Author's Forward – Okay, some bad new readers, Seven Village Stomp will probably never see another chapter. Sorry, but I'm bored of the story, so that is that.
However, I also have good news. The first five chapters of Haigeki are already written. That's right, five, whole chapters for your reading pleasure. Unfortunately for you, I won't release all those chapters right now. Instead, I'll release a chapter approximately once every two months. The idea here is to create a semi-regular release rate. Hopefully, that will give give me greater time and greater pressure to finish more chapters.
Which brings me to more good news, this story will likely be completed. I estimate 9-12 chapters, total, to finish the whole thing off. That puts the end in sight, which should prove a strong motivator for me.
Author's Warning - This story is Ranma-centric but most interaction is between Ranma and original characters. There is also a moderate crossover (and several minor ones), but I don't consider the crossover important enough to put this story in the crossover section.
Chapter 1: Crash Course
The hands of the clock ticked away at a grueling pace. Hinako-sensei babbled at the front of the class, selecting students one-by-one. Those unfortunate few were forced to stand and deliver shoddy translations. The rest watched the proceedings with apathy, silently mocking their fellow classmates.
Myself? I drank the scent of plasticized wood, the weight of my head resting upon my right cheek. My eyes were closed, and I dithered at the edge of slumber. I listened, ears attuned to the sound of my name, but not much else.
I wasn't worried. Why would I be? Like most teachers, Hinako picked students seat by seat and row by row. The pattern was utterly predictable. I had learned this drill in elementary school, and had long since counted how many victims remained between me and the firing squad. Eleven. I even had a half scribbled translation wedged between the pages of my textbook. Yeah, there was a pretty good shot my translation was wrong, but I wasn't going to sweat the small details. I had better things to do.
One seat to my right sat Akane. She glared at me silently, as though willing me to wake. That was normal. Her presence however, made me twitchy. Akane usually wouldn't try anything in the classroom but, on occasion, that crazed gorilla lost what little self control she had and took a swing at me anyway. I never could tell what set her off either. Made it hard to prepare for.
And, when Akane hits, it hurts.
Now, I could dodge her strikes, make no mistake there. Akane was slow, and she favored wide and heavy over fast and precise. Slipping to the side of her monkey swings was easy, but I didn't dare try.
The problem was, if I let my instincts take over for an instant I'd not only defend, but counter attack. Hitting the tomboy – now that would be a big mistake. Akane's dad, Soun, and my Pop would be screaming in my ears for the rest of the week. Little miss 'I'm a martial artist too', wouldn't react all that well either. For all Akane demanded I 'fight her seriously', she'd get pissed to all hell if I actually followed through with her request. Girls. Why do they ask for things they don't actually want? Incomprehensible.
And... well... I wasn't exactly a weak fellow, and Akane, she wasn't half as good as she thought she was. It'd be all too easy for me to hurt her pretty seriously. If I did that... then... I'd feel bad.
... Not that I cared about her or anything. I'd feel bad because I'm a nice guy, thats all.
Anyway, I had to suppress my instincts around Akane. Keep her solidly classified under the tag 'normal girl', rather than 'martial artist'. Otherwise, one of these days, I'd make a mistake.
All in all, that left me twitchy. Twitchy and half asleep because, face it, I wasn't going to let the threat of sudden bodily harm stop my napping. A man had to have priorities.
So, there I was, half-asleep, being glared at by an angry Akane, waiting for Hinako to call my name. Seven. Five. Four. Three students until it was my turn to be jeered at my wonderful, supportive classmates. When it got down to two, I lifted my head off my desk and doubled checked my illegible note. Eh? Guess I'd wing it.
One more student.
That was when all hell broke loose.
Just a typical school day at Furinkan High.
The chalkboard split across the middle, the brick behind it crumbling as the wall tilted dangerously forward. Hinako had just enough to to glance over her shoulder before the falling stone swamped her pint-sized form. Cra-ching! The third floor window to my left blew inward, the shards of glass bouncing off each other and the ground with a high pitched tings. Across the room, a second detonation sounded and the hallway wall erupted inward. Plumes of dust obscured everything, the stuffy scent overwhelming the fresh air flowing in from outside.
The whole class was caught in a cascade of chaos.
I had already exploded to my feet and heaved my desk into the path of flying debris. The cheap, wooden construct shielded Akane from a dozen cuts and prevented Daisuke from having his head crushed by a block of reinforced concrete as big as my chest.
Behind me, Ukyou moved. Only a fraction of a second slower than myself, she unsheathed her battle spatula and transformed it into a whirling wall of steel. Projectiles scattered in every direction, batted aside when they met her dome-like defense. Her impregnable fortress left every student in arms reach of her untouched.
But Ukyou wasn't everywhere. Neither was I.
As the wave of destruction settled, I caught glimpse of the results. Yuka on the ground, a thin jagged shard of glass penetrating her left arm. A boy, who's name I had never learned, pinned beneath his desk by a boulder of broken concrete. At the front of the class was Hinako, knocked unconscious by an assault she never saw and never expected.
Stuff this bad, that wasn't normal. But Pop and I, we had spent our share of time on the darker side of society, and I had seen what the word tragedy meant. Only because of that was I able to stop myself from rushing to the aid of my fellow students. I knew where my place was: Here. Fighting. Standing between the untrained and whatever reckless idiot decided this was the proper way to issue a challenge.
Then, as the dust settled, I got my second surprise. The assailants numbered three and all were female. Given the tactics, I had expected big burly men in black body armor waving around assault rifles, though I wouldn't have blinked if it had been a thirty foot tall monster, or a half mad martial artist screaming death threats. Now, reckless assault by a pack of girls wasn't exactly off my normalevent list. I had seen the so called 'fairer' sex get violent too many times to count. But usually the attacking girls didn't work in team, and they definitely didn't come dressed like these ones were.
How could I describe it? Long shiny hair, smooth sleek legs, well formed breasts, and immaculately made up faces. Each girl was an independent beauty, fully qualified to steal the title Miss Furinkan if they challenged for it. The girls were dressed for it too. Ruffled skirts, frills, lace, and high-heels that averaged at least eight centimeters, defined the fashion of choice. The last was an extreme rarity. Let me tell you something, fighting in heels was just as hard as you'd think.
Yes, that was experience talking, and no, I won't explain.
