The very first fan fic I ever wrote, I found a copy spruced it up a bit, and decided to post it up. Nostalgia and all that. I'm actually surprised it still holds up as well as it does. Took a lot of work to clean up a lot of my old bad writing habits. Ugh. I was awful. ^_^
Carrot's head snapped up, "Is it over?" He was a tall slim boy of about eighteen, with messy brown hair and a cheerful, but somewhat disturbing looking grin on his face.
"Yeah," replied his friend lazily. The other boy in the room was sitting in front of a small, old, but well taken care of color television with a VCR built into it. He was broad shouldered, and sported lighter brown hair, styled a bit longer than a military cut. He was a head shorter than his friend, but in better shape.
"Thank god, I'll never understand this Sailor Moon thing of yours Dan," snorted the boy wearily.
The other boy ignored him, though his thoughts were annoyed. ⌠You'll never understand the power of the love between Mamoru and Usa-chan, you heartless moron!■ His inner voice was crying tears of bitterness. He smiled as he held up a videotape, "I got the new Ranma, wanna see?" Dan had not seen anything move so fast in his entire life.
"Put it in! Put it in!" yelled Carrot as he planted himself in front of the TV.
"Jeez, and you bother me about Sailor Moon," said the boy with an annoyed grunt as he complied.
"Dude! It's completely different!" retorted Carrot as he slammed his palm on the worn tan carpet he was sitting on next to a coffee table as he pointed at Dan and growled as he spoke.
"Right," said his friend as he sat on the couch and rolled his eyes. About half way through the video Dan found himself becoming angry, not because Carrot was singing along with the theme song of the second episode off key. He was having trouble justifying Ranma's actions. "Ranma is such a dope!"
Carrot looked at him and blinked. The statement had come from out of the blue. "Huh?"
"Why can't he say it? He's a pathetic wuss!" complained Dan.
"If I had enough power I bet I could make him do it!" said Carrot with a smirk appearing on his face.
"Sure you could, just beat him until he said it, duh," snorted the other boy in retort.
"That wouldn't work, not with Ranma," said the boy as he leaned back and rested against the small coffee table. He took a chug of a soda can that was resting next to him with no coaster beside several half eaten boxed pizzas.
"You think so?" asked a strange female voice, both boys turned and stared at the source.
Akane Tendo was sticking halfway out of the screen smiling at the pair with a disturbing grin on her face.
"What the fuck?" Carrot was cut off by Dan as the boy smacked him upside his head. "Ow!"
"Did that hurt?" asked the boy without taking his eyes off the girl.
"YES!" screamed Carrot. He growled and grumbled a bit as he rubbed the sore spot.
"Then we aren't dreaming," replied the other anime fan with a shrug of his shoulders.
Carrot blinked and turned to look at him with a mixture of anger and disbelief on his face. The girl completely ignored these events and waved at them to get their attention. "Hi, I'm Kei!"
Dan shrugged it off and blinked again. "Dude, Akane's talkin to us." He looked at the bog on the other end of the table. ⌠We didn't even smoke anything. I don't get paid until the end of the week.■
Carrot nodded. ⌠Yeah. Totally out.■
"Silly mortals, I'm not Akane, I'm a goddess," replied the girl as she gave them a giggle and crawled out of the screen.
"Like, Beldandy?" asked Carrot, as he became calm and put his finger on his chin as he looked at the ceiling.
"Sort of," replied the girl as she took up a thoughtful pose.
"What do you want?" Carrot shoved Dan aside before the boy could speak and addressed the strange girl again.
"To give you the chance to do what you said, or not. I don't care as long as it's interesting!" squealed the girl happily.
"What?!" cried the two boys in shock.
"I'm offering to send you to their world!" said the girl looked excited and like she was up to something. She was like a sadistic female car salesman in a local ad.
"No offense, but we'll get our butts kicked!" cried Dan as he tried to absorb the information.
"I'll give you powers, food, and you'll always have enough money!" said Kei with a smile.
"Only if we get to choose our own powers, and have at least one move that can take out anyone in the cast with a single hit!" spat Carrot before he even thought about who he was talking to. He had to say it before Dan's fool ass instantly agreed.
The goddess smiled at them again, "Very smart, think of one character and you'll have their powers."
Before Dan could speak Carrot poked him on the shoulder, the boy looked and Carrot pointed to a CD sitting on the tabletop.
"Uh, can we?" he asked the boy.
"She said name a character," replied the boy with a shrug. He turned to look at Kei and she smiled at him.
"Agreed!" she chimed and with that they vanished in an instant.
The boys found themselves floating through a long tunnel. Dan looked at the girl as she sped by next to them and giggled to herself. It was like moving down a water slide at an amusement park.
"Wait! How do we get back?" asked the boy with a fearful look on his face.
She looked at him and widened her grin. "Get back? Simple, you die," the boy sucked in a quick breath and turned to glare at his friend.
"This is all you're fault!" he screamed in rage.
"Or you complete your mission according to the bet, then you can leave Ranma," continued the girl as cheery as ever. Carrot was getting annoyed by it. Dan was confused and looked nervous.
They approached a light at high speed and Dan went wide-eyed as he realized what was going to happen. Dan could only find one word for the situation. "Shit."
A porthole flashed open in Jusenkyo as the two boys where spit out into the springs, Dan flailed about as he struggled to get out of the pool from underneath Carrot. He finally managed to catch hold of something and struggled out of the water. He looked up to see a young red haired girl laughing at both of them.
"BWAHAHAHAHAHAAA! Man you're cute!" He looked at her with a confused frown and something clicked in his mind.
"No!" he reached down and clutched two unfamiliar and sensitive lumps in his shirt. He turned and looked up to see Kei floating above him trying to stifle her own laughter. "Why? Why here damn it!?"
"This is Ranma One Half. I think it's some sort of rule," replied the girl with a shrug.
"So, does everyone who falls in here become a babe?" asked Carrot looking himself over. ⌠What about the other springs? Can I be a Dragon, or maybe a tiger? That would be cool!■
"I think so," said the goddess with another shrug. ⌠It's a bit late now. The other springs won't work for you for a while. You should have said something sooner.■
"You know, for a goddess you sure are well informed," snapped Dan as he frowned at her.
Carrot looked a bit confused. ⌠Um. Do you have any idea how dumb that sounded?■
Kei flipped over in the air and another porthole appeared. "This should be entertaining, but I have to go. Remember, practice or you'll lose your powers!" She flew into the porthole and stuck her head back out. "And don't get rid of the curses, think of it as payment for bringing you here. Bye guys, you're on your own!"
The pair nodded and stared at the hole as it closed. Dan was confused, Carrot was far too happy, and both of them were soaked.
Dan turned towards Carrot and frowned, "This is another fine mess you've gotten me into! Do you even speak Chinese?"
"This is anime my friend! Don't worry about it!" said the boy as he slapped his companion on his back.
"Huh?" replied the boy dumbly.
"Everyone is dubbed!" snorted the boy with a laugh, "Besides, I took care of it! I made a few negotiations while we were flying through that tunnel. She was quite happy to hear them for some reason, something about how it would be even more fun."
"So, now what? Japan?" asked Dan with a heavy sigh as he seemed to accept his fate.
Carrot shrugged, "Naw, I'm gonna hang around for a little while and test out my powers, maybe even learn a few new tricks so I don't have to fall back on my big one until an emergency."
"Why?" asked Dan as he seemed to think about it.
"I don't trust that goddess, and I've always wanted to learn the Chestnut Fist, and the breaking point," replied the boy with a shrug.
"So that's why you picked a non-Ranma character, you figured you could learn the other stuff on your own," gasped Dan as a comprehending look crossed his face. ⌠Um, isn't that going to hurt?■
Carrot seemed surprised. ⌠Um, you're the one who's all fit and stuff. What are you complaining for. Besides, we've got super martial arts bodies now! We'll live through the pain and it will make us stronger!■ He posed with his arm flexed and had tears of determination in his eyes. At least, that was what Dan thought he was going for.
They found two identical duffel bags with their names written on small tags on the drawstrings a short time later. "Hey, look! She packed us lunch! Keen!" said Carrot as he pointed out two bento boxes next to the bags.
Dan gave him a sour look and examined the contents of his bag, inside was legal papers, three dogi, a sleeping bag, and a small bag of toiletries. The pair set up camp and relaxed with the meal they had been provided. "Some unidentifiable raw fish, some rice, and some weird Japanese vegetables," Dan poked through the meal and picked at it; for some reason he wasn't all that hungry.
"Get used to it, we are going to Japan after all," snorted the other boy in reply. ⌠There's stuff we'll eat, but it's going to be pretty gross sometimes.■
"Well, the dogi do match our characters I guess," replied the boy as he tugged at his new clothing.
"Yeah, well I picked first you copycat," snorted Carrot as he looked up.
"Yeah, well you'll be Ken to my Ryu then!" snapped the boy in retort.
"Who said anything about Ken? I never liked him anyway!" retorted the other boy as he crossed his arms and turned his nose up.
"Dude, they're a pallet swap," replied Dan lazily.
"Only in the first two games!" defended Carrot. ⌠Their supers are totally different, and Ken has that flaming Dragon Punch, and...never mind. It's pointless arguing about it anyway.■ He realized Dan wasn't really listening to him anyway.
"So it'll be Ryu vs. Ryu, big deal," said the boy as he lay back and looked up at the sky. "I'm turning in Carrot."
"Good idea, we've got a lot of training to do tomorrow!" quipped his friend as he lay back as well. "Man this is cool!"
A few days later the two boys staggered through the woods searching for some form of civilization. Remarkably enough they managed to not find a single person on the most densely populated country on the planet.
"So, it's this way then?" said Carrot as he peered into an over sized road map.
"What the hell good is that going to do us? There aren't any roads!" snapped Dan. ⌠We don't even have a compass or anything. Dope.■
"I dunno, I just like holding it," replied the boy with a shrug.
A familiar sounding evil laugh echoed through the forest causing both boys to stop cold. They inspected their surroundings and didn't like what they saw, behind them a steep cliff vanished into the forest below, they where in a small clearing surrounded by trees.
"Well this is yet another fine mess you've gotten us into, I expect we'll run into Joketzuko or whatever the hell it's called next," snapped Dan as he smacked the other boy on the side of his head hard.
A large group of men emerged from the forest surrounding them, they where armed with clubs and various sharp objects. The largest of them was obviously the one who had laughed as he spoke up. "Well, look what we found, I'll bet they've got a little money on them too."
Dan frowned and got into a defensive stance with Carrot following suit after him. "Ooh look! Bandits!" quipped Carrot as he smiled at his friend. ⌠Cool!■
"Yeah, we're just takin in the culture you jerk," replied Dan as he frowned at his friend and gave a heavy sigh.
"Give up your things and I'll let you have a quick death!" announced the leader of the gang. He was an ugly bald man with a scar, and looked quite stereotypical of a cannon fodder villain. Right down to the outdated armor and sword.
Dan merely snorted and beckoned with his hand. "Come and get it."
The battle was short, both boys stood back to back as the gang charged forward. The evil men charged forward in a large tight group because of the limited space in the clearing. The two martial artist cupped their hands at their sides and smiled as the energy built up in their hands. In almost perfect unison the cry of "Hadoken!" echoed across the valley below as the bandit gang found itself enveloped in a wave of chi energy.
"That was rather anti-climactic," commented Carrot as he kicked one of the smoking gang members, it was obvious that they would not wake up for some time yet.
"Yeah, whatever, can we get out of here now?" snorted Dan lazily.
"Sure, maybe one of these guys has a map or something?" Carrot bent down over one of the defeated gang members and reached into the man's vest.
