Chapter 6: Ryouga’s Final Challenge

                    Ranma 1/2: Curse of Darkness
                            Chapter 6
                    Ryouga's Final Challenge!

The story so far: In a series of events too ludicrous to detail here,
the Ranma « universe has been irrevocably altered.  First, Ranma's
female form is now a separate personality, named Senchi, who happens
to be evil.  Now Senchi is in love with Ryouga, Mousse has fallen for
Akane, Shampoo is in "love" with Ranma _and_ a guy named Tzubi-who
happens to love Nabiki.  But more importantly for this arc, it should
be noted that Happousai has agreed to change Pantyhose Tarou's name if
Ranma's female half gives him a fashion show...

(Opening scene: somewhere.)

Ryouga(screams): Where the hell am I?!?

Akane: (from across the table) Ohaiyo, Ryouga-kun.
(Ryouga looks around and sees that he is standing in the Tendo living
room, where the family, Ranma and Genma are having breakfast.)

Kasumi: Well if it isn't Ryouga!  Have a seat.
(Ryouga sits down with an embarrassed look)

Ryouga: Arigato, Kasumi.

Ranma: How much of a loser do you have to be not to realize when
you're in Akane's house?

Akane: Stop picking on Ryouga, Ranma.  It's not his fault.

Nabiki: (finishing her food) Here we go again.  (she gets up) I'd love
to stay around for the fireworks, but I have business to take care of.
Later.  (she leaves)

Ranma: Why are you always protecting him?

Ryouga: Because she knows how much of a jerk you are.

Ranma: At least I'm not a _pig_ like you.

Ryouga: Why you...
(He throws his rice bowl at Ranma, who catches it calmly.)

Ranma: Arigato.  (begins eating)

Akane: What do you think you're doing?

Ranma: (mouth full) Mpfeaming.

Ryouga: Give that back!  (lunges at it)

Ranma: (pulls it away) I thought you gave it to me.

Akane: (snatches the bowl) Stop teasing.  (she hands it to Ryouga)
Here you go, Ryouga-kun.  Eat up, I know you probably haven't had a
decent meal in days.

Ryouga: (spacing out) D-domo arigato, Akane-san...
(Ranma has a sour expression on his face, and he absently tips over a
glass of water which spills towards Ryouga.  He leaps back with a

Ranma: What's the matter, P-chan?  Don't wanna get wet?

Ryouga: (hits Ranma with the rice bowl) Shut up!

Akane: Wasn't all your nastiness supposed to be used up by

Ranma: Oh, be quiet!

Kasumi: (cleaning up the spilled rice) It's hard to find such good
friends in these days.

Ryouga: Don't yell at Akane!

Akane: Hai, what Ryouga said.

Ranma: Whassa matter, Ryouga?  Can't fight without two-to-one odds?

Ryouga: I'll show you odds!
(He picks up Ranma by the tunic and hurls him out the door.  Ranma
"gaah's" as he flies out and straight into the pond.  Ryouga starts as
he realizes his mistake, but only has enough time to open his mouth
before the water parts to reveal Ranma's darker half.)

Senchi: Ryouga-chan!  (she leaps over and glomps him) You transformed
me!!!  How _thoughtful_ of you!

Ryouga: Yaagh!  Get off me!

Senchi: (snuggles closer) Let's go upstairs, darling...

Ryouga(horrified): NANI!?

Kasumi: (cutsie smile) What a lovely couple.


(Scene: Ucchan's, which is gearing down as the breakfast crowd drifts
out.  Pantyhose Tarou says goodbye to them all as they leave and
wishes them a nice day.  After they are all gone he briefly lets a
look of disgust cross his face, but hides it as Ukyou walks up.)

Ukyou: How did you get along this morning?

Tarou: Not bad.  (shrugs) Better than yesterday.

Ukyou: (grins) Only because Mousse didn't mistake you for Ranma today.

Tarou: True.  (looks away) Considering how he's blind and all, Mousse
is a decent fighter...

Ukyou: Sure, whatever.  (she walks past him and into the kitchen)

Tarou: [I've got to find a way to do my part in my deal with
(Flashback: the attic of the Tendo Dojo, where Happousai, Tarou and
Nodoka sit.  Happousai points at Tarou.)

FB-Happousai: I'll change your name, Pantyhose, but only if you get
Ranma-chan to give me a fashion show!
(End of flashback.  Tarou is now looking out the window.)

Tarou: [But I doubt Senchi would go for that.  Think, Tarou, think.
You've got to find a way to do this...]
(He blinks as Ryouga runs by outside, yelling unintelligibly as
Senchi-with hearts in her eyes-follows.)

Tarou: Ryouga?  (pauses; softly) Ryouga... (evil chuckle)


(Scene: Ucchan's, apparently later that day.  Ukyou and Tarou are

Ukyou(surprised): A vacation?  But you only started working here a
week ago.

Tarou: True, but I didn't anticipate being so busy.  Like any martial
artist, I need my practice...

Ukyou: And you need a week to catch up?

Tarou: Hai, but that should be all for awhile.  Besides, business
seems to be settling down after that initial rash of orders.

Ukyou: Yes, after we proved "Anywhere in Nerima in fifteen minutes or
your okonomiyaki's free", the orders went back to normal.

Tarou: So what do you say?

Ukyou: Well...I suppose so, but I can't pay you for that week.

Tarou: That's okay.  (smiles) [Okay, because once I've finished I'll
be out of here forever and never see you again.] (he turns away)


(Scene: a street somewhere in Nerima.  Kunou, carrying a bouquet of
flowers, is walking down it with his faithful ninja Sasuke in tow.)

