Chapter 8: Ranma vs Tarou!

                      C&A Productions Presents:

                     Ranma 1/2: Curse of Darkness
                   By Chris McNeil and Aaron Peori

                              Chapter 8

        Ranma vs. Tarou!  If you want something done right...

The story so far: In order to get his one wish, a new name, Pantyhose
Tarou must get Ranma's female half to pose for Happousai.  Thus, he
devised the plan of getting somebody to beat Ranma senseless, then
claim the equally hurt Senchi.  Unfortunately, both his pawns-Ryouga
and Mousse-failed to deliver his wish.  So finally he decided that if
you want something done right, you have to do it yourself...

Note: All characters, situations, etc. based on the original manga by
Rumiko Takahashi.

(Opening scene: a park in Nerima.  Pantyhose Tarou stands on a
two-metre tall rock performing katas; the setting sun outlines his
form.  Sweat trickles down his brow, and his face is locked in a
determined expression.)

Tarou: [Just you and me, Ranma.  One more battle and I'll have my new
name...not to mention the pleasure of beating you to a pulp.] (he
chuckles evilly) [Especially with my new technique!]
(He pulls back and points his arm at a set of five cans resting on a
rock nearly a dozen metres away.  He snaps his hand down at the bracer
on his outstretched hand...the view shows a brief glance of the sun,
and we lose sight of both Tarou and his targets.  When we see them
again, he watches as the top can falls to earth, a large dent in it.
He pulls his arm up like a rifle and smiles to himself.)

Tarou: I won't lose... (voice lowers) I can't lose... (he snaps
himself into his regular combat stance; snarls) You're going down,


(Scene: the Tendo Dojo, in the actual training hall.  Ranma has
apparently decided to take Pantyhose Tarou's challenge more seriously
than the previous two-considering how they went, that's not
surprising-since he's performing intense katas.)

Ranma: [That jerk Pantyhose...trying to get Ryouga and Mousse to beat
me up!] (he performs a particularly vicious mid-air snapkick that
sends him tumbling back, and somersaults to land on his feet) [And
using Ukyou like that!] (he decapitates a nearby practice dummy with a
powerful chop) [No way he's gonna beat me!]
(Ranma palm thrusts with one hand, and forms a softball-sized ki blast
at its climax; a part of his new combination technique which he used
to beat Mousse.)

Akane: Shouldn't you be saving your strength for the real fight?

Ranma(sneers): I'm going to tear him apart.  (he turns around, picks
up a towel and rubs the sweat off himself) After how he tricked

Akane: Ohhhh... (Ranma turns to look at her quizzically) So _that's_
why you're so determined to beat him!

Ranma: What? (realization dawns) No!  That isn't it...Ukyou's my
friend.  I'd do the same for any of them... (turns away; quietly) even

Akane: (blinks) Did you just call me your...friend, Ranma?

Ranma: [I've got to tell her sometime...] Akane...I...

Akane: Ranma...

Ranma: I just wanted to say...say...

Akane(slow and almost breathless): Say what?

Ranma: To say that...that I...

Akane: You...

Ranma: [Here goes...] I...I really think you're the jealous type...

Akane: (walking out, leaving Ranma mashed into the floor with her
mallet) Honestly!  I am _not_ jealous...


(Scene: a countryside.  Ryouga wanders along, reading an upside down
map of Egypt.)

Ryouga: I could have sworn the bathroom was this way...


(Scene: a baseball stadium.  Nabiki walks down the steps towards her
seat; Tzubi walks afterward, carrying a giant pile of chips, soba and
various other snack foods that is larger than he is.  He staggers
along, barely managing to keep his balance while retaining hold of the

Tzubi(muffled voice): How did I ever let you talk me into this?

Nabiki: I didn't _talk_ you into anything.  I won the bet fair and

Tzubi: If you call blackmailing the coach into putting laxative in the
team's water fair and square.

Nabiki: All's fair when money's involved.  Besides, who else was going
to be stupid enough to bet a day at the park with all the expenses I
want, hmm, Tzubi-kun?

Tzubi: I'll know better next time, (sarcastically) Nabiki-chan.

Nabiki: (laughs) I never knew you cared.

Tzubi(mutters): I'll show you cared...little...

Voice: Nihao!
(There is an "oof", and Tzubi drops his load, covering a considerable
number of the crowd with junk food.  They all glare at Tzubi, who is
being accosted by a certain purple-haired amazon.)

Shampoo: Shampoo find husband!

Tzubi: (grits teeth) Get off me before I hurt you.

Shampoo: (snuggles closer) Zubi-husband make funny, ne?

Tzubi: (slowly begins to draw his katana-yes, he is wearing his
daisho, this _is_ Tzubi) Remove your arm before I do it for
(Shampoo frowns, realizing that the Glomp [tm] is not having the same
effect on Tzubi that it does on Ranma.  She releases him and decides
to switch tactics.)

Shampoo: What you doing here with con-girl?

Tzubi: (smiles for just a moment) [Wouldn't _you_ like to know...]
(rolls his eyes) She tricked me into giving her an all-expenses paid
trip to the ballpark.

Nabiki: I wouldn't use tricked; how about "used subtle influence to
ensure success?"

Tzubi: (shrugs) A rose by any other name...

Shampoo: Well you say bye now, come date Shampoo!

Tzubi(cooly): You're still here?  (turns to face her) Listen, Shampoo.
I don't love you.  I will _never_ love you.  You have more chance with
a rock than you do with me.  Now scram before I call security.

Shampoo: (grins evilly) Okay, but first Shampoo make up for spill all
of Zubi-husband's food.  (she pulls out a bowl of ramen) Here, is
special ramen!
(Tzubi takes it and tosses it down the throat of a nearby audience
member who was unfortunate enough to have his mouth open.  Instantly
after swallowing the man goes all starry-eyed and looks at Shampoo
with undisguised longing.)

Man: Oh beauteous angel!  You have come to take this poor mortal to a
heaven of your love's bliss!

Shampoo: AIYA!
(While Shampoo beats off the man, Tzubi and Nabiki take this
opportunity to leave.)

