The Unwritten Tales

Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½ or any related characters in any way, shape or form.

Author's Notes: I know that this is the third time I've taken this story down and reposted it (well, technically), and I'm sorry. However, I was going over the anthology and noted that, really, there's quite a few more ideas here that would work nicely as "bases" to build into fully grown fics than I ever anticipated. So, I decided I'd split the old "Random Tales" into two seperate anthologies; that way, readers can more easily single out potential stories that we have and which they can let us know if they'd like us to work on making them into fully grown ones.

Hand of Shadow

The rain fell as though the very sky had been torn open, thunder roaring like cannon fire- it had been some time since a storm of this magnitude had come to Nerima. To Ranma Saotome, however, the weather wasn't even worthy of notice- if he had noticed, then most likely he would have thought it ironic that the sky would mirror his mood so adeptly. This was not a normal day for Ranma, and anyone who took a look at him would be able to tell. It wasn't the fact he was currently sitting under a bridge- Ranma found bridges a strangely soothing place to be when his mind was full, and he'd been kicked out before. What was distinctive was the fact that he was in male form... but crying. This would have set alarm bells ringing in the minds of anyone who knew Ranma well; he hated to show sorrow when in male form, having learned it was "unmanly" from his father, and if he did have to cry, then his preference was to assume female form to spill his tears in.

Yet, here he was, tears flowing freely down his cheeks, the occasional wracking, choking sob shaking his entire body with its force. This sorrow had built up over a long period of time, and recent events had pushed Ranma beyond the breaking point. Right now, he didn't care about how he looked, he didn't care about his reputation, he didn't care- he just wanted this pain to end, for this to have all been some hideous, terrible, agonizing dream. Why couldn't he wake up from this hell?

"It is agonizing, isn't it? The pain of a true betrayal?"

There was another presence here now, strangely faint though the voice was clear and toneless.

"It is a pain that can drive the strongest of men into madness, and it is a wound on the heart that time only causes to fester within you."

It was...strange, the voice was perfectly toneless and emotionless but its words were strangely comforting.

"I can help you."

Ranma looked up and promptly scurried backwards when he found a stranger standing at his shoulder. Heartbroken as he was, he still wasn't ready to die yet, and had just had the value of paranoia driven painfully home by the events of that day. The stranger took no offense, instead giving Ranma a soft, wry smile. He sort of reminded Ranma of Kogane, the shy ghost girl he had found in Furinkan- he had that same air of sadness and ethereality... to say nothing of the fact he was faintly translucent and a good half a dozen ghost lights were gently orbiting around him. Turning away from Ranma, the ghostly figure drifted -Ranma couldn't tell if he was floating or walking, due to long, vaguely kimono-like robe he was wearing- over to the other side of the bridge, staring out into the darkness and the rain before speaking again, not turning back to Ranma as he did so.

"I have heard your heart screaming and your soul raging child, and I know why you weep. I am not here to harm, but rather I am here to offer you the chance to do something about it, rather than simply accept it."

Thunder and lightning flashed in the sky above as the man continued to speak, "Tell me, if you had the power, what would you do in the face of such a betrayal, for what else can you call it? How would you answer such an insult to your being?"

Ranma stared at him, a long, hard stare, a stare fit to gaze into the very soul, as he contemplated the stranger's words. Finally, his answer came forth, a single word, a word he had never uttered before in his life (though, admittedly, he had lived up to its spirit in the past), a word that summed up just how grievous a wound had been dealt to his heart.


The stranger nodded, as the ghost lights began to form a ring as he turned to Ranma and smiled. "Then you shall have it, if you are willing to pay the price. Are you willing to walk in darkness? Are you willing to swallow your pride and obey the will of another? Are you willing to kill?"

He stared hard at Ranma, matching the teen's gaze with his own as the lights began to spin faster and faster, faint images of a great fortress beginning to form in the middle of the spinning ring, "I can see that you are a wild heart, always seeking its own path. The one whom I serve can give you the freedom to do as you wish with the power and knowledge he can bestow, so long as you are willing to obey his will."

