C&A Productions Presents A Work of Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction Ranma 1/2: Curse of Darkness Chapter 10: A Fistful of Yen By Chris McNeil and Aaron Peori The story so far: In the beginning, there was darkness...and a bunch of stuff happened. After a little while of that, the arch-mage Amigi Diatonobi of the ultra-secret group DMSESREPBHPTT (pronounced dem-ses-rep-bfft) arrived in Nerima and transformed the nature of Ranma Saotome's curse, giving his female half an evil personality all her own! Also, thanks to a magic scroll, this female half (who goes by the name Senchi) has fallen for Ryouga. Using the threat of harming Akane, Senchi has blackmailed Ryouga into promising to date her. But meanwhile, disappointed in Amigi's apparent lack of results, his masters have sent the hunter Shiad to deal with him and Ranma... (Opening scene: the Tendo residence, where the entire clan is gathered, along with many of said family's...err...associated personages. Shampoo is there, glomped onto the recently-restored Ranma like a second skin. Akane is also there, introducing Ranma to the floor via a creative use of the television. Ryouga is comatose on the floor, thanks the to the feminine assault of Senchi. Cologne chuckles to herself as the yelling match between Akane and Shampoo escalates; Soun and Genma celebrate while Nabiki idly calculates the profits from her latest extortion scheme against Ranma and Kasumi calmly continues to dry the walls. In fact, the only one not acting normally is Ukyou, who is leaning against the wall, removed from the others. She looks down upon the object cupped in her hands.) Ukyou(whispers): I didn't know... (the silver spatula gleams accusingly in her palm) [Now, its energy is gone until the next generation...] (As she thinks, she involuntarily remembers the words spoken not a dozen minutes ago...) Ranma-chan: N-no...no, not that! Ukyou: [He didn't want it to happen...even for that, he didn't want a cure if I was the only one...] (Ukyou's eyes shimmer with suppressed tears) [He'd rather face his darkest secret than be with me...] (Unnoticed by anyone in the house, Ukyou flees. She moves in a slow, restrained fashion, but with her features set in a wholly unnatural position for the usually cheerful okonomiyaki chef. As she leaves the home, she begins to run, eyes closed, not watching where she's going. And so it is that she trips over the prone form of Tzubi, only her martial arts training instinctively kicking in saving her from a bad scrape. Rolling into a kneeling position, she stares at Tzubi, who has a large hole burnt through the back of his jacket and strange black lines across the exposed flesh. Immediately, her eyes clear.) Ukyou: Tzubi! (she reaches over and shakes his shoulder, but he doesn't respond) What could have happened... (her face sets into a determined expression) I'd better get you inside. (With seemingly renewed vigor, Ukyou picks up the boy and begins staggering back to the Tendo dojo.) ******** (Scene: an unknown, empty lot. The myopic warrior Mousse stands among the shreds of several straw dummies, his weapons buried in the walls and ground around him. Sweat drips down his face, his glasses are fogged by his own acrid breath, and his robes hang like lead weights over his strained muscles.) Mousse: [I lost!] (he swings out a morning star and crunches a hapless log post) [I -can't- have lost!] (he kicks, daggers flying from the cuff of his pants and into the wall) [I had -everything-!] (he punches another dummy apart with spiked knuckles) [All the advantages were MINE!] (leaping, he sends chains out, snagging more dummies from a pile and placing them into the ground in random patterns) [I -should- have -WON-!] (he spins around, launching egg-bombs with unerring accuracy and blasting dummies to bits) Damn you, Ranma! You shouldn't have won! (Mousse falls to his knees, breath coming in ragged gasps, face ashen from exhaustion.) Mousse: Akane... (he punches the ground) First Shampoo, and now her too...he's always taking them away from me! (Mousse climbs to his feet again, his jaw set in a determined expression.) Mousse: Can't... (takes a deep breath) ...stop now. I have to get better! Good enough to beat him! (he lifts his arms, grimacing at his aching muscles) Don't care (deep breath) how long it takes... (he fires a chain out and grabs another dummy off the pile) No matter how long... [But no matter how good I get, it will never be enough.] NO! (Mousse tears the dummy apart with a single punch, but once more his thoughts intrude) [He's always ahead of me. He knows techniques I can hardly dream of performing.] I don't care! (Mousse picks up another dummy and shreds it with claws) [Even with sight I couldn't beat him. And now...now, I don't even have that.] DAMN IT!!! (Mousse dives at the pile in a whirl of swords and chains; when he emerges, there is nothing left of his targets.) Mousse: [Ranma is better than me.] (Mousse staggers back as if struck) No... [Ranma will always be better than me.] (Mousse's voice falls, filled with an unfamiliar emptiness) Please... [I will never beat Ranma.] (Mousse falls to his knees, tears flowing freely) I won't beat Ranma...I can't... (Mousse staggers, zombie-like, out of the lot, his shoulders slumped.) Mousse(almost inaudible): You win, Ranma Saotome. ******** (Scene: the Tendo's, once more. Everyone is quiet as Kasumi tends to the burns on Tzubi's back as he lies, still unconscious, on the table. Shampoo is sitting next to him, making worried sounds and stroking his cheek. Nabiki stands away from the group, her face calm, no hint of emotion marring her cool beauty. But her eyes are locked on Tzubi like lasers, refusing to