Disclaimer: You know what all this stuff means, so why bother reading it? All characters but the ones I create for this purpose of this fanfic are the sole property of Rumiko Takahashi. Don't get any funny ideas about suing me.

Ranma ½: The Tale of Two Dragons

By: OmegaGear

Chapter 2: Are you the Hóngzhong!?

Oh Akane… Soon you will know my true feelings. Ryoga walked in deep thought through the shopping district of Nerima. He was carrying a medium sized box in one hand and his umbrella in the other. Once I give this to you, you'll be mine forever. He lifted the simple box and smiled. As usual, he fantasized about how Akane would react upon receiving his gift.

"Oh Ryoga, for me? You shouldn't have!" she would say.

"I know it isn't much, but I thought you'd like it," he'd reply humbly.

"Oh my gosh, Ryoga, I love it!" She'd shout, running into his arms.

Ryoga made a more than happy smile as he continued to fantasize about the possible future. His eyes became distant and drool rimmed his lips. He laughed like a man gone mad inside, and maybe that wasn't too far off. He didn't even notice when someone came up behind him.

"Ryoga?" asked Akane's voice.

Ryoga launched himself into the air at hearing her voice. He immediately began to sweat and waved his arms while speaking in broken sentences. "Akane! Ha… Imagine seeing you here! N… nice weather we're having! I… I was just… out for a walk! Ha… you know me!"

Akane looked at him a bit confused and simply nodded. Nodoka came up next to her with a smile. "Why, it's Ranma's friend!"

Ryoga laughed a bit insanely at the comment and rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah… that's me!" he said, just as dryly.

Nodoka giggled at his high spirits. "What do you think of Akane's new dress?" she asked, presenting Akane in her new yellow sundress.

Ryoga stopped laughing and looked her up and down. He was amazed at how well the dress complimented her body and found himself feeling a little warm in the cheeks. "Er… it looks great!" he said, starting to laugh again to try to hide his blush.

Akane smiled at the overenthusiastic compliment. "Thanks, Ryoga! You're so kind!" she said. She was tapping her foot nervously behind her and staring at the ground. "Um…"

Ryoga's laugh settled down to a chuckle while he continued to rub his head uncomfortably. He wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. He could only see that he was making a fool of himself and needed to escape. "Something you want to ask, Akane?" Idiot! That's not how you escape the situation! He yelled at himself.

"Well…" Akane blushed, making Ryoga feel like he was floating.

Does she want to ask me something important? Could it be!? Ryoga quickly silenced his hopeful thinking so he wouldn't miss what Akane had to say.

"You're good friends with Ranma… do you think he'll like it?" Akane asked, shattering Ryoga's heart.

The world became a pale blue to Ryoga's eyes as he heard a fine crystal heart shatter within him. Glimmering shards of crystal breaking echoed in his ears. What? She's doing this to please that jerk, Ranma!? What did he do to deserve such a blessing!? Ryoga swallowed his anger, not wanting to upset his goddess. "I'm sure he will…" he said, not believing what he was saying.

"Really?" Akane clapped her hands together and had an excited smile on her face. Her eyes glimmered with newfound life, making Ryoga feel even worse.

How could I be so stupid!? He kicked himself mentally for being so delusional. Akane doesn't even know I'm alive! He shut his eyes before tears could come out and decided it was time for him to go on another "journey". "Well," he said, starting to turn. "I'd better get going."

"What's that in your hand, Ryoga?" Akane asked before he could leave.

Ryoga's throat went dry as he swallowed. He had become extremely nervous and turned around slowly. "This?" he asked, lifting the box slightly. He saw Akane nod and smile and felt his heart flutter. Akane… you really do look beautiful in your new dress. But I'd find you beautiful in anything. His lips trembled as he presented the box to her. "It's a…" He paused, unable to continue his sentence. He felt like he was made of stone, and imagined he didn't look far off either.

Akane waited patiently, smiling cheerfully. The gentle breeze blew her new sundress around her legs. She moved a lock of hair from her face and put it behind her ear. "Yes?"

"It's a… a…" Ryoga still couldn't finish. He suddenly became aware of an overbearing presence approaching and grabbed Akane and Nodoka while leaping into the air. "Look out!" he shouted.

The ground where the trio was once standing exploded and crumbled into a circular crater. Ryoga flipped and spun in mid air to shield the two women from the blast's debris. When he landed he gently put them down. "Are you alright?"