Ranma could not help but hesitate; even here at the very precipice of despair, everything he was, everything he had ever believed in, screamed at him to turn away, to turn down the offer, to go back...

...Back to the Tendos. Back to his so-called family. Back to her. No! He would never go back to HER!

Even as the part of him that was a martial artist screamed at him to turn away, Ranma defiantly drew himself upwards. If he was already tottering on the brink of the abyss, then kami damn it- he would hurl himself in! Without a word or any other sign of acknowledgement, he strode into the ring, which sealed shut behind him even as the ghostly figure faded away like a Cheshire cat. And like a Cheshire cat, the very last thing to fade was his ominous, satisfied, grin...

Five days later, on top of a skyscraper in the Juuban district of Tokyo, a set of shadows stretched forwards from an air-conditioning unit and slowly formed into an ornate circle as a figure rose out of it, stopping as the feet exited before the shadows rapidly retracted back to their original positions like a rubber band snapping back from being stretched as the figure took in a breath of air.

The voice of the figure was undeniably male and held a hint of cold venom, "Juuban."

He was dressed in a suit of armour, the metal a dull green-brown that made the decorations stand out, images of broken chains, skulls, winged devils and thorny roses covered every inch of the metal in a dark silver that wasn't covered by the tattered cloak, the outside black as pitch but the inside a beautiful midnight blue while the long pony-tail and blue-gray eyes that glowed with inner power were the only visible parts of the male's face, the rest covered by an ornate metal half-mask of the same brown-green metal, the same dark silver decorations forming snarling beast's maw.

An armored arm extended in front of the person, and shadow cast began to warp and pool before a seven-foot long pole fitted with a three-foot long blade that had a smooth edge on the main side and a set of bladed edges shaped like a set of spines on the other side rose from the shadow to be clasped in the person's hand as the blade gleamed in the sunlight.

Satisfied with this, the person walked to the edge of the building and faced a certain direction.

And then he jumped.

Meanwhile, the Sailor Senshi were doing what they normally did; take on another random group of yoma that had appeared and was draining civilians at random in a feeding frenzy before possessing a group of kid's go-karts, speeding all over the park that the Senshi had chased them to.

"Wah! Can't these things slow down a little so we can hit them?" Sailor Moon narrowly avoided getting run over as Mars sent a lance of flames at the demon.

"You want to ask them meatball head? Just keep dodging!"

"Shabon Spray!" Immediately a thick mist covered the area, stopping the yoma dead in their tracks as they tried to see through the mist as the Senshi regrouped.

"Okay, lets go take of those Yoma before the mist vanishes. Mercury, you got any ideas?"

The blue-haired Senshi nodded as she brought up her Mercury Computer, showing the yoma along with a string of data. "We should be able to paralyze them using Jupiter's attacks, that should leave them open to the rest of us."

The girls nodded and were about to launch their plan of attack when something landed with a powerful shockwave in the park, a gust of unnatural wind blowing away the wind to reveal the source; an armored figure who was now striding towards them, and the Yoma were between them.

The demons spared only a moment before rushing towards the armored figure, ignoring the presence of the giant scythe, for what human weapon could hurt them? The question was answered as the figure raised the scythe and in a single powerful one-handed sweep, the lead Yoma suddenly split in two before exploding into dust with a scream.

The scythe's momentum carried the wielder into a spin before blade came hurtling down on top of the second, the demon first becoming a shower of gore that rapidly faded to dust. Wrenching the blade free, the armored figure seemed to be obvlious to the third charging from behind before the scythe was swung backhand, the other side of the blade slicing into the demon before the figure spun and slice the Yoma in half, the momentum taking off the head of the third.

Before the two bodies began to disintegrate into dust, the armored figure was already walking away, approaching the Sailor Senshi in complete silence, before walking past them without a word.