Tzubi: (smirks) Well, so much for your night at the ballpark.

Nabiki: (sighs expansively) Oh well, guess I'll have to insist on
clause two.  Since I didn't see the game, you owe me 800 000 yen.

Tzubi: (facefaults) B-but I don't have...

Nabiki: (sighs again) Guess you'll have to figure out another way to
settle our bet.  Like, say...all I can eat at Chez Garcon?

Tzubi: But that'll be twice as expensive as the game!

Nabiki: (walking ahead, arms crosses behind her head) I wonder what
I'll spend that 800 000 on...

Tzubi: (sighs and throws up his hands) You win.  Chez Garcon it is.
(mutters) Last time I bet on anything with _her_...


(Scene: Ucchan's.  Ukyou is in one corner of the nearly empty
okonomiyaki-ya, talking on a phone.)

Ukyou: No, I'm sorry, our delivery service has been cancelled
indefinitely... (pause; she winces) Yes sir, I'm sorry you'll have to
take your business elsewhere too.  (she hangs up) [Damn that jerk
Tarou!  Why'd he go and leave my business in the lurch like that...]
(Outside it is early evening.  Standing outside the door is the
cloaked figure of Tarou, who seems to be lost in thought.  Finally he

Tarou: [She's just like the rest of them.  As soon as she finds out
that I challenged fem-boy, she fires me.] (face becomes stern) [Well,
I won't give her the pleasure of doing it face to face.] (he turns and
begins to walk away) [Besides, once I've got my new name, nothing will
hold me here.  I don't need her job.]
(Back in the restaurant, Ukyou is sweeping up.  She seems to be
disappointed with the dismal crowd in the place.)

Ukyou: If business keeps going downhill like this...

Voice: Charge!
(A nearby potted plant glomps Ukyou, who closes her eyes and begins to

Tsubasa-plant: Oh, Ukyou-sama!  I finally got a vacation from
Amigi-sensei!  Now we can...
(Ukyou proceeds to do several unpleasant things to Tsubasa before
sending him flying into geosynchronous orbit-causing the people in
NASA to wonder about the Japanese space agency-and then walks back in,
patting her hands.)

Ukyou: I feel _much_ better now.


(Scene: the Tendo household.  It is early morning, and Ranma is sound
asleep on his futon.  Genma walks in and picks him up; Ranma continues
to snore undisturbed.  Genma then takes him downstairs, opens up the
freezer and shoves Ranma's head inside.  He instantly wakes up and
begins flailing his arms in panic.)

Ranma: YAAAH!!  Cold!

Genma: (pulling him out) Wake up, boy.  You should be training, not
sleeping the day away.
(Ranma knees Genma in the stomach and palm thrusts him, knocking the
stunned man over.)

Ranma: Don't _do_ that!

Genma: (sitting up) You have to defend the honour of the Saotome
school of martial arts!

Ranma: I'm gonna win this fight, pop, but not for you!

Genma: (stands, tears rolling down his cheeks) How ungrateful!  My son
won't even defend his father's honour, after all he's done...

Ranma(growls): Right, pop...let's see, there's my two fiancees, and
the cat thing, and Ryouga... (eyes light up) Oh, and let's not forget

Genma: (backing up) Heh... (sweatdrop) Now, boy...
(Ranma punts Genma through a convenient wall, then stalks out to the
dining room.  He sits down with a grunt and begins eating his miso

Nabiki: Who died?

Ranma: Pop, if he don't stop buggin' me...
(Akane glares at Ranma, apparently still miffed over his comment
yesterday.  Ranma, however, doesn't notice.  This, of course, only
serves to make her angrier.  At this point, Ryouga wanders in from
upstairs and heads towards the table, still holding his upside-down
map of Egypt.)

Ryouga: Now where's the dojo...

Kasumi: Why hello Ryouga, have a seat.
(Ryouga jumps with a cry of surprise and lands on the table,
scattering the various glasses, bowls and cutlery.  There is a

Ryouga: K-kasumi?

Kasumi: (looking behind Ryouga) Oh my...
(Suddenly, Ryouga is glomped from behind by Senchi, who has an empty
glass perched on her head.)

Senchi: Ryouga-chan!  I'm so glad to see you!

Ryouga: GAAH!  (clenches fist) Every time...EVERY TIME!!!

Senchi: (pouts) You'd think you weren't happy to see me...

Ryouga: What do you think!?
(The others have continued eating, having decided that Senchi is too
busy with "Ryouga-chan" to bother them.  Just then, Senchi releases
Ryouga and steps back; this surprises him immensely.)

Senchi: (sighs) Fine, if you don't want to be nice...I've got other
stuff to take care of anyway.

Ryouga: Y-you do?

Senchi: (nods) Important things, like... (shouts) KILLING AKANE
(Senchi whips around and sends a shuriken at Akane, who just sits
dumbfounded.  Thankfully, this series doesn't become dark as Ryouga
swings out his umbrella and catches the projectile.)

Ryouga(angrily): What do you think you're doing!?

Senchi: (leaps out of range) Tying up loose ends, Ryouga-chan.  After
all, I have nothing _better_ to do...

Ryouga: I won't let you!  I'll defend Akane with my last dying breath!

Senchi: _All_ the time?  (Senchi smiles; Ryouga falters) Oh well.  I
don't want to go through you, so I'll take care of some _other_
(She leaps out, leaving Ryouga to stare after her.)


(Scene: noon at the Nekohanten.  Shampoo is busy cleaning up the mess
left by the lunch crowd when Cologne pogos in)

Cologne(in Chinese): {Great-granddaughter, I must speak with you.}

Shampoo(also in Chinese): {Yes, what is it?} (she stands up)

Cologne: {I want you to give Senchi a wide berth for awhile.}

Shampoo: {But Senchi is Ranma...}

Cologne: {In more ways than one, I'm afraid.  Let us simply say she is
too dangerous right now.  I already have a plan in motion to
neutralize her, but...I suggest you concentrate on your other fiancee
for now.}

Shampoo(sadly): {Aiya...Zubi said he didn't like Shampoo...} (perks
up; Japanese) That okay, he must joke make!  Shampoo clear
Zubi-husband's head with potion!