move, refusing to close; her body is so rigid, even as she leans against the wall in a seemingly casual position, that it seems a strong breeze might knock her over. The others are talking.) Ranma: Who could have done this to him? Ryouga: Someone strong. It took a lot out of me to beat him even when I was super-tough, and even then I didn't knock him out like this. Cologne: Hmm... (she looks up from Tzubi, having been examining the wounds on his back) These appear to be electrical burns. Ukyou: But they're so small...they shouldn't have hurt him this bad. Cologne: It wasn't the burn that did it. Whatever hit him channeled most of the electricity straight into his nerves. It's a miracle his heart is still beating. Akane: Could Rouge have done this? Ranma: (shakes head) Not her style. Besides, why would she attack Tzubi? Ukyou: (piku) Rouge? Ranma: I'll explain later. Cologne: Whomever did this is powerful indeed. I suggest you all stay on your guard. (Ranma nods) Come, Shampoo. Shampoo: But o-baba, Shampoo want stay with 'Zubi! Cologne: He will be fine, great-granddaughter. We must discover who did this. Shampoo: Hai. (eyes narrow dangerously) No one hurt Shampoo's husband! (Cologne pogos out, with Shampoo in tow. Meanwhile, Kasumi puts down the wet cloth she was using to clean Tzubi's back.) Kasumi: I'll go make some tea. Soun: That's very kind of you, Kasumi. (she gives her father a cutsie smile and then enters the kitchen; tears of joy roll down Soun's face) Oh, I must be blessed to have such a daughter! Genma: A true treasure, Tendo-kun. (At this point, a sound comes from the front of the house, a sound that would signal horror, save for the blissful ignorance of the occupants. The sound...was a knock. And then, the true terror of the sound became revealed...) Kasumi: Oh my, could someone get that? It should be Doctor Tofu... ******** (Scene: the laboratory of the man everybody loves to hate, Amigi Diatonobi. He is garbed in his usual evil sorcerer outfit, and is busy performing some sort of ritual. Suddenly, he stops, eyes narrowing, and then whirls, arm sweeping upward in an overly dramatic gesture.) Amigi: Reveal thyself, interloper! (his hand begins to crackle with green flames) Before I destroy you where you hide! Voice: Really, Amigi? Amigi: (flames flicker out; his face goes ashen) No... (There is a sudden movement, and the mysterious warrior known as Shiad drops from the ceiling, landing easily. Amigi recoils from her.) Amigi: Shiad... (The hunter from DMSESREPBHPTT (pronounced dem-ses-rep-bfft) holds forward a palm at the cringing wizard; it begins to seethe with an electric corona.) Shiad: The Circle isn't happy with you. Amigi: (drawing himself up in an attempt at dignity) I report to the Sanctum! Shiad: The Circle supercedes Sanctum. Surely you know that. Amigi(desperately): But Circle surrenders say-so over supplying recruits! Shiad: Simple semantics. Circle says that so Sanctum does not oppose Circle's ascension. Amigi: But I'm still working on this initiate... Shiad(flatly): You take too long. Amigi(pleading): She's worth it, she has power... Shiad: You were needed and didn't show up. We lost a great deal of ground to the Illuminati because of you. Amigi: (pales) She's worth it. Shiad: I doubt it. (she thrusts her hand at him) BAKURAI-HA! (A bolt of lightning leaps from her hand at Amigi, but the wizard is already chanting.) Amigi: AEGIS HERCULEAN! (He sweeps his arm up and a half-shell of shimmering white energy forms in front of him; the lightning bolt collides with and runs along it, dispersing harmlessly. Not pausing for a moment, Shiad leaps into the air.) Shiad: Amusing trick, but now face BAKURAI REPPA!!! (She shoves both arms at Amigi, releasing two bolts of energy which smash into the wizard's shield, pushing him back. As she lands she releases two more bolts, which visibly stagger Amigi.) Amigi(shouts): You'll never take me! (He waves his hand, creating a dazzling cloud of smoke and flashing lights. Seeing Shiad is momentarily distracted, he spins and lunges for a pentacle drawn in the floor.) Amigi: GOSEIDO! (The pentacle glows and he leaps onto it, disappearing in a flash of light just as Shiad steps through the smoke.) Shiad: Hmph. Don't think you've escaped from me that easily... ******** (Scene: back at the Tendo's, where Dr. Tofu is seeing to Tzubi's wound...or at least that's what he's -supposed- to be doing...) Tofu: (twisting the thankfully unconscious boy's arms into a braid) Why thank you Kasumi, those cookies sure look good! Kasumi: (giggles, holding packets of lotion) These aren't cookies, silly. Tofu: Of course not! (he absently flips Tzubi over and twists the poor boy's leg around his head) They're pickles! (Kasumi giggles again as Tofu puts one in his mouth. Meanwhile, across the room-and a safe distance from the good doctor-the other continue to talk about what's going on. Nabiki has apparently left.) Ukyou: We're concentrating too much on the "how" here guys, and not the "why". Akane: Ukyou's right. We need to figure out who did this and why. Ranma: But who has it out for Tzubi? Tofu: (lifting a bowl of water onto his head) What a generous gift, Kasumi! I needed a new hat! Kasumi: That isn't a hat, doctor. (giggle) Tofu: Oh, right... (he pulls it down and looks at it quizzically) It's...a frisbee! (Tofu sends the bowl flying across the room. Of course, there is only one person who could be struck by it.) Senchi(laconically): We really -must- stop meeting like this. Ryouga: Eep. (He dives for cover, but Senchi is already walking towards him.) Senchi: Ryouga-chan, a girl could begin to think you don't want to see her. Ryouga: Of course I don't want to see you! Senchi: (looking at