Akane and Nodoka were both a bit flustered, but easily calmed down. "Yes, thank you," Nodoka answered.

Akane sighed with relief and put her hand on her chest to qualm her beating heart. When she opened her eyes she noticed that Ryoga's box was no longer in his hand. "Ryoga! What happened to your box?" she cried.

Ryoga didn't understand at first, but soon realized what she was talking about. He looked at his empty hand and wend wide eyed. "What?" he yelled. "Where is it!?" He patted himself down, checking everywhere for the box, but came out empty handed.

"Humph," came a man's voice from behind him. Ryoga turned around to see a cloaked man kneeling in the crater where he once stood. He stood up, revealing himself to be quite tall. Ryoga guessed he was even taller than Ranma. In his hand he held the box Ryoga had gotten for Akane. "Looking for this?"

"You…" Ryoga tried to keep his anger in check and stepped forward. "Give that back!"

The man laughed and twirled the box on his index finger. "Here you go," he said, tossing the box towards Ryoga. Ryoga lifted both his arms to catch the box as it soared through the air. The mysterious man, however, had no intention of giving the package back freely. He thrust his palm forward, shouting a battle cry.

The air in between Ryoga and the man formed into a solid ball. Ryoga was barely able to react in time, but managed to absorb the ki attack by crossing his arms into an x in front of him. He slid back a few feet, tearing the ground underneath his feet from the force of the blow. "What the hell was that for!?" he asked, growing angrier than before. He ignored the lingering pain in his arms. He looked down to see that the box was undamaged, but ignored it for the time being.

The man laughed again, but sounded curious. "Such an amazing ki…" he said, removing his cloak. He was definitely a highly trained martial artist by the looks of his build. Finely toned muscles could be seen through his tightly bit clothing. He wore an emerald green vest made of some sort of scale-like material and white pants similar to Ranma's. A black cloth belt was tied around his waist with extra material hanging by his right leg. On his arms were a golden brace on each arm. Ryoga had seen those sorts of braces before. Ranma wore them often. They were weighted arm braces meant to build strength while training. The man's hair was fashioned into a long pony tail but kept his bangs forward.* His eyes were the same color as his vest.

*I'm bad with describing hair. Basically his hair is like Herb's.

Ryoga could sense an amazing power from the man and realized he was probably out matched by him.

"Tell me…" the man began to ask, pointing at Ryoga. "Are you the Hóngzhong?" (Pronounced hoo ng jue ng)

Ryoga scoffed at the question and went into a battle stance with his hands ready as fists. "My name is Ryoga Hibiki!" he declared. "Why have you attacked me?"

A crowd had begun to form a circle around the two men with Akane and Nodoka watching nervously behind Ryoga. The people knew from the crater that the strange man was dangerous, but were curious to see what kind of fight could potentially develop.

The man smirked at hearing Ryoga's question, but soon changed to a determined glare. "Answer me!" he shouted, raising his open palm over his head. "Are you the Hóngzhong!?" He threw his palm in an arc and launched another chi attack.

Ryoga used his arms to block the attack again, but was thrown back even further this time. He grunted as his whole body ached from the impact, but returned the favor. "Shishi hokodan!" He uncrossed his arms and threw them forward, hands open with their palms facing the man. His shishi hokodan flew from his hands and at the man, who absorbed it in his fist. "What?"

Akane was surprised. "He absorbed his shishi hokodan like it was nothing!"

Ryoga trembled with a flurry of emotions. Fear of the man's power. Fear for Akane's safety. Anger, because of his inability. Sadness, because of his failure.

The man smirked again as his fist absorbed the energy from Ryoga's shishi hokodan. He stepped out of the crater and asked the same question again. "Tell me… are you the Hóngzhong?"

"I told you, my name is Ryoga Hibiki!" Ryoga yelled in response. The man made an angry face at hearing Ryoga's answer and prepared another chi blast. Ryoga panicked, but kept his composure. "Akane, run!" he yelled. He ran forward and prepared to punch the man, but was quickly caught in his chi blast.

Ryoga quickly fired another shishi hokodan by opening his halted fist to try to ward off the attack, but was completely overpowered. Unable to defend himself, Ryoga was thrown by the chi blast and into the wall of a nearby store.

"Oh no, Ryoga!" Akane cried, trying to rush over to him.

Nodoka restrained Akane in her arms before she could run. "No, Akane! It's too dangerous!"