Kunou: Ah, Sasuke, today is indeed born of glory.

Sasuke: And why is that, master?

Kunou: I hath learned that my beloved, the pig-tailed goddess, hath at
long last broken the shackles of vile Saotome.  Soon she shall be
wooed by mine own magnificence.

Sasuke: But what of Sanzenin?

Kunou: (laughs) He hath learned the folly of opposing the path of
Tatewaki Kunou.  Let all come forth, like puppets to the dance, and in
the sky where a rose shall die let triumph be not once.

Sasuke: ...???...uh...yes, master Kunou.

Voice: BAKUSAI TEN KETSU!  (a nearby wall blows into rubble, allowing
Ryouga to sprint out) Help me!

Kunou: Eh?  Ryouga Hibiki, in mortal fear?  But what hideous
monstrosity could do this to him?  

Senchi: (sprinting after him) Come back here, you...

Kunou(elated): Ah!  It is the pig-tailed girl! (glomp)

Senchi: AHHH!  It's a rapist!  (she grabs Kunou around the neck,
swings him over her shoulder and smashes him into the pavement, then
blinks.)  Oh, it's just Kunou.
(Ryouga takes advantage of Senchi's distraction to try and sneak
away-too bad he's going around in circles.)

Kunou: (standing up) Pig-tailed girl...

Senchi: Senchi.

Kunou: Nani?

Senchi: If you're going to talk to me, call me Senchi.  It's my name,
after all.

Kunou: Senchi? _SENCHI_!  At last, I know the name of my one true
love!  Oh, how a name seems to solidify my dreams to
reality...quickly, tell me again lest I forget.

Senchi: Sure.  It's Senchi Saotome.

Kunou: (writing it down) Senchi Sao... (he leaps to the wrong
conclusion) SAOTOME?!?  You carry the same family name as the
accursed?  He hath forced thee...

Senchi: Of course we have the same last name.  I'm his sister.

Kunou: Sister!?  You are Saotome's _sister_?!?

Senchi: (trying to move past him) Twin sister...or something close.

Kunou: (intercepting her) So, cursed Saotome thinks to keep his sister
away from me, when I have so graciously allowed him to date _my_

Senchi: (looking bored and trying to get past Kunou to Ryouga) Hai,
you can smite him later.  Now, if you'll excuse me...

Kunou: My...uh...Senchi, wait...

Senchi: Hey, I never said I was yours.  If I belong to anyone, it's
Ryouga Hibiki.

Kunou: (_that_ knocks him for a loop) H-h-hibiki...?

Senchi: (finally slips past him) Ryouga-chan!  Yoo hoo!

Ryouga(looks over; surprised/horrified): How'd you find me?

Senchi(teasingly): Maaaaggggiccccc...  (glomp) I'll always find you,
my sweet Ryouga-chan!

Ryouga(mournfully) I'm doomed!

Kunou(pulling out his bokken; growls): Hibiki... (spins around and
points his weapon accusingly at Ryouga) Ryouga Hibiki!  For crimes
against my one true love, I declare thee guilty and sentenced to

Ryouga: Wait a min...
(Kunou rushes in to kill Ryouga with a fatal strike, only to have
Senchi irritably snatch his bokken in mid-swing.  She disentangles
herself from Ryouga.)

Senchi: I'm beginning to get annoyed by you, Kunou... (her eyes
harden) ...and I don't let annoyances stick around for long.
(She shoves him away and clenches her fists.  Kunou stands back, a
look of surprise on his face.)

Kunou: But my love...

Senchi: (stalking forward) I am _not_ your love... (she snaps her
fists forward, nails protruding from in between the knuckles) ...but
you won't have to agonize over your rejection long!  (draws back her
(Just as she's throwing the first punch, a hand clasps her wrist and
stops the deadly blow a centimetre from Kunou's face.  Senchi looks
over in surprise, to see Ryouga is the one who stopped her.)

Ryouga(sternly): NO!  Senchi, you can't just kill him!

Senchi: (blinks) Why not?  It's not as if anybody would _miss_ him...

Ryouga:''s just not right...  (he drifts off lamely as
he realizes who he's talking to)

Senchi: (after a moment) Okay, Ryouga.  (she turns away and walks a
few steps off) I won't kill him.

Kunou: Pig-tai...Senchi!  (glomp) Thou hast broken Saotome's spell!

Senchi: (uppercut; Kunou goes flying) GO AWAY!!!
(Ryouga is staring at Senchi in surprise.  Suddenly, a hand reaches
out of a nearby alleyway and yanks him from sight.  Senchi turns back
with a grin, but frowns when she notices that Ryouga is gone.)

Senchi: Hmph!  (she looks indignant) Well, see if I spare somebody's
life for _him_ again.  (she stalks off)


(Scene: the alley.  Ryouga is staring at Tarou, who is smiling

Tarou: Hello, pi...Hibiki.

Ryouga: What do you want?  

Tarou(off-handedly): Nothing special, just thought you might be
interested in a chance to destroy Ranma Saotome once and for all.

Ryouga: (suspicious as a three-year-old offered candy) Nani?  Tell me

Tarou: (evil chuckle) [Soon, Ranma.  Very, very soon...]


(Scene: a mountainous region somewhere outside Tokyo.  Ryouga is
standing, while Tarou is sitting on a rock and smiling-what

Ryouga: (obviously they have been talking for some time) me
defeat Ranma?

Tarou(smoothly): Sort of.  I won't cheat on your behalf, or even
sabotage the playing field to your advantage.  I _will_, however, give
you a chance to defeat Ranma in real combat.