To cut down on the confusion, I assigned each girl a name. The nearest one, who'd burst in through the window, gained the appellation Lilac. The soft violet color of her clothes, and the bursting petal shape of her skirt and gloves, was reason enough. Carrotcake, I designated the next, due to her orange and brown themed clothing, and, well, because there was a carrot cake like scent in the air, and it seemed to emanate from her. Weird, I know, but true. The last girl, who had burst in through the hall, I named Fencer on account of her thin bladed sword and plated armor.
I glanced at Ukyou. She picked up the hint instantly.
"You're with me, Sugar," Ukyou said nodding to Akane.
Good. That left me free to deal with Lilac and Carrotcake.
Briefly, I studied my two opponents. No stance indicating a style, but that didn't mean much. Lilac had a flower rod, which I assumed was some sort of whacked out weapon - magical, given my luck. They had to have a decent bit of strength to them too. The girls had blown in the walls. Beyond that, my only hint was their auras.
Spiritually, what I felt left me uneasy. It wasn't so much that the girls were super strong: if anything I'd judge them at around Kuno's level. Instead, it was the intensity of their auras, an underlying sharpness reminiscent of Ryouga the moment before he tossed off a perfect shi shi hokodan.
That made me cautious, so I chose to start simple.
I stepped in and swept my leg into a swift round house that hooked up at Lilac's head. She swayed back just out of range, the thin, rubber soles of my slippers brushing her cute nose. I allowed the momentum of my kick to carry me, body swinging, arms reaching down to pluck a desk from the ground. Projectile in hand, I transferred my spin into linear motion, throwing the desk at Carrotcake.
Whoosh, whoosh! The desk tumbled end over end, displacing air as it flew, but before it could hit Carrotcake stumbled, her feet flying out from underneath her, causing her to crash onto her butt. That last second mistake saved Carrotcake, and the desk ricocheted off the broken wall behind her before rolling into another classroom.
I cursed my bad luck and hoped I at least had Carrotcake's attention. I didn't have time for more than that because I was face to face with Lilac.
"Ya know," I said conversationally. While I talked, my hands flashed out in lightning jabs, subtle hooks, and an occasional cross. "Normally, I go easy on girls, but I don't think I'm going to play Mr. Nice Guy after the shit you pulled."
Lilac's flower wand whipped through the air, snapping to intercept my blurring fists blow-for-blow. Her unyielding guard turned aside every strike I made, be it devious or destructive. That set off alarm bells in my head. The number of people who could consistently block my punches, even before my amazon training, had been very small. The fact Lilac could do so, while making it look effortless, put her minimal threat level at 'panda'.
"Surrender, Saotome-san," Lilac commanded, her cute voice undermining any attempt at authority. "When you and the other martial arts girls yield I will contact emergency services on behalf of the wounded."
I answered with a derisive snort. Instead of talking, I allowed my torso to drop. My falling weight dragged my right leg into a rising kick. The act was more defensive than offensive, and successfully changed my silhouette just enough for a dozen orange flashes to streak past overhead. Carrots, each as long as more forearm. The projectiles perforated the ruined walls with ease.
With a great crash, my heavy kick smashed down on the floor. Concrete shattered and the ground sagged into a crater, but I missed Lilac by a mile. She surged into the opening just as I feared, but the attack that followed was painfully inept.
Huh? No way. That couldn't have happened. Even by Akane's clumsy standards, Lilac's strike was amateur. Exposed as I was, she should have delivered a solid blow, instead, I barely had to dodge when she blundered by.
At once, little things that had bothered me coalesced. There was something unnatural about this fight.
Abruptly, I altered my fighting style, cutting my speed in half. I opened with probing blows, intentionally leaving openings. At the same time, I reduced the pressure of my attacks, giving Lilac and Carrotcake plenty of chances to return fire. What followed confirmed my suspicion, and forced me to draw a shocking conclusion. Neither of the two girls knew squat about combat. In fact, they weren't even defending themselves.
Don't get me wrong. Lilac was all but invincible. No matter how I attacked or with what speed, that short flower shaped stick was there to deflect. On the rare occasions Lilac didn't block, she dodged like a petal on the wind. It wasn't just Lilac, either. Carrotcake's defense, though comical, was no less unyielding. Carrotcake flopped, fell, wobbled, stumbled, slipped, and occasionally teetered on the edge of collapse, her arms windmilling in giant spirals. Nevertheless, be it desks or rubble, whatever I threw at Carrotcake missed.
Other clues only served to confirm my theory. If my speed slowed, then Lilac's defensive wand work slowed by equal measure. When I delivered inept strikes, she responded with crude blocks. Impossible as it would seem, my conclusion held, Lilac and Carrotcake weren't relying on skill. They weren't even in control of their own actions.
No. Not magic. Not quite magic, anyway. Now that I was aware of it, I sensed the underlying spiritual flows. There was a reaction within Lilac's aura the moment my attack met her spiritual presence. The instant I crossed that invisible line that marked Lilac's space, her arm would jump forward to block, or her body slide to the side in a dodge.
I continued play with Lilac's and Carrotcake's defense, looking for further confirmation. I struck with wide kicks, sloppy punches, and flung debris. Lilac dodged and blocked, an elegant dancer with the illusion of skill. Carrotcake tripped, fell, and otherwise did half as much damage to herself as my attacks would have done if they'd landed. The more I tested their guard the more certain I became. Lilac and Carrotcake were using an aura based technique, or maybe, an aura based magic. Whatever the case, an aura was definitely involved.
And that was all I needed. With grounding on how the girls were defending themselves, new approaches opened up. I decided to start with the simplest. It was fundamental ki physics that battle-auras resisted each other, and the weaker always yielded to the stronger. By that token, if I imposed my aura over their aura, I should be able to distort or even break the technique. I was sure of it. No. I had absolute confidence in it.
"Moko takabisha!" I shouted.
Confidence pooled between my hands and became physical force. I motioned toward Carrotcake and my ki shot out in bullet. The brilliant energy flashed across the room giving only an instant's warning and... missed. The moment the attack left my hand Carrotcake tripped over a stray rock and fell face first onto a broken hunk of the class chalkboard. I couldn't help wincing in sympathy. Carrotcake's defensive technique really sucked.
But Carrotcake's distress was not enough to stay my hand. I hadn't attacked to make Carrotcake fall. No, the moko takabisha served its purposes by shoving a large hole through the middle of Carrotcake aura. If my reasoning was sound, that would leave her briefly vulnerable to a follow up attack. Like say, the second ki blast I ricocheted off the ceiling.
