I do not own Ranma ½ or Kamen Rider Decade. They belong to their respective owners and not me. I am only writing this for fun and not for any measure of profit. So no one get any ideas in trying to sue me for this.
Journey Through the Decade
By Ten-Faced Paladin
Chapter 12: Song of Hibiki
The residential streets of Tokyo were rather calm as Ranma and Kasumi made their way towards the temple they had landed in front of in their trip to the new world. In Ranma's experience, temples were usually good places for travellers to crash if the monks in charge were of the traditional type. Of course, Genma tended to pretend he was on a pilgrimage in some of those temples so they would be allowed to stay for free. Usually the monks were nice enough guys, if not sometimes a little strict in their practices and where one was allowed to go. Of course, they could get mean pretty darn fast after they discovered that Genma's sticky fingers cleaned them out of their artefacts and valuable items.
"Hope some version of Pop didn't show up here and clean them out," Ranma sighed as he and Kasumi walked up the stone stairway to the temple.
"Did you and Genma get in trouble with temples too?" asked Kasumi with a raised eyebrow.
All. The. Time," Ranma groaned. "Pop would rob them whenever he could. Of course, he'd be found out and try to blame it on me. I guess I was pretty lucky when the monks weren't stupid enough to fall for it. Pop shouldn't have crammed all the things he stole into his gi where the monks could see it anyway. We'd get chased off all the time and then Pop would either go on a rant for a while or just blame me for him getting caught and go on about 'oh what a traitorous son he was burdened with'."
Kasumi resisted the urge to roll her eyes out of pure reflex. One of Genma's usual means of attempting to make himself look like a struggling noble parent was to whine and bemoan about how awful a son Ranma was in face of his 'sacrifices' that were made for the pigtailed boy. Since moving to Nerima though, the only person who really believed it anymore was Soun since he somehow believed that Genma's misdeeds were all for the greater good or he just actively denied that the part-time panda had done anything wrong in the first case in fear of those actions threatening to ruin the engagement. Everyone else knew for a fact that when Ranma disobeyed his father, it was generally because the man was trying to strong-arm Ranma into doing something that he wasn't ready or willing to do. Usually that ended up being a shove towards trying to get Ranma and Akane to spend more time together, make Ranma and Akane be more intimate, or for Ranma to clean up a mess that Genma had started and decided that his son should take responsibility for.
It was a wonder that Ranma turned out as well as he did.
The pair came to the top of the stairs and onto the temple grounds. It was a rather modest place, but looked well enough to be considered somewhat popular. There was a house at one part, likely where the priest and his family lived. Other sections had a shrine or two, but the centre of the property had a large sacred tree growing tall and strong out of the ground. It looked absolutely ancient, but still very strong and healthy. All over the place seemed to be an aura of tranquility and peace. All in all, it seemed like the kind of place Ranma could grow to like so long as his father never heard of it.
"How nice," Kasumi admired. "It reminds me of the shrines at home."
"Yeah, it does seem a little familiar don't it?" asked Ranma. "Maybe we visited it in our world."
A small clattering of wood announced that someone was nearby and turned both teens' attention to the small hut off to the side of the property. Coming out of the hut was an old man who was hunched over slightly and wearing traditional garb of haori and hakama. He was definitely not as old as the likes of Cologne or Happosai, but old enough to be an unmistakable grandfather. His hair was tied back and he sported a moustache and a beard. He was grumbling about something and he was holding a rather fat cat in his arms. As he emerged from the small hut, he spotted Ranma and Kasumi near the sacred tree. He blinked at them for a moment in comprehension, but they his eyes widened while his jaw began to drop.
"EHHHH?" the old man gaped, dropping the fat tabby. "Ranki! What are you doing here? You're supposed to be protecting my granddaughter!"
"…what?" Ranma blinked. Who was Ranki?
Showing surprising speed for an old guy, the old man dashed over behind Ranma and began pushing him towards the hut he had just come out of. Naturally Ranma didn't like such treatment, but he was so confused he just kept allowing the old man to push him forward. Despite his protests, the old man pushed Ranma into the small hut. Inside was dark with the only source of light coming from the doorway. Inside was a simple dirt ground in front of a short wooden stairway. In the centre of the room was what looked like an old well made of wood which dated back centuries with what seemed to be a new wooden ladder going over the edge.
"Stop lollygagging!" the old man declared as he pushed Ranma deep into the room. "You're supposed to be back in the Feudal Era protecting my granddaughter's chastity from that hanyou! Now get down that well!"
"Wait, what?" cried Ranma, turning to look back at the old man. "You want me to do what?"
"Um, sir?" Kasumi blinked, having followed the two. "Did I hear you correctly?"
"I'll be with you in a moment young lady," the old man waved Kasumi off distractedly. Instead, he kept his attention trained on Ranma. "Now stop lazing about and get going!" With a deceptively strong push, the old man shoved Ranma over the stairs. The pigtailed boy was pushed head over heels down the stairs and his momentum carried him to the well which he tumbled straight over the edge.
"Ranma!" he heard Kasumi's voice gasp.
Ranma fell down the medium-sized well and expected to collide painfully with the bottom. When he felt the bottom touch his back though, he didn't feel a painful impact but instead a sinking sensation. Around him the walls of the well dissolved into a world of purple light. Ranma's body felt absolutely weightless as he continued to sink through the world of purple light. It was a short trip and it ended quickly, depositing Ranma onto the sandy ground of what appeared to be the well. However, it was radically different. Instead of the simple ladder leading out, vines were in place and growing down the sides. Next to Ranma, half buried in the dirt was a set of bones which didn't appear to be of any creature he had ever seen before. Just looking at them gave him a wrong feeling.
"Okay," Ranma sighed, looking up to the top of the well and finding a blue sky. "Where am I now?"
Judging the distance between the top of the well and the bottom, Ranma easily made the jump and landed on the edge of the well. Rather than being inside of a hut on the property of a shrine, he was in the middle of a small clearing with trees all around. The shrine nor the old guy and Kasumi were anywhere nearby. In fact, it was like that the entire landscape had changed.
"Okay, this ranks pretty high on my list of weird things," Ranma frowned. Part of him just wanted to leap back down the well and kick the old guy's butt for pushing him like that. Kasumi was probably in a panic. On the other hand, the old guy had called him Ranki. It wasn't a name that Ranma was familiar with, but if the old man's reaction to him was any indication then this Ranki guy was probably Ranma's counterpart in the new world he was in. The only question was, just where the heck did he end up?
Hopping onto the grass, Ranma tried to take better stock of his surroundings. He could smell the air around him and it smelled…fresh. It reminded him of the isolated places which he and his father would visit during the training journey. They smell of exhaust and other things weren't present in the air, making it more pleasant. He travelled through the trees and saw nothing but pleasant greenery and plant life. Walking through another patch of trees, Ranma came across a large tree which strongly reminded him of the shrine albeit a bit thinner, the roots growing wildly, and what seemed to be a patch which was bare of bark.
"Weird," Ranma frowned, admiring the tree. In his experience, trees and such didn't grow weirdly unless something weird happened to them in the first place. Whatever it was that made this tree in particular grow so weird must have been something big.
"Oh well," the pigtailed boy shrugged. Turning away from the tree, he continued his search for any kind of sign as to what he was supposed to do. So far, that was turning up a big fat zero. All he saw was more and more trees with the various bushes and such. So far, things were probably the most peaceful he had ever seen anything be since he settled down in Nerima. That just got his nerves going since whenever things got remotely peaceful in his life that would be when someone or something was dropped straight onto his lap. With so little action going on, it made Ranma begin to wonder if he was in for the worst time yet for his travels through multiple worlds.
Coming through several more trees, Ranma came out onto a hillside which descended onto what looked like a small village. All of the huts were made of wood and actually had rocks on the top to hold the roofs down. Ranma was by far no means an architect or a historian, but even he knew from what little school he had been present for what Japanese homes looked like in the far past. While that alone would have been confusing enough, it was what was going on inside of the small village.
People were running amok and screaming for help while most of the men were shooting volleys of arrows at tall muscled creatures which were destroying the buildings left and right. They were human shaped, but that was where the resemblance ended. Their skin was either green, red, or blue depending on which of the three in total one would look at. Their arms were long and almost dragged their knuckles on the ground while all three were wielding dirty and rusty kanabo. They had no lips, but instead just a row of razor sharp teeth jutting from their mouths while their eyes were a uniform shade of red. They had shaggy white hair which trailed down their backs and black horns which sprouted almost painfully from their foreheads.
The red-skinned ogre, apparently the leader was holding up an old lady who seemed like some kind of priestess whom had long white hair and an eye-patch over one eye. She had obviously tried to battle against the three ogres judging by how her garments were dirty and had holes in them, but either her skills or her age caused her to be unsuccessful. She was strong though, her eye showing nothing but defiance.
"Talk, old woman!" the ogre snarled, it's voice a thick growl from its gut. "We know the hanyou and his pet priestess are hunting for jewel shards and they keep coming back here! Where are the jewel shards they've collected?"
"They not…be here," the old priestess gasped out. "Do ye really think they would be foolish enough to keep yon shards in one place where demons such as you would be able to find them?"
"It would be more foolish to keep them on their bodies where any demon could take them," the ogre snarled back. "Fine! We'll just rip every home down and kill everyone here until we find them!"
While Ranma was too far away to hear what the ogre had wanted, it was pretty clear that the demons were pretty darn intent on destroying the village and killing everyone there. He was running in a flash, actually pushing himself to get to the village before anyone else was killed. Dashing down the hillside, Ranma kept his eyes trained directly on the besieged village. He kicked up his speed to cross the distance as fast as he could. Racing past terrified mothers and their children, past bravely fighting men, Ranma leaped high. Using his momentum and gravity, he soared through the air before coming back down on the red ogre.
"Hey! Puke face!" Ranma yelled. "Heads up!"
"Huh?" the red ogre growled, looking up at where the insult had come from. He didn't have to search very hard before his vision was filled with the sole of a shoe, hitting him quite painfully as part of a rather powerful kick. The demon cried out in pain as the force knocked him over, releasing the aged priestess in his hand. The old woman hit the ground with a thud while Ranma landed in a crouch, eyeing the monster.
"Lord Ranki?" the woman gasped, eyeing the pigtailed young man.
"Not quite," Ranma answered, his eyes not moving from the ogre as it clutched its eye while snarling in pain. He remembered what that goofy ogre did back at the Tendo house and that was just one that liked to cause mischief. This one and his buddies were out for blood and it seemed that they were not going to be giving up with just a bonk to the head.
"You little RAT!" the ogre bellowed, shambling to its feet. "I'll devour you alive for this!"
"Yeah, yeah," Ranma frowned. "You'll eat my soul, crush my bones, send me to hell, or all of the above. I've heard it all before from things like you. You're just bigger than most of the others." Reaching behind his back, he drew the Decadriver and attached it to his waist. Clutching his standard Kamen Ride card, he stood up and opened it. "Luckily I've got the perfect tool to deal with you. Henshin!" Sliding the card into the slot, he shut it with a snap.
"Kamen Ride: Decade!"
The symbols of the nine Riders appeared before shifting into nine body images. Converging on Ranma, the images became the Decade armour. As the familiar pink panels slid into place and coloured the suit, Decade looked at the ogre and drew his Ride Booker. "Now let's do some exterminating. My specialty!" Charging forward, he shifted the Ride Booker into sword mode and leaped to make a slash at the Ogre's rib cage. In a burst of speed which didn't belong to the creature's bulk, the demon blocked with its Kanabo. The rusty steel didn't fare well against the weapon, denting and cracking under the force Decade had unleashed on it.
"What magic is this?-!" gasped the ogre, actually feeling the force travel into his arm from its poor quality weapon.
"No magic. Just skill!" Decade retorted while kicking off of the kanabo. He landed on the ground before charging once again, his weapon raised high.
In a shaded grove which was just as peaceful as any kind of natural area, there were several people taking the time to enjoy nature's small gifts and the peace which was sometimes rare in the turbulent Warring States Era. They were a small band of travelers, but the trust they held in each other was strong and hard if not nigh impossible to break. They all came from different backgrounds, but they were all united in their goals. At first they were all after the same thing, but it soon bonded them together into their own make-shift family.
Sitting in the shade of one tree was a teenage girl who looked no older than fifteen or so. Unlike the majority of the group, she was dressed in what appeared to be a high school uniform which had a green skirt, white blouse with more decoration, and a red bow. Lying next to her was a bow and a quiver filled with arrows, appropriate for the time period. Leaning against the tree was a pink bicycle which she used to get around at faster speeds and a rather big backpack which carried much of the group's supplies. She was currently engrossed in a science textbook which obviously came from a modern-day school, cramming for an upcoming test.
Resting softly next to the girl was a very tiny child who would barely come up to her shins. He wore a simple blue haori with an orange fur vest. His feet were visible, but they weren't human. Instead, they looked like canine feet of some sort. Poking out from the seat of his pants was a very large and bushy tail. His hair was a vibrant orange and held up with a blue ribbon. His ears were curiously pointed as well. It was quite obvious that he wasn't human. In fact, he was a demon but he was also one of the nice ones and wouldn't dream of hurting his family.
In another part of the grove was a young man. He wore the dark robes and held a staff which revealed him to be a monk, a man of virtue and piety. His right hand was covered in a purple cloth and wrapped with a holy rosary, either as a sign of faith, protection against evil, or perhaps a seal. He was a handsome fellow with black hair that was tied up into a ponytail rather than shaved bald like most other monks would have. He was sitting in meditation, but it seemed it was rather enforced. The red hand marking which lit up his cheek may have something to do with it.
Next to the monk was a young woman wearing a pink and green yukata. She was indeed lovely with a pretty face, a touch of makeup on her eyes, and long brown hair which ran down her back. She wasn't just a pretty face though. In her hands was a massive boomerang which though looked light in the woman's hands, was in fact very heavy. She was taking the time to polish the edges, revealing that the item was likely a weapon rather than a toy or object of curiosity. Snoozing next to her in the sun was what appeared to be a small cat, but was pure white with black markings, and two tails which marked it as a demon rather than a normal cat. As the young woman worked, she lanced a glare at the monk who was sitting next to her. The man chuckled weakly and pulled back his hand which had been slowly inching towards the woman's backside, but not before a small pebble lanced through the air and collided with the back of his head and made him grunt in pain from the impact.