Ryouga: That's all I need!  One fair chance to finish Ranma off once
and for all!

Tarou: (nods) Of course.  To accomplish this, we need to go through
four steps.

Ryouga: Steps?

Tarou: First (hold up one finger) comes rest and relaxation.

Ryouga: Nani?

Tarou: (smiles) Nearly every time you've fought Ranma, you wandered
around lost for a few days first, leaving you exhausted by the time
the fight begins.

Ryouga: But I can't help that...

Tarou: Yes you can, but it involves swallowing your pride and letting
someone lead you around for awhile.

Ryouga: Why?

Tarou(mutters): Not one of the world's greatest minds...  (sighs) You
see, if someone-say me-leads you around for awhile, then you won't get

Ryouga: Ah!  Okay.

Tarou: The second step is to make an _official_, _public_ challenge,
and make sure a good crowd watches as you crush Ranma once and fro

Ryouga(excited): HAI!  Ranma will _die_!  (turns to run off)

Tarou: (grabs his arm) In good time, but first we find him, and you
challenge him to a match in a week's time.  Then you come back with
me, and we start step three.

Ryouga: Step three?

Tarou: (chuckles evilly) Trust me.



Ranma: (sopping wet) Wh-what happened...

Akane(excited): It worked!
(Ranma looks around, and we see he is in the dojo, with a kettle
hanging from a rope above him.  Nabiki is nearby.)

Nabiki: Of course it did.  That was a 2000 yen trap; quality stuff.

Ranma: (sighs) And who pays the bill?  As if I didn't kn...

Nabiki: Don't worry, Ranma.  Akane handled it.  (she walks off)
(Ranma looks at Akane in surprise.)

Ranma: _You_ paid to turn me back?

Akane: (looks away) Well...uh, yeah...

Ranma: Wow!  I never would have expected you to do such an untomboyish

Akane: (her white-knuckled fist buried in Ranma's face) I didn't do it
for you!  I just didn't want Senchi to attack me again!  Consider it
an act of self-preservation!  (she stalks off)

Ranma: (pulls himself up after a moment) Akane...wait...  (she ignores
him as she walks out the door) Oh, forget it...


(Scene: outside the Tendo Dojo.  It is late evening, and the sun is
setting in a brilliant flare of reds and yellows that paint the sky.
Ranma is sitting on one of the higher branches of a tree, looking at
the sunset with a pensive expression.)

Ranma: [What am I doing?  Why am I doing it?] (sighs) [With Senchi
running around pretty much as she pleases, I can't afford to continue
treating my life as if I'll live forever...or that all my friends

Ukyou: (from below) Ranchan?

Ranma: (grimaces, then leaps down to face her) Yo, Ukyou.

Ukyou: (cutsie smile) I've seen you in a lot of places, but on top of
a tree is a new one, I think.

Ranma: (sighs heavily) Just trying to find a place to think where
somebody wouldn't disturb me.  I guess that was a waste of time.

Ukyou(genuinely remorseful): I'm sorry, Ranma.  If I'd known, I never
would have...

Ranma: Nah!  Don't be sorry.  You're a person I can talk to, maybe
that'll help.
(Ukyou looks momentarily excited but quickly hides it.)

Ukyou: Of course it will, Ranchan.  (she sits down on a rock near the
pond) Have a seat, and we'll talk.

Ranma(semi-reluctantly): Okay...  (he sits down)


(Scene: just outside the Tendo Dojo's wall.  We see Tarou and Ryouga
there; Tarou is talking.)

Tarou: Now remember: the fight is one week from now, and challenge
Ranma to meet you at the school baseball field.

Ryouga: (smiles) How ironic.  The location of our first duel shall be
that of our last.

Tarou: Right.  (he leaps up, clasps the edge of the wall, and takes a
peek over it.  He sees Ranma and Ukyou talking, and his eyes
momentarily widen) [Oh damn.  Why'd _she_ have to be here?]  (drops
down) Ranma's right over the wall.  Now go in and challenge him!

Ryouga: Right!

Tarou: (pumping his arm in sync with his voice) Challenge him to one
final fight!

Ryouga: Final fight!

Tarou: Because you will crush Ranma!

Ryouga: Crush Ranma!

Tarou: Challenge him!

Ryouga: (getting _really_ psyched-up) Challenge!

Tarou: Get in there!

Ryouga: _Challenge_!


Ranma(pensive): Ukyou, this Senchi business is really serious...

Ukyou: [No kidding.  What's he leading up to?]  Hai.

Ranma: I mean, she's already tried to kill you and Akane once, and who
knows when she might succeed?

Ukyou(worried): Ranchan, it's not your...

Ranma: I can't guarantee any of your safeties...not without leaving...

Ukyou: Don't say that!

Ranma: No, I can't leave... (smiles bitterly) It's just...I should
seize the moment, shouldn't I?  Stop playing games with myself and
take decisive action.  I should stop hiding what I really feel...

Ukyou: (holding her breath in anticipation) Ranchan...

Ranma: (looks away) After all, it all could be over before I say
it...and I'll have lost the chance...

Ukyou(softly): You can, Ranma.

Ranma: Ucchan, I just want you to know...

Ukyou: [He's going to say it!  He's finally going to admit his love!]
(breathes) Yes?

Ranma: I...
(Ryouga leaps over the wall, umbrella held high.)

Ryouga: RANMA!  FIGHT!

Tarou: (from his new hiding place on a nearby rooftop; shakes his
head) Idiot...