The Senshi watched the armored person walk off in silence before a few more seconds before Sailor Venus suddenly said, "He's cute."

That was enough to break the spell as Sailor Mars suddenly gasped, "Hey! Who was he anyway?" She turned to Mercury, "Mercury?"

The blue-haired senshi immediately began scanning the area and gasped, "Oh my god!"

Sailor Moon bounded up to her. "What? What is it Ami-chan?"

The blue-haired girl shivered as she lifted her head to face the others. "That...that person was loaded with dark energy, enough to destroy the city a hundred times over and still have enough for the rest of the country!"

The group paled slightly as Venus pouted.

"Figures; every time a cute guy shows up, he turns out to be evil! Can't a Senshi get herself some tail, dammit!"

Jupiter nodded her agreement, while the others rolled their eyes as Moon's face firmed up.

"We can't let someone with that much dark power walk around like he owns the place. Come on, we need to follow him!" With a brief pause to get a fix on the trail of dark energy he was leaving, the Senshi were in hot pursuit.

Meanwhile, the object of their search was ignorant of their pursuit and probably wouldn't have cared even if he had known they were after him. He was fixated on his target, the goal at the end of this chase, and even though he had never actually seen the place he was heading for, he knew that he was heading towards it, as clearly as a salmon returning to its spawning grounds. A dark smirk briefly flashed across his face, then died a quick and painful death. His stride lengthened as the hunting urge burned hotter in his belly; he was so close now, he would find her, and then she would pay...

The unexpected benefit of this was that he left the Senshi behind, first startled, then angry at his sudden display of fleet footedness. Faster and faster he raced through the streets, powerful legs suddenly thrusting him into the air, whole blocks vanishing with a single mighty bound. He was so close he could feel it, taste it! Soon- the word sang in his mind, boiled in his veins, a promise, a statement, a threat, a cry of ecstasy. Soon...

He spotted the threat at the pinnacle of his latest leap, skidding to a halt with such speed and strength that he gouged a pair of small trenches in the asphalt. He smirked at the foe standing against him, the only thing between him and vengeance. He took in the bald head, concealed beneath a dirty handkerchief, and the bulky body swathed in a gi that had gone gray with age and wear. Small, rat-like eyes flickered nervously behind cheap, durable glasses hooked over his ears.

"Hello, Genma. Long time no see..."

"Hey yourself, boy." Genma grunted, trying to be nonchalant. When his opponent's expression made it clear he was fooling no one but himself, Genma allowed himself to sigh sorrowfully. "What happened to you, Ranma?"

"How can you ask such a stupid question!" Ranma hissed in rage. "You know what she did, you know how she betrayed me! Did you really think I'd take such abuse, from her of all people? You at least shared the pain with me, you were with me every step of that long and treacherous road to mastering the Art- that's why you just got off with a few lumps when you screwed up! And that's what it was; screwing up! You may not have been an exemplary father -hell, you were barely a decent one- but at least you generally meant well, you never meant to betray me like this! She put me through the hell of this last year simply for her own crazed goals, and now she's going to pay! This has nothing to do with you anymore- get out of my way!"

"I'm sorry son, I cannot. You're right, this has nothing to do with me." Genma calmly shifted into a stance, "But she is not just your mother, she is my wife. Come then son, show me what power you have gained."

Ranma snarled behind his mask at the stubborn fool who was blocking his way, "So be it Pops. Prepare yourself."

The scythe blade folded with a click and vanished into shadow as Ranma charged forwards, a feint leading into a spinning kick as the battle was joined.

Ranma knew that Genma had gotten rusty in his skills since they had come to Nerima, a consequence of slacking off the way he had, and so he probably could have beaten his father with ease even without tapping into the power his Patron had given him. As Genma blocked kicks and dodged punches, doing his best to outmaneuver the younger Saotome, Ranma suddenly gave a feral grin.

