Tsubasa: The following is a fan-written parody. Ranma ½ is property of Rumiko Takahashi, Studio Deen, Shogakukan, Viz Media, and Madman Entertainment. Please support the official release, okay?
The Key to A Successful Interview is a Good First Impression!
Black and White
There will be red all over…
Late evening in the Minato Ward, and at one of Tokyo's more illustrious of schools, the Shirakawa Girls's School, a pair of security personnel dressed in black suits that matched their trimmed black hair and black-rimmed glasses were performing their routine rounds of the darkened campus with flashlights in hand. It was just another peaceful, late spring night, though with no moon it was especially dark, and a little unnerving to the two guards.
"Hey, Katsuragi-senpai," the younger of the two said. "You been keeping up with the Grand Prix?"
"Eh, Nobuyuki, I lost interest after the first fifteen flawless victories in a row. It's a foregone conclusion who's going to win," the older of the two lamented bitterly.
Nobuyuki grinned. "Lost some money, huh?"
Katsuragi palmed his face. "One million flippin' yen!"
"Ouch, it's a good thing Her Majesty pays you so well, huh? A one million bet is nothing to you personal guards, huh?" Nobuyuki asked mirthfully. "What does a guy like me have to do to end up making your kind of money?"
Katsuragi sighed. "Do anything and everything she commands, even if it makes you want to pistol whip her–especially if she tells you to pistol whip her."
"I'd like to whip her with something, if you know what I mean," the young buck of a guard said with a lecherous smile.
"Be an obedient little suit and she might let you," Katsuragi said as they rounded a corner and heard a noise coming from the school's gymnasium. "Hm?"
"What was that?" Nobuyuki asked as he pointed his flashlight at the building.
"Probably a cat, or something." Nevertheless, Katsuragi drew a pistol and walked over towards the Gymnasium. "Come on, cover me, and watch the corners."
Nobuyuki gulped and drew his pistol. "Think it might be a youma, or something?"
"Hope not, my insurance doesn't cover Monsters of the Week."
Carefully, they came upon the Gymnasium, ready for whatever might pop out to surprise them. Luckily, for the thing that could surprise them at least, the doors opened and a repulsively overweight, green-haired man with a face only a mother could love dressed in filthy track suit stepped out. It was the school's gym teacher, Nikusuke Doguro. Upon seeing him, Katsuragi relaxed.
"Doguro, what the hell?!" he demanded.
"Oh, hey fatass, we almost shot you!" Nobuyuki teased.
The large man looked at the two guards, and coughed and cleared his throat. "I had some work to do here earlier tonight, and when I was done I was tired so I had a nap. I'll be leaving now, don't worry."
"We'll see you to the gate then," Katsuragi said.
"I'm surprised you can walk ten paces without needing a nap, fatass," Nobuyuki taunted as Doguro walked past the two guards.
He looked aside to his senpai. "How does a creep like him end up gym teacher at an all girls school?"
Katsuragi just shook his head as they turned to escort the teacher out. He whispered aside to his kohai, "Her Majesty's decree. He used to be a big shot Olympian, you know."
"Whoa, that guy? Really?" Nobuyuki replied in shock.
They both stopped when they found Doguro had stopped in front of a young woman in a red ninja gi standing on the path they had just come down, staring directly at them.
Katsuragi and Nobuyuki immediately stepped in front of Doguro and pointed their weapons at the figure. "It doesn't matter why you're here or who you are, if you're on these grounds this late, you're trespassing."
The intruder immediately charged them, and Nobuyuki opened fire with his pistol. With inhuman speed, the intruder twirled and danced around, narrowly avoiding Nobuyuki's line of fire before throwing a kunai, knocking the pistol from his hand.
"Ah, damn it!" Nobuyuki yelped before the ninja kicked him in the face and jumped off him to grab Doguro. Katsuragi pointed his pistol, but the intruder was able to easily use him as a shield.
"Don't take this personally," the intruder said, before whispering to the gym teacher, "Where's the treasure, and I'll leave you be."
"T-Treasure?" Doguro gasped.
"The Clubs, where are they?" the intruder asked.
"The Student Council room, on the first floor, u-under the oak desk in front of the chalkboard!" Doguro quickly pleaded. "P-please don't kill me!"
The intruder chuckled. "Relax, I meant what I said."
Doguro was then kicked hard into Katsuragi, both men falling onto Nobuyuki as the intruder turned and ran up the side of the wall to the first floor of the school. Shoving the fat teacher off him, Katsuragi fired off two shots at the ninja, missing as the cloaked figure kicked in a window and got inside.
Her long hair trailing dramatically behind, the ninja exited a classroom and went into the hallway, reading the plates next to the classroom doors for the destination sought.
Hearing doors open down the hall and voices shouting, she slid open the doors to the student council room and vaulted over the desk to get under it. There was, however, no sign of the treasure.
The ninja quickly felt about the floor, tapping and knocking on the surface until a hollow knock was heard. "Yes!"
Drawing a knife, she found a weak point under the tile and wedged it up, revealing a hole in the floor, and a sizable box hidden within. "The Treasure!"
The door was slammed open, and the intruder acted quickly, placing a foot against the underside of the desk and kicking it towards the doorway. Turning for the window, the ninja leaped out, shattering the glass and landing in a tumble outside as Katsuragi and Nobuyuki came running around the corner.
"Hold it!" Katsuragi yelled as the two guards opened fire. The bullets struck the ninja, who exploded into a log that thumped to the ground.
"What the…? Where?!" Nobuyuki asked before he turned around and gaped. Standing on the wall, That Ninja stood with her arms folded, her long black hair trailing in the breeze. She turned and hopped over it, and out of sight.
Nobuyuki rubbed his nose. "What just happened, senpai?"
Katsuragi adjusted his glasses. "Something Her Majesty is probably going to have your ass for."
The younger guard looked to his senior in horror. "Eh?! Mine?!"
Days later Ranma sat cross-legged in their room's living room with Akane, Kodachi, Mikado, and Azusa. Akane was sitting on his lap with her arms wound around him and her face buried in the crook of his neck, nuzzling it, while Ranma held one arm around Akane, rubbing her back gently. In his free hand, he held out a yellow ball materialized just above his palm, demonstrating to them the ki technique that had become almost his staple.
Behind the group, Shampoo and Nabiki were also present, practicing a relaxing Tai Chi kata together.
"This," he said to his students, "Is the secret to shooting off DBZ style energy attacks."
Well, to be honest, Mikado and Azusa were amazed. Kodachi was struggling more with not ogling Akane as she provided the affection necessary for Ranma to demonstrate his little attack.
"That's fairly impressive," Mikado said.
"It's so cute!" Azusa leaned close to it. "Hello, Jean-Pierre!"
Mikado rolled his eyes at his lover's incurable (though adorable) childishness. "So, is this your 'Killing Technique?'"
"Nah, it's useless for that. Anybody can do this technique, even Nabiki, but you need a really strong emotional focus for it to do any harm to people and those people are few and far between. This…" Ranma kissed Akane, and the ball expanded in size. He broke the kiss. "… Is my variation powered by love, the Yuujin Bakuha."
Akane giggled and poked the ball of energy, which sizzled as she took over the explanation. "The truth is, attacks like this are super powerful, but have so many weaknesses that they really can't be used in like… ninety-nine percent of any fight. For example."
She slapped Ranma viciously, and the ball fizzled with a pop as Ranma was taken by surprise by the hit. "What was that for?!"
"I told you I was going to help you with the demonstration, but I wasn't going to just be your battery for your fancy attacks," Akane replied.
Ranma rubbed his face and looked to his students. "Yeah… if you lose focus on your emotion for even a second, the attack becomes much weaker or fails altogether. A stronger emotion will also eat it up, so if you get into a beam fight with another user, you'd better have the stronger conviction."
"It's not the emotion itself, but how strong it is," Mikado reiterated.
"But wait, wouldn't a decent user of the technique be able to use different emotions?" Azusa asked.
