Disclaimer: Ranma ½ is property of Rumiko Takahashi. Legend of Dragoon is property of Sony and all companies forthright.

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Chapter 2: When the Going Gets Tough

Ranma groggily awoke from his rest as his internal clock told him it was time to get up. Glancing around he determined that he had no idea what time it was, so simply decided to practice a warm up kata to limber up while he waited for breakfast.

"I hope these guys do give food! I dunno how long I'll last otherwise!" he thought to himself as he flowed freely through the forms of one of the more ground-based katas of his school. He thought back to the conversation he heard the day before and scowled deeply, remembering just what had been pointed out.

flashback

"They've decided that young Ranma Saotome must die because he is unlike any other human in existence that we know of."

present

"Damn. It's not fair! Just because I'm alive and a bit different they want me dead! But I don't get it! How am I so different? Waitdidn't the Doc. say something about it? Lemme see"

flashback

"Due to the findings that subject: Ranma Saotome may be able to manipulate magic, the council has deemed it necessary to terminate subject as soon as possible. Therefore, subject will be subjected to opponents of sufficient skill, strength or magical ability to immediately terminate subject upon start of sentence.'"

present

"Damn! Just because I can learn magic? How the hell does that work!? Oh wait I think I heard them say somethin' about human's not being able to do magic? Maybe that's why. Can't let on that I know bout this though or else they might poison me or somethin'. Wellmaybe no the doc, but that psycho chick would probably do it." He pondered his situation for a while before turning to one of the thoughts that had been bothering him for a while. "Damnthis arena stuff is to the death. I remember what that book said, somethin' like when one participant is incapacitated the order is given to finish the match by mortal deathblow. If this does not occur or the remaining participant refuses to act, both participants will be put to death.' Man this sucksbut wasn't his supposed to be a sentence? So maybe I'm gonna be facing criminals. I sure hope so." Mentally and with much trepidation, the pony-tailed boy began to run over the most painless ways of killing someone that he knew of. As he did so, he remembered something his father told him at one time, possibly the smartest thing he ever said.

flashback

"Boyone day you might be called upon to use your skills to win with deadly force. If that day arrives, remember one thing: if your opponent attacks with deadly intent to yourself or an innocent, you reacted with good intentions to preserve life. Never let yourself think otherwise. If you attack first however wellyou won't be a martial artist, but a killer."

"Yeah whatever, Oyaji! Let's spar!"

present

"Maybe the old man did have something good to say once in a while," Ranma mused softly to himself as he wound down from the kata. Just then the pad above his head – he learned that it was a teleporter – began to glow brighter, signalling either an inbound transfer or that Ranma was about to be teleported somewhere else. The pony-tailed boy didn't know which to hope for, so simply stood and watched. A moment later, he disappeared in a flash of green light.
When his vision cleared, the girl from before – whom he remembered had been demoted – was stood in front of him wearing a deep scowl, her ever-present spear poking up over her shoulder. She now wore a deep maroon uniform, with silver scrollwork along the stitching and a simple shield design embroidered above her heart. Realising that in staring at the shield he was staring at her chest, Ranma quickly raised his eyes again, a slight blush forming on his cheeks, and met the fiercely scowling garnet eyes of the girl.

"Pig," she muttered as she wheeled about and stalked off a small distance. Noting he had not moved, she turned about and glared at him. "Get moving! We're expected at Dr. Lyssa's Med-bay." Ranma blinked and trotted a little ways to catch up to the aqua-haired beauty, taking care to keep a fair bit of distance between them before speaking.

"Uhhwhat's your name?" he asked, casting a quick glance in her direction. Her previous frown deepened slightly.

"You don't need to know, human," she muttered, spitting the word human' as if it were a curse. Ranma rolled his eyes slightly.

"Geez, no need to get all snotty on me! I was just bein' friendly." The girl glared at him angrily, making him wonder what he had done now.

"I don't care for your friendship! And I am not SNOTTY!" She screeched as she brandished her spear, which had magically appeared in her hands, at Ranma. The pony-tailed boy took a step back, nervously smiling and holding his hands out in a warding gesture as he attempted to work out what to say.