What happened next Dan wasn't expecting. The bandit's arm shot up in a blur and Carrot was thrown back with his eyes wide with shock. An arrow stuck from his chest piercing his heart. The boy staggered back and looked down as the man smiled at him with an evil grin holding a small crossbow in his hand. Without a single word he tumbled over the edge of the cliff while Dan looked on in complete shock.
"Carrot!" in an instant he was able to move, he rushed forward stopping at the edge as he looked down and saw only forest below him. "No! Damn you! This is all your fault!" He turned towards the offending bandit and glowed with power and anger. "You jerk! Now I'm stuck here all by myself!"
Cries of pain was all that could be heard for several minutes after.
In the trees above a figure watched, a dark smile crossed his lips as he saw Dan leave the bandit gang behind. "This shall make my task much easier." His eyes glowed a deep crimson as he chuckled to himself and vanished into the shadows again. ⌠Heh. Never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump. That dope.■
One month later...
"Man, I feel like Ryoga!" thought Dan as he stepped into Nerima, it had been a long walk from the airport and he'd had to stop for directions several times; but now, at last, he was here. "I never thought it was this big before," he mused as he walked into an open park with a light smile on his lips. He was still dressed in the dogi and had a long headband that floated behind him in the breeze. He could see Furinkan high school nearby and turned towards it out of curiosity, classes had long since ended for the day and the sun was about to set behind him.
"Hey!" Dan turned and saw a large group of boys dressed in porcelain masks. They fanned out as soon as he noticed and surrounded him.
"Hey, punk! Give us you're lunch money!" cried the one who stepped forward, he was wearing a wolf mask.
"School is out, if I had lunch money I would have already spent it. You should try this in the morning," said Dan as he got an irate looking frown on his face and narrowed his eyes at the group. He clenched his fist and flexed his arm. It was enough to startle the boys for a moment, but they recovered and seemed to get angry.
"You'll pay for that, no one makes me look stupid!" The leader pointed his finger and hefted a wooden sword over his shoulder.
"You're right, you're doing such a good job on your own," quipped Dan as he set his bag down next to him and tried to hide the smile on his face. He hadn't changed in appearance much, he was still a slender looking boy in only moderate shape on the outside. Not very threatening to the group at all. Glancing around at the group Dan noticed a young boy about his own age cowering behind a tree.
"Gosunkugi, probably glad they've found someone else for once," he noted as he recognized that he had a pair of candles tied to his head as he peeked around the tree.
"Don't just stand there punk! Pay up!" growled the masked boy in front.
Dan smiled to himself as he took up a karate stance. "Come and get it."
Gosunkugi hid his eyes in terror and waited for the screams to stop and the bullies to leave. He peeked from behind his fingers and noticed that nothing had happened yet.
"Looks like another Saotome wannabe!" laughed the fattest one. He was behind Dan and easily two hundred pounds at under five and a half feet tall.
"Tell me something lard ass, do you really think that mask will hide your identity? I mean, look at yourself, what kind of idiot wouldn't recognize a pig like you?" said Dan as he grew more and more impatient.
"What?! I'll kill you!" screamed the boy as he charged, the other four gang members followed him.
Dan moved exactly six times, he kept his breath calm and even. It felt so natural and so alien to him to be able to move that way. He stood over the boys looking at his handy work with a satisfied smile. All five of the boys were lying broken on the ground around them with the masks shattered. "Saotome's got nothin on me."
Hikaru Gosunkugi's jaw dropped as he stared at the scene in shock. The new boy had just beaten the crap out of those bullies in less than ten seconds.
"You coming or not?" asked the boy as he walked by where he was hiding.
"Y-yeahhh," replied Hikaru in a shuddering and nervous tone. He was shielding himself with his arms and looked afraid of being hit.
"Where is the Tendo Dojo?" asked the new boy as he pulled his arms down and looked him in the eyes.
Dan stood in front of the gates to the Tendo dojo and smiled. Somehow he had expected it to be bigger. "Man, this is weird," he commented as he glanced around the neighborhood. He froze in place as he noticed a strange sign on the window in the building next door. "For Sale." Dan grunted as his bag became heavier all of a sudden and jerked in surprise. He set it down on the ground and frowned when he opened it revealing a large number of high mark yen bills. "This is too weird." He shuffled through it, finding the paperwork to provide him with an identity, and citizenship in Japan as well.
The man who lived in the home bragged about the neighborhood and told him how nice and quiet it was. That is, until Dan asked about the neighbors.
The man's smile became faked and he forced his laugh. "Everyone in the area is very friendly..." he skill fully avoided mentioning the Tendos or their house guests.
Dan smiled and shrugged his shoulders, "I'll take it," he said while dumping the contents of his bag on the ground. The old man about had a heart attack at the sight of all the money in front of him. He was crying tears of pure joy the whole time the papers where being signed.
A few days later Dan woke up at six. "Time to train," he thought grumpily as he staggered out of bed and changed into his dogi. Within minutes he was outside and starting his morning jog, which led him straight into Akane Tendo.
The girl sprawled out across the pavement as Dan staggered back in surprise blinking a few times before he got his bearings again.
"Sorry," muttered the girl as she stood up and dusted herself off.
"Boy, the guy said the neighborhood had some cute girls in it. I'm kind of surprised he wasn't lying. He didn't seem very honest," commented the boy as he looked her up and down.
"I beg your pardon?" snapped the girl in angry shock. She pushed her sleeve up her arm and glared at him. ⌠Look, who the heck are you? What are you doing here anyway?■ She looked about ready to hit him.
"Think fast genius!" screamed his brain as he sought an escape from the situation. "Uh, the guy who lived here before told me the neighborhood was quiet and everyone was nice. I've been here a few nights, and I'm afraid you guys make quite a bit of noise. I've seen at least six fights in the past few days, and you don't seem to like that guy you're living with much. I know you're engaged though. You're Akane Tendo. Right?" he bowed and seemed pleased to meet her. ⌠Given all the shouting, it was kind of hard to miss.■
"Excuse me," muttered the girl as she brushed by him.
Dan about panicked as he chased after her. "No wait! I'm sorry, I really didn't mean anything by it! I'm still trying to get used to all these Japanese customs! I'm Dan, your new neighbor."
"Right, did that old man happen to tell you about anyone else in the neighborhood?" snorted the girl in disbelief as she picked up her pace to lose him.
The annoying boy kept up without even noticing the effort. Akane narrowed her eyes as she realized it. "Actually yes, I asked a lot of questions before I pay that much money for a house!"
Akane blinked at him and stopped. "You're serious? You asked about the neighborhood and still moved in?"
This caught Dan off guard and he crossed his arms in front of his chest. "This is not a good sign."
Akane shrugged and started to jog again. "Sure whatever, I'm sure my father will want to meet you." The feeling of ice she had been giving him lessened some, but didn't vanish. She looked him up and down and frowned. He didn't look like much.
"I was planning to stop by and say hello this afternoon," he replied as he started to jog in the other direction. ⌠Nice to meet you, I guess.■
That caught Akane off guard, she had been expecting him to at least follow her. After all he was a boy and seemed to be an idiot. She quickly dismissed the matter and continued her morning warm up.
After a few hours he realized that he didn't know the first thing about martial arts training. After his morning warm up he had done a few things for the home that day before trying to practice. It was getting late and he realized that most of the Tendo family would be home now. "Lucky I live next to a dojo, this gets more interesting by the minute. To bad Carrot is missing out"
Dan knocked on the door and was greeted by a pleasant girl who was a little older than himself. "Hello, can I help you?"
"You must be Kasumi," he said with a pleasant smile getting a confused look from the girl. "I am Dan, your new neighbor."
"Oh, hello. Come inside, I'm sure father will want to meet you," said the girl as she gave him a small bow and brightened up a little more.
"Thank you," he replied as he stepped into the home and took his shoes off. A short time later Dan sat with the Tendo family making pleasant conversation while Kasumi served tea. Soun had introduced everyone to him and gave him a polite welcome to the neighborhood. Ranma was sitting nearby, but Genma was absent.
"I understand you've already met my Akane," said Soun giving the boy a sidelong glance. Ranma remained silent and gave the boy a dark look, Dan ignored it and continued the conversation.
"Ah, yes. I literally ran into her this morning," he replied giving the girl an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry if I seemed a bit rude, but I'm still learning about your country and I wanted to make a good impression."
"Where are you from?" asked Nabiki as she leaned across the table and smiled at him. He wasn't bad looking, and she'd heard he'd paid for his home in cash. It was enough to catch her interest.
"America originally, I just got out of training in China," he replied with his cheer fading just a bit.
Ranma frowned again and looked over at him in a curious and suspicious way.
Soun raised his eyebrow and smiled at the boy. "You practice the arts?"
"Yes, I use a form of Shotokan Karate," replied Dan as he smiled at him in a warm manner and nodded. ⌠A form used by a legendary master known as Shen Long.■
"Shotokan? I know a little of that," said Ranma with a sudden interest in his face.
"Not the way I do it, as far as I know only two people practice it, and one of us is dead," replied the boy with a momentary tense look on his face. He cheered up a little in an instant as he thought about it. ⌠That jerk Carrot, he's gonna be so steamed when I get back. He missed out on it all.■
"Interesting," replied Soun.
"Actually, I wanted to talk with you about that. I'm interested in training at your dojo if you'll have me," he looked over at the man and received a smile.
"I don't see any reason why not," replied Soun.
A week passes...
"But, these are basic Shotokan forms!" cried Soun with a frustrated and suspicious frown.
"Never seen em before," replied Dan. He was sitting cross legged on the dojo floor and twisted his little finger in his ear. "Master wasn't much on forms, in fact I don't recall ever learning one from him." Once again, it wasn't a complete lie.
From the doorway Ranma smirked. "He don't do no Shotokan."
"Hey, you callin me a liar?" retorted the boy angrily.
"You've been coming here more than a week and you can't do nothin! Sure you got flexibility, and balance, pretty strong too. What are you really? A gymnast?"
"You wanna find out how good I am?" retorted the boy as he got an irate look about him. He balled up his fist and punched the dojo floor on either side of him as he bowed up without standing.
Dan took up a stance and Ranma laughed as the boy hopped in place. "What the heck do you call that? You're wide open!"
"So hit me," replied the boy as he frowned and narrowed his eyes. He motioned for the pigtailed boy to attack with his fingers.
"I ain't fightin you!" retorted Ranma sharply. "Mr. Tendo wouldn't like it if I hurt you."
"Scared you'll lose?" prodded Dan, he was trying to find the right button to push and get Ranma onto the floor without seriously pissing him off. It worked quite well.
"I ain't scared of nothin!" the boy rushed forward and stopped opposite Dan in a relaxed stance.
"Ranma! Don't! You'll hurt him!" cried Akane in alarm.
Soun placed a restraining hand on her shoulder. "Akane, let them be, perhaps this is what the young boy needs."
"I warn you! Hold back and you'll lose Saotome!" said Dan with a sudden calm about him.
"All right, if it's a fight you want, you got it!" replied Ranma as he took up a kenpo stance and tensed up before relaxing. The angry boy charged his opponent and reared back his fist to punch.
Meanwhile in China...
Lime and Mint lay across the ground out cold as the dark figure smiled at its handiwork. They were standing in a cave with a throne carved out of stone at it's back. Torches lined the walls, and a worn and ragged carpet was spread out across the ground. "Lord of the Musk, I challenged you, not these weak beings."
Herb stood from his place on his throne and gasped in anger. "You'll pay for that!"