"I can't just stand here and watch!" Akane argued. "I'm a martial artist too!"

"A… kane…" Ryoga groaned as he got to his feet. His entire body was smoking from the chi blasts. Ryoga could barely stand, but couldn't bear to lose like this in front of Akane. "Stay… out of this…" he said, stepping from the pile of rubble. He let himself sink into a deep depression, accepting the weight of the pain to try one last time to defeat his opponent. A dark blue aura of despair surrounded him, making him feel heavy and tired. It was a feeling he never wanted to feel again, but saw no other way to protect Akane. To protect the woman he loved, Ryoga would use the perfect shishi hokodan that cursed him with an empty heart.

The mysterious martial artist watched as Ryoga was consumed by his aura of despair with amusement. "Humph," he said, turning his back to him. "You cannot be the Hóngzhong," he said.

"I…" Ryoga groaned through his tired lips. "My name… is… Ryoga Hibiki!" He could feel it, the climax, or rather, the bottom of his despair. Ryoga threw his right fist into the air and launched a pillar of chi towards the heavens. "Perfect shishi hokodan!" he cried, calling his depression to come crashing down upon the Earth.

****

"Akane!" Ranma shouted as he hopped from another rooftop. He was hoping to find Akane and his mother walking home for lunch by now, so he was searching the neighborhood, but found no trace of them. "Where are you, Akane!?" Could they still be shopping? He thought.

Ranma stopped on a particularly tall roof and took a look around. There was no trace of his fiancé or his mother that he could see. "Man… why girls spend so much time shopping I'll never know," Ranma grunted, getting to his feet. "Guess I'll just have to go there."

Ranma was suddenly surrounded by a fierce wind as an explosion was heard in the sky. He looked behind him to see a pillar of light and new instantly what it was. "Ryoga's perfect shishi hokodan?"

Ranma watched as the pillar suddenly fell apart and expanded into a mysterious fog. The fog descended slowly over the shopping district, telling Ranma where Akane and his mother were.

"Don't worry, Akane," Ranma said, running towards the shopping district as fast as he could. "I'm coming!"

****

The mysterious martial artist showed no fear of the powerful attack. He flicked his palm at Ryoga and barked some sort of battle cry. An unseen force struck Ryoga, whipping his head around with such force that his whole body spiraled after it. Ryoga coughed blood as he fell to the ground, unconscious.

Ryoga's perfect shishi hokodan dissipated before striking the ground. The solid pillar of chi evaporated into a curious mist that fell gently over the broken street of the Nerima shopping district. Akane couldn't see what was going on through the cloud of wayward chi, but made out the shadow of the martial artist as he walked towards where Ryoga was standing.

"Oh no…" Akane started to run to where Ryoga was.

"Akane!" Nodoka called after her. She lost sight of the girl in the chi cloud quickly, causing her to panic. "Akane!" she called again. "Come back!"

"Ryoga!" Akane cried again, trying to find him through the heavy fog. She had gotten to where she thought she'd find him, but found nothing but a few fragments of debris. She stopped to gather her thoughts and look more closely. Surely enough, Akane could see the shadow of the mysterious martial artist standing over something. "Ryoga!"

As Akane ran towards the shadows in the mist, she heard one shout, followed by the sound of air bursting and crumbling rocks. When she finally could see what was happening, she saw Ryoga lying with his face against the ground. A puddle of blood had begun to pool by his mouth while his body lay motionless in a small crater.

Akane watched as the martial artist struck Ryoga's silent body with another chi blast from his open palm. The blast crushed Ryoga's body against the cracking cement, eliciting more blood from his mouth.

Akane gasped at how cruel that man was being and ran over to him. Grabbing him by the wrist she yanked him away from Ryoga. "Stop it! Can't you see you've won!?" she shouted, tears outlining her red eyes.

The man released his wrist from Akane's shaky grip and grabbed her by the throat. "You dare challenge me?" she hissed, looking her in the eyes.

Akane began to choke under the man's grip and gasped for air. She grabbed his arm with both her hands and tried to force him to release her, but got no response at all. He stood perfectly still holding her loosely enough to keep her from fainting.

"He… help…" Akane managed to speak through her fleeting breath.

"What's that?" the man asked, smiling. He seemed to enjoy watching her struggle futilely.

"Ra… ran… ma…" Akane finished, loosening her grip on the man's arm.