Cologne: As you wish.  Remember though, stay away from Senchi.

Shampoo: (nods) Hai, o-baba!  (she leaves)

Cologne: [Now to contact Hairspray...]


(Scene: Ucchan's.  Ukyou is saying goodbye to the last of the lunch
crowd as a man in a tan coat and slacks walks up to her.)

Man: Why did you discontinue your delivery service?  It was great!

Ukyou: (sighs) Our delivery boy...uh...disappeared...

Man: The guy with the blue vest?  I saw him practising at the park...
(Ukyou pushes him out; the guy starts to protest but she closes the
door on him, an angry expression on her face.)

Ukyou(mutters): Leave me without so much as a notice, huh?  I'm going
to give Pantyhose Tarou a piece of my mind!
(She grabs her combat spatula and stalks out.  Hidden in the shadows
at the back of the restaurant, Senchi watches her depart.)

Senchi: (smiles evilly) [Too bad you're Ranma's friend...can't let him
have any _good_ things...] (she takes out a tanto-a curved dagger-and
starts after her) [Now, let's just wait until you leave the crowds...]


(Scene: a street somewhere in Nerima.  Shampoo walks along, a bottle
of some liquid in her hands which she is idly playing with.  Turning
around a corner, she promptly slams into someone coming the other way.
Both stagger back and Shampoo drops the bottle, which shatters.)

Shampoo(angry): Stupid!  Now look what you do!  That priceless family
(That and the 5000 other love potions.  But she notices who it is and
trails off.  It is Mousse, and he is looking at her strangely while
carrying a beautifully arranged bouquet of roses.)

Mousse: Ukyou?

Shampoo: [Mousse?  Aiya!  Mousse!] Mousse, is Shampoo!  You strong,
beat Shampoo and Ryouga... (hesitates) You want go on date?

Mousse(voice drops to absolute zero): Oh, _you_.  (he shoves her aside
rudely) Out of my way, woman.

Shampoo: (blinks) Aiya?  But Mousse, you beat Shampoo, now can date...

Mousse: (stops, his back to her) You lost your chance, Shampoo.  Find
some other fool to be your punching bag. _I_, for one, am _not_
(He walks off, leaving Shampoo staring after him.)

Shampoo: (bites lower lip) But Mousse... (he walks out of earshot;
bows head) Mousse...


(Scene: the park.  Tarou is smashing his fists into a tree, grunting
with the exertion.  As he does so, a figure comes up behind him.)

Voice: So _this_ is where you've been hiding.

Tarou: (stops) I prefer the term training.  (he slowly turns to face
his boss) So you've come to do it in person?

Ukyou: Do _what_ in person?

Tarou: (short pause) Aren't you going to fire me for attacking your
(sneers) "Ranchan"?

Ukyou(angry): If you think I'll fire an employee for personal reasons,
you don't know me very well.

Tarou: (caught off-guard) Nani?

Ukyou: Just because you feel the need to fight my fiancee doesn't mean
I hate you; for crying out loud, I knew about your rivalry with Ranma
_before_ I hired you!  (more calmly) This really isn't much of a
surprise to me.

Tarou(curiously): Then why did...

Ukyou(angry again): To chew you out for skipping work, you jackass!
(Tarou stares at her for a moment, then finally shakes his head in

Tarou: I've never met anyone quite like you...

Ukyou: You'd better... 
(She looks up in sudden surprise as her senses pick up danger.  There,
descending like a bird of prey, is Senchi, her tanto held forward.
Ukyou's reflexes take over and she leaps away; Senchi lands with
cat-like grace and glares at her, an evil smile curling her lips.)

Senchi: Sorry to interrupt, Tarou, but Ukyou and I have unfinished
(Ukyou pulls out her combat spatula, but does not seem too reassured
at its presence.  Tarou looks back and forth between the two as Senchi
begins to circle her prey.)

Ukyou: [Great.  If I try to run, she'll just use shuriken to mow me
down.  What am I going to do?]

Senchi(charging): Prepare to die, Kuonji!
(She lashes out and Ukyou deflects with her spatula, but Senchi simply
pivots forward and rams a knee into Ukyou's stomach while she tries to
recover.  Ukyou buckles, the wind knocked out of her, as Senchi raises
her tanto for the killing blow...only to be knocked aside by Tarou at
the Last Possible Second {tm}.)

Senchi(rolling to her feet): What do you think you're doing!?

Tarou(cooly): Saving my meal ticket.

Senchi: I'd have thought you learned your lesson from the last time we

Tarou: (evil chuckle) Oh, I learned my lesson all right...
(Senchi clenches her fists and steps forward, legs spread for easy
mobility.  Tarou gets into his own Cotton Fist offensive posture.
Then Senchi rolls forward, coming up under Tarou's guard with both
fists cocked back, nails protruding from between her fingers.)

Ukyou: TAROU!

(She cries out and slams her spiked fists into Tarou's chest
repeatedly.  There is the click-tickety-clickity of metal striking
metal and Senchi stops, staring in shock at her nails, which are bent
and broken.  As she does so, Tarou slams a fist into her face and
sends her flying, to land heavily on her back.)

Ukyou: (looking relieved but surprised) How...

Tarou: (evil chuckle; taps vest) Chainmail undercoat.
(Senchi regains her feet, and she does _not_ look happy.)

Senchi: Okay pal, now I'm _mad_!
(She charges at Tarou and performs a dropkick.  He dodges and swings
out an elbow, but Senchi isn't there, as she crouches under his blow
and uppercuts him while leaping.  He falls back, but regains his
balance and spins around with a foreknuckle to catch her when she
lands.  Senchi manages to land on his arm and sweeps her foot out;
Tarou lolls his head back under the sweep and drops his arm.  Senchi
leaps away and lands in offensive posture, while Tarou returns to his
fighting stance.)

Senchi: You're good.

