wouldn't lose ever again. Not to Ranma…and sure as hell not to you."
"You don't have a choice!" Zonbi yelled, throwing his next punch.
A loud smack of flesh echoed up and down the street as Ryoga raised his left hand up and, to Zonbi's surprise, caught the massive fist before it could hit him again. Lifting his head, he looked at Zonbi, the one eye he still had open filled with determination.
"Yes…I do," Ryoga snarled.
He drove his fist into Zonbi's midsection, and, for the first time, the servant buckled. Ryoga didn't stop, roaring wildly as he struck the same spot over and over, Zonbi's head coming further and further down with every blow. After the tenth punch, the two of them were practically face-to-face.
"Welcome to my level," Ryoga said.
Rearing back, Ryoga fired a vicious uppercut into his opponent's face that lifted Zonbi right off his feet. All seven-foot-plus of the giant turned horizontal in the air, and down Zonbi went, back-first to the concrete.
Knowing this was the time to capitalize, Ryoga growled through his teeth as he tried to will his legs to move. After the beating he'd taken, however, his body was being stubborn.
"Come on!" Ryoga exclaimed, pounding his hands against his thighs. "Move, dammit!"
Zonbi, beginning to stir, rolled over onto his stomach. Planting his hands against the ground, he pushed himself up, the black blood dripping from his nostrils. Before Ryoga could do anything, the servant was back on his feet.
Ryoga couldn't tell if the twisted expression he saw on Zonbi's face was one of shock or anger, but he had little doubt it was one of the two.
All of a sudden, Zonbi's cheeks puffed out. Leaning down, he vomited a stream of the black substance from his body into his hands. As his muscles shrank, the black goop gathered and compressed, forming into a ball. The ball quickly grew in size, pulsing outward as if it were alive.
"In the end, the darkness of the universe consumes all," Zonbi said, his voice raspy. "Your life is no exception."
Watching the dark ball grow more and more, Ryoga held his hands out in front of him, his palms facing each other.
"You think so?" he asked. Fueled by the energy of the sun shining down from above, a Happo Solar Flare formed within his grasp. "I wonder which is stronger…your darkness or my light?"
Infused with Ryoga's chi, the shining sphere in his hands swelled to the size of a beach ball, larger than his partner had ever seen it before.
"Wait, Ryoga…that's too much!" Meilin cried, only now able to stand again.
Incensed at Ryoga's words, Zonbi bared his teeth. "There is no light stronger than darkness itself, you brat!"
Zonbi's ball pulsed outward one last time, exceeding Ryoga's energy sphere in size. Both men roaring fiercely, they hurled their attacks into each other, resulting in a massive, blinding explosion.
Meilin, thrown back against the nearest building by the blast, dropped down to the pavement. Dazed, she watched a cloud of dust spread from the point of the explosion as loose pieces of the structures lining the street fell all along it.
Something was raining down from the sky. Something…black? What was that?
As Meilin started to come around again, she quickly realized it was Zonbi's black blood that was now covering the road. Panicking, she looked around for Ryoga. He was nowhere in sight. She looked down the road to the north, then to the south…and there he was, laid out on his side.
"Ryoga!" Meilin screamed, rushing over to him.
She was just approaching her partner when something abruptly fell to the ground in front of her. Jumping back, she looked at the object down near Ryoga's feet. It was the top part of Zonbi's body, including his head and his right arm.
Even with Zonbi in pieces, Meilin waited to make sure he was dead. Seeing no movement, she knelt down to check on her man. Ryoga's pant legs were gone, and what remained of his bottoms in tatters. His upper body was scorched, riddled with burns from the massive Happo Solar Flare.
Meilin put her ear by Ryoga's mouth. Hearing his breaths, she was filled with relief. He was out cold, but he wasn't dead.
"Look at you," Meilin said, tearing up. "That was insane, Ryoga."
Behind Meilin, out of her view, the black blood scattered around the street collected, pooling together. Down the road it crept, taking in even more along the way, until the edge slithered beneath Zonbi's remains.
Feeling a pull in the air, Meilin whipped around. Down at her partner's feet, Zonbi, his eyes wide open, had his hand wrapped around Ryoga's ankle from within the now-swirling black pool on the ground.
"If I'm going to the underworld," Zonbi snarled, "I'll take you with me!"
Instinctively, Meilin grabbed her sword, looking to sever Zonbi's arm. The pull from the dark vortex intensified rapidly, though. Not wanting to get sucked in, Meilin took hold of Ryoga's wrist and jammed the blades of her sword into the concrete between her legs to use as an anchor.
Meilin held onto her sword and Ryoga with everything she had as debris from all around the street went flying into the pool. Signs from the fronts of businesses were pulled right off and taken into the vortex along with loose rubble and glass from the damage brought about earlier. In addition to the tug of war over Ryoga, Meilin had to evade the various objects coming from behind her on their way into the darkness.
"Come to me!" Zonbi shouted, his grip on Ryoga's leg persisting.
This was bad, Meilin thought. She couldn't do anything to Zonbi without risking the well-being of herself or Ryoga. Eventually, something was going to give out: either Zonbi's grip, or her sword. Was that all she could do was wait and hope for it to be the former?