"Yes, they can and they did," Ranma said with a grimace, "Ryoga actually has two attacks for two different emotions. The original Shishi Hokodan which was powered by how miserable and self-loathing he was, and an attack which he used for when he was full of confidence, which I'm gonna call the… uh… Moko Takabisha for future reference."
Kodachi chuckled. "The Tiger on the High Ground, like the vagrant thought he was during your duel, yes Ranma-sama?"
Ranma nodded with a smile. "That's right."
Mikado, being the sophisticated gentleman he was, smirked. "Shishi Hokodan, Moko Takabisha, and Yuujin Bakuha… oh my."
Akane blinked a few times. "Oh my God, I just got that!"
Ranma grew curious. "Got what?"
Mikado laughed. "It's an American thing."
"Yes, it'd take a minute for us to explain," Akane added with a mock smugness.
Rolling his eyes, Ranma pinched Akane's rear, causing her to yelp. "Still, like any attack, in the right situations it's effective, and it helps that you can control it as long as you have control over yourself. With practice, you can control its direction, its size, and even its shape."
He then clapped his hands together. "Now then, let's practice. Raise your fighting aura, and gather it at your hands to project."
"Just remember to focus on a particularly strong emotion you're familiar with," Akane added.
Azusa, excitedly, held out her hands, and began to concentrate. "Come out, come out, Jean-Pierre!"
"Don't call your attack that," Mikado warned.
Kodachi held out her hands, but knew nothing was going to come out–she was far too distracted by Ranma and Akane's carefree public display of affection. Woe, was Kodachi Kuno. Ever since her defeat at the hands of Akane a year ago, the feelings that had developed for her had occupied the majority of her waking moments, and though they did not eclipse her feelings for Ranma it probably would be better if they had.
She was infatuated with them both, not one of them alone, and while she was committed to loving them both with all her heart… she was completely terrified at the prospect of confronting them with her feelings.
She wasn't even sure why. After all, she was not at all shy about her intentions for Ranma when she first met him. Why was it that even after all this time it was so difficult to even look at either of them without fighting the blush on her face or the ache in her heart? Perhaps this was the price of having her own variant of her brother's sanity.
"Poop! I can't get it to work!" Azusa's whine snapped Kodachi from her internal strife, and she looked to see Mikado consoling his girlfriend with a pat on the shoulder as Ranma and Akane watched amused.
"You have to let it all go, Azusa. Fear, doubt, and disbelief," Mikado said.
Akane put on a pair of sunglasses. "Free your mind."
"Like this?" Nabiki asked. She held up her hand, revealing a marble-sized blue orb of light.
Ranma nodded in approval. "It's a start, a good start actually. Would you like to graduate past Tai Chi?"
"Pass," Nabiki replied. "If I ever need martial arts prowess, I'll cheat and use some mystical item to buff my stats."
"Would you like to borrow the bokken again?" Akane teased.
Nabiki shot a glare at her.
Kodachi sighed wistfully, Nabiki's outspokenness and honesty was something to be admired.
She looked back towards Ranma and Akane, and jumped when she saw Lucretia Piera was standing over them.
"I hope I am not interrupting," the woman said, and Ranma and Akane jumped to their feet in surprise.
Mikado was a bit slower, and had to be helped up by Azusa.
"Seriously, can't you knock?!" Ranma asked.
"I came to notify you of a formal challenge from another competitor," Lucretia said as she read from her tablet, "She wishes to do battle one on one with one of you."
Ranma folded his arms. "She?"
Lucretia nodded. "Yes, she is a rhythmic gymnastic wrestler and considered a top percentile competitor in the tournament. Asuka Saginomiya."
Kodachi shot to her feet. "The White Lily is in this tournament?!"
Ranma looked over. "Familiar with her?"
Kodachi bristled. "Yes, I am intimately familiar with her."
"What, you used to fuck or something?" Nabiki asked.
"NO! I WOULD NEVER LAY A FINGER ON THAT WHORE UNLESS IT WAS BALLED INTO A FIST!"
Nabiki nodded. "Ooh, so she likes it rough."
"Asuka Saginomiya, the White Lily, is my childhood rival in all things," Kodachi said levelly as she clenched her hand into a fist, "And until you came along, Akane-sama… the only woman who could claim to have bested me in combat."
Akane grimaced. "You're actually really good too. She must be like, top in Japan."
"The world, actually. She would've been captain of Japan's 2012 Olympic Team had Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling not been banned in Japan."
Ranma smirked. "And now she wants to be king of the hill. I think you can take her."
Kodachi gasped. "R-really? It's been so long…"
Lucretia nodded. "Yes. Be aware that if you lose, you are disqualified from the tournament and be barred from participating."
"That implies there's a chance she'll lose," Ranma said.
Akane agreed. "You've gotten super strong since then. You crushing her should be a cakewalk, or at least an entertaining distraction."
Kodachi tried not to swoon. "Oh, Ranma-sama, Akane-sama… you, you really have this much faith in me?"
Ranma shrugged his shoulders. "Why not? You are strong, Kodachi."
"Yeah," Akane added.
Kodachi was struck at their confidence in her, and turned away with a blush on her face.
"Hold, my brain; be still, my beating heart. I must focus, I mustn't fail Ranma-sama and Akane-sama," she whispered harshly to herself.
She whirled back around. "Very well! I accept this duel with humility and grace, and promise not to fail you! If I fall here, may I be subject to the punishment of your desire!"
Nabiki snickered at that, while Shampoo rolled her eyes.
"Is she okay?" Azusa whispered to Mikado, who shrugged his shoulders.
"She's just a little overwhelmed, I suppose," he whispered back.
"So, when and where?" Akane asked.
Lucretia looked at the tablet again. "She is waiting for you at the Furinkan Sports Plaza, and expects you by sunset."
"Then I must prepare!" Kodachi said quickly as she got up. "I must find my best battle attire! And my best ribbon!"
With that, Kodachi raced for the stairs.
"Chin-pon-pon-pon~!" a familiar voice sang over the loudspeakers of the Furinkan Sports Plaza, a building that had once been the Furinkan Ice Rink until it had been destroyed in a battle of another banned-in-Japan sport, eliciting cheers from the thousands in attendance for today's event. "It's me again, your beloved Master of Ceremonies, Leeron-kun."
"And me again, after twenty-eight chapters I return triumphantly! The announcer girl still not important enough to warrant a name!" his co-commentator said cheerfully as she stood from her seat and posed.
"And we are here to give you a glorious and beautiful play-by-play…" Leeron began.
"Of a totally-not-a Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling event!" the nameless girl finished. The crowd cheered again at the announcement that there was no Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling event taking place at this venue.
Leeron nodded. "This most-certainly-not-a Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling match will be between two bitter rivals, two former superstars who have emerged from light and shadow to test their limits as athletes and martial artists against one-another. The vivacious and brilliant "White Lily" of Kolkhoz High School, Asuka Saginomiya!"
A large section of the crowd, waving white and holding up pictures and posters of their favored competitor cheered as a picture of her was displayed on the Sports Plaza's titantron screen.
"And the fearsome beast of Nerima, the seductive and dark "Black Rose" of St. Bacchus School for Girls, Kodachi Kuno!" he finished.
An equally large section cheered, with several holding up placards to form a picture of Kodachi several rows tall.
"Black vs. White, Light vs. Darkness… good vs. evil, perhaps? The dichotomy between these two is as staggering as their own respective skills!" the nameless announcer said," While the White Lily has proven herself a champion worthy of international competition, Kodachi Kuno herself can boast being only defeated by two people inside the ring! Asuka Saginomiya herself, and the Worldwide Road Roller, Akane Tendo!"
Leeron hummed fondly before he spoke. "A match truly for the history books for Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling in Japan, as it is literally the end of its history, with a national ban still in effect indefinitely."
The nameless wonder agreed. "I still get goosebumps when I recall Akane Tendo's incredible offensive that turned a sport into a taboo!"