"But where would the fun in that be?" He asked aloud.

The look of dull surprise on Genma's face was both hilarious and painful to see, which was why Ranma promptly lashed out at it with an amplified straight-arm punch. With the sudden boost in speed and strength, it pierced through Genma's defensive reflexes like a pneumatic spike into clay, the sheer strength hurling Genma clean through the wall of a building... on the opposite side of the street. Ranma watched, but when Genma failed to jump back through the hole he had made going in, he relaxed, confidant that he had just dealt the TKO blow. He marveled in the power he could feel coursing through him now; surely, this was what it felt like to be Happosai! ...Well, minus the insatiable desire to grope butts, nuzzle breasts and steal undies, anyway.

Genma grimaced as he used the dust to conceal himself, "It seems that I must use them. So be it, you haven't defeated me yet boy." He made a gesture and then his Ki winked out as he began moving towards Ranma, who seemed to be taking in thinking about something as the armored teen approached the front door. Carefully positioning himself, Genma struck.

"White Snake Reliable Venom Fist!" Ranma's eyes widened as he felt lances of Ki pierce his armour and he stumbled, his limbs refusing the work as he saw Genma appear from the side with a serious look on his face.

"Forgive me son, Dokuja Tanketsu Sho." Genma's hand streaked towards Ranma's chest, but the teen dropped to the ground and rolled to a crouch, only to continue rolling as Genma shouted, "Kijin Raishu Dan!"

The invisible projectile went over Ranma's face and he felt the sharpness of the vacuum blade before Genma took another stance, "Saidaikyu Kijin Raishu Dan!" A stream of projectiles, barely visible to his enhanced vision, streaked towards Ranma and created a cloud of dust as Genma looked on solemnly.

"There, it is done."


The sound of that laughter sent a chill down Genma's spine, not just because his (psychotic, mutated, vengeful) son was laughing at attacks that should have left him unconscious and in need of medical care, but because Ranma had never laughed like that. When Ranma had laughed, it was an open, happy sound- not a sinister, sepulchral cackle that made him sound truly insane. He swallowed hard, sweat beading on his face as the dust cleared and Ranma materialized, unharmed and smirking. The younger Saotome clicked his tongue in a disapproving manner and waved his finger like Genma was a naughty child.

"You've been holding out on me, old man. But then, I've got a few new tricks of my own..."

He held up an open hand, which suddenly burst alight with flames of purest black. Ranma's face curled in a slasher's smile and before Genma could react he thrust his arm out, the dark fire erupting forth as a horizontal column, striking Genma and propelling him backwards. Genma screamed in pain; it was like the icy touch of death itself, boring into his flesh, ripping at his very soul! The pain was too much for him to endure and he was unconscious before he hit the ground.

Ranma snarled as he picked up Genma by the front of his gi, "Thought you would have lasted at least a minute old man, guess I was wrong." With a careless toss, the man was thrown into a tree as Ranma summoned his scythe and focused his energies before his eyes flashed open.

"Destroyer of Empires!" In an instant, Ranma swung his scythe in an underhand swing and sent a blast of energy at the front of the house, the section exploding outwards in a spray of kindling and masonry as Ranma strode in, free hand flicking outwards…

"Phantom Light."

Immediately portions of the living room exploded into black flame as Ranma searched for that one person. He smiled as he sensed his target and tossed his scythe upwards, the blade slashing at the roof and causing it to collapse inwards, bringing with it one Nodoka Saotome, who screamed before it was cut off as Ranma's hand lashed out and grabbed her by the throat.

"Hello mother, we have so much to talk about."

Nodoka's eyes were wide as she took in Ranma armour as the teen undid the half-mask to reveal his murderous smile, his eyes brimming with anger and hatred as he expertly caught his scythe with his free hand and slammed it into a wall and strode towards the kitchen.