Tarou: (smirks) Good enough to defeat you.  (he raises his arm again;
disappointed) Was saving this for fem-boy, _but_...
(He slams his hand on the edge of his bracer, and there is a metallic
sproing as a metal bar flies from the bracer and slams into Senchi's
shoulder.  She grunts in pain, but rushes in again with a cry.  Tarou
waits with a calm smile and almost casually snaps out his palm to meet
her, but pays for his overconfidence as Senchi slides under his arm,
reaches up to clasp his wrist and shoves a foot into his stomach,
causing him to give a "whouf" as the air is forced from his lungs.
She then throws Tarou across the field.  He twists in midair to avoid
injury, but Senchi is fast, and as he lands she dropkicks him and
sends him tumbling back.  Lashing out, he snatches her foot before she
can land and slams her into the ground as he's falling, then proceeds
to drop an elbow on her neck.  Senchi rolls away, coming up with a
roundhouse to keep Tarou out of range.)

Tarou: Ready to give up?

Senchi: Against _you_?  (she laughs)
(Tarou takes this opportunity to launch a punch at her, but Senchi was
apparently playing possum, as she twists out of the way and slams a
palm into his throat.  Tarou chokes as he suddenly finds it hard to
breathe.  Senchi then backflips, smashing her feet into Tarou's jaw
one after the other, and then lands elegantly and sweeps out his legs
as he staggers.  Tarou rolls back and springs to his feet, growling at
the smirking Senchi.)

Tarou: That is _it_!  Now I'm serious!
(Tarou comes in at Senchi and the two begin to exchange blows with
increasing speed.  They walk back and forth, feinting, parrying and
dodging each other's blows with a grace that no ballet could ever
capture.  Finally Tarou lands a blow on Senchi's chest {nasty, yes,
but this is Tarou}, and then as she gasps in pain follows it up with
an uppercut and a double-palm thrust which sends her flailing back.
He capitalizes on her brief disorientation to launch a series of
devastating blows that end with him tossing her into a tree.  She
groans and climbs to her feet, her eyes narrowing.  Tarou chuckles
evilly and launches a dropkick, but Senchi responds by whipping out
her tanto and slashing it up, digging a bloody groove in Tarou's foot.
He cries out in pain and lands, hopping back on one foot like a
flamingo.  Senchi's hand starts to glow black.)

Tarou: [Hmph.  Time for the big guns.]
(He snaps his fist into the bracer he didn't use the first time.
Senchi rolls away, only to realize that she isn't his intended target.
Tarou's launched rod instead hits an almost completely concealed valve
in a nearby tree and sends it spinning.  Immediately, several dozen
water sprinklers pop out of strategic locations on the lawn.  The
result is fairly predictable.)

Senchi: (gazing up at the hovering Tarou-minotaur) Methinks the odds
have changed...  (she dodges as he swings a tentacle at her, and leaps
away and up into the branches of a tree) Perhaps another time,
(She laughs and bounds away.  Tarou, with his bleeding hoof, decides
not to follow.  Ukyou runs over.)

Ukyou: Quick, we have to get you to Dr. Tofu's...
(Tarou snorts and flies off in the direction of the aforementioned
acupuncturist.  Ukyou stares after him.)

Ukyou(grumbles): Macho jerk...


(Scene: the Tendo household.  Akane and Nabiki are sitting at the
table talking while Ryouga stands nearby.  He has his umbrella out,
and is scanning the room with his eyes.)

Ryouga: [Must protect Akane, must not let Senchi hurt her.  Must
protect Akane, must not...]

Akane: What am I going to do, Nabiki?

Nabiki: 500 yen.

Akane: My _life_ is in danger here!

Nabiki: (snaps her fingers) Right, I almost forgot!  1000 yen.
(Akane facefaults, then grudgingly hands over the money.)

Nabiki: I have no idea, and even if I did I'm not taking on Senchi
openly. (smiles) I'll let you know if anything comes to mind, though.

Akane: But I just...

Nabiki: ...paid me for my input, and you got it.  Sayonara, sis.  Take
care of yourself.  
(She leaves, while Akane fumes.)

Ryouga: [...protect Akane, must not let...]
(Akane stands up to go talk to Ryouga, when suddenly a figure drops
from the ceiling and lands in front of her.)

Akane: Senchi!
(Ryouga spins around, but is too slow, as Senchi's hand flashes out at
Akane's face...)

Ryouga: AKANE!!!
(...and Senchi pokes Akane on the forehead with one finger, then steps
back, a cutsie smile on her face.)

Senchi(playfully): You're dead.
(Ryouga and Akane take a few seconds to adjust to this; Akane recovers

Akane: Senchi, you...

Senchi: ...spared your life?  Hai.

Ryouga: But...but...
(Senchi turns to Ryouga with an evil smile.)

Senchi: I figured out a way Akane can be more use to me alive than
dead, Ryouga-chan.

Ryouga: (gulps) Y-you have?

Senchi: (sauntering up to him) Y'see, I just proved you can't save her
from me, right?

Ryouga: Uh...

Senchi: So I was thinking..."What would Ryouga trade for Akane's

Ryouga(aghast): You wouldn't!

Senchi: The choice is simple, Ryouga-chan.  You go on a date with me,
or Akane dies.

Ryouga: I...I... [For Akane, I'd give up my own life, but this...]
I...I'll... (bows head) I'll do it.  (he finishes with his voice so
low it's almost inaudible)

Senchi: Great!  (seems elated) It's a date!

Akane(stunned): Ryouga...

Senchi: Well, I'm off then!  Jya ne!  
(She skips out, saying hello pleasantly to Kasumi as she leaves.)

Akane: Ryouga, you'd do that...

Ryouga: (looking up; their eyes meet) [I'd do anything for you...]
(They look at each other for a long moment as the dramatic tension
builds up.  Then...)

Akane:'d do that despite what Ranma will say?
(Ryouga face-faults.)


(Scene: Dr. Tofu's clinic.  Tarou-in human form-sits on a bed while
the doctor examines his foot.)

Tofu: This is a pretty deep cut.

Tarou(sarcastically): No, really?  (Tofu frowns) Sorry, reflex action.
Can you fix it?

Tofu: (sits up) Well, I'm an acupuncturist, not a surgeon.  But I
think I can stitch it up, and apply a few pressure points to dull the
pain and speed the healing.