"Okay! Okay! You're not snotty! I get it! Geez! Calm down wouldya?" after she lowered her spear and looked slightly mollified Ranma slumped against the wall and shook his head. "Uncute psycho tomboy" he muttered under his breath. Suddenly his danger sense went off and he raised his eyes to find the girl holding a glowing sphere of energy and snarlying at him.

"WHAT DID YOU CALL ME!?!?" Ranma deduced that now would be a good time to leave and began to run as fast as he could. The orange energy whizzed past his ear and collided with the wall up ahead, scorching the organic looking metal slightly. Ranma careened around the corner and ducked into the first door that was open, breathing heavily as adrenaline surged through his veins. "COME BACK HERE HUMAN SCUM! I'LL KILL YOU!" Ranma swallowed nervously and pressed into the wall as the garnet-eyed girl shot past the door, floating three feet off the floor. A throat cleared in the relieved silence.

"My, my. You two certainly are getting along well." Ranma turned his head to the amused smile of Dr. Lyssa and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Man, that chick sure is touchy!" Lyssa smothered a smile as she tugged Ranma over to the medical bed in the centre of the room and began to give him a second inspection.

"Yes, well. That's probably because she's the only daughter of the High Commander Brannon Dar'karreth who supervises this penitention centre. Not many people like her, even though she's not a bad sort. A bit hot-headed, but because she's the High Commander's daughter they give her a hard time." Ranma linked as she shone a light into his eyes.

"Oh. Didn't know that. What's her name anyway?" he asked, taking deep even breaths as instructed while Lyssa placed a soft sensor pad over his heart. She looked at him quizzically.

"She didn't tell you? Well, her name is Krystal Dar'karreth and she's recently been demoted to Guardsman, a fairly low rank actually, with little chance of promotion. She's also been assigned as your personal guard." Ranma groaned softly.

"Wonderful. I gotta deal with that psycho tomboy everyday." Lyssa paused and eyed him for a moment before resuming her work on the small pad in her hands.

"You really shouldn't say such things about her you know. It's not very nice," she said as she shone another light into his ear. Ranma shifted uncomfortably at the gentle chastisement.

"Yeah, but she keeps calling me filth an' stuff. What's she got against humans anyway? Nothin' wrong with em is there?" Lyssa sighed.

"No, there's not. But many Winglies are raised being told that humans are lower life forms, and as such think that humans are to be treated as such. Some, like myself, learn that humans aren't that bad but most never bother to look past outward appearances. All they see are a lot of weak creatures that cannot use magic and cannot fly. They look down on a lot of the other species as well." Ranma blinked.

"Gotta make this convincing" he thought silently.

"Human's can't use magic?" Lyssa paused and looked at him sharply.

"No," she stated flatly. "They cannot. It is impossible. No-one knows why." Ranma nodded thoughtfully.

"Hey, wait a sec you said species'? What species?" Lyssa blinked at him in surprise before nodding and sitting down on a chair behind a compact desk.

"There are many species, one hundred and eight as I recall. Most are normal creatures: birds, fish and mammals. That sort of thing, but there are five specific species that I'm talking about: Minintors, Gigantos, Dragons, Humans and Winglies. Minintors are small humanoids for the most part, barely coming up to your knee. They have pointed ears and spiky hair, usually in a florescent pink colour. Gigantos are like what their name implies, they are very tall: usually ten feet or more, and very strong. They are usually a bit simple though. Don't confuse simplicity with stupidity though. Dragons are –" she paused as Ranma held up his hand.

"I know about dragons. We have them in legends back home. Big lizards right?" Lyssa nodded.

"In a manner of speaking. They come in all shapes and sizes and almost always look completely different from one another. You will see what I mean soon enough," she said cryptically. Ranma shivered slightly as he imagined what that was supposed to mean. Likely she was making a vague hint that he might have to fight one. Ranma didn't look forward to the prospect. At that point a seething Krystal stepped back into the room to ask if Lyssa had seen her quarry when she spotted him sitting quietly on the table, an innocent expression on his face.