"I sincerely doubt that, no creature can stand against my power," said the thing with a hard gaze crossing its face as its eyes burned with what looked like a bright red flame. The Musk prince had yet to get a good look at the creature standing before him, the battle it had with Lime and Mint had taken place within the shadows of the cavern surrounding them. He gritted his teeth as it stood out in front of him in the light. A long shock of red hair floated above it's head moving like a flame as it glowed with a light sucking black aura and stared him down.
"Who are you?" asked Herb as he stood allowing his own power to burn.
The thing gave him what appeared to be a smile. "Power...made flesh."
"Come on Ranma! You think I'm a fool and a liar! Prove me wrong!" roared the boy in anger as he faced off against the young Saotome.
Ranma chuckled, "You already did that." His first punch had connected, but the boy had only staggered back a little. His opponent wiped his face and grinned at him as the Saotome boy backed off and hung back again. He was thinking a single hit would be enough, and was surprised the boy hadn't fallen over a little. There was a bit of a red mark on his cheek, but he didn't seem to notice it.
"Come on!" snapped the boy as he lowered his hands to his waist and took up a strange open stance.
"After you!" replied the boy still aware that Akane and Soun were watching. No matter what his feelings were at the moment he couldn't bring himself to attack the student in the dojo. He was the only one who was paying for lessons. Himself and Akane were the only others. His anger was eating away at his control as the boy boasted about skills he'd yet to show. A quick take down should humble him, there was no need to hurt the boy. What happened next took him completely by surprise.
"Fine! Eat this! Hadoken!" a blue ball of energy slammed into Ranma's chest sending him sprawling across the floor with a look of complete shock as he struggled to rise as fast as he could. The other boy was on him forcing him back as soon as he regained his feet. The pigtailed boy was forced to lean back as a super fast series of punches and kicks kept him from getting his balance back and retaliating.
"Whatever that was, it's strong! Almost as strong as a Shi shi houkou dan!" thought Ranma as he dodged around fast and powerful looking blows and attempted to get his bearings. "Enough of this! Katsutenshin amaguriken!" Dan was forced back by the wave of lightening fast punches; he staggered back just out of range and waited for his opening. He saw it as Ranma lowered the attack to move in closer to him.
The pigtailed martial artist was about to jump forward when Dan jumped straight up into a short hop. He spun around once and stuck out his leg. "Tatsumaki senpu kayaku!" Ranma found himself sprawling across the mat again as four devastating blows slammed into his face as his opponent performed five successive spinning kicks without landing on the ground once.
"Damn!" muttered the pigtailed boy as he rolled away as his opponent pressed the attack again. They exchanged blows a few times and Ranma stopped attacking to focus on dodging. He was becoming frustrated, it seemed almost as if Dan was cutting across the floor out of the spiral. The Saotome boy stopped and punched at him in an attempt to get him to follow after him again.
"Ranma, I don't think Mr. Tendo would appreciate you using that move in the dojo," quipped the boy as he punched him back. ⌠What the hell are you thinking? You're not that bad off already are you?■
"Enough!" called Mr. Tendo ending the match. It was easy to see that Ranma was not happy.
"Still think I'm a liar?" asked Dan as he smirked and tugged at his hand guards.
"No..." admitted Ranma as he hung his head.
"Good, those were not even close to my strongest techniques," replied the boy causing all present to stare at him in shock.
"Why did you come to my dojo?" asked Soun with a hard gaze.
"I don't know how to train without a partner," said Dan honestly. "I learned by doing."
"With who?" asked Akane in shock.
"The man who died in China," replied the boy simply. No one pressed the matter any further as a sort of quiet understanding came over them.
"You think you're good? I'm not even warmed up yet!" snarled Ranma as he shook his fist at his new rival.
"That must be a cold sweat then," countered Dan as he turned back towards Soun.
Ranma froze with his eyes widening in shock. The boy was dry, only a few drops of sweat could be seen forming on his forehead.
At the Cat CafИ Cologne stopped everything she was doing as a look of terror crossed her face. The letter in her hands fell to the ground as she stood staring into the wall shaking in grief and anger.
"Great Grandmother?" said Shampoo as she leaned forward and waved her hand in front of the woman's face.
"How can this be?" was all the matriarch could say.
Mousse walked over and picked up the note she had been reading and inspected it while adjusting his glasses. His reaction was not unlike Colognes, but he managed to stay somewhat calm. "Get your things Shampoo, we have to go back to the village right away!"
"No, that won't be necessary," replied Cologne with a frown. She took the note away and flipped it over. Scrawled on the back in broken and warped Kanji reserved for monsters in manga stories was a message.
"Nerima is next."
"Come we must prepare, Mousse hang up the sign. We are closed," said the old woman with a hint of anger in her voice. "Whoever did this to our home will have a nasty surprise waiting for them when they reach Japan."
Akane Tendo shifted through her underwear drawer and frowned as she found nothing but rolled up balls of socks. "Again?! I hate him!" she muttered in frustration. She shivered as the room seemed cold to her somehow. As if it had dropped several degrees in an instant. A familiar uncomfortable feeling tingled at the base of her spine causing goose bumps to rise on her skin as she glanced around in a worried confusion. "There's something in my room."
Unknown to her, two red glowing eyes watched from the shadows of her closet through a small crack in the door. She spun around just in time to miss them as they faded into oblivion. ⌠There!■ Her eyes searched the area and found nothing but what should be.
"Nothing," she muttered under her breath as she continued to scan the room. "I know someone was watching me." She placed a shirt on and zipped up her skirt before moving over to the window. It was open and a slight breeze wafted through the room cooling the space out on the warm spring day. Her eyes fell onto the neighbor's yard where Dan was napping in a lawn chair with a melted glass of iced tea in his hand and a pair of shades over his eyes. It was obvious he was sound asleep. His mouth was open, he was drooling a bit, and he was sprawled out across the chair. "You animal!"
Dan awoke with a sharp pain on his head as he jumped up and looked on the ground to see a shoe lying next to him, he quickly dove behind the chair as a volley of objects hurled towards him. After a large dumbbell clanked to the ground next to him he dared to peer around the seat. A long shadow formed behind him and he slowly turned to see Soun standing over him with a scowl on his face. ⌠What the hell? Now what?■
"So, peeping on my little Akane eh?" Soun was standing on the wall with his arms crossed and cold glare in his eyes. He seemed to have an aura of power burning around him.
"What?! No!" retorted the boy in shock as he tried to understand what was happening to him.
"Then what are you doing?!" screamed the girl as she charged over the wall with a bamboo training sword in her hands.
"Takin a nap! I've been here all day!" cried the boy as he stood up and jabbed his finger at her. ⌠You crazy chick! Where do you get off accusing me of crap like this anyway?■
The most unexpected person came to his aid. "He's not lyin, I've seen him," said Ranma as he joined them. ⌠He's been passed out there for at least an hour now.■
"B-but, I felt eyes on my body! He's the only one who could have!" retorted the girl as she realized she might have made a mistake. She flushed and looked about the neighborhood.
Genma poked his head over the wall, he had been attracted by the commotion. "The master isn't back yet, it's too early for him to be home from his rounds."
"But..." Akane was rapidly loosing steam, her anger faded as she noticed a few scattered magazines and a pitcher of ice tea sitting on a small table beside the chair.
"Maybe someone did peep Akane, but it wasn't him," said Ranma with an annoyed looking frown. ⌠What the heck is your problem anyway? He can't see nuthin from all the way down there.■
"Are you admitting to it?" snapped the girl as she turned on him with a renewed anger.
"What? No! Why would I want too peep on a stupid..." he was silenced by the young girl's rage as she punted him back over the wall. He landed next to Dan and the boy gave him a sympathetic frown.
⌠Jeez. You gotta marry that crazy chick? Sorry man.■
Ranma was dazed. ⌠Uncute.■
⌠Yeah. No kidding.■ Dan wasn't coming out from behind his chair until she was gone.
"That's the spirit son!" called Soun with a vain hope that he had been peeping.
A few moments later in a grimy looking alleyway Happosai collected his wares from a clothes hanger that was draped out of a window on one of the adjacent buildings. "Poor dearies, hanging you in such an unpleasant place! I've got the perfect place for you at home."
He almost didn't notice the shadow move below him, a figure cloaked in a long dirty brown shroud waited patiently for him to jump down. Happosai turned and smirked as he gave an evil chuckle. "Whaddaya want? Come out where I can see you! I knew you were there! Think you can sneak up on me do ya?"
"Happosai, I challenge you," said the voice from beneath the shroud. It was not a pleasant sound though, despite the delicate tones of a woman's speech it was rough and almost seethed with anger.
"Sorry girly, I got places to be!" snapped the old man as he started to bound away. He had no doubts this woman wished to reclaim his property from him. It was obvious this awful woman mistreated her panties and he would never allow them to return to her.
The figure did not move or speak, it held up a frilly white pair of underwear and remained motionless. Happosai turned and stopped his retreat. The mysterious being spoke again. ⌠Are you sure?■ She chuckled at the old troll as it looked back and fourth between escape and what was in her hand. "A pity, if you had won, I would have given you these."
"Well, why didn't you say so before?! Are they yours?" quipped the old man as he dashed forward and attempted to take them from her. He missed as the woman sidestepped both his grab and his attempt to grope her. He stopped and stared at her, a sudden doubt forming in his mind as he noticed the locks of dark red hair falling from inside the hood of the dirty cloak.
The woman's eyes began to glow red as a small smile could be seen through the shadows of her shroud. "No, these belong to Akane Tendo."
"Akane you say?" snapped the old man in disbelief, he could not believe his luck.
"Her favorite pair," replied the woman. No emotion was in her voice and her smile had long since vanished. All that was left was a cold, cruel snarl.
"Sweeto!" cried the old master as he jumped forward.
Outside the alleyway a the distinct sounds of battle emanated, passers by walked around the area just outside the alley ignoring the fight as if nothing was happening. After a few moments, a single flash of light could be seen for the space of a second, and only silence and a single dog bark in the distance could be heard.
Kimiko Noruko opened her window and inspected the empty clothesline in frustration. "Damn! Again?" she muttered angrily as she leaned out and looked around with a frustrated glare in the hopes of finding someone who might have seen. "When I find the pervert who's doing this..." What she saw on the ground she didn't expect, a single white spot on the almost black surface of the ground in the alley.
A few moments later she was on her knees looking at the pair of panties that was halfway submerged in a puddle. Written on the inside of the undergarments was a name. "Akane Tendo."
She sighed and turned away from them. It seemed she wasn't the only victim of this pervert and it comforted her, she almost suspected someone was stalking her it happened so much.
Behind her back two red eyes glowed as they watched her leave. "Only a few more to go."
Kimiko glanced back and left the alley as she felt a strange discomfort around her.
Several hours later...
Ryoga Hibiki looked out across the field. "Where am I?" The sky had grown dark and lightening streaked across the sky. "Great, it's gonna rain, I'd better find shelter soon."
"Not for a few more hours," said an unpleasant.
Ryoga felt a chill run down his spine as he slowly turned to face the imposing figure standing over him on a boulder. His skin was darkly tanned and he was dressed in a purple dogi with a black belt tied across his waist. His aura glowed with a dark power as his eyes burned red.
"Who are you?" asked the boy looking unimpressed with the man.
"I am power made flesh, feel how weak you truly are," replied the thing without moving.
"What? I may be a lot of things, but weak isn't one of them!" retorted the lost boy as he took up a fighting stance.
"We shall see," replied what the boy thought was a man.
The wind blew hard across the field as Ryoga struck out at the rock the man was standing on. "Bakusai Tenketsu!"