Boom! The second moko takabisha hit Carrotcake dead on and drove her through the floor and into the class below.
I grinned. Not invincible anymore, eh?
The flash of a thin, crystal epee ended my gloating. A quick shift of my foot saved my calf from being torn by the nimble blade. Instead, the tip slipped through my black pants, slicing the fabric and leaving exposed a thin line of red. My new attacker, Fencer, did not relent. With an elegant flourish she whipped the sword upward and across my chest. Too slow this time, as I swayed the slightest bit back cleaning evading the blade's bite.
Fast and ferocious attacks followed proving Fencer had what Lilac and Carrotcake lacked, true skill coupled with the aggression to put it to use. Fencer was also the only girl that was, superficially, dressed for battle. Forest-green plates of steel shielded her body from blows, and her light weapon could not be mistaken in its deadliness.
Favorable comparisons disintegrated after that. Her armor was littered with gaps that exposed creamy skin and the form fitting plates did more to display her curves than protect. Her steel boots, though rugged enough for a foot soldier, were compromised by block-heels. All in all, Fencer more closely resembled a cosplay knight than the actual thing.
As with Lilac and Carrotcake, those facts did nothing to slow Fencer down. I was forced to dance around her rapid strikes and evade with agile movements. It wasn't hard. While Fencer had skill, her swordplay was well short of Kuno's. That difference in ability gave me more than enough spare time to focus on Akane and Ukyou. Both of the girls were on the ground, bleeding, beaten, but alive. They would stay that way too, their wounds were not fatal.
A tense breath escaped me at that realization.
"Lovely pollen assault," Lilac pronounced.
My attention jerked to Lilac, who had just finished an extravagant dance. Her wand glowed before releasing a puff of purple lights. The fuzzy motes sprayed up from the rod's petals, before showering down throughout the room. The first of them had yet to reach me when the spell took hold. In seconds, my nose stuffed up, rashes spread across my skin, and my eyes turned into fountains. I blinked rapidly, fighting a loosing battle against the blur of tears.
This new impairment added to the challenge of the battle. Fencer's thin blade, already near invisible, disappeared entirely. I dodged now by sound and posture, listening the swish of her blade and watching the flex of Fencer's arm. Quietly, I gave a thanks to my father's crazed and brutal sleep fighting sessions. Without them, I would have been skewered a dozen times.
In a shift of priories, I placed the bulk of my attention back on Lilac. The violet dressed girl had extracted herself from melee the moment Fencer joined our fight. Now, instead of wielding her rod as a weapon, she span it in her hands while pirouetting. I figured that meant Lilac had either she had gone insane, or was preparing a second dose of flowery unpleasantness. I placed my bets on the second, and increased my aggression, seeking to push Fencer to the side and draw closer to my ranged opponent.
Fencer, gave little ground, instead I felt her aura shift. With new alacrity she attacked, her epee thrusts gaining lighting speed. The lithe blade was too much for my shifted style, and the tip cut red ribbons across my arms. Annoyed, I relented, and chose defensive tactics instead. That gave me enough time to kick a length of rebar at Lilac and put a temporary stop to her magic.
Then things went from bad to worse. Carrotcake had returned, bursting through the still standing classroom door. There was no denying it, it was time to retreat.
The thought made me sick.
I glanced at Akane, Ukyou, Yuka and the others. I reminded myself that team glamour wanted us to surrender. I reminded myself that the students wouldn't get help while this fight dragged on. I told myself that if I ran, my attackers might follow.
It wasn't easy for me to make myself run away. I couldn't help but counter each of those truths with other worries. What would Pop say, when I told him I fled from a trio of magical girls? How could I face Soun after letting his daughter get kidnapped, again? How could I face myself knowing that given enough time and enough experimentation I would have won?
Enough time. That was the crux of the problem. What time I had now was being borrowed from Yuka, who, with every passing second, was pouring her life blood on the floor. Ukyou and Akane were tough girls, they would survive long enough for me to save them. Fighting here wasn't heroic, it was selfish.
So, I swallowed my pride and threw myself through the shattered classroom window. A handful of carrot missiles followed, machine gunning from Carrotcake's open palm. I twisted while plummeting, slithering around the projectiles. The forced dodge ruined my landing. Instead of meeting grass with feet, I crashed shoulder first, transforming my speed and momentum into a tight roll.
The day's rotten luck held. My tumble brought me to a stop at the feet of magical girl number four. This one wore a skirt bodice combination. The bodice was black, embellished with gold trim and the skirt the reverse, gold with black trim. A star-shaped hair clip kept, held back the girl's dark purple locks and added a dose of charming femininity. Oh, and her panties were purple-lace with cute little bows at the sides. Very fetching.
Deep-violet eyes glimmered with amusement when they met my own. I smirked and flipped onto my feet.
"Yo. I don't suppose you're from the local super hero ward and are about to put a stop to this?" I said, making a thumbing motion over my shoulder and toward the school.
Thinking of the school, I allowed my eyes to shift so that I could see into the classroom window. Lilac and Fencer stood upon the room's precipice, watching me like a pair of hawks. Star girl gave a little shake of her head and the two pulled back. Tch. I had hoped they'd forget everyone inside and chase after me.
"I'm afraid not, Saotome-san," Star-girl said, answering the earlier question. "My name is Singing Star Angel Akina and I am recruiting for a very selective group."
"Not interested," I interjected. "Nobody here is interested. But I can think of some people that might be interested in, say, an ambulance. I also just so happen to know which group of jackasses are in need of a pounding for doing the dirty deed."
Akina's ruby lips quirked in a smile. "This isn't an offer you can refuse, Saotome-san. As for the injured, my girls will patch them up before they leave. Civilian casualties are not in anyone's interest."
"Could have fooled me."
My eyes glinted darkly as I contemplated the newest 'magical girl'. Her aura, like that of Lilac, Fencer, and Carrotcake, was sharp. The power behind it however, was on another scale entirely. It wasn't easy, measuring the strength of an opponent's aura, and I didn't have much skill in that arena. Still, after all the fights I'd been in, I had cobbled together a crude measuring stick. I called it the Daisuke-Saffron scale. To put it simply, I nudged people in between spiritual strengths I knew well. Akina was just under Ryouga. The girls before had floated around Kuno.