Meilin's eyes jolted upward as something suddenly entered her line of vision. It wasn't any old chunk of debris. It was a girl…with a giant spatula? Ukyo!
Being pulled in by the vortex, Ukyo, her spatula tied to her right wrist with her hair ribbon, slammed the flat part of the blade into Zonbi's face. His grip on Ryoga jarred loose by the blow, Zonbi bellowed out as he vanished into the swirling black pool.
Ukyo, having pushed off of Zonbi's head to get away from the darkness, tried to drive her spatula's blade into the road. The pull was great, though, too great, and the tip of her spatula slid back against the concrete toward the vortex.
Reaching out in desperation, Ukyo felt something grab hold of her wrist. It was Meilin. With Ryoga in one hand and Ukyo in the other, the white-haired warrior used her teeth to keep hold of her sword's hilt, her gums bleeding just from the strength it took to stay grounded.
While Meilin thought of nothing but holding on, the pool in front of her shrank. Its pull weakening, the mass of black goop gradually dissipated into nothing.
Ryoga and Ukyo dropped down to the pavement, and Meilin, panting, collapsed backwards, looking up at the blue sky above. They'd done it.
Moving further away from Furinkan High School, Ranma stayed on the run. Behind her, Akane, coasting along atop a cushion of air, whipped blades of wind at her fleeing target. The attacks were difficult to see other than some distortion in the air, leaving Ranma to depend on her other senses to avoid them. Luckily, those other senses were quite sharp. So far, Ranma had gotten by unscathed aside from a tear on the shoulder area of her shirt.
Wanting to keep it that way, Ranma leaned down and placed her hand against the ground, using her Shift to vanish.
Akane promptly turned to her left, where she saw Ranma's foot coming towards her.
The sole of Ranma's shoe crashed into the left side of Akane's face, abruptly knocking her from her cushion. She went flying through the front door of a convenience store, shattering it upon impact. As glass spilled down onto the floor, Akane rolled into a shelving unit, where she was buried in instant food packages.
Ranma's eyes lit up. Akane's barrier…it was gone. The others came through!
Immediately, Ranma darted inside the store to subdue her ex-fiancée.
Akane, a look of urgency on her face, rose from the pile of food. In her right hand, a ball of fire burned brightly. As Ranma dove at her, Akane heaved the fireball into the girl's chest, blasting her right back out the door and onto the road outside. Groaning, Ranma writhed on the ground, grasping at the smoking, charred hole in her shirt.
Getting up to a knee, Akane rubbed the side of her face before working her hand around to the back of her neck. Feeling something wet, she took a look at her hand, which now had her blood on it. Evidently, the glass from the door had cut her on the way in.
Akane looked in the direction of the center of her field. "One of them died?" she wondered aloud. "There's no way! Who could have…? Shampoo? How?"
Closing her eyes, Akane took a deep breath to calm herself. "Relax," she spoke softly. "It's not important. Everything is under control."
Outside, Ranma sat up. Still holding her chest, she watched as Akane stepped out through the broken door.
"I don't know what happened to my servants," Akane said, eyeing Ranma sharply, "but it doesn't make any difference. I'm the one you need to worry about, and I've played around with you for long enough."
Akane clasped her hands together. With a look of intense concentration, she stood still, and a white light began to surround her body. Some of the light, being pulled upward, consolidated together into a sphere the size of a baseball. The sphere split away, taking a position hovering above her head.
Half of the remaining light did the same, forming into a second sphere that floated up near the other one. Finally, the last of the light packed itself into a third sphere which joined the others.
With the three spheres of light over her head, Akane exhaled. "Just in case," she said.
Akane whipped her arms through the air in a downward motion, and her feet lifted up off the ground. She held her hands out at her sides, where Ranma, looking on intently, saw a distortion form around them much like that which her blades of wind had caused before.
"Now," Akane hissed, "…let's start the real fight."
A ways from where Ranma and Akane were, Meilin slapped her palms against the concrete and sat herself back up. Feeling something press against her right thigh, she looked down to see Ukyo's hand sitting atop it.
"Thank…you…" Ukyo uttered, trying to use Meilin to get herself standing again.
Shaking her head, Meilin let out a huff. "That was crazy what you just did."
"Maybe," Ukyo replied, wobbly as she made her way to her feet.
Ukyo had dry blood on her upper lip and chin from what may have been a broken nose, not to mention her unkempt hair and the ragged state of the rest of her body. Meilin didn't know what had happened to her, but it was clear she'd been in quite the scuffle.
"Where's…Akane?" Ukyo asked.
"I don't know," Meilin told her. "She's fighting Saotome somewhere."
Ukyo wearily nodded her head. Barely able to stand without the aid of her spatula, she turned herself around and began making her way down the torn-up road.
"You're in no shape to fight," Meilin insisted. "You'll die."
Choosing not to heed the warning, Ukyo kept on moving. "I'm not going there to fight," she said.
Without another word, Ukyo turned a corner and left.
Meilin switched her attention back to Ryoga now, looking upon him fondly as he slumbered at her side. "When you wake up," she said, "you're getting an earful from me, you nut."
Just then, Meilin heard the sound of footsteps behind her. Quickly turning to look, her jaw dropped.
End of Chapter 13