"YOU!" she roared and readied another energy ball, only to be stopped as Lyssa stood up and shook her head.

"Please don't. I haven't finished my inspection yet." Krystal scowled and let the energy dissipate before sitting on a handy chair, her spear propped up between her legs. She glared silently at Ranma, her eyes promising pain if he made one wrong move. Of course, being Ranma, he began to speak.

"Hey Krystal!" he chimed pleasantly, a slight grin on his face. "Nice workout there!" Krystal lurched to her feet angrily.

"Who told you my name! And who said you could use it!!" she yelled, clenching her hands and making her knuckles go white. Ranma mutely pointed at Lyssa with an innocent expression. Lyssa blinked.

"Oh I'm sorry. Didn't you want him to know? I'm very sorry if you didn't." Krystal sighed and slumped back into the chair, brushing her blue bangs out of her face.

"No it's all right. He would have found out sooner or later anyway." She eyed Ranma neutrally for a moment before speaking again. "You are not to call me by my name unless I give you permission to do so. Do you understand human?" Ranma merely looked at her silently for a few minutes, only speaking when it became apparent that his silence was sorely testing her patience.

"Only if you call me by my name. My name is Ranma. And if I can't call ya by your name, what can I call ya? Callin' you Wingly' would just sound dumb," he explained. Krystal looked pensive for a moment before speaking again.

"Call me Dar'karreth. And I shall call you Saotome, not Ranma. I have no wish to be informal with the likes of you." Ranma looked indignant at this statement, but remained silent and merely nodded. With this out of the way, Lyssa finally spoke again.

"So Ranma, do you have any other questions you want to ask before we inform you of your first opponent? And on another note, I am far from the only medic in these parts, but due to somespecial circumstances, I am being transferred to the Coliseum in the capital Kadessa. I will be your medic for the duration of your career in the arena." Ranma glanced at Krystal and saw her face harden slightly.

"They're trying to cover me up as much as possible," Ranma thought sourly before pondering the many questions that swam around his head looking for answers.

"Naw, no questions really, just tell me what you know about my next opponent. No sugar coating please." Nodding, Lyssa brought up a holographic screen displaying two images, one of Ranma himself, the other of a much larger humanoid.

"This is Morbok, he is a Giganto, and roughly four times your size and strength. He is a veteran fighter, with a large number ofkills under his belt." Ranma grimaced as he looked at the holographic image.

"Man, that guy's got muscles on muscles!" He muttered sourly under his breath.

"That's correct, Ranma. He can lift proportionately five times his own body weight, as far as we can tell," Lyssa added, glancing to Krystal. Pursing her lips, she nodded silently.

"Great. So how much is that?"

"It's around 1600lbs," Krystal stated flatly. Ranma blinked and looked at her.

"You can't be serious."

"I'm very serious," the platinum haired girl answered. A soft chime interrupted Ranma as he opened his mouth to speak and he looked at the two wingly women as they glanced at each other and grimaced.

"What was that?" He asked, feeling a gnawing sensation creep into his belly. Lyssa sighed and rubbed her eyes tiredly before looking up at him.

"That was the chime to let us know you have an hour to prepare for your match," she explained, a contrite look on her face. Ranma boggled at her for a moment before leaping off of the table and running a hand through his raven locks nervously.

"What? I thought I was gonna be allowed to train for a bit!" He looked at Krystal accusingly. "You said I was gonna get to train!" Suddenly presented with his match, Ranma no longer felt so confident in his abilities, the gnawing in hi stomach growing to uncomfortable levels. Krystal turned away uncomfortably, her luminescent wings shifting behind her before she glanced back at the pony-tailed boy.

"Only if you survive this match will you have that opportunity," she murmured. Ranma slumped slightly against the table and heaved a sigh.

"Great, just great," he muttered dejectedly. Lyssa smiled faintly and patted his arm gently.