herself) Of course you don't, I'm an absolute mess. You just stay here while I get ready for our date. Ryouga: D-date? Ukyou: I think she's finally gone off the deep end... Senchi: (smiling evilly at Ryouga) You remember the date you -promised- (nods her head towards Akane) me, right? Ryouga: (bows head; forced) I...I remember. Senchi: Great! So you just wait there while I get dressed. Akane: Wait, what about Tzubi? Senchi: (walking towards the stairs; doesn't bother to look back) What about him? (They all stare silently as Ranma's darker half strides up the stairs, humming to herself.) Ryouga: (sighs) Don't worry, Akane...it'll be fine. Akane: You don't have to do this. Ryouga: (clenches his fists) If...if I want to protect you...I do. I do. Akane: (surprised by his vehemence) Ryouga... ******** (Scene: same place, a little later. Ryouga is sitting at the table, slouched over as if the spectre of doom were upon his shoulder. Akane is trying to convince him not to go along with it, while Ukyou looks on in pity.) Ryouga: [I'm doomed...] Senchi: Okay, I'm ready. (They turn as one to stare at Senchi, who is standing at the bottom of the stairs. She is now wearing a pale yellow blouse, tight around the chest, with a knee-length light blue skirt. She's also redone her hair, allowing it to fall to her shoulders in curly waves like liquid fire. It is further obvious that she has applied makeup, but not exactly how or where since her face seems to have...changed. Her cheeks are both softer and more pronounced, and her entire face seems outwardly unchanged but just more...-there-. She glides across the room to Ryouga.) Senchi(softly): So? (does a half-turn in front of him) Think it looks nice? (hastily) I didn't really have much to work with. Ryouga: (swallows) Uhh... (sweatdrop) You look good... [This is a -guy-! This is RANMA with a concussion or something! She...HE is not pretty!] (dejected) You look great. Akane: (staring) Hey! That's my blouse! And my skirt, too! Senchi: Hai... (she wrinkles her nose as she looks down) ...and they don't fit very well, either. I guess I'll have to buy a new wardrobe. Akane: But you can't just... Ukyou: (puts a hand on her shoulder) Let it go. (shakes her head) I don't like it either, but we don't really have much choice. Besides, I'm sure Ryouga won't do anything...ungentlemanly. Ryouga: Ungentlemanly? Senchi: Ryouga-chan can be as ungentlemanly as he wants; I won't mind. Kasumi: (shocked...well, shocked for Kasumi) But Senchi, it's only your first date with him! It wouldn't be proper! Tofu: D-d-date!? (keels over) Ryouga: (gets it; eyes widen and clutches his nose) No! I won't be doing any of that! Senchi: Aww... (Genma and Soun are playing Shogi and diligently attempting to ignore the whole scene.) Senchi: Come along, Ryouga-chan... (she begins dragging him out the door) ...we have lots of hot clubs to hit! Ryouga: (voice receding) I thought you used clubs to hit people, not the other way around... Ukyou: (sigh) Well, that cuts our group again. Akane: (nods with a sigh) And whatever is going on with Tzubi...well, if whoever did that can take out -him-... (Ukyou and Akane exchange dejected glances. Then the entire house is rocked by a tremendous roar; the walls shake and everyone stumbles a few steps.) Ukyou: What in...!? (Akane and Ukyou run to the porch and stare out, along with an indignant looking Soun and Genma, at the figure standing in a small crater in the back yard.) Amigi: (stepping out and dusting his lapels) Ah, excuse my rude entrance, Mr. Tendo. I assure you I shall compensate for any material damages. Akane(yells): You! Ukyou: (whips out her combat spatula) What do you want? Amigi: Well, that is the question, isn't it? The short answer is that I need your help. That is, if I am to save young Saotome's life. ******** (Scene: the Nekohanten; Cologne and Shampoo have evidently just arrived. Shampoo closes the door and turns to find Cologne staring at her intensely.) Cologne: This can't go on forever, Shampoo. Shampoo: (piku) What you talking, o-baba? Cologne: You know perfectly what I mean. Are you going to be clinging to Mousse's shoulder tomorrow night? And what about the next man who beats you? Will it be Ryouga, or perhaps Tarou? Shampoo(vehemently): They no good enough to beat Shampoo! Cologne(pointedly): Neither was Mousse, as I recall. (Shampoo sinks into sullen silence) What you do is lawful, daughter...but not correct. You should have chosen a man long ago. (There is a moment of terse silence, but then, unexpectedly, Shampoo sinks to the floor, clutching her knees to her chest.) Shampoo: Shampoo no know... Cologne: It is customary in these situations for the strongest to be... Shampoo(softly): They no love Shampoo. Cologne: What? Shampoo: 'Zubi...he say he hurt Shampoo if she come near him. Mousse...Mousse no love Shampoo anymore... Cologne: (after a pause) And what of Ranma? Shampoo (shakes head) Shampoo no know when she figure it out...but Ranma no love her. He no want hurt Shampoo's feelings, but... (she lowers her head) ...but he no love me. (Cologne stares as bright lines begin drifting down her great- granddaughter's cheeks) Shampoo only think... (sniff) ...if she be good enough either 'Zubi or Ranma come 'round... Cologne: ... (hopping forward, she reaches out and brushes a tear from Shampoo's cheek; more kindly) I know a way to see for certain, Shampoo. To see if, inside, any of them can love you. (Shampoo looks up hopefully) We will simply have to wait until whatever is happening dies down. ******** (Scene: Tokyo is noted for its nightlife. Bright lights and large crowds, roaring clubs and drunken businessmen bar-crawling to the tunes of karaoke. A wonderful place for