"I've waited for this day, wanted to do this for so long after you betrayed me, after you destroyed any and all love I once held in my heart for you." Nodoka's eyes flicked to the side and Ranma chuckled, "Pops? He's alive. After all, I need to save my energy to end your life, as slowly as possible."

His smile vanished, becoming a feral snarl before he punched Nodoka, hard, and spat in her face, "Words cannot begin to describe my hatred, my rage, my pure and total contempt for you. No, I think these will allow me to express my feelings much more capably than mere words."

He opened the drawers and began pulling out knives, "Let's begin."

Just as Ranma was about to start the show, there was a crash and a wheezing shout of "Stop...huuh...evil...doer...oh...oh god."

Blinking, Ranma leaned out the door to see the girls he had passed earlier in the still burning living room bent over panting. One in particular, a blonde with two ridiculously long ponytails, seemed to be doubled over panting for breath as a nearby brunette coughed.

"I...huh...told you not to skip calisthenics...meatball head."

The blonde glared weakly before turning to Ranma, who was now sipping a bottle of water while sitting on the table, the wood groaning slightly from the weight. "We'll be right with you as soon as we catch our breath!"

After another minute, the group managed to recover as the blonde made a pose. "Halt evildoer! Destroying a person's property, intending to torture an innocent...and making me run so hard is unforgivable! In the name of the Moon, I'm going to kick your ass for that!"

"You have got to be kidding me." Was Ranma's disdainful reply. "Then again, I suppose birds of a feather flock together." He shook his head rapidly, and then snapped at them with his previous intensity. "This has nothing to do with you! Back off! This worm owes me blood, and I will have my payment!"

Sailor Jupiter narrowed her eyes, "What the hell did that poor woman do to you to deserve this?" Electricity gathered in her hands as Venus kept a hand behind her, summoning a length of her Love-Me-Chain in preparation to throw it as Moon stepped forward.

"Yeah, it can't be as bad you think it is. Whoever is controlling you and gave you all that dark power has obviously made it seem worse that it really is."

Ranma stared at them blankly, then began to laugh, a laugh dripping bitterness and emotional poison that rattled the very windows. "What master? I obey no one, never have; never will! And even if I did have a master, how could anyone possibly exaggerate the wrongs she did to me? No one could ever make her betrayal of me worse than it already was!"

Moon flinched at the darkness before asking in a quiet voice, "What did she do that was so horrible that you want to kill her?"

Ranma stared at them, his gaze piercing and utterly empty. Finally, he broke the brittle silence with a quiet voice. "So, you want to know her sins? Very well. Picture me as a child, not more than an infant. My father had made a vow that he would train me to be a great martial artist, so I could marry the daughter of a friend of his who runs a dojo here in Tokyo. To this end, he begged my mother to let me leave. She finally agreed, but only if I signed a contract, made a solemn vow. I was far too young to even read, let alone understand what my parents were talking about, but she accepted my handprints on the paper as proof all the same. And so, I was bound by a vow I didn't even know the details of... at the time..."

Moon was certain that if she wasn't calling up every last reserve of courage, she would be recoiling in horror with the others as they realized that the woman he was going to kill was his own mother.

"My god..." Mercury was in shock at the thought that the person in front of them was so intent on killing his own mother. Jupiter's lightning had winked out with her horror, memories of her parent's death flashing in front of her eyes as Mars clenched her fists at the revelation, eyes shut tight.

Venus was calling on her days as a vigilante to remain firm in the face of this shock as Moon finally asked, afraid to hear the answer, "What was the vow?"

It was debatable whether Ranma had not noticed their distress, or simply didn't care; his eyes had glazed as he turned inward to more painful memories. Finally, he spoke up. "A suicide vow. If I failed to, and I quote, 'become a man among men', I would be honor-bound to commit hara-kiri. I never saw my mother once after the old man and I left- hell, I forgot I even had one. Then, barely a few weeks ago, I found out that my mother was still alive. I was enthralled with joy; my old man was many things on our trip, but a kind and loving parent wasn't one of them. I had seen kids with their mothers on my trip, and more than once I had envied them; what was it like? To have someone who loved you unconditionally, who picked you up when you were down and made the pain go away? It looked so... beautiful..." Ranma trailed off there. When he spoke again, his voice was ice and steel.