Tarou: (nods) Good.

Tofu: But I suggest you not do anything involving a lot of moving
around for awhile. (Tarou raises an eyebrow) If you put too much
pressure on that foot, you _could_ rupture some of the healing blood
vessels and start to bleed internally.

Tarou: (pauses) Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ignore your
advice, doctor.

Tofu: (while cleaning the wound) If you're not careful, you _could_
lose your life.  Is whatever-it-is worth that?

Tarou: (eyes go flinty) That's the only thing I've yet to give up,
doctor.  The only thing I have left to gamble.

Tofu: (looks up at Tarou) Nothing is worth risking everything.
(Tarou looks at Tofu with a strange glint in his eyes.  On anybody
else, one might mistake it for sadness, but this is Tarou.)

Tarou: (with an almost imperceptible catch in his voice) Perhaps
doctor, but what is your advice to a man who _has_ nothing?  No
family, no friends, no possessions, no home, nothing but desire for
that one thing?  What, then, does he have to lose?
(They stare at each other for a long moment, and then Dr. Tofu
continues to work in silence.)


(Scene: the next day, at Ucchan's.  Ukyou seems to be preoccupied with
something as she ushers the last of the breakfast crowd out of her
shop.  Then Ranma enters, and her mood skyrockets.)

Ukyou: Ranchan!

Ranma: Yo, Ucchan.

Ukyou: So what brings you here?

Ranma: Uh...well...oh, never mind.  You wouldn't know where he is.

Ukyou: (blinks) Where who is?

Ranma: Pantyho... (he is slammed from behind, sending him stumbling

Tarou: (standing where Ranma used to be) I'm right here, fem-boy.

Ranma: (rubbing his head) Hey, what are _you_ still doing here?

Ukyou: (sighs) He's staying here...

Ranma: Nani!?  (points at Tarou) You're letting that lying, cheating,
manipulative little jerk stay here?

Ukyou: (sighs, but determined)Tarou-kun saved my life, Ranma, and
nearly crippled himself in the process.  The least I could do is offer
him room and board.
(For the first time, Ranma notices the heavy swath of bandages on
Tarou's foot.)

Ranma: How did...

Tarou(sneers): Your other half was out playing again.  (Ranma
blanches) No telling how much damage she did.

Ranma: (after a moment) Hey, you want to call
off the fight...

Tarou(flares up): You're not weaselling your way out of this one,

Ranma: Hey, _Pantyhose_, I was just trying to be considerate...

Tarou: Yeah, right.  The last time you were considerate enough to
"help" me, I almost ended up fried!  Forget it, fem-boy!

Ranma: Fine!  You want to fight?  Why wait, let's do it right now!

Ukyou: Uh...

Tarou: Fine by me!

Ukyou: Guys...
(Ranma and Tarou both launch punches at each other, only to have them
connect with a resounding clang against Ukyou's spatula.  Both pull
back their hands with a murmured "itte" and stare at her.)

Ukyou: Could you take this outside?

Ranma: Su...

Ukyou: Or better yet, don't take it anywhere at all.

Ranma: Nani?

Ukyou: Why are the two of you even fighting?  What point does it

Tarou: (cracks knuckles) Once I pound fem-boy here, I'll be able to
get a new name.

Ranma: Howzat?

Tarou: Simple.  I take your bloody carcass, transform it into a girl,
and drop it in front of Happousai.

Ranma: You'll WHAT!?

Tarou: A simple solution, ne?  And in return, I get a new name.

Ranma: Over my dead body!  
(Tarou shrugs, obviously unconcerned.)

Ukyou: But even if you beat Ranma, you won't be in any shape to
take...uh...her anywhere!  Plus, I'd have to stop you.

Tarou: (snorts) Like _you_ could... (stops as he notices her
determined expression; forced) Fine, but I want fem-boy here to agree
to do anything he can to help me get a new name.

Ranma: (after a few moment's thought, he smiles) Fine, Pantyhose...
(Tarou growls) ...but only if _you_ agree to leave Nerima if you lose,

Ukyou: Ran...

Tarou: (eyes narrow) You're on, fem-b...
(Ranma holds up a hand to cut him off.)

Ranma: And I'll only agree if it's a fair fight.  Man against man, not
man against monster.

Tarou: Very well.  I won't splash myself, but only if you agree not to
use your Hiryuu Shoten Ha.

Ranma: But that's...

Tarou: Part of your regular arsenal?  So's _my_ cursed form.  Then
again, you know a lot about using your cursed form, don't you, freak?

Ranma(low, deadly tone): Done.  Anything to get _you_ out of Nerima.
(he stalks off)

Tarou: See you tomorrow, fem-boy.


(Scene: a dark, mysterious plain, where a mysterious glow surrounds a
mysterious man who carries a mysterious book full of-what
else?-mysterious writing about mysterious things.  The mysterious man
then walks off a mysterious cliff and falls several hundred mysterious
metres-while mysteriously screaming-to his mysterious death.)

(A mysteriously pointless scene.)


Scene: the next day.  Ranma is in the dojo; a good crowd has gathered
for the latest fight, which promises to be a spectacle. As one might
guess, it is the ever-so-cliched time set aside for all battles of
honour.  Sunrise. Ukyou sits near Ranma, a worried expression on her
face; Akane stands slightly closer, her expression vying between worry
and annoyance. As the small group watches Tarou strides in, his foot
still bandaged but a confident sneer on his face.)

Tarou: (flexing his fingers) You ready to go down, fem-boy?

Ranma: (cracks his knuckles) I'm going to enjoy this.
(And that's it for the preamble, Ranma and Tarou step forward into the
dojo and take up offensive stances. There is no judge this time, none
is needed or wanted.  Both contestants know this is a fight to a
finish, a battle to the bitter end, where whoever walks away is the
victor.  Standing stock still they lock eyes.  Tarou's smirk widens
self-confidently and Ranma snarls with something approaching rage...)