two teenagers to find fun and excitement together. Unfortunately for Senchi and Ryouga, they are not anywhere that remotely resembles that. Instead, they find themselves standing in the middle of a deserted street, coated with dust and grime and lined with dark grey, sagging buildings. From a nearby alley the clatter of metal on metal echoes, accompanied by the screech of an alley cat.) Senchi: (tapping her foot; hands on hips) A quaint little bistro, you said. Not far from the dojo, you said. Ryouga, my brain must have been turned off for me to trust you to lead us! Ryouga: (scratching his head) It was just around the corner, I was sure... Senchi: You said that a half-hour ago! Ryouga: (embarrassed look) Eh-heh...maybe we should head somewhere else... Senchi: Like where? (looks around) I don't even think we're in Tokyo anymore. Ryouga: (sighs) Right. So you lead the way, then. There's nothing for us to do here with no one around anyway. Senchi: (perks up) Oh so... (evil grin) Ryouga: (backs up a step) Senchi? (sweatdrops) Uh, Senchi...what's that glint in your eyes... Senchi: (swaying up to Ryouga) I can think of a few things we can do all alone... Ryouga: Ack! (waving hands frantically) N-now now, let's not be too hasty! (voice cracks) We just have to find out where we are! Senchi: (mischievous smile) Does it matter? Ryouga: (backs up another step) of course it does! How do yo...we plan to get back? Senchi: (sighs) Fine, Ryouga-chan... (she turns away, as she does Ryouga gets a good look at her; against the dull buildings she seems to glow as if with an internal light) Just let me find a phone; the company can trace it and... Ryouga: (not really hearing her) [She's pretty! Not that it matters, she's still deluded and evil and all I hate about Ranma...but she can be cute too...] (he looks away sharply) [She's RANMA! She's just forcing me to be here, and she's only following that magic scroll anyway. She doesn't even really care about me...] Senchi: Ryouga-chan... (snaps her fingers) Are you awake or what? Ryouga: Hai, Senchi... (sighs) I'm awake, I guess. Senchi: Well, I found a phone. I need ten yen for the call, though. Ryouga: I don't have any money... Senchi(erupting): You WHAT!? You took me on a date with no money? Did you expect ME to pay for everything!? Ryouga: (shrinks back, fingers in patented Takahashi position) Aah! No! I didn't expect anything like that! Senchi: (fists on hips) What kind of girl do you think I am? Ryouga: I don't think you're any kind of girl, really! Senchi: (vein pops out on her temple) You don't think... (draws it out) ...I'm any kind of girl? Ryouga: (just realizing what he said) I didn't...I couldn't...I wouldn't... (Senchi's eyes blaze, she takes a step forward) I'll get you money! Ten yen coming right up! (turns to leave) Ten yen for bishoujo Senchi! (Senchi stops dead in her tracks as Ryouga runs off.) ******** (Scene: the exterior of Amigi's mansion. Pantyhose Tarou, scourge of Ranma's existence, is walking towards the main doors. In his hand he tosses a tiny tuning fork up and down.) Tarou: [Don't know why I bothered taking this from him.] (he snorts derisively and rings the bell) [It's useless. Who needs magic when I can do more damage with my brain?] (Tarou waits a few seconds, then begins to look impatient. Tapping his foot, he rings the bell again.) Tarou: Diatonobi? Amigi! I won't wait forever! (after another few moments, he shrugs) Fine, I'll keep your... (suddenly he looks sharply to the roof; his eyes narrow and he backs up a step. Seeing nothing he relaxes somewhat, but still looks ready to spring) I guess he isn't home...I'll have to come back later. (Turning, Tarou walks down the path and out the front gate. A silent figure leaps from the roof, hiding in the garden behind him.) Tarou: (walking steadily) [Well, what now?] (as he moves, the figure silently trails him, staying in the shadows) [Damn, I can't tell exactly where...I'll have to choose my ground. Someplace I know well...and I can't risk the restaurant...] (he smiles evilly) [I know -just- the place.] (Tarou strides off purposefully. Behind him, Shiad peers from the shadows which serve to disguise her.) Shiad: (smirks; whispers) So, another ally, Amigi? (evil giggle) Well, this one shall lead me right to you. ******** (Scene: the Tendo's, not long after we last left them. Amigi is standing over Tzubi's unconscious form, holding a blue card with a strange symbol on it. He nods sagely.) Amigi: Shiad's work, without a doubt. Ukyou: (still holding her spatula) So who is she, and why should we help you? Amigi: She is an Enforcer, a tool of the will of DMSESREPBHPTT, though it would do her more justice to call her an assassin. She...removes those elements most disruptive to the Circle. Akane: And she's come to kill you? Amigi: (nods) I should have returned long ago. But young Senchi is the only person ever to utilise the Art of the Black Hand; I could not leave her to her own devices. Ukyou(flatly): So she wants to kill you. Like I said, why should we help? Akane(shocked): Ukyou! Ukyou: (sighs) I don't want to see him dead, even if he does deserve it, but he can take care of himself. Amigi: Indeed, but it is not I whom you must worry about. (smiles) It is young Ranma. Akane: Ranma? But why? Amigi: Shiad will be working under her usual orders, which means she will attempt to eliminate all evidence of my work here. And as the Saotome boy's...predicament is of my doing, she will kill them as well. Soun: WHAT!? (grabs Amigi and shakes him) First you give Ranma that awful curse and now you will cause his death!? Amigi: (unruffled) Calm yourself, Tendo-san. Ranma-and Senchi-can be saved if we work together to defeat Shiad. Ukyou: How can we do that? From what you've told us, Shiad doesn't stop until she's finished her work, no matter how badly she's set back... Amigi: There is one setback she cannot recover from. Ukyou: (eyes widen) You don't mean...we can't... Amigi: (smiles evilly) Come now, what did you think I meant to do? Akane: (looking ill) Why don't you do it yourself? Amigi: No member of DMSESREPBHPTT may directly harm another. A magical compulsion forbids it. Only special Enforcers under command of the Circle, such as Shiad, may do it. Ukyou: But you attacked Tzubi... Amigi: He is...