Akuma leapt into battle once again.
"Where's Ranma? He said he was coming with you," asked Dan as he sat down at a small ice cream shop near the Tendo Dojo.
Ranma waltzed into the store with a smirk on her face as she sat down with Akane. "Hey Akane, who's your friend?"
The other girl rolled her eyes and sighed. "Dan, this is Ranko. My cous-"
"Hey Ranma, you're late," replied the boy looking her dead in the face.
The pair both gave him shocked looks. "How did..."
"I thought it was common knowledge around here," replied the boy. "Besides, unlike some people, I'm secure enough in my manhood that I don't need a sex change to eat ice cream." He picked up a small glass of water from a nearby table and dumped it over his head revealing his own curse. She was a brown haired girl with short cut hair and deep green eyes.
"You've..." started Ranma as she looked at the girl in front of her in shock.
"Been to Jusenkyo? Sure, I don't mind though, it's useful more times than it hinders me," answered Dan with a shrug.
Ranma turned red and Akane found the situation a bit funny for some reason. At least until Ryoga staggered into the restaurant.
He was beaten to a pulp from the look of it. Bruises covered his face, his clothing was ripped and torn, and his arm hung at his side broken in at least three places. "H-hello Akane." It was all he could manage before he passed out on the spot.
He awoke a few moments later in the arms of a strange girl with green eyes. "Who?"
"He's awake, give him some room!" cried the girl as she waved the small crowd back. "Couldn't find a doctor could you?"
"Who are you?" he repeated as he looked around in a daze. "Where am I?"
"Is he all right?" asked Akane as she knelt down next to Dan.
"No, his arm is broken, pretty badly too from the look of it," replied the girl as she poked at it with a gentle touch. ⌠Someone beat the shit out of him from the look of it.■
"Oh man, Ryoga. What happened?" whispered Ranma as she noticed the condition of her rival.
The lost boy gave a small laugh as he passed out again.
Ryoga awoke in Dr. Tofu's clinic a short time later. He was almost covered in bandages and his arm was in a heavy cast. "Who brought me here?" he wondered out loud as he recognized his surroundings.
"I did," replied a female voice causing Ryoga to turn his head in shock.
Dan sat next to him with a board expression on her face.
"Thanks," replied the boy as he turned away in embarrassment. ⌠Who is this girl? She's kind of...■
Dan remembered something suddenly and turned to look at Tofu, who was sitting nearby with an elderly patient. "Hey, can I get some hot water? I kinda forgot I was a girl."
Tofu looked at him with an expressionless stare and shrugged. "Sure."
Ryoga stared at him in disbelief after he changed himself back. "What, you didn't think your little group was the only Jusenkyo cursed people on the planet did you?"
"Where's Akane? Wasn't she there?" asked the boy as he dismissed the matter.
"She went home, I had to stay until you woke up or she wouldn't leave," replied Dan. He looked at Ryoga's questioning glare and continued. "I'm the Tendo's next door neighbor."
Hibiki merely nodded and frowned as he turned towards Dr. Tofu as he approached them. "Ryoga, this is the most brutal thing I've ever seen! Who did this to you?"
The lost boy seemed to tense up suddenly as he hung his head. "I-I met a demon."
Dan frowned and backed away to let Tofu have a look at him. He didn't speak, but mulled over that for a moment. ⌠Demon? Taro maybe? Looks like a bit much for that though.■
The next day...
Ukyo Konji stood in the courtyard of Furinkan high in a deserted corner waiting for Ranma to arrive. She liked this little place in her morning, before the insanity began where she could just sit in peace and quiet for a while. Her musings were interrupted as a cloaked figure appeared before her standing in silence and glaring down at her. It had a bad look in it's eyes as it loomed over her. The nasty weather that had been prominent over the past few days only served to strengthen the effect as lightening rumbled in the distance, it would not rain for a while yet, but the clouds where overcast and darkened the sky already.
She stood up and held her battle spatula ready, "Who are you? What do you want?"
"A challenge," replied the figure as it removed the cloak revealing a dark tanned red haired man. He put his fists up and snarled at her.
Ukyo stepped back in shock and turned to run away, she had no desire to fight with this weird stranger. He appeared in front of her out of nowhere and she stopped cold stepping away in shock.
"Hibiki escaped me, you will not be so fortunate," replied the man as he glared at her.
"Who are you? What do you want with me?" she growled as she put the spatula between them and took up a defensive stance.
"I am power made flesh, and it is not you I want," replied the man as he stepped forward and put up his fists.
"Stop right there you delinquents!" cried a familiar voice as Miss Hinako jumped between them in all her childish glory.
Akuma looked down at her with his expression unmoving as his aura burned around him. Konji found herself sighing in relief despite herself. From the looks of him it would not have been an easy battle.
The little girl smiled as she saw the power of the man in front of her, she would remain in her adult body for quite some time, without waiting for an explanation or reason she raised her coin up at him. "Happo fifty yen satsu!" Long tendrils of dark energy flowed into the ring of the coin as the man stood there unmoving, unaffected by the attack.
Ukyo smiled as she waited for Hinako to work her magic, it was short lived as the teacher burst into black flames screaming in pain. The young girl fell to the ground inside the black flames clawing at her fingers in an attempt to dislodge the coin from her grip. The sound she made was inhuman as she writhed on the ground and continued to scream louder and louder.
"None may take the power of Akuma," replied the man as he focused his attention on Ukyo again.
"Akuma?" her eyes went wide as she realized what she was facing. "A demon? I've dealt with worse!"
"Not likely," replied the man as he raised his leg up and put his fists forward; he glided across the grass towards her before vanishing. She felt a massive pair of cold hands on her back and suddenly Ukyo realized that the fight was already over.
Hinako could see and hear, but not much else as her body drained itself of the dark energy she had consumed. She could tell it would be a slow and painful process. She saw the thing vanish and reappear behind Ukyo, her screams died in her mouth long before she could ever hope to warn her. There was a bright flash of light that blocked the pair from view, when it subsided the man was standing with Ukyo over his shoulder. He turned towards her and spoke.
"Tell them I'm coming for them."
Hinako understood what he meant, tears ran down her face as she watched helpless on the ground as he vanished taking the girl with him. Her large battle spatula and bandoleer lay on the ground where they had once stood.
"You jumped off a cliff to get away?!" cried Ranma in disbelief.
Ryoga sat at the table in the Cat Cafe glaring at the boy in a sort of disgusted rage. The Amazons sat opposite him with Dan sitting next to Ryoga with Akane sitting on the other side; Ranma paced back and fourth around them with a scowl on his face. The other Tendos, Genma, and Mousse sat at a nearby table listening in.
"You'll see when you meet him. He moves like nothing I've ever seen before! You don't stand a chance against him Ranma," spat the lost boy in retort.
"We'll see about that pig!" retorted the pigtailed boy bitterly.
"You just don't understand," replied the lost boy as he turned away with a solemn look on his face.
"Why am I here anyway? It's not after me!" snarled Ranma.
"You think not?" snapped Cologne.
Ranma froze and then turned towards her. "I'll get him for what he did to Ukyo, I swear it."
"Boy, you do not understand what is happening here, that thing attacked our village in the night. Many died, including Lin Lin and Ran Ran, as well as Shampoo's father." The elder eyed him with a look Dan had never seen her direct towards the boy before. "Not only that, but many others have gone missing mysteriously as well. China is in an uproar right now, Herb is gone, as well as his two wards."
"What does that have to do with me?" snapped the pigtailed martial artist.
"The list goes on Ranma, not only Ukyo, but Gambling king, Konatsu, Happosai, Kirin and all seven Lucky Gods Martial artist, Taro, Shinnosuke, Kima, even Saffron has been reported missing; although I doubt he's dead," said Dan as he read some of the names on the list out loud.
Akane froze and looked at him. "Shinnosuke? What happened to him?"
"I'm sorry Akane," replied the Dan in a gentle tone. His features softened a little.
"Yes, all these and many others defeated and vanished," said Cologne as she looked at the shocked Ranma. "Do you still believe this has nothing to do with you?"
"All your old enemies," said Dan with a nod.
"Yes, it is safe to assume that he is the ultimate target in this little game," replied the old woman as she gave the newest addition to the group a nod.
"I saw this today, it was on a wall. I didn't think much of it until I heard about this," said Akane as she held out a missing poster with Mikado Sanzenin and Azusa Shiratori's photo on it. The girl was an emotional wreck at the moment, but she still remained pretty calm.
"Ranma, I am sorry Shampoo ever brought you into our lives," snapped the old woman in frustration as she glared at him. "Had I know you angered a demon this powerful I would never have allowed Shampoo to chase you."
"What?" said the boy in shock.
"Yes, well it won't do you any good to take it out on him now. You say this beast calls itself Akuma?" said Dan interrupting the pairs bickering.
"According to the teacher yes," replied Cologne; she seemed relieved to be off the subject.
Ryoga shrugged. ⌠It said it's name was 'Power made flesh' or something to me.■
"No, it can't be, Carrot you bastard! What have you brought here?" he whispered as his eyes grew wide and angry.
"You know something," said Cologne as her eyes narrowed.
Dan frowned, it would take a little creativity, but he could give them an idea of what they where facing. "Yes, I've heard stories of a being called Akuma. He lives only for battle, destroying anything in his path. His power stems from the same style of Karate that I use. A sealed move that has long since been destroyed can summon the power of a demon into a man's body. It's called the 'Raging Demon', a long time ago a foolish man unsealed the power and became Akuma, he murdered his own brother to prove his power and has since traveled the world in search of an opponent strong enough to oppose him."
"How old is this legend?" asked the old woman as everyone else in the room stared at him in shock.
"I don't know, I thought it was just a story, I learned about it when I was training." It was a white lie, but he didn't want to go into the whole story about how he was brought here. Not to mention that he'd gotten it from a video game.
"This becomes more serious than I had once thought," replied the old woman as she gave Ranma a sidelong glance. "Perhaps he comes for a worthy opponent in Ranma?"
"Why fight everyone else then?" asked Dan in confusion. ⌠Some of these people on the list I could see as being a bit of a challenge. Most of them are too weak to interest the Akuma in the story my Master told me about. Something seems off about it all.■
"I don't know," it was all Cologne could say.
The next morning Ranma sat in his desk at school, it had been decided that nothing should change for the time being. They had no leads, and nothing to go on. All they could do was wait for this demon to make the next move. Dan wasn't a student, but was sitting in on the classes to keep an eye out and wait for Akuma.
The pigtailed boy looked up and frowned as Kuno charged into the room towards him with his bokuten held over his head.
"Ranma Saotome! What have you done with my sister?" roared the boy as he hacked at the pigtailed boy. Dan helped him kick the irritating swordsman in the face.
Dan sat back down in a seat nearby and stood from his chair staring the kendoist down. "The demon took her Kuno."
"Demon? Such lies! Surely you don't expect one such as I to be fooled by such a fantastical story!" replied the boy as he diverted his attention away from Ranma.
"I don't care if you believe me or not," replied Dan calmly as he sat back down again.
"Ranma Saotome, is this true? Speak the truth or I shall be forced to..."
"Yeah," Ranma looked the boy dead in the eyes as he said this.
"Liar! I know you have used your dark sorcery to..." Kuno was cut off as the lights in the room cut off suddenly. He turned his head and saw a cloaked figure standing in the hallway with two red glowing eyes. In his hand, was a familiar gymnastics ribbon. ⌠What? Monster!■
"Ranma!" cried Dan as he stood up and rushed towards the door. Kuno beat him into the hall by a hair and the classroom door slammed shut. Ranma was at Dan's side as he struggled to pull the door open. "It won't budge!"