"Humph… is that all?" the man asked the barely conscious girl. She didn't respond. "You are worthless," he declared, pulling his arm back with her neck still in his grasp. With one fluid swing, the man threw Akane like a doll.

Akane screamed through her freed throat as she was sent flying. She couldn't see where she was going through the haze that remained from Ryoga's evaporated shishi hokodan. She didn't know if the man had sent a chi blast after her to finish her off or if he intended to kill her in another way. Help me! She cried in her mind, hoping her thoughts would somehow reach someone. She closed her eyes tightly, not wanting to see the world go black by force.

To Akane's surprise, she didn't hit the ground hard, or at all. Something caught her in mid flight and gracefully carried her to a gentle stop. Despite no longer flying out of control, Akane remained tense and refused to open her eyes.

"Akane?" a voice asked. It was Ranma's.

Akane's eyes shot open. She looked up to see Ranma's concerned eyes. Two pools of a blue deeper than the oceans of the Earth. He held her in his arms, strong and gentle at the same time. He held her with one arm under her knees and the other behind her back, wrapped around her shoulders. It was how he always held her when he carried her. It was how a man carried someone he loved. Akane pressed herself against Ranma as best she could, feeling a sense of calm in his arms. "Ranma…"

Ranma tightened his hold on Akane slightly, bringing her against his chest. He lowered his head to rest his chin on the top of her head and whispered, "Are you alright?"

Akane placed a hand on Ranma's shoulder and pulled herself even closer. "Yes…" she said, causing Ranma to sigh in relief. "But Ryoga's…" she couldn't get the words out. Akane found pain in simply saying what had just happened.

"Shh…" Ranma shushed her trembling lips and looked forwards as the mist broke apart around a man standing over an unconscious Ryoga. "I understand…"

The man smiled an evil sneer as the mist was thrown away by his aura. "Such an amazing ki… stronger than his…"

Ranma ignored what the man said and gently let Akane down. He was holding her by the waist as he looked into her eyes. "You're sure you're okay?"

Akane sniffled. She was having trouble handling everything that had just happened, but nodded. "I'm fine…" she said.

"You there!" the man yelled, pointing at Ranma.

Ranma kept his hold on Akane's waist, but turned his eyes towards the man. By now, the mist of the shishi hokodan had completely vanished, showing the man clearly.

Seeing he had Ranma's attention, he smiled. "Are you the Hóngzhong?" he asked, just as he had asked Ryoga.

Ranma didn't answer, but returned his attention to Akane, who was trembling again. "Akane…" he said, tilting her head up with his finger under her chin. Her eyes were shiny from tears held back, but the fear was unmistakable in them. "Help Ryoga," Ranma said nothing more. He released his hold on her and replaced one of the straps from her dress so that it was neatly on her shoulder again.

"Ranma…" Akane said as he walked past her. She wanted to stop him, but knew that Ranma wouldn't stand down. He would fight on his honor for Ryoga's sake, if not her own.

"You…" Ranma hissed, cracking his knuckles. His ki began to glow a bright blue.

The man didn't appear interested in Ranma's growing ki and repeated his question. "Are you the Hóngzhong?"

"I don't know who or what the Hóngzhong is…" Ranma said, continuing to let his ki flow outwards. "But if it's a fight you're looking for, you've found it!" He lifted his fist to give visual flare to his words and readied himself for combat.

Akane had a worried look on her face again. She couldn't shake the feeling of doom in her heart. No matter how much she wanted to believe Ranma could, would, win, seeing Ryoga lose so easily gave her doubts.

"I'm going to make you pay for what you've done!" Ranma declared.

The man glared at Ranma as he let his own ki flow outwards. Unlike other kis Ranma had seen, his glowed a bright green. A green that burned with an insatiable fire and power that not even Happosai displayed. "Are you, or are you not the Hóngzhong!?" he shouted one more time.

Ranma didn't want to have to explain, so he simply began to circle the man slowly. "Shut up and fight…" he said.

The man studied Ranma shortly before getting into his own stance. His ki continued to grow, its green glow illuminating the entire street.

Ranma studied the man he was fighting. What a battle aura… he noticed. No doubt about it. This is the guy who beat up the old pervert. Ranma charged his ki again, preparing to attack. Better end this one quick! "Moko takabisha!" he shouted, firing a chi blast similar to Ryoga's shish hokodan.