-was- my apprentice only, not a full member. Ukyou: So you want us... Akane: I can't! I won't! Amigi: To tell the truth, I was hoping Senchi would be present. But I will settle for what is available. Voice: Interesting. (Everyone turns to see Tarou leaning against the doorframe to the porch.) Tarou: So this assassin is the one that's been following me... Amigi: (turns white) Following you... Tarou: (smirks) Yes. I went to your place to return something, and it appears your little friend has been trailing me ever since. Ukyou: Then what are you doing here!? Tarou: I... (he suddenly whips to the side and rolls away as an energy blast blows a chunk out of the door) ...think that would be her now. Voice: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! (Shiad leaps from one of the trees to land in a graceful crouch) So this is where you fled, Amigi. (she smiles evilly) You should have known you couldn't hide from me. (The DMSESREPBHPTT Enforcer tosses her long brown ponytail over her shoulder and stands, her loose pants rustling in the breeze. Grimly, Amigi raises a shield in front of himself.) Amigi: I won't go down without a fight. (Soun and Genma hide behind him; Shiad laughs.) Shiad: And who is going to do your fighting? These...girls? (she gestures contemptuously at Akane and Ukyou) Ukyou: (pulls her spatula into combat position) I wouldn't underestimate us if I were you. (Tarou raises an eyebrow and leans against the wall.) Akane(hisses): Ukyou! Ukyou(whispers back): We don't have to kill her...just knock her out. We'll decide what to do with her then. (Akane nods reluctantly and takes up an offensive stance.) Shiad: (laughs again) Oh puh-leez... (pulls back both hands) BAKURAI REPPA! (she releases a bolt at both girls, whose eyes widen...) (...than Ukyou grunts as her spatula seems to fly from her hands. As it spins in midair, both bolts strike it and the weapons flies blade-first into the floor, smoking slightly.) Ukyou: Nan da... Tarou: (stepping from behind Ukyou, glances at the smouldering spatula) Metal conducts electricity. (turning to Shiad, he cracks his knuckles) That was my employer you just tried to fry, bolt-girl. I feel obliged to take exception to that... Shiad: (smiles, a corona surrounding her) You may have been able to feel my presence, little man, but it remains to be seen what you can do against my skill. Tarou: (stepping into his Mien Chu'an stance) We'll have to see, won't we? (evil chuckle) I wouldn't lay good odds on you, though. ******** (Scene: a fancy restaurant; Diners sit at tables, conversing in a low buzz that fills the room. Waiters move about, quietly serving, and patrons are seated or examine menus. A place of order and tranquility. It can't last. Without warning the door bursts open and Ryouga runs in.) Ryouga(roars): Ten yen! I need ten yen! (he slams his fist into the wall, punching a good-sized hole in it) Can anyone spare ten yen!? (Suddenly a shower of bills and change fall at Ryouga's feet. He looks around to see everyone staring at him nervously, their hands up.) Ryouga: (shrugs and rummages through the piles) Argh! No ten yen pieces! I need ten yen or she'll kill me! (he scoops up the money) I'll go get change...be right back! (He exits.) ******** (Scene: a convenience store. A clerk is quietly sweeping up, when the wall collapses in, allowing Ryouga to run through.) Ryouga: Ten yen! I need ten yen! (he looks around wildly and spots the gaping clerk) Do you have change for this? (he hold out the large pile of money) Clerk: AHHHH!!!! (he runs out the door, voice receding) Take it all! Ryouga: Uh...thanks! (he wrenches pen the register and looks inside) Damn, no ten yen here either! (he tosses it on his pile) ******** (Scene: a department store. Two women are fighting over a dress while a distraught saleswoman looks on. Then the floor explodes and Ryouga climbs out. He is now carrying a sack over one shoulder; it is stuffed to overflowing with cash.) Ryouga(pleading): I need ten yen... (The two customers toss their purses and run screaming; the unfortunate saleswoman faints.) Ryouga: (looks through the purses) Dammit, there's no ten yen pieces! (he throws his head back; roars) WHERE CAN I FIND TEN YEN!? ******** (Scene: a bank. The teller is evidently closing up shop for the night, but is interrupted as Ryouga parks himself in front of the man, carrying several sacks of money which, altogether, are as big as he is.) Ryouga: (dropping the sacks on the floor) Change. Teller: (sweatdrops) What denomination...sir? Ryouga: Ten yen. Teller: (wide-eyed) That will take forever! Ryouga: (bashes his head against the wall, sending cracks up under the convenient "do not crack wall" sign) Damn! I don't have -time-! Teller: (gulps) Of course...we could always make an exception this once... ******** (Scene: a familiar decrepit street. Senchi is standing next to a lightpost, looking thoroughly irritated at everything in particular.) Senchi(grumbling): Can't believe I was stupid enough to let him walk off...stunned just because he called me bishoujo Senchi... (A blond girl with twin pigtails bursts out of a nearby door, wearing an