The rock had come from another young man who was resting on top of a larger rock, idly tossing several more pebbles in his right hand. His clothes were reminiscent of mainland China rather than his native Japanese. His features were strong and his physique was strong, that of a martial artist and someone who was bound and determined. His hair was deep black and tied up in a pigtail but was otherwise unruly. Like the girl in the school uniform, he had a large backpack that looked like it was filled to the brim. Around his neck was what looked like a tuning fork mounted on top of a demon's face, hung on a leather strip. He looked quite annoyed by the monk's advance on the young woman.
Lastly of the group was a young man sitting at the base of a tree. From head to toe he was dressed in a red kosode, hakame, and obi. Around his neck was a necklace of beads which looked like they were holy or at least religious. His feet were bare and at his waist was a katanna, indicating that he likely was a fighter. One of the most notable aspects of this young man as compared to the others was the head of long silver hair he possessed. On top of his head were a pair of dog ears which promoted his inhuman status. Lastly, his eyes were a hypnotizing shade of gold. His other features were revealing a tough and gruff person who had seen a lot of the worst sections of life but lived to tell the tale.
"Isn't that a little much?" asked the monk, rubbing the back of his head.
"Punishment increase for trying to grope somebody twice in one day," the pigtailed boy shrugged. "I'd thought you'd know better by this point Miroku."
"The lecher never learns," the young woman with the boomerang muttered.
"Sango, you wound me," the monk known as Miroku whined with crocodile tears.
"I'm going to if you don't get some common decency," the woman, Sango, replied with another lancing glare at the monk.
Over at their own perch, the schoolgirl and the small child watched the exchange between the trio. The girl seemed especially interested to the point she was only pretending to read her textbook and instead was looking at the three with an observational eye. The child on the other hand was snickering at the sight, "Looks like the love triangle continues. Who do you think is going to win Kagome?"
"Shippo, love isn't a competition," the girl, apparently named Kagome, whispered to the child. "Although the drama is way better than any soap opera me and mom have seen back home. It's a little hard to say who the better guy is since they're both so good."
"Really?" Shippo blinked. "Well, maybe…even if one is a pervert and the other is kinda clueless about girls." He then glanced at the young man in red and muttered under his breath, "Kinda like another guy I know."
"You wanna say something to me, brat?" the white-haired boy growled at the child, revealing larger than average incisor fangs.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome hissed at the boy. "Can't we go five minutes without you trying to pick a fight with somebody?"
"Well if people stopped saying stupid things I wouldn't have to pick fights now would I?" asked the boy, Iunyasha with a frown.
"You say stupid things way more often than any of us do," Shippo huffed. "You're just the only person who doesn't notice."
"Why you-!" Inuyasha growled, getting up so he could knock the small demon child on the head with his fist. Before he could move a single step though…
"Inuyasha sit!" Kagome called out. The beads around the young man's neck flashed with magical light before Inuyasha was yanked down the ground with his face impacting against the dirt with enough force to make a cracking noise echo throughout the clearing. It was enough to catch the attention of the other three as they looked to see their comrade eating dirt…once again.
"He never learns," the pigtailed boy chuckled.
Inuyasha could be heard cursing into the dirt before he managed to pull himself out of his crater. He looked ready to hit somebody, but in the moment he looked ready to cuss someone out the wind suddenly changed. Not a big deal for most people, but for Inuyasha it meant a change in the scents in the air thanks to his sensitive nose. Said organ twitched as he caught a whiff of something particularly pungent. He grimaced and turned his attention towards the east, feeling the scent get slightly stronger from that way.
"What is it Inuyasha?" asked Kagome.
"Demons. A bunch of them," the red-clad boy announced, making the group stiffen. "The scent's coming from the direction of the village!"
"What?-!" the group cried.
In a flurry of movement, the group picked up their belongings and began making a mad dash towards the path in the direction the demon scent had come from. They raced quickly, the majority of them on foot while Kagome rode on her bike with Shippo in the basket. They moved as if lives were on the line, which there likely were.
The red ogre lashed out with its kanabo, attempting to crush Decade where he stood. The Kamen Rider managed to avoid the attack though and rolled sideways. Flicking his Ride Booker, he transformed it into gun mode and shot several blasts which buried into the monster's hide. The wounds pushed out several splashes of demonic blood and the beast bellowed in pain from the attack, stumbling backwards. Snickering, Decade prepared to charge at the monster with another attack.
That was before the blue ogre smashed through the building and blindsided him with a swing from its kanabo. The impact struck against his torso and sent flying down the dirt path before landing on the ground. Groaning, he stood up and shook his head. Glancing in front of him, he saw that the red ogre was joined with its green and blue counterparts. All three of them were glaring at him and likely had less than pleasant intentions for him.
"Don't you see now human?" demanded the green ogre. "It's useless to fight against us! We demons are superior to you weak humans!"
"Do I sound this bad when I brag?" Decade muttered to himself as he stood up. Shaking his head, he reached into his Ride Booker and retrieved one of his cards. "Power of demons, meet the light of man! Henshin!" He threw the card into his Decadriver and shut.
"Kamen Ride: Agito!"
Decade's body flashed and transformed with a rippling effect into the carbon copy form of Kamen Rider Agito. D-Agito rolled his shoulders and then charged towards his trio of enemies that were squaring off against him. The green ogre laughed and charged for the Kamen Rider, swinging his rusty kanabo at the approaching warrior. D-Agito didn't break stride as he leaped up out of the path of the attack. The green ogre was much too slow to react to the sudden movement, giving D-Agito the opening he needed. The momentum of his leap took him high into the air up to the demon's face. D-Agito pulled back his fist and smashed it right between the eyes. There was a flash of light from the impact, making the demon recoil with a yell as smoke rose up from the impact point.
Landing on the ground, Agito looked at his fist, "That's new."
Well, the power of Agito was created by the Overlord of Light, practically a god in his own right. Demons were just about as far away from light as one could get. It stood to reason that demons would have an adverse reaction to his power. Well, that would make his own fight easier.
"Just die!" the blue ogre yelled, running to pick up the slack his comrade had made.
"Not today!" D-Agito retorted, grabbing a card. Sliding it into the Decadriver, he activated it.
"Form Ride: Agito Storm!"
In a flash of blue, D-Agito took his Storm Form. Gripped in his hand was the Storm Halberd. Gripping it, he charged towards the blue ogre without hesitation. Both of them swung at each other with their weapons, impacting with a resounding boom that sent dust flying in all directions. Neither blow connected with the intended target, leaving the to pressing their weapons against one another in attempts to overpower the enemy.
"How…are you…so strong?" grunted the blue ogre with some strain.
"Years of…training!" D-Agito grunted back. "It lets me…do stuff…like this!"
Shifting his weapon, D-Agito ran ahead with his weapon sliding up the side of the rusty kanabo. Like his green comrade, the blue ogre was too slow to react in time and D-Agito leaped past the ogre with a blue flash of light following him. D-Agito landed on the ground in a kneeling stance, not moving. Behind him, the ogre remained still. The position held for a moment before D-Agito stood up and flicked his weapon, revealing blood falling off of its surface. Behind him, a glowing blue line of power apprared across the ogre's torso before it flashed and the demon promptly exploded in a haze of fire and resounding echoes.
"You bastard!" the red ogre bellowed, ignoring its gunshot wounds as it charged towards D-Agito with its kanabo raised over its head.
"Red for red," D-Agito muttered, taking another card and slotting it into the Decadriver.
"Form Ride: Agito Flame!"
Another flash of light rippled from D-Agito and he emerged in his crimson-clad Flame Form with the Flame Saber gripped tightly in his hands. The red ogre wasn't in the mood to care about the suddenly change. He charged with his kanabo ready to be smashed into D-Agito's head. The Kamen Rider took it in stride used to fighting such enemies and charged at his red opponent. Both met each other in another clash of weapons, this time the sword cutting through the rusty steel and straight through the red ogre himself. The red beast bellowed before exploding like his blue comrade, leaving D-Agito to face off against the green ogre who had a black burn in the middle of its face.
"You can't be human," it growled as it got to its feet. "No human is this powerful!"
"You'd be surprised at what a human is capable of," D-Agito shrugged, a flash of light emerging from his belt to return him to his Ground Form. "One time offer pal. Leave this place and never come back. Forget your jewel shards or whatever it is you came for and hit the road."
"Never!" the ogre bellowed. "I will get the jewel and become all powerful! I'll also devour your flesh and become even more powerful! I'll be unstoppable!"
D-Agito sighed and shook his head, "Why is it that every bad guy I meet has a habit of going off into speeches. Is it my luck or just tradition?" reaching to his Ride Booker, he drew his last card. "Fine. Don't say I didn't give you a chance though." He dropped the card into the Decadriver.
"Final Attack Ride: A-A-A-Agito!"
D-Agito's horns spread out as he took a ready stance facing off against the green ogre. On the ground beneath him, the glowing crest of Agito appeared before it was absorbed into his legs. The green ogre bellowed and went on the charge, proving how unintelligent ogres were. D-Agito again took it in stride and made his flying leap, running through the air before coming back down on the green ogre. His foot smashed into the demon's collarbone, the force actually snapping it like a twig before sending the monster in question back into one of the destroyed buildings. The demon roared in pain as a light began to shine from the impact point. After thrashing around for a few moments, the demon exploded, ending the threat once and for all.
"Whew," D-Agito sighed. "Even though they were dumb as rocks, their brawn seemed to make up for it." Shaking his head, his body was engulfed in red pixels before emerging back in his regular Decade armour. As he checked himself over, he found that some of the demon blood was on his side, likely a remnant from when he had sliced up the red and blue ones. "Oh man. Hope that comes out."
Dismissing the thoughts of demon goo on his armour, Decade looked about to see how bad the damage to the village was. Several of the houses were knocked over and/or destroyed along with a few fires that needed to be put out. He couldn't see any dead bodies, the villagers likely have fled when the demons attacked with the defenders doing the same when he showed up to fight them. Smoke was littering the air and the world around him was quiet. No birds, no animals, no people.
"Hm?" Decade turned when he heard something. He wasn't an expert on sounds unless he'd heard them made a lot, but he didn't recognize the sounds of somebody running. It was a noise he had gotten used to when people would run towards him in Nerima, be it to get his attention or try to attack him. Turning towards the source, he saw that the area was obscured by the dust and smoke in the air. He would have gotten closer to inspect the sight, but whatever was coming burst through in a flash of red and silver.
"Sankon Tessō!" the blur yelled, clawing at Decade with five glowing nails which impacted heavily and sent the Kamen Rider sailing backwards from the impact.
"WAUGH!" Decade hit the ground hard with smoke coming from the claw marks on his chest. Grunting, he got up to his elbows and looked at his opponent. He was dressed in traditional red clothes and had long silver hair with dog ears on his head. It was hardly the weirdest thing that Decade had come across in his journey. "What was that for?"
"You're the demon who attacked this village," the red-clad guy snorted, cracking his knuckles. "You'd think I'd just let you walk away?"
"Woah, hey!" Decade grunted as he got to his feet. "I didn't do this! A bunch of ogres did this, not me! I'm not even a demon in the first place!"
"Yeah right," the dog-eared boy snarled, beginning to reach for his sword. "You positively reek of demon! If you're going to lie then at least try to hide it!"
"I'm not lying damn it!" Decade snapped back. "I didn't do this you idiot!"
"Gonna deny it to the end huh?" the dog-eared boy smirked, grabbing his sword. "Fine then! Tessaiga!"
The strange teen drew out his sword in a flash, literally. For a split second, all Decade saw was an old sword that didn't look all that good. As it came out of the sheathe though, there was a flash of light and the entire structure of the sword changed. The hilt had turned into a mass of fur while the rest of the weapon grew immensely large, looking almost like a claw or a fang which was forged into a weapon. Large weapons were no surprise to Ranma, especially ones that did something weird. Still, he could tell that just by looking at the weapon that it wasn't like most magic artefacts that he had faced in his life. It was in a level of its own and not to be taken lightly. He could say that it could almost be…alive in a sense.
Decade glanced at the Ride Booker on his hip and grimaced as he compared the size of the blades, "I'm going to need a better weapon."
"Prepare to die!" the boy yelled, launching himself at Decade with a slash of his massive blade.
Decade heard himself yelp as he dodged the attack, rolling to the side. He barely had enough time to recover before his opponent came at him again with another crushing blow. Decade dodged the attack and tried to get himself some distance. The red-clad jerk didn't seem to have much skill with the weapon beyond hacking and slashing, but with his speed, the size of the weapon, and the strength to be able to lift such a thing he really didn't need it. As much as Decade wanted to kick his ass, he figured he really shouldn't since the guy probably lived in the village and wanted to save it.
Landing on the ground, Decade eyed the sword-wielder. He may not have wanted to beat him up, but he also needed to defend himself from getting killed. Reaching into his his Ride Booker, he grabbed another card, "If you want a demon, then you've got one! Henshin!" He then dropped the card into his Decadriver.
"Kamen Ride: Kiva!"
Decade's suit turned to quicksilver before shattering to reveal the armour of Kiva. Flexing his arms, D-Kiva watched as the jerk blinked in confusion at the sudden transformation. It gave D-Kiva enough time to grab his next card and tossing it into his Decadriver. "Now to make things fair, let's have this dog to dog!"
"Form Ride: Kiva Garuru!"
Chains wrapped around D-Kiva's chest and left arm, taking the form of the cobalt blue armour of the Garuru Form. A mass of red pixels formed from the Decadriver and transformed into the Garuru Saber which the Kamen Rider grabbed and allowed to unfold into its sword form. With a flash turning the Omnilens eyes from yellow to blue, the change was complete.
The red opponent growled at the sight, obviously not liking it, "Now you just reek like a wolf. I hate wolves."
"Oh come on," Decade sighed. "They're practically the same animal. Wolves are just wilder."
"Oh you just had to say that," the sword-wielder growled before he charged at D-Kiva with a wild bellow.