"Fine we'll just go through it!" screamed Ranma in anger as he slammed his fist into the wall only to hear the crunch of his fist hitting the now impenetrable plaster. Loud crashes and screams could be heard from the hallway as the two boys worked desperately against the door that sealed them in the room. The other students watched the scene in a mixture of shocked horror and amusement.
"What is this, some kind of joke Ranma?" asked one of the boys as he walked up to the pair. The pigtailed boy gave him a single look and he backed off. "What the hell?"
Suddenly an explosion could be heard in the hallway causing all present in the room to scream in terror as Ranma and Dan flew back as the door finally gave way.
The hallway was completely destroyed, lockers where mangled and crushed, and tiles lay in pieces across the floor; the ceiling was in even worse shape. Lying neatly on the ground in the only undisturbed place in the whole hallway for yards was a wooden bokuten. "Oh, man," said Dan with a sigh as he lifted the practice blade in his hands and looked it over. It was cracked, and charred.
"That bastard! How dare he..." Ranma fumed as he demolished one of the few remaining lockers in the hallway.
"He had to be playing with Kuno to do all this, he could have taken him out easily. Still, this could work for us, he's getting bold, and careless now," said Dan with a hard determined look on his face.
A few moments later Kuno woke up, he was standing on a stone floor in the middle of a darkened cave. Unfortunately, he was also chained to the floor. Sitting on a throne above him Akuma rested watching him in silence.
"Vile knave! What is it you want with me? Surely I shall slay such a demon as yourself," he cried with fear showing in his features despite his attempt to hide it.
"I want nothing from you," replied the thing without moving.
"Simple, for the truth," replied Akuma with a small chuckle. He had yet to rise from his chair.
"The young Dan's story does not sound familiar to me, it could be true with these events, but I've never heard of such a beast," said Cologne as the meeting at the Tendo home continued.
Dan gave a small shrug. ⌠I'm not sure anyone who hasn't learned my particular style knows the story to be honest. He's not known for being merciful and leaving survivors. Though, he might let you live if he thinks you'll get stronger.■
"I believe it, that thing couldn't be anything but a demon," snapped Ryoga.
"You're just mad because you lost pig boy, So his eyes glow, big deal," replied Ranma with a cocky snort as he crossed his arms and looked away.
"Shut up Ranma, you haven't fought with it!" snapped the boy in retort.
"What's the big deal, he kidnapped Saffron, so what. What's he now, six months old? I took the guy out when he was fully-grown! I can handle this," snapped the pigtailed boy as he faced down his rival.
"He is correct, we must assume that this being is as powerful as he says, Happosai would not have lost easily," said Cologne. "I'm afraid I agree with the young Hibiki."
"Well, I think we should stick together, we'll have a much better chance of beating him as a group. I certainly don't want to face him down alone unless I have too," offered Dan as he looked out across the Tendo's yard. "No one goes anywhere alone."
"A good plan, we'll stay here," said Mousse as he clutched at his knees and growled. Shampoo blinked and looked at him in surprise.
"Agreed," said Cologne.
"What?" Soun turned around and looked at them in disbelief. Akane sat in the furo and sighed, "What a night." The water seemed to relax her muscles as she put her head back and thought about the events that had ripped their lives apart. It sent a shiver through her body despite the heat of the water. She snapped her head up and frowned, the door to the changing room dragged itself closed. She stood up in panic as her heart stopped cold when the lights flickered out leaving her in total darkness. "Ruh-Ruh-Ranma!"
"No one can hear you," replied a voice from the shadows. She didn't even have to turn to know that the burning eyes where there behind her.
"N-no." Akane opened her mouth to scream, but the sound just died in her throat as sheer terror overtook her.
Ryoga sat across from Cologne with a few cards in his hand. "Got any threes?"
"Go fish," replied the woman with a small sigh. The boy didn't have the brainpower for another game. The plan was a good one, but it had its downside. "Shampoo, go check on the Tendo girl."
"Aiya! Let pig boy go!" snapped the Amazon in irritation.
"Shampoo, all of us must work together. Besides he'd never come back if I sent him," replied the elder as she looked at her hand.
A moment later Shampoo's surprised scream sent the three boys running towards the bathroom. Cologne sighed and closed her eyes. "It is as I feared, she'd been up there entirely too long."
Soun walked back into the room with Genma a moment later with a haunted look on his face. "Has anyone seen Kasumi?"
Cologne whirled around in shock and stared at him. "Damn! How could I be so foolish!? The other Tendo daughter, Nabiki, had not been seen for some time yet either. She pogoed up into the middle daughter's bedroom and opened the door with the two men standing behind her. "Damn!"
Soun fell to his knees in shocked horror. "M-my little girls!" he began to wail sending a river of tears down his face as he pounded on the floor. "My babies! They're gone!"
"He's been here the whole night!" snapped Dan as he put his fist into the wall. Cologne jumped out the window of Nabiki's room with an angry look on her face and jumped onto the roof of the house. The men followed her into the bedroom. Dan was just outside the door to the room looking frustrated and confused. ⌠This doesn't make any sense though! Nabiki and Kasumi can't even fight! Why would he care about them? He's only supposed to care about strong fighters!■
"Where are you going?" cried Dan, the window slammed shut in his face. "No! The old woman!"
"Everyone outside! We can still get to her in time to help if we hurry!" cried Mousse as he rushed out the door and jumped over the rail into the living room. All the others save Soun and Genma followed right after.
They stood out in the yard as Cologne landed on the ground next to them. "What happened?" she asked as she frowned at them.
"The window closed on us, we thought he might be up there with you," said Dan as his voice tensed up.
"It was just a cat," snapped the old woman in frustration. "Where is Hibiki?"
Ryoga found himself standing in the bathroom, he had lost the group as they ran outside when he landed in the living room and found himself standing here again. "I was sure this door led outside." He frowned when he realized his voice was shaky. He raised his good hand up and stared at it with a growing anger as he watched it shake. He had never been terrified so much in his life, he swore disgusted at himself and turned around looking for a way out of the room so he might rejoin his comrades. "I do not fear death! I will face this like a man!" He turned towards the door he had entered from. It closed in his face putting him in complete darkness.
"Too little, too late Hibiki," said a cold dark voice from the shadows.
Ryoga smiled in spite of himself. "At least I'll die like a man."
"So be it," said the voice.
Not ten feet away Ranma slumped to the ground and hung his head as the stress began to tear down his mental defenses. Akane was gone, but he refused to believe she was dead until he saw her body. "I'll save you, I swear it!" He turned towards the others and threw his hands up in the air. "We've got to do something! I'm going to look for her!" he turned and started towards the doorway with a determined look on his face.
"Where!? We have to find out where he is first! Running around on your own won't help matters!" snapped Dan as he grabbed the boy by his arm and turned him around. ⌠You'll just be vulnerable on your own. This guy isn't human!■
"Neither will sitting here waiting to die!" retorted the boy as he punched him in the face.
"You are both right," agreed Cologne as she stepped between them. "We will organize a search for Akane Tendo tonight as well as the other Tendo sisters, but going off alone is not an option."
"I can take care of myself," snapped Ranma as he turned away from them. "Hey," Mousse stood up with an odd expression on his face. "Do you hear something?"
Dan tilted his head and gasped. "Ryoga!"
Ranma growled as he looked at the remains of the bathroom. Bandannas littered the walls and where impaled in almost everything. A single bamboo umbrella leaned against the wall undisturbed in the chaos. It was cracked and burned a little, just as Kuno's sword was.
Dan lifted it up and frowned when three little dolls hung from little nooses from the tip. One that looked like an old Chinese woman, one that resembled a duck, and a little cat doll. The Cologne doll had a number one printed on it, while the cat and duck had a two and a three.
"That smug bastard is naming his targets!" growled the Mousse in disgusted anger.
"It seems I shall be the one to face him next," said the old woman with a heavy sigh.
"Not if I have any say in the matter!" snapped Ranma as he rushed out of the room and out of the house into the night.
"Damn you! Come back moron! You're playing right into his hands idiot!" snapped Dan as he walked out of the bathroom and sat himself down at the table. "It wasn't supposed to be like this!"
"I no want die like this," muttered Shampoo as she sulked at the table with him.
Dan wanted to say something to comfort her, but he knew there was nothing he could do to stop this thing until it challenged him, and even that was uncertain.
Dan wandered through the streets of Nerima with the Chinese in tow, Ranma had been gone a week, and they all feared the worst had happened. The small band had remained holed up in the house for all of that time and was starting to relax. Eventually, they would have to return to their lives.
Soun and Genma remained in the home mourning for their families and growing weaker by the day. Cologne, Shampoo, and Mousse had begun to plan their return to China as well. The air around the survivors was quiet and somber.
The faint hope still burned for Ranma in some though; Shampoo kept a vigilant watch from the boy's old room gazing into the streets for long hours. Fortunately Cologne had been forcing her to eat, so she was still healthy in body if not mind. They still went out in to the streets in hope of finding some sort of clue to the demon who had single handedly destroyed Nerima's martial arts circles. After a while it became obvious that their little group was not the only one victimized by the demonic martial artist's wrath.
Dan gritted his teeth in anger as he slumped down on a bench with the Amazon's standing around him. "It is over, I have lost hope in the son in law," said the old woman with a very tired looking face as she sat beside him. Shampoo looked at her with a shocked and horrified glare before she ran off crying to herself. Mousse watched, but a hint of pain flashed across his features and he glowered at Cologne for a moment before letting the matter pass.
"So, this is it then?" asked Dan as he turned and smiled at them with a withering tired grin.
"I'm afraid so, we will return to China and attempt to cope with the loss of our family, and then move on. What of you young Dan?" she turned and looked him up and down, if the situation was not so bad he would have suspected her of sizing up a possible replacement for Ranma.
Dan looked away from her towards the sky and sighed with a somber expression. "I'm going to find him, and beat him."
"How do you plan to do this?" asked the woman with a sudden interest.
"I'll find a way, he won't disappear forever, when he resurfaces I'll find him and destroy him. I wouldn't let my guard down, he's targeted you."
"He already has his target, Ranma is gone. I imagine it was just a ploy to lure him out," said Cologne as she shook her head. "Even if you find him, how can you hope to defeat this being?"
"I know how," said the boy as he looked at his arm and clenched his fist. "I can beat him...it won't be easy though."
"What? And you did not tell us of this?" snapped the old ghoul in a sharp tone as she whirled around and attempted to strike him with her staff. He caught it and she narrowed her eyes at him.
"It wouldn't have mattered, I have to find a way to get him to confront me. It won't work unless I get him to challenge me. You can't trap him, it's not possible," replied the boy as he hung his head and looked away from her again.
"What do you mean?" snapped Cologne, "Trapping a man is easy."
"One of the techniques he gained with the demonic power was teleportation," replied Dan as he gave her another weak withering grin. ⌠I've got to find a way to challenge him. Unless I can get him to fight me, I can't do anything to stop him.■
"I see, come Mousse we will return to the Cat CafИ and begin our preparations," said Cologne as she hobbled off with the boy.
"What about Shampoo?" whined the boy.
"She will be fine, there is no danger," said the woman calmly.
"I'll keep an eye on her Mousse," replied Dan as he stood up and started walking in the direction she had run in.
Mousse growled at this, but allowed it. Dan had shown himself to be quite trustworthy, and he seemed to have a minimal interest in the girls in their little circle. Over the past week he had been very protective of Shampoo, he wouldn't even let her bathe alone. He sat in the room with her with his back turned and had been beaten senseless several times because of it. Yet he still remained vigilant. This was the first time he had allowed her out of his so-called sight. Shampoo had used several inanimate objects to fool him during the week when she needed a break from him.