"And then, she came to the dojo, and I found out about the vow- and how serious she was. Wherever she went, that damn sword went with her- she bathed with it, slept with it, it never left her side even once. That hurt; do you know what it's like to long to see someone, then find out that they're perfectly willing to kill you? But I was used to that pain, it was far from the first time that I'd had to live with it, after all. What hurt worse was that I could be so close to her, close enough to touch her, yet she could never know who I really was, lest my life end right then and there. Know this- I wasn't afraid of dying; I'd come too close to death in the past for it to scare me. What I couldn't stand was that my death would leave the one person I had longed to prove my worth to so disappointed- when I gasped out my last breaths, she would be feeling nothing but shame, scorn and disgust. Do you have any ideas what that feels like?"

"That doesn't explain why you'd want to kill your own mother!" Jupiter finally had enough of listening, lightning beginning to course across her body, "You could have worked it out, maybe even defined what it meant to be a man amongst men! There has to be a better way than killing her!"

"It's not the vow that I'm here for!" Ranma roared. "That I could live with, though I could never have lived up to it as I was, not with my... condition." He hissed this last one with such vehemence that one might have expected to see him literally spitting poison as the word left his mouth.

Mercury spoke up, "A condition? You mean some sort of medical condition?"

"No, a mystical condition. My old man was never the brightest bulb in the mines. Thanks to his stupidity, I got stuck with a curse that caused me to turn into a girl whenever I got splashed with cold water. Turning into a busty little redhead is many things, but 'manly' is pretty far down on the list, don'tcha think?" Ranma sneered.

The Senshi, save for the silent Moon, blinked at that revelation and perhaps a little incredulously, Venus spoke up, "Okay, that's a pretty good answer, but when you think about it, living with a curse and not going crazy sounds pretty manly. Shows you have a strong mind right?"

Ranma stared at them incredulously, then gave a soft, tiny, tired smile. "I never thought about it like that... but it turns out it was all unnecessary. Barely a week ago, my secret came out." He thrust himself into a standing position, visibly bristling with fury. "It turns out she'd known about me having a curse all along- she just let our little 'charade' go on because she didn't want to spoil our fun." These last few words were spoken in a mocking, jeering tone. "She let me live with that desperation, that fear, that self-loathing, all because she thought it was a laugh! What kind of mother does something like that!" He screamed. "But that's not all, oh no, that's just the tip of the iceberg! There was much worse to come than that!"

"What the hell could be worse than all that?" Mars strode forward, "What in the world could so much worse, because heaven forbid if I think that you're blowing this out of proportion buddy, but what is it that is so much worse than what you just listed for us?" She held up a hand and made a look of mock-thoughtfulness. Then she snapped her fingers, "Oh, I know, maybe she wanted you to become a magical girl! Is that it? Because I swear if you keep this up I'm going to have to attack you just to shut off your little angst-fest!"

An expression of purest hatred shot across Ranma's face, a hiss like a thousand angry serpents clawing its way from his throat.

Mars stopped her rant at the hiss, paling as she realized that she had been on target with her guess and slowly backed away as the other Senshi shifted slightly, waiting to see if he would attack as Moon continued to stand in silence with an unreadable expression on her face.

Venus glared at Mars, "Good going Mars, he looks as mad as a tank in a bottle shop!"

Mars glared back before she saw Moon remaining still, "Moon, what are you doing, he's obviously going to attack!"

Moon turned to face Ranma, only barely flinching at his expression, "Your mother...why did she want you to become a magical girl?"