somewhat...abbreviated school uniform-like costume.) Girl: I am Sailor Moon! Champion of justi...oww! (Another girl, this one with long black hair, reaches out the door and grabs the first by a pigtail.) Other girl: She said bishoujo SENCHI, not bishoujo SENSHI, stupid! Sailor Moon: But Maaaarrrrs...WAAH! That hurts! (The other girl pulls the first back inside.) Senchi: (shaking head) That's it...I'm outta here. (mutters) That jerk Ryouga will pay for this... Ryouga's voice: Senchi! Senchi: (stops) Well, it seems you actually made it back (turns around) you je...e...eee...ohh... (She stares at Ryouga, who is standing carrying a -gigantic- sack, coins spilling out of the top.) Ryouga(proudly): I got ten yen! Are you still mad? Senchi: ... (opens and closes her mouth mutely for a few moments) Ryouga: Are you okay? Senchi: (jumps on top of the bag) Where did you get all this!? Ryouga: I just asked for ten yen and people gave it to me... Senchi: (throwing up the money so it showers on her head) Moneymoneymoney...huh? Oh, sorry, I wasn't listening... (frowns) Now we only have to figure out what to do with all these ten yen coins... Ryouga: Make a phone call? (Senchi leans over, clinging to the bag like a spider, and smiles, face to face with Ryouga.) Senchi: Poor naive Ryouga. With this much cash we don't have to pay to make calls...we can BUY the phone company! WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (She leans back and laughs, giving Ryouga a rather...impressive view. He tries to look away, but is blocked by the bag.) Ryouga: Urr...guh...do you mean it? (Senchi looks down again, blinking at Ryouga's relieved expression.) Senchi: Mean what? Ryouga: About buying the telephone company. Seems it would be more trouble than its worth... Senchi: (giggles) I was joking, Ryouga-chan. Ryouga: Oh...so what are we doing with all this money, then> Senchi: You, dear Ryouga, are treating me to that new wardrobe I was talking about earlier. Ryouga: What about the date? (Senchi blinks) I have to fulfill my obligation, Senchi. (Senchi stares at him for a long moment, then leaps down.) Senchi: Ryouga...put that down for a moment. (With a sigh of relief, Ryouga puts down the sack and begins to rub the circulation back into his shoulders. Senchi backs up a few steps and then stands, her hands clenched in the small of her back.) Senchi: Ryouga...what if I were to call this date null and ask you to date me again? Ryouga: (pauses) You'd hurt Akane, wouldn't you? Senchi: That's why you're here. Ryouga: (sighs) I'd do it. Senchi: And if I wanted another date after that? Ryouga: As long as you don't hurt Akane. Senchi: What if I wanted more than a date? Ryouga: Like what? Senchi: Like...everything? All the way? Ryouga: (backing up) N-now Senchi...we can talk about this... Senchi: I'm not asking you to do it, Ryouga. Just if you would, if I asked you... Ryouga: If the choice was between...that and Akane dead, it wouldn't be a choice. Senchi: (flinches as if struck, but nods) I see. Ryouga: So what do... Senchi: (turns away) Go, Ryouga. Ryouga: Go where? Senchi: Leave, go on your way, go back to Akane. All that kind of go. Ryouga: But what... Senchi(voice thick): I won't hurt Akane because you leave. I promise I won't force you to do anything you don't want because of her. Ryouga: (shocked; casts for something to say) ...what about the ten yen... Senchi: Leave it. I'll take care of it. Ryouga: I... [What is she doing? It's some sort of trick...] Senchi: Just go, Ryouga! (her voice grows even thicker) Just...leave me alone. (Ryouga pauses for a few breaths, then turns and leaves.) ******** (Scene: the backyard of the Tendo Dojo. The night wind rustles the trees as Tarou and Shiad face off. Nearby, Amigi is kneeling, a translucent dome of pale blue light surrounding him. Behind him, and thus also indirectly protected by the field, Soun and Genma have set up their go board. Akane and Ukyou watch from the porch; Ukyou's spatula is still buried in the ground beside Tarou. Kasumi has finished cleaning the living room and has moved on to the kitchen, presumably to make tea for her guests. Doctor Tofu has recovered thanks to Kasumi's absence and is treating Tzubi, but occasionally glances up at the other two fighters.) Tarou: (evil chuckle; flexes his fingers) You plan on starting this anytime soon, bolt-girl? Shiad: (locks eyes with Tarou; her corona intensifies) As you wish. BAKURAI HA! (Tarou casually sidesteps the bolt of energy, which goes flying past to disperse harmlessly along Amigi's shield. He chuckles evilly again, folding his arms and leaning casually against the spatula.) Tarou: Quite the one-shot wonder, aren't we? Shiad: (leaps at Tarou, holding eye contact) I have more tricks than that! (Tarou evades a dropkick and lashes out with a jab, but she rolls under it and springs to her feet a few metres away. Quickly reestablishing eye contact, she leaps at Tarou again. The Chinese warrior slices at her with a kick, attempting to knock her from the air, but she pulls up, swinging her hands between her legs to grasp his extended ankle. Then she flails her legs at him from her sitting position, forcing him to bend back to evade. With a snarl, he continues bending then flows with the motion into a backflip that send Shiad spinning into the air. Rolling in midair, she shoves a fist at him, releasing another lightning bolt that Tarou spins around as he lands from the flip. He rushes at the assassin as she lands and tosses a foreknuckle. She ducks, but, counting on this, Tarou lifts himself from the ground with his own momentum and drives his knee into her shoulder. She jerks with the blow, but manages to slap his shin as he flies past, releasing