OooOOooOO Shampoo was sitting on the edge of a fountain gazing into the waters with a haunted look in her eyes. "So, we finally separate? I miss Japan, when home."
Dan nodded and frowned; something she said clicked in his head. "So, we finally separate?"
He felt a cold chill down his spine as he realized her words. "No! He's not gone! Come on Shampoo we have to get back to the Dojo now!"
"What?" gasped the girl in confusion.
"Don't you see? This is the first time we've been apart!" snapped the boy as he pulled her hand and dragged her behind him as they rushed back.
A firm look crossed her features as she started to run beside him and kept up with no trouble. He released her hand and picked up the pace again.
Soun Tendo held a drink up to the shrine that now held photos of his entire family, his face was calm and dry. At one time it had been only his wife's photo in the small wooden shrine, but now he had lost everything. He and Genma sat side by side in silence. Saotome was in much better condition than Soun, but still did not look good. His friend had lost everything he lived for, he imagined he wouldn't last much longer and pledged to stand by him. His own grief was not minor pain either, he had lost a son, his only heir.
A training sword clattered to the ground behind them, it was resting in the corner of the Dojo and it fell over. In the dark shadows of the room two glowing red dots formed revealing a kneeling figure waiting patiently as the two men slowly turned to face it with looks of terror on their faces.
It smiled and stood revealing a feminine figure. "Your time has come."
Genma looked on in shocked terror when Soun merely nodded and stood awaiting his destiny. His expression changed to one of confusion.
Mousse walked towards the Cat CafИ just in front of Cologne, the trip was made silently. He stopped at the door and turned around waiting for her to unlock the restaurant. He waited, and waited. "Where?"
After a moment of standing and waiting for the small potted plant to unlock the door Mousse adjusted his glasses and looked around in confusion. "Old woman?" He stepped forward searching the street before he tripped over something in the middle of the road. Without thinking he picked it up and stared at it for a moment, it was a gnarled old staff. Just like the one Cologne always carried with her.
"Old Ghoul!" screamed the boy in alarm, he staggered back and almost lost his balance when he stepped back to find there was no ground under his feet. Quickly turning with his weapons ready he snarled as he saw the manhole cover opened in the street with no sign of the old woman anywhere.
"Mousse!" cried a familiar voice causing the boy to turn away from the hole.
"Genma and Soun are gone," snapped Dan as he struggled to catch his breath. Shampoo was right behind him still unable to speak.
"I just found this, he must have grabbed her and pulled her under the street," said Mousse as he snarled in rage and pointed at the hole. "I can't believe I didn't hear anything, that old ghoul is pretty tough though."
"I'm going down to see," snarled Dan as he jumped into the hole. He saw what he expected when he reached the bottom, a large room with many pipes connecting together. The walls were burned and shattered in various places. The old woman and the demon were long since gone. Shampoo came down behind him and looked around in terror.
"Great Grandmother?" Her world was crumbling apart, this thing had destroyed everything she cared about. Dan moved back towards the ladder and started his way back up coaxing her up just ahead of him. She stopped and snarled as a scream escaped her lips, Dan looked on and waited for her to finish. "When you go to destroy demon, you take Shampoo with you." She gave him a firm frown and wasn't asking a question.
"Keep moving, I don't want to get caught here," answered the boy. He knew he didn't have much of a reason to argue about it.
They climbed out of the hole and frowned at what they saw, the Cat CafИ was in flames, the door shattered, and the windows broken. Smoke poured out of the windows darkening the street as it billowed up into the sky and blocked out the sun. Various weapons were strewn around the manhole and embedded in the building. It was obvious what had happened.
"Mousse! How we not hear? Is impossible!" snapped the Amazon. She did notice something strange though, inside the building a battle still raged. A purple clad figure with a shock of red hair stood amidst the flames while Mousse lay at his feet in defeat.
Facing off against him was someone they thought was dead. Dan rushed forward, and jumped through the flames into the inferno. He stared down the demon as Ranma Saotome spared him a quick glance, he was tired and worn looking with several tears in his shirt and several good hits to his face.
The thing looked Dan dead in the eyes and he froze in place. "Impossible."
"Hello Dan. It's been a while, as much as I'd love to stay and chat, I've got places to be," he lifted Mousse over his shoulder and stepped back into a large area of flames only to vanish into the smoke and heat.
"You bastard!" snarled Ranma as he charged forward. In a single instant all the flames vanished, the Cat CafИ's dining room was damaged from the battle and Dan's dramatic entrance through the window, but no fire damage could be seen anywhere. Shampoo tentatively stepped over the broken window and hopped into the restaurant.
"You know him?" she asked him with a dangerous tone to her voice.
"You bastard, you unbelievable bastard! Carrot! I'll get you for this!" screamed the boy in rage.
"It almost worked, me an Mousse got the drop on him!" snapped Ranma in frustration as he slammed his fist into the wall creating a hole there.
Shampoo blinked and looked at him for a moment. "You trick Shampoo?" She began to pop her knuckles and snorted in frustrated rage. "How dare you!"
"Don't even start," snapped Dan as he shoved her into a chair. She gave him another glare of pure contempt, but let the matter pass. She still wasn't alone, and wasn't going to attack one of the two people she still knew. Even if it would get her alone with Ranma.
"Wait a minute, that guy seemed to know you!" snapped Ranma as he realized what Shampoo was talking about only moments before.
"I do know him, that was the man who I thought died in China," replied the boy angrily as he slammed his fist through one of the tables and fell to his knees. "This explains everything."
"What are you talkin about?" roared the pigtailed boy as he lifted Dan by his shirt and shook him in a rage.
Dan shoved him back and snapped. "Akuma wasn't like this, he was a cold, dangerous, and very serious martial artist. He would have destroyed you outright, no games, and no tricks. Carrot is different, he's a sadistic bastard, cold, calculating, and very smart. I should have seen this before." He shoved Ranma off of him. ⌠He must have unsealed that forbidden move himself, and become like that monster in the legend. That asshole.■
"So where do we find this guy?" asked Ranma as he cracked his knuckles and glared at the boy with a gaze of pure hatred. Dan knew the anger wasn't directed at him though. He felt it as well.
"We don't, he'll find us," replied Dan as he clenched his fists and growled in a rage. "For what he's done here I'll kill him myself. That is if either of you don't get to him first."
The two martial artists in the room nodded coldly. Shampoo stopped and stared at the ground for a moment as something blew against her leg. She stopped and picked it up gasping in shock.
"What is it Shampoo?" asked Ranma coldly.
They stood on the side of a mountain three days later, in front of them was a small hole barely large enough for a human to enter. "Are we ready?" asked Dan impatiently as he flicked on his flashlight and sucked in a nervous breath.
"Let's go, there's no way he can handle all three of us," replied Ranma as he cracked his knuckles and pointed at the hole. Shampoo nodded in agreement and started towards the cave, she peered into the hole and stuck her foot in turning around to face them.
She looked like she was about to speak when she jerked forward into the darkness of the hole in an instant. The two boys rushed forward with shocked expressions on their faces as they dove to save her. Ranma's hand just missed her as she seemed to vanish into the floor, he watched in silent horror as a small slab of stone slid into place on the ground. He screamed as he punched the ground causing it to crack, but not break. "Shampoo! No!"
"Damn it!" snapped Dan as he rushed into the darkness followed by Ranma. They froze when they saw the sheer massiveness of the cavern they found themselves in, Ranma groaned in frustration when three huge tunnels presented themselves, each moving in a different direction. Both boys looked on in surprise as a series of torches lit up along the walls of one of the tunnels. The pair stepped forward with care into the cavern.
Shampoo stood up and rubbed her bottom while cursing in Mandarin, it was a childish trap and she fell for it. She found herself in a cell with around thirty young girls. "Where this?" she wondered out loud.
"Welcome to the club Shampoo," said a familiar voice. She turned and saw Ukyo standing next to her with a sad smile on her face.
"You is alive!?" screeched the Amazon in joyous surprise as she flung herself in a rough hug around the girl's neck. "Shampoo never think happy see Spatula girl!"
"We all are, he's got some collection," said another familiar voice.
Nabiki Tendo stood next to the bars that held them in place and indicated a long row of cells that lined the wall, inside of them Shampoo saw many familiar faces. "Aiya!"
"Hey, is that Shampoo?" said a familiar voice.
"Pig boy?" the girl in question rushed over to the edge of the cell by the bars. The cells themselves were little more than holes cut into the rock walls. "Great Grandmother teach breaking point yes?"
There was a strange silence from the other cell for a long moment. "It won't work."
"These cells have some sort of weird spell on them, we can't use chi attacks to get out, and we can't pick the locks." Ukyo handed the Amazon a bent up looking spatula, the handle looked almost melted.
"Shampoo just break then," snapped the Amazon as she grabbed the bars and started to strain.
"You think I haven't tried that?" snapped Ryoga from his cell.
"Where Mousse?" asked the Amazon as she gave up and looked around the room.
"He's here somewhere, I remember him screaming bloody murder when he was brought here," said a new voice from Ryoga's cell.
"Pantyhose?" asked the girl. Several of the unrecognizable girls in the cell with her looked at her in confusion.
"Shut up!" retorted the voice.
"Is Okay, Ranma is here! He win for sure!" said the girl with a smirk appearing on her face.
"Don't be so sure, he beat my cursed form alone, with his bare hands," said Taro in an unimpressed tone.
"Ranma defeat Saffron too!" retorted the girl, "Is much stronger than Pantyhose monster!"
"Who do you think the light fixture is up there?" asked Ryoga as he pointed to a small cage on the ceiling.
"Is only baby now! Even stupid stick boy beat now!" retorted the amazon girl.
Everyone fell silent as the purple clad figure approached them. He had a strange smile on his face and an almost pleasant skip to his walk.
"What you is wanting?" growled Shampoo as she reached for him through the bars.
"Which one of you is Ranma Saotome's fiancИe?" he asked as he ignored her.
Ukyo and Shampoo looked at each other and blinked the pair raised their hands. Nabiki Tendo started to snicker despite herself from her corner of the cell. The pair turned their heads in annoyance to stare at her when they noticed that more than half of the fifteen girls in their cell had their hands in the air. Those that didn't looked like they wanted too.
"Very well, enjoy," stated the man as he pulled on a hanging chain that rested on the wall.
A door opened in the ceiling above them and Genma Saotome fell from it. He was bound, gagged, and hanging upside down in the middle of the group.
Ukyo pulled the gag off and stared at him with a seething anger in her eyes. He didn't seem to notice it though. "Thank heavens! Untie me quickly!" He stopped and looked around the room when no one moved to help him. "Uh-oh."
"Not until you explain this old man," snarled Ukyo.
Shampoo didn't care about Genma right now. He was an evil, stupid man, but not worth the trouble. Especially when he had all those other girls to play with. She blinked and frowned and seemed to be realizing something. "Where Akane is?"
"Akane? She's not here, I thought she was still with Ranma," said Nabiki with a worried look on her face.
"She kidnap same time you," replied the Amazon in confusion.
The Tendo girl merely raised her eyebrow and said nothing further.
Carrot smiled to himself as the screams of pain started, "Ah, to do the world justice makes the soul sing!" He sat down at his throne and looked at the progress of the two men in his maze. They struggled with dead ends and trap doors at every turn, still they pushed onward very determined. Naturally he had left a little surprise for Ranma and his dear old friend. "This should be fun!"