Ranma: (thinks) [How dare this jerk fool Ucchan... and manipulate
Ryouga and team up with Mousse and... and... and call me FEM-BOY!!]
(The two continue to stare at each other, locked like two statues in a
mental contest as important as any physical one. The two seem to
solidify, both becoming aspects of some great power, two opposing
forces that silently will the other to cease to be, two particles of
matter and anti-matter, pausing briefly before mutual
self-destruction.  Everyone looks on, barely breathing, as if afraid
the tiniest sound would release this storm of pent up power and
annihilate all of Nerima.  The tension seems to crackle between the
two martial artists like a high voltage electric field.  The staredown
continues-much like this rambling narrative-until finally it breaks.
No one can quite figure out who twitched first.  Whether it was a
slight blink on Ranma's part or an imperceptible shift of position by
Tarou, the end result is the same.  Tarou comes charging forward and
lashes out with a stiff fore-knuckle fist.  Ranma barely moves to the
side, caught off-guard by the speed at which Tarou covered the ground,
almost as if he had teleported.  Ranma swings with his own momentum
and thrusts a knee up, attempting to catch his opponent in the ribs,
but Tarou shows off his amazing dexterity as he manages to twist his
body out of the path of the blow and swing his already extended fist
in pursuit of Ranma.  Ranma continues and comes up under the strike.
With a fierce kiya he launches himself in a high overhead flip,
lashing out with a wheel kick at Tarou. Tarou falls to his knees to
avoid a blow to the jaw and lashes out with a high jab. Ranma is not
there to receive it, however, as he follow through on the backflip,
placing himself out of combat range.  Tarou smirks and casually
regains his feet. They begin to circle each other, looking for

Akane: It looks like Ranma's decided to take this fight more seriously
than the last two.

Nabiki: After the pounding he took?  I'm not surprised.   After all,
even monkeys learn eventually.

Tzubi: (watching the fight and polishing his wakazashi) Ranma has some
good form... but he's no match for Tarou.

Ukyou: Oh? And what would you say are the odds here?

Tzubi: (slides his sword into its sheath) Same as Nabiki's odds, 3 to
2 for Tarou.

Nabiki: (sighs) And I only stand to make a small fortune off this

Ukyou: And what are the _real_ odds?

Nabiki: (mock surprise) Ukyou, I'm shocked! Do you think I would cheat
my costumers by giving them false information? (Ukyou just looks at
Nabiki with a raised eyebrow; she smiles) Of course I would.

Ukyou: That didn't answer my question.

Nabiki: That's right, it didn't. (smirks)
(Ukyou sighs in exasperation and turns back to the fight, to see that
the opponents are now exchanging blows, more seriously than before.
Ranma is coming in with rapid and precise punches and kicks, all of
which Tarou is evading while counterattacking with supple and arcing 
punches of all kinds, none of which are hitting Ranma.  Finally Tarou
manages to force Ranma away and off-balance, then delivers a rapid
palm thrust.  Ranma, realizing he can't evade this,
lashes out with his elbow and brings it down on Tarou's wrist just as
his stomach takes the brunt of the impact.  Ranma is pushed back by
the blow, and Tarou merely sneers, apparently uninjured.)
Ranma: (thinks) [I'm not going to beat him with speed... he's too good
for that. I'll have to rely on power!]
(While Ranma was thinking Tarou lashes out.  Feinting with an elbow,
he slides out his foot and strikes at Ranma's shin.  A moment ago this
might have worked, but Ranma has changed tactics. He dodges under the
non-existent elbow and easily dances over the sweep, then ducks in
under Tarou's guard and comes in close, cupping his palms)

Ranma: Hah!  MOKO... (his cupped hands begin to glow as yellow ki
begins to form) TAKA... (Tarou's eyes widen and then narrow; he is too
close to leap away or backpeddle without getting tagged. Coming to a
quick decision he snaps out his arms and secures them to the top of
Ranma's shoulders, his muscles cording) BISHA!!!
(Ranma thrusts his palms forward as Tarou strains at his arms, his
feet begin to lift off the floor...the sphere of emotionally charged
ki bursts from Ranma, while Tarou begins to flip upward, using Ranma's
shoulders like a balance beam.  Time seems to crawl to a standstill.
Ukyou watches the blast roar outward in slow motion as Tarou's body
arcs up agonizingly slowly.  The ki comes forward, driving itself
closer and closer to Tarou's skin, so close that some of the folds of
his chinese-style pants are burnt away by it...and with an almost
physical impact time resumes as Tarou rises safely over the blast,
perched ruler-straight above Ranma's head, with the yellow sphere of
Ranma's confidence filling the space between him and the floor.  With
a minute shift of his hands Tarou shifts his grip and begins to
descend behind Ranma, who with his confidence momentarily shattered
watches as the sphere bursts apart and disappears.  Tarou lands and
crouches, going down to one knee with his arms still clasping Ranma's
shoulders.  With a grunt of effort he rips Ranma from the floor,
flipping him in a high 180 degree arc that ends with his opponent's
face in the ground. Ranma turns over and kicks to his feet.  Tarou,
however, has leaped back and waits with a calm look of unconcern.
Ukyou chews her lip, unable to say anything.)

Ranma: (stalks forward) Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy...

Tarou: Oh? So you were going easy on me?

Ranma: (smirks) Of course.

Tarou: I knew you were stupid fem-boy, but that was...even Ryouga
knows enough to always give one hundred percent. (evil chuckle) I
guess that's why he beat you...

Ranma: Why you... 
(He charges forward; Tarou has inconspicuously placed himself against
the wall.  Ranma leaps and comes down with a sizzling drop
kick...which Tarou catches in mid-air.  Forced back by the momentum,
Tarou is however braced against the wall and easily maintains his
footing.  But he overcompensates a little too much and is forced to
put almost all his weight on his bad foot.  With a grunt of pain he
swings Ranma like a baseball bat at the wall.  Ranma goes limp and
plays out his arms.  Instead of crashing into the wall like a block of
wood he manages to bounce himself of it with little damage.  Tarou
grunts and swings Ranma at the floor, but this time he is ready.  With
a fierce cry he swings his body up, almost doubling himself over
backwards and clasps both arms around Tarou's head.  With a whipping
sound Ranma's spine uncoils and Tarou is flung high over Ranma's head
and sent sailing clear across the dojo.  He manages to land upright,
but winces as he touches down on his bad foot.  Stepping forward, he
leaves a tiny smear of blood on the floor.)