"Ha!" was all the man said in response, firing a chi blast that broke through Ranma's moko takabisha like a hot knife through butter.

"Yow!" Ranma cried, bending backwards until he was parallel with the ground. The chi blast flew over Ranma, burning his face. When the smoke cleared, Ranma still had his feet planted on the ground with his knees bent at a right angle. The rest of his body barely hovered over the ground while his arms and hands formed a sort of surrendering position that Ranma usually used when hit; by Akane anyway.

"Ranma!" Akane cried from behind. She stood with Nodoka, who had finally caught up to her. Ryoga was behind them on a sleeping bag he carried in his back pack. He was still unconscious, but his wounds had been tended to by Akane and were no longer bleeding.

"Duh…" was all Ranma said in response to Akane's cries. He was dazed from what had just happened even though he hadn't been hit directly. He got up slowly and shook his head to clear his dizzy senses. My moko takabisha was completely useless! Can't afford to allow him to use any more chi attacks. Ranma told himself.

The man had a different idea entirely. He had already begun to charge another chi blast when Ranma made his move.

"Now I have you!" Ranma shouted as he got into the man's face. Ranma meant to punch the man, but was instead thrown back by a chi attack he'd never seen before.

The area around the man seemed to shift completely, forming an invisible barrier that deflected Ranma's body like a ping pong ball. As he collided with the barrier his body felt like it was being crushed by extreme pressure accompanied by a pounding in his ears unlike anything he'd ever experienced. While being thrown back Ranma's hearing was invaded by a loud bursting noise while his whole body felt like it was fire. He didn't even feel anything when he hit the ground; that pain was insignificant compared to the chi attack.

Ranma's body twitched involuntarily as he got to his feet again, slower than last time. "Damn it…" he spat to himself. He was running out of options. I can't even get near him! … I swore I'd seal this technique away, but I have no choice! Ranma hunched his back and became limp. His ki completely vanished, leaving him a pale body.

"Giving up already?" The man said mockingly. "You cannot be the Hóngzhong!" he stated, running at Ranma as he prepared to finish him off. Ranma remained perfectly still, his ki still absent around him. "Ha!" the man fired… and hit thin air, "What!?"

"He… he disappeared!" Akane exclaimed, wondering what had happened.

"That art!" Nodoka shouted in astonishment. "He knows that?"

"Secret fist, Umisen-ken! White snake venom reliable fist!" shouted Ranma as he appeared behind the man and struck him in the back with a blur of fists. The man was unable to react having lost control of his ki momentarily. He began to fall over from the force of the blows but was suddenly sent backwards as Ranma appeared in front of him and kicked him square in the chest and face. Ranma accomplished this by flipping into a one armed hand stand and swinging his legs up into an arcing mule kick.

"He did it!" Akane shouted.

"My son is so strong," Nodoka cheered.

Ranma flipped back onto his feet, but didn't share Akane or his mother's joy. There's no way that'll keep him down…

"Oh my…" Nodoka said, noticing the man starting to recover.

The man got up and wiped some blood from a cut on his cheek and laughed. "For one to hit me…At last… I've found you…" he said. His ki grew more powerful than before, nearly freezing Ranma in fear. "The Hóngzhong…"

"Ack! I don't know what the hell you're talking about!" Ranma argued as he squirmed in place. Although it wasn't the bravest way out, Ranma was hoping the man would decide to leave him alone if he convinced him he wasn't this Hóngzhong. He had no idea how to do that though, because he didn't know what he was trying not to be.

"I will kill you now…" the man said grimly, crossing his arms over his chest and summoning his energy. His entire body glowed a bright green that would have blinded Ranma had he not been too busy freaking out.

"Kill?" Ranma exclaimed, eyes nervous. "Come on, man! You got it all wrong!" He went through his usual repartee of begging and explaining, but the man only continued to collect his energy. This is bad… Ranma thought as the man's ki continued to grow brighter. I've gotta think of something fast!

"Ranma, he sounds serious!" Akane yelled from his right. Ranma couldn't help but notice how worried she was.

Akane's lips were open ever so slightly, speaking words of fear and prayer that Ranma didn't want to hear. He never wanted to hear Akane cry, especially for him. He looked into her eyes, so far away, yet so clear to him. They too held an absolute fear in them, their pools of brown seeming empty and endless. That look in her eyes was enough to send Ranma to his knees, but it also lit a fire of determination within him.

"Are you ready…" the man asked, opening his eyes and smiling, "to die?"