The two clashed with one another, their blades sending off a storm of sparks which went in all directions. The two pieces of supernatural steel screamed against one another with their energies pushing off against one another. The dog-eared boy slashed at D-Kiva several times in his attempts to cut him down. Still, the Kamen Rider was if nothing else just as experienced as his opponent in the realm of battle and was able to deflect the blows despite how heavy they were.
"You're really pissing me off!" the sword wielder growled.
"People say I do that a lot," D-Kiva grunted.
The pair pushed off one another and skidded across the dirt. They eyed one another for a moment to try and figure out a path of attack to use. Of course, the swordsman charged, showing he wasn't the patient type. D-Kiva raised his weapon and blocked the blow a second time, bringing another blast of sparks. This time though, D-Kiva brought back a free hand and lashed out with another blow, "Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken!" Over one hundred rapid speed punches crashed straight into the dog-boy's face, sending him flying backwards with blood leaping from his nose and a faint set of bruises appearing on his cheeks.
"Heh!" D-Kiva smirked, resting the Garuru Saber over his shoulder. "How do you like that?"
"Bastard!" the swordsman spat, standing up. Raising his sword up, energy began to whip around the blade as the attack was prepared, "Kaze no Kizu!" He smashed his sword into the ground, launching three streams of energy that tore through the ground like a volcano, leaving deep gouges in the dirt. D-Kiva's eyes bulged at the attack, already sensing that he had no way to defend against such an attack.
"Woah!" he cried leaping to dodge the attack.
The three streams of power met each other and exploded, looking almost like a volcano erupted only without the magma flying in all directions. D-Kiva flew from the force of the explosion before landing heavily on the ground, his body smoking from the proximity to the attack. Groaning, he shook his head and grasped for the Garuru Saber. Grabbing its handle, he used it to help him stand up before turning to face the swordsman.
"So, you going to give up and die?" the dog-eared boy grinned.
"Oh, I never give up," D-Kiva grunted. Digging into his Ride Booker, he took a card and tossed it into the Decadriver.
"Form Ride: Kiva Dogga!"
Chains wrapped around D-Kiva's arms and torso, taking the form of the Dogga armour. The Garuru Saber was engulfed in red pixels which reformed into the Dogga Hammer. Finally, D-Kiva's eyes turned purple. He hefted the war hammer over his shoulder and made a 'come hither' motion with his hand. "Come on bub, impress me."
The swordsman growled and charged once again with D-Kiva meeting the charge head on. The sword, Tessaiga, was swung wide and was met against the fist of the Dogga Hammer in a spray of sparks and purple electricity. The dog-eared boy growled and swung again and again, showing absolutely no true skill in the weapon beyond the basics. D-Kiva on the other hand was able to blow the blows and retaliate with a few swings of his own. Sparks of steel and electricity flew from the impacts while the pair moved around the battlefield.
The swordsman growled and went for an overhead strike, likely one of his sloppiest strikes yet. D-Kiva stiffened his legs and postioned himself. Rather than avoid the blow, he used the immense thickness of the Dogga Form to his advantage. The Tessaiga came crashing down against his shoulder, making another rain of sparks. Grunting from the pain, D-Kiva wrapped his left arm around the blade, keeping it where it was despite the pain.
"What the hell are you doing?" the swordsman demanded hotly.
"Winning!" D-Kiva snapped. Pulling back his free hand, he swung hard with the Dogga Hammer, smashing the weapon into the swordsman's side with as much force as he could muster. Considering the empowerments the armour had along with the user's natural strength that was quite a lot of power behind the blow. The awkward angle mixed with the surprise factor made for a clean blow. A cracking noise came from the impact was pure satisfaction as the swordsman was sent sailing through the air before he crashed through one of the half-destroyed houses. The force also made him drop his sword, leaving it clutched in D-Kiva's arm.
Panting, D-Kiva dropped the massive sword, somewhat interested in seeing it transform into a regular katana again. He was distracted by the numbing pain in his shoulder which made his left arm tremble. It likely wasn't the smartest move, but it was made for a victory. D-Kiva sighed as he was engulfed in red pixels which reverted him back to his Decade armour. Panting, he decided to try and make some tracks before the swordsman managed to get back onto his feet. He was quickly losing his ability to fight.
"Time to get out of here," he muttered.
"Huh?" Decade turned at the sound of something elastic being let go.
The last thing he saw was a glowing arrow striking his chest.
"Inuyasha's charging ahead as usual," Miroku huffed as the band of friends raced down the paths towards the village which they called home during their travels. They could see smoke rising in the distance, making all of them frown in fear. Inuyasha, impatient as always had used his superior speed to get ahead of everyone else. For all they knew, he could be fighting as they were still trying to arrive at the village.
"I hope Kaede's alright," Shippo worried.
"Ah, if there's anything that can take down that tough old lady, I wouldn't want to fight it," the pigtailed boy grinned.
"Ranki," Kagome admonished.
"What?" asked the pigtailed boy, Ranki.
"Kaede may be old but it's rude to outright call her that!" the schoolgirl scolded.
"We're about to enter a battle and you're being a stickler for politeness?" asked Sango.
"Well, whatever keeps you calm," the schoolgirl shrugged.
Pre-battle banter and the rituals one would take to keep themselves calm when they heard someone scream, "Kaze no Kizu!" followed by a loud explosion which they could feel the vibrations of captured their attention. Conversation halted as they picked up their speed to reach their home and hopefully keep anyone from dying. Breaking from the path, they dashed through the forests as a kind of shortcut. They quickly emerged from the other side to see the small village they knew so well half in shambles with flames burning down even more with two figures fighting in the middle of it.
"There's Inuyasha!" Kagome cried, dismounting her bike and grabbing her archery gear.
"Let's go!" Miroku nodded.
The group dashed down the hillside and towards the village proper, running past the destroyed homes and fearing if people they knew were killed or not. As they got to the area of the battle, they saw Inuyasha fighting against a man in strange gothic purple armour which had purple sections in the arms and chest with a large war hammer. They came to a halt, prepared to move in, but at the same time wanting to try and get a read on their enemy.
"This is not good," Ranki frowned, eyeing the armoured man. "This isn't some demon who can swing a weapon or just uses claws. This guy knows how to fight and knows how to do it right. If it wasn't for the fact that dog boy is half-demon and has Tessaiga, he'd have probably been taken down by now."
"This demon is that skilled?" asked Sango, bringing out her weapon.
"I would have trouble taking this guy on," Ranki frowned.
The group froze when they saw the demon take the Tessaiga in the shoulder, but somehow didn't lose an arm. It however created an opening the demon needed and made a counterattack which struck Inuyasha in the ribs and sent him sailing across the village, leaving Tessaiga at the demon's feet.
"Move!" Sango barked, the group of friends prepped their weapons and began their charge. Ranki grabbed the tuning fork from his neck while Kagome slipped an arrow into her bow. Taking aim, the arrow began to glow with holy light before she shot it across the battlefield. The demon, as it turned, changed forms into a green-eyed pink suit of armour. It didn't even get a moment to blink before the arrow collided with its chest in an explosion and sent it hurtling backwards into the ground. Miroku and Sango charged forward to follow up on the attack while the demon recovered. However, the demon didn't stir and instead flashed white for a moment but otherwise remained still.
"Is it dead?" asked Shippo, calling to his friends.
Miroku and Sango approached the downed demon, but once they were close enough they gasped in shock. Miroku turned to look at his friends, "It's a human! He's unconscious but he's alive!"
"And he looks just like Ranki!" Sango added.
"What?-!" Kagome and Ranki gasped.
"I could have told ye that much," the voice made Ranki, Shippo, and Kagome turn to see who had spoke. To their surprise, they saw the villagers returning to their home and a hobbling Kaede being assisted by two of the village women. She looked roughed up, but otherwise healthy. "Although you are mistaken if ye think that young man is responsible for all of this. I know not why he wears the same face as Lord Ranki, but it was a band of ogres that brought this destruction on us. Still, Inuyasha did not help things when he jumped to conclusions yet again."
Ranki and Kagome glanced at each other and then over in the direction where Inuyasha had been sent sailing. Sighing, Ranki turned to the trail of destruction and headed to where his sort-of friend had fallen, "I'll go get the dog. He's gonna be pissed though."
"What else is new?" Shippo chuckled.
It was not only Inuyasha and his group of friends who were dealing with the strange an unusual. Out in the grasslands of the countryside, another odd group was travelling in their on search for something. It was only a small group of four, but they had a strong bond to one another even if one of them would deny placing any sort of value in such 'frivolous' things.
The first of the group was a simple dragon steed which walked on four legs and had two heads. Its back sported an ornate saddle and its mouths were covered by muzzles, a good practice since the beast could shoot fire and thunder from its mouths. Unlike most demons, this one was quite benevolent by allowing people to ride on its back. It normally didn't have a name, but it did receive one from the one on its back, becoming known as Ah-Un
On Ah-Un's back was a tiny girl who barely seemed ten, if not twelve years of age. She had long black hair with a ponytail at the side. She also wore a nice orange and yellow yukata. She had an easy smile on her face as she stroked Ah-Un's mane. It was odd for a human child to be riding on a youkai's back, but in the troubled times they lived in just about anything was possible. She was hardly afraid of the creature, meaning that she was quite familiar.
Next in the group was a squat demon with green skin and amphibian features which included large bulbous yellow eyes. He was dressed in the robes of an imperial retainer, possibly meaning that he was an important person. Clutched in his hands was a staff that had two heads carved into the top, one that of a woman and one that of an old man. It was a macabre item, but it was mystical and of great importance. The little demon seemed to be panting slightly from moving to keep up with the dragon, but he had the stamina for it.
The leader of the group was a majestic man who filled the role to perfection. He wore regal robes with black armour that covered his torso with a spiked band circling his left shoulder. Strapped on his side was a pair of swords one a traditional katana while the other was a two-sided Chinese sword. The sensations coming from the swords however, were direct opposites of one another. One sword felt almost heavenly while the other was hellish. The man himself only had one arm, but his right arm had sharp inhuman nails and magenta stripes on his forearms. Over his right shoulder hung a length of fur which could be taken as some kind of furry tail. His face was strikingly handsome, framed by long silver hair. He face was marked on the cheeks with more magenta stripes and a magenta crescent moon on his forehead. His eyes were a bright gold, but his face overall was as piercing as arctic ice.
The group was walking along the grass, littered only by some hills and a large rock or two. They walked at a brisk pace, one that most humans wouldn't be able to keep up with for very long much less one like the little girl sitting on the back of the dragon. The man was silent while the girl hummed a nonsense song to herself while making small braids in the dragon's hair that she would leave untied so they would come apart which would allow her to start over again. The small kappa next to them simply tried his best to ignore the girl and keep up with his master as a good retainer should, although his patience looked like it was waning.
The powerful demon seemed to ignore the song, but quite suddenly he stopped moving. Then, with his voice as cold as his eyes he spoke, "Rin. Silence."
"Yes Lord Sesshomaru," the girl nodded, immediately stopping her noise.
"Is something wrong mi'lord?" asked the toad-like demon, catching up to his master.
The silver-haired demon remained silent, staring into the horizon. Neither the small demon or the girl knew what their lord was looking at, but they knew that it wasn't a good idea to question anything he did. Well, the small demon knew better since it would result in him getting attacked. The girl, Rin, would just have absolute faith in whatever Sesshomaru did as something he knew what to do.
"Rin. Jaken. Step back," Sesshomaru spoke, the knuckles on his hand cracking in preparation of attacking.
Ah-Un took the silent order and stepped back with Rin on his back while Jaken scrambled away. Sesshomaru remained where he stood, waiting for something to appear. The Daiyoukai's instincts were proven true when the air several feet in front of the small group was suddenly engulfed in shimmering liquid-like silver. Rin and Jaken gasped in shock at the sight of the substance, but Sesshomaru remained stoic at the sight. From the silver veil emerged a young man in a leather jacket and ball cap with jeans. Held in his hands were what to the group looked like squares with mirrors inside of them, but should Kagome or Ranma have seen them, they would have recognized them as CDs.
"Guards sure were pushy even if an El-Lord torched their boss," the young man grumbled as he put the discs into his jacket. Coming onto the grass, he suddenly blinked and looked around before he spotted Sesshomaru and his followers. "Holy crap, that was fast. I wasn't expecting to see you for at least a little while." When Sesshomaru didn't reply, the young man grinned and simply continued with his talking. "So, you're the famous new Lord of the West, right? Son on Inu-no-Taisho, Sesshomaru, right?"
"I am he," Sesshomaru answered. "Who are you? You look like a fake demon I know of but your scent is vastly different."
"Just call me Kaitoh," the young man grinned. "I'm a treasure hunter who's come to this world to find what wonders it may hide."
"Then you seek the Shikon-no-Tama?" Jaken frowned, unsure what to make of the situation. "It seems everyone and their mothers are after it."
"Ugh. That hunk of glass? No way!" Kaitoh gagged. "Wish granting items are a dime a dozen. Besides, I don't need one that threatens to consume the people who make a wish on it thanks to that gestalt demon that's sealed inside."
"Then what is your quarry?" demanded Sesshomaru. Kaitoh didn't seem at all nervous at being in the Daiyoukai's presence and simply shrugged.
"Since you asked, I heard stories talking about how Inu-no-Taisho had a pair of swords made from his fangs. One was capable of killing a hundred enemies in a single blow while the other was capable of bringing a hundred people back to life." The treasure hunter began to grin. "The Tessaiga and the Tenseiga. Now those swords are a class all of their own." His eyes took on a calculating gleam in his eyes as he glanced at the pair of swords at Sesshomaru's side. "Would you happen to know where I can find those weapons?"
Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed.
"Oh, silly me!" Kaitoh laughed. "If those swords were made from his fangs then it just makes sense that his sons would have them." He asked Sesshomaru, "So, which one do you have? Is it the Tessaiga or Tenseiga?"
Sesshomaru's grip tightened around the hilt of his prize sword.
"Hm..." Kaitoh tapped his chin, "I guess it doesn't matter. Either way I'll get one of them from you so do you mind handing them over?"