Ranma: (blinks) Ryouga?  (Ukyou looks _really_ pissed) So you wanna

Ukyou: (leaps to her feet as Ryouga lands) YOU JACKASS!!!  Ranchan was
about to give me an emotional revelation!  (she smashes Ryouga with
her combat spatula, sending him to his knees) Do you have any idea how
_rare_ that is!?

Ryouga(confused): Ukyou?

Ranma: (grabs Ukyou's spatula) Ucchan, if Ryouga wants to fight, let
him.  This is something I can understand.

Ryouga: Right!

Ukyou: (steps back with a sigh) Okay, what you have to.
I'll see you later.
(Ukyou walks off, shaking her head and muttering some uncomplimentary
things directed at Ryouga, Ranma, and men in general.  Ranma gets into
offensive posture.)

Ranma: Let's do it!

Ryouga: (blinks) Huh?
(Ranma leaps in with a spin kick that Ryouga barely avoids.)

Ranma: Geez, you're stupid.

Ryouga: (leaps back, out of range) No!  Ranma, I challenge you!

Ranma: We're already fighting, you numbskull!
(He comes in with a series of jabs and short kicks that force Ryouga
to leap up to the wall.)

Ryouga: No!  Ranma, I want to fight you!
(Ranma comes in with a backward flipping axe kick.  Ryouga catches it
with both hands and tosses him over the wall.  However, Ranma twists
in midair and lands with ease.)

Ranma: Aren't we already fighting?

Ryouga: (leaping down) Not fight, challenge!
(Ranma dashes in while Ryouga's in midair and wheelkicks him into the

Ranma: Make up your mind!

Ryouga: (pulling himself out) Rraaaannmaaa!  I didn't come here to
fight, I came to crush you!

Ranma: (running forward) You want me to just stand still and let you
pound me?

Tarou(mutters): What did I do to deserve this...
(Ranma comes in and attempts to sweep out Ryouga's legs, but the lost
boy vaults over him, reflexively performing a rising turn kick which
catches Ranma in the small of the back.  Ryouga spins and runs at
Ranma, who leans forward, slaps his hands into the wall and uses them
to lift up his legs and catch Ryouga with a flip kick that sends the
lost boy skidding across the road.  Ranma finishes his flip and lands
facing Ryouga, who is rising to his feet.)

Ryouga(through clenched teeth): Ranma, you idiot!  I didn't come here
to fight you (cups his hands), I came to challenge you to fight me...
(starts to raise his hands)

Ranma: (doing likewise) And you call _me_ an idiot!  That's what we're

Ryouga: ...a week from now!  SHISHI HOKODAN!

Ranma: Wha... (blinks, only remembering to raise his hands at the last
(The somewhat delayed yellow energy sphere barely manages to absorb
the green power of Ryouga's move.  The powers disperse, leaving tiny
sparks of energy and a large crater in the ground.)

Ranma: What was that?

Ryouga(growls): I came to challenge you to fight me at the school
baseball field a week from today!
(Ranma backs off a step, looking none too pleased.)

Ranma: You're challengin' me again?

Ryouga: Hai!

Ranma: (scowls) Ryouga, I'm getting sick and tired of this.  I have
more important things to do then endlessly duel you...

Ryouga(shocked): You're not accepting?

Ranma: Ryouga, I have Cologne, Amigi, Senchi and a whole bunch of
other things to worry about.  I'm fed up with you showing up every odd
Tuesday.  (dramatic spin) Fine!  If you want to fight, let's make it
worth my while to prove I'm better than you again.

Ryouga: (eyes narrow suspiciously) How so?

Ranma: Let's put everything on the line.  Promise that, when you lose,
you''ll...tell Akane the truth about P-chan!

Ryouga(horrified): What?  Why?

Ranma(sarcastically): Oh, I don't know.  Maybe I'm just getting sick
of watching her carry you around and cuddle and stroke you all the
time.  It's kinda sick, don't you think?

Ryouga: (closes his eyes) [If I lose, I must reveal my most dreaded
secret.] (a large picture of P-chan fills the background; he opens his
eyes and it is replaced by a fire which erupts behind him) [But I will
win, I _must_ win!] (points dramatically at Ranma) Very well, Ranma,
but if _I_ win, you must swear to never stand between me and Akane

Ranma: What do you mean?

Ryouga: (clenches his fist) You can't interfere between Akane and
myself.  If she chooses to go out with me, then you can't come between

Ranma: Why would I do that?

Ryouga: Just promise, Ranma!

Ranma: Fine, Ryouga.  I swear on warrior's honour.  It's not like I'll

Ryouga: (smiles) We'll see, Ranma... 

Tarou: (in his hiding place) Your overconfidence will be your undoing,
fem-boy...  (evil chuckle)


(Scene: morning, at the rocky slope where Ryouga and Tarou had their
first meeting.  The lost boy is standing, dramatically sillouhetted by
the sunrise.  Tarou holds a watch-one of those train conductor
types-which he closes with a snap.)

Tarou: [Everything is falling into place.  With the power and
techniques I'm going to teach Ryouga, he's sure to beat fem-boy...]
(We see a super-deformed image of Ranma and a similar one of Ryouga,
squaring off.  SD-Ryouga hits SD-Ranma, who falls unconscious.)

Tarou(voiceover): Then it will be simple for me to grab the helpless
(An SD-Tarou runs in, grabs SD-Ranma and runs off with him.)

Tarou(voiceover): ...transform him into Senchi...
(SD-Tarou pours a bucket over SD-Ranma, who becomes SD-Senchi.)