That alone didn't mean much. Unless the differences in spiritual strength were off by an order of magnitude, skill mattered more than power. But, if Akina had the same defensive aura as the other girls, her strength would prove a serious problem. The only successful attack I had landed so far was by blowing away Carrotcake's aura with my own. A task Akina's greater spiritual strength would make difficult if not impossible.
Which meant I needed a more effective mechanism. I snuck a glance at the school. If Akina was being honest, I wasn't working on any kind of time limit now, so this was a perfect chance to perform some experiments. Gently, I began to probe Akina's aura with my own.
"So, who are you recruiting for?" I asked, mostly to keep Akina talking.
Akina bit. "The Pretty Princess Institute. It is a lovely school for promising young girls, such as yourself."
"Uh huh," I answered. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm a man."
Akina wasn't deterred. "We are well aware of your medical condition, Saotome-san."
I rolled my eyes, "Yeah, I figured that out. Sorry, but this 'Pretty Princess Institute' sounds way to girly for me."
In truth, I was barely listening to a word Akina said. Instead, I was contemplating how best to breech her defense. Raw pressure would be ineffective, Akina's aura was like steel. The yamasenken would be my best bet. That school of techniques practically specialized in highly focused destruction, and was designed to crack fortifications.
Problem was I had sealed the yamasenken for a good reason. Too deadly. I was a martial artist. The art to me was just that, an art. If forced to say what practical use my skill had, I'd say it was for protecting not killing. Those weren't mutually exclusive, but I wanted to keep them that way.
Not that it mattered much. While I had seen the yamasenken and understood the principles behind it, I had never found the time to actually train in that school of techniques. So using it would be more an act of desperation than an increase in the seriousness of the fight.
Still, I kept it tagged. Promise to my father or not, I didn't have much else to work with.
"Though it will require some adjustment, I'm sure you'll find yourself in love with the Institute if you give it a chance, Saotome-san." The way Akina smiled was particularly cruel.
I snorted. "Well that's never happening. Tell you what, I've got my own offer. Since you and your institute hasn't done anything permanent yet, I'll be nice. Pack up your bags and walk away and I won't turn you into a human pretzel." I cracked my knuckles in emphasis.
"How brutish," Akina said, though, if anything, she appeared more amused. Then, Akina opened her mouth sang pure, soft notes. Nen-nen korori yo, Okorori yo.
My brow twitched as her voice sliced its way into my brain. A headache grew, spreading from my temples, and stretching toward the back of my skull. A technique of some sort? Didn't matter, I'd deal with it. I had to if I wanted a chance to test my theories on how to break these girl's guards, and I wouldn't get a better shot than a one-on-one battle. Besides, it was better to figure out how to win now, rather then when I was halfway through the inevitable rescue mission.
I briefly contemplated my approach, and then threw myself at Akina.
My initial tactic was as crude as it gets. Normally, a martial artist strived for efficiency in all things. I abandoned that concept wholesale. Instead of smoothly shifting ki into physical motion, I rammed as much spiritual energy into my limbs as possible. My battle aura roared to life around me, a visible fire of raw force. It spewed from arms, legs, and torso, leaking energy everywhere. To me this was the combat style of a clumsy amateur.
Surrounding by sizzling strength, I dashed in and showering Akina with earth shattering kicks and supersonic punches.
The result was unsatisfying. Akina's aura quaked when my strikes flashed out at her, but remained solid. I was left fighting the wind. Akina flowed around my attacks, always a centimeter or more away. She weaved between my fists, and danced out of range of my feet. Her hands stayed folded behind her back the whole time.
Like Lilac her defense was effortless. But, with Akina, there were also hints of skill beneath the magic of her aura. When I attacked Akina would meet my spirit with her own, dampening my crude attempts to shatter her guard. More than that, Akina's aura would suddenly stretch out in a variety of directions, shifting the flow of her evasions. It was clear that while Akina was a puppet to her technique, she was also the puppet master. Unlike Lilac and Carrotcake, Akina expertly wielded her magic.
It wasn't the skill of a warrior, but Akina's control over her technique separated her from Lilac and Carrotcake in much the way Fencer's combat prowess had.
Bōya wa yoi ko da, Nenne shina
The reverberations of Akina's song spread from skull to spine and from there to every bone in my body. The notes Akina sang carried more than sound. Splinters of Akina's aura penetrated mine. Her power seeped inside my flesh carrying with it a weariness. My shoulders sagged. My eyelids grew heavy. My muscles leadened with exhaustion.
Dimly, I realized what kind of song Akina sang and what it meant for her to sing it. A lullaby. A lullaby that was dragging me into the abyss of sleep. With terrible realization I became aware that I was seconds from loosing this fight and it was far too late to run.
Desperation surged. "Kijin Raishu Dan!" I whipped my arm while I shouted. Ki stretched out with the motion, filling the wake left behind.
The crescent of ki was a pale imitation of the Ryu Kumon's deadliest technique. The vacuum flew no more than a meter before it began to dissipate. Akina didn't even need to dodge. Disappointment briefly won over desperation. I had underestimated the difficulty of my father's sealed art. My failure meant the effectiveness of the yamasenken remained untested.
Bōya no omori wa, Doko e itta? Akina never stopped singing, and her voice enclosed me in a mother's embrace. Her song was warm, and irresistible. Darkness crawled at the edges of my vision. Vaguely, I tried to remember what it was I was doing.
Oh yeah. I was losing a fight.
Damn it. I can't lose. I gotta... I...
Gentle hands brushed across my forehead. When had Akina gotten so close? When had I fallen to the ground? My eyes met Akina's gentle gaze and nearly drowned in the kindness reflected. Her lullaby was a whisper now, meant only for my ears. Unwillingly, my eyes slid closed and slumber stole my consciousness.
For a few seconds, anyway.
Welcome to the Jungle, we've got fun 'n' games. We got everything you want, Honey we know the names.
Rock and roll exploded across the school yard. Thundering drum beats hammered through my chest, punctuated by the sharp tap of metal. Electric strings sang in accompaniment with ear bursting vocals. Akina's tender lullaby was silenced by the roar.
The reverberating noise originated from a beaten white van, whose back doors were flung open revealing two giant speakers. Furinkan's front gate hung loose on its hinges, warped and knocked askew by a massive impact.
Cradled in Akina's lap, I couldn't help but grin. I didn't know the song. I didn't know the lyrics. But right now I was wide awake. The music that blasted out like a rocket taking off had knocked Singing Star Angel Akina's magic straight into the netherworld. Better than that. The barrage of sound distorted Akina's aura, stretching it as thought it were a candle in a hurricane.