Sesshomaru slowly slid the blade out of its sheathe.
"I'm guessing that's a no," Kaitoh sighed. "Oh well." His eyes narrowed as his expression turned serious. "Dear Daddy always said that it's no fun without the challenge." He took out his signature weapon and transformation device known as the Diendriver and flashed his card at them, twirling the gun around in his hand before he slid the card into the chamber on the side and pushed the barrel forward to extend it.
Kaitoh raised the gun to the air and called out, "Henshin!" He pulled the trigger.
Green, blue and red images danced around Kaitoh and Rin exclaimed, "Ghosts!" before the images converged upon Kaitoh, donning him in a suit of monotone armor. Floatng above him was his insignia which then turned into blue bars which came down and attached to his visor, filling in his colors.
In a challenging tone, Kaitoh now Kamen Rider Diend, demanded, "Your sword, monsieur. S'il vous plait."
Sesshomaru didn't reply as he immediately charged forward, looking to the normal as as little more than a white blur. Most humans would never have been able to see the attack coming or even react to it in time. They would have been sliced on the spot before they could even make a move to dodge.
Of course, Kamen Rider Diend was hardly the average human.
Sesshomaru came in close and swiped with his blade, expecting to cut the strange human through his torso. Diend quickly began his own movement, going into a blue blur which had him bend backwards, missing the edge of the Tokijin. Sesshomaru noticed the movement before the barrel of the Diendriver came up to point at his forehead.
Sesshomauru dipped too the side, dodging the bullet quite literally before spinning and using the centrifugal force to strike an even more damaging blow at his blue opponent. Once again, Diend slipped around the blow. Taking one step back, he grabbed one of his cards from his side case before slotting it into his weapon and activating it.
"Attack Ride: Blast!"
Diend unleashed several homing blue bolts of energy which sizzled through the air. Sesshomaru quickly reacted and slashed his sword to block each blow, although it was enough for him to take a step back so to be able to strike all of the blows.
The exchange only took less than five second.
"Whew!" Diend laughed, flexing his joints. "Haven't had to move like that in a while!"
"Is that all you can do, then it would appear you would not be claiming my sword," stated Sesshomaru.
"I never said I was done, but it would appear that I'm going to need some help," said Diend as he pulled the barrel back into the gun before he reached to the card holder on his belt and drew three cards. He slid the cards in one at a time before sliding the barrel forward.
"Say hello to my friends," said Diend as he aimed his gun.
"Kamen Ride: Sasword! Knight! Saga!"
Diend pulled the trigger and three spheres of intense light burst from the barrel of his weapon. The spheres burst only a few feet away from Sesshomaru, forming more of what Rin squealed about as 'ghosts' before forming into three new bodies donned in strange suits of armor. The first was the familiar form of Kamen Rider Knight from the world of Ryuki no Sekai. The second was Kamen Ride Sasword from Caucasus no Sekai. The third was a Rider donned in a black bodysuit with silver armor that had castle tower-like shoulder pads, a chest plate covered with a stained glass window from a church, a helmet with large blue eyes styled like it was wearing a crown, and wielding a long thin red sword. This was the future of baby Taiga in Kiva no Sekai, Kamen Rider Saga.
"Get'em boys!" Diend ordered, the three Riders charging towards Sesshomaru with their weapons raised.
The Lord of the West narrowed his eyes as the three strange warriors charged at him with their weapons ready to strike him. Knight approached first swinging wide, but was blocked by the demonic steel of the Tokijin, making a blast of sparks from the steel. The scorpion rider followed up with an attack from the side, but the daiyoukai easily sidestepped the attack, causing knight to stumble from the lack of resistance suddenly appearing. Saga picked up the slack by thristing with his jacorder aimed at Sesshomaru's unprotected collarbone. The Fangire King was able to perform higher than any human, and it certainly showed with how close he got to piercing Sesshomaru's body, but the daiyoukai had earned his position through combat and strife in a time where war was commonplace between both humans and demons. His instincts were honed down to a wire and his reflexes even more though. He dipped around the attack and slashed Saga across the chest, knocking him back.
Sesshomaru eyed his opponents and noticed Knight and Sasword recovering from their last failures of attacks and moved quickly. Chanelling his power into the Tokijin, he unleashed another slash, this time launching a stream of pure demonic energy which his sword was known for unleashing. The blast seared through the air like a monster bent on revenge, understandable considering the source of the weapon's power. Sasword saw the blast coming and made a dash ot avoid it, but Knight was trying to get his balance from his earlier stumble only to be struke by the Tokijin's attack, resulting in a sizable explosion which ended the Rider.
"Ouch," Diend grimaced that had to hurt. Shaking his head, he continued to observe, "Still, not quite what I'd expect from a sword that can kill 100 demons or on that can revive 100 people. Obviously that thing isn't either so the one on his hip must be." Nodding, he spoke up to his minions. "Saga! Sasword! You two know what to do!"
Both Riders didn't show they heard, but they immediately moved into action. Saga lashed out with his jacorder, turning the red rapier-like weapon into a whip which cut through the air, crashing against Sesshomaru's defence which the daiyoukai raised with his sword. The energy of fangire and demon crashed against one another, bringing a rainbow of sparks off one another and keeping Sesshomaru still for the moment while. A moment which would last for an eternity for Sasword.
Sasword vanished into a purple blur which likewise disappeared. In the time it took for everyone to blink, the second sword on Sesshomaru's hip vanished as if into thin air while the daiyoukai was dealing with Saga.
"Lord Sesshomaru!" Jakken gasped, noticing the sudden change. "The Tenseiga! It's gone!"
The golden-eyed demon glanced at his side, revealing that indeed the sword itself was gone. While he never cared much for a weapon that could not kill, he felt...aggravated that the weapon was taken.
Sasword reappeared in front Diend, holding the sheathed Tenseiga in his hand and was holding it up to Diend for inspection.
"So this is the Tenseiga huh?" Diend grinned. "Nice. Looks a lot more humbler than I thought, but treasures come in all shaped and sizes." He took the sword and attached it to his back, energy from his armor keeping it in place. "Our business is complete."
"Return my sword or suffer my wrath," Sesshomaru threatened.
"Actually, I'm going to be leaving here alive. Au revoir," said Diend as he pulled his Diendriver's trigger. "Have fun with my friends."
"Attack Ride: Invisible!"
Diend's form rippled and then vanished into thin air. Sesshomaru would have been able to follow on his advanced sense of scent. Unfortunately, he was being attacked by both of Diend's constructs. Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed and he even revealed a hint of his teeth in a snarl. He raised his blade, the blue energy of the Tokijin shining ominously on it steel.
A dragon-like blast lightning energy erupted from the Tokijin, ripping through the air and ground both before colliding with both Kamen Riders. The attack obliterated both o them in fiery explosions, leaving only charred earth in their wake. The energy quickly died down, revealing the amount of damage in front of the stoic-looking, but obviously enraged daiyouki.
"Oh that dirty thief!" Jakken cursed. "How dare he steal Lord Sesshomaru's sword?-!"
"What a meanie!" Rin huffed, puffing her cheeks.
Sesshomaru stayed in the spot before he slowly sheathed his sword. After a moment of not moving, likely to compose himself. After a moment, he finally spoke again, "We're leaving."
"Yes Lord Sesshomaru!"
Meanwhile, back in modern Tokyo, Kasumi was worried about Ranma. He hadn't returned yet and she felt anxious. Ever since Mr. Higurashi pushed Ranma into that well where he vanished, she had been waiting patiently for him at the sacred tree, hoping he'd come out soon and let her know what was going on. Just what were they supposed to do in this world and who was the parallel Ranma who was also a Rider that they needed to meet?
Kasumi had observed a pattern with each world they had visited. In each Alternate Rider World was a Ranma who'd taken the mantle of one of the Kamen Riders. Her Ranma would then meet and befriend these alternate versions of himself and after gaining their respect and approval would gain their power, adding them to his arsenal. Of course, to gain their approval, Ranma would need to help them against a threat and...
Glancing up, Kasumi gasped as she saw that it was Narutaki. The dimension hopping man had his stoic stare planted on the girl.
"Why do you continue to place yourself in harm's way?" he asked, staring at her. "Just being near the Destroyer of Worlds is an invitation to disaster for you and your loved ones."
"Ranma may be many things," Kasumi frowned. "But he is not the kind of person who would destroy worlds like you describe. I think I know him much better than you do."
"You know, you do not know," the man replied. "You have no idea the amount of evil he represents."
"Ranma? Evil?" Kasumi huffed. "The only thing evil about him is his how he likes to brag when he wins a fight. How are you sure that you have the right Ranma? I have seen many of them since starting our adventure together."
"He is Decade, that is proof enough for me," Narutaki replied. Sighing, he turned around. "Continue to journey with Decade if you feel you must, but if you care about the innocent lives at risk you will end him while his back is turned."
Kasumi frowned deeper, a most unnerving sight for those who knew her, as she watched Narutaki vanish into one of his silver veils, no doubt taking him to a place where he could plot against Ranma once again.
"I do not like that man," the eldest Tendo daughter huffed to herself.
"Ugh..." Ranma groaned audibly, feeling the world come back to him. His chest and head hurt from the last hit he had been dealt. Opening his eyes, he saw that he was looking up at a wooden roof and felt solid wood underneath. His first thought was that he was inside somebody's hut, a familiar sensation for him since he had been living on the road most of his life.
'Hope Pop hasn't tried to steal from the owners yet,' he thought groggily to himself.
"So, you're awake," said a wizened voice. Ranma looked to see where it came from and saw an old lady with an eye-patch as she sat down next to Ranma.
"Looks like it," he replied.
"Now, would you mind explaining who you are and why you look like Ranki?" she asked.
"Who's Ranki?" he questioned, confused. "As for who I am, the name's Ranma Saotome."
"That's funny," said someone as he entered the hut, "Because I'm Ranma Saotome." He ammended, "Or at least I was."
Ranma looked over to the door of the hut, the sunlight sparking through hurting his eyes. Adjusting for the light, he saw that the person who had entered the small hut was indeed Ranma Saotome, a carbon copy of the one who was lying in the bed. He was wearing Chinese clothes like Ranma did, but they looked a little more worn, as if he had been spending a lot of time on the road. There was slight difference between the pair since the Ranma who was standing up had a slight tan from being in the sun a lot and perhaps a bit more athletic in frame than Ranma from staying on the move rather than living in the same spot over the course of a year.
"You aren't Ranma Saotome?" Ranma blinked.
"Like I said, I used to be," the second Ranma answered as he took a seat on the hardwood floor. "Nowadays I call myself Ranki."
"Oh," Ranma grunted, sitting up. "Okay."
"Now answer a question of mine," Ranki frowned. "Just why is it you show up looking just like me and with my old name?"
"It's a long and complicated story," the dimensional traveler answered. Ranki snorted as he crossed his arms.
"My whole life has been long and complicated. Try me."
Ranma rolled his eyes, "Okay, but if you want anyone else to come in and hear this then bring them. I don't want to have to tell this story more than once in a world."
Ranki nodded and got up before sticking his head out of the small hut and shouting out to somebody. Ranki came back in, but he wasn't alone. Following him were a small group of people including a schoolgirl, a monk, a girl in a yukata, a small cat-like thing, A guy in a set of red clothes with silver hair, and a really small kid that looked like he was part fox. A lot of them continued to keep their eyes on Ranma, especially the guy in red as they began to take seats near the fire pit in the room.
"Start talking," Ranki ordered.
"Not sure how long since it started," began Ranma. "It's hard to tell when you're traveling like I am. First, tell me if you believe in alternate worlds..."
And so Ranma explained his adventures and the reason in which he was travelling in the first place. He explained them the supposed fusing of the Rider Worlds, the other Kamen Riders, the various threats, as well as why he had come to Ranki's world which went on to explain how he had ended up in the village.
"And so I ended up here, fought some demons, and then beat up dog boy over there," finished Ranma.
"You didn't beat me!" Inuyasha (whom Ranki introduced with the others) barked.
"Smacking you into the distance with the Dogga Hammer sort of means you lost now don't it?" Ranma shot back, defending his victories out of sheer habit.
"Regardless of the fight," Miroku spoke up. "You claim to have arrived to deal with a threat that we and Ranki would otherwise be incapable of dealing with on our own."
"Seems like how it goes," Ranma shrugged. "Each world I've been to the Riders were being stacked up against threats that were way too big or specifically made to fight them. Could they have done it without me? Maybe, but I like to think that it was because of me that they managed to get out of that mess in the end."
"Then what kind of threat are we going to be dealing with?" asked Sango. "Just how are we going to deal with it on top of hunting Naraku and looking for the jewel shards?"
"Who and what?" Ranma blinked.
"Naraku, a scumbag demon who's trying to collect all of the shards of the Shikon-no-Tama so he can taint the whole thing with malice and corruption," Ranki frowned. "Although what he plans to do with it afterwards we don't know save for asking for a wish that can only mean death and doom."
"Hold on," Ranma sighed, scratching his temple. "You're going to have to explain this to me from the beginning."
It soon became Ranki's turn to make an explanation. He explained that they were in the Feudal Era of Japan, which for some reason was connected to Kagome's home through the Bone Eater's Well which Ranma vividly remembered the old man shoving him down into when he and Kasumi arrived at the shrine.
Ranki continued stating that fifty years ago, there was a jewel called the Shikon-no-Tama which had the ability to grant wishes, but also empower demons and humans with wicked hearts with immense power. It was held in the village and protected by a powerful priestess named Kikyo. One day, Inuyasha came to try and steal the jewel so he could become a full demon, but Kikyo foiled his attempt. Rather than kill him though, she let him be. Inuyasha and Kikyo continued to interact until they fell in love and decided that if Inuyasha wished to become a human with the jewel then it would vanish from being used for a pure wish and she would be free from her burden and be allowed to marry him. On the day they were going to execute their plan though, something strange happened. Kikyo supposedly betrayed Inuyasha and attempted to kill him and so he went to steal the jewel when a wounded Kikyo shot him with an arrow that pinned him to a tree in the village, incidentally the one which grew on the Higurashi Family's property as its sacred tree. Kikyo died from her wounds and wished that the Shikon-no-Tama be bruned along with her body so that none may have it.