Tarou(voiceover): ...take the equally injured Senchi to Happousai...
(SD-Tarou drops SD-Senchi {who magically transforms in lingerie} in
front of Happousai.  Back to reality...)

Tarou: [...and get my new name.] It's time.

Ryouga: Time for what?

Tarou: (evil chuckle) Stage three.


(Ukyou walks into the dojo and watches as Ranma uses the chestnuts on
an open fire technique to beat up on a straw dummy.  Ranma stops the
technique, takes a half-step back, and thrusts out his palms.  The
yellow sphere of confidence-fuelled energy blasts it into a cloud of

Ranma(disappointed): Damn...

Ukyou: (walking over, clapping) Impressive, Ranchan.  Preparing for
your fight with Ryouga?

Ranma: Hi, Ukyou.  (looks over briefly) Nah, I can take pig-boy in my
sleep.  I'm just trying to even up the score.

Ukyou(shrewdly): Between you and Senchi?

Ranma: Yep.  (he sets up another dummy)

Ukyou: Why?  It's not as if you two will ever fight.
(crack*boom*ominous roll of thunder*)

Ranma: Wait a sec...  (turns to face Ukyou) How'd you know about
Ryouga's challenge?  I haven't told anyone yet.

Ukyou: Well, _somebody_ did.  It's all over Nerima.

Ranma: Hmm...
(He turns back and begins the Amaguriken on the dummy.)

Ukyou: [How can I get him back on last night's topic?]
(Ranma again finishes off the dummy by stopping his technique and
using the Moko Takabisha to blast the dummy.  He looks irritated.)

Ukyou: Ranchan...

Ranma: (picks up another dummy, about a dozen are strewn about) So
you're coming to watch?

Ukyou: (sighs) Hai.

Ranma(cooly): Will Pantyhose be running the shop, then?

Ukyou: Actually, he's on vacation.

Ranma(pauses; carefully): How long a vacation?

Ukyou: A week...  (she blinks)
(Ranma spinning snapkicks the dummy's head off.)

Ranma: How convenient.

Ukyou: You don't think he's involved in this, do you?

Ranma(grins): If he has to do with Ryouga challenging me, he's in for
a surprise.  Ryouga's no match for me; my track record proves that.

Ukyou: I don't know...he seems pretty serious this time.

Ranma: (turning back to the dummy) Just watch, Ucchan.  I'll beat
Ryouga, no sweat.

Ukyou: (looks pensive) If you say so...


(Scene: nightfall, a rocky plain.  Our view shows it to be empty;
however, we hear a cry from offscreen.)

Ryouga's voice: BAKUSAI TEN KETSU!
(An explosion sends a few rocks flying across the screen.  The view
shifts, and we see Ryouga straightening, his fingers in the blasting
point position.)

Ryouga: Now I'm Ranma's equal.

Tarou: (coming up behind him) You see, it's all a matter of the focus.
(evil chuckle) You're a quick study, to master all those improvements
in only two days.

Ryouga: (picks up one of the broken rocks) I must win...  (crushes the
rock into dust) ...or be forced to reveal my most dreaded secret.

Tarou: Whatever.  (he steps over and casually picks up a
beachball-sized rock) I know something of the bakusai ten ketsu, most
notably that it has no real offensive is...  (another evil
chuckle) ...but does boost your resistance to pain.

Ryouga(curiously): Hai...

Tarou: An effect which wears off over time...which leads to stage
four.  (evil chuckle the third) Cologne, if my information is correct,
bombarded you with boulders for a day to achieve that effect the first
(He tosses the rock at Ryouga, who steps back and thrusts his finger
into it with a cry.  The rock explodes.)

Ryouga: What are you doing?

Tarou: (holding a bucket) Very good.  Now, the way I see it, we have
four days...
(Splash.  Tarou-minotaur smiles disturbingly at Ryouga while hefting a
huge boulder.)

Ryouga: let's talk this over...  (the monster launches the
boulder) Oh...  BAKUSAI TEN KETSU!
(He blasts the rock from the air.  Tarou-minotaur grins and picks up a
boulder in both hands.  Ryouga holds up both hands in the blasting
point position, then gapes as each of the monster's tentacles pick up
another boulder from the huge, unnatural-looking pile behind it.  The
lost boy backs away _very_ nervously...)


(Scene: Amigi's house, more specifically the spellcasting chambers.
The magician is performing an elaborate series of gestures over a pit
out of which foul-smelling green smoke rises.  He is mumbling a long,
intricate, continuous musical chant with a strangely hypnotic rhythm.
Nearby, Tsubasa is watching with interest.)

Amigi: (pauses) Soon, Tsubasa.  Soon, Ranma will be mine.
(Tsubasa sighs, apparently having heard this many times before.)

Tsubasa: How this time?

Amigi: (dramatic flourish) Behold, the NUMERON ENCARDIA!
(Blue light forms in the pit, then bursts out in a blinding flash,
accompainied by a din like that of a thousand gunshots.  When it
clears, we see that both Amigi and Tsubasa have been fried to a crisp.
The transvestite topples over, unconscious.)

Amigi(painfully): Too...much...salt...  (collapse)


(The outside of a large apartment building; twilight.  Tzubi is
leaning against a wall near the door.  Tarou walks up to him.)

Tarou: I see you got my note.

Tzubi: (nods) And an intriguing note it was.  What's this about hiring
out my services?

Tarou: I need you to help judge an upcoming match...

Tzubi: (cocks an eyebrow) You mean the match between Ryouga and Ranma
that you set up and are helping Ryouga win?