She looked to Leeron. "I also get a little pissed because I haven't found gainful work in like a year and a girl's gotta eat."
Leeron chuckled. "Stick with me, girlfriend, and you'll never go hungry. I digress, however, because our match is set to begin soon. Let's talk a bit more about our two competitors and their lengthy rivalry."
Holding a long wooden case in her arms, Kodachi waited in one of the back rooms. She was accompanied by Ranma, Akane, and Nabiki–the elder of the two Tendos filming the others as they approached the doors.
Ranma, who was carrying a number of other Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling weapons, looked over at Kodachi. "So what's the deal with you and the White Lily hating each other?"
"We met first in kindergarten, and we immediately despised one another. Her hideous taste in flowers and boys was an affront to me, and she could not bear that I was better than her in all things," Kodachi replied as she checked her black, rose-embroidered leotard, making sure the sheerness around her midriff and between her breasts didn't reveal anything to the public.
Akane snorted lightly and looked to Ranma. "I didn't realize you two had so much in common."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ranma asked before he remembered Ryoga. "Oh."
"We fought ceaselessly after that over many things at every opportunity," Kodachi went on, "But it wasn't until middle school that she took up Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling, and made our contention interesting."
"And started beating your ass," Nabiki chimed in.
Kodachi huffed. "A three to two record is not 'beating my ass' as you so crassly describe!"
"It is when she's won the last three," Nabiki was looking down at her phone, reading on the aforementioned record.
Ranma hummed. "Maybe it's Asuka and I who have more in common."
Akane lightly swatted his stomach with the back of her hand. "Don't be mean."
Kodachi remained composed, paying Ranma's comments no mind. "It doesn't matter how many times she's bested me. In this battle, I will be the victor, you believe in me after all."
Ranma nodded. "There's not a doubt in my mind."
"Yeah!" Akane added before she looked at the television showing the interior of the arena, the ring where the fight would occur, and the large audience. Nearly every seat was filled with expectantly waiting spectators.
Seeing such a waiting crowd made Kodachi pause for a bit, and a smile graced her lips. "This warms my heart."
They weren't here for the Grand Prix, she knew that in her heart. These were all fans of Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling, all long starved of official events thanks to that ridiculous ban. She would give them a show for certain, and if she knew Saginomiya, so would she.
Exactly as she predicted, the lights on stage went low, and Kodachi sat down with a smirk on her face. "Get a chair, all of you, Asuka Saginomiya is going to make her grand entrance."
Music began to play, a dramatic string introduction of a song lifted from an anime about transforming space fighters and idol singers. At the start of the entrance ramp to the ring, a procession of young women in white leotards, Kolkhoz High School's Rhythmic Gymnastics team, came walking down the aisle in two groups of six. The first group were flower girls, tossing forth lily petals onto the ramp and into the loudly cheering crowd.
The second group of six were pallbearers, carrying a white coffin at shoulder height.
Seeing this, Kodachi smirked and set down the wooden case on a table before opening it, revealing a red ribbon familiar to Akane.
"Hey, that's…" Akane remembered it, the ribbon that Kodachi had brought with her to the battle against Shampoo.
Kodachi drew the ribbon and held it taut between her fingers. She looked back towards the television and the funeral procession setting the coffin in the middle of the ring with care.
Stepping back, the six pallbearer gymnasts stepped back to the ropes and stood facing the crowd at ease, with their feet shoulder width apart and their hands behind their backs.
The coffin then opened, a vortex of white lilies shooting up and expanding into a great swirl of white that filled the ring and almost completely concealed it.
Out at ringside, Azusa gasped at the pretty display as the overhead lights danced among the almost glossy lily petals, creating a sparkling effect in the ring and in the stands outside. "So cute!"
Next to her, Mikado leaned forward on his cane and chuckled. "She's way too dramatic sometimes."
To his left, Tatewaki hummed dismissively.
Further behind them, Rei Hino held her hands to her mouth and booed the scene. "Kolkhoz High School sucks! Boo! We want Kodachi-senpai!"
Next to her, Usagi Tsukino was more annoyed by the fact that she was in the stands and not in the ring. "Seriously, the easiest billion yen ever."
"No," Minako Aino said.
"Hell no," Ami Mizuno added.
"What is wrong with you?" Makoto Kino asked.
Behind the tinted windows of the Sports Plaza's VIP box, a young woman with green eyes and vibrant orange-red hair held out a champagne glass to a man in a black suit, who nodded and filled her glass from an expensive bottle.
The crowds cheering became a riotous roar as glimpses of golden hair and of pale but healthy skin flickered amongst the lily storm–before the tornado scattered in every direction, revealing Asuka Saginomiya, the White Lily and the national champion of Women's Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling, standing with arms outstretched in the now empty ring.
The lights reflected off her hair and her sequined white leotard, leaving her glimmering like the air around her. On her waist, two lily-engraved batons were holstered, while in her hand held above her head a single bright red gymnastics ball rested in her upraised palm.
Spinning around once where she stood, Asuka bowed low before throwing the ball straight up. As it shot towards the ceiling like a rocket, she drew both batons and twirled them in each hand before combining them into a single long quarterstaff that she rested on her shoulder, catching the ball on its raised end.
Asuka opened her vibrant blue eyes, and smirked as she surveyed her adoring public.
"Asuka Saginomiya arrives!" she declared loudly and then the crowd truly erupted.
She then noticed, just out the corner of her eye, a single black rose petal fall past her. Then another, and another.
Her hot-blooded idol music was then cut, replaced by a comparatively somber organ tune as more black rose petals, and then black roses themselves, rained down around Asuka, washing out her lillies.
I want you…
To make believe it's the first time...
And I gotta say to you…
Love will find a way and that's always true…
A single rose petal fell past Asuka's eyes, suddenly revealing Kodachi standing up across from her as the beat dropped and the pounding electronic music of her theme set the crowd on fire.
"HOW DID SHE DO THAT?!" nameless announcer yelled at the swift upstaging and almost magical appearance of Kodachi in the ring. "Ladies and gentlemen! Without warning the Black Rose Kodachi Kuno, one of the Kings of the Hill, has entered the arena!"
On the sidelines, Ranma pounded fists with Akane. "Nicely done."
"Nice choice of music," Akane replied.
Nabiki laughed as she filmed the confrontation.
Smirking as Kodachi's music continued to play, Asuka shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
"It's been a while, Kuno," she said.
"Agreed, Saginomiya. Was it nationals we last met?"
"It was a delightful time," Asuka said, "You fought like an overfed cow and hit the ring-out about as hard as one would."
Kodachi conceded to that. "I certainly did, It's nice to see that you're still as sore a winner as you are a loser." She looked her over. "Is that the same leotard you wore at nationals? It's looking rather snug around the waist."
"I'm surprised you could get that leotard on past your hips, after how far apart taking that steam roller must've spread them."
"Don't start about taking large objects, dear, I know how hard times have been for you since the ban." Kodachi then tilted her head to give her a sidelong look. "That said, isn't still wearing white a little misleading of you?"
Asuka's eyebrow twitched.
On the sidelines, Leeron quickly Z-snapped. "As customary between such vicious rivals, Kuno and Saginomiya have already lain into each other with their cutting remarks to offset and destabilize one another."
"While not an official part of this not-a-match, it plays a very keen role! Whoever goes into this fight mad will have the disadvantage, so losing any ground in the lead up can mean victory or defeat by the slightest margin!" nameless explained.
"Ooh, harsh of you Kodachi, but at the very least I'm not following around the last person who humiliated me like a puppy," Asuka replied.
Kodachi tensed, but maintained her composure. "Better humiliated by an equal than by my own slovenly behavior."
With that she produced a polaroid picture of a frumpy-looking and surprised Asuka Saginomiya looking at the camera after biting into a cheeseburger at least half the size of her head in what looked like a run down diner.
"But that's none of my business," she added before dropping the figurative mic.
Asuka visibly recoiled. "WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?!"