Ranma had to bite his lip to stop himself from whimpering at the thought of death. In his mind, that was actually a possibility, but he wouldn't let his pride be degraded. Ranma didn't reply at all, but kept an icy glare on the man. At least it would have been an icy glare had Ranma been able to suppress his fear. He was unsure of his chances, and it had shown in his eyes as the slightest quiver.

"Heh…" the man laughed slightly at Ranma's silence, seeing and feeling the fear in him. He bent down on his knees, pulled his arms back, and concentrated his ki into his hands. Ranma noted the transfer of the energy and braced himself for whatever form the attack would come in.

The man's face became angry and serious as he took in a deep breath and released it with his ki. "Dragon Cutting Earth Bomb!" The name of the technique echoed in the wind, carried by the force of his attack. His ki spread outwards into a sort of net before exploding into dozens of fine blades.

Ranma reacted by jumping back and watched as the blades cut through the ground and erupted. The attack is just as it is named… bombs that cut the earth! Ranma back flipped as more blades flew at him, aiming for vital points in every part of his body. As the first blade passed, Ranma felt a strange weight rub against his side like the blade had actually hit him, but didn't cut his flesh. He had no time to look to see if he had been hit as another blade neared him. Ranma quickly twisted his torso and released the tension like a rubber band, causing him to spin out of his flip and land on the ground with the blade harmlessly passing his left hip. Again, he felt like his side was struck by a burning coal.

"Damn… he's pushing me back without a problem!" Ranma yelled, flipped backwards again as another wave of chi blades sliced through the ground like shark fins in the ocean. As the blades erupted in the ground, debris and smoke was released into the air. Ranma put his arms over his face to shield it from the shards of stone and shut his eyes against the dirt that floated with the smoke.

Ranma stopped momentarily to take a peek only to see more waves of blades flying towards him. He leapt back once more to avoid one blade, but was hit on the left side by a second blade. Rather than cutting Ranma all the way through, the blade exploded after slicing a fine cut into his flesh. The torn flesh along with the explosion left an intense burning sensation along his torso. Ranma winced in pain and grabbed his wound. His hand felt warm blood leaking from the cut, but also a thin layer of cauterized skin. The explosion of the chi blade had actually caused his wound to nearly burn shut, relieving Ranma slightly.

Before Ranma could recover from the injury and get to his feet, a third blade sliced into the ground near his feet and detonated. Ranma rolled sideways to the right, covering his wounded left with his arm, but was unable to avoid the debris from the explosion. Fine powder of dirt and cement was kicked into Ranma's face, stinging his eyes. Ranma flung his head back and rubbed his eyes, trying to alleviate the burning that forced them shut.

With his vision now gone, Ranma had to rely on his ability to sense the chi blades in order to avoid them. He hopped from street to wall to pole to tree, never stopping to even catch his breath. The burning in his eyes gradually dimmed to a hot sensation, but Ranma kept them shut, not wanting to risk further damage. His ears were flooded with the sounds of stone being torn from the ground and trees shattered and burned to their roots.

Finally, the noises quieted to low rattle of settling debris and fine dirt sifting in the wind. Ranma rubbed his eyes with his left arm while keeping his right tightly wrapped around his sealing cut. The blood had nearly stopped running, but Ranma knew from experience that any drastic activity would cause the wound to open again.

Ranma's eyes still felt irritated, but he could at least open them again. He didn't know if it was the smoke in the air or his eyes that made everything look blurry. Ranma blinked several times as the smoke cleared and gradually got his sight back. What he saw was a two block long path of destruction. The street was little more than a field of craters and ruptures while walls lay fallen. Several trees in the park beyond the walls were reduced to ash and blackened soot covered wood. Ranma had never seen anything like it. Not even when fighting Saffron had he witnessed such a widely destructive attack.

"At least no one was hurt," Ranma noted. He sighed a bit of relief at the fact and looked forward from his perch on a standing segment of a brick wall. The smoke had cleared mostly, little patches of fog floating slowly through the clearing air.

Ranma saw the man standing with his fists on his hips at the far end of the destroyed street. He looked proud of his destruction with a grin in his lips and a cold look in his eyes. He didn't look the least bit tired from the attack, much to Ranma's disappointment. This guy never stops…

"Why not stop running and come forth?" the man asked musingly.