Tarou: I see access to Nabiki's information network keeps you in the

Tzubi: (chuckles) Actually, I just did some deductive guesswork.  The
_only_ big match coming up is the Ranma/Ryouga match, you want me to
judge it because you have a stake in one of them winning, and your
past history with Ranma eliminates him.

Tarou: (evil chuckle) Not bad...not bad at all...

Tzubi(seriously): I have to tell you this, though.  I may be

Tarou: A polite way of saying money-grubber?

Tzubi: ...but I am first and foremost a Samurai.  Bushido does not
allow me to fix the match, so don't even ask.

Tarou: I wouldn't dream of it.  A victory in that way would be
meaningless to Ryouga.

Tzubi: And since when do you care about Ryouga?

Tarou: (grins) Let's just say I'm a...humanitarian at heart.

Tzubi: You and Adolf Hitler.  Very well, I'm game...

Tarou: Would you mind my asking you for one more favour?

Tzubi(curiously): Go ahead.

Tarou: Ryouga's training has come along smoothly, but I want to test
his skills against a real opponent.

Tzubi: Are you sure?  I almost killed Ryouga last time we fought.

Tarou: Oh, I've thought of that.  Here's the deal: you don't use your
ultimate technique, he won't use his Shishi Hokodan.  (evil chuckle)
That way, it should be about even...


(Scene: the Furinkan baseball diamond.  Due to the fact that a large
crowd is gathering around the field, one can assume it is the morning
of the challenge.  The actual diamond is devoid of spectators, with
Ryouga sitting yoga-style on second base.  Ukyou and Tarou approach
the field.)

Tarou: (hands behind his head) What's going on here?

Ukyou: That's right, you just got back.  (shrugs) Just another
challenge between Ranma and Ryouga.

Tarou: Fem-boy and pig-boy really don't seem to like each other.

Ukyou(absently): Hai...  (notices Ranma and the Tendos approaching)
Excuse me.  
(She wanders off in Ranma's direction.  Tarou looks after her with an
unreadable expression.)

Tarou(mutters): Hope you won't be too disappointed with Ranma's
(Ranma and Ukyou meet halfway to the "ring".  Ukyou notes Ranma has a
pensive expression.)

Ukyou: Worried about the match?

Akane: (snorts) Not likely, he's been bragging all week.  He just got
this way when we left.

Ukyou(concerned): What's wrong, Ranchan?

Ranma: (looks away) Nothing you need to know, Ukyou.  (turns toward
the field) I need to talk with Ryouga before the match.  (he walks

Akane: That's all he told us, too.  Honestly, some people are just so

Ukyou: Everyone has their secrets, Akane.  We can't blame Ranma for
keeping his.
(We follow Ranma until he reaches Ryouga, at which point he looks down
at the smiling lost boy with an almost regretful expression.)

Ryouga: Come to beg for mercy, Ranma?

Ranma: (frowns) No, I...uh...came to...apologise.

Ryouga(surprised): For what?

Ranma: For that stupid challenge.  I mean, I shouldn't have forced you
to agree with don't have to tell Akane when you lose.

Ryouga: (eyes narrow) Aren't we the confident one?  (stands up;
clenching his fist) Well I don't want your charity, Ranma!  If I lose,
I _will_ tell Akane.  But if _you_ lose, you will _not_ interfere
between Akane and me.

Ranma(backs off; angry): Fine, Ryouga!  I tried to be nice, but you
threw it in my face!  See if I go easy on you this time!

Ryouga: (chuckles; sitting down again) Do your worst, Ranma.

Ranma: (stalking back to the home plate) That jerk...try to be decent
and see where it gets you...

Ukyou: What's wrong now, Ranma?

Ranma: That idiot Ryouga!  I'm gonna wipe that smug smile right off
his face!

Akane: I don't know...he seems pretty serious this time.

Ranma: I've beat him before, and I'll do it again.

Ukyou: But what if he's mastered a new technique?

Ranma: Hmph!  The Bakusai Ten Ketsu and Shishi Hokodan didn't beat me.

Ukyou: But that's only because you had a countermove...and you always
learned about the techniques before the real match...

Ranma: Don't worry about it.  I can take him.
(Ukyou nods, and she and Akane walk away.  Soon Ukyou meets up with

Tarou: I think fem-boy's getting in over his head.

Ukyou(suspiciously): What makes you say that?

Tarou: (nods at the smiling Ryouga) I've only been around here for a
little while, but even _I_ know Ryouga is never that cocky and

Ukyou: You're right...
(Just then, Tzubi walks into the "ring" and stands on the pitcher's
mound.  His clothes are neat enough, but his face and posture show
signs of recent injury.  He holds his wakazashi in one hand, and we
note it is dented and bent slightly.  Looking around, his eyes lock on
the perfectly healthy-looking Ryouga, and they fill with surprise,
anger and more than a little fear.  Ukyou's eyes widen as Tzubi
sheathes his damaged weapon and clears his throat.)

Tzubi: This is an official match between Ranma Saotome and Ryouga
Hibiki.  The rules are simple: combatants may use any weapon,
technique or advantage they can get their hands on.  However, a winner
will only be declared if one warrior is unconscious for a full ten
count.  Understood?

Ranma: (cracks his knuckles) Yep.

Ryouga: (slowly standing up) I got you.

Tzubi: Ready?  (both combatants nod) Then... (he leaps up and away
into the crowd) FIGHT!

Ranma: (runs at Ryouga) Get ready to go _down_, pal!