Nameless was on her feet as the students of St. Bacchus went wild. "AND KODACHI HAS SURVIVED ASUKA'S SHADE THROW!"
Akane looked over at Nabiki. "Where did she get that?"
Nabiki was unabashed. "Hey, I have to get by somehow in this post-Hierophant economy. Besides, what do you care that I took a humiliating picture of someone for cash?"
"I'm just pondering other pictures you might have taken in this 'post-Hierophant economy,'" Akane replied intently.
"None of you," Nabiki said before inwardly finishing, "That were distributed to anyone other than Kodachi."
Her face red with embarrassment, Asuka turned it all into anger towards Kodachi. "I hope you know… that you've only served to doom yourself. You may have a sharper tongue, but remember what weapon I have in my arsenal."
She glanced to indicate the ball balanced on the end of her quarterstaff.
Kodachi sniffed haughtily and drew her ribbon taut. "You earnestly believe I would care?"
Their gazes met, and a powerful jolt of malice arced between them.
"So, who's the ref going to be?" Ranma asked.
Akane folded her arms. "Yeah, this is a Grand Prix match." She quickly looked around for the Pillar Lady, but saw no sign of her. "Hmm…"
When she looked back towards the ring, she recoiled in both shock and anger. "Oh."
Kira Takemikazuchi stood in the ring, right next to Asuka and Kodachi, who were both equally a little late in noticing her. Both quickly jumped back from her, assuming their guard.
"An idol steals the show! Takemikazuchi…!" Kira cheerfully said as she performed a horns-like hand gesture and winked, a single star spinning in her still open eye. "Kira~!"
"Oh my… I didn't think we'd be getting such a high-profile guest referee!" nameless said.
"Yes, it's a little disappointing. I was hoping for Kuni-chan," Leeron lamented.
Back aboard the sickbay of the Ars Poetica, Mousse couldn't believe that Joukyuu Kunitoshi was fucking dead.
"Seriously, gymnasts who hate each other with a vague undercurrent of sexual tension. Skimpy leotards and high probability of clothing failure," he said to the martial arts master in an effort to rouse him from his funk, "They might just end up fucking each other right there in the ring in front of everyone. I know for a fact that Kodachi Kuno is into that."
Joukyuu stared out the window and sighed sadly, wondering when his libido would come back from the war.
The provocatively dressed Kira, sporting hair that was dyed black on one side and white on the other, and wearing a black and white striped dress that was too short to cover the matching g-string bikini bottoms she wore underneath, shook her round hips from side to side and posed with one finger pointed into the air.
"Yahoo!" she declared cheerfully, "This is totally not a Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling Match!"
She looked around. "The rules for this not-a-match are simple! Bare Handed blows and touching the floor directly is immediate grounds for disqualification. The walls and ceilings are considered legal play areas, and any object can be used as a weapon including teammates but direct interference from teammates is forbidden! Is that okay?!"
Kodachi smirked. "Oh yes."
Asuka, still angry over the picture, smiled nastily back. "Quite. I have a steam roller parked right outside, in case you're feeling nostalgic, Kodachi."
"You won't last long enough to use it," Kodachi promised.
"Can you feel the energy?" Leeron asked. "Mm… it's electrifying."
"I can taste it!" no name replied.
"Go get her, Kodachi!" Akane called from ringside.
"Kill her, Asuka-senpai!" the Kolkhoz High School Rhythmic Gymnastics Wrestling Club cheered over her.
In the VIP Box, the redhaired girl took a sip of her champagne and sat down.
"Okay!" Kira jumped into the air, a brilliant yellow star appearing beneath her feet to raise her higher above the ring.
"Grand Prix Match! Kodachi Kuno! Asuka Saginomiya! Ready…?" Kira held her hand up.
The two gymnasts tensed.
Kira swung her hand down in a swift chop.
As opposed to lunging to each other, both Kodachi and Asuka backed off to their corners and leaped onto the turnbuckles. Asuka spun her staff, juggling the ball on its ends before knocking it into the air.
Kodachi held out her right hand as she took the ribbon in her left. "Three clubs!"
Ranma quickly threw three clubs to Kodachi, who caught them in between her fingers and threw one at Asuka.
Asuka watched the club close in on her face, before a red beam of light intercepted it and shattered it. The Red Ball she'd thrown began orbiting around her, surprising the onlookers.
"That ball, it's floating on its own," Akane said.
"Huh, what's the trick behind this one!"
Leeron answered that. "That is no ordinary ball at all, that's the legendary Ball of Fury. A deadly accurate gymnastics ball, like the legendary Kukri Knife of the Gurkhas, once thrown it will not return to the hand of its thrower without delivering a blow!"
Spinning her staff, Asuka hit the ball at Kodachi, who leaped off her turnbuckle and threw two more clubs down at her.
Asuka smartly deflected both clubs, and then vaulted above Kodachi's ribbon, which slashed into the turnbuckle deeply. Spinning the staff like a helicopter rotor, she rapidly ascended to meet the airborne Kodachi.
Kodachi twirled her ribbon in front of her, forming a barrier that Asuka's staff crashed into. The two gymnasts repulsed each other, Asuka using her staff like helicopter rotors to stay aloft as Kodachi snagged a spotlight to hang from with her ribbon.
"The technique that won Asuka the Nationals last year, the Lilycopter! Allowing her to stay aloft as long as her stamina allows, and even fly about the ring!" nameless announcer said excitedly.
Kodachi yanked on her ribbon, and ripping off the spotlight she'd been hanging on and throwing it at Asuka.
Catching her staff in both hands, Asuka smashed it aside and then blocked a ribbon strike, and then another as she fell to the ring below. Landing on the top rope, she sprang off it and twirled over and under two more strikes before thrusting the end of the staff into Kodachi's face.
Kodachi turned, dancing around the blow and tumbled behind Asuka. She lashed the ribbon around, slashing at her back, only for the ball to deflect her weapon away.
"Hmph!" Kodachi held out her hand. "Hoop!"
"Catch!" Ranma called out, throwing the hoop to her.
Catching the hoop, Kodachi threw it like a discus for Asuka, the ball immediately deflecting it away. As Asuka smirked at her projectile's effectiveness, one of the clubs she previously deflected shot straight for her face, causing her to lean back to avoid it.
"Ah!" she gasped before Kodachi's ribbon caught her around the legs and she was swung off her feet.
"Kodachi's projectile game is as on point as ever!" nameless announcer said as Kodachi leaped and swung Asuka around her before launching her straight for the out of ring out, "She's going straight for a ring out!"
"You're eager to end this, Kuno?!" Asuka asked as she slammed her staff on the ground and used it as a stilt to stand upon.
The second club she deflected came straight for her face then. Asuka swept her hand in a quick chop, slicing the club in half–which promptly exploded in a cloud of paralysis poison.
Before the cloud of poison could reach her, however, it was suddenly blown away by a great blast of wind, a fan set up by the Kolkhoz Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling Team.
"We've got you, Captain!" her Vice-Captain, a black-haired girl with glasses yelled as four more girls lined up with their palms upraised.
Asuka stepped onto the palms of the closest girl and kicked her staff into her hands before walking casually across the other hands to Kodachi, who was having trouble with the ball at that moment. It had come back, and was repeatedly and violently attempting to strike her in numerous passes.
"Kodachi can't deal with the Ball of Fury! Its rapid attacks from different directions are making it hard for her to maintain an offensive on Asuka," Leeron said as Kodachi batted the attacking ball away once again.
Knocked off course, the ball suddenly shot down and bounced off the ring, crashing into Kodachi's stomach and grinding against it before shooting up, bouncing off her chin.
"Uhn!" Catching her footing, Kodachi tried to block a second pass but the ball changed direction, hitting her hard in the kidney. "UGH!"
Before she could even react, she took a hit to the back of the head, and was sent staggering backward, her blood splattering on the ring from her mouth.
"Kodachi is taking a vicious beating from the ball, and Asuka hasn't even returned to the ring!" nameless said in shock.