"Try not to worry to much, Ranma. I'm sure you'll do fine."

"I have to kill the guy damn it! That's wrong! The art shouldn't be for killing!" Ranma protested. Lyssa gave a sad smile and shook her head.

"It's kill or be killed now, Ranma. You have no choice." Sighing, the youth nodded before looking up at Krystal as she turned back around.

"Are you ready?" She asked. Nodding, the young martial artist squared his shoulders and took a deep breath.

"Yeah, as ready as I'll ever be I guess," he replied. Nodding, she walked to the door and motioned for him to follow her. A few minutes later they stood before another transport pad, this time far larger than the others, with room for nearly ten people. Turning to Ranma, Krystal spoke.

"This will take us to the Royal Capital Kadessa, where the arena stands. When we get there you will keep your head down and not speak a word unless spoken to, do you understand, Saotome?" Grimacing slightly, Ranma nodded his assent. Seeing his co-operation, Krystal stepped up to the transport, Ranma following shortly after her. A moment later, the transporter glowed brightly and their world dissolved into a kaleidoscope of green light.

After a brief period of disorientation, they were back in the real world and standing on a large pad. Before them stood several wingly men in the same maroon and gold uniform Krystal wore, this time with stylised swords over their left breast. The tallest man stepped forward, an arrogant smirk on his face and made an obviously false bow of respect.

"Guardsman Dar'kerreth, nice to see you again. I trust your journey waspleasant?" Upon seeing the man, Krystal had stiffened noticeably, and now she glared openly in response to his words. Behind her, Ranma bristled at the man's arrogance and noted silently to himself that he could take him out in several seconds were they to be left alone. Remembering Krystal's words, he smirked to himself and raised his head, his own confident smirk growing on his lips.
Seeing the human raise his head and lock eyes with himself, the man glared darkly.

"What are you looking at, human!?" He snarled. Ranma's smirk grew slightly, but he remained wisely silent. Fuming, the man turned to look at Krystal, intent on causing merry hell. However, Krystal had taken the time needed to compose herself, and merely glared back at him with a sub-zero degree look. Swallowing his anger, the man looked down his nose at the pair and turned about.

"Follow me. Your match, Human is about to start. I hopeit is short and sweet!" Laughing, the man turned about and walked away, haughtiness oozing from every pore. The seven men accompanying him also sneered at them and followed their superior officer.

"I take back what I said about you. He's way more snotty than you are," Ranma observed. Eye twitching, Krystal thumped him across the back of the head.

"Shut up, Saotome. Follow me, and remember what I said!" Rubbing his head, Ranma rolled his eyes and followed the aqua-haired girl quickly.

"Sure, sure. Whatever you say," he muttered sullenly. However, the brief period had allowed him to regain some of his normal good spirits and he felt a little more optimistic about his match. Not that he was looking forward to it. Not in the least.

After twenty minutes of following the arrogant man that continuously spouted derogatory remarks towards both himself and Krystal, Ranma was willing to set aside his qualms about killing in favour of permanently shutting the guy up. Despite his irritation, however, he remembered how unfair his trial' had been and resolved to stay silent, like Krystal had suggested. However, that did not mean he would act submissive in any way, and so he kept his head high and made eye-contact with every person who passed, receiving a mixture of disgusted looks, pity and fear. The last he had not expected, but realised that those he had received those particular looks from were humans. They were also chained, he noted with anger. Another five minutes later, they arrived at a small room with a simple table sprouting from the side of the wall with two chairs.

"You will wait here," the man said, giving Ranma a disgusted look and leering openly at Krystal, who merely gave him a frosty look and seated herself in the chair facing the door. Leaving them alone, the men filed out after their leader and Ranma took the remaining seat.

"So, uhthis guy I'm supposed to fightwhat did he do?" Ranma asked, fidgeting slightly under the penetrating look from the girl as she glanced up from where she was polishing her spear.

"He is a murderer, rapist and thief. He torched three human towns under one of the wingly lords and raped all the women and children." She answered simply. Staring at her in horror, Ranma swallowed and slumped in his chair, staring wide-eyed at the wall.