"Some sort of... family legacy!" Ranma hissed, clearly straining to keep himself coherent. "She put me through that hell with the contract, but never intended to call it in the way my old man thought she would, oh no, she intended to use it to force me to become all-girl! I have spent a year living with the constant fear of that, of losing my identity, my mind, my very being, and some stranger just taking over my name, my life, and nobody giving a damn about it! And then I find out that my mother, the one person in the world I dared to hope would accept me no matter what, I find she despises me because of what I am! She arranged for me to get this curse! She comes to me as a ray of hope, a chance of being loved, but she never wanted me! Is it any wonder I went berserk!" He screamed this last part at the top of his lungs.

"N-no, it can't be true! You're lying; no mother would act like that!" The Senshi were shivering from the waves of hatred and rage that were rolling off Ranma but it wasn't Moon who said that. It was Venus, and even then it was to try and make some sort of last desperate defense against the fact that, through it all, Ranma's eyes were calm and sane.

Mercury swallowed the lump in her throat, "Why? Why would she do something like that? To want from the beginning to have you cursed..."

"Because she's one of you." Ranma snarled. "She couldn't bear a second child, a daughter to properly carry on the mantle, oh no, she had to change her firstborn to take up her stupid mantle! Well, that ends here and now- I am nobody's puppet! If she doesn't consider me family, then I don't consider her family. She dies, here and now!" With that, he whirled around from them, only to shriek in frustration. "Where is she?"

"Right here...son." The scythe flew from its position into Ranma's hand as the reverse edge met a katana in a shower of sparks and screeching of metal meeting metal as Ranma snarled.

"Attacking from behind? So like you...mother."

The Senshi blinked at the figure holding the sword.

She was dressed in the boots, ribbon and short skirt that was almost stereotypical of magical girls but the rest of the costume was more a suit of armour while a scarf was wrapped around the woman's lower face as she pressed the sword harder against the scythe blade, but Ranma wasn't even shifting an inch.

She turned to the Senshi, "Quickly now, if we pool our power we can defeat him!" The Senshi acted out of reflex and attacks were charged but Moon stayed still, her eyes hidden as Ranma snarled and brought up his free hand, black flames wrapped around the fist that plunged into the woman's gut, sending her flying backwards as the Scythe span and deflected the incoming attacks, destroying more of the house and forcing Ranma to exit the rapidly collapsing building.

With a snarl he met a furious barrage of sword strikes before shouting "Black Chariot!" and before the woman could respond, she was met with a series of powerful slashes that bit deep into her armour and flesh before the scythe blade slammed into her knee and with a contemptuous flick, the woman was sent flying.

Ranma made to approach the downed woman only to stop as a ball of lightning tore a trench in front of him and a chain of hearts wrapped around his scythe, forcing him into a tug-of-war with the blonde senshi holding it.

"Get." A powerful pull snapped the chain like string.

"Out." A blast of black flames sent a recovered Genma flying when he tried to blind-side him.

"Of." A wind-blade tore through the earth to throw his mother off her feet.

"My." Blasts of fire were blocked by the scythe, the flames going to either side of him, leaving the armour untouched.

"WAY!" A dome of black fire engulfed the area, devouring a thick blanket of icy mist.

As the flames cleared, Ranma regarded the assembled Senshi and then his father, who seemed to be preparing another of his vacuum-blade attacks before he growled, the sound rumbling across the ruined property as he realized that he would have to retreat.

"Fine! If that's the way you want to play it! This round is yours, but I never lose the fight! I will be back, and you won't stop me the next time!"

He shouted this last part as he slammed the butt of his scythe into the earth, a whirling vortex of liquid darkness engulfing him and spinning furiously before unwinding back into the bowels of the earth from when it came, leaving not a sign (well, apart from all the rubble) that Ranma had ever been there.

Nodoka sighed in relief before wincing from the wounds inflicted by the scythe that Ranma had been using, Genma coming up alongside her and helping her stand as she sheathed her sword and turned painfully to the Senshi, who seemed relieved that the guy was gone.