Dan growled in frustration as Ranma openly screamed his rage. They had found another dead end. "Damn it!" screamed the pigtailed boy. The walls of the cavern had become smooth and flat, after a short time Dan realized that they were in some sort of labyrinth. He shone his light back and fourth, the torches had long ago stopped lighting the way making navigation even more difficult.
A low voice echoed through the cavern causing both boys to freeze. "Who's there?"
Ranma slowly turned around snatching the flashlight away from Dan and shining it towards the sound of the voice. She screamed in pain as the light ripped into her eyes and shielded her face.
"A-Akane?" Ranma burst forward taking the girl into his arms and grabbing her and pulling her into his chest. He almost kissed her, almost. "You're alive!"
"Ranma?! I'm so glad! I was so scared and alone!" she started to sniffle and sob as she stayed in her fiancИe's arms for a long moment. "Quick! Get me out of these!" she lifted her arms and showed the pair the chains that kept her in place.
"I'll kill him for leaving you down here alone!" snapped the boy as he broke the chains with his bare hands. He sniffed and wiped his arm over his eyes. ⌠I thought you might be...■
"Let's get moving, we have to find him, he's down here somewhere," said Dan as he took back the light and started forward again. "I'm not sure how much battery power is left in this thing. I'm glad you're safe girl, but we can't hang about."
Ranma and Akane realized they where in each other's arms and Ranma jumped away. "Yeah, we'd better get moving."
"Let's go and get the others!" said Akane with a remarkable calm about her.
"After we get you somewhere safe!" snapped Ranma as he grabbed her by the arm and held her fast.
"R-Ranma?" said the girl with a soft look on her face it turned into a scowl just as fast. "No. I won't let him get away with what he did to me!" snapped the girl, it seemed more like she was talking to herself than Ranma.
"Something ain't right here," commented Dan as he continued to trek forward. A few moments later a set of bars slammed to the ground on either side of him trapping Dan inside. Ranma rushed forward and started to pull at the bars when an identical set slammed around himself and Akane. The pigtailed boy found himself in a box like cage, while the other two sets of bars seemed to rise all the way into the ceiling.
The floor under Dan and Akane shot up at an amazing speed like some sort of pressurized elevator leaving a long pillar of stone behind. Ranma watched in helpless shock as the bars slid upwards and the floors returned to their original position, both Akane and Dan where gone. He cried out to them but no answer came leaving him in the darkened silence. He slumped down against the bars and pounded at the floor. "I'm sick of this!"
"Come now Saotome, it's all most over, all you have to do is figure out how to get out of that cage and the exit of the maze is straight ahead," said a voice from the shadows. Two glowing red eyes slowly grew into a purple clad boy of about his own age with a shock of red hair. He had a familiar looking sword at his side and Ranma's thoughts went back to the battle at the Cat CafИ, the flames there had been nothing but an illusion.
"Admiring my work? I've defeated every single person you've ever faced. All of your family and friends are in my hands. The best part is, there isn't anything you can do about it." A small laugh escaped the man's lips as he said this.
"Why are you doing this?" asked Ranma, he had a dead calm about him. His eyes were a calm glare and his fists were balled up tight.
"To prove a point," replied the demon boy with a shrug. "But mostly, cause I can."
"You bastard!" roared the boy in anger as he charged the bars of the cage like a wild beast.
"Calm down, you'll never get out of there unless you use that useless melon on your head. I suggest you prepare yourself Saotome. I guarantee you'll get the fight of your life when you reach that cave," said Carrot as he vanished back into the shadows once again.
Dan continued down the small tunnel the rising floor had brought him to, after a few moments he found himself staring at a strange sight; a raised round platform. The floor was made up of some sort of grating and red lights where built into the floors giving the room a strange dark glow about it. All around the platform was a steep drop off, he couldn't see the bottom and could not tell how deep it was. He jumped onto the floor and started towards the door on the other side. He stopped cold when another figure stood looking imposing in the doorway waiting for him.
"The power is in you young Daniel-san, but you are not a master yet," said a familiar voice as he jumped down on the floor directly across from him in a battle stance. Dan followed suit with a hard glare in his eyes.
"Moukou Takabishi!" cried Ranma as he released the blast against the bars, only to have it reflected back into his face. He was thrown back into the other side of the cage and stayed on the ground groaning in pain. "What is this stuff made of?"
"Why?" asked Dan as he stared his old friend down with a look of complete hatred.
"Because every story needs a villain!" retorted the boy with a laugh.
"Damn it Carrot! This isn't a game! These are real people!" screamed Dan with a rage burning in his eyes.
"So?" replied Carrot with a careless shrug.
"You bastard! I'll kill you for this!" snapped the boy.
"Calm down, if you come into this fight upset you'll lose," said Carrot. ⌠It's too soon to die after all.■
Dan froze again and looked at him and became confused. "You don't want to win do you? What the hell is wrong with you? This isn't an amusement park you idiot! These are real people!"
"On the contrary, I've made it so I have to win," he grinned and slammed his foot into the ground, a Kanji burned over his head and he smiled at the expression on his friend's face.
"Shin Akuma?" gawked the boy as he staggered back.
"Heh. You think I'd be so stupid as to settle for anything less than the strongest? Not so confident anymore Dan?" quipped the Carrot. "Shall we begin?"
Dan frowned and glared at his opponent. "Lets."
Ranma looked at the bars in front of him in frustration. "Damn!" He sighed and looked up gritting his teeth as he tried to think. "I've got to get the hell out of here!" He squinted his eyes and looked into the two corners of the cage. Two small metal pins where stuck into the corners of the cage. "What the hell?" He pulled them out and the front of the cage fell forward landing with a loud clang and raising up a huge cloud of dust. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
The battle between Carrot and Dan raged on, they pounded on each other with brutal efficiency. The two had kept it pretty basic up to that point, using only punches and kicks as they beat on one another. Dan was doing very well, but Carrot was winning. The demon boys blows were faster, and more powerful.
"Experience wins out in the end," chuckled the evil boy as he landed a good kick that sent Dan to his knees. Carrot rushed forward performing a hurricane kick and Dan almost didn't move away in time. The boy landed from his attack near the edge of the platform and smiled. "Impressive, most impressive."
Dan stood from his knees and felt a sudden surge of power inside of him as he stared Carrot down. "You want to play with special moves? Fine! Shinku Hadoken!"
A massive shock wave of energy blasted from the boy's hands and slammed into Carrot's chest sending him flying off the platform and reeling into the darkness below.
Dan was not fooled for a moment, he knew Carrot would be waiting for him when he found the end of this stupid maze. "I'll get you for real next time."
Moments later Dan found himself staring at a large demon shaped throne in the center of a dirt filled arena that was lit by a lantern of some kind from above. He stepped forward and smiled as Carrot sat in the throne looking just as beaten and worn as he did.
All around him were cells along the wall that held the entire cast of Ranma 1/2; everyone from one shot villains, to Ryoga and Mousse. All of them where alive, and most of them looked unhurt. All eyes were on him, some watched him with hope, others with arrogant indifference.
Carrot stood and walked towards him with his arms spread in an open gesture as he welcomed him to the final room. "You realize I could have destroyed you," he said to the boy.
"You could have tried," retorted Dan. He spat on the ground and lifted his fists up.
Carrot rushed forward and the pair became a blur of punches and kicks beating on each other while those in the cells cheered or watched in silence. The stopped for a moment as two elbow strikes slammed into each other creating a lock for a moment. "Weak," muttered Carrot with a laugh.
Dan retorted by punching the boy dead in the face with his free arm. He cupped his hands at his side as Carrot staggered back growling line an animal. "Hadoken!"
The demon boy jumped just in time to avoid the blast and sailed into the air in a flying kick that would finish the fight if it connected. Carrot's eyes went wide as he realized that the hadoken was a fake out.
"Shin Shoryuken!" screamed the larger boy as a massive wave of energy slammed outward from his body as he rose into the air. Those watching from the cells where slammed back against the walls from the sheer power of the move. Those that managed to keep on their feet gaped in awe at the sheer power of the move.
"So, that is what he meant," said Cologne as she stood next to Herb. The man gave her a quizzical stare but remained silent as he watched the battle.
"It is unfortunate that he lost," he said before returning to his seat in the back corner of the cell. ⌠Even I have never felt such a powerful technique. A pity. Not surprising considering.■ Dan realized that he had not felt the move connect, but it was too late. He landed on the ground wide open and felt a pair of cold hands on his back. The world became a flash of light and pain as he realized Carrot had teleported out of range and had returned to finish him off. The flash of the raging demon engulfed him as he felt the demon boy's cold hands on his back.
Carrot looked down at his opponent and smiled as he noticed he was still conscious. "Well, I am impressed Dan, but insulted that you didn't think I'd see that set up a mile away."
The boy staggered to his feet and Carrot just punched him in the face sending him back down.
Dan laughed and glared at Carrot in a rage despite his conditon. "You've lost Carrot, you're injured. You're in no condition to fight Ranma. He's right behind me."
The boy locked a chain around his neck and wrists and bound him to the floor in the middle of the arena. There was nothing Dan could do to stop him. "You think so? I've got a special surprise for Ranma. You'll want to watch." At that moment Ranma burst into the room from a small doorway that led into the lower parts of the caverns. His face was a mask of pure rage. "AKUMA!" his scowl quickly turned into a cruel smile when he saw the condition of his opponent. He was beaten up quite a bit and was limping towards his throne.
Dan looked up from his chains and smiled apologetically. "Sorry Ranma."
"Don't worry, I've got him covered," replied the pigtailed boy with a confident smirk.
"You fool, you don't really think I will be your opponent?" snapped Carrot angrily as he pushed a button on his chair. A wall slid open just beside the throne revealing a dark clad figure in a delicate silk Kimono.
Ranma felt his heart jump into his throat, her eyes bored into him with a pure hatred as they burned red. "Akane?" he whispered in confused pain before turning to Carrot. "What have you done to her? Let her go!"
"I'm not holding her fool, remember what she said back in the cave. 'I won't let him get away with doing that to me?' She was talking about you," said the boy with an evil smile.
"Me?" gasped Ranma in shock.
"It didn't take much to convince her, I offered her limitless power. More than even you could possibly equal, the last straw came when I showed her the bucket of fiancИes over there," Carrot indicated a rather full cell opposite him. Ranma noticed his father inside with what looked like a severe beating, he was also still tied up and gagged, the girls still had him hanging upside down in the middle of the cell.
Ranma turned towards him and glared at him hard. "I won't fight her, I don't fight girls."
The man merely smiled and pushed another button on his chair, cries of alarm filled the cavern as foot long spikes emerged from the ceiling of the cells. "Then your friends, your family, everything you've ever known will die with you!"
Ranma glanced around the room in a panic and noticed faces around him looking on in fear, desperate hope filled his mind. His mother, the Tendo's, everyone he'd ever known. "No!"
"Lose, and they die as well," snapped the demon man. "You'd better win Ranma!" screamed Ukyo from her cell.
"You'd better not hurt Akane!" cried Ryoga angrily from his cell, everyone surrounding him hit him an silenced him.
⌠Idiot! We'll die!■ growled Herb. "Defeat her and everyone goes free, lose and they all die," snarled Carrot as he motioned to Akane. The girl's eyes went red and she jumped forward landing in an aggressive stance.
"I can beat this tomboy anytime!" cried Ranma as he faced her.
"Are you sure?" asked Carrot in amusement. "Akane, if you win I'll spare your family if you wish."
"What do I care? Kill them," replied the girl in an icy cold tone. Ranma froze with a look of complete terror on his face once again.