"Hehe did that? How could someone do something like that!? That's horrible!" He whispered dumbly. Looking up through her eyelashes, Krystal gave a cruel smirk.

"Yes, he did that. He doesn't regret it either, from what I heard. Supposedly he took the skins of the children after he raped them as well. But that's not confirmed."

If I can get him angry, he might win, she thought to herself. Ranma turned his wide-eyes back toward her and opened and closed his mouth several times before any sound emerged.

"T-to ch-children?" He croaked, clenching his fist on the table and making his knuckles whiten under the pressure. Krystal nodded solemnly.

"Yes. That's right. And you know something else? He only has to win five more fights to win his freedom. And then he'll be free to do it again until he's caught," she said, feigning disinterest.
So it's a white lie, it's not entirely false. Most of those in the arena can gain freedom if they win enough battles. But not the murderers and rapists. But he doesn't know that, the wingly girl though to herself. Ranma stood up, his jaw clenching and unclenching as he paced back and forth for a few moments before he turned to Krystal, a determined look on his face.

"Thisthis thing is to the death isn't it?" He asked. Krystal nodded and he took a deep breath as he ran his hands through his black hair.
"RightI-I guess I gotta win then don't I?" Sensing this was more to himself than her, Krystal stayed silent.
After pacing about for several minutes, another chime rang, making Ranma pause and glance at Krystal curiously. She stood up and clicked her neck to relieve some of the stiffness.

"It's time, Saotome. Your match is about to start," she supplied. Swallowing slightly and working his mouth in an attempt to relieve some of the dryness, Ranma nodded and followed the wingly out of the room to his first match. The walk was a short one, taking only one turn at the end of the corridor and walking up to a small transport pad. Krystal nodded to Ranma as she stood to the side and sat in the chair provided, motioning for him to enter the transporter.

"This'll take me to the arena?" He queried. Seeing her nod wordlessly, he took another deep breath and ran a shaky hand through his hair.
"Heh," he muttered. "Better not be this bad when the match starts!" With a final deep breath, he stepped up onto the pad and closed his eyes as the familiar feeling of the transport activating washed over him, the green light filtering through his eyelids as he was moved to another place.
The sound of thousands of cheering voices washed over him suddenly, forcing his eyes to snap open in surprise and glance about at his surroundings. What he saw made him grimace in distaste.
A large circular area covered with sand and encircled by a small drainage ditch, obviously for blood judging by the red stains all over it. Outside that, a huge thirty-storey coliseum packed with thousands of spectators eager for bloodshed.
"Great," Ranma muttered to himself as he was brought back to the present by a green flas on the opposite side of the arena, nearly 100metres away. Standing there was a humongous man, bulging with muscles and covered almost head-to-toe with some kind of organic-looking armour.
"Oh yeah, just frickin' great. Oyaji, I am so gonna kill you when I get back." If I get back that is, he very carefully didn't add.

Stepping down off of the pad, he carefully studied his opponent as he made his way off of his own pad.
Hmmkinda slow, but really, really strong. Man, I can't let him get his hands on me. I'd be squashed like a bug! Gotta keep movin' then. Hit and run while I look for a weakness. Yeah, I'll do that first. Plan of action decided, he moved forward, carefully keeping himself ready for anything that the Giganto could try. As he neared the giant man, he took note of other small details: the repeatedly broken and flattened nose, the scarred face and grizzled beard, the mohawk on the man's mostly bald head, the large axe descending for his head.

"Yaah!" Vaulting backwards, Ranma barely dodged the massive downward slash by the axe Morbok carried. The double-edged weapon slammed heavily into the sand, making Ranma stumble slightly as the ground vibrated beneath his feet.
This guy's faster than I thought! I gotta be real careful if I want to win this thingRanma thought as he dodged a horizontal back swing from the axe.
"Hey! I heard you're a murderer! And a rapist! Is that true?" Ranma asked as he vaulted over another strike, lightly peppering the giant's armoured shoulder with punches as he passed. Grinning, Morbok brought his massive elbow into Ranma's shoulder blades, flinging the young martial-artist thirty feet to chew sand.