Ryouga: (takes a few leisurely steps forward) Not today, Ranma.
(Ranma closes in and delivers a powerful haymaker that catches Ryouga
full in the face.  He doesn't even blink.  Ranma backs off a step in

Ryouga: The flies are pesky today, aren't they?
(He swings his umbrella in a overhand arc that Ranma avoids with ease.
He elbows Ryouga's side, but again the lost boy doesn't acknowledge

Ranma: [Is he wearing armour of some kind?]

Ryouga: (turns to face Ranma) Is that the best you can do?

Ranma: Alright buddy, you asked for this!  KACHUU TENSHIN
(Ranma fires off the fist of a thousand blows, drilling fist after
fist into Ryouga with ease while crying out at the top of his lungs.
As Ranma finally stops, tired, the lost boy smiles.)

Ryouga: Wind's picking up, I see.
(He swings his umbrella up and connects solidly with Ranma's chin,
sending the smaller boy skidding all the way back to the pitcher's

Ryouga: Had enough?

Ranma: (getting dizzily to his feet) No way, pal...

Ryouga: Good... (he raises two fingers into the air) ...cause I'm not
through yet.  (he lunges forward, his fingers connecting with the
ground at an angle) BAKUSAI TEN KETSU SHOCKWAVE!!!  
(There's a minor explosion at the tip of Ryouga's finger, and a furrow
races along the ground.  Ranma blinks in confusion, and then the
furrow strikes the mound upon which he is standing.  It explodes in a
titanic flash, hurling Ranma high into the air.  Ryouga tosses a few
bandannas at Ranma for good measure, but he manages to twist around
them and land safely.)

Ranma(doesn't seem so confident now): H-how'd you learn...

Ryouga: And that isn't all!
(He unfolds his umbrella and begins to spin it like a top.)

Ranma: Not that old trick...
(Ryouga tosses the umbrella over his head, where it hovers, then
performs the shockwave manoeuvre.  Ranma has the good sense to leap
over it this time and it rushes into the crowd, blowing Kunou into the
stratosphere.  Ryouga pulls back his first hand and uses it to clench
the still-spinning umbrella, while plunging his other hand towards the

(The breaking point technique causes a spray of rocks to fly in the
air, and Ryouga swipes through the cloud with his umbrella, sending a
multitude of rocks flying at Ranma.  Seeing he has no hope of dodging
_all_ the stones, Ranma blocks them with crossed arms.)

Ranma: (rubbing his bruised arms) [How'd he learn to do all this

Ryouga: Take this, Ranma!  (he sends his umbrella flying at Ranma, who
sidesteps but is momentarily thrown off balance by the hasty evasion)
(He begins stabbing the ground repeatedly, each time causing a tiny
flash of dust which is slowly growing bigger.  His blows come faster
and faster until they are as rapid as Ryouga can go.)

Tarou: (looks down at his feet) Uh oh...
(He quickly grabs Ukyou and leaps away from the baseball field,
landing behind the crowd.)

Ukyou: Hey!
(Ryouga stops his stabbing, and suddenly the entire baseball field
erupts as it is torn apart by the focused power of multiple blasting
point techniques.  Everyone near Ryouga is thrown off-balance, and the
less agile are flung from their feet.  Ranma, already off-balance,
falls and smashes his shoulder against the torn-up ground.  Running
forward, Ryouga launches himself upward and begins to fall towards
Ranma.  Despite the pain, he opens his eyes and sees Ryouga coming
towards him with his hands cupped, the green energy already forming in

Ranma: Shit!  (he rolls out of the way)

(The sphere of green force seems to be less bright than usual as it
tears up more of the ground, raising a cloud of dust.  Outside the
range of the Earthquake technique, Ukyou is looking suspiciously at

Ukyou: How'd you know that was coming?

Tarou: I...I... [I have a better question...] (looks away)
(Down below, the dust has cleared, revealing that Ryouga is standing
in the centre of his self-made crater.  He looks over to see that
Ranma has not only avoided the Shishi Hokodan, but is now standing
with a look of pure determination on his face.)

Ranma: So you can absorb a regular hit!  Well, let's see you absorb
this!  (he cups his palms and thrusts them forward) MOKO TAKABISHA!
(Ryouga only has enough time to cross his arms over his face before
the yellow sphere of force crashes into him like a cannon shot.
However, instead of being blasted away, Ryouga is merely forced back,
his feet digging troughs in the ground.  Ranma lowers his arms and
gapes as he sees Ryouga still standing, and looking _pissed_.)

Ryouga: That _hurt_, Ranma!
( He swings around his arm and snaps it across Ranma's face, then
follows it up by smashing his leg into Ranma's side, and driving an
elbow into his solar plexus.  Ranma flails backward and lands on the
ground with a thud.  Ryouga roars and performs another shockwave which
blows Ranma into the sky, where he is clipped by several bandannas
before crashing to earth.  He barely manages to pull himself to his

Ryouga: It's time to finish this, Ranma.

Ranma: [I don't believe it.  Is he invincible or something?]

(Ranma sees a vision of Akane and Ryouga, their arms wrapped around
each other, laughing with joy.)

Akane: Oh, thank you for finally getting rid of Ranma!

Ryouga: He'll never bother us again....Akane-chan...
(Back to reality...)

Ranma: No... (softly) Akane... (growls) NO!
(He charges Ryouga, who is so surprised that Ranma can even move, much
less attack, that he fails to evade or even block when Ranma sends a
flying pivot kick into his chin.  He staggers back with a look of

Ryouga: Nani?