Kagome explained that on her fifteenth birthday, got pulled down the well by a centipede demon into the Feudal Era. Her uncanny resemblance to the deceased Kikyo, whom died fifty years due to her wounds made many of the villagers believe that she was Kikyo reborn. The Centipede demon returned, and in the chaos Kagome discovered not only Inuyasha but released him. The centipede demon attacked Kagome and cut her side where the Shikon-no-Tama flew out from her wound. Inuyasha attempted to take it after he killed the centipede demon, but he was cursed with a set of beads which Kagome could use to subjugate him. So the two became partners in protecting the jewel, up until the point when Kagome shot a crow demon that swallowed the jewel and ended up shattering the thing and spreading the shards all over the country.
In their hunts for the Shikon jewel shards, they met Shippo the fox child who had been trying to collect shards so to become powerful enough to beat a pair of demons known as The Thunder Brothers. Since the Brothers had jewel shards of their own, Kagome and Inuyasha had to fight and kill them to take the shards back, earning Shippo's gratitude and friendship along with his company.
Miroku added his two cents by telling of how he met the group in his own hunt for jewel shards to lure in the demon Naraku. Fifty years ago, a demon named Naraku fought against Miroku's grandfather and punctured a hole through his hand and sutras, forming what is known as a Kazaana, a black hole. It was a curse which would go through through his children and would eventually swallow them like it did himself, his son, would eventually do the same to Miroku should the demon not be killed.
Sango then told her part where her clan of demon hunters were called to exterminate a demon plaguing a local lord which ended up killing most of them while her village was destroyed by Naraku so he could collect the shards they had found during their hunting expeditions. Naraku was in truth the lord of that castle pretending to be a human and had sent Sango out to kill Inuyasha after being fed the lie that he had been the one that was responsible or the deaths of her friends and family.
Naraku himself as they came to discover was in truth a half-demon or hanyou like Inuyasha. He used to be a human thief named Onigumo who was mortally wounded and fell into Kikyo's care. He fell in love with her and grew bitterly jealous of Inuyasha when he heard of how Kikyo had fallen in love with him. His dark soul drew in several demons and he made a pact with them to feed them his burnt and useless flesh and they would grant him a new body in return. All of the demons fused together while eating the thief and formed Naraku. Among his abilities was shape-shifting which he used to mae Inuyasha believe Kikyo attempted to kill him and pretended to be Inuyasha to mortally wound Kikyo. His intent was to make Kikyo wish on the jewel to heal herself and taint it with malice, but she allowed herself to die and ruined all of his plans for fifty years until Kagome returned and shattered the jewel. It became a race with the demon to collect the shards and stop him. So far, they only had a few shards while Naraku almost had the whole thing.
"Wow," Ranma blinked as the tale finished. That was when he noticed that one detail was left out. Turning to his doppelganger, he spoke, "Wait, just how do you fit into this then? And if Kagome and Inuyasha are the only ones who can go through the well how did we get through?"
"You, we can't be sure," Ranki shrugged. "As for me, well it may have something to do with how I met the Higurashis and got my Ongekkibou Rekka."
"Oh yeah!" Kagome gasped. "Grandpa was chanting all day around the sacred tree, worrying about how it might be dying after you came by!"
Ranki was travelling through the streets of Tokyo, pondering his latest test as part of his apprenticeship into the Takeshi Orginization. He had earned his Oni name and the right to go solo as far as the organization was concerned. Before his teacher would feel confident that he was ready to work on his own, Ranki had to create his own weapon and present its worth to be finally passed as a full fledged Oni.
Ranki specialized in the drum just like his teacher, so he would have to create his own weapon called the Ongekkibou Rekka. The instruments were basic in themselves, made from ancient tree wood with Oni Crystal on top, conduits for the Pure Sound which the Oni used in their weapons and attacks against the various demons they had to fight, specializing against the demon species Makamou.
Naturally his teacher offered him a number of places he could travel to in search for the right kind of wood, but that was all of the help he could offer. Ranki of course considered his teacher's words quite seriously, but he wasn't sure which space to pick. He knew his weapons had to be made, but he wanted to pick a weapon which had some extra kick and give him an advantage against any Makamou he would come across.
To that end, Ranki wanted to pick a tree which had more than just being ancient on its side but something special to it.
Where he could find one though he didn't know. So he was wandering about to try and get some ideas.
Walking through the streets, he tried to consider his options. As he walked though, he moved through the shade of a large hill which had plenty off green on it. He could even see a tree poking out from above. Out of sheer whim, Ranki decided to see what the tree might be like and see if he managed to luck out and find something interesting.
Walking around the hill, he spotted a set of stairs which led up to a torii gate which obviously indicated a temple. Climbing the stairs, he came out on top to see the humble temple which held a main prayer area, a small well house to the side, a nice house at the back and finally a large and obviously ancient tree in the centre which was cared for and considered sacred by the practitioners.
Now knowing he may be onto something after all, Ranki approached the tree to see if he could really discern anything about it. On closer inspection, he did take notice that there was a patch of bark growing on a thickness than the rest, as if something had been covering it for a couple of years. There was also the feeling that he got when he stood close enough to the tree, like he was standing in front of something special.
"I think I'm onto something," he spoke softly.
"Can I help you young man?" asked a new voice suddenly.
Ranki blinked and turned to see a short old man dressed in traditional clothes, looking at him warily. Ranki recognized the look. The mothers of teenage daughters in some of the small villagers he and his sensei would train at would give him those looks. Obviously the guy had a granddaughter his age and was on the lookout for boys who wanted to get fresh with her.
It was a constant in his life.
"Uh...yeah," the pigtailed young man nodded, bringing himself out of his introspection. "Does this tree have and kind of special history?"
"Our Sacred Tree?" the old man frowned, likely still wary of the teenager, but seemingly more than happy to tell stories about his temple's history. "Indeed, it does have a history. This tree has been around for at least 500 years, if not longer. Centuries ago a very powerful priestes known as Kikyo had used this very tree to seal away the terrible demon Inuyasha."
"Did she?" asked Ranki, now growing excited. A sacred tree which was over 500 years old? It was beginning to sound perfect for his Ongekkibou Rekka!
"Indeed," the old man nodded. "Since that event, this tree has been flooded with her holy power and has been treated as a sacred site ever since. It's been in my family for generations and I hope to pass it down to my grandchildren."
"Something to be proud of," Ranki nodded. "It looks like you and your practitioners take good care of this tree. Do you groom it, clip off dead branches and all that?"
"Of course we do," the old man nodded, quirking an eyebrow. "Why do you ask?"
"Well," Ranki began, scratching the base of his ponytail. "This is going to be a odd request..."
"I have heard many odd things before young man," the priest replied. "Just come out and say it. I'll decide if its reasonable or not."
"Well...okay then," Ranki shrugged. "I'm trying to make a set of special sacred instruments for my...hometown's festivals. I've got a taiko drum, but I need the drumsticks. I was kind of hoping that if you had a big enough branch clipping from this tree I'd be able to make them from it."
The priest quirked his eyebrow a second time, a silly thing since his brow was already quirked,"Hmmmm. That is an odd request. Still, as willing as I am since it seems like a worthy cause we simply do not have any pieces of wood that would be that big. The only one that was we used for our sacred fires long ago."
"Nuts," Ranki sighed. That sucked. He found the perfect tree to use, one that was ancient and had holy properties but he couldn't use any piece of it. Sure his Pop would have simply hacked off a limb and be done with it but Ranki tried to hold himself to a higher standard than Genma. It was the way of Takeshi after all.
"Okay," Ranki sighed. "I just had to ask. Thanks for your ti-"
Ranki and the priest looked up where the sound and come from only for their eyes to bulge when they spotted a sizable tree branch falling down towards them. Both of them let out yelps of fright, although the old man's sounded much more high pitched before they leaped to the sides to avoid being struck. The tree limb smashed to the ground, kicking up dust from the impact.
"Aaaaahhh!" the priest cried out, tears splashing from his eyes in a wonderful rendition of Soun Tendo's crying habits. "The Sacred Tree! A limb fell off The Sacred Tree!" He began running towards the house at a speed which really one didn't see in old people unless they were like the Old Ghoul or the Old Perv. "Souta! Get the incense! Get the sutras! Get the rosaries! We have to save The Sacred Tree!"
Ranki watched the old guy run before he looked down at the tree branch. It was a decent size and would certainly have enough to make his Ongekkibou Rekka with some wood to spare in case of emergencies. Sacred wood helped make some very strong sacred fire after all.
Looking up at the tree itself, Ranki grinned, "Thanks!"
Ranki had learnt from his mentor that trees possessed spirits and this one in this place was no different. It could sense something special in Ranki and had given him one of its branches in order for him to fulfil his task.
In thanks, he'd make the best damn Ongekkibou Rekka he could.
"My working theory is that the tree is what powers the Bone Eater's Well," Ranki explained. "Since Kagome's holy power is connected to it in the present, and Inuyasha is connected to it in the past its what creates the tunnel in time with the Shikon-no-Tama jumpstarting the process. Since I have my weapons made from the limb of the tree, it allows me to pass through as well."
"With the tree's permission of course," Kagome reminded him.
"Okay," Ranma nodded. He was really no expert in magic, which it seemed his counterpart had gotten an education in, but it still seemed to make sense anyway. The tree connected the past and the present via the well through the bond Inuyasha and Kagome had with the Shikon jewel.
"So how did you get mixed up in all this then?" he asked. "I mean, if you're some kind of demon hunter in the present how'd you start looking for jewel shards in the past?"
"A demonic artefact was active in the middle of Tokyo and he got involved," Kagome supplied.
"Almost made me deaf in the process," Inuyasha grumped.
"I said I was sorry," Ranki grumbled. "It went like this..."
From one of Ranki's contacts in Takeshi, he'd heard about some Makamou activity in the city. Makamou rarely ventured into populated areas unless there was something important they were looking for.
The supposed Makamou's activity was hard to miss. A man reported to the authorities that he was being attacked by a gang of hoodlums when a woman who looked like she was hit by a car, covered in blood but with a noh mask-like face with scars on it stumbled onto them. The gang wasn't sure what to make of her at first, but then her neck suddenly extended and she managed to bite off the heads of the gang members one by one. The man fled for his life and called for the police. They didn't believe him, but they did check the scene only to find shredded clothes and and pools of blood.
Takeshi immediately went onto the case just to be sure it wasn't a Makamou on the prowl. They thought the seemingly perfect face as well was the extanding neck were big clues. They at first thought that it was a Douji or a Hime collecting food for a newborn Makamou to feed before it could move on to solid food. After checking several books worth of research and cross referencing further similar cases that showed up, they thought they finally had the answer.
The Flesh-Eating Noh Mask.
It was a cursed artifact that had supposedly been sealed and eventually lost over the years. Takeshi had been trying to find it and thought one of their antique dealers had finally gotten a lead on it before the current crisis started. The item had a dark and gruesome history which all but ensured exorcists and demon hunters were going to get involved.
The mask had been carved from a Bodhi Tree, a tree sacred to Buddhist faith. Yet somehow, people suspected that the tree had been cursed by a demon or something had gone wrong in the process of creating the mask since the first person who wore the mask in preparation for an important play suddenly became possessed and went on an indulgence spree which personified gluttony. Even more horrifying, the person wearing the mask seemed to simply rot away at a rapid pace until the body couldn't function anymore. The mask then leaped from the corpse and latched onto someone else, making that person attack the others around it, killing them and fusing their bodies with the one already possessed to create a disgusting blob made out of human flesh with a tangle of limbs and a gallery of faces lining its surface.
A passing through monk saw the catastrophe and managed to seal the mask, turning the bodies it collected into mush while placing the mask in a box which was lined with sacred seals. The artisan who created the mask took responsibility for his horrible creation and kept it sealed and supposedly passed it down to his descendants to make sure that it remained sealed forever since any attempts to destroy it seemed to only bring misfortune to those who tried. It vanished a long time ago, but considering the recent events it had obviously gone active again.
Ranki was patrolling the city, trying to determine if there were any clues as to where the mask and whatever poor corpse it was possessing had gone. As with any Oni, he had his Akanetaka flying around looking for clues and reporting back to him from where they were assigned. So far, he hadn't found anything.
"Just where can a shambling blob made out of corpses hide?" Ranki muttered, gritting his teeth. This was his first solo assignment and he was so far finding nothing!
As soon as he said that, one of his Akanetaka had swooped down in front of him. Catching the Disc Animal on his hand, he smiled, knowing that he finally had a lead. The Disc Animal changed back to its CD-like disk form and Ranki put the disk onto his tuning fork before folding down the forks and spinning the disk to listen to the message it had recorded.
"So, that's where you're hiding," Ranki realized. As a trained martial artist, he could jump high and using roof-hopping he managed to get to the spot easily.
The spot as it turned out was a construction site which was rather silent at first, not indicating that a flesh-eating mask was wandering about on a body constructed from human corpses. Still, the Akanetaka were rarely wrong when they reported the site, he looked around before he heard the noise of building materials crashing around on the higher floors.
Frowning, Ranki began leaping up floor by floor through the holes in the floors, effectively making his own path up to the source of the noise. Coming up to the floor below, he dashed up the last set of stairs before coming out on top.
Immediately he spotted his target. It was a gross combination of several bodies which was impossible to tell where one ended and another began. Faces, torsos, hair, arms, and legs were sticking out at every angle like a demented jigsaw puzzle which couldn't be taken apart. at the front was the one head which was wearing the Flesh-Eating Noh Mask, which looked as pristine as it did when it was carved with strange scars on is surface. A truly disgusting sight.
The blob of flesh was crawling along the floor, using its limbs to move its fat mass along, stalking towards a girl in her pajamas who looked like she was effectively pinned and more than a little bit afraid.
Ranki was moving in the flash. Dashing across the distance towards the two, he leaped into the air before coming back down with a double kick into the centre of the fleshy mass, "Hiyah!" His feet struck bone, allowing the force of the attack to send the Noh Mask and its host(s) flying across the half-finished floor.
"Huh?" the girl gasped as Ranki landed on his feet, glaring darkly at the mass of tissue and blood.