Tarou: [This isn't going as well as I expected...] (smiles) [Guess
I'll have to use my secret weapon.]
(Tarou slips to the side as Ranma throws a kick at where his face used
to be, then smirks as Ranma skids past. With his trademarked evil
chuckle he slams his good foot into a floor board. In response, the
floor board further along flies up... right under Ranma. This has the
effect of throwing the young budoka off balance and straight into
Tarou's waiting elbow. Ranma jerks himself back, successfully rolling
with the impact.)

Ranma: You cheating little....

Tarou: (evil chuckle) You only said I couldn't transform myself,

Ranma: I've had...

Tarou: Of course, I'm sure Senchi would be much better at this...

Ranma: Huh?

Tarou: Since she's sooooo much smarter than you...
(Ranma growls and launches himself at Tarou. Tarou taps the wall board
he was standing next to and leap frogs over Ranma, being careful to
land on his good foot. The increased momentum from Tarou's leap frog
slams Ranma into the wall, which promptly falls over on top of
him...or at least 
that section of it does.)

Tarou: It's amazing what some careful work with a saw can do... (evil

Ranma: (lifting up the board) You jerk... I'll make you pay...

Tarou: I thought that was Nabiki's department.  Or do you let your
father pimp for you?

Ranma: (just...just infuriated) YOOUU!!! 
(With a herculean effort Ranma sends the wall board spinning at Tarou
like  a discus. Tarou pulls back, not prepared for this, and attempts
to dodge...but his foot seems too heavy, and drags too much.  With a
resounding (THAK!) the board slams into Tarou's shoulder, sending him
reeling back) 

Ranma: GOTCHA!!! (Ranma leaps at Tarou, sending out a flurry of
punches which the overbalanced martial artist is barely able to
counter) What's the matter Pantyhose? Little slow 
on your feet?

Tarou: (backing up) Nice try...fem-boy...but not good enough!!! 
(He lashes out, slamming a bracer into Ranma's shoulder, but at the
same time Ranma sweeps his leg, striking him on the ankle of his good
foot and forcing Tarou to leap back onto his bad one. With a cry of
real pain Tarou finds himself thrown off balance again... long enough
for Ranma to charge in, apparently not feeling his injury)

Ranma: It's payback time, you jerk! KACHUU TENSHIN AMAGURIKEN!!!!! 
(Ranma's fists flash out at speeds too fast for the human eye to
follow, and Tarou finds himself caught in the onslaught, unable to do
much more then throw his hand protectively in front of his face. Ranma
charges in, drilling mercilessly at Tarou, a wide self-satisfied smirk
on his face.)

Ranma: (thinks) [You're going DOWN!!! Down for everything you've done
to me and my friends!!!!]

Ukyou: (on the sidelines; under her breath) Ranma what are you're killing him...

Senchi: (in Ranma's head) [Nice, Ranma...I didn't know you had it in

Ranma: Wha... 
(Realizes what he's doing and how bad Tarou looks, and begins to slow
down... but then...)

Tarou: THIS ISN'T OVER!!! 
(With a cry he sweeps his arms out, knocking Ranma's hands to the side
{though taking a few punches in the process}, then leaps up and twists
in mid-air to deliver a devastating kick that strikes Ranma straight
in the mouth. There is a flash...and a stream of bright red that
stands out like paint on a blank canvas flies from the site of impact.
Akane gasps in concern, Ukyou sucks in her breath with a sharp
hiss...and Tarou hits the floor like a ton of bricks, his foot wound
now bleeding profusely from the sudden jarring impact.)

Ranma: Now you'll have to... 
(He runs towards Tarou... only to find his face implanted on Tarou's
upraised good foot. Tarou smirks, obviously quite conscious, and just
as obviously able to fight)

Tarou: Idiot... (with a piston like pump of his leg he sends Ranma
spiralling across the room to land against the wall. He then clambers
to his feet and stands like a flamingo, ready for Ranma.) Nice moves,
fem-boy.  Trying to win the belly-flop contest?

Ranma: That's the LAST time you make a fool of me...

Tarou: You do a good enough job of that yourself fem-boy...

Ranma: That's IT!!!  You're _finished_, Pantyhose!
(Ranma clenches his fists, and rushes forward, they begin to flicker
with yellow light)

Tarou: (hops into the corner; thinks) [I'll only have one chance at
this... if only my foot wasn't....]
(Ranma comes in, both arms held low and the glow beginning to get
brighter. His eyes gleam, reflecting his smirk. Tarou waits, his
expression cool and aloof, his tightly pressed lips curled 
ever so slightly. Than Ranma charges into range...)

(His arms flash forward, the fists uncurling long enough to emit tiny
spheres of yellow confident ki.  Tarou dodges, once, twice, a third
time, then with an evil chuckle grabs Ranma's extended arm and steers
it straight into the wall.  With a bang it blows open, something
hidden inside popping like a water balloon. But Tarou has turned his
guard, if only for a second, and Ranma's free hand slams into his side
and releases a blast of ki that throws Tarou outside. However, Tarou
hasn't released his grip, and Ranma too is dragged through the shower
of debris...and water...)

Kasumi: Oh my...

Akane: RANMA!!! (she runs to the hole)
(The others also run over, and look out upon the now dramatically
altered conflict. The nimble form of Senchi is clinging to the back of
the monstrous Tarou, while his tentacles wave about in flashing arcs
meant to dislodge her. But Senchi is too fast for the wiggling
appendages, giving her time to slip between the coils. Tarou grunts,
and then lifts himself skyward, gaining altitude at a fantastic rate.
The spectators watch, speechless, as the two disappear, forms blurring
into the rising sun.)