"Don't fall, Kodachi!" Ranma yelled.
"Stand your ground!" Akane cheered.
Kodachi twirled the ribbon around her, forming a tornado of red ribbon that deflected two more shots from the ball. As she lowered her barrier, Asuka swung down upon her head to deliver a knockout blow with the staff.
"This is the end!" Asuka yelled at the seemingly overwhelmed Kodachi–who suddenly vanished from beneath the blow. "Ah?!"
She looked up and then around, following the ball as it homed in on Kodachi, who was landing atop another turnbuckle. "Clubs!"
Two of her team quickly threw clubs to Asuka, who smashed them towards Kodachi to bracket her for the ball, before jumping towards Kodachi herself.
Kodachi deflected a club and used the ribbon to catch the other. Swinging the club into the path of the ball, which promptly deflected out of control straight to Asuka.
Asuka grew wide-eyed. "What?!"
She forced herself to spin to narrowly avoid the strike, leaving her wide open to being wrapped up in the long red ribbon. Catching her in it, Kodachi quickly watched the ball's recovered trajectory and then swung around, lifting Asuka off her feet and swinging her directly into the path of her own homing projectile right as it came in for the kill.
"What an incredible demonstration of technical play!" nameless commentator yelled as the ball struck home, hitting Asuka hard in the stomach.
The ribbon unfurling around all but her neck, Kodachi pulled it taut and began swinging it around. "I am…! I am…! Kodachi Kuno!"
Akane grinned. "Here it comes!"
"Oh God, you nerds…" Ranma muttered.
As the ball bounced off, Kodachi used the momentum to begin swinging Asuka around. Jumping again, she brought Asuka up.
"CRASH!" she yelled as she slammed Asuka straight into the ring's center, buckling the supports underneath it. "… And…!"
Landing, Kodachi began to spin even faster, a tornado forming that swept up a great storm of rose petals in the ring. Groaning, she swung Asuka up, around, and then straight for the turnbuckle.
Asuka crashed through one turnbuckle, shattering it.
Asuka smashed through a second, then the third.
Kodachi's scream ended when Asuka smashed through the last Turnbuckle and she was flung like a missile out over the crowd, where she crashed into the wall.
"Wow!" Kira shouted in surprise at the violence of Kodachi's attack. "S-so amazing!"
"Crash and Impact! Kodachi using one of the devastating moves of Akane Tendo!" nameless said, "But is it enough to put Asuka out of the ring?!"
Kodachi landed in the damaged ring, and immediately swore under her breath.
Ranma and Akane looked back with the other spectators, and saw why she'd cursed. Asuka hadn't hit the seats, but the wall just above them. Even worse, though she left a fine imprint in the wall, she was still very conscious.
"OHOHOHOHOHOHO!" Asuka laughed loudly and kicked off the wall.
Using the heads of members of the crowd as stepping stones, she raced straight for the ring, a smile growing on her face. "What on Earth…"
The Ball of Fury quickly joined her, spiraling around her faster and faster on her approach. "… Was that barbaric little move of yours…"
Landing on Usagi Tsukino's head, Asuka leaped into the air above the ring and came down, stabbing the Ball of Fury and using it as a spear tip that began to glow brightly as she closed in. "… KUNO?!"
"Incoming!" nameless announcer yelled before Asuka hit the ring like a meteorite, and caused an explosion of thereabouts the same force.
The smoke cleared quickly, revealing Kodachi standing near one of the broken turnbuckles, her arms crossed to block the blast.
Asuka stood on the other side of the ring, smoke rising from her body as she lifted the Ball of Fury on the end of her staff and then held it up. "You've improved, Kuno."
Kodachi held her ribbon taut, and glared at Asuka. "I wouldn't have wanted you to have gotten weaker."
"A shame that, maybe then you would've won!" Asuka sent the Ball of Fury straight for Kodachi.
"Ranma-sama! Baton!" Kodachi yelled as she parried the ball.
Catching the baton Ranma threw to her, she quickly blocked Asuka's staff, then continued to parry her repeated thrusts and swings. She leaped and somersaulted over her stabs, while using the ribbon to deflect the ball when it came at her; her retreat leaving a trail of black rose petals behind her.
"Kodachi is on the defensive!" Leeron reported as the crowd broke into a roar.
"But what a defense! No matter what attack Asuka tries, Kodachi is able to block or avoid it with ease! Even the Ball of Fury is being deflected!"
"That a girl, Kodachi!" Akane called from the sidelines. "You're doing it!"
"You've got her, Kochi! Wrap this up!" Tatewaki called as well.
Azusa and Mikado wisely stayed quiet. On one hand, it was one of their classmates, on the other, it was one of their teammates.
Crossing her baton and the handle of the ribbon, Kodachi caught Asuka's staff, and with a spin in the other direction she caught the ribbon around it. "I've got you, Saginomiya!"
Asuka snorted. "Do you, now? Or is it I who has you?"
Kodachi quickly searched for the ball, and quickly spotted it closing in fast on the side of her head to deliver a knockout blow. She then looked to Asuka and grinned.
"I certainly do!"
Before the Ball of Fury could reach Kodachi, a wall of black suddenly shot up, blocking it. The rose petals scattered around the ring had come to life, swirling up into a great storm that surrounded both Kodachi and Asuka.
Asuka gasped in disbelief. "W-What?!"
"It's the Wild Dance of the Black Rose!" Leeron and his nameless partner shouted.
"Eep!" Kira yelped as she just managed being sucked into the tornado of rose petals. "Oh my!"
Inside the tornado, Kodachi laughed maniacally as she released Asuka and disappeared into the storm of black. "OHOHOHOHO! Fly with me, Saginomiya!"
Asuka tried to hold her ground. "I will not… be swept up in your weak technique!"
She immediately searched around for any incoming projectiles. "This elementary school routine is noth-!"
The rose petals themselves then struck her, knocking her off her footing. "WHAT?!"
The storm of rose petals changed direction, striking Asuka from the back, and then the front with explosive force. Thrown backward, wide-eyed, she couldn't believe it. "You… you can use the petals themselves-!"
She is struck again, and thrown to the ground by their force. "K-Kuno-!"
"You're right. The Wild Dance of the Black Rose is Elementary School," Kodachi's voice echoed from the storm.
Asuka got up, and quickly twirled her staff, deflecting the barrage of rose petals that came at her from all sides. While she could deflect a good number of them, there was no stopping her getting hit by a few, and each one felt like a punch despite their light and fluttery nature.
"This is an entirely different dance, my true beauty unveiled, Saginomiya!"
Struck by another barrage of rose petals, Asuka quickly sought out the source of Kodachi's voice, and immediately found her silhouette in the air above her, standing atop the spotlights above the ring.
Asuka snarled. "I've got you!"
Picking up the staff, she threw it straight up like a javelin, striking Kodachi's silhouette square in its chest… and scattering the rose petals that composed it. "What?!"
As the White Lily reacted in disbelief, the real Kodachi melted out of the rose petals behind her. Sensing her, Asuka turned around just in time to take a cross slash across the chest from the ribbon and baton, knocking her back.
"This is The Lonely Dance of the Black Rose! And your end!" Kodachi yelled, as she swung the handle of the ribbon and the baton straight down onto Asuka's head.
Her eyes growing wider as the two weapons came down, Asuka's left eye twitched, as anger flashed across her features. "I won't… lose to you!"
A beam of red light filled the air between them, before a large explosion scattered the rose petals. As the ring cleared, it revealed Asuka holding the ball of Fury in her palm against Kodachi's ribbon and baton. The heat of the ball was so intense, that Asuka's hand and much of her forearm had burst into flame.
"Incredible! Despite the vicious beatings both have taken, these two competitors are still standing! Still fighting!" nameless announcer yelled.
"It feels like Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling has returned. Is there anything more beautiful?" Leeron asked.
In the VIP box, the mysterious redhead heard Leeron's comment, and snorted. "Beautiful?"