"You see Ranma, she is completely converted. It was not I who captured your father and the Tendo patriarch. She brought them to me. Now, she is mine, forever," Carrot cackled from his seat as he watched the drama unfold before him.
"And together we will rule the world!" quipped Dan in an irate tone.
"Don't be foolish, I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her now," snorted the boy in an arrogant manner. "She was a willing student though. Quite a bit stronger than the girl you remember."
Akane gave Ranma a bitter and hate filled smile as she stepped forward impatiently awaiting the battle. "She's cute when she smiles," thought Ranma with a rough snort.
"Fight!" screamed Carrot from his seat.
Ranma met the girl in the air and dodged a super fast series of punches. "Snap out of it Akane! People could get hurt!"
The girl smiled and grunted as an energy ball blasted from her hands catching him dead in his chest. Ranma slammed into the ground and screamed in pain. "Snap out of it you stupid Tomboy!" Akane grunted again as her aura flared up. Ranma found himself catching fire as she blasted him with a red version of the energy ball, he rolled across the floor to put out the flames and was stopped cold as Akane put her foot into his chest. He was only a little singed, but the pain was obvious. She tossed him up and grunted again. Ranma tried to regain his balance in the air and was caught by Akane's Shoryu Reppa, three successive Dragon Punches in a row slammed into his body doing more and more damage with each blow. He staggered back under her power and fell to his knees.
"Finish him!" cried Carrot as he stood up from his chair.
"I bet you always wanted to say that huh?" muttered Dan from his place beside the fight.
Akane looked back at the pair and turned back towards Ranma. He smiled and laughed slightly, "Killed by Akane, how ironic, I finally get it from the uncute tomboy who can't even kick."
Akane felt a smile grow on her lips as she performed the Raging Demon on the now defenseless Ranma. When it was over he hung in her grasp breathing with a great deal of effort, yet somehow still conscious.
Carrot smiled as he stood next to them in the center of the ring. "Before you die, I have a question for you Ranma. Why is it that you are willing to die, and allow everything you hold dear be destroyed rather than fight this girl?"
The boy looked at him in his daze and somehow managed to laugh despite the pain. "You don't know?" he whispered in a daze.
"No, I am curious. What could possibly cause this?" asked the boy with an impatient looking frown. "Tell me and I will spare your family."
Ranma looked into Akane's eyes and hung his head back, he whispered three little words. "I love her." With that said he waited for the deathblow.
Carrot raised his hands in triumph and laughed. "I've done it! At long last I've done it!" Quickly turning to face Dan he pointed at him while laughing in a mad manner. "I told you I could do it!"
The boy looked at the scene in shock and sat slack jawed and dumbfounded. "What the?"
The dull red glow of Akane's eyes faded away and she looked at the boy in her arms in shock. "What? What did you say?"
The boy looked up and her in surprise, he still couldn't move and he attempted to turn his gaze away from her as he spoke as loud as he could, which was only a whisper. "I didn't say nothin."
Akane fell to her knees holding him as a look of horror crossed her face. "What have I done!? Ranma!!" Tears flowed freely from her eyesas she held the boy in her arms. He was beaten to within an inch of his life.
The next thing that happened no one in the room was expecting. Several large television screens hidden near the cave ceiling replayed the moment over and over. Inside the cells people watched in shocked horror or disgusted indifference. "I love her." Ranma stared at the scene in shocked horror as Akane cried while holding him close to her body and apologizing for what she had done again and again.
Ukyo and Shampoo stared at the scene in silence as a few of the girls around them cried. "That was so beautiful! I just have to break the engagement with him!" the motion was pretty popular to most of the girls in the room. A few others simply sat in silence, only Ukyo, Shampoo, and Kodachi had looks of absolute defeat and terror on their faces. No matter what happened, there was no way Ranma could deny saying it this time. Carrot's hand fell on her shoulder and she looked up at him with a glare of pure contempt. He smiled back at her and put his finger to her lips. "I come with a warning Akane, you will never use the Raging Demon again. Without evil intent in your heart you will die, and so will everyone within a twenty meter radius of you; I managed to keep the effects of the move watered down so to speak. It was intended as an ultimate killing attack. If you manage to survive attempting it again, and the chances of that are quite high, you will become the demon again. This time not even Ranma can save you from that fate." He turned away and walked over to Dan unlocking his chains and leaving the keys on the floor."You had me scared there for a moment Saotome, I almost didn't think you were going to say it."
Dan reared back as soon as he was free and punched Carrot dead in the face. "You bastard!"
The boy merely looked at him and smiled after staggering back a little. "That was the reason we came here after all isn't it? We made a bet and I won."
"Do you have any idea what you've done?" screamed the boy in shocked terror and pure anger as he attempted to tackle his one time friend. Unfortunately he fell under the pain of his own injuries and Carrot skipped away.
A doorway of some kind opened behind Carrot and he smirked. "Come on Dan, we have to go."
"Why the hell should I go anywhere with you?" snapped the boy in a rage. He stumbled to keep his balance and staggered towards him.
"Because there is a lot you don't know about our situation." With that said Carrot stepped through the porthole and vanished.
Dan turned and looked at the pair with his head hung low. "I'm sorry, I had no idea until the very end what was going on."
They looked at him and nodded while holding each other up on their feet. "Will we see you again?" asked Akane with a hit of sadness in her tone.
"Probably not, I've got to hunt him down and make him pay for what he did here," said Dan as he looked at the porthole with eyes full of anger. "I've got a lot to learn yet, but I'll beat him if it's the last thing I ever do!" he rushed forward and vanished leaving them behind in the cave.
"Man, what a great exit!" laughed Carrot as he clapped his hands and waited on a rock that sat in the middle of the field Dan found himself in in.
"Where are we?" asked Dan as he looked around in confusion.
"Don't know," replied Carrot as he gave him a grin and a shrug.
"Why aren't we home?!" snapped the boy as he pulled Carrot up by his shirt. Both of their injuries were gone and he had rushed forward to nab him. The demon boy made no move to stop him.
"Hey, you heard the lady, we go home when these bodies die," replied the boy with a knowing smile.
"Oh," Dan looked thoughtful and sighed. He released his shirt and backed away. He was still upset, but didn't know what was going on. ⌠Now what?■
"I've got more wonderful news," continued Carrot with a smirk. Dan never liked what he had to say when he said that phrase.
"Remember that wonderful meal we had our first night there? You know the sushi and rice?" said the boy with a wink.
"Yeah, what of it?" snapped the boy impatiently.
"That wasn't sushi my friend, that was mermaid," Carrot tilted his head back and laughed at the look Dan had gotten all of a sudden.
"Yup, we're gonna be wandering around for a while." Carrot started walking away while Dan simply stood looking stunned. "Let's get moving buddy, It might not be safe here after dark."
Dan turned to see the boy walk into a young girl dressed in Chinese style clothing. Carrot stood and dusted himself off. "Sorry kid, I didn't see ya."
"Stop right there!" screamed the girl as she pointed at him. It was a young brunette with a scowl on her face and a sword in her hand. Her hair was done up in an ornate manner and she looked pretty angry at the purple clad boy.
"I said sorry," replied the boy in confusion.
"Evil creature who knows no love for man. Tonight is the night your nightmare ends, with the light of my love I shall destroy your evil darkness!" Carrot looked down and noticed her clothing and the large sword in her hand.
Dan had a huge grin on his face as he jumped forward in full 'fight the evil monster mode.' ⌠Get back here you demonic bastard! I promised Ranma and Akane I'd kick your ass!■ As the girl finished her speech he had a single thought. "This could be fun!"
"Devil Hunter Yohko is here!" cried the girl.
Another girl appeared behind her armed with a spear. "And Devil Hunter In Training Azusa!"
"Bloody hell," sighed Carrot.
Epilogue: Five Years later...
Dan sighed as he walked beside his old friend. "Well I like being her errand boy, it's always interesting," said Carrot. "Still I can't believe you sicked that girl on me."
"You're still hot on that? It was five Years ago and you deserved much worse after what you pulled!" retorted Dan.
"At least I didn't try to hit on the Sailor Senshi," grumbled Carrot.
"Hey, I'm not the one who yelled "Hey look! The Sailor Senshi!" the moment I saw them! Poor Luna about had a heart attack! They weren't even in costume," retorted Dan. "Besides, Sailor Mars, she was so...so...ferocious! I can't believe you resisted Usagi like that, she was a babe!"
"Dude, she was a complete ditz! Besides, she kept trying to purify me with that damn wand of hers. I'll admit I enjoyed kicking Endimyon's ass, he was a perverted child molester," snapped Carrot before he changed the subject again. "Now that A-ko was a babe."
"So you scored, big deal! B-ko was hotter! Besides, I made out better than you in Burn up and Bubble Gum Crisis!" cried Dan as he crossed his arms and turned his nose up.
"Ooh, with Priss, and you had to be a girl to do it too!" retorted Carrot with a smirk. "I scored too! I couldn't listen to that B-ko anyway, she was a psycho hose beast."
"Dan?" said a familiar voice from behind them. The two boy's turned around slowly, this was the first time they had been recognized after arriving in a new dimension.
"Akane?" replied the boy as his eyes went a little wide.
"It is you! You came for our wedding?" she cried throwing herself in his arms. "I like your hair!" It was a bit longer than she remembered, and tied into a ponytail.
Dan blinked, and worked his jaw a little. ⌠Hey. Good to see you.■
Carrot smiled and walked up to them. "What try is this one?"
Akane almost passed out as she looked at the boy in terror. "Y-you?" She took up a defensive stance and backed away.
"Relax Akane, he's my partner now, we work together fixing...problems," said Dan as he tried to calm her. "We're here to help, both of us. He's a different guy now, he kinda got over the whole demon thing a while back."
Carrot scratched at his ear and looked a little shifty. ⌠Well, sort of. I'm not gonna screw with you guys this time. It's sort of my job to help out now.■
Akane looked at him and nodded. She didn't look like she trusted him, but seemed to accept Dan's word. "This is the seventh wedding attempt."
"Well, that explains why we're here," snorted Carrot. "We have to make sure this wedding happens I guess."
"She's probably really frustrated with them," said Dan with a nod.
Akane didn't understand what they were talking about and grumbled. "You bet I am."
"Well, you don't have to worry Akane, we'll make sure it happens if we have to keep them away by force!" announced Carrot proudly. ⌠Even if we have to tie Ranma up and hold him down, and subdue every wedding guest by force!■
Dan gave a heavy sigh. ⌠Calm down you idiot.■
"R-really?" said Akane with a look that could only be relief appearing on her face. She gave Carrot a distrusting look again and Dan laughed. "It's Okay Akane, trust me. He's here to help."
"O-Okay..." said the girl as she gave a reluctant, but honest looking nod.
Carrot's eyes burned red for a moment behind their backs and Dan spun around and glared at him. "That's not funny!"
"It was meant to be," replied the boy with a smirk.
Dan shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "Anyway, I scored better than you in Tenchi."
"Walking in on Ayeka in the bath is not scoring," retorted Carrot. ⌠Besides, Ryoko was kind of rough. I feel sorry for Tenchi now. I hope he can take it. Once was enough for me.■
"True, but it's still more than you got," was the reply. "At least I didn't sleep with Leona."
"So what if I did? I did better than you did in Dirty Pair and The Slayers!" snarled Carrot as he started to get into the argument again.
"Yeah, but both Puna twins..." sighed Dan.
"You shut up you!"
Akane blinked and looked back at them. "What are they talking about?" She dismissed the matter and the two boys argued all the way to the Tendo Dojo.
There it is! The first fanfic I ever wrote. Hope you enjoyed it.
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