"Shut up…" Ranma managed to mumble. There was little power behind his words, but Ranma had nothing else to say. He hopped off of the rubble he was perched on and cradled his healing wound.

"Such determination," the man said, sounding aggravated at Ranma's stubbornness. "Much more than I'd expect from a mere human…"

"I'm full of surprises," Ranma said, smiling with newfound confidence. He had a few more tricks to try before thinking about throwing in the towel.

The man didn't seem to pick up on Ranma's hint and continued to laugh lightly. "You fought well, boy, but it's over," he declared. He turned his back to Ranma and brushed his ponytail behind him from his shoulder. "You are not the Hóngzhong. I have sensed as much." Having said that, the man began to walk away like the fight was nothing special.

As the man began to walk away Ranma pointed at him and shouted at the top of his lungs. "It's not over!"

The man stopped, but didn't turn back around. "You've lost the fight, boy," he said darkly. He turned his face around to look at Ranma through the corner of his eye. The eye was glowing green like his ki had earlier, making the man appear other than human. Ranma was beginning to think he wasn't human by the way he spoke about him. "Continue and it will be your life that you lose."

"I haven't lost anything!" Ranma shouted. "I won't let you leave here until you've paid for what you did to Akane!"

"Ranma…" Akane moaned quietly to herself. "Stop…" She wanted to turn away, not wanting to watch Ranma be hurt anymore, but was frozen in place. Every spec of her being had become frozen with worry and sorrow. In her heart, she begged for Ranma to stop, but couldn't utter the words.

"Hmm…" the man hummed his curiosity and looked around until he saw a worried girl with raven black hair standing near the boy who had called himself Ryoga. "Don't be foolish, boy," he said, turning around to face Ranma again.

Ranma clenched his teeth and tightened his hands into fists. "I know what I'm doing!" he hissed.

"Do you?" the man asked. He looked at the girl that Ranma called Akane once more. She was standing with her hands folded at her chest and her eyes stricken with worry. She looked no more alive than a statue in her current state. The man quickly came to his conclusion and chuckled.

"The hearts of men are such weak temples!" he mused. His slight chuckling had become full blown laughter now. "Very well…" the man began to taunt Ranma by beckoning him to attack him with his right hand. He got his laughter under control and smiled, "fight me in vain for the woman!"

"It's not in vain!" Ranma shouted as he ran at the man. His fists were raised high at his sides, ready to fly forward. "Kachu tenshin amaguriken!" Ranma shouted, sending his fists into a flurry of punches at every vital point on the man's body.

The man dodged around most of the blows by twisting and swaying his body from side to side while blocking and parrying the remaining strikes with his hands and arms. "Not bad, boy!" he teased through the storm of fists.

Ranma didn't respond to the comment the man threw at him and continued to fire away with his fists. He began to grow tired, but refused to let up. He was determined to find a hole in the man's defenses.

"This has gone on long enough," the man decided. With Ranma's fists flying wildly through the air, it was easy for the man to strike him. He stopped dodging the blows and began to block and parry the blows with both his hands in a form similar to Ranma's kachu tenshin amaguriken. It wasn't long before Ranma fell behind and began to feel a blow to his face and chest every now and then.

Damn it! Ranma cursed in his mind while he tried to regain some ground. He's able to match me move for move!

The man smiled as Ranma's attacks became slower and decided that enough was enough. He put more power in a punch to Ranma's cheek and sent him stumbling back out of his attack. Before Ranma could recover and make another move, the man stepped forward and kicked him in the face.

Ranma stumbled back even further this time, stopping against a wall. His whole head was spinning from the two blows it had just received and his stomach wasn't far behind. The man finished him off with a punch to his gut that sent his back into the brick wall. The wall fractured and caved around his body barely able to withstand the impact. Ranma exhaled the little air that was left in his lungs at the crushing blow and was sure he choked out blood along with his breakfast.

Ranma was on the brink of unconsciousness. It took everything he had just to breathe in a single breath of air. His ears rang like a mental alarm of his condition while his vision blurred into a haze of colors. His nose burned with the stench of blood that probably filled it.

As he fell to the ground and on his knees, Ranma's mind began to feel distant while the sound of laughter echoed through the ringing in his ears. He didn't know if it was in his confused mind or reality, but Ranma heard something else beyond the laughter. He heard Akane crying.

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A/N: Sorry the chapter took so long. It took me a while to decide how to end this fight and my computer science lab took most of my waking hours the past week to do…