"It's nothing but lewd."
At that moment, as Kodachi and Asuka struggled to overpower one another, Kira noticed something off towards the entrance and turned her head to look at it. "Ara?"
Standing at the end of the ramp was a figure wrapped in a hooded brown cloak, watching with arms folded across its chest.
The energy crackling between them increasing, Asuka and Kodachi leaped away from each other and to separate sides of the ring, panting heavily. They stared at each other, catching their breaths, before they noticed that the crowd's attention was elsewhere.
"What…?" Kodachi asked as she turned to look.
"Who is that?" Asuka asked when she saw the figure.
"Who is this mysterious person who has appeared on the ramp!" the nameless announcer called out when she saw the brown-cloaked figure standing underneath the titantron screen.
"I don't know, but he'd better have a good gimmick to make up for the cliche mysterious stranger entrance," Leeron quipped.
Up in the ring, Kodachi, Asuka, and a curious Kira watched as the cloaked intruder began walking down the ramp towards the ring. The intruder barely made it halfway, when the twelve members of the Kolkhoz Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling Club quickly placed themselves in front.
Stepping forward, the Vice-Captain of the Gymnastics Club raised a hoop and pointed it at the intruder. "Whoever you are, turn around and go the other way. There is no interfering from outsiders allowed!"
Ranma looked to Akane and said, "For a given definition of interfering."
"And outsiders," Akane replied.
Nonchalant as he sounded, he wasn't taking his eye of this guy. He was getting that vibe that he usually got when strong people were around.
"Hey, did you hear what I said, or are you deaf?!" the vice-captain asked.
"Speak up," the cloaked figure said, "I can barely hear you insects when you're buzzing in my ear."
The vice-captain hadn't even begun to recoil in offence, when she took a baton to the stomach and was lifted off her feet and above the cloaked figure's head. The cloak had come off in the same motion, revealing a bespectacled young man wearing a white and teal leotard and a belt of several rhythmic gymnastic weapons on his waist including clubs, a hoop, and lengths of rope.
Asuka gave a start. "A male gymnast?"
Kodachi narrowed her eyes. "What sort of nonsense is this…?"
As the Kolkhoz Vice-Captain coughed and tried to reclaim her lost breath, the male gymnast sniffed in annoyance and pressed a button on his baton, issuing a current of electricity through the young woman and causing her to lose consciousness. He then casually tossed her into the crowd to his left.
The other Kolkhoz Gymnastic Wrestlers immediately went for their weapons, shock quickly giving way to fury when they saw the mockery in front of them.
"You have a lot of nerve coming here, pervert!" one of them shouted.
"We won't let you near Asuka-senpai!" another yelled.
"Japan has changed since the ban, you girls have gotten soft," he said sternly to his opponents, "I can tell by your weak stances."
That just made the girls madder, as one quickly yelled. "GET HIM!"
The male gymnast adjusted his glasses while looking sternly down on his opponents. "Do you think you can stop Shoukaku with your feeble skills?!"
Ranma and Akane's gazes sharpened, when he danced beautifully around all eleven girls, with movements as graceful as a crane in flight, and stopped behind them in almost an instant.
One of the girls looked down at her hands, and found a length of gymnastics rope tied tightly around her wrists. "Ah?!"
She looked to her left and right, and found the rope tied her to the wrists of the girls in front and behind her, all eleven of them had been effortlessly bound together by the gymnastics rope.
"We're tied together!" many of the girls exclaimed at once when they too realized it.
Asuka gasped. "That speed!"
The last girl in the line, struggling with the rope, turned to face the male gymnast, who pressed the end of the baton against her forehead. In an instant, the electric current he zapped into her travelled along the gymnastics rope, jolting her and the other ten girls into unconsciousness.
Kodachi bristled. "I see… that technique is the signature of a devil…!"
The young man calling himself Shokaku sauntered towards and then leaped into the ring. Staring down at Kodachi and Asuka, he held up his hands with his fingers raised up, like a crane spreading his wings.
He then held his palms upward. "Arrive… my comrades!"
On his call, two more gymnasts dropped from the ceiling lights above, and landed on the still suspended bottom rope as he knelt down on one knee. One a ponytailed young man who placed his hands on his hips and looked over his shoulders at Kodachi and Asuka, while the other a clean-cut, black-haired young man who sat on the rope holding a pair of clubs up between the strong fingers of his left hand.
"Strange intruders have just arrived in the arena!" nameless commentator called out, "After effortlessly dispatching the entire Kolkhoz gymnastics team, they are now confronting our two competitors. Who are these strange young men, why are they wearing gymnastics equipment? And how skilled are they?!"
Kodachi identified the three for the two confused announcers. "Men's Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling Pairs National Champions, Shoukaku, Zuikaku," she said of the bespectacled young man and the ponytail wearer, before looking to the clean cut young man, "And the Men's National Champion and Men's Olympic Captain for Japan's 2012 team… Kimiyasu Daitokuji."
The three men dropped their pose, with Daitokuji standing up and taking the front and center of the trio as he replied to Kodachi, "What a privilege, for a female gymnast to remember the names of male gymnasts in this day and age."
Asuka sneered. "It's because of where you stand at the top of the garbage pile that we barely recognize you. What business do you have here, interrupting our beautiful display?!"
Daitokuji sniffed and twirled the two clubs in his hands before catching them and holding them up. "I came here to claim your weapons."
Asuka immediately recognized the seemingly plain blue gymnastics clubs. "Wait… those cannot be what I think they are!"
"They are," Daitokuji answered, "One of the Three Sacred Treasures of our sport, the Clubs of Inscrutability."
The nameless announcer gasped. "Impossible! If that's true then…! For the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the three Sacred Treasures of Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling have all been gathered under one roof!"
Ranma looked from the announcers to the ring. "The three treasures, I get the ball, but the clubs too? And what's the third one, Kodachi's ribbon?"
Akane nodded. "That ribbon she's using is different from the one she normally uses. She used it against me in our match, and against Shampoo as well… it's much stronger and it does that rose petal attack."
"Yes! The Ribbon of Solitude, a truly powerful weapon, its weight and power signifying the great strength one must wield in dedication to Rhythmic Gymnastic Wrestling!" nameless announcer revealed.
Akane looked towards Daitokuji. "This guy's either really confident in himself or he's going to get splattered all over the ring."
Kodachi laughed with an edge of anger. "OHOHOHOHO! How bold of you, but foolish! For you have trundled upon a woman's battlefield!"
"No battlefield makes distinction towards gender!" Daitokuji called out, his voice tense with indignation. "There is, however, no place for the pampered and weak!"
Kodachi and Asuka both tensed.
"I beg your pardon?" the former asked, deeply insulted.
"The Ball… the Ribbon… you clutch them in your hands, boasting of their legacy like it was yours to begin with!" Daitokuji ranted, "In your hands, they are nothing but trophies!"
He adopted a fashionable pose, and crossed the clubs in front of his face. "With these clubs, and the two other treasures, I will achieve my ambitions… and forge my own legacy!"
"Fufufu…" Asuka was equally incensed, the ball reacting to her anger. "… You have a tremendous nerve. Man or woman, we will grant you no quarter!"
"Good! I want your defeat to be a beautiful and memorable one!" Daitokuji yelled before he clapped the clubs together.
In front of the eyes of every spectator in the arena, he disappeared from where he stood, and both Kodachi and Asuka were struck viciously with the clubs and knocked to the mat. In the same instant.
Asuka, shocked, fell backward and then spun to land on her feet. "W-what?!"
Kodachi caught herself as well. "The ability of the clubs!"
She grimaced. "That means… he's mastered them…"
She watched Daitokuji, who turned and looked at her from where he stood ten feet out. Twirling the clubs, he struck them together again. Then he was standing directly next to her, having instantly moved the distance.
Tatewaki rose from his seat. "What on Earth?"
The Golden Pair were on their feet as well.
"Saginomiya!" Mikado gasped.
"Oh no, Kodachi!" Azusa cried.