"Run!" he shouted to the confused girl. Ahead of him, the blubbery pile of flesh managed to right itself with the mask staring at him with almost a leer.
"Ooooooh!" a wet and gurgling voice echoed from the mask. "Your body is strong. Much stronger than any I have seen. Your flesh will be especially welcome as part of me. It will make me strong!"
"You've had enough if you ask me," Ranki frowned, reaching into his pocket. "It's time for your story to end Flesh-Eating Noh Mask!" Ranking produced his Onkaku, the Henshin Onsa (tuning fork). Pressing a button, the horns of the golden demon face unfolded to form a tuning fork. The Noh Mask seemed to stiffen at the sight of it.
"That device...!" the Noh Mask gasped.
"Henshin," Ranki whispered, tapping the fork against his fingers, making a pleasant ringing noise as far as he and the girl were concerned.
To the Noh Mask...
"GYAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" the Noh Mask screeched, it's blubbery mass thrashing as its 'head' whipped back and forth in agony. "THE NOISE! THE NOISE! MAKE IT STOP! IT HURTS! MAKE IT STOOOOOOP!"
The girl was stunned at seeing how such a small noise was causing such agony to the Noh Mask. Ranki merely raised the Onkaku to his forehead, allowing the sound waves to form what looked like a gold oni face on his forehead. Lowering the tuning fork, Ranki stood as a red aura overtook him, covering his features from sight. The girl then gasped when Ranki's entire body was suddenly engulfed in blue fire, a sound like a rising voice echoing from the centre of the inferno.
"HYAH!" Ranki bellowed, swiping his arm and extinguishing the flames to reveal himself as a new man.
From head to toe he was donned in a deep blue suit which could be mistaken as flesh, or perhaps it could be mistaken as armor. Around his waist was a silver belt which had a round buckle decorated with three tomoe. He wore gauntlets which were a crimson red which was only matched by his crimson boots with both decorated by silver accents on the wrists and ankles. His torso had a silver harness around it which look almost like primitive armour. Strapped to the back of the belt were a pair of red drumsticks which were bright red with red crystal tips carved into the shape of oni faces, one smiling and one frowning. Finally, Ranki's face was encased in a blue mask, but it held not true facial features. Instead, red markings famed his face like a kabuki player with a pair of horns sprouting up from his head with the demon face in the centre.
He was now Kamen Rider Ranki
Play Kamen Rider Hibiki Opening
"Oni..." the demon masked hissed. "ONI!"
Ranki reached behind his belt and grabbed the drumsticks, twirling them around in his grip as he got into a battle stance. "Come on! Let's do this!"
The Flesh-Eating Noh Mask accepted the challenge, lunging towards Ranki with all the intention to kill him. Backing away from the demon mask, Ranki jumped and launched himself into the air and slammed his foot against the demon's face, knocking it back. With his drumsticks, he bashed them into the face and knocked it to the ground.
From his training, he'd learnt to weaken demons before finishing them off for good. Long ago, he would've been appalled by the thought of taking a life, but his training under his sensei taught him that if demons did not respect human life then they had no reason to live.
Taking a deep breath, with his eyes set on the demon, he unleashed a blast of flames from his mouth which hit it, causing it to shriek in agony. Rushing forward towards the burning demon, Ranki bashed it across the face repeatedly with the drumsticks before kneeing it in the face to send it staggering backwards.
"I will devour your flesh!" the Noh Mask bellowed, lunging towards Ranki once again. Ranki inhaled and prepared to unleash another gout of flame at his enemy to drive it off...
A blur of red dove into the area, unleashing a slash of light which cut off a large chunk of the blob of flesh, revealing the brown and mushy insides with only bones helping support the structure. Ranki blinked and turned to see that the one who had interrupted thee fight was what appeared to be a teenager around his age with long silver hair, red clothes, a sword, and dog ears on top of his head. Strangely, there was a small boy clutching onto his back.
"Kagome!" the boy cried, leaping off the teen's back and running to the girl. "You're okay!"
"Feh," the teen snorted. "Well, at least you haven't gotten eaten yet," He then looked at Ranki. "And just who the hell are you?"
Ranki would have answered, if only to launch a smart alek remark, but the mass of flesh still attached to the Noh Mask shuddered before the neck extended towards the group, the mask actually splitting in half to reveal sharp wooden teeth, snarling at the group.
"MOVE!" Ranki bared, pushing the boy in red to the side as the mass of flesh and the mask approached. The Oni charged at the raging pile and grabbed the buckle of his belt, detaching it with a snap. The Noh Mask hissed and lunged, but Ranki was just as quick, planting the buckle onto the cursed item's face, freezing it in place. The buckle then began to spin before slight burst of flame was let out and the buckle grew into the size of a taiko drum with the tomoe markings on it.
The cut up pile of flesh was quivering, struggling to move but it otherwise wasn't moving at all. Ranki stepped up to the giant drum and raised his Ongekkibou Rekka, the crystals almost shining as the sun began to rise.
"Hey, what are you do-!" the silver-haired teen growled standing up. He looked like he was about to charge Ranki for the perceived insult of shoving him aside when the Oni continued his assault.
"Ongekki Da," he announced "Kaen Renda no Kata!"
Ranki began to perform a rapid drum solo, beating the taiko drum that he'd formed on the Noh Mask rapidly as pulses of sound seemed to vibrate in the air. There was a rhythm in his beat that could not be ignored and it would appear that each strike was causing harm to the demon.
It was not the only one being affected by the assault, however..
The teenager with the silver hair suddenly screamed as he covered his ears. The noise of the drumbeats were actually hurting him.
"Inuyasha!" the girl cried, running to his side with the small boy.
Ranki, however, could not stop his assault until the very end. However, the beating would soon end. He raised both his drumsticks, tapped them together, and smashed them onto the taiko drum with all his might.
The Noh Mash's composite body expanded and blew up like a balloon before it exploded as the mask itself shattered to pieces. As the pieces fell to the ground, Ranki noticed something glittering among the pieces of wood and rotting flesh. Placing his weapons back on his belt, he got to one knee and scooped up the glowing object. From what he could see it looked like a piece of crystal.
"Now...what do we have here...?" he asked himself. He noted the others who were present and saw how the silver-haired teen was glaring at him.
"Hand over the jewel shard, you Oni," teen in red snarled. It would have been a tad more intimidating if he wasn't clenching his ear with one hand with the girl fretting at his side.
"Oni?" the girl questioned.
Ranki gripped the small shard of crystal in his hand before he stood up and addressed the group, "Okay, so can anyone explain to me just who our friend in red is and how the Flesh-Eating Noh Mask revived? I'm going to have to make a report of this you know."
"It was really surprising to learn that there was a nationwide organization of Oni out there protecting people from modern day demons and stuff," Kagome explained. "If Grandpa knew he'd go on a rampage with sealing sutras though."
"Seems the type," Ranma shrugged before looking to his counterpart. "So Takeshi assigned you to help them?"
"Well, we first had to get the story out of Kagome and Inuyasha," Ranki explained. "My superiors were pretty shocked to hear that the Shikon-no-Tama had returned. All of the myths and legends we have on it said that Priestess Kikyo had it cremated with her. It also...wasn't too flattering in regards to Inuyasha Who Seeks The Shikon-no-Tama."
"They can all bite me! It wasn't my fault!" the irate hanyou snapped angrily.
"What he said," Ranki shrugged. "Since the Jewel returned and apparently was broken into pieces, Takeshi assigned me to help collect them before Naraku does. The Noh Mask proved that all it takes is one shard to begin flirting with disaster."
"And Ranki's been nothing but a huge help since he joined us," added Kagome.
"Ranki," Ranma muttered. "Why is it that you call yourself that? Weren't you born Ranma Saotome like me?"
"I was, but things change," said Ranki. "After I officially became a full-fledged Oni I took on a new name and abandoned my old name. Essentially, Ranma Saotome died and Ranki was born. Ranki means 'Wild Demon' you know."
"How did that happen?" Ranma asked.
Ranki sighed, "Nerima."
Ranma groaned, "Lemme guess. Things were getting out of control after the failed wedding, right?" It seemed the other Ranmas had also become Riders at some point after the wedding disaster. It seemed to be a common turning point in their lives.
"Yeah," Ranki nodded. "I tell you it was real bad. Pop and Mr. Tendo were harping on me everyday about either making Akane mad or not spending enough time with her even though she had made it pretty clear what she thought about me."
"Pervert. Jerk. Creep. Lecher?" asked Ranma.
"Bingo," Ranki nodded. "Didn't help that the Fiancee Brigade were determined to drag me down the isle kicking and screaming or drugged up so high I couldn't tell up from down so long as a minister said we were married and a ring to prove it."
"I've had days like that," Miroku nodded sagely, earning a sharp glare from Sango which made the monk sweatdrop and chuckle weakly.
"And wherever those girls wet, the rivals followed with nothing but utter desperation and rage to fight with instead of actual skill," Ranma guessed. "Ryoga blaming me for all his problems and Akane's, Kuno demanding my death for trying to keep Akane and the pigtailed girl under my dark magical thrall, and Mousse still believing that I was the sole reason that Shampoo wouldn't marry him."
"Oh yeah," Ranki grumbled. "Mom was no help either since she figured I should just take them all as mistresses and seemed to be getting itchy with that sword of hers whenever she saw me not trying to seduce the girls around me and get them pregnant with my bastard children."
"I still say there's something wrong with that lady," Shippo muttered. "I mean, Miroku tries to sire kids all the time and stuff that Ranki's mom thinks is great and no girls seem to like him once they get to know him."
"I guess I'm not one for long term relationships," the monk shrugged.
"You mean longer than a half hour or so?" teased Ranki.
"So, how did you become an Oni?" Ranma asked.
"I met the man who became both my mentor and father figure," said Ranki.
Ranma was sitting under the bridge he would use as his secret hiding place. It was his private spot where he would think. It was a good thing he had found it before it started raining so he was still dry and male.
The reason he was hiding...er...resting, underneath the bridge was because of another spat he had with Akane which resulted in the usual harping he got from the parents for making Akane mad and how unmanly it was. Knowing that the tension wasn't going to leave the house for a while, he decided to go take a walk. Of course, Akane's fierce glare while he left told him that he was going to receive a harsh interrogation when he got back about where he went.
"I don't get it. She keeps saying she doesn't want to be with me and avoids me half the time but the rest off the time she just won't leave me alone and gets mad when I'm not in eyeshot," he grumbled. "Then the parents get mad at me and seem to think it's always my fault. Oh no, it's never Princess Akane's fault. She's perfect in every way, she can't do anything wrong except cook, sew, clean, fight, keep her temper, swim, or really anything even remotely connected to something girls do."
Needless to say, he was dealing with a little bit of tension. Thankfully none of the Fiancee Brigade managed to find him or else things were just going to go downhill further than they already had.
Ranma closed his eyes, wanting to escape reality and go into a peaceful daydream...
...when he heard someone humming...
Ranma blinked and looked out from under the bridge to see what it was. Walking down the street was a man who wore a simple black jacket with jeans and black shoes. He was holding up an umbrella. He had normal black hair and to be honest looked rather unremarkable, but he seemed to have this aura of vitality around him like nothing seemed to bother him. The image was further enhance when he turned from humming into outright singing.
"Walking in the rain, coming from the market, have a trusty umbrella, a friend to keep me dry," he sang. It was a made up song inspired by what was going on around the man, but it seemed to reflect his attitude.
As if the man could tell he was being looked at, his eyes looked to the bridge to see Ranma underneath it. The man didn't stop singing from the sight and instead finished his song, "And I find a boy under the bridge."
The man stepped off the sidewalk and onto the wet grass where he made his way to the bridge where Ranma was currently residing. Bending his knees, he was crouched to see eye to eye with Ranma. The man smiled and gave a small salute to the martial artist, "Yo. Did you get caught out in the rain?"
"Something like that," Ranma shrugged. "Kind of needed to clear my head and decided to go for a walk when this started."
"Hm," the man nodded. "I know a good place for clearing one's head if you're interested. It's a bit of a walk though."
"Will I have to get wet?" asked Ranma. "I have a...thing, about getting wet."
"You're in luck then," the man smiled. Reaching into his jacket, he produced a second umbrella. "I always carry a spare in case I meet a friend."
Ranma couldn't help but smile weakly.
The man guided Ranma to a local shrine which obviously the Wrecking Crew had never been to before since there was absolutely nothing weird or out of the ordinary about it. The old man who ran it seemed to be a good friend of Ranma's new acquaintance, calling him Hibiki. The name made Ranma tense slightly considering it was Ryoga's last name, making him fear for a second that the two may be related. He quickly dismissed that thought after seeing how calm and in control Hibiki was, especially after it was quite clear that he had a strong sense of direction.
Hibiki seemed to accept calling Ranma 'Boy' even though they now knew each other's name. Unlike Genam who used it as a gruff form of referring to his son out of some kind of manly 'tough love' approach, Hibiki just seemed to consider it a nickname for a new acquaintance.
"So, Boy," Hibiki spoke as the pair enjoyed some hot tea while looking over the shrine property. "You look like you have the world on your shoulders."
"Feels like it," Ranma sighed. "But it doesn't help that everyone seems to think that I'm the cause and solution to all of their problems."
"Oh?" Hibiki raised an eyebrow. "Care to talk about it?"
Ranma wasn't usually one to talk about things that bugged him, part of the supposed 'man amongst men' ideas that Genma had beat into him. Still, something about Hibiki made Ranma feel like he could trust the man to listen and not judge at least until all of the facts were in..
"If you don't mind hearing a story of the bizarre, tragedy, and stupidity," Ranma sighed.