a charge upon impact. Tarou grunts as he lands near the pond, his leg wobbling slightly underneath him. Shiad stands, rubbing her shoulder with her good hand, and the two turn to face each other.) Tarou: [She's fast...and my leg is numb from that contact charge.] I underestimated you. It won't happen again. Shiad: (evil laugh) You won't have a chance to do so again. (Holding eye contact with him once more, Shiad rushed forward and tosses a kick; he easily blocks it and responds with a punch. She ducks to the side and weaves under his guard to lash out with an uppercut, still looking him straight in the eye. Tarou manages to backpedal and launches an ankle kick, but it only nicks her and she doesn't even acknowledge it. Continuing with her uppercut, she leaps and spins in midair to send a crescent kick at him. Blocking it, Tarou grabs her foot and tosses her to the ground. She rolls with the impact and comes up with a growl, her fist coated in a corona of electricity. With an evil chuckle, Tarou steps back and strikes his bracer with his other fist; the spring-loaded bar inside flies out, smashing into her hand. Immediately the iron channels the charge outward and beings to draw it down as the bar falls. Startled by the unexpected tactic, Shiad has no chance to dodge as Tarou buries a foreknuckle in her face with the force of a cannon.) Tarou: Like I said... (he smirks as Shiad smashes into the garden wall) ...I won't underestimate you again. (As Shiad pulls herself to her feet, Tarou reaches into his sash and palms a small object.) Shiad: That's far from enough to beat me. Tarou: (smiles) I didn't think it would be. (He flicks his hand at her; the object within flies at her like a bullet; Shiad dodges to the side, holding eye contact.) Shiad: You missed. Tarou: Not quite. (Shiad blinks and turns to the wall, where a tiny tuning fork is buried prong-first in the stone, quivering slightly.) Shiad: What... (Her eyes widen as a flash of danger warns her too late that Tarou has closed and delivered another foreknuckle. She rolls with the blow and bounds into the wall, preparing to leap off and counterstrike...but just then the wall explodes as the vibrations grow too intense. Throwing herself forward in an attempt to get clear, she is met by a smirking Tarou, who smashes her from the air and drives a knee into her stomach as she falls. Gasping for breath, she rolls away from her opponent and leaps to her feet.) Shiad: (breathing heavily) N-not bad...at all... Tarou: (standing with his hands on his knees in a horse stance; smiles) I suggest a tactical withdrawal, bolt-girl. Shiad: Never! BAKURAI-REPPA! (Tarou dodges the energy blasts; pulling his remaining bracer bar out, he spins and tosses it into the last oncoming bolt. In the ensuring explosion, Tarou dashes in behind the flash of light and strike, but Shiad was waiting for this and has already leaped above. She hurls down a flurry of bolts, forcing Tarou to take evasive action.) Shiad: (landing near the pond) WAHAHAHA!!! Now you know why I am an Enforcer! Tarou: I already know why. You're stupid enough to work for them. Shiad(yells): I have stood enough of your mockery! Tarou: But I haven't even gotten started... Shiad: (slams a fist to the ground) DENTAI! (A blue corona coats the ground where she struck; Tarou leaps to the right, but Shiad only smiles and hurls a bolt with her free hand that catches Tarou in the arm. He gasps as he lands, clutching his burnt limb.) Shiad: (rising) I can cheat too, little man. (She rushes towards Tarou, who dodges once more. She spins to fling a blast and Tarou ducks, sliding under her extended arm to catch it with his good one but Shiad leans back. Forced to put his weight on his numbed leg he is thrown off-balance, but Shiad gets no chance to capitalize on it as Tarou throws himself forward. Shouldering her aside, he rolls to his feet several metres away. Shiad regains hers just as quickly an responds with another bolt, which Tarou evades, along with the next one. Shiad is beginning to slow down, however, the effects of Tarou's multiple hits beginning to catch up with her. Tarou himself isn't in prime shape either, one arm hanging limp and the opposite leg numbed.) Tarou: Alright, bolt-girl. Now I'm annoyed. (Back with the observers, everybody watches with breathless silence. Or, at least, they -were-...) Ukyou: This isn't going too well... Akane: (clenches her fists) If she can match -Tarou-... Amigi(dryly): Why don't you go help him? Ukyou: This isn't our fight. Amigi: (glances at the charred spatula, then looks pointedly at Ukyou) It wasn't his either, yet he seemed willing enough. Ukyou: (also glances over at her weapon; frowns) He just protected his assets. Now he's stuck in the fight. Tofu: (walking up) I just hope he doesn't strain those muscles. If poor Tzubi is any indication, the nerves in his arm and leg have been shocked into paralysis. Ukyou: (fingers a mini spatula) Maybe we should help... (Back at the combat, Tarou flexes the knuckles of his good hand.) Tarou: Round two. Shiad: (laughs evilly) Anytime you're ready. ******** (Scene: a department store. Senchi has apparently converted all the ten yen pieces into cash-how she did this is a question which shall remain unanswered-and is browsing through the women's section. Her face is worn, however, her movements listless. Picking out an outfit at random, she walks to the mirror. After glancing dully at the reflection, she turns to leave...) Voice: (ethereally) [Senchi?] (Senchi turns with a start, to see Ranma in the mirror.) Senchi: [Oh, it's -you-...I must really have been distracted to let you sneak through.] Ranma: (moths moves in synch with the ethereal voice) [Distracted?] (looks