Akane gasped. "Kodachi!"
Kodachi quickly jumped back from Daitokuji's club strikes, and narrowly deflected them. Moving as fast as she could, she swung to strike back with the ribbon–but he was able to quickly cross them together–and she was left staring at the slashed through mat and no sign of her target.
"Where?!" Kodachi looked back. "Where?!"
Daitokuji had disarmed Asuka of her staff, and was sending her flying with a club uppercut to the chin.
"What on Earth is going on? Kimiyasu Daitokuji seems to possess some weird ability to teleport, or move super fast or stop time or something," Leeron said as he tried to follow the action.
Asuka rolled backward across the mat and got back up. She wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth, before she readied the Ball of Fury. "So you have mastered the clubs! We know everything about their powers… and their weaknesses!"
Gripping the ball, she threw it straight at him. "Go!"
Daitokuji spun the clubs and narrowly dodged the thrown ball. It then changed direction, homing in on him from behind. Looking back, he leaned forward into a tumble at the last moment and avoided the ball as it zipped over him.
He rose up to his feet, and found Kodachi falling upon him with her ribbon in its drill form, though now resembling a lance. Time seemed to lurch forward, with Kodachi's drill boring through the ring, and Daitokuji suddenly reappearing at the edge of the ring while blocking the Ball of Fury's successful attack.
"I think I get it now, but I still don't understand it!" nameless referee said, "The Clubs of Inscrutability seem to have some bizarre power to cause time to lurch forward, allowing attacks to miss their target."
Uncrossing the clubs, Daitokuji sent the ball flinging back, and twirled both weapons. "Your anger is impressive, Saginomiya, but it does not rival mine!"
He looked towards Kodachi. "Nor does your loneliness!"
Kodachi laughed. "Ohoho! Let's see about that!"
She closed the distance between them quickly, and the ribbon became like a snake, biting and snapping at Daitokuji, preventing him from activating the effect of the clubs as he was forced to defend with them.
Twirling the ribbon away from him, she suddenly brought it back twice as fast, unleashing a storm of black rose petals that pelted him like a shotgun blast. The extremely heavy rose petals seemed to dig into his skin, and those that he stepped in stuck to the mat, slowing him down.
"My feet… they're…!" he growled before he ate even more rose petals, the attack throwing him almost out of the ring.
At the last second, however, he caught himself and landed with a much heavier thud than previously, the weight of the petals eliciting protest from the already damaged ring.
Kodachi landed on her feet, and twirled the ribbon around. "What do you know, Kimiyasu Daitokuji… about the weight of my loneliness?!"
Daitokuji tried to move, but the weight on his arms was making it difficult for him to raise the clubs and bring them together. "Damn…!"
Shoukaku tensed, ready to intervene, but he was quietly stopped by Zuikaku, who shook his head.
"What do you know…"
Kodachi swung it straight for his face, like a blacksnake whip.
"… About true beauty?!"
Determination burned in Daitokuji's eyes, as the ribbon grew closer and closer. Then, with a yell of anger he tensed up–every fiber of his being focused on this one moment, this instant–and caught the ribbon tightly in his teeth, stopping it cold.
Kodachi gasped in surprise, as the other onlookers froze in amazement.
Tears quickly formed in the corners of Daitokuji's eyes, and blood seeped from his mouth, dripping onto the mat beneath him.
"What do I know… ?!" he growled before he raised his arms against the monumental weight on them. "WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO YOU TAKE ME FOR?!"
He smashed the clubs together, and their effect swept across the arena once more.
As stillness fell on the ring, he spat out the ribbon and glared at Kodachi. "Why do you think I am even here?"
Purposefully he strode up to Kodachi, her expression frozen in disbelief.
"I know more about loneliness, anger, and obscurity than you could ever imagine," he lamented, "All because I want to experience true beauty!"
He twirled in place, and then swung down, slamming both clubs into the side of her head, sending her flying towards a turnbuckle right as the effect stopped.
To most of the audience, it only saw Daitokuji catch the ribbon in his teeth, and then immediately after Kodachi flying into the turnbuckle after being hit hard by Daitokuji.
Kodachi clutched her jaw, that hit had dislodged one of her teeth, and left her woozy. "Ugh…!"
"Kodachi!" Akane gasped, before she ran to the edge of the ring. Almost immediately, a psychic force grabbed her. "Huh?! Hey!"
"Nope! You're not allowed to interfere!" Kira suddenly called out, as she grabbed Ranma for good measure.
Ranma tensed up, an awful chill running through him from the sensation of being held tightly in her psychic power.
"We're not going to let him knock her around!" Akane yelled up at her.
Kira raised a finger and waved it. "Ah, ah, ah! It's still Kodachi and Asuka's match, if you jump in all your own, you're interfering and that's automatic disqualification!"
"What about them?!" Ranma demanded.
"They're another team in the Grand Prix! They're allowed to interfere as they see fit!"
Ranma looked from Kira to Daitokuji. "Those assholes are in this too?!"
Daitokuji looked down upon Kodachi, before he felt the heat of the Ball of Fury as Asuka regained her bearings and control of the wandering weapon. Turning quickly, he let the ball barely scrape across his chest to avoid it, leaving a diagonal burn through his leotard.
Asuka rushed forward, thrusting the staff for his face. "I take you for a pervert!"
Daitokuji stared Asuka in her eyes. "And you continue to look down on me as though I were nothing!"
"You are a male gymnast, you are nothing!" Asuka yelled before the two went baton to club, the two quickly circling one another as they clashed weapons over and over. When Daitokuji tried to strike them together, Asuka smartly thrust a baton between them, hitting him in the face.
The force of the blow threw Daitokuji back, towards the edge of the ring.
"Gah!" he yelled before the ball collided with his back, right in the kidney. "URK!"
Running towards him, Asuka threw her batons into the air and dove into a tumble. From the tumble she leaped into an accelerating number of front flips before she jumped into a spinning front flip.
She caught one of the batons between her toes, before swinging it in a powerful axe kick for Daitokuji's head. "Take this!"
His eyes growing wide, Daitokuji quickly crossed his clubs, blocking the baton. When Asuka kicked off and landed on her feet, she smirked as the ball hurtled past her for him.
Daitokuji sprang into a graceful, vertical backflip, the near-errant ball leaving a scorched gouge in the mat as it bounced off it.
A gleam appeared in Asuka's eyes, as she rapidly combined her batons into the staff. "Checkmate!"
At that moment, the rest of the turnbuckle Kodachi had crashed into went flying straight into Asuka's back, the missile lifting her off her feet and sending her flying out of the ring, crashing into the ramp and carving a long trench in it.
Daitokuji stuck the landing, as surprised by the sudden turn of events as his teammates and the rest of Kodachi's were. The audience was floored by the turnabout as well.
Seeing this, Kira thrust her right hand up. "Game! Kodachi Kuno-chan wins the match!"
"Taking advantage of the distraction of the intruders, rather than joining forces with her rival against him, Kodachi has won the match against Asuka Saginomiya in brutal fashion," Leeron reported, "How cold of the Black Rose to act so decisively."
"Yes, but brilliant!" nameless commentator said, "Now that this match is over…!"
Kodachi rubbed her jaw, and quickly sought to ignore the pain as she recalled her ribbon to her. "Good, I can relax now."
Daitokuji already knew what Kodachi meant, right before Kira said it outright:
"Okay, match over you guys, go get him!" Kira said as she released her holds on Ranma and Akane.
"With gusto!" Akane snarled as she and Ranma jumped into the ring to rushdown Daitokuji and his teammates.
They stopped, however, when Daitokuji clapped the clubs together quickly. Ashen-faced, Daitokuji gasped in surprise at how much ring the two crossed in order to get to him, before the effect made them stop cold.
"You two are dangerous… but you're not my opponents today," he said as he walked past them and towards Kodachi, who stared at him, completely entranced. Between them, the Ball of Fury bounced harmlessly on the mat, rolling towards her feet.