And so Ranma explained his life, starting with the ten year training trip which seemed to kick start everything else in his life. He explained some of the incidents which occurred during that trip including the Dragon Whisker, Neko-Ken, and Jusenkyo even going so far as to show off his curse. Hibiki didn't even blink at the change, merely gesturing for Ranma to continue. Ranma then explained his life in Nerima since the Journey came to an end. He explained he and Akane dancing around each other with Ranma once willing to admit he loved her but Akane seemed determined not to trust him but at the same time keep him away from any other girl who so much as looked at him funny. He explained Ukyo and the deal his father made with hers, as well as her father deciding the whole mess was her responsibility to clean up despite him being the one who helped make it. He further explained the girl's willingness to use their past friendship as a tool to try and force Ranma to pay attention to her. He talked about Shampoo and her blantant use of any means necessary to make him marry her, treating him more like a prize stud to be claimed rather than a husband to love and care for. He talked about how Kodachi stalked his male side and held a vendetta for his female side, not once believing they were one and the same despite seeing the change herself. He talked about Kuno and his obsessive quest for both Akane and his girl side living in his own delusional world where he was undefeated and Kami's gift to women. He mentioned Ryoga and his infatuation with Akane and his constant using of a personal weakness to gain sympathy from her even though he had Akari who was willing to do anything for him. He also mentioned Mousse and his delusions of Shampoo loving him and Ranma being responsible for their not being together. He even mentioned the parents and their constant harping about honour and manliness even though they were hypocrites on the issue, using it to make Ranma do what they wanted and ignoring it when it was turned against them. He even mentioned all of the weird things that seemed to be the norm out in Nerima which everyone seemed to simply ignore or spare a passing glance.
"Hm. You've lived a pretty interesting life," Hibiki commented. Smiling, he commented. "Most kids your age are out looking for adventure but here you are unable to get away from it."
"I don't mind the chaos when I have to fight someone to do the right thing, but most fights these days are those losers who blame me for why the girls they're after don't like them or the Fiancee Brigade getting into another catfight over me," Ranma sighed.
"Seems to me you need more training then," Hibiki commented, taking a sip.
"Training?" Ranma blinked. "You mean like martial arts? Beating up the rivals only puts them down for a while and then they get up and it starts all over again."
"Not training in martial arts," Hibiki shook his head. "Although you certainly aren't lacking in that area. No, what I mean is training in life. You're overspecialized in fighting that you've missed experience on other things in life. Surely you've noticed in some of your situations that you've ended up out of your depth when it came to things outside of fighting?"
"No kidding," Ranma sighed, willing to admit that when it came to certain things, like dealing with Nabiki, that he had no idea what to do. It was a fact the fiancees like to use when they put on their crocodile tears to make him pay attention. "So what do I do then?"
"Well, when one needs training they find a teacher who can train them," Hibiki shrugged, acting like it was an obvious answer. "I know some people who might be able to help. My friend and his daughters will be more than happy to give a few tips."
"Uh...daughters?" Ranma asked, tensing.
"Relax, they're in their twenties. Much too old to consider you as a boyfriend," Hibiki chuckled. "They may start treating you as a little brother before they're through with you though."
"And that's how I met Hibiki-sensei and started training under him. Mind you, he was a much better teacher than Genma ever was," said Ranki. Hibiki had also been more of a father than Genma and never treated Ranki as a tool for personal gain. Whatever Hibiki had taught Ranki was to help the boy and not himself.
"Hibiki-sensei was the one who introduced me to Ongeki-do," Ranki added.
"So, you spent a lot of time with that guy," noted Ranma.
"I was introduced to the rest of his friends as well," Ranki nodded. "Of course things in Nerima didn't get any better but I found a place that accepted me. However..."
"They found you."
Ranma, or rather Ranki as he had taken to calling himself since he learned the secrets of the Oni and became Hibiki's apprentice, stumbled down the street. He was in rough shape with a black eye, swollen lip, scrapes and cuts all over, a limp in his right legs, and favouring his right side which he was clutching tightly like an internal injury had taken place. He had just escaped from Nerima since the Fiancee Brigade and the Rivals had finally had enough of his absence from their lives and demanded to know where he was going all the time. The fiancees had worked themselves up into jealous fits thinking he was seeing some girl behind their backs while the rivals figured he was running away from them like a dishonorable coward. They all demanded to know where he went and when he refused to say, stating he had a right to his own privacy, things degraded into a fight with the rivals wanting to kill him and the fiancees wanting to punish him for 'cheating' on them. How the girls came to that leap of logic he didn't know, but he wasn't about to let himself get beaten up for something he didn't do. Hibiki-sensei had managed to work that habit out of him concerning taking abuse from the women in his life.
The battle had been epic and he was pretty sure they had destroyed a street along with at least one of the buildings which were part of it. The rivals and fiancees certainly got their licks in with their assaults and such, but they kept getting in each others' way in wanting to be the one to claim or kill Ranki and were just as busy fighting each other as they were him. He had managed to slip away when Ryoga managed to misplace the fight and destroy a wall, sending dust in all directions. Mousse attacked Ukyo thinking she was Ranki while Shampoo got splashed by a damaged water main, turning her into her cursed form. Fortunately Ranki didn't see it. Kuno was easy enough to dodge since he had as much sensory abilities as the average person, seeing his swordsmanship as the ultimate technique despite his numerous losses.
Knowing he couldn't go back to the dojo since it would lead to only more browbeating from the parents as to where he was going (without Akane) all the time, Ranki headed out to the one place he knew he was safe, the Tachibana Candy Shop.
It was a nice place which did reasonable well. It was run by the Tachibana Family consisting of Ichiro Tachibana, a man who was like an older version of Hibiki and his daughters Kasumi and Hinaka. Kasumi was serene like the Kasumi Tendo he knew, but she was constantly in the thick of things by helping out the Oni with some of their hunts. The younger Hinaka was more excitable and helped out with researching Makamou. All three were who manned the Takeshi Orginization's HQ for the area.
As Hibiki suggested when they met, Kasumi and Hinaka were more than happy to teach Ranma a thing or two considering social situations, especially ones that deal with girls. It helped him adapt to social situations a little better, at least enough to be able to tell when the Fiancees Brigade were trying to manipulate his emotions by pretending that he had hurt their feelings and threatening to cry. As predicted, Kasumi and Hinaka all but adopted him as a little brother since they felt he needed so much guidance. Ichiro didn't mind, happy to not being the only man in the house anymore.
Kasumi, at the moment, was sweeping in front of the store when she spotted Ranki. She gasped, "Ranki-kun!" and quickly was at his side, dropping her broom to support him. "What happened to you? Quickly, come inside!"
Kasumi gently put him down in a chair to check his wounds. Hinaka and Ichiro were also present and Ranma groaned painfully. He told them a brief explanation of what had happened.
"This is becoming serious," Ichiro frowned. "The police should get involved."
"Good luck with that," Ranki snorted. "I haven't seen the police get involved since I lived in Nerima. I think they prefer a hands off approach and let us resolve things ourselves." He hissed as Kasumi applied some iodine to his injuries.
Ichiro frowned, "Well, it's a good thing that the police here take things seriously."
"I'll call Hibiki-san," said Hinaka. "You can rest here as long as you want."
"Arigatou, Hinaka-neesan," Ranki smiled.
"Ah! You called me neesan! Yes!" the redhead grinned before she went to grab the phone.
While Kasumi was treating Ranki's wounds and Hinaka was busy with the phone, the Tachibana Candy Shop became busy. Ibuki, another Oni and a rather handsome fellow with a crush on Kasumi came to call with his apprentice Akira, a moody girl who harboured some serious ill intent towards all Makamou. They immediately took notice of Ranki's condition and offered what assistance they could. After them came Zanki, a man who was one of the most experienced next to Hibiki but had to retire due to a wound he received to his leg in a hunt, and Todoroki, the greenest Oni in Takeshi at the moment were reporting in from a hunt and likewise noticed what happened and began lending what support they could. It was a mindset that everyone in Takeshi held themselves too, they were more than just an organization fighting monsters, they were an extended family who supported one another through thick and thin. Although Ranki was still an apprentice, he was very much one of them even having taken to the point of giving himself an Oni name to show his connection. Hibiki was the last one to arrive, but likely one of the most concerned since Ranki was his apprentice.
Kasumi and Hinaka really wanted to call the police and under normal circumstances that would be the right thing to do, but Ranki's situation wasn't quite normal. The Nerima District was a separate district from where the Candy Shop was placed so any calls for police intervention in Nerima would be given to the Nerima Police Department. Ranki's own admission said that the police there seemed to take a hands off policy when it came to the martial artists who resided there and likely wouldn't do anything feeling that the situation would simply resolve itself like it always seemed to do.
Todoroki was all for going to Nerima and cracking some skulls, but Zanki reminded him that they would be no better than the infamous Wrecking Crew if they did that. They had to handle the situation properly, not like a bunch of gangs who were getting into a turf war with one another. Ibuki and Hibiki both suggested that Ranki live elsewhere, something Kasumi and Hinaka were quite willing to agree with. In the end it was Ichiro who had the best idea.
"Perhaps it's time we have Ranki earn his name rather than simply hold it."
"For a moment, I felt at peace knowing that there were people who cared enough to support me. But, it didn't take long for the Wrecking Crew to find me though," Ranki sighed.
"Nabiki," Ranma guessed correctly and Ranki nodded. "Then she sold the information which led them in front of the store."
"But this time they were in for a surprise. They thought I would be alone. How wrong they were."
"RANMA, GET OUT HERE!"
"SAOTOME, FACE YOUR DEATH!"
Everyone inside the small candy shop looked up when they heard the shouting from outside. They didn't need to guess that Ranki's rivals and those in competition for his hand had managed to track him down. It naturally didn't surprise them since one or two of them had some considerable tracking skills and failing that, the middle Tendo daughter likely had a role to play in finding Ranking so quickly.
Ranki sighed, "It didn't take long for them to find me." He stood up to go outside and face them, but suddenly felt a pat on his shoulder which got him to sit back down in his seat.
"Let us handle this," Hibiki smiled. "You rest here."
Hibiki looked to his fellow Oni and all three of them nodded in response. Ranki was one of theirs and they were going to stick up for him just like they knew he would have stuck up for them. All four of them went to the front door of the store and exited to face the small group who seemed bound and determined to take control of Ranki's life or end it. Collected outside was the expected group of Shampoo, Kodachi, Ukyo, Akane (who had been goaded into going by the parents), Ryoga, Mousse, and Kuno. All of them looked scuffed up from the earlier fight in Nerima save for Akane, but were certainly ready for more.
"Can we help you?" asked Hibiki patiently. "You're being awfully rude."
"You give Airen!" Shampoo ordered, pointing at the man. "We know he here! Pay too too much money to greedy girl to find him!"
"And what would you do if you had him?" asked Zanki, crossing his arms.
"Kill him for stringing along Akane/Shampoo/my pigtailed girl!" shouted the rivals.
"Punish him for cheating on me/for being a pervert!" the fiancees snapped back.
"Well, there's just one problem with that plan of yours," said Ibuki. "We're not about to let you. You see he's kind of become like a little brother to us."
"So if you want him!" Todoriki punched his palm, "You have to go through us!"
"You have chosen the wrong side, foul minions!" Kuno declared, drawing a bokken. "No doubt Saotome's foul magic has enchanted you! Fear not! For my righteous allies and I shall free you all upon slaying him!"
The four Oni blinked and looked at Kuno, obviously marking him as someone who was less than mentally stable if he honestly believed the tripe that was coming out of his mouth in favour of facing the reality that he wasn't as great as he thought he was.
"Look, just give us the pervert and we'll leave!" Akane snapped impatiently, just itching to bring out her handy mallet for some much belated pervert bashing.
"And we said we're not going to let him go," Ibuki retorted. "And like my friend said that if you want him you'll have to go through us."
"Then we have a problem here, don't we Sugar?" Ukyo frowned.
"I guess we do," Zanki shrugged.
"Oh ho ho ho ho! Then you shall fall before the might of the Black Rose!" Kodachi laughed. "Attack!"
Hibiki drew out his Ongekibou Rekka, Zanki and Todoroki gripped their OngekiShingen Retsuzan and Ongekishin Raigou, and finally Ibuki had his Ongekimei Narukaze. It was Ibuki, of course, who made the first move to hinder the NWC's advancement by pulling his weapon's trigger, firing bullets of compressed wind at their feet.
"Last warning," said Ibuki. The NWC didn't listen and roared as they charged.
Hibiki aimed for the nearest target, which just happened to be Akane who lunged forward with her mallet. He sidestepped and she hit the ground instead before he swung his own drumsticks down on her wrist to disarm her. Stunning her, he sent her staggering with strikes to the chest and a blow to the head to knock her out.
Ryoga, witnessing this, became angry and went to hit Hibiki only to be pushed backwards by Ibuki's weapon, knocking the wind out of him.
Zanki and Todoroki had their hands full with the Kunos and Amazons as well while Hibiki went to engage Ukyo. Suddenly, the door of the Candy Shop opened and various Disk Animals came pouring out. It was a swarm of tiny mechanical beasts as they lunged at the NWC like rabid the group as a whole were no strangers to being attacked, being attacked by small animals which could get at the sensitive spots like their faces...or other parts, were something new.
Shampoo and Mousse were besieged by several types of avian Disk Animals, pecking at their faces and ruining their concentration int he midst of the fight, making them loose any advantage their amazon training would have given them. Kodachi was attacked by the serpent Disk Animals which were entangling with her limbs, causing her to shriek. It turned out she didn't like snakes all that much despite having a giant alligator in her yard. Ryogo and Ukyo had to deal with the crab, wolf, and ape Disk Animals biting at their feet and climbing up their bodies to attack their faces.
Ibuki snickered at the sight before glancing at the entrance of the store, seeing Akira sticking her head out with her own Henshin Onibue Onteki at her lips, guiding the numerous Disk Animals outside and selecting their targets.
Akane was slowly coming to and remembering what had happened, became enraged. With her anger in full throttle, she dropped all pretense at using martial arts and instead ran at Hibiki with her mallet with the intent of clobbering him with everything she had. Running close, she unleashed an overhead strike which could crush skulls. However, Hibiki's skill continued to show as he dipped to avoid the move before he slammed his weapons in her back which made her gag and fall, incidentally smashing her mallet into Ryoga's head and putting him out. Akane hit the ground with a groan before she was attacked by several more Disk Animals that swarmed her, effectively distracting her from her opponents.
The four Oni could only watch in a form of grim amusement as they saw that the Wrecking Crew was more distracted by the Disk Animals attacking them rather than the four opponents. Well, the ones that were conscious anyway.