Akina, I realized, was defenseless.
Only centimeters from me and with her eyes on the van, Akina never saw what hit her. I seized her bodice with both hands and hauled myself to my feet while throwing the magical girl with every muscle in my body. Akina flew for half a second before slamming into the outer of wall of Furinkan High with enough force to cave reinforced concrete.
I didn't give her a chance to think, much less recover. I tore across the grass and smashed into her with a flying reverse back kick. The blow took Akina in the gut, and sent her tumbling the rest of the way through the wall and into the room beyond. Akina managed to land on her feet, but she tripped a moment later when her high-heels caught on industrial carpeting.
As Akina fell I rose in an arching jump. My right foot brushed the ceiling, as I stretched it up in an enormous axe kick. Then I dropped, all my weight, and all my power concentrating itself into a single blow. This attack, when it landed, would drive Akina's head deep into the pavement.
But, I never touched the ground.
While I was still in midair, Akina blared out a perfect 'A' note. Her tonal screech bent the air with its pressure, forming visible waves. Suspended, I had no way to dodge the sonic blast, and my only guard was hastily folded my arms. The attack was an acoustic tsunami. My descent stopped in an instant, and reversed just as quickly. I shot backward, through the first floor ceiling and then through the outer wall of a second floor classroom.
What little air survived the crushing force of Akina's pressure wave was driven from my lungs by successive concussive impacts. Black encroached into my vision, and deafened ears popped from the overpressure. My only relent was that the building itself was already crumbling when my body struck it. It was a small relief that salvaged little more than consciousness.
I ascended high into the blue sky, content to float while waiting for the spots to stop dancing across my vision. Silently, I cursed my mistake. Stupid, taking Akina into a building where the music was weakest. I should have forced her toward the van where she'd have nowhere to run.
Welcome to the jungle. It gets worse here everyday.
My mind snapped into focus when I caught glimpse of a dark shape flying up at me from the ground. I rotated my body, and batted my new attacker's hands to the side. I saw an opening, and shoved a thrust kick into the gap. The blow sent the shadowy figure plunging to the earth, dark cape fluttering around him. I touched down a second later, landing lightly on my feet.
Not far from me, my opponent was prying himself from the ground. I wasn't going to give him that chance. I dashed in and swung a fist at the shadow figure, only to stop half a second later. Attacker number five, I realized, was desperately crossing his hands and shaking his head in a repeated no.
The new guy didn't want to fight.
"Who are you?" I shouted. Or, at least, I thought I shouted. With the pounding of the van's speakers I couldn't hear my own voice.
The new guy pointed at his ears indicating he couldn't hear any better than I could. He was an interesting fellow though. Formal tuxedo, black cape, cane, and top hat, if he had a monocle instead of mask I'd think he was a butler.
Despite his flashy clothes, I decided to give him the temporary title 'ally'. I certainly needed a few.
Tuxedo shouted something at me in return. His yells were the barest drone in the cacophony of the music. I shook my head, and Tuxedo resorted to making stabbing motions with his cane at the white van. I glanced at the vehicle and shook my head again.
Tuxedo apparently decided he had enough of my waiting, so he grabbed my arm and tugged me toward the van. I immediately jerked my hand free and shook my head a third time. Instead, I thrust a finger at him, at me, and then at the third story window that was my classroom. Like hell I was running away. Not with backup, and not when I was just starting to get the hang of how to take these girls down.
Tuxedo glanced up at the window and then back at the van. I could see he was considering it. Whatever plans we might have made ended abruptly when orange streaks shot from Furinkan's second floor and pulverized the speakers.
A long warbling noise followed as the music died. Silence was broken only by the ringing of my ears.
A couple of seconds later a very pissed Akina stomped her way out into the yard. Suddenly, Tuxedo's run the hell away plan looked a lot better.
"Run!" Tuxedo shouted. Despite the lack of music his voice was dulled by the induced deafness.
"Yeah, good idea!" I yelled back.
The two of us dashed into the van. The driver didn't even wait for us to reach it. He already had the vehicle up to at least least fifteen before I hopped into the back. Tuxedo climbed in just behind me. I tensed briefly when a third, much smaller figure flew in through the passenger side window, but relaxed when none of the others reacted.
I glanced at the crew. Aside from Tuxedo and his formal wear fetish, were two more men. The first was the driver. He was a lanky man with untamed dirty-blond hair, wearing a white, button-up shirt and a loose salary man's tie. He didn't look like much, huddled over the steering wheel, but he was at least Kuno on the Daisuke-Saffron scale. So, appearances aside, this was not the typical Tokyo citizen.
Riding shotgun was a short, dark-haired boy, not much older than fourteen. The boy's eyes were flat, soulless, and would have been black-holes if not for the smoldering deep within. I had seen eyes like that in my youth. I'd seen them in the darker corners of China, the back alleys of Hong Kong, and even in Kyoto, in the back alley streets where the yakuza ruled with impunity. They were the eyes of those who'd seen the most vile aspects of humanity and been devoured by it.
Those who had such eyes were capable of anything.
The world titled and wobbled for a moment as the van swung around a tight corner at reckless speeds. The speakers occupying the back with Tuxedo and me crashed about the interior. One rolled against the van's unsecured doors and tumbled out onto the street behind us. I glanced up and double checked that the hand hold I was using was well anchored.
"Thanks," I said after a period of silence.
Tuxedo nodded and closed the van door with his extensible cane. Then, displaying casual control, he properly locked them in place.
"So...," I drawled, "What is this? Magical boys versus magical girls?"
Up front Salary-man laughed and span the van's steering wheel to the left. Tires squealed in protest. "Something like that, yeah," he answered. "Guess we should introduce ourselves. I'm Hikaru Nigata, the ki-"
"No names!" the boy hissed.
In the blink of an eye the kid had a wicked sword of ice threatening to puncture Hikaru's neck at multiple points. The hilt of the boy's weapon was a mostly empty plastic bottle. I guessed that was where the water came from, but the boy's technique was so fast I couldn't be sure.
"Careful there brat," Hikaru snapped. "Don't forget I'm the one driving."
The boy didn't blink. "A crash won't kill me."
Tuxedo reached out with his cane and laid it on the boy's arm, gently pushing the sword down and away from Hikaru's neck. Then, Tuxedo faced me directly, doffed his hat and gave a small bow.