Ranma: (launching a haymaker) Take this!
(Ryouga is rocked back again, with a brief cry of pain.  Ranma rushes
forward sending a flurry of blows into Ryouga: snapkicks, uppercuts,
wheel kicks, chops and elbow strikes.  He finishes by performing a
double-handed uppercut which knocks Ryouga off his feet for the first
time in the match.  However, as he's falling Ryouga sweeps Ranma's
legs out from under him and rolls to his feet.)

Ryouga(softly): What happened to my power?

Tarou: [The training must work like armour.  It can only absorb so
much punishment before breaking down.]

Ryouga: (wiping blood off his lip) So you can get past my defences.
I'm still twice your equal!

Ranma: [He's right.  If I fight him in my current condition, I'm sure
to lose.  I'm going to have to focus everything I've got on one blow
powerful enough to defeat him...] (grits his teeth) Hey P-chan!
(Ryouga growls) That's right, I'm talking to you.  You know, I bet you
couldn't find your own nose if you had a mirror.  (Ryouga looks angry;
Ranma smiles) Are you gonna fight me, or would you prefer I turn into
Senchi so you two can go someplace private?

Ryouga: How _dare_ you!  (leaps into the air, umbrella cocked back)
I'm going to crush you to dust, Ranma!

Ranma: Gotcha!  (he waits until the lost boy is directly above him)
(Ryouga "gaah's" as he sees the tornado climbing to consume him.  In
desperation, he flings his umbrella away and uses his Shishi Hokodan
to try and stop the move.  He pumps as much energy as he can into the
manoeuvre, but the whirlwind continues to inch towards him.)

Ryouga(desperately): [No!  I can't lose!  Not when I'm so close!] (he
looks across the crowd and sees Akane watching, a look of worry on her
face) Akane... [If I lose, I must tell her my most dreadful secret...]
(Vision: Akane-with a smirking Ranma at her side-is pointing angrily
at Ryouga.)

Akane: _You're_ P-chan!?  Ryouga, I _HATE_ you!
(In reality, Ryouga tosses back his head as the Hiryuu Shoten Ha
creeps up around his chest.  He is suddenly surrounded in a halo of
green light.)

Ryouga: NO!!!  Anything but that!  (eyes glow) SHISHI HOKODAN!!!
(Suddenly the tornado is blasted apart by a giant pillar of green
light that arcs high into the sky.  Ranma is slammed into the ground
by the backlash of energy.  The ki pillar maintains itself for a
moment, then collapses into an expanding shockwave.  Everyone turns to
run, but just then the Hiryuu Shoten Ha, charged to the limit with ki,
shoots up into Ryouga like a supernova.  With nobody conscious to
maintain it, the Perfect Shishi Hokodan dissipates.  Then, since no ki
remains to charge it, the Hiryuu Shoten Ha disappears and Ryouga
collapses to earth, his clothes torn apart.  Both boys lay on the
ground, unmoving.)

Tzubi: Hmm... (looks at the two of them) Very well.  ONE... (he holds
up a finger) TWO...THREE...FOUR... (both boys stir)
FIVE...SIX...SEVEN... (Ryouga begins to shake) EIGHT...NINE...

Ryouga(roars): NO!!!  (he thrusts a hand up, rolls over and begins to
rise to his knees)

Tzubi: Ten.  (he walks over to the lost boy, who seems dazed with
pain) The winner!  (he raises his arm)

Ryouga: Nani?  (blinks) I...I... (eyes widen) I _WON_!!!  I defeated
Ranma!  (throws back his head) VICTORY!  Victory is mine!  At long
lasssssttttt.... (he collapses, unconscious)

Akane: Ranma...Ryouga!  We have to get them to a hospital!

Tarou: [Here's my chance!] (he begins manoeuvring himself towards
(Suddenly, Mousse pops out of the crowd and faces Tarou.)

Mousse: Die, Ranma!

Tarou: Huh?  (he evades the first volley of weapons) What are you...

Mousse: Prepare yourself!  HAKUKEN!

Tarou: (he evades the thrust, grabs Mousse's arm and flips him into
the ground) Out of my way!
(Looking over, he sees Dr. Tofu, Akane and Ukyou helping Ranma and
Ryouga into an ambulance.)

Tarou(disgusted): Too late...

Mousse: (leaping up) How dare you!  (he leaps into the air, pulling
out a wicked-looking katana)  DIE!!!
(Tarou turns around, frantically trying to block, then blinks as he
sees Mousse crash into a conveniently placed fire hydrant.  It
explodes, sending the duck flying.)

Tarou: (eyes narrow) He almost caught me off-guard...


(Epilogue: a hospital room.  Ryouga lies in bed, a stupid smile
affixed on his face.)

Ryouga(mumbling): I beat is wonderful...what could
possibly go wrong?
(A nurse opens the door.)

Nurse: Excuse me sir, but we need to put another patient in here.
(Ryouga nods uncaringly, but his eyes widen with horror as he sees who
is residing in the bed the nurse wheel in.)

Ranma and Ryouga: Not _YOU_!!!

                        To Be Continued...

Postscript: thus ends the first chapter of the Tarou Triad.  As I
believe we mentioned before, this series is intended to take Ranma «
and twist it in new ways.  Thus, while we _could_ have copped out and
had a double-countout, we decided to give Ryouga a break.  I mean,
c'mon, he's gone through so much he deserves at least one good win.
As for Tarou himself, he isn't finished yet. Join in next time for the
next stage in our three part story arc, "Vision Quest", where Tarou
recruits a different person to render Ranma helpless for him.
Pantyhose Tarou has far from given up...
                                                  Blade and Epsilon

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