The amusement was cut short though when the sounds of police sirens sounded off, making the Oni react by hiding their weapons while Akira called the Disk Animals back. The Wrecking Crew immediately managed to recover, those that were still awake, and looked ready for round two. However, that thought was cut short for the moment to see several police cars swerve into sight before coming to a stop with several officers coming out with their weapons drawn.
"Halt!" the leader shouted out, silencing everyone around them. "You are charged with assault and disturbing the peace!"
"You might want to add harassment and stalking to the list," Zanki offered as if he was talking about the weather. "There's a young man inside who's a friend of ours who said this group attacked him, forcing him to flee here from Nerima to try and find a safe place to recover."
"Wait, all the way from Nerima?" asked another officer. "Isn't that the crazy place where all those psycho martial artists hang out?"
"These are those martial artists," Ibuki sighed, adjusting his jacket. "It seems the police in that district prefer to pretend that the problems they cause don't exist."
"Well they're find out we aren't so willing to ignore our troublemakers," the leader of the police frowned. "Book them all and we'll contact their parents."
In the days that followed, and event occurred which was called The Great Nerima Crackdown. All of the Wrecking Crew were brought in for questioning on the incident, why they were there, why they were chasing Ranki, etc. They were of course told about how much of a playboy/pervert Ranki was or hear the girls argue whose rightful husband he was. It didn't paint any of the crew in a positive light. Mousse was arrested and charged with possession of deadly weapons when they searched him and found his stash of hidden weapons. Kuno and Kodachi were detained for mental evaluation only after a minute into their interrogations. Akane ranted and raved about how it was Ranma's (Ranki's) fault while Ukyo and Shampoo stubbornly insisted that they didn't do anything wrong in trying to get their fiancee back. Ryoga simply got lost in crossing his cell and there was a minor warrant out for him still.
Still, with so much evidence of violent hooligans running around Nerima thinking that gratuitous amounts of violence was the answer to all their problems, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police decided that they should take a better look at the district they at first thought merely had groundless urban legends running out of it. When inquiring about the teens who were obviously responsible for so much destruction and chaos in the district, all they received was nervous excuses, stuttering, and shuffling feet as answers. It was enough for an entire unit of Internal Affairs officers and investigators to be sent into Nerima to figure out just what the hell was going on in the district. The Internal Affairs officers found woeful incompetence in the police officers who were simply washing their hands of the events in their turf simply because they figured martial artists were too strong for them and as such another martial artist could handle it. The investigators on the other hand got a lot of information on everything was going on.
They learned about a teenage girl who had created a network of information based off spying on people and taking candid photos of them and blackmailing the subjects or selling the photos to others or by digging up information she really had no right to and blackmailing people with it. The local high school was a disaster zone with the principal creating all sorts of wacky rules for the sheer purpose of getting students in trouble, making traps to delay students so as to punish them for being late, or outright attacking students with bombs, scissors, or razors. Not only was it a risk to life and limb for the students but it was also a serious infringement on their education. For a nation who took its educational standards seriously like Japan, that was a serious crime. They learned about the son of the principal who likely worked up the mother of all sexual harassment cases by forcing his fellow male students to attack one lone female student for the sheer purpose of defeating her so they could force her to date them. Then there came the almost daily fights which destroyed a lot of local property as well as the petty thievery which included a fat man in a white gi, a panda, or a shrivelled old man who would steal women's undergarments like he was addicted to them. The locals had been complaining to the police for over a year about the incidents but nothing had been done.
One thing that all of the locals could agree on concerning it was one name, Ranma Saotome, but how he fit in depended on who you talked to. For the Wrecking Crew, Ranma was the source of all the problems and either killing him in the eyes of the rivals would end it, or to the girls the chaos would end when he finally realized how much he loved them and married one of them. Of course Akane declared it was all his fault since he was such a pervert. The locals on the other hand would enthusiastically exclaim that he was the only one who consistently tried to do anything about the chaos. Sure most of it was centred on him recently, but he had been put into an impossible situation thanks to his selfishly greedy father and was trying his best to resolve it even though there was no way out.
Still, if Ranki was at fault or not, the police had to take action. Nabiki's information network was hit as if with a hammer. As smooth as an operator as she was with her fellow civilians, the police had way better toys in order to get information that they wanted. After a few days of monitoring the girl, they caught her in numerous blackmail and even bribery schemes which she was swiftly booked for and all of her computers, paperwork, and data was confiscated and several of her employees were likewise detained when it was determined that some of them worked for her because they too were being blackmailed while others were more than happy to work for a fee.
Further investigation brought down Principal Kuno for his reckless endangerment of his students, but also cost him his job once word of his behaviour finally got back to his superiors. It turned out that the man was threatening his employees with severe pay cuts among other punishments if they tried to turn him in. The man obviously thought that as a principal to the school he could do damn well whatever he wanted.
The school board, however, was soon informed and made the announcement official. Principal Kuno was being led out, still shouting how he was 'Da Big Kahuna' and how they couldn't do anything to him. The students were having one of the biggest parties in the history of the school at the news with even the teachers joining in.
With the school free from corruption at the moment, investigators then turned their attention to the rash of petty theft which seemed so rampant in the area. Of course, two names immediately popped up, Happosai and Genma Saotome. While neither of them had any real crimes on their rap sheets, the sheer number of petty crimes they were known to commits each filled up several filing cabinets. Police soon came to collect the two men, which to their surprise were hiding out in Soun Tendo's home, the man who was sitting on town council. Genma tried to make a break for it, but the police had several experts on the man advise them on what to do so when Genma tried to leap over the wall to freedom, he was hit with several tazers before being loaded up onto a police wagon. Happosai tried fighting back with one of his infamous bomb attacks, but several potato guns filled with men's underwear given to the police under advice from someone who dealt with the old pervert often shut him down rather quick, allowing for his arrest as well.
In the end, the status quo in Nerima was pretty much destroyed. Nabiki was sentenced to over a year in juvenile hall for her racketeering and blackmail charges. Akane got several months for her assault with a weapon charge. She would have gotten off on probation if she accepted the judge's option of attending anger management therapy but she instead exploded in court stating that she did not have a temper problem and that it was Ranma's fault she was in her current mess. So she went to juvie hall as well with some mental evaluation thrown in. Soun vehemently denied that his daughters were anything but perfect little angels but there was simply too much evidence to the contrary and his word was more or less shot in the district after people learned that he was hiding the underwear thief for so long. Shampoo was released on probation and serious community service, which made the girl huffy but Cologne would hear none of her whining. The matriarch was pissed that not only did Shampoo break the laws, but she dishonoured herself by going off like a spoiled little girl when she thrashed and screamed loudly when she was arrested. The Kuno Siblings were both placed in the mental ward with the delusions that the pair were obviously under. It was the only thing that saved both of them from being charged with sexual harassment, stalking, and assault. Mousse was deported and sent back to China for his massive collection of weapons. Ryoga was now a wanted man when he got lost and vanished from his cell. Genma and Happosai were sentenced to several years of prison for their lengthy list of charges. Nodoka insisted that everything her husband had done was for the worthy cause of making her son a man amongst men. When the police asked her to define that, she produced the seppuku contract and explained the deal. Needless to say, she was quickly brought in along with her husband and was going to be charged with parental neglect, but her defence attorney managed to change that to mental observation when it was argued she had suffered a mental break after her husband kidnapped her son and abandoned her. She barely held onto her sanity as a result, becoming obsessed with the one thing which promised her family's return.
Genma was charged with kidnapping, child abuse and reckless endangerment after hearing about things he did with Ranma, adding more years to his sentence. Soun was kicked off town council and he eventually began to discover that the bills were piling up without Nabiki doing the backroom bargains to bring in income. The only one who really came unscathed out of The Nerima Crackdown was Kasumi whom nobody could find any fault with, albeit maybe finding her a bit naive for not doing anything about her sisters or father for so long. Nerima was left with a whole new police force with the residents finally feeling like they could rest easy without spending half their income on building materials to fix their property.
Ranki wasn't quite knowledgeable about this at first. No, he spent the first day of being free from his usual parade of stalkers and would-be killers doing something he hadn't done since he was a small child.
He cried for his new freedom in the arms of his surrogate big sisters and it was all because he met a man who had become more of a father to him than his actual father was.
"Wow, each and ever one of them?," Ranma gaped. He could hardly believe that his counterpart in this world had managed to break free from Nerima so completely. The only one who had done that was his Faiz counterpart and he had to transform into an Orphenoch and kill Kuno to do it.
"Takeshi has been a family to me when my real one couldn't be bothered," Ranki smiled. "I owe them a lot."
A sniffle caught the pair's attention and they turned to see the audience that they had forgotten they had. Shippo had tears running down his face and a trail of snot from his nose and he heard the story. Kagome was dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief while she handed a box of tissues to Sango whom was trying to hide the fact that she was tearing up at hearing the story. Miroku seemed to find the ending heartening while Kaede only had a soft smile on her wrinkled face. Inuyasha was sitting near the door, looking outside with a deeply hidden sign of envy in his eyes.
"That's...that's such a good story!" Shippo sobbed, wiping his face on his sleeve.
"It's better than the soap operas back home!" Kagome cried.
"A heartening tale," Miroku nodded. "It gives hope for the future to anyone in a bad situation."
"Aye," Kaede agreed. "I may tell it to the children. The lost child rescued by an oni from his cold family."
"It...it's a good story," Sango choked, trying not to cry.
"Feh!" Inuyasha snorted, but his usual fire wasn't in it.
"Uh..." both Ranmas blinked.
Inside a rather secluded location lay what would appear to be a Damiyo's estate. It was expansive and was certainly befitting of a lord, at least at a distance. Inside the estate proper, everything was covered in a deep purple fog which hung along the floor. With the fog were the bones of humans, their clothes bearing the uniforms of the Damiyo's guards and advisors. The fog, a miasma, was extremely toxic and not many could truly survive it. The only ones who could breathe it properly were demons who shared a blood link to the one that created it.
Naraku had taken the castle for himself early on, killing the family which ruled over it and taking the image of the Damiyo's son for himself. It was a satisfying existance, one that soothed his Onigumo heart. Of course, once his plan of having Sango kill Inuyasha failed he had to move the castle and allowed his miasma to kill everyone in the castle save for his spawn.
Naraku himself was in the Damiyo's private chambers. He was shirtless, revealing a perfected physique, not too muscled but not too skinny either. His hair was long and black, for once tied back. On his back though, was an ugly spider-shaped scar that looked like it was just one big burn. In truth, this was a bitter reminder to Naraku that he was not an all-powerful demon, but a half demon with a human heart.
Inside the room with Naraku were several large pots filled with squirming meat, the results of his earlier attempts at removing the disgraceful sign of his humanity. It did have a useful purpose of creating minions for him such as Kagura and Kanna, but other than that they were just large reminders of failure.
In Naraku's hand was a regular katana that's edge had been sharpened to perfection. The hanyou was silent as he raised the weapon up before bringing it back down. The sound of metal slicing flesh echoed out as Naraku's blade dug into his back, slicing the scar from his skin. Blodd dribbled to the floor and splattered against the walls as the hunk of flesh dropped to the ground. The pain didn't bother Naraku. He delegated it to one of the many demons residing inside of his body.
Chopping the last of the scar off, Naraku waited as blood dribbled into his clothes and down his legs. After a few moments, the sound of stretching could be hears as his fleshless back soon regenerated, replacing the skin which was previously lost. Raising his hand up, Naraku touched the new skin of his back, only to scowl as he felt the rough and tough skin of the familiar scar which plagued him.
"Another failure," he muttered. Frowning, he tossed the sword aside before grabbing the mass of flesh on the floor and tossing it into one of the pots, letting it begin to squirm like the rest.
As Naraku moved to retrieve a new set of clothes to replace the bloody ones he now wore, the exit to his room was suddenly blocked off to him by what looked like a silver veil. The composite hanyou frowned and prepared for an attack, anticipating one of the many demons he had offended in his quest to be after him.
What he got was a human stepping out of the view, looking decidedly unafraid. He was dressed in odd brown clothes with glass over his eyes. He didn't react to the miasma which permeated everything and he seemed to not notice the blood all over the room and the pots filled with squirming flesh. His eyes were trained on Naraku and nothing else.
"You are the demon Naraku?" he asked.
"I am," Naraku nodded. "Speak quickly before my miasma kills you and I may decide to lift it."
"I am beyond being affected by things in this world," the man replied. "I have come here to tell you of something which threatens this entire world which the so-called defenders will not rise up against."
"Oh?" Naraku pondered. "And what would this be?"
"He is called Decade, the Destroyer of Worlds," the man explained. "He has passed through several worlds and put them into grievous risk with just his presence. Now he has come to your world to continue his quest."
"I do not fear him," Naraku smirked. Raising his hand, he opened it to reveal a glowing red gemstone smaller than a golf ball which seemed perfect save for a missing piece on it's side. "With my Shikon-no-Tama, he will fall like any of my other enemies."
"Your hunk of glass will not protect you from Decade," the man replied. "His power surpasses it. The jewel will not protect you even if it was whole."
Naraku frowned, feeling somewhat insulted. As far as he knew, the Shikon-no-Tama was one of the most powerful artifacts in existence and once complete, nothing would be able to stop him. To hear somebody dismiss the power of the Jewel and thus his ambition raised his ire more than a little.
"However, Decade is not at his strongest yet," the man continued, uncaring of Naraku's shortening patience. "As he is, you and few others have a chance of destroying him. The only others who can have already accepted him as an ally or do not care for the affairs of humans."
"And so it is up to me to save the world, if only to make sure it is still there for me to claim my ambitions," Naraku chuckled. "How ironic."
"It doesn't matter what you must do, but Decade must be destroyed," said the man in a grave tone. "No matter the cost."
To Be Continued.
A/N: Well, it took me long enough, I know. This chapter was more to set the history of Ranki and offer a bit of foreshadowing into what is going to happen in the next chapter. I hope you all enjoyed this one. I needed a kick in the ass to get it done, but I did it.
Kanji in order of appearance
Ranki (Wild Demon)