Ukyou: (thinks) [Tarou...Ranma...what if he gets hurt?]
(Meanwhile, high above the ground, the battle continues, as Tarou's
writhing tentacles snatch for the elusive Senchi in an all too serious
game of cat and mousse. Finally however, Senchi's lightning speed
gains the upper hand, and she leaps up, circling around one of the
tentacles like an uneven bar, and rolls over to land firmly seated on
Tarou's broad neck. With fluid movements she grasps a horn with one
hand, and presses her palm against the back of Tarou's head.)

Senchi: (in a calm voice, but loud enough to carry over the wind) Feel
that?  That's my hand. (the hand glows black) And _that's_ just what
you think it is.  I'd say, at this range, a little blast should
decorate this entire district with Pantyhose tartar...
(The tentacles stop, and one swings around in front of Senchi, it
doubles over and points pointedly (pun intended) downward. Senchi
looks at the ground far below...)

Senchi: So we're at an impasse... which means we have a chance to talk
privately as well. (there is an inquisitive grunt from the minotaur)
I've been thinking about you have been the biggest thorn
in my side, my single most challenging adversary.  (the minotaur
snorts sarcastically)
And I've been wondering why. (a curious moo) What I mean is, why are
we enemies?

Tarou: ...

Senchi: Gods only know I have few allies...

Tarou: [More like none, if I recall my math...]

Senchi: But I think I'll need one. (she leans in closer) I've heard
why you want to beat up Ranma. (hisses) So you should know this...I'll
do anything...ANYTHING it takes to survive. (Tarou is silent while
Senchi regains her composure, he circles back towards the dojo; Senchi 
resumes in a calmer voice) So what do you say? You scratch my back,
I'll scratch yours... (she looks where she's sitting) so to speak. One
grunt for yes, two for no.
(A short period follows of silence broken only by the rhythmic beat of
Tarou's wings. Then a single grunt emits from the minotaur)

Senchi: (releases his horn and hugs him around the neck; baby talk)
You're such a good little monster, yes you are...
(A tentacle taps her on the shoulder, as if to say "Don't press your
luck." Senchi sits up, then slowly raises herself to her feet)

Senchi: Now you just have to give those losers a convincing show.
(with an evil grin... she kicks Tarou's wings and leaps off him,
plummeting groundward) Follow me!!

Tarou: [*censored*!  Like I have a *censored* choice, you little
(He begins to fall, his wings too sore from the kick to flap.  Both of
the new "allies" drop like stones towards the earth...or more
specifically, towards a large bathhouse. Senchi curls herself into a
ball and extends one hand out, still glowing darkly with black ki.
Tarou follows not far behind, trying to work up the strength to get
his wings moving)

Senchi: RA... (an opaque sphere forms around her, black as the
starless sky at midnight) SHIN... (little "ripples" of darkness begin
to form along the sphere, then multiple rivers form and begin to swirl
towards the bottom of the sphere, draining out the darkness and
leaving the sphere transparent) GIN... (Tarou's eyes widen as he
realizes what's happening; he tries to pulls up but his angle is too
steep, and his wings too weak) KIRI!!! 
(A beam of absolute darkness snaps into existence and shoots out.
Shredding the roof like paper it slams into the depths of the
bathhouse...then there is a tremendous BANG as it hits the boiler...
and with a titanic concussion the bathhouse becomes a fireball as
steaming hot water flies up to envelope the duo.  Back at the dojo,
the other watch as the bathhouse explodes into fragments.)

Akane: (voice quavering) Ranma...RANMA!!! 
(She runs forward...but surprisingly, Ukyou gets a head start, and
quickly opens up her lead as 
they approach the rubble heap.  The group comes around the bend and
sees the devastation. Pieces of wood lay all about the place, jagged
and sticking up like pikes. In the centre of these lethal prongs,
miraculously unskewered, lies Ranma, his face buried in the concrete
side of what was once a bathtub. Akane runs up to him and checks him
quickly; Ukyou looks around, worried.)

Akane: (relieved) He's just unconscious...

Voice: Good...
(They all turn to see Tarou.  The boy has climbed out of the wreckage,
his face pale.  The very obvious reason for this is sticking out of
the side of his stomach in the form of a long wooden shaft.)

Tarou: That means...I... (begins to waver shakily) win...
fem-booooooo... (he collapses to the ground, throwing up a cloud of
(Scene: later, Nerima hospital. The place looks to have recently
undergone some remodelling... thanks in part to the people who put
Ranma and Ryouga in the same room as each other. In the 
waiting room, the entire crew from the fight is there, all sitting
around.  Kasumi is absently knitting without a care in the world;
Nabiki and Tzubi are projecting their profit margin, Genma and Soun
are playing Shogi on a board they brought with them, and Akane and
Ukyou are sitting with worry plastered all over their faces... in fact
they could be twins, the way they look.  Presently a doctor comes over
and talks to the group)

Doctor: The two boys look like they'll recover just fine.
(Akane and Ukyou let out sighs of relief, Soun looks over and nods;
Genma cheats while Soun isn't looking.  Kasumi continues to knit and
smiles.  Nabiki and Tzubi don't even react.)

Doctor: If you want to see them, they're in the last two rooms down
the hall, opposite each other. No telling when either of them will
regain consciousness, however. (smiles) Guess you'll have to wait for
one or the other.
(The group nods, gives a collective arigato and head down the
hall...all except Ukyou, who hesitates.  She frowns, obviously
thinking, than with a smooth, determined stride begins down the hall.)

                             The End

And thus ends the Tarou triad.  We hope this chapter was enjoyable,
and moreover, surprising.  Tarou won the match, but he didn't get his
new name...yet.  But perhaps he has gained the respect of a certain
somebody...only time will tell which turns out to be more important to
our favourite aquatransabomination.  What will come of the unholy
alliance between Senchi and Tarou?  Only time will tell...anyway, tune
in next time on CoD (not fish) for "Curse of the Silver Spatula!"  As
always, comments or criticism are welcome.  Just drop Blade (the PR
man) a line at

Blade and Epsilon

Handy Special Move Guide

Kachuu Bisha Takaken: Imperial Dominating Tiger Punch

All content unless stated otherwise is ©2021 Chris McNeil. He can be contacted here. The banner picture is courtesy of Jason Heavensrun. You can find more of his stuff at Checkmate Studios.