"Mamoru Chiba. Since the boy objects we will withhold his name."
Chiba met the boy's glower with a steady gaze. Eventually, the brat relented and his icy blade retreated back into the water bottle. The boy had an edge to him though and I could tell that his 'partners' made sure they were well aware of him at all times. I couldn't blame them. Crazy types like the kid were powder kegs waiting to explode. For all I knew, the brat was seconds away from plunging a brand new ice sword into 'Chiba' the Tuxedo's back.
Hikaru rubbed his neck. "Sorry about that. Not the kind of thing you like to see amongst allies."
I snorted. "Compared to what I'm used to, this is about par." I gave them a short grin. "Guess I should introduce myself too. Ranma Saotome."
"We know," the ice sword brat said.
I bristled at the amount of contempt he drove into those two words. It took all my self control to refrain from retort. Instead, I focused on the important bits. Namely, who the hell was I fighting, and how would I get to the part where I kicked their asses and snatched Akane and Ukyou back.
"Magical boys, magical girls?" I said, putting the conversation back where it started.
"Yeah, that's about right," Salary-man Hikaru answered. "Well. Actually, it's a lot more complicated than that. But, yeah, with some exceptions, that pretty much sums up the battlefield."
If Hikaru was going to say anything more, he lost his chance when he put his energy into making a pair of tight turns within seconds of one another. I winced as a car flashed by far too close to the front windshield.
I glanced, at Chiba and the brat. Neither of them seemed inclined to talk. Great, I had a quiet, stoic type and a broody, angsty type.
"You're in a hurry I take it."
"Well-" Screeech, the van squealed as the tires span out. "- Akina can run at about fifty when she puts her mind to it, and is a hell of a-"
Thud. Whoosh! Slam. The van shot up over a hill, went airborne for a few seconds, and then landed heavily on the road below. The vehicle's suspension groaned its pain loud and clear.
"-lot more mobile than us. So, it's fast or fight."
I glanced back at the destroyed speaker. "And your secret anti-magical girl weapon is all banged up."
Hikaru shot a grin back at me. I cringed, because that meant his eyes had left the road.
"Nah, not anti-magical girl, anti-Akina. We're just lucky it was her that showed up. Her megami no ooi centers on her singing. So, turn up the rock 'n roll, the heavier the better, and her magic goes straight to shit."
After watching the horror show for a few seconds longer, I sat down so that I wouldn't be able to see out the front windshield anymore. Like the dark-haired brat, a car crash wouldn't kill me. The constant anticipation of a sudden stop, little glass knives slicing me apart while I flew through the front window, followed by my skin being sheered off by the friction of impact, that, on the other hand, might well have done the job.
"Yeah," I said, continuing the conversation. "I saw that. Whatever wacky defense those magical girls have, those speakers blew it clear away. Got any other tricks like that?"
"Ha. A few. But, when it comes to fighting magical girl, the only thing you can count on is a magic weapon and greater spiritual force."
I snorted. I didn't need the kind of non-answer that only told me what I already knew. "I already figured out that much. So, don't hold out on me, what tricks have you got?"
There was silence for a while, and Hikaru spared a questioning look back at me. I could tell that he was hesitating. No doubt he knew exactly what I wanted the information for. Obviously, he didn't like what I was thinking either, because he was considering the merits of keeping quiet. That pissed me off, and I didn't make any effort to keep my displeasure from showing on my face.
Eventually, Hikaru must have decided I was going to fight this 'Institute' Akina mentioned whether he talked or not.
"It's hard to explain. The first thing you have to know is that all magical girls have theme to their defense. There are lot of common themes, and we refer to those as defense types."
I frowned, and thought back to the fight. Between Lilac, Akina, and Fencer I couldn't think of anything particularly different about their defense. Carrotcake however, clearly stood out from the bunch. Her ridiculous stumble dodges and protective face faults had no similarity to the smooth, skillful looking styles used by the other girls. It occurred to me that maybe my sample size was too small. With only four girls, the types might not be obvious.
"What do you exactly do you mean by type?"
It took a moment for Hikaru to answer, and during that time the van slowed. We no longer flew through Tokyo traffic as though we were in a demented Hollywood chase scene. Instead, Hikaru began to drive like a sane man. Which meant, amongst other things, going the speed limit, stopping at lights, and not making sudden and somewhat random turns. I guessed we shook Akina, assuming she had bothered chasing us in the first place.
"Well. Take Akina. She is an 'elegance' type. You can usually identify elegance types because they skillfully dodge and parry pretty much everything you throw at them. I suppose it'd be easier to understand if you knew the other basic types. Elegance, lucky, and barrier type defenses are the most common, but don't get stuck on the idea it has to be that way. Some girls have defense types that are just plain weird. Other girls can intentionally alter their defense type to better handle some attacks. Especially nasty are girls that have learned to use their defensive aura's aggressively. A particularly nasty piece of work is Chiyo Mori's 'Jinx'."
I leaned my head back against the van's chassis and gathered my thoughts. "Guess that'd make Carrotcake 'lucky', though it looked more like 'clutz' to me. Always stumbling out of the way of attacks."
I had defeated Carrotcake by using two ki blasts, the first to rupture her aura, the second to deliver the damage. That method had worked and proved that a magical girl's defensive aura could be crushed by greater spiritual force.
However, now that I knew Carrotcake's stumbling was a rule embodied in her defense, it was easy to see how I could have defeated her without making such a large effort. A series of light attacks to force Carrotcake's defense to place her into an impossible position and then- Bam! Checkmate.
"Let me guess, the trick to defeating an elegance type defense is use attacks that cannot be blocked or dodged." I said. My mind was now whirling with possible tactics. "Heh. Pity I fought Lilac in a classroom full of students, otherwise I could have dropped the ceiling on her."
My face went grim. I hoped the boy and Yuka were okay. I didn't know Akane's friend very well, but Yuka didn't deserve what happened to her.
"For elegance types, I like shotguns personally," Hikaru said, "A sawed-off shotgun, with paint pellet filled shells. That's enough to mess up weaker magical girls."
"Paint pellets?" I say disbelievingly. I also wasn't sure where anyone could get a shotgun in in this country. Firearms weren't legal in Japan, and the government actually did a decent job of keeping them off the streets. Any gun was hard to find, even one that fired paint pellets.