"Hah! What you care? Morbok like killing! Easy kill pathetic human! Great fun to play with female!"
Hauling himself out of the ground and wincing at the burning sensation in his back, Ranma flexed his muscles to relieve their stiffness and glared balefully at the oncoming giant. Smirking as he leapt over the repeated overhand slash, he spun in mid-air and delivered a full-power roundhouse kick to the giganto's face and moved out of range before the huge man could react. Grinning again, Morbok brought up his axe and laughed at the slightly stunned look on Ranma's face.
"Hah! You want hurt Morbok? You have do better than that!" He roared as he swung repeatedly at the smaller human. Dodging quickly over the cumbersome strikes, Ranma's thoughts racing at light speed.
Man! That was my most powerful kick! How the hell am I supposed to beat this guy!?!?
With a tremendous leap, Ranma alighted on the still moving axe and ran at full tilt up the arm of his opponent to deliver a quick five-strike combo at his full strength right into the big man's face. Further strikes were prevented by the massive fist that caught him by the leg as he attempted to leap away, causing him to arrest his motion and hang upside-down in front of the giganto.
Grinning, Morbok slammed Ranma headfirst into the ground several times before throwing him forcefully against the arena wall. Impacting shoulder-first, Ranma screamed as his shoulder dislocated and his arm broke from the impact before he fell like a limp dishrag to the ground. Struggling to contain the pain, Ranma staggered to his feet and wobbled unsteadily to face Morbok, who was approaching with a large grin on his face.

"Haha! You funny human! Maybe Morbok kill you slow yes? Much fun Morbok not had in long time! Not since played with last female! She scream like you! You scream for Morbok, yes?" The giant asked. Shaking in fury at the giganto's callous attitude towards his deeds, Ranma popped his shoulder in with a grunt and rolled out of the way of Morbok's large foot as he attempted to squash the pony-tailed boy flat.
Ignoring the crystal tears that scattered from his eyes, the young martial artist spun about and powered a heavy front-kick into the back of the giant's knee.
Crying out in surprise, Morbok fell to his knees, allowing Ranma to leap up onto his shoulders and dish out punishment to the back of his unprotected neck.

"I'll make you pay, you bastard!" Ranma screamed, ignoring the stabbing agony from his broken left arm as he rained punches down on the giant's spine.

"Argh! Get off Morbok! Puny human go away! Die like others!" the giant roared partly in anger and part pain as the repeated strikes began to feel like tiny needles stabbing into his skin. Reaching up with his free hand the giganto attempted to pick Ranma off of his shoulders with no success, managing only to allow Ranma to flip onto his arm and run down and over to his front.
His vision red from rage, Ranma scarcely gave thought to what he was doing, seeing only the suffering that this creature had caused to innocent men, women and children. His warrior spirit singing with the need to give vengeance to the dead, Ranma flipped into a fierce crescent kick to the giganto's face, making the giant jerk his head backwards from the stinging sensation and exposing his vulnerable throat.
A cold fire burning in his eyes, Ranma rebounded off of the arena floor and span like a top, his leg flashing around in a deadly arc to slam into Morbok's throat.
With a loud crunch, the giant gurgled as he collapsed to the ground, his voice box crushed. Flailing his arms about uselessly, the giant finally stilled as his eyes glazed over before giving a final jerk, the air bubbling from his ruined throat.

Breathing heavily, adrenaline roaring through his veins, Ranma tilted his head back and screamed furiously, his cries echoing around the deadly silent arena for a whole minute before the deafening roar of the crowd shattered the silence as it howled its enthusiasm.
Exhausted, injured and stressed, Ranma collapsed to his knees, a lone tear winding its way down his dirt-smudged face before he passed out face-down on the arena floor, not five feet from the rapidly cooling corpse of Morbok the Giganto.

Oyaji no baka

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End Chapter 2.

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