"Thank you for your aid, it could not have come at a greater time."

She was cut off as Moon stepped up to her, and in a move that had the other Senshi gaping and would have shocked any citizens watching, slugged the woman with her Senshi-enhanced strength. "You disgust me." She turned to the others, unshed angry tears in her eyes, "We're leaving. Now." The others nodded; not wanting to see just how angry their leader was as Nodoka stared at them in shock.

Genma spoke up then, "What will you do if my son should appear again?"

Moon stopped and turned to glance at the man over her shoulder. "If he becomes a threat to Juuban, we will stop him. But I will never fight alongside that woman. No woman who would put their son through such torment is a person that I would associate the Senshi with. I have faced some terrible things as a Sailor Senshi, but that woman there." She shuddered in suppressed anger, "If she dares show her transformed form around us, she's as much as a target as that guy, because she is no hero."

With that, the Senshi alighted to the nearby rooftops and vanished as Nodoka stared after them in shock, before her teeth clenched and she pulled herself to her feet.

"Those idiotic, stupid brats! I've been doing this long before they even gained their magic, and they dare think that I am evil? I was merely ensuring the continuation of the family legacy, as my ancestors have done before me!"

Genma said nothing to that before asking, "I assume that they are as much as a target as my son?"

Nodoka's face twisted into a rictus of fury at the question. "He will pay for defying his duty to his family, Genma, I swear it. And if those inexperienced brats think that they can simply walk away with threatening me, then they will pay as well."

Genma said nothing, instead watching his wife return to her civilian guise and walk painfully to head to the Tendo Dojo before he sighed, "Stay strong son." He started walking after his wife to help her get to the Tendos, saying nothing as she ranted quietly.

"So, Wild Shadow, you have failed."

The alien voice was rich and deep, yet sinister- as though purest darkness had a voice. Ranma, clad only in his former civilian clothing, said nothing, instead standing straight and tall, eyes cast downwards, his posture at once defiant and submissive.

"I will not lie, I was overpowered and had no choice but to retreat." He proclaimed. Before he could say anything further (not that he himself was sure whether that would be begging for a second chance or defiance of his deeds), the first voice laughed, a genuinely amused sound that seemed strangely light and friendly.

"I am not disappointed in you, Wild Shadow. I am impressed; too many warriors, in your position, would have sold their lives recklessly on the chance for vengeance. That you, who have been so hurt, would still be capable of fighting with tactical acumen- that is why I made you my Hand."

Ranma looked up at this, staring straight into the great pillar of roaring, ebon-black flames perched on what had once been the throne pedestal in this decaying, darkness shrouded palace. Realizing it would be wise to stay on his Patron's good side, he bowed at the waist in the Western fashion as a sign of recognition and respect.

"Thank you, Lord Antares."

"Do not thank me just yet, Wild Shadow." The pillar pulsated as it spoke again. "I allowed you your attempt at vengeance, but now that it has been made, failure or not, you have given me your word that it shall be the work of the Empire of the Black Sun that shall be foremost in your mind."

"...Yes... master." Ranma reluctantly agreed.

"Do not be disheartened; I am certain that your enemy will come to claim you. So long as you do not allow it to compromise our mission, you may do whatever you wish with her."

"As the Burning Shadow commands." Ranma declared in his best officious tone of voice, bowing again. He grinned darkly, and sensed that his Patron was just as amused.

"Yes, as I do command. And this time, you will not face her alone. The Terrorforming must proceed..."

In the gloom around Ranma, glowing eyes lit up. First a few, then dozens, then thousands, shining like terrible stars in the all-concealing murk.

It's hard to say precisely where this came from; a little boredom with the sanctified version of Nodoka, maybe a little disdain for the common fukufic, but it's here, it's out of our heads, and if you think that it could be expanded, well, just leave a review saying that you'd read this sort of thing as a full story.