"Yeah, paint pellets. Screws up th...," Hikaru suddenly stopped talking and shook his head. "Ugh. I'll explain it from the beginning. Magical girls, you see, derive their magic from their aspect of beauty. The PPI's official name for the technique is megami no ooi."
My brain suddenly ceased functioning. "What?"
Hikaru grinned back at me before returning his eyes to the road. He honked at the car in front of him a few times. "Out of the way, asshole! Uh, where was I? Yeah. Crazy shit isn't it? Girls running around powering their techniques with beauty of all things."
"Actually, no," I answered. Now that I had a second to think about it the idea didn't sound so far fetched. "I power my ki-blast with pride, and know a guy who does the same with depression. So ki-like techniques fueled by beauty really aren't that surprising." I paused and pondered. "It doesn't seem very practical though. Beyond being forced to fight in high-heels and frou frou skirts, there's the sweat, blood, bruises and go with it. Combat isn't exactly a pretty thing."
But, even as I said that, relevant facts were flashing through my mind. Carrotcake had no problem stumbling all over the ground. For that matter, even after I had pounded Akina straight through a wall there hadn't been a speck of dust on her. There was an error in my thinking. These girls had something that prevented them from getting dirty...
... something that prevented...
I had a sudden sick understanding of the true nature of magical girl powers.
"Its a corruption of priest techniques," I said, murmured. "Instead of using the perfection of spirit, magical girls use a perfection of body. That gives them the ability to use kinzu to purify or seal evil. Though, in this case it wouldn't actually purify evil. Probably purifies ugliness instead."
Hikaru gave a whistle. "Wow, got it in one. I can see why people call you a genius martial artist. One gotcha though, the PPI's official name for the magical girl's kinzu is haigeki. Also, magical girls make heavy use of haigeki's opposite, shuken. Shuken, in case you're wondering, is the power to impose rather than reject."
I smirked and puffed my chest a little. Yeah, I might be a bit narcissistic, but what's it to ya?
Hikaru kept talking. "The real kicker though is what a comes next. Once a magical girl has formed a nice and solid megami no ooi, the girl turns her powers of purification on herself. Basically, the girl uses haigeki to seal and destroy everything about themselves that's imperfect. At the same time they use shuken to fill in the gaps, and transform whatever remains."
I looked at Hikaru as if he was crazy. I knew enough about priest techniques to know that forceful self purification was a great way to die. Everyone had imperfections, and getting rid of an imperfect liver didn't make biology happy.
"It's insane, I know, but it works. If the girl does it right, and has sufficient spiritual strength, she crosses a threshold and enters a self-sustaining state where her megami no ooi is always perfect. The official name for this technique is 'tenki', but pretty much everyone knows it by the more popular term 'henshin'."
Hikaru, I realized, was serious. The implications of tenki also matched my impressions. As I had suspected, the sharpness of the girls' auras was due to a sort of spiritual perfection. In terms of combat power that made magical girls extremely dangerous.
That was something I knew well. I had experience the amplification a perfect aura gave before. Ryouga's perfect shi shi hokodan. The gap between that technique and my own moko takabisha was enormous. 'Force multiplier' was too weak a description.
And that was were things started getting scary. Unlike pigboy, tenki meant magical girls didn't require special conditions to use perfect techniques. For that matter, I had better assume that magical girls wouldn't bother with techniques not based on their megami no ooi. Why would they?
But, that was just scratching the surface. More I thought about it, the more absurdly unfair magical girl powers became. Case and point, I knew magical girls stayed clean, and now I knew why. Magical girls stayed clean because their aura's were in a self-sustaining state of self-purification.
What that implied required a bit of mind bending. Magical girl powers were based on priest techniques, and priest techniques were based on the concept of augmenting or manipulating law. Evil was sealed by empowering the natural universe so as to deny supernatural creature its magic. It was the ultimate cheap trick, and gave humans an upper hand over demons. Effectively, priest techniques allowed a priest to say 'oh, a fireball, well, real life things can't create fireballs so from hence forth, neither can you', or in the more common case, 'sorry, ghosts can't exist, goodbye.'
Magical girl techniques, however, weren't priest techniques but a corruption there of. Given what I had seen, they rejected reality and imposed fantasy, the direct reverse of true priest techniques. Functionally, that meant a magical girl was bending the laws of the universe to suite her desires.
And what did all that mean? Well, for one, in a magical girl's world anything that didn't fit with their megami no ooi didn't belong. That meant things like getting dirty, or sweating didn't merely not occur, but were rendered impossible. More dramatic, a magical girl wouldn't bruise, bleed, or break bones, and that was assuming the girl's shuken imposed laws even allowed the possibility of being hit in the first place.
This invulnerability? It was an power founded on a perfect aura. And it wasn't even a technique. No, a magical girl's a magical girl's invincibility was a side effect.
In essence, I was fighting girls who were playing 'real life' with the equivalent of a god mode cheat. Ryouga, suck it up, because your bakusai tenketsu induced toughness was now, officially, a joke.
Of course, magical girls weren't actually invincible. I proved that when I smashed Carrotcake through the floor. In the end, their law was a law imposed by their aura, and that meant there was a number of obvious ways around it.
To list a few, if I destroyed the magical girl's aura, I would break her defense. Similarly, if I could forcefully end a girl's tenki, the defense would vanish with it. Magical weapons could be effective. Well, not all magical weapons. Only weapons that had the power to resist a magical girl's shuken, or better yet, magic weapons that imposed their own law would work.
That wasn't the end either. A magical girl's magic bent the universe's law, and the universe would resist that power. All in all, the universe was much bigger and badder than any magical girl could ever hope to be. That was probably the why girls had defense types. Types served as logical reasons a magical girl was invincible, and thereby stayed some fraction of the universe's infinite power. Whatever the reason, the existence of defense types meant that a magical girl's defense could be turned on itself. Just as importantly, the more a magical girl had to bend reality to stay unharmed, the more of energy a girl would consume.
As a final tactic, I could fight fire with fire, and either create my own law, or aid the universe in imposing its law by using priest style techniques myself.
So, no, magical girls weren't invincible. Far from it. Yet, not a single approach I had thought of countered the fact that these girls got a serious defense upgrade, for free.
"That sucks," I said, summing up the grand totality of my thoughts.
"Then you understand," The ice sword-wielding brat said. "You're useless. All you have is your martial arts and they can't do anything against a magical girl."
"Who's useless," I snapped back. The kid really irked me. "Now that I've got an idea how their powers work, I've got a pretty good shot of getting around it."