He placed his foot on it, stopping it. "I only came for these treasures."
Daitokuji hooked his foot under it and tossed it into his free hand, after taking both clubs in the other. "At last, the Ball of Fury, two of the treasures, are in my possession."
It immediately crackled and grew hot in his grip, burning him in rejection. With a grimace, he tried to resist it. "I see…! Because Kodachi defeated Saginomiya, she is worthy?!"
He tightened his grip, his fingers digging into the brightly glowing sphere. "Is my anger not enough?! After what I've faced, after all of my suffering?! IS THIS NOT ENOUGH?!"
The ball grew white hot in his hand, but still Daitokuji held firm. "I will not accept that! I will not lose, not after coming so close!"
With a yell, he slammed the ball straight down into the mat, white hot fissures spreading from under it as his sensory paralysis wore off. Freed from the clubs effects, Ranma and Akane both whirled around to face Daitokuji, and then stepped back when they saw the heat as much as they felt it.
Akane was especially struck by the wave of heat. "This is hotter than the refinery…!"
Kodachi's vision was momentarily whited out by the sudden jarring shift, and she jumped far back from Daitokuji, and the growing light that the ball emitted.
"It's rejecting him!" Kodachi said, before she quickly revised that, "No…"
The heat grew worse, even forcing Kira to back off from it in discomfort, before it suddenly rose up like an updraft, causing the ceiling to crack and splinter from the impact and the metal girders holding the spotlights to glow a dull red for a moment. Being much sturdier than its predecessor, however, the roof easily endured the force of the blast.
Shoukaku and Zuikakau lowered their arms, and gasped at what they saw.
"Oh my…" nameless commentator whispered from behind the table where she was hiding in fright.
Leeron was far less afraid. "Oh my~"
Daitokuji stood, panting heavily, in the center of the ring, his entire body alight in a blue flame from a likewise colored Ball of Fury, which was still giving off a white glow. His clean cut features were absent. His hair was wild and free, his schooled expression resembling a beast broken from its cage, and tasting freedom for the first time.
"Hot~!" Kira said as she circled the ring to look Daitokuji over from all sides. "So bright! So shiny! I love it!"
"He conquered it," Kodachi whispered, as if unwilling to believe it.
Daitokuji looked at the ball in one hand, and then the clubs grasped firmly in the other. With a grin, he held both aloft.
"Yes! Two of the treasures are now mine!" Daitokuji roared.
Shoukaku threw a fist upward. "Well done, Captain!"
Zuikaku only smirked and shrugged his shoulders, as if the outcome was merely an overdue conclusion.
He turned his attention to Kodachi, before looking back at Ranma and Akane. Even with two of the treasures…
"This will do for today, but in the spirit of fairness I promise you this, Kodachi Kuno," he said resolutely, "I will not rest until I have taken the ribbon and made it mine!"
The ball flashed once in his hand, before erupting in a large explosion that consumed the ring. When the smoke cleared, it revealed only Ranma, Akane, and Kodachi standing in the ring with their arms braced against the blast.
"Gah! Damn it… he can make it explode just like that?!" Ranma yelled in indignation when he saw no sign of the trio of male gymnasts.
Kodachi sank down to her knees, exhausted. "The ball of fury's true power's been awakened. His anger was greater than Saginomiya's after all."
Akane was quickly at her side, helping her back onto her feet. "Kodachi, are you okay?!"
"I am alive, I still have my ribbon, and this match has been won," Kodachi said, "I should be quite pleased with myself."
Kira landed on her feet with a thump next to Ranma, a big grin on her face. "That's absolutely right! Congratulations on your victory, Kunoichi-chan!"
She gave Kodachi an iron-tight hug, causing her to groan in pain. "That was superb! I was at the edge of my seat the whole time!"
Ranma grabbed Kira's shoulder and turned her to face him, freeing Kodachi. "Why didn't you let us know that there were more gymnasts like that running around who could interfere?!"
"Because I'm not Lucy, duh," Kira replied cheekily.
Ranma's hand moved from her shoulder, caressed up her neck, and to her cheek, cupping it much to his dread.
"I don't know why you're so mad, Ran-ma-kun," Kira asked as she made Ranma caress her face, "If I were you, I'd be thanking your blessings, because it could've gone the other way."
Akane immediately yanked Ranma's hand away from her and got right up in Kira's face. "Excuse you?!"
Kira visibly recoiled from Akane, her expression flitting for the briefest moment to shock and disgust, before she regained her perky composure.
"So testy! So testy! I'm only teasing!" she said brightly and poked Akane's forehead.
"Boop! Until the next match, everyone!"
With a cute wink, Kira shot off to the ceiling of the arena, and then blew a hole through it as she departed.
"I'm going to kill her to death," Akane decided.
Ranma watched her go. "I hate that woman."
Akane looked to him and nodded. "I love it when we're on the same page."
Kodachi leaned against Akane, and looked out at the ramp, where Asuka lay surrounded by her classmates, who had regained their consciousness. She was still knocked out, looking incredibly peaceful despite her injuries.
She frowned, and then looked down at her ribbon.
"Legacy…" she said aloud.
Akane looked back to her. "Ah?"
Kodachi shook her head. "Just one of many questions I need to answer, before I defeat Daitokuji."
The stands began to clear out, Kolkhoz High School's students and fans of the White Lily passing sympathetic looks to their icon as she was gently lifted onto a stretcher by her classmates. Among them, were Mikado and Azusa, the latter looking piteously at the sight.
"Poor Asuka-chan," she looked to Mikado, "We should do something nice for her, for her trouble."
Mikado hummed in agreement, though he was concerned with a related matter. "Looks like we're the only hope our school has this year, Azusa."
"I guess so," Azusa replied, understanding Mikado's concern.
In the section above them, Usagi Tsukino was annoyed. "You know what? That was a really cool match, but I still think it'd be the easiest Billion Yen ever."
"Let it go, Usagi," Makoto muttered.
"Whatever," Usagi muttered, before she smiled, "Seeing Kira Takemikazuchi in person again was nice, too."
Rei pouted. "I don't see what you like about her. I'm telling you, she's pure evil."
"I know what I liked about that match," Makoto said before she interlaced her fingers together and brought her hands to her cheek to swoon, "Those boys in leotards! And Ranma Saotome~!"
"Agreement!" Minako cheered, "I would let any of them harvest my wetlands, if you catch my meaning!"
"I'll assume I do!" Makoto enthusiastically agreed.
As Usagi and Rei argued about Kira Takemikazuchi, and Makoto and Minako gushed over handsome boys doing manly things, Ami sighed.
Several stands over, Nanami Sakana was at a loss for words. "It was a good fight, but…"
"Yeah," Jo said quietly, "That weird jumping around messed with my head a bit."
Kyoko just let out a very nasty sound, halfway between a growl and a hum.
Bringing up the rear, Hagane was equally displeased, which Jo noticed.
"Okay, given the ref I understand Old Newbie's deal but what's yours, Papa Bear?" Jo asked.
Hagane looked back at the ring, and at Kodachi and Akane as they headed for the exit. "I saw things that offended me, is all. I think I want to have a word or two with those guys."
Nanami slid her hands into her pockets. "Do you now?"
"Just a chat, and nothing else," Hagane said with a stormy expression as he walked ahead of them, "I'll go get the truck started."
The young woman in the VIP Box stood up from her chair and looked down first on Asuka, and then on Kodachi as they finally left the ring. Bringing the glass to her lips, she drank down the last of the champagne and tossed aside the glass, for the man who served her to smartly catch.
"Katsuragi," she said.
"Make arrangements to fetch the White Lily," she said in a tone dripping with utter malice.
"At once," the suited man replied before he turned to leave and make a call.
As he left, the young woman closed her eyes and chuckled softly. "Fufufufu… You are one step closer to the edge."
She then brought the back of her hand to her lips, and laughed loudly.
A/N: Sorry, it was determined the previous version was trash. Now we're back at full strength.