around) [Oh, great...I hope you're not planning on wearing any of those...] Senchi(bristles): [So what if I...] (stops) [Leave me alone, Ranma.] Ranma: [Like you ever give me any time to myself. If I hadn't learned your little trick, I'd be constantly listening to your chatter.] Senchi: [Get lost, or you might find yourself stuck in skimpy lingerie in the women's bathroom.] Ranma(dryly): [Care to be less infantile, Senchi?] Senchi: (sighs) [Ranma...just please go away. If it makes you feel better, I've promised not to hurt Akane.] Ranma: [Nani!?] Senchi: [Don't get any ideas, Ranma. I just did it because...because...] (she closes her eyes and clenches her teeth) Ranma(surprised): Senchi? Senchi: [I could have had him...all of him. Just a threat here and an insinuation there and it would have been over. But he wouldn't really have been mine...] Ranma: [...] Senchi: [So I promised not to hurt her.] (tears slip out of her eyes) [It might be nice to think I did it out of some nobility, but you'd be wrong. I did it because if I didn't, he would never love me. I never thought about what he wanted...only what would give me the best chance!] (she chokes slightly) [And I'm only doing that because it's what I was programmed to do...] Ranma: [Senchi, listen to me...] Senchi: (opens her eyes with a snarl) I said... (screams) LEAVE ME -ALONE-!!! (Ranma looks surprised as he de-rezzes and is replaced by Senchi's reflection) That's better... (She turns to find everyone else in the store staring at her.) Saleswoman: (to clerk) First that weird boy coming out of the floor, and now this... Clerk: (nods) Tokyo just isn't safe anymore. (Senchi turns red, a giant sweatdrop behind her head, and quickly turns around to continue shopping.) ******** (Scene: a street. Ryouga is wandering along, obviously lost.) Ryouga: Great, I finally get Senchi to leave me alone and I can't find me way back... (stops, crossing his arms and looking around) [I still can't believe she actually let me go...she knew I was ready to do anything...maybe she...] (BOOM!) Ryouga: (looking at the wall from behind which the explosion came) Hmm...something's happening over there. (he pulls back his hand, extending two fingers) Better take the direct route! ******** (Scene: in the Tendo yard. Shiad tosses another bolt at Tarou, who dodges. The poorly-named martial artist is sporting another burn on his ribs, while Shiad has been decorated with a black eye and is clutching her side. Both wear grim expressions as they study each other.) Ukyou: (pulling out more spatulas, which she fans between her fingers) That's it...this is getting too serious. Akane: (nods) I think you're right. Tzubi: (moans) My head... (begins to rise) Tofu: (gently pushes him back down) Woah, young man. You need to rest more before you're recovered from that blast. Ukyou: Let's go! (She leaps, tossing a full hand of spatulas at Shiad.) Shiad: Huh? (she dodges aside, blasting a few from the air with tiny bolts of lightning) So...three on one, now? Akane: (closing and launching a kick, which Shiad ducks) Only to get you to leave us alone! Tarou(growls): Fools. (he quickly moves forward) Stay out of this! You'll get yourselves killed, maybe I should let you... Shiad: (leaping back out of range) Very well, I'll simply have to step things up to the next level! (Shiad smiles evilly, her corona flaring.) Tarou: (eyes widen) Damn it! Get back! (Tarou dives back, rolling away, but Ukyou and Akane have already leaped at Shiad and are unable to escape as she begins to glow blue-white.) Shiad: CHOU-RAI-JUTSU! (There is a tremendous concussion as a giant lightning bolt forms around her and leaps into the sky. Ukyou and Akane are sent flying back, scorched. Just then...) Ryouga: BAKUSAI TENKETSU! (The wall near Shiad explodes outward, forcing her to leap aside. Tarou holds up a hand to block the dust as Ryouga steps from the hole he just blasted.) Ryouga: What's going on? (he stares at Akane, who is starting to struggle to her feet) AKANE! Shiad: And who is this? Another pawn, Amigi? (she laughs evilly, then winces as she takes up an offensive stance) I suppose I can crush him too, if I must... Ryouga: (looks at her; his eyes narrow) You did this to her? Akane: (looks up shakily) R..ryouga? (Ryouga darkens, his eyes glowing through the aura of menace which coats him like a shadow.) Ryouga: -Nobody- does that to AKANE! Shiad: (backs up a step, suddenly aware of her injuries) Perhaps four at once is a bit much... Ryouga: DIE! (he charges towards her, fists clenched) TO BE CONTINUED... Author's notes: Okay, it was a -long- time between the last chapter and this one... Blade: It's not -MY- fault! Epsilon: (flat look) I had work to do. Blade(dryly): All summer long? Epsilon: Okay, so it's not like you haven't had writer's block... Blade: <MML> See? Blame him, not me! Epsilon: 9_9 Fine, fine. The point is that work is back on track now. I hope to have the next part out soon. It's tentatively titled "Berzerker Unleashed", detailing the finale of the Shiad saga and showing the full power of a love pushed to the edge... Blade: _o_ Zzzzzzzzzzzz.... Epsilon: -_- I don't know why I bother. I'm leaving. (Sound of footsteps receding, then a door opening and closing again.) Blade: (yawns; groggily) Did you say something? Oh well. As always, all comments and criticism are appreciated. Epsi's lost Net access for the time being, so make sure to direct everything (except flames; I'd tell you where to direct those, but this is a family-oriented fanfic) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't worry, if Epsi starts taking too long again, I'll hit him with my bokken until he writes or dies, whichever comes first. ^_^ Jya ne!