Or, at least I would have an idea, once I had the time to think of one. Knowing how a magical girl's power worked gave me a place to start, but that was it. Currently, I was left with the crudest of methods, destroy the girl's aura. For a real weak girl like Carrotcake that wasn't implausible. All I'd need to do was get up close and ram my aura down her throat. My fighting spirit would shove Carrotcake's megami no ooi to the side leaving her defenseless. Easy pickings.
Most of my other prospects were bad. Destroying the tenki or turning the defense on itself was too unreliable. I had no talent for priest techniques, and I didn't have a magical weapon...
... or did I? A smile began to creep across my lips. If I used my ki right I could potentially sheath myself in an aura that would resist a magical girl's imposed law. The yamasenken even had some nice starting places.
"Fool," the brat said.
I ignored the brat, but Hikaru spoke up instead.
"Hey now! Didn't your mo-"
Hikaru's words cut off when a pole of ice shot through his head. Correction, where Hikaru's head had been. In the barest fraction of a second, the salary man shifted to the side and evaded the impromptu assassination attempt.
"Don't talk about my mother!"
Yep, the brat was completely nuts. One glance at the kid's insanity filled eyes confirmed it, as if the spear of ice penetrating the now cobwebbed driver's side window wasn't clue enough.
"Damn it, Fumio! Get ahold of yourself."
"I told you, no names!"
As Fumio, the brat, yelled at the top of his lungs, his water-bottle ice spear morphed into another nasty looking sword. I leapt forward to put a stop the kid's tantrum, but Chiba beat me to the punch. The quiet, tuxedo wearing gentleman skewered Fumio's water-bottle with a crimson rose and shoved his black cane against the boy's neck halting further aggression.
Fumio's eyes though, raged.
"Control yourself," Chiba's words were firm, but not threatening. "Hikaru wasn't trying to insult your mother."
"I told him, no names. We can't trust that thing."
The brat's words pissed me off, but I managed to not say anything. The situation was delicate enough without shoving myself into it. Yeah, that's me, foot-in-the-mouth Ranma Saotome thinking that. What? Think I couldn't learn at least a little control after living with Akane for two years?
Besides, there was something more important that needed to be said.
"Hikaru. The road."
Hikaru's eyes jerked from Fumio and back to the street. We were near the docks and in a seedier part of town. The buildings around here were only aged, concrete real estate and rundown warehouses. So, traffic was real light. It was impossible though, to miss the red-corvette parked in the middle of the intersection. That and the tall blond wearing only high-heels and a silver bikini who stood in front of the same corvette while carrying a giant chrome bulk on her shoulder.
"Shit!" Hikaru shouted. "Everyone out!"
Hikaru threw the van into a hard right. The tires screamed in brief protest before the vehicle began to roll. As the insides tossed about themselves I flew out that back doors of the van, riding Tuxedo's coattails. I escaped not a second too soon because just as I jumped into the air a lance of light appeared beneath me, ripping clean through the tumbling van.
Yeah. It was one of those days.
Akina's Song: The song Akina sings is 'The Edo Lullaby'. I thought about using the English translation, the wikipedia provides it, but lullabies are, almost without exception, stupid songs. I decided I'd rather have readers skipping over the words glazed eyed, knowing what they are standing in for, rather than actually thinking about the lyrics and trying to figure out how they apply to the situation at hand.
Welcome To The Jungle: Song by Guns n' Roses, released on Appetite for Destruction.
List of techniques mentioned or appearing. Common Ranma ½ techniques are not included. All martial arts / ki / ki-like techniques are in (crappy) Japanese. Most magical girl powers are in English.
Lovely pollen assault – Magical girl power wielded by Lilac. Once cast it fills a wide area with allergenic pollen that only effects the desired targets. Symptoms of the spell include puffy, watery eyes, stuffed nose, coughing, and irritation of all exposed skin. This technique never produces a deadly allergic reaction.
Kinzu - [Lit. To Forbid or Suppress] - A priest technique that uses ki derived from an aura of purity, typically used to seal or destroy otherworldly beings.
Haigeki [lit. To Reject, To Denounce] – A variant of kinzu. Haigeki rejects or seals the ugliness of reality, as defined by user's megami no ooi.
Shuken [Lit. Dominion, Supremacy] – The mystical inverse of haigeki. Shuken imposes fantasy over reality in a manner that resonates with the user's megami no ooi.
Megami no Ooi [Lit. Mantle of the Goddess] – A mystic aura representing an aspect of beauty. This aura is the foundation of all magical girl powers. There are many variations of the megami no ooi, just as there are many faces to beauty. This aura serves a similar purpose to magical girl powers as does confidence and depression for Ranma's and Ryouga's ki attacks. The nature of a magical girl's megami no ooi also influences the kind of powers that magical girl has and may develop.
While a magical girl powers are inherently derived from the megami no ooi, skillful control can allow the production of powers well beyond those defined by the aura itself. However, due to the auric foundations, powers diametrically opposed to the megami no ooi can never be produced.
Tenki [Lit. Turning Point] – By turning the haigeki and shuken one's self it is possible to force spiritual and even physical transformation. By doing this the megami no ooi is forced into an artificial 'perfect' state and any power or action that would disrupt the megami no ooi is actively rejected. In essence, entering the tenki makes a magical girl's power much more intense, stable, and consistent. As such, tenki is the primary goal of anyone wishing to wield magical girl powers.
While priest techniques also have self-purification, it is much easier to achieve a tenki-like effect through magical girl techniques. This is because haigeki and shuken are centered around the fantasy of perfect beauty, whereas true priest techniques focus on the love and understanding of the universe as it is.
Tenki is sometimes referred to as 'henshin' because achieving tenki typically results in corresponding physical transformation. However, physical transformation is not a guaranteed result of tenki, whereas spiritual transformation is.
The formation and appearance of a girl's tenki transformation can shift with time, maturity, and as a girl gains new or greater powers. However, tenki becomes less mutable the more often it is used. The PPI refers to this as spiritual crystallisation.
When returning from tenki there are side effects, some of which may be physically harmful. Death or severe injury are common results if the magical girl is unsuited for the attempted tenki, and/or is attempting tenki without sufficient mystical protections. However, all survivable tenkis bring the user physically and spiritually closer to the tenki state. Over very long periods of use, a tenki user achieves a permanent tenki, at which point